August 26, 2012

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Tomorrow: The first day of classes at USC, the last date upon which I can get ten dollars off a Victoria’s Secret Bra, and the date of my pre-operative CT-PET scan.

It still seems unreal a lot of the time.  Many other things on my mind–work was crazed on Friday. We hosted an all-department lunch, so had setting up of tables, delivery people delivering, students and faculty arriving for the first time after summer, an influx print jobs for the new semester, random strangers throwing up in the bathroom, a faculty meeting, desk copies to distribute to the teaching assistants–and my co-worker C, out of the office. I usually work a four-hour day on Fridays, but I worked the full day and plan to go in today just to organize and print syllabi.

And then there’s writing: the script is ever present, even though I’ve not worked on it much at all.  I sent it to readers yesterday for some feedback which I hope will be helpful.  I just need some time and mental space—and both are scarce at the moment.

Attended a  bar gathering as for C– who is only in the states for only a few weeks on Friday, and my friend Nikki’s housewarming / birthday party on Saturday.  Worked in alate-night dinner with Paul on Friday as well. Although I worry about productivity,  it seems important to do these things while I am still feeling well.

I feel lucky that I am still enjoying activities as well.  I recall my dad being withdrawn, unable to concentrate on other people due to intense anxiety.  Although I have episodes, thus far I seem able to compartmentalize, and remain largely engaged with people’s daily lives.

I haven’t told too many people about the Big C yet, so it is still a little ball of knowledge in my pocket as I mingle and chat.  In some ways it’s a weight, and in others a relief that it’s not yet sitting out on the table.

Paul told our family this week–for which I was really grateful.  He did it over the course of two days while I was at work. I wasn’t sure about not being there, especially when he told my brother and sister who live in town, but a good point was I figured they didn’t have to measure their reactions the way they might if I was right there.  I’ve told just one friend at this point, and vaguely hinted to a couple more. My supervisors at work know, as whatever happens will certainly involve some days away from the office.

It’s harder to know what to do with my professional/writing contacts.  Eventually I will tell my producer. More than ever this experience has already reminded me that it’s important to write the things that are real, and that are difficult. So eventually, I feel that some of what I am writing now will end up on blog posts.  But at the same time, once you disclose something like this, and illness, a pregnancy, any kind of personal problem, people will—even unconsciously—look in your work for flaws, signs of distraction—sometimes they really exist and sometimes not, but why work against yourself? So far,  I think my concentration is still focused when I am working on the script, and my lack of time was anticipated, and is not due to the diagnosis, so I think I will just work through to the upcoming deadline and get feedback before I decide.

Although I am not bothered by anxiety with other people, I am still dealing with an almost-daily dose. I woke up early this morning—and couldn’t go back to sleep—and researched lymphedema.  I don’t know if I have mentioned this yet. Back at cancer camp in Australia, one of my roommates, who was a bread cancer survivor, had a very swollen and painful arm, which she explains was lymphedema. She said it was not a result of her cancer, but as a result of losing the lymph nodes around her armpit. A few months after her surgery something had happened—she’d bumped or cut her arm maybe—and the disease had presented itself.  Apparently after damage to one’s lymph, the risk remains for the entirety of one’s life (although my recent research indicates that it is usually between a few months and a few years).  Her situation made quite an impression on me.  And with my diagnosis, it was one of the first things that sprang to my mind.  Can one get lymphedema in one’s legs?  The answer is yes, and moreover, some studies, like this one seem to indicate that lower limb lymphedema happens about a quarter of the time, which I find to be high. I have a lot of resistance  and fear about the very real lifestyle changes having a heavy, swollen leg would entail—I’d be less mobile, less attractive, unable to wear things I like, or exercise—and the thought of just living with the threat—of feeling a surge of panic each time I knock into a coffee table in the dark (or the light) cut myself shaving or fly in an airplane.

It probably insane to most people, for whom cancer is the scariest word, but as I consider my quality of life, I wonder if maybe I’d rather wrestle with the cancer than this lifelong chronic disease.

Of course, best would be reassurance that none of my lymph nodes is involved in the cancer, so one of the other things I researched this morning was the the accuracy PET-CT scans in seeing cancerous activity in one’s lymph.  It wasn’t as encouraging as I had hoped—In varying conditions, it seems all available types of scans can certainly miss lymph involvement, especially in smaller nodes. Still, it would be better news than to have scan results that do show involvement.  Either way, there are some decisions to make.

Despite all of this—once I pull myself away from the medical articles and move into the day, I am feeling emotionally is pretty good.  Or maybe numb. Or maybe the first because of the second!

PS: It would seem to go without saying, but I feel I should say it–for anyone with a similar personal situation reading these links–the information in each is exhaustive.   I’ve merely selected single links that seem somewhat readable, contain some information that relates to whatever point I am making, and that doesn’t require downloading a PDF. If this is stuff that affects you, in your own research, you should totally download some PDFs (and talk to your doctor)!

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