Good News. Really.

Good News Really Laughing at CancerA couple weeks ago, I got the news that, like one in eight women in America, I have breast cancer. Thanks to digital mammography and excellent doctors, I’m going to be fine. You’re not going to get rid of me that easily.

Considering my posts about vaginas and fart filters, it’s strange that I find this difficult to discuss. Writing about a breast shouldn’t make me feel shy. In this case, though, I am the owner of the body part that’s gone on the fritz. I have a titanium clip in there, soon to be joined by a radioactive seed for precise tumor location. I’ve dubbed it Robo-boob.

I wasn’t going to address this at all since I write an allegedly humorous blog and this tends to be pretty dramatic stuff. But here goes. I’m going to have a lumpectomy on July 3rd. (Thieves be warned. My house is staffed with attack cats.) If the excision has clear margins, meaning the entire growth has been removed, I will begin radiation a month later.

I’m not very worried about the surgery. I’ll be having “twilight sleep”–the good stuff that Michael Jackson favored. I have been assured that, unlike Michael, I will continue breathing on my own. The idea of radiation is scarier to me. Luckily, it’s not the kind that will turn me into Godzilla, the Hulk or a giant spider. Phew.

Unfortunately, my insurance won’t cover a scooter. No handicapped parking either. I did get a binder from Mt. Sinai Hospital to keep track of appointments, post-op instructions etc. But I saw some women walking around with reusable grocery bags emblazoned with the pink ribbon on them, so I’m hoping for more swag. Gotta find a silver lining to this thing.

I know that prayer is a comfort to people and makes them feel less powerless. But when someone says, “I’m praying for you,” what I hear is, “You are so screwed that only a deity you don’t believe in can save you now.” As far as I’m concerned, everyone except my surgeon is helpless in this situation. There will no Tebowing in the OR, let’s put it that way–at least while I’m awake.

A proliferation of cancerous cells will not result in a conversion experience for me. That seems like a faulty basis on which to start (or stop) believing. So, while I love my Christian friends for caring, I respectfully ask them to understand it does not make me feel better to hear about it and to please keep it to themselves. Surely I can’t be the first person to feel this way?

I’d like to address a few popular sayings/beliefs trotted out regarding cancer.

Everything happens for a reason. Yes, the reason is cancer. Is it because I paid the gas bill late or didn’t send a Christmas card?

[She] is fighting a battle with cancer. My chest is not a war zone. I prefer to say I’m having a slap fight with cancer. Sounds less ominous and it’s a nice visual, too.

Here’s an email from Johns Hopkins about breast cancer. It’s a hoax that’s been circulating since 2008. The person who wrote this should be flogged.

This [alternative therapy] really works. Ever meet someone who cured cancer by drinking his own pee? Probably not. Want to talk to Steve Jobs about the miracle macrobiotic cure he did for months before agreeing to conventional treatment? Oh, that’s right, you can’t: he’s dead.

I should point out that I am not saying I’m an expert. Having cancer doesn’t make you an expert any more than having your driver’s license makes you a Formula One racer. But I don’t think I’m so unique that no one else has had these thoughts. Bullshit artists like Louise Hay have made a lot of money getting people to think they have all the answers, which brings me to my final thought for those who would easily pass judgment on someone like me:

Negativity causes cancer. If you believe that, why don’t you have cancer, too?

Related posts:
I’m Radioactive – Laughing at Cancer
Tales from the Waiting Room – Laughing at Cancer

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9 replies
  1. tink
    tink says:

    Your blog has kept me laughing and thinking you would be a marvellous friend (if I didn't live inconveniently in Australia) for a few years now. It goes to show how wonderful your writing and comic turn of phrase is when you can write about this particular topic and still make me laugh! (Hope that's what you intended…). I love your way of thinking and I think you are just gorgeous. You get through this so I can keep receiving your blog (it's all about me, you understand :)) Lots of love from across the world – and no prayers – from Tink xx

  2. SueAnn Lommler
    SueAnn Lommler says:

    My mom had breast cancer…they found it early and removed the cancer cells. She has been free of cancer for 8 years now. She is doing great and so will you!!
    Hugging you

  3. kathcom
    kathcom says:

    Thanks, tink! I always want to make you laugh. When I laugh, I don't worry about the future or regret the past. That all gets drowned out in the moment.

    Though I'd be lying to say I'm not scared of going through this, finding the humor is what's getting me through it. That and knowing I've got an awesome Aussie expecting new posts.;)

  4. kathcom
    kathcom says:

    Thanks, SueAnn! I love hugs and I'm glad to hear your mom is doing great!

    Hey, Debbie! It's good to "see" you. I swear, the next time I'm in OK I'm going to look you up so we can take a drive in your new MarkVIII!

  5. Laura
    Laura says:

    I for one am taking up a collect to get you that Mobility Scooter! It will have a British flag flying and when you put in drive the theme song from Benny Hill will play. We just need someone to to pat you on the back of the head as you move forward without cancer!

  6. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Kathy, I am so sorry to hear you are going through this. I had a big scare with possible inflammatory breast carcinoma in 2005. Even after the initial needle biopsies came back negative, my doctor was not convinced and had me get a 2nd opinion. I did not tell anyone because my brother and sister-in-law were about to have a baby. That is actually how I remember my nephew's birthday….it was the day of my biopsy. You are brave to share your experience. I do believe you will be just fine and I love your sense of humor. I won't tell you I will pray for you but I will be thinking positive thoughts for you and on the day of your surgery. ~Pamela

  7. kathcom
    kathcom says:

    Laura, what have you done? Now I can't get the image of me inching along in a scooter with the Benny Hill theme playing out of my head. The British flag is perfect, too. I'd just need to add some bumper stickers to the back. Any suggestions?

  8. kathcom
    kathcom says:

    Thank you for writing, Pamela. I'm sorry you had to go through such a scary experience alone. I'm glad everything turned out fine. Thanks for your kind words and encouragement. I think I'm going to be fine, too.


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