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Laughing Through Cancer: June 2015 - Best Friends and Sports Bras

Apr 11, 2016 09:18AM ● Published by Jamie Kratz-Gullickson

Gallery: Good karma peonies and post op "Grumpy Cat" photo [2 Images] Click any image to expand.

Two weeks have passed and I've collected myself.  I called a friend who happens to be a breast health nurse.  One that would not hug me without asking first.  She explains my options - needle biopsy, incisional biopsy.  I ask which I can be unconscious for.  She recommends a surgeon.  In short order, Cathy has become my best friend.

"The Office" marathon is on hiatus.  Akin to not changing undies during the playoffs, I'm not letting Dwight back into my living room. It's bad juju. Instead, I cut dozens of peony blooms from my garden and set them out for the neighborhood. It seems nice, but I'm trying hard to build good karma before my surgical consult.

Dr. Haberman and I review my mammogram pictures.  We decide an incisional biopsy is the way to go. I sit in the waiting room as the nurse checks the surgical calendar.  My anxiety is building.  She comes back and says, "Tomorrow morning".  

I have to be ready for surgery in 12 hours.  I call my parents when I get home to see if they can take my 13 year old daughter overnight. Dad answers the phone and informs me a realtor is at the house.  They have just decided to put my childhood home up for sale and retire to Arizona full time.  So childcare is out then.

Switching gears, I run out to the store to buy several sport bras which I will be required to wear after surgery.  I drop $75 on enough cheap ones for a week.  I throw it on the credit card.  The first of the unexpected, uninsured expenses Judas brings.  He is not a cheap date.

Surgery is happily uneventful…aside from the full blown panic attack I have when the nurse says it's time to set the IV.  She tells me everything will be okay.  I tell her not to lie.  I hate liars.  They give me the gas. I think it's as much for them as for me.

I wake up in recovery and my husband and daughter are there.  The IV cannot come out until I've kept food down.  I feel the panic building in my chest over the needle, so I wolf the toast, swallow it back down a few times and incoherently mumble "get it out" to my husband.  I love him for knowing exactly what I mean as I see him jump to garner a nurse.

Still completely stoned, I have to get dressed to leave.  It seems silly that I have not previously considered this challenge.  I cannot lift my arms over my head and I somehow have to get a sports bra on.  Not being at my mental peak, I ask the nurse how to do it.   She replies: "I don't know, I don't wear that kind of bra."  My head comes up with a dozen snarky replies, while none of them actually make it out of my mouth so I just stare at her evilly.  Surgery makes me ornery.

I close my eyes and wake up Tuesday. Good meds. My post op appointment is Wednesday and I have yet to hear about my labs.  I know now it is cancer.  They call with good news.  The bad news they tell you in person.  I call my breast health nurse Tuesday afternoon.  She is off, but drives in anyway to check my results, (there’s that best friend bit coming back in).  She tells me over the phone it's cancer (maybe not best friends). High grade stage II triple negative invasive ductal carcinoma.  F***.


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