Wrestling Alligators and My Cancer Posse

  I’m very unsettled today.  I did the bloodwork that I was supposed to do Friday in Rockport but didn’t.  Long story – I went to the lab and it didn’t work out.  We’ll leave it at that.  I found myself hugging the wall of the elevator of the oncologist’s building, trying to make myself one with it so that when the doors opened I would not have to get off and go to his office.  My body and mind know that chemo is given there and they conspire against my attempts to go there for any reason, even a simple blood draw.  Which left a bruise, by the way, because I’m still anemic.  (And no, I’m not anemic because I’m a vegetarian!)
  I didn’t wait around for the results but I’m sure they were fine because I didn’t get the, “Your bloodwork sucked don’t go jet-skiing or engage in any risky behavior” call that I get when my white count is low.  I suspect it has rebounded and is normal again.  Although my lymph nodes in my left armpit have been sore for two weeks, and the ones in my neck are enlarged, all of which makes me wonder if the cancer is growing again.  I wonder how many times I’ll have to talk myself off that ledge.  Maybe I’ll figure out how not to get on it one of these days!  That would be awesome.
  I got a call this morning from the hospital to schedule my pre-mastectomy class.  Who knew there was a class?!  I wish there were a “Oh shit, you have breast cancer!” class because that would have been helpful.  At least there’s a class for what to do after you have your breasts amputated.  I’m supposed to wear a tank top or t-shirt to class so I can “learn how to take care of myself.”  It’s an hour-long class with me and a few other women about to embark on this breast-cutting-off procedure.
  Tomorrow I’ll go to Dr. Canavan’s office for my monthly check-in with her. She’s the breast surgeon, the one who performs the mastectomy before the plastic surgeon (henceforth known as McDreamy because he is distractingly hot) steps in to put in the tissue expanders and stitch me up.  These monthly appointments consist of me taking off my shirt and bra, her poking around my tumors and armpit and saying something like, “This is great, just what we were hoping would happen with chemo,” and then me leaving.  Very eventful.  And then next week I’ll have a pre-op appointment where I guess we hash out whether or not I get to/should keep my right nipple, how long before I can drive after surgery and how long I have to stay in the hospital.  
  The other alligator I’m wrestling today is when and how to talk to the children about my surgery.  I don’t want to tell too much, but I want to tell enough.  Any time we talk about cancer Grace cries and I feel like crap.  Like I am ruining her life because I got divorced and then got cancer.  I know that’s rediculous; some inherited Catholic guilt from my mother’s side creeping in.  As my Daddy says, “Some things you can’t pay to get rid of.”  
  All this makes me feel wound up and angry, which I didn’t realize until I read a tweet today that said, “Surrender to the universe.”  And my first thought was, “fuck off.”  And then my next thought was, “Wow, that really pissed me off.  That’s probably what I need to do.”  Apparently I’m resisting the acceptance stage of grief and and wavering in the anger stage.  But I’m not judging myself for it, so that’s progress.
  I do have many, many bright spots that make sense in all this nonsensical business.  One is that I have amassed for myself a cancer posse.  When I got diagnosed I read that a girl should have a cancer posse, but I was so busy with doctors and other torture that I didn’t have time to go out and get one.  And where does a girl get a posse, anyway?  Turns out you get one in the chemo lounge.  And your friend-of-a-friend who has breast cancer.  And at a support group.  All of the sudden, BAM!  I got people.  And I love them.  And we text each other and curse and cry and encourage and bitch and it’s beautiful.

Here I am with Sandi, one of my breast cancer sisters. She has hair again!

7 Replies to "Wrestling Alligators and My Cancer Posse"

  • comment-avatar
    Mark Head
    August 9, 2011 (3:02 am)

    …and curse and cry and encourage and bitch and it’s beautiful…and now i’m crying too, with you…

  • comment-avatar
    August 9, 2011 (3:29 am)

    You make it all real! No sugar coating…and I like that! Continue with all the cursing and the crying… we’re all here for you…. xoxo

  • comment-avatar
    Lisa S.
    August 9, 2011 (6:48 pm)

    I love your blog, Brandie. Took your class before, ran into you at summer camp drop-off with the kids and have caught up with you the whole way. Write a book, really, when this is all over – the Girlfriends’ Guide to Breast Cancer. Bestseller!

    And I love Sandi so I was so happy to see her picture on here. I’m so glad you girls have each other!

    • comment-avatar
      Brandie Sellers
      August 9, 2011 (7:51 pm)

      Thanks Lisa! I am writing my face off. It is very therapeutic!!!

  • comment-avatar
    Marge McCathern Sellers
    August 10, 2011 (4:42 pm)

    I pray every day for you….so happy you were able to spend the night on Friday and the kids got to enjoy the River Walk. Lots of hugs

  • comment-avatar
    Stephanie O
    August 13, 2011 (3:39 am)

    I wish I had had a pre-mastectomy class! I’m sure you’ll learn lots of things you need to know, but if I could offer one bit of advice it would be to get your armpits waxed a week or so before the surgery. They get really lumpy and sensitive afterwards.

    Thanks for writing candidly about chemo and coping–I had my first treatment on Wednesday and knew what to expect because of the way you wrote about it.

  • comment-avatar
    Diane Chadwick
    August 13, 2011 (11:56 pm)

    Susan’s mom here–I just caught up with your posts today. I was about 4 behind. You & Sandi have beautiful smiles, they light up the room. I agree with Lisa S–you should make this a book. You could start the class ‘Oh shit, you have breast cancer’–seriously. You’ve been there, done that and got the t-shirt. Praying for you and the kids as your surgery gets closer. Hugs to all of you.