There’s a lot that’s weird about having cancer, but so far the weirdest thing is how relaxed all the doctors seem to be about it. There’s no sense of urgency at all. The oncologists joke with me, the nurses all smile and laugh – no one seems at all concerned that I have one of the deadliest diseases known to mankind. Why is there no panic here? I’m dying. I literally am dying, and no one seems stressed about it except me. I mean, if I were to refuse treatment for this and was all, “Nah man, I’m gonna just let it ride,” I would be dead before my 28th birthday. Yet this whole cancer biz seems to be moving at the speed of molasses.
In a way, it’s comforting. For them, this is business as usual. If you’re an oncologist, everyone you see has cancer, so there’s really nothing alarming or unusual about it for you. And although it’s tough to hear the word “cancer” and not immediately assume that you’re in imminent danger of expiring, the truth is that this is a slow diseases with some pretty well-established protocols for treatment. In fact, three weeks from ultrasound to bilateral mastectomy is pretty much record speed for breast cancer as far as I can tell. If it were up to me, though, I’d have been on that operating table the day after my biopsy. LET’S DO THIS.
My incessant pestering of all my doctors finally paid off, because my surgery got bumped up from Monday, January 14 to Friday, January 11. It’s weird, but my predominant emotion when considering my impending boob removal is excitement. There’s some apprehension mixed in there and of course a healthy dose of abject terror, but this is a step I need to take to cure myself, and I am going to be so happy when it’s done and I’m that much closer to moving on with my life. Sure, I’m not going to have any nipples and my chest will be permanently numb, but I’m going to be alive. It’s crazy how fast your standards drop when you have cancer.
I’m also kind of pumped about spending a few days in the hospital. Throughout this whole ordeal, I’ve been feeling really weird that nobody is monitoring me or making sure that I don’t suddenly keel over and die since, you know, I have cancer. Knowing that I’m going to be in the care of nurses and doctors for a few days makes me feel a lot more comfortable about what’s going on inside my jacked up body. The most relaxed I’ve been since this whole thing started was when I was in the ER for fainting all over that poor MRI nurse, but that may or may not be because I was given a lot of intravenous anti-anxiety drugs. When they released me, I literally laughed at the seatbelt in the car for the entire 20 minute ride home. That seatbelt was the Louis C.K. of seatbelts to me.
I have to go for my pre-op meeting today at Keck, USC’s medical school/hospital. I’ll be subjected to more tests, which is totally fun and awesome. I’ll have blood drawn, which is so routine now I could just yawn whenever they pull out that needle and tourniquet. I’ll have a urine test, which is whatever, and a chest x-ray, which compared to the MRI is child’s play. Then I’ll have a consult with the anesthesiologist, which is really great because general anesthesia freaks me the hell out. They’re basically going to kill me for five hours – did you know that when you have general anesthesia you can’t breathe on your own anymore? – and then revive me. And I’ll be breastless. With drains coming out of my chest wall. It’s so sick, it makes me weak just thinking about it.
There is one really awesome thing about having cancer that I haven’t mentioned yet, and that’s the mail. Every day something comes for me in the mail – a letter, a package, some flowers, a DVD. I cannot tell you how much it brightens my day to get things by mail! I can’t even remember the last time I got this much snail mail, probably because it was literally never. I’ve literally never gotten this much mail before. It is wonderful. I feel like my cancer is single-handedly keeping the USPS afloat. To all who have reached out to me, whether it was by post or by email or phone or text or messenger pigeon or smoke signals or whatever, you are amazing and I love you.
I was telling my boyfriend about how much love I’ve been showered with, and he asked how it was possible for me to get to the door to receive new packages when the pile of existing gifts was so high. I jokingly replied that there was a nice hole in the shape of the gift he hadn’t gotten me yet. “What shape is the hole?” he asked. “I’ll try to fill it.”
Drawing on some existing jokes from our relationship, I told him it was owl-shaped with some chocolate-shaped bits and maybe some flower-shaped areas. He created the following “rough requirements sketch” for me:
I think the key to a happy life is all in the way you look at things, and from what I can see, I’m a very lucky girl.