Pinky Pie

Out of the woodwork

Posted on: September 19, 2009

I ran into a woman at a retirement tea Thursday, who said when she saw me, “No babies in the nursery.”

A bit later, she added, “I’m sorry you’ve joined the club. Now you’re president.”

Both of those statements require a bit of explanation.  First, she used to be head of nursing at a hospital about 45 miles from La Crosse and I was interviewing her for a La Crosse Tribune story about small community hospitals. My mind is clearly more vacant than hers but as I remember it, she was showing me around the hospital, telling me how vital it was especially for women in labor. They might not make it to La Crosse on a winter day. That especially was true before the curving highway was straightened.

I listened intently to her that day and either said or wrote in the story, “No babies in the nursery.” This woman of great humor never forgot it. If it ended up in the newspaper, it might have been a tad uncomfortable for her in that previous role. Sorry, Karen.

But we also talked about breast cancer and she is something like a 15-year survivor. Once again, and it was only Thursday, but I can’t remember the number of years she told me it has been since she was diagnosed. I should have remembered, but you know I’ll soon have what is called “chemo brain,” which means things may be foggy for a long time. I think I was just practicing my fogginess. You can’t start too soon.

It was when she learned I had breast cancer and was about to start chemotherapy that she said, “I’m sorry you’ve joined the club. Now you’re president.”

It’s true no one wants to join this club – but to be president? Wow! I’ve never been president of anything, and my role as vice president of my fourth grade class did not turn out so well. I’m hoping my presidency of this club turns out much, much better.

The truth is women with breast cancer come out of the woodwork when you are diagnosed. To hear 10 year, 15th year, 17 year, 22 year and even 30 plus year survivors is really inspiring and comforting. Donna, who might be described as a cousin once removed if I can figure out that cousin thing, wrote me to tell me she is 26 years since diagnosis. ” I was diagnosed stage 3 at diagnosis and was found quite by accident during a check-up.  It was Inflamatory Breast Cancer and my prognosis was apparently 8 months (although no one told me at the time).  I had 6 months of chemo, 6 weeks of radiation, mastectomy and 6 more months of chemo  ( a year to remember).

Yesterday when I had my follow up appointment with the surgeon, I was given a “lifetime” prescription for – how else could I put it –  a bra with fake boobs. So I said to the nurse, “That’ll be good for 30 or 40 years?” She looked at me and said, “fifty.”  I’m not sure I want to be 106 years old, but that would be something to have survived 50 years.

Another friend told me about a t-shirt she saw. It said, “Of course they’re not real. My real ones tried to kill me.”

And a third friend said, I need to have my chemo outfit, or what she called my battle armor. Where can I get a suit of armor? And wouldn’t that be a tad awkward in the OR when the surgeon tries to implant my port for delivery of said chemotherapy?

I’ve been exploring t-shirts on line in the hopes I can get one here before chemo on Wednesday – it’s iffy. But I’ve found sites with funny shirts – I’m afraid I just can’t get to rough and nasty. I have settled on one that I’ll order today. Stay tuned to see what I pink, er pick.


2 Responses to "Out of the woodwork"

Hey very nice blog!!….I’m an instant fan, I have bookmarked you and I’ll be checking back on a regular….See ya

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