Moira’s Cancer According To Seinfeld

Just another weblog

April 4, 2009: George : Elaine , have you ever sent a racy photograph of yourself to anyone? Elaine : Yeah. I sent one to everyone I know. Remember my Christmas card?


I took a bunch of photos with my crappy camera phone during this process. I thought I’d just upload them here so you could see. Most of them are chemo oriented, of course.


April 22, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

April 2, 2009: Doctor (holding chart): Well, that was a long time ago. How about if I just erase it? Now about that rash… Elaine: But it was in pen. You fake erased.

Today I met with a new oncologist. Dr. Cameron had recommended someone at City of Hope. I wasn’t sure whether I should transfer someone as important as an oncologist in the middle of treatment. But it’s April 2 and my mastectomy x2 was March 12. Janet Reno never called to follow up. Never. I thought it was slightly annoying—yet forgivable—when she had to rustle around in my chart to give herself a quick update before she even recalled my case. And it was rather off-putting when she couldn’t even recall which breast had the tumor in it. But not following up on a patient? Not good for business. I really did feel like a number at that point.

So, new oncologist. As things go at COH, she was a very kind woman, asked lots of “how are you feeling/doing/coping/enduring” type questions. Oh, and she went over my entire history with me—only glancing down occasionally to double-check her dates. SHE knew more about my case than Janet Reno. I was told that all of our cases go before a “tumor board” which means that a bunch of doctors sit around and discuss treatment options in a roundtable format. I received not just one doctor’s opinion, but one based on a host of trained professionals who had looked at me. ME.

Results: no more chemo. One year of Herceptin, the drug that only attacks cancer cells of my type. And 28 doses of radiation. I have to do the radiation because even though we got clear margins, it was only by millimeters. And cancer in a “young” person is way more aggressive than an older person. So they want to make sure they do as much as they can to prevent recurrence.

I spent about 45 minutes with her, I think. That was more than all my Janet Reno appointments put together.

April 17, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

March 31, 2009: MORTY: “There’s already an ambulance here for Mrs Glickman.There’s room for one more.”

I had my first visit to the plastic surgeon on March 25. He is going to see how things are healing, maybe give me my first expansion. Oh, and get a drain out.

So he looks at my drain tubes and the bulbs and says, “you have a leak”. I’m like, WHAT? “Your expander. It’s leaking. You didn’t notice that your drain is dyed blue?” I said I thought it was just different from the other side. Like a different make. He said, “We’re going to have to replace it. Like now.” And so that meant yet another surgery. They scheduled me for March 31. It would be outpatient. I’d go in first thing in the morning and be released a few hours later. I was starting to freak out. I called Fifi and actually started crying—not for myself, but because my mom is going to be turning 82 on March 31, and this is news that an 82-year-old woman just should not hear. She has started to stress a little bit about me and when she does that, her health goes to hell.

Fifi had a simple answer: “let’s not tell her.” We agreed. Fifi would take me early that morning and then she’d go over to mom’s house to take her to a birthday lunch. Paul would take me home. Mom would never know about the third surgery.

And she still doesn’t. Don’t tell her.

April 17, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

March 20, 2009: Kramer: “You know, my arm really hurts. I wonder if its gonna affect my golf swing.”

Surgery. This time was much shorter, and I only had to stay one night. I actually remember being wheeled into the operating room. But that’s all I remember.

Fifi stayed over with me this time. Another sleepover, this time with big sister. I didn’t have as many visitors (Leighanne, of course, and Paul), but I was released and home by about noon. Phew. Glad that was over. Two operations in two weeks is a little rough.

My chest feels super tight with the expanders in place. It’s as if I have a gigantic rubber band over my chest. My arm is what is killing me, and I have a high pain threshold. It feels like white-hot searing pangs whenever I move it. I am on a different pain medication, so it makes me sleep. At this point, I want to sleep through it all.

