I always wanted a ‘killer’ body, you know like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. Legs for days, thin waist, C cups, and beautiful perfect curls. And well clearly, I did not get that ‘killer’ body. Instead, I literally got a ‘killer body’ wrapped in a 5 foot 2, extra large package. But I do have curls, now. Definitely a benefit after being bald. I didn’t know I had a ‘killer body’ until a year and half ago when I awoke from a procedure and the word no one wanted to utter was cancer. Regardless, that was what I had – CANCER! On Monday, I found out that my cancer was in remission and my body failed in its initial attempt to take me down. Now don’t get me wrong I am elated to be cancer free, but it turns out my ‘killer’ body was going for a second attempt. The same scan that showed that I was cancer free also showed a serious abnormality. It appeared on the scan as well as in person that my left side was double, and in the case of my left breast triple the size, of the right. (Things I know now: I never want implants and people with unusually large breasts must hate them and have back problems.) Initially we all thought the swelling was from the prednisone and some of it was, but the severe unilateral swelling was a mystery. And well we all know that no doctor likes a mystery. And thus begins my days of testing to reveal an answer.
My first stop was Breast imaging to rule out an odd inflammatory breast cancer or strange infection. I was all good with an ultrasound, but surprise they thought a mammogram would potentially provide more information. Needless to say I was not happy that I wouldn’t get to wait the seven more years before my first mammogram. So before I was officially inducted into the mammogram club, I was able to hang out with some alum in the patient waiting room. I started the conversation (of course) by joking about becoming a johnny designer, because let’s be honest their horrible. And the very thin woman next to me said, “at least you’re voluptuous, I have to try to wrap mine around me three times and it still doesn’t quite work out”. I laughed and said well I might be too voluptuous, because I can barely get mine around once”. And at that point I was pretty sure my new fangled large boob was trying to bust out. They all talked about their mammogram experiences and I have to say I was not looking forward to it. When they called my name, there was a split second I thought about running. Of course I also knew there was no chance it was worse than a bone marrow aspiration. So I went for it. And it sucked, but ultimately not even close to a needle shoved in your hip bone. But I can say that I feel for the small breasted women of the world, because that must be an unpleasant experience. The mammogram and ultrasound yielded what we all already knew, I had inflammation and edema (fluid retention). They thought perhaps a skin punch biopsy might reveal the cause. And so Tuesday, when I should have already been back home, I would be off to the dermatologist.
The dermatologist’s office was packed and I was a double booking at the last minute, because Dr. J wanted answers. And I was thankful because my discomfort level was at an all time high. Everyone wanted to celebrate my cancer free status, but I had never been more miserable. The dermatologist thought the biopsy would yield nothing of significance but he would do it just in case, but his feelings were a potential clot. And he thought perhaps an ultrasound on my neck and arm would be a good idea. Dr. J couldn’t get me in right away in Boston, so we traveled home and when my oncology team here couldn’t get me an appointment til Friday, they suggested I go straight to the ER and they’d have to do it. So off we went. The ER sort of marveled at my awesome swelling and thought that the ultrasound would yield nothing but that it would need to be done to rule out anything life threatening. I explained that the swelling was life threatening because my neck was trying to kill me every time I laid down, the swelling in my neck, which I affectionately coined my skin beard, tried to choke me. The ultrasound was done and what was said to be less than a 2% chance was my diagnosis – a massive blood clot (DVT) extending from neck to my arm. The attending doctor even said that he would bet it wasn’t a clot, clearly I should have accepted. I am after all an anomaly. He told me three doctors were all like “what the hell” and I knew Dr. J and Z would do the same. So great, another murder attempt by my “killer body”. The question was how to prevent it from happening, because clearly it had been premeditated for at least a few weeks. I got to hang out in the ER where my parents and I entertained by singing “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen..”, and cracking jokes. What else can you do when you have spent nearly 18 hours in a hospital over the course of two days and are hangry and well just tired. In my family, we still attempt to make the best of it because what else can you do. So they thought surgery might be too risky and went with blood thinners in both a pill and injection. And guess what I get to give myself injections daily, which is super fun! So far there hasn’t been any reduction in swelling so I’m still pretty miserable, but hopefully soon. I’m back to Boston Monday to see a Vascular specialist. So apparently even cancer free I get to add more doctor’s to my ‘team’. But so what I’m cancer free and will hopefully soon be clot free and on my way to recovering from the storm that has been the last year and half. It has been quite an adventure! And hopefully my ‘killer’ body gets the picture and works at being the killer body I always wanted! And I know that won’t happen overnight either, so begins a major lifestyle change.