Thanks and An Update

I want to thank you all for your outpouring of good wishes, support and prayers. You have no idea how much they meant, and how they stayed with me when I walked into that Cancer Center last Friday!

Thank you!

I have no real answers yet. I most probably do not have cancer. The odds are in my favor. But there is no sure way to know until they do surgery and biopsies. My risk is higher than we thought. I have genetic factors that increase my risk dramatically, my ethnic background, my close family history…my mother, grandparents, my Great Aunt, a 1st cousin. Next week I am going for a genetic test and they will do a family cancer tree, to get a better idea of the odds. In the meantime, Grant and I have considered the options and decided to go for the surgery as soon as possible. It’s safer not to wait… just in case.  

I am going through my life as if everything is the same, except it’s not. Underneath there is a worry, a fear, and perhaps, who knows, a cancer. It’s a sobering and feels rather bizarre to live with. I am so unsure of whether I should speak about these things or just keep it to myself. Does anyone want to know what this feels like? I am not sure I would. But maybe someone else out there is going through a similar time, and maybe knowing you are not alone will help. Maybe writing will help me.

Part of me is embarrassed. Isn’t that strange? You don’t walk around saying, “I might have cancer.” These are not things one speaks of. And I don’t want to be the person anyone feels sorry for, and I don’t want to wear my vulnerability on my sleeve. Few people know.  Last night at dinner, with a largish group of co-workers at a business conference (I am away, trying to live my life as normally as I can) we were talking movies and somehow someone brought up Gilda Radnor, and how funny she was, how she died so young, “Ovarian Cancer, wasn’t it?” Yeah, it was. I know because there is a Gilda’s Club at the Cancer Center where I went last week and am going back to next week.

Gilda’s Club is a FREE cancer support community for people living with all types of cancer and their families and friends.  We provide support groups, lectures, workshops, and social activities as a supplement to medical care.”

I am thinking that if I don’t have cancer, I might get involved. Maybe I could offer some help and support. If I do, I will certainly get involved. Me at Gilda’s Club? That feels kind of surreal, but this is changing my life. If I don’t have ovarian cancer, if my current tumors in my uterus are benign, which they likely are, I am learning that I have a significantly increased risk of having breast cancer in the next 30 years or so. If I test positive for the gene, my daughter will need to be tested too.

I have not even told her. Who at 23 needs to hear that? In fact, we have not told our children anything except that I am seeing Dr’s, having surgery, and everything seems fine. It does seem fine. I will most probably not have cancer. They don’t need to know at their young ages that I might.

I had a restless night alone in my hotel room. I did not sleep well. I woke up thinking about wigs. If I must have chemo and my hair falls out, will I be able to get a decent wig or will I opt to wear a turban? I envisioned myself in a nice business suit with a turban. It’ not quite working for me.  I am pretty attached to my hair.  It’s strange the things we choose to worry about!

My husband would say I am torturing myself and to, “Stop thinking about things you don’t need to worry about!”;  “Deal with today and you can deal with tomorrow when it comes.” He’s right, but anxiety doesn’t quite work like that!

Nurses can be amazing people, the right person who’s blessedly there for you at the right time. When I went to the Center to see the Oncologist last week his nurse came to take my paperwork, and introduced herself. She was very kind and warm.  She said “Hi! I’m Mary. How are you?” and I said “Hi I’m Sara. I’m fine, thanks. She smiled and said “Liar!”. And then I smiled for real. It was reassuring to know she knew. It’s important to have places where you don’t have to be “fine”.

36 thoughts on “Thanks and An Update

  1. Nurses can indeed be very special people.My mum is a retired nurse.When we were young she worked nights so we were never left with other people.When we were truculant teenagers we could never swing the leg with feigned illness.Our eldest is staying with her for a few days before another shedful of exams.She has said that lovely meals, cups of tea,chat and someone who understands more than makes up for no partying and no FB ! Personally, I like to hear all of this.We all have to be equipped to deal with life events and there are ways and means.So don’t apologise.It also helps to see how Grant fits into the context of it all.Bang in the centre, it would appear.Lucky, lucky you. Sarah,LD,UK

  2. Thank you for sharing your life with us–all of it. You don’t have to be “fine” here, either. Listen to Grant, and take each moment as it comes.

