Hey! Yo Momma Gots Tatts! The Demise of Trudy Tumor, Part II

Call me a dinosaur (my son does), but I don’t like or understand tattoos. I thought, briefly, about getting something small and significant (a quill pen and inkwell? A typewriter?), and ultimately nixed the idea. Too expensive, too permanent, and who wants an indistinguishable pen on their arm/shoulder/leg when their skin is old and wrinkled? That quill pen might turn into an Indian chief’s headdress.
So imagine my surprise when I was told I would be getting tattooed as part of my treatment process.
Shannon, the chief radiology therapist, took me into her x-ray room for my trial run. Her room houses a normal CT scanner. I lay on the table and let her situate me. Using all of my merged CT scans, PET scans, and whatever other info they had on me, her machine circled around me with laser beams indicating my three “spots.” She X’d them with a green magic marker – one on each hip and one in the middle (each one just low enough so I’m not inclined to drop my drawers to show them off). The actual tattoos will be about the size of a pin head. But I can still claim them as the genuine article. 🙂
Shannon told me she had one patient who was so flipped out about the tattoos, that she got one on her arm to show the woman how unnoticeable they really are. That’s a dedicated medical professional in my book. She gave me a mini-lesson in radiology. The table I’ll be on is “radiolucent” – it has a clear plastic covering (like a cell phone screen cover) over a plastic grid, so when the machine spins around me, it can zap from the bottom as well as the sides and top. Other “normal” x-ray tables have “radiopaque” surfaces. Someday those two words will end up in a book of mine, along with Shannon, the self-professed x-ray geek. She is truly a wealth of information.
Then, as a bonus, I found out her son was headed to Chicago for Navy boot camp and would be going to Charleston, SC for nuclear power training. My son is a nuke, down there working/teaching on the prototype training platform. So eventually they’ll run into each other.
Small world.
I headed from there into the world of radiation, chemotherapy, and more – stay tuned! I’ll have pictures (NOT of my tatts!!) in upcoming posts.
Meanwhile, I get to tell my kids “Hey! Yo Momma gots tatts!”

The Demise of Trudy Tumor

The words lingered in the air, like a submarine’s missile hovering just above the water before it ignites and blasts across the sky. Then, like the missile, they came crashing down around me, bouncing around in my head, making any other conversation nothing more than an automaton.

Five days later I sat in an examining room, waiting for the doctor to reappear with his verdict. The door opened, he slid in and sat down. “Well, you have a tumor. It may not be, but it’s probably cancer.”

And there went that damned hovering missile again. Huh? What? Cancer? Unh uh. Not me. Me? I tried to focus on his explanations while he pulled out a drawing of a human colon/rectum/anus and starting drawing – which consisted of a round ball at the opening of my anus. It looked like a mighty big ball. I hoped that was just for effect. He finished talking (what had he said?) and asked, “Do you want this?” The paper fluttered in the air conditioning. “Uh, no.” He tossed it in a drawer and closed it. Wait a minute. If I’d known you were going to leave it there, I would’ve at least thrown it in my own garbage can. He bustled me out to the nurses’ desk and told someone to set me up an appointment for a colonoscopy and biopsy.

From there, I walked out to my car, climbed inside, called my fiance, and cried. “He said I have cancer,” I wailed. Then, on the way home, the anger set in. Who the hell was he to waltz in that room and tell me I “probably” have cancer? He doesn’t know me. He can’t tell that with one little exam. He’s wrong. That’s all there is to it. He’s just wrong.

And that got me through the next two weeks, through a CT scan, the colonoscopy (which, despite what you’ve heard, really isn’t the end of the world – no pun intended), and through the waiting. I’ve learned that while “stat” to me means NOW, in the medical profession it’s anything from “now” to “before the patient drops dead”. Guess I wasn’t in any danger of doing that at the moment.

So when I sashayed my non-cancerous little butt back to the doc for his apology for scaring the crap out of me (pun intended) and he said, “Well, you have a squamous cell carcinoma,” the first thing I thought was, “That’s skin cancer. What the hell is he talking about?” But indeed I do. Right in my butt. The size of a golf ball, no less.

I didn’t go through the “why me”, but I did go through the “how could everyone have failed to notice a golf ball in my butt before it got to be a golf ball?” It’s not like I haven’t had any of “those” exams.

And how embarrassing! Now, not only do I have cancer, I have anal cancer? Who’s ever heard of that?  And I’m supposed to tell people this? I don’t even like telling people I have a hangnail. So, I didn’t tell anyone, except my fiance, my  two children, my sister and my best friend. Of course, my fiance and sister told everyone, so now everyone exponentially knows. But it’s okay. I get cards in the mail and chocolate. 🙂

Back to Trudy – I’ve since had a PET scan, which detects “hot” spots (cancer), and the cancer has not spread beyond Trudy. That was great news. I’ve started radiation and chemo, (more on that to follow), and I’m still working and doing laundry. Life pretty much goes on. My daughter informed me that she was “moving home” to take care of me – I think she’s disappointed I haven’t needed any taking care of yet. My son’s coming up from Charleston to visit this week. So there are some bonuses to all this. And I feel very confident with the excellent medical care I’m getting.

Alas, poor Trudy. Your days are numbered!

…to be continued…