Does anyone remember that game, Life (otherwise referred to as “The Game of Life”)? I used to love it. I actually still do. I even downloaded it onto my iTouch years ago. Even though they’ve “updated” it, it still holds up. I don’t know why I still love that game. Maybe it’s the spinner. Maybe the tiny cars with the little peg people that look nothing like actual people. Maybe it’s the little fake mountains you go over or even the possibility of landing on each and every “BABY GIRL” or “BABY BOY” tile and having to lay your little extra pegs sideways in your “car” because you only have a 6 seater. Imagine the mayhem if you land on the “TWINS” tile… Yeah, it’s fun.
But you know what it also is? Misleading. Because even though it throws little obstacles at you like taxes (oh no!), tornados (something I really didn’t have to go through living in SoCal), and losing your job and having to get another one (hey, it happens to everyone)… they don’t throw in the things that really slap you in the face and go “HA HA HAAAAA!”. For example: if I was currently playing a “real life” version of Life, this would be the spot I have just landed on: “You have Cancer! Lose a turn… or several while you go through surgery and chemotherapy”. I know, maybe the “cancer space” on the board wouldn’t have made the game too much fun. But hey… it would’ve made it REALLY interesting…
So this is the space I’ve landed on:
NEUROENDOCRINE TUMOR or PANCREATIC ENDOCRINE TUMOR (Surgery and chemotherapy required).
Pancreatic endocrine tumors (PETs) are also known as endocrine pancreatic tumors (EPTs) or islet cell tumors. PETs are assumed to originate generally in the islets of Langerhans within the pancreas – or, Arnold et alia suggest, from endocrine pancreatic precursor cells (Arnold et al. 2004, 199) – though they may originate outside of the pancreas. (The term pancreatic cancer almost always refers to adenopancreatic cancer, also known as exocrine pancreatic cancer. Adenopancreatic cancers are generally very aggressive, and are not neuroendocrine cancers. About 95 percent of pancreatic tumors are adenopancreatic; about 1 or 2 percent are GEP-NETs.). (Thank you Wikipedia)
Sounds fun right? I’m not even fully sure what all that up there means and the entire Wikipedia entry is just as confusing. You need a “Gray’s Anatomy” book, a.k.a. “Henry Gray’s Anatomy of the Human Body” (I’m talking the actual book called “Gray’s Anatomy” and not talking about the show which is spelled with an “e”) to MAYBE understand all the medical mumbo jumbo. On top of that, you’d probably need at least 2 dictionaries. I know I did. And I’m starting to think I should invest in an Oxford English Dictionary (hardcover edition) because some of those words weren’t in my dinky ass Webster’s paperback.
This is how it happened: At my two week post-op appointment at my OB-Gyn after the c-section birth of my daughter, I felt a lump underneath the left side of my rib cage. I felt around on the right and realized that there was nothing like that on the right side. I poked around a bit more and thought, “hey, I should ask the doctor”. So after he gave me the “I did a great job on your sutures” remark I asked him, “hey, could you possibly feel me up over here?”. Yes, I actually said “feel me up” to my doctor. I then said as he was poking around in the spot I pointed out, “I feel it there, but I don’t feel it on the other side. Is this normal?”. He got this really serious look on his face and said, “we should take an ultrasound” which is what we did. That ultrasound showed a large solid mass. The ultrasound tech could not be sure if it was coming from my pancreas or my liver (oh and she also found I have gall stones. awesome.) and I was referred to another doctor to try and get an mri or a ct scan.
I did some reading on different sites about lymphoma (a possibility), pancreatic cancer (another possibility since the lump I found is mostly situated on the pancreas), chemotherapy, and radiotherapy and well, I guess I have a lot more reading to do. And I REALLY should probably should invest in that much larger dictionary because when I read up on Wikipedia about radiation (or radiotherapy, or… well, many names and types), the things they were saying and explaining went COMPLETELY over my head. Hence, the MAIN reason I never even CONSIDERED going into medicine. Well that and the fact that I almost flunked out of Biology in High School. I mean, yick! Dissection of a piglet? GROSS. But hey… I’m thankful for the many who dug that subject and dissecting small animals so that there could be all these medical advances and so forth… but I digress.
Long story short (although I think I’m past that now), after two months of procedures such as EKG’s, assorted blood tests, colonoscopies, endoscopies, endoscopic ultrasounds and biopsies, my problem was FINALLY diagnosed last week. I had a neuroendocrine tumor. Pancreatic cancer. Not just any pancreatic cancer. A RARE pancreatic cancer. The same kind Steve Jobs has. Good side? It’s not the kind that kills after 2 months. Bad side? It’s chemo resistant and my only option is to have surgery and then (get this) chemo. Whatever…
I’m scared shitless. Not because of the pain. Not because of the chemo. But because I JUST had my baby. Do you people know how long I’ve waited to have a child? How many useless men I went through before I found a guy who is TRULY my partner in life and wanted to have a child with? I made sure I didn’t accidentally get pregnant. I was responsible (for the most part) in that department. I made sure I did what I needed to do as a single person before I considered bringing a little person in the world to share the world with me and her daddy. So you can imagine how 1) scared I am, 2) sad I am, and 3) how PISSED I am that this is happening. I feel a little bit schizo going through all these emotions and at the same time trying to keep it together so my family doesn’t think I’m losing it. But my mind reels at how much crap has been going through my head since I found that lump. It’s never ending. It’s hard to think of anything but this because I have my daughter and my boyfriend to consider. I worry that my daughter will not know me while I go through all this crap. Surgery alone and post off will take 3 weeks of hospitalization. Then who the hell knows how long my chemo will be. I need to think of what’s best for me and for my family.
My head feels like it’s going to explode.
So to you friends out there who feel like I’ve all of a sudden gone underground, I apologize. I’ve had a lot on my plate. It’s been hard for me to explain things to people especially since that least two months have basically been us trying to figure out what the hell I had growing in me. I know that me breaking the news this way is kind of weird, but it was the only way I could reach a lot of people at the same time and explain pretty much ONCE and not over and over again. If you have questions, or want to call, ask or call. I’m around.
If any of you have advice, I’m open to all you’re willing to give me.
I’ll post on this more… this post has taken too long for me to write and I feel I’ve been all over the place. Sorry! It’s been hard to write and take care of baby at the same time…
Anyway, I’m hoping I win this game. I suppose I’ll just come up from behind and surprise everyone. But at least I’m not laying down extra pegs in my 6 seater. That can be a pain in the ass… we wouldn’t want to lose anyone on the way.