Moira’s Cancer According To Seinfeld

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March 12, 2009: GEORGE: Hey, Jerry, remember Frogger? I used to be so into this game. Gettin’ that frog across the street was my entire life.

My sister Fifi says that going through cancer treatment successfully is like pressing the reset button on a video game. You get to start over. But since you’ve played the game at least once, things are much different on the next round—more knowledge of how to do it right.

I’m going into surgery today. Yesterday’s pre-op day at City of Hope was very busy. I met with Dr. Cameron, my surgeon, one last time and we went over the basics of tomorrow. My PET scan results were pretty good, she told me—if she doesn’t find any cancer in the sentinel node, I won’t have to do any more chemo. We talked about a bunch of other stuff for “the future” and it’s great to think that after this, the future can start right away, instead of delaying for yet more treatment.

Then I saw the NP who went over the details of my surgery and my stay. We also went over the aftercare instructions, although I will get those again before I’m discharged (good thing we did it beforehand—who knows what I’ll remember all medicated). Finally, I had a few labs done—blood, chest x-ray and EKG–so that they know where I’m at when I am under.

Even though I’m leaving for the hospital in less than an hour, I’m not really that nervous. I packed for overnight, I have some dodgy UK tabloids to read courtesy of Leighanne, and I just feel ready.

You know, all these women’s books say that breast cancer patients often have to mourn the lost of their breasts. I guess they are a big link to their femininity, since they do that whole child-rearing/feeding thing. I don’t know, I just don’t really feel that way. I just want them gone—inferior equipment that doesn’t belong on my body. As my friend Michelle says, thank them for their service and let them go. I’m just happy to be packed and ready for the next phase.

Time to hit reset.

 

March 12, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

February 25, 2009: Frank: “Hey, Braun, I got good news and bad news. And they’re both the same: you’re fired. Costanza, you’ve won the Water Pik!”

frank-costanzaWell, this month has been a bunch of good news/bad news. About a week after I saw Dr. Cameron I got a call from City of Hope. They said that my insurance had a Pre-existing Clause attached to it, meaning that I had a hold on my insurance benefits until July 2009. I told them it was impossible, that I have had no lapse in coverage, yada yada…they said, probably just a mistake, call the insurance company, they’ll surely straighten it out. So I called, and this stroppy moo of a girl was like, “well we just can’t TAKE  the hold off. You have to prove that you were insured before.” Luckily, I remembered where I put that certificate from my last insurance company, so I faxed it from work the next day. But I was fretting—how long would it take to have them process my request? Would they say they never got the fax? Would they delay removing the clause, just to delay paying any benefits? I had seen “Sicko,” you know.

My friend Trish from the barn used to work in Human Resources at City of Long Beach, where Paul works. She flew into action, reaching out to the head of the department, telling them what was going on with me. In 24 hours, the department head had admonished the insurance company (City of LB is a HUGE account), had gotten the stroppy girl in trouble, and had miraculously straightened out the entire situation. Thank you Trish! Pays to know friends in high places…sure enough, when I called City of Hope to follow up, they said that everything was fine with my account. Phew.

The other good news/bad news that happened was my follow up with Janet Reno, post chemo. She did one final check before surgery (yes, the tumor is still apparent), got my new surgeon’s info, and scheduled me for a PET/CT scan to compare to the first one—the one that I had before I started chemo. This would be able to tell whether the cancer has spread anywhere else. I was like, OK, cool, good info to have. We talked about my surgery and whether I would be back on Herceptin post surgery. She discussed a new drug that is on the market but it really expensive, but “we’d see…” Then she said “so we’ll do about 4 months of chemo after surgery…” I just nodded, as if she told me “we’ll go grocery shopping after this.” I left the office, went downstairs to my car, called Paul, told him, and cried. I can’t do another four months of chemo. I just can’t. I mean, it’s soul destroying. It’s physically destroying! Paul just told me that we don’t know for sure, Dr. Cameron will have an opinion too, don’t get too upset yet.

So I am once again trying to sack it up, not worry, and keeping positive. It’s tougher this time around, but worrying doesn’t help. I really do feel like someone who has been sentenced to go back into jail. “I can’t do another stretch inside.”

But as the days have passed, I am not so panicked about more chemo. If I have to do it, I have to do it. I won’t be happy about it. But I’ll do what it takes. 

March 3, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

February 6, 2009: ELAINE: “Wait a minute, wait a minute. Who is the Lopper?” KRAMER: “Oh, it’s no big deal. It’s just some guy who’s been running around Riverside park-pffff. You know, cutting people’s heads off.”

the-lopperOkay, so here’s a not-so-quick-update for those of you playing at home. I met with my new surgeon, who I will call Dr. Cameron, on February 4. She is so awesome, and yes, she is very young and pretty, but she also has such great positive energy, and an impressive resume to match. We talked about surgery options, and what oncologist Janet Reno had recommended, which was a complete mastectomy instead of the lumpectomy, seeing that the tumor was stubbornly still around. She agreed, and said that it would be fine, that she uses a skin-sparing technique that allows the plastic surgeon to do some really “pretty work”. And we also decided that it would be best to remove the other breast, since chances of recurrence in that one increase with each year I’m on the planet. It wasn’t a huge decision to make, really…after all, if you’re going to take one, might as well take them both. She said that she would then make an appointment for me to meet with the plastic surgeon there who will be doing my reconstruction, and would get back to me in a couple of days.

 

Two days later, City of Hope left the message that I had an appointment on March 4 with my plastic surgeon. I was a little alarmed; that is pretty much the window of when I should be going under the knife after chemo. I called them back to see if there was any other time earlier. Nope.com. So then I left a message with Dr. Cameron’s office. I also decided that since I had her email address, I’d just send a quick note asking if the time frame was still OK, and explained the March 4 date.

 

I got a message back later that day. No lie, this is it.

It was great seeing you too! You did really well with your chemo. I just finished in the operating room (OR) so can respond. I emailed your plastic surgeon yesterday when I saw that your appointment was on March 4th–more to coordinate an operative date with him since usually it takes us about a month to coordinate an OR time (we book approximately 4-6 weeks out…). The first day that works for us both is March 13th. I think that is a good time: that is about 5-6 weeks after your last chemo, which gives your body enough time to heal from the chemo (for a better chance at healing from surgery) and not too far out that we worry about the cancer (but we are hoping that all of the cancer is gone!). I hope that date will work with you. His assistant just confirmed the date with me, so we will reserve that date for your surgery. you will need to come back to see me to sign all of the papers and ask any questions. I will have the girls in the clinic give you a call with an appointment date. I wish I could do it on March 4th (when you are seeing him) but I will be away at a conference.

I am glad you came back to see me. See you soon!

Please email with any other questions. Have a great weekend!”

 

I wanted to cry. All those positive little exclamation points. So so very different from The Lopper, who creepily reminds me of the Herbert character on “Family Guy.” I am in good hands now at last.

March 3, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment