WTF: The Detonation

My folks came back to watch Little Miss while The Saint and I braved the snow for my CT scan on Monday. It really wasn't any big deal--I had to drink several cups of contrast dye (which went down a lot easier than the PEG for my prep) so they could visualize the bowel and they injected me with more dye so they could see my vessels.

Prior to the injection, I wanted to confirm that I had to wait 24h before breastfeeding, as per the documentation I had been given. Turns out that it was actually 48h, according to the techs. Ok, sucks, but whatever--gotta do what we gotta do, right?

Fortunately, the tech warned me that the injection would make me feel like I was peeing my pants, because, ugh, yeah. The whole process was very quick and not claustro-inducing at all since the machine isn't completely enclosed (aside from the fact that they were only doing an ab/pelvic scan).

Oh yeah, I neglected to mention that I had to do a group presentation for my epi class that Tuesday. The subject? Colorectal cancer rates. Seriously. The twistedly ironic frosting on the completely fucked up cake. But I digress.

Wednesday was the meeting with the colorectal surgeon, which I thought was little more than a formality at this point, since I was pretty confident that the pathology results would be negative.

After a wait, we were called into an exam room by a nurse, who sat us down and asked me if I remembered what the doctor doing the scopy had said about the mass.

"Yeah, he said there was a 95% chance that the mass was cancerous."

She pursed her lips, dropped her eyes, and nodded with forced empathetic sadness. My throat tightened and my heart stopped in response.

After telling me I did indeed have cancer, the nurse launched into her own personal tale, diagnosed with breast cancer at 44, little kids running around, treatment, low risk, surgery, etc. etc. As she went on and on and ON with her Cancer Story, I grew more and more tense, coming thisclose to telling her to stop talking, save it, shut the FUCK UP.

Who was she to me? No one, other than the person who got the shit job of delivering terrible news, news which she would have to give over and over again in her job. Unless you were a nonsmoking pescatarian with zero family history that got ass cancer within months of having your first (and possibly only) child, I don't care. Shut your yap and go get someone who can tell me something about MY cancer.

After an interminable period of her droning and consoling, she left. I cried and The Saint was strong for me. I hated that he had to swallow his tears in order to be the tough one and wished he felt ok to break down with me, but there we were, snot and mascara running and my getting hot under the sweater that I couldn't take off because the shirt underneath was so ill fitting and my cursing the fucking pink socks that more than peeked out from under my cuffs when I crossed my legs, what seemed like a fun play of color that morning now mocked me and my clenching grief. Stupid fucking pink socks. Stupid fucking cancer.

Eventually, the doctor came in and gave me the matter-of-fact run down: radiation + chemo, followed by major surgery, followed by more chemo. They were going to take my rectum. If I had a family history, they'd take the large intestine, too, but since I was in the clear (as far as we can tell), I got to keep my colon, which they would use to fashion a new pouch/resevoir thingy so I wouldn't have to live with a bag or poop every five minutes. Yay?

The doc then gave me a digital rectal exam. For the record, love is *not* never having to say you're sorry, it's sitting in the same room as your cancerated wife while she gets her ass probed because all the lube and latex in the world won't keep you from supporting your best friend, the mother of your child, and the only person you can stand to be around for any length of time.

This was the In Sickness part of the deal. Apparently, In Health had skipped town without our noticing.

After rooting around a bit, the doc reported that he was encouraged by what he'd found, that the tumor was a bit further north than he had originally thought, making the possibility of saving my sphincter (always a good thing) and putting me back together again a bit better. The doctor's relief was evident and contagious. "Always go out on a high note," I snarked.

The follow-up plan from that meeting was a trifecta of appointments on Tuesday: transrectal ultrasound (just as fun as it sounds, I'm sure) to assist with the staging of the cancer, then meetings with both the radiation oncologist and medical oncologist.

Oh yeah, the radiation. How I could forget. So, the good thing about rectal tumors is that they can target them very accurately with the radiation to shrink them prior to surgery. The downside is that my ovaries are more than likely directly in the path of the radiation, meaning I'll be getting a free sterilization treatment out of the deal *unless* they can surgically "hitch them up" out of the way.

I won't be terribly confident about the possibility of that until we talk with the radiation guy, but I can say with near 100% certainty that I do not want to go to great lengths to preserve my fertility. I don't have the time or the energy to go through the whole egg ripening/harvesting procedure, then implanting multiple frozen embryos, winding up with more babies at once than I can handle. If Little Miss is our one and only bio-child, so be it.


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