The next days are a little bit easier—the pain lessens and I am a little more mobile. I’m kind of hunched over like an old woman, though. I think that’s because of the stress that all the muscles and tissue have gone under. I’m sort of shuffling around gently, trying not to jostle anything. I have the two large incisions over each breast (where they were, although the expanders do make small fake ones), and then the incision under the arm. I’m indented where they took the flesh out.

The drains are a big pain. I’m constantly thinking that I’m going to yank them out. I have to wear the bulbs in a pouch around my neck while I shower—the rest of the time they are pinned to my clothes. Once one slipped from the pouch in the shower and it was just dangling from my body. I was sure it was going to rip out. But it didn’t. 

April 17, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

March 18, 2009: GEORGE: The doctors thought he had cancer, but the surgery revealed he never actually had it. JERRY: So what was wrong with him? GEORGE: Nothing!

OK. Lots of catching up to do:

When they came in after surgery, they told me that the sentinel node biopsy was clean. Whoopie! And we ain’t talking Goldberg. They would, of course, test the other half of the node in a more thorough test, but usually in 95 percent of cases, it comes back clean, too. They also got all the cancer out. The margins were really close, Dr. Cameron said, but they got it all. I would see her in a few days when they had the results of the pathology report and so she could check on my healing.

So it’s a few days later, and I indeed met with Dr. Cameron. As I could have predicted, I was in the 5 percent of sentinel node cases that AREN’T clean. Turns out, there were 2 millimeters of cancer in the node. That meant that I’d have to go back in for the full lymph node dissection, where they scoop out a portion of tissue from the underarm and pull apart each node and test them for cancer. I will require yet another stay in the hospital. I was bummed, (especially when the physician’s asst. comes in and starts with “did the doctor tell you the results yet?” I mean, you have to know it’s not good news). I’m scheduled to go in in two days. On the positive side: my old labs are still fine to use. And at least I will know some friendly faces when I go in.

April 17, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

March 15, 2009: Kramer: Yeah, I have a question. What do you know about inter-abdominal retractors? Doctor: Are you asking because you saw “20/20” last night? Kramer: I sure am

I was released from the hospital on Saturday at noon. They were so good to me over there–really a caring environment. I had a little private room with a pull-out chair that turned into a bed (think a first class seat on British Airways commercials) and so Leighanne stayed both nights. We had the most bizarre of sleep-overs, I guess. Watched a lot of crap tV (including Seinfeld, something we always quote but have never actually watched together. Two of our fave episodes were on: the Little Jerry and The Comeback). She is such a great person for just running down anything that I needed (or thinking of it before I needed it). The nurses came in at regular intervals to check vitals, pain levels, measure fluids coming out of weird tubes and ask if I had already ordered food. They seem to want you to eat quite a bit! (the food, by the way, is prepared to order by the Marriott corp. Not bad at all!) My family all visited several times a day. Friday morning I was whacked out on morphine, but by the afternoon I was a little more myself. I walked around the hospital on two occasions; once dragging that IV pole around, and once without. I ran a tiny fever Friday night (I had a little fluid collecting in my lungs), but between the antibiotics and these breathing exercises they give you to do, it went away. Saturday I was feeling good and the pain was pretty manageable, so off I went–but they scheduled an at-home nurse to come visit me for Sunday, just to show me how to deal with the drain bulbs, change dressings, etc.

By sunday, I was feeling pretty good so by the time she arrived I already figured out all that stuff and she really had nothing to do. One of the things they sent me home with was this device called OnQ, which was a novacaine pump that delivered topical painkillers for 72 hours. I’ll have that removed in a couple of days. It is making life so much easier, because it reduces the amount of narcotics a patient must take. It’s shaped like a little football, or possibly a grenade. I have to cart it around in a little pouch. Fifi calls it my handbag.

I kind of overdid it on Sunday and was in a little more pain than normal, so I’m going to take it easy for the next couple of days. It’s hard staying put, though!

April 1, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment