We’ve had quite the week here.
On Monday I went in to UCLA for a mammogram check-up. It’s been 3 years since I finished treatment, and 3 years 8 months since I heard the words “Highly Suspicious of Malignancy” following a mammogram. Mostly, I don’t think about “recurrence” or even “cancer” in the sense that it might apply to me again one day. Heck, sometimes I forget I even had it. Sometimes. But, right before an appointment, I start to think about it again. And about how awful cancer is. Just a few weeks ago someone I knew, someone who lives in my same town and was diagnosed with breast cancer about a year before I was, passed away from cancer. She was also an animal lover and donated lots of time and money and heart and soul to the Mary S. Roberts Pet Adoption Center and The Pink Ribbon Place, two groups that I also volunteer with. So Linda was on my mind as I prepared for my check-up.
But also, Seamus’s eye was starting to look pretty bad. And Saturday evening he started squinting a lot, and the third eyelid (you know, the one that makes dogs look like they’ve rolled their eyes back into their heads?) came up–on both eyes. By Sunday morning he looked a bit better. And although he didn’t seem to be in any pain, I still didn’t like the looks of things. I called the emergency clinic. They told me not to give him anymore eyedrops, in case it was a scratch, and to call the clinic on Monday to get him in as soon as possible. He looked almost back to normal Monday morning, except the eye was red. I called the clinic and scheduled him for Tuesday morning. Then we took him to Ruff House doggie day care to watch him Monday while we went to my check-up. I was so worried about Seamus, I forgot to worry about myself.
Well, right up until the mammogram started.
This was a new tech–well, new to me. Remember, I’ve had more mammograms than the “normal” person my age would have had, so I can recognize the techs. When I get a mammogram they put a little marker on the scar on my right breast (so the radiologist knows to expect something “weird” there, I assume.) She didn’t do that, so I mentioned it and she stared at my breasts and said “I don’t see it.” Which is both nice and frightening. I pointed the scar out to her (it is well off to the side, nearer my armpit than one might expect and my surgeon, as we all know, did a fabulous job, so as scars go, it’s not so bad). Then she stared again and said “It was on your right? But this one,” she points to my left breast, “is smaller!” Um, thanks? (Side note since some of you lucky folks might not know this– radiation, which I had lots of on the right side, can make a breast both firmer–scar tissue!–and bigger (swelling? I don’t know.) But apparently this tech thought that if something was removed from my breast it should be smaller than the other one. I don’t know. And this wasn’t the time for a discussion.) Now I can laugh about that conversation. But at the time all it did was flood me with memories of being a breast cancer patient. No thanks. Can we just move along? And we did. Mammogram ended, wait for the radiologist ended, and I was once again in an exam room with a doctor looking at my mammogram…telling me all was clear.
Phew. I’m good for another year.
Chris and I stuck to our “doing something fun” post-doctor appointment tradition and went to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and then met up with some friends for a vegan meal at Sage in Echo Park. Very good food and company, which is always a good thing.
But the next day it was Seamus’s turn. I’m sorry to say, Seamus’s appointment did not go as well as mine.
The cancer cells seem to be taking over his left eye and he can no longer see out of it. This explains some poorly executed left turns of late, and he’s ran into my legs on occasion. While he is not in pain at this point, obviously we do not want to let it get to that stage. The eye will be monitored and if pressure continues to build, we will have to have the eye removed. That’s likely to happen sooner rather than later. We’ll monitor it carefully and do what’s in his best interest, of course. He goes back Tuesday morning for a pressure check and if it’s up, we’ll be scheduling a surgery. The vet tells me that Seamus is already adjusting to seeing out of only one eye and other than recovering from the surgery he won’t know a difference–he’s been not seeing out of that eye for awhile and once it starts to irritate him (the pressure) he’ll just know that post-surgery an irritant is gone. I hope that’s the case and it does make sense. They also insert a silicone “ball” that prevents the area from caving in, so it will look like Seamus is winking, rather than a gash or sunken area. We’re also thinking Seamus can totally rock an eye patch. The silver lining, I suppose, is that the cancer is fully contained in the eye. So removal of the eye is removal of the cancer. And that little bastard cancer will be completely out of our lives again. And it had darn well not be back. I’m now that much more committed to a vegan diet for me and a healthier, natural diet for Seamus (Chris is eating much better too, but he’s a long way from vegan.) I’m also changing up what sort of household products we use (once one starts looking at it–it is simply horrifying how we put harmful chemicals in just about anything. It really needs to stop. It’s no wonder cancer is so pervasive.)
In the meantime, Seamus and I will be featured in a national magazine and they are sending out a photographer for a photo shoot sometime between Sept 1 and 10. I’m hoping it occurs before the surgery. I can’t disclose which magazine just yet, but I can tell you we (the book/ Seamus/ me) will be in at least two national magazines in October and at least one in November. We’ll also be in our local Inland Empire magazine in October. Yeah, he’s famous and he knows it. This eye thing, it’s just a bump in the road (or, um, eyeball.)
But man, I hate cancer.