Sunday, November 1, 2009

Top of My Class

You, my faithful readers, left me for a bit awhile back and it appears I've returned the favor. I'm like that.
Actually, I hadn't even realized I went over a week without blogging until I sat down tonight to write. And wow, so much to cover.

Let's start with the important news about "The Cancer." Or, to be precise, "The Cancer that no longer is." I had my first 3-month check-up last Wednesday. Chris and I trekked back to UCLA Medical Center and I have to say, it was odd being back. You'd think it would be fresh in my mind (I spent quite a bit of time there and was last there in July) but no. It felt like a long, long time ago I was there and I was even noticing things I'd never noticed before. Hmmm...ya think I was a little focused on the immediate task at hand previously? Yes, perhaps.

We met up with Dr. Glaspy for a quick exam and chat. Dr. Glaspy was the oncologist I originally consulted with, although I had the chemotherapy with Dr. B (and we all know what that stands for!). Since Dr. B didn't want to see me when I was in chemo, I figured she didn't want to see me for any sort of follow-up treatment and thus I returned to Dr. Glaspy's care. You may recall him from prior postings--he's the one who explained his role with a river boat gambler metaphor. Basically, it's his job to review the cards I'm holding (i.e. my pathology report) and let me know the best moves (i.e. chemo and radiation, in my case) and my odds of winning the hand (click here to read the posting about this). He's also the one who told me my hair would fall out "guaranteed." Both things were a little tough to hear in the beginning, but I came to appreciate his directness. In essence, the cards were dealt long ago and all I can do is play them the best way possible and then go on about my life. And when the time came for my hair to fall out, having the "guaranteed" voice in my head made it easier to just go ahead and shave my head without thinking "well what if I'm part of that 1% whose hair doesn't fall out?" Because, well, with my chemo there was no such 1%.

So back I went to Dr. Glaspy in July and again this last week. He asked me questions, joked a bit, answered a few questions I had (mostly reaffirming that I have no restrictions whatsoever. None.), and said that basically everything looks great. No concerns. (If you are wondering, the 3-month exam is a lot like a regular check-up any non-cancer patient would have and that's it; I'll have another mammogram at the next 3-month check-up). Then Dr. Glaspy said "Are you seeing Dr. Karam after this?" To which I answered "Yes." And he said, "Well, we don't both need to grope you, so you can have the breast exam with him."  "Um, no doctor, that would be awkward seeing as we're meeting up with Dr. Karam at Literati for a glass of wine!"  Dr. Glaspy did the groping. And then (after I was dressed again, let's be clear) came the favorite part of the day. He told me that I had handled this whole cancer thing really well and had the right attitude. In fact he said that I was in the top 1/2 of 1% of women as to how I handled this! And hey, I have to say, I'm kind of proud of that. Because, as you know if you've been reading along, mostly I feel like I've been Cancer Dork. I seem to not do things like others generally, and that seemed particularly true as I went through breast cancer treatment. I wasn't emotional enough, I wasn't exercising enough, I wasn't having epiphanies, I kept working, I kept joking, I didn't think I was going to die, I didn't get spiritual, I had parties, and I didn't change a single bad habit (except blow-drying and poofing out my 80's hair...but that wasn't by choice!). I kind of thought I screwed up. Especially in the last few months where I was wondering if I was supposed to be different or somehow a "better" person for all of this. But here's Dr. Glaspy telling me that no, I'm supposed to just get back in that river of life and keep swimming. He said "some women make cancer their whole life. You don't want to do that. This is not likely coming back. Just go on with your life." Which is pretty much how I feel, so that worked out well. Dr. Glaspy is the one who told me I was "the poster child for chemotherapy" (meaning, I absolutely needed ifs, ands or buts). So now I'm the poster child for cancer treatment. Yeah me! ;-) I'm feeling a little less cancer-dorkish these days.

And part of that might be the post-chemo glamor shot photo in this post. I'm kidding. But the photo was taken for the new brochure for The Pink Ribbon Place which  my friend Mike Easley of Vital Excess Designs put together. He did these great photos of several breast cancer survivors, and this is the photo he took of me. Lovely touch-up job don't you think? Yeah, please say you like it because there are also 20"x 30" posters of each of us in the actual Pink Ribbon Place office! I haven't totally gotten used to this look (I can still be caught off guard and surprised by my own reflection), so it was a little freaky to see the giant poster. But, you can see that my hair is growing. In fact, it's growing enough that Chris announced on Friday morning "Hey, you have bedhead!" And I did--one funky little section on the side of my head was just sticking straight up and out. Never has a woman been so excited to have bad bedhead. I'm contemplating my first official hair cut.

Alrighty then, that's enough for now. I will share with you the exciting grand opening of The Pink Ribbon Place and a few other things from a very eventful week in the next few posts. For now, there's some trash television just calling out to me. And there may be wine. Because that's the river of life I'm swimming in.


  1. Hey Theresa,

    You look great and I love the hair. So glad to hear that you got a good report! This will crack you up, I've gone green. I bought a hybrid car!

    UCSB Kathy

  2. Of course you're the poster child for handling cancer! Who else would be? But enough about you...were you have drinks with the hot doctor? (since we're moving on with life and all)

  3. You look radiant and glam what a lovely poster girl. Glad all is well. God Bless

  4. The picture is fabulous! You make cancer-dork a sexy thing ;)

  5. That is a fantastic picture! Are you going to roll with the short "do" or are you eeking your way back to your aforementioned "80's" coif? BTW, the military does a combined federal campaign for charities every year. It's that time of year for service members to be hit up for donations of their choice. They get a "catalog" of various charities that they can choose from and can sign up to have an amount deducted from their pay to go directly to the charity. So, we were wondering, since your new Pink Ribbon Place is still in it's infancy, where we can have a monthly donation be sent. We always donate to St. Jude's, but would like to add your organization to the "list". Email me. Again, lookin' pretty swank there!

  6. Awww, you guys make me! Thanks for your kind words.

    Juicy-- yes, we had drinks with the "hot" doctor. But note, I said "we"--Chris was there too! (All my cougar friends love my doctor!)

    Laura--thank you! I will email you the address and info for the Pink Ribbon place. That's so cool!

    Kathy--green?? Are the Republicans throwing you out??

  7. Teresa -
    I love your new picture. Your hair seems to be growing in faster than mine, and I'm jealous! Isn't it funny how we look totally different after losing our hair and having it start growing back in? Weird. I think yours is wonderful though.


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