  3. Thank you for updating your blog. I can’t imagine the worry you must be feeling and the stress you are under. And yes, it is absolutely ok to not be “fine”. Praying for you Sara. Hugs

  4. I’ve been thinking about you, Sara. I know it may seem odd, given our slight, virtual, and anonymous connection, but I’ve been frustrated that I can do no more to support you than to leave a comment here and there. However, no doubt you have very many friends and acquaintances in “real” life who can show their support in ways we in blogland cannot. I’m thankful for them. And thank you for returning here to keep us updated once in a while.

  5. I’d like to echo what D said, you don’t have to be “fine” here either. A little funny for you…if I tell Michael I’m fine when he knows better, he says “yeah, Aerosmith fine!” There’s a song you see, and fine is F.I.N.E. and stands for, um, f’d up, insecure, neurotic, emotional. Anyway, it’s just kind of a running joke between us if either of us says we’re fine when we’re really not. ;)

    I think you’re handling all of this so well, Sara. You’re not letting yourself dwell only on the negative, nor are you wearing rose colored glasses. I’m really glad that you’re sharing with us here, grateful you’re keeping us updated and in the loop. I imagine writing about it does help you and I’m sure reading what you’ve written will help others as well.

    Michael and I continue to keep you and Grant in our thoughts and prayers and we’re hoping for the best possible outcome! (((hugs)))

  6. Will keep you in my thoughts and prayers and wait for the news of the positive outcome. Stay strong and positive.

  7. Hi Sara,

    I went through this with my mom when I was seventeen. Just a comment from a daughter’s perspective. I knew my mom had cancer, but my parents kept the rest from me and didn’t even let me go to the hospital after she had her surgery. It made me feel really isolated and like it wasn’t okay to talk about. They kept a lot of it from my brother too, he was living away with his family. He called it “blowing sunshine up his skirt”. I only share this because in retrospect, for both of us, they should have shared a little more than they did. I pray that you never have to decide how much you are going to share, that you are cancer free and living life at 100!

    Thanks for sharing, you definitely have a caring audience. Your note has rays of hope in it and I am so glad that you have caring nurses around you!

  8. Sara,

    You are a beautiful, strong woman, you will be fine. Your sense of humor will serve you well in this trial. Remember to laugh often and love well, these are the things that will get you through.

    I lost my sister-in-law 2 years ago after a 6 1/2 year struggle with pre-menopausal breast cancer. She was strong for her children, husband and herself to the end and when she needed support the entire community was there for her because she was that kind of person.

    Life is the journey not the end. Stay strong!

  9. It’s so hard trying to “appear fine” when inside the anxiety and worry are longing to escape. It’s good that you have your blog to let some of it out. I agree with the others- you don’t have to “be fine” here. Yes, I most certainly want to know how you feel and what you’re going through. It helps me with my own issues too. It’s always hard to let those feeling out and not feel like you’re looking for sympathy. We know you aren’t – you just need understanding that it’s not easy to live with the worry. Wigs? I would worry here too. It’s something to focus on- the rest is unknown. Got to focus on something, right? I don’t sleep either when things are up in the air like that.
    I love your idea of getting involved with Gilda’s Club. It would suit you well. You are a wonderful source of mentoring, understanding and support. Plus- you’d enjoy doing it. Gilda just touches me in places- you have no idea. The club is her legacy, as well as her creative and unique performances. What a legacy, huh?
    I know you’ll get around to telling the kids at the right time- when you have all of the “facts and figures”- that will be the better time. Timing is everything sometimes.
    Do take care. We’re here whenever the need to vent strikes you next!

  10. Wonderful nurses can make all the difference and act as our angels. I love that she was able to get through the veneer and reach your true smile. Thanks for the update. You and Grant are continually in my thoughts and prayers.

  11. It sounds like you are grieving right now, grieving for the loss of what your life was until recently. Even with the tumors benign, life has already changed for you, and will not go back to being exactly as it was. Allow yourself this time. I hope that writing about it, getting it out, has helped. Good that your keeping your hands and mind going (knitting and reading).
    You will be in my thoughts and prayers.

  12. Hang in there, Sara. I’ve been through a scare like that, and had two benign tumors removed. I’ll keep hoping that that’s what yours are too.


  13. Oh Sara, I am so glad that you decided to share this part of your journey. I was my Mother’s primary caregiver when she had Breast Cancer years ago. She is a ten year survivor, my grandmother is a 25 + year survivor of it.

    I am also a professional caregiver and I’m so happy you found a supportive place to go as you deal with this. Letting people in and letting them help you can be so difficult, no one really wants to admit they are weak, but the positive support is so important. And if you lose your hair, I have tons of it, I’ll share if you want it.

  14. I will read about it if you want to write about it, if it helps to get the bad stuff out here. My former husband had a stroke (he recovered nicely) but chose not to tell our son who was late 20″s at the time. Our son was hurt when his dad finally did tell him. Just a thought. Take care.

  15. One of the many great things about the blogging community is that you don’t have to be fine. You can share with us what you really think and we will keep you in our thoughts and prayers. All your blogger friends are thinking of you and wishing you the best.


  16. I think it’s important for everyone to have a place to go where they don’t have to be okay and can just be whoever and whatever they are at that moment. You wouldn’t be the first who’s blog was that place.
    Best of luck with your surgery.

  17. 16 years ago, my mother, sister and a close friend all had breast cancer. My sister also had brain surgery 3 times to remove tumors. I had cervical cancer years ago. We are all still here.
    All my best wishes, Sara.

  18. Sara, thank you so much for sharing your story with us. My heart is aching for you. You may be surprised at how many women have been there. I hope that at least one of them contacts you. You have been a role model of mine since I started reading your blog. I admire your vulnerablilty and your strength. You are in my prayers.

  19. I agree with what many have already said. It’s a blessing to have places where it is okay to not be okay.

    I am hoping that they get this surgery scheduled very soon, b/c if you keep up this pondering on matching turbans with business suits in the middle of the night when you should be sleeping…well…someone might get spanked when she gets home. ;)

    I wasn’t going to actually write that down, lest my fellow commenters say “Hey, who is that insensitive, terrible woman?” I figured you’d get it…and my goal was to make you smile.

    It is amazing where our heads go when we are anxious. Hold on brave lady!

  20. Thanks for keeping us updated and I’m hoping for you that all will be well.

    Nurses have always been some of my favorite people.

    You know what “fine” stands for, don’t you?

    F-ouled up

    I changed the F-word, but you know what I mean.

  21. I agree with what Cygnet said. When I was almost the exact age of your daughter, my dad unexpectedly got a very, very serious kind of cancer. We thought we were going to lose him right then and there. My parents were upfront from the very beginning, and I knew everything they knew the minute they knew. It was scary and hard to deal with, but at least I knew it wasn’t any worse than what I was being told. Then when my dad pulled through only to have his cancer recur just *after* we thought he was finally done with it, again my parents were open about everything with me (I was living overseas then, but I got daily updates). I know you want to protect your kids the way any parent does and that you probably need your space to deal with this on your terms without adding kids to the mix…but kids know when something is wrong, and it’s much scarier not to know what it is exactly or be able to talk about it. I hope that you will let not just Grant but also your kids be there and support you.

    Praying for you that you will get good news.

  22. 1. i was 58…it ended up being stage 1 uterine cancer + dysplasic cells in other parts of the uterus and in the cervix
    2. opted to have everything removed
    3. no involvement with lymph gland or other organs
    4. no need for chemo or radiation
    5. lots of follow-up
    7.i’M FINE!

  23. It’s not only okay to not be fine, it’s reasonable to not be fine. The most you can hope is to go through difficult periods when things are most decidedly not fine with a measure of grace.

    It’s your call, not mine. But if I were an adult, I would want to be in the know about the health of one of the most important people in my world. Don’t diminish their rights in an effort to protect them.


  24. Sara,
    Going through something similar to your situation. I had an abnormal mammogram a few weeks ago. Then went for an ultrasound. The Dr. said she thought it MAY be just internal bruising. (was in an auto accident in Jan.) She scheduled another ultrasound for July. It may be just bruising, but between now and July….. just say I’m trying not to worry. My only suggestion to you, would be to put the entire thing in God’s Hands. Wishing you well. Marie

  25. It’s absolutely ok not to be fine. My heart is with you and all this waiting can be the hardest part. I an understand the urge to protect your kids from unneeded worry. If you even want to vent and not be “fine” just shoot an email.

    Laurie (not the petries)

  26. Thank you so much for the update, I have kept you in my thoughts and prayers. I hope you do continue to write of this journey, I have no doubt it could help others, but I do realize it is an extremely personal decision. abby

  27. It’s amazing how it just knocks the breath out of you when they even want to take a second look at something to be sure. I know once when I went for a mammogram, and they took me back for a couple of extra pictures, by the time they did a ultrasound I had tears running down my cheeks, knowing I had cancer. Everything was “fine”, but I cried all the way home and just bawled when I got there… It was too scarey. I’m a nurse, I KNOW the chances are slim that a second look at a mammogram is going to be anything but “fine”. I KNOW that breast cancer has a very high cure rate. What you know intellectually, doesn’t mean you know it emotionally. It’s one of those things that is not even allowed in your thought processes, until someone forces in your brain, by saying “we just need to do some test to be sure it isn’t…” I’m sorry you are going through all this anxiety and that you have to have surgery. You and your family will continue to be in my prayers. I will be praying that you will feel God’s loving and protective arms around you every step of the way, and that you will heal quickly, without ever having any cancer. God Bless You and Yours, Belle L

  28. I’ve checked your blog every day for an update. Thank you for the update and know that, as everyone has said, it’s okay not to be fine. We will read and support you via blog world, if you choose to let us into your feelings. know that we will send our thoughts and prays for you.

    Keep a positive attitude and don’t let it beat you.

  29. (Mick you are funny and will make me laugh each time I hear “fine” Thanks!)

    Hey Sara, I like your shirt idea. I’ve wanted to wear one awhile ago. It felt disingenuous to act normal. We should all wear them when needed. We could choose to be more understanding to people and find support in an otherwise faceless and nameless crowd. I think it’s time to Tie a knot from the rope you are hanging onto and swing with one hand on the rope and the other on a cosmotini!! Sending Hugs of Comfort Daily :) KayLynn

  30. Just to say that you are still in my prayers. I pray for complete healing and comfort. I pray that He will calm all your fears (and those fears of those who love you). I pray that He provides all your needs, and blesses you with all that is good. I pray that you feel His arms around you. God Bless You and Yours, Belle L.

  31. I hope all is well with you. I am looking forward to an update, and I’m sure the others are as well.

  32. Hi! I was just thinking about you! I hope you are doing okay! I haven’t seen you on here in awhile! I miss your blogging!!

  33. Dear Sara, just wanted to say that I keep thinking of you. I hope so much that you are ok! Best wishes, lots of hugs, TINA

  34. I just re-read this and saw that my comment had not published!
    Yes, it is fine to not be ok with it. And it is also important to acknowledge it and be determined to stay positive. IF you have it, you WILL beat it. Hugs, we are all thinking of you. xxxxxx

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