Cancer Demands a Sense of Humor

Surviving cancer demands a sense of humor.

One of the women in my support group was scheduled for surgery last week to have the final step of her reconstruction done on her breasts.

She had months of the annoying expander series where they add fluid on a regular basis to stretch the skin to get ready for the implants after her mastectomy. This last step is highly anticipated since it sets a milestone on this crazy cancer journey. So at lunch we gave her a nice send-off with lots of love and encouragement. She was very emotional—nervous, yet relieved—to be done with this long process. The morning before the surgery, we all e-mailed our good thoughts and well wishes. The day of the surgery we received an e-mail, which said the hospital called last night to say her implants were on “back order.” That's like Starbucks running out of coffee or Baskin Robbins running out of ice cream. Good God!

The sores have returned to my mouth, and I am gargling and swishing with everything from salt water to Listerine. What else is there for this problem? I knew that one of the side effects of chemo is cracking nails and a dryness that can only be helped by lathering your hands with cream and wearing cotton gloves to bed. I did not know that fungus could start growing under your nails. This is not a good thing for someone who likes to give themselves a weekly manicure and wear pretty rings. Now I try to keep my hands on my lap. I have learned that fungus is one of the hardest conditions to get rid of. The over-the-counter remedies do not work. There's is an oral prescription drug that is supposed to work for 40 percent of those who take it. Do I add another drug into this compromised body of mine? If the fungus continues to spread I don't know what I will do. It's pretty gnarly looking. Google it.

A truly horrifying piece of news was released this week by Yale University. As I have mentioned in the past, breast cancer is not one disease. It is six or seven different diseases that all need to be treated with different protocols. This new study revealed at least 20 percent of breast cancers that were classified as triple negative were in fact estrogen receptor positive. This misdiagnosis means that these 20 percent of women have been undertreated. Being undertreated certainly does not help your survival rate. All these women need to have their tumors re-tested...that is if your hospital froze and saved your tumor. Egads! Nothing is easy? This new IHC (ImmunoHistoChemistry) test, which is the newer and more reliable version of the old IHC is not yet available. I am not in this category, as I am ER positive. My heart goes out to these women. Imagine realizing that you have not been taking a medicine that works at blocking your cancer so it will not spread? The trials and tribulations continue for all of us living with cancer. We may be weary, but we are warriors and we will not give up. Fight on my fellow survivors!

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