Thursday, November 12, 2009

I Am Not A Number, I Am A Free (Wo)man

Yesterday was filled with paradoxical news and occurrences. A paradox is a situation in which there are 2 statements or propositions that seem self-contradictory or absurd, but in reality expresses a possible truth.

The bad news: My sternum biopsy shows adenocarcinoma of the breast.
The good news: It seems to be a kind that is relatively easy to treat (it's hormone sensitive - but more tests are pending).

The bad news: I have to have chemotherapy.
The good news: It will probably be the type of chemo that is aimed at inhibiting estrogen, rather than the more traditional, "kill it, and everything along with it" approach.

The bad news: Breast cancer has spread to my bones.
The good news: All my tests show no spread anywhere else, and no enlarged lymph nodes.

The bad news: It is quite rare to have cancer that has already spread with a "normal" mammogram and breast ultrasound, like I have.
The good news: My brother says I will be "like catnip" for Stanford. Doctors love to be faced with something they don't see often.

The bad news: I am going to have to leave Santa Cruz County to have specialists evaluate and offer treatment options.
The good news: Stanford is only 75 minutes away, and there's an Andy Goldsworthy sculpture at the Cantor Art Museum on Stanford's campus. (Check it out:

The bad news: A tremendous number of curious doctors are poking and prodding and examining me.
The good news: I don't have any tattoos that I am ashamed of.

The bad news: I spent the day running between doctors' offices and labs.
The good news: I spent the evening at Henflings, where my 15-yr old step son played his first gig with his band. They were incredible! What a night of mixed emotions!

I have to resist the temptation to run home and search for what is called "The 5-year survival" rates for different cancers, because, "I am not a number, I am a free (wo)man." (If you recognize this quote, look for a new remake of The Prisoner. You can read about it:

Most people misunderstand statistics and take them personally. A rare disease is not rare to the person who has it. A good or a bad prognosis does not exist in a vacuum. We are free to make choices about an infinite variety of things that can influence the quality of our lives. I am doing my best to make the statistics irrelevant.

"Be seeing you."