on Jan 13, 2016
[Well, I meant to get a post up about my New Year’s Intentions last week and then I got clobbered by the news about needing chemo treatments. I’m still reeling about all that, but at least it helped clarify my intentions. Anyway, onward.]
Last year I intended to trust more, and while that was certainly a challenge (one that will always be with me), I think I did do more trusting. I especially practiced that surrender to trust that comes from overwhelm...there were too many times where my usual plan-ahead, multitasking, project manager mode just wasn’t possible so I had to get comfortable with triage and just-in-time problem-solving and with trusting that everything would be okay. And it generally was, so trust was easier.
This year, it felt harder to pick an intention, largely because there was so much chaos and uncertainty swirling around me that it felt somewhat self-defeating (or at least overly optimistic) to set an intention. I did come up with some personal projects I wanted to commit to: blog more, start yoga again, start using Instagram again, and of course that perennial classic, FINISH THE DAMN BOOK. But though I have started several of those projects already (oh hi, Parentheticals!), I am also vividly aware that any and all of these are likely to sink with barely a bubble into the murky swamp of discomfort and depression as things continue to evolve with my cancer saga (not to mention all the other life drama). Yes, the year is still young and there’s plenty of time to start things anew or continue slogging away at things; but I think the only things I can really commit to are being gentle with myself about expectations and settling into whatever pace I can, even if that pace is herky-jerky and wildly inconsistent.
Posted by: julia
on Jan 08, 2016
Today I had a long (2+ hours), informative meeting with a new doctor at UCSF, a medical oncologist named Dr. Majure. Like all the other staff I’ve dealt with at UCSF, she was lovely and smart and compassionate and I liked her a lot (despite the fact that she’s a newly minted doctor in her 30s and thus a little harder for me to take seriously than the ones that are older than me). She double-checked all my overall health and previous Hodgkin’s treatment details, patiently answered my somewhat scattered questions and gave me a bunch more information about Tamoxifen (while the side effects are not as scary as I thought they might be after my internet research binge, she basically shot down Dr. Ewing’s theory about a lifetime of Tamoxifen being any kind of a good idea). Then we talked about some of the details of my recent pathology reports that had previously not been flagged for attention (or at least *my* attention).
Up until this point, all my conversations around pathology had centered around how delightfully small the tumor was (1.1 cm), how good it was that it was so responsive to estrogen and progesterone (because that meant we could treat it with hormone therapy), and how great it was that the lymph nodes were clear of any sign of cancer (so far). So I was starting to feel pretty optimistic that I’d be getting away with “just” surgical treatment followed up by a few years of prophylactic Tamoxifen. But in what seems to be almost a UCSF tradition now, I found out some new information that really changed things—plot twists in the saga, if you will. Dr. Majure pointed out that there were some additional things in the pathology reports that she was concerned about, namely that my tumor was typed as “Grade 3” (e.g. relatively fast growing) and my Ki-67 measurement (please don’t even ask me what that stands for, I’m too afraid to Google it) was over 60% (when ideally you want that number to be somewhere around 3%, I believe). To her, these were signs that the type of breast cancer I have is a fairly aggressive kind, and so unless the oncotype results come back with a different assessment (which she felt was unlikely, but we’ll do it anyway just to make sure), she said she would recommend chemotherapy in addition to hormonal therapy, in order to make sure that any remaining cancer cells would be blasted out of my system wherever they might be hiding before they could make new tumors. And I’d need to start that ASAP.
It will probably come as no surprise to learn that I was greatly disappointed and upset to hear this.
Posted by: julia
on Jan 01, 2016
Here we are again: 2015 is over, and a new year is beginning. As always, I’m stealing some time away during our family vacation at Stinson Beach to write up these reflections on the year that has passed. It’s been a mixed bag of a year, that’s for sure. Some was pleasurable, wonderful, beautiful, exciting and fun; some was the exact opposite. The first two thirds of the year were a mostly enjoyable blend of the usual hurly burly of personal projects, parenting and travel; the last third or so of the year got clobbered and overshadowed by big personal life drama when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in mid-September, right after coming back from Burning Man.
But let me back up and do the month-by-month review and put this in vaguely chronological order, for posterity’s sake. Again, I didn’t journal as much as I would have liked in 2015, but I do have my colorful quilt of a calendar and my photo log to remind me what I was doing so I’ll try to reconstruct as best I can.
January was as always reasonably quiet. We helped Eli finish up the high school application process. We saw the Wood Brothers in concert. We worked on decluttering our house some. I went to a tiny new little Comic-con in Petaluma (“Lumacon”) with my buddy Heather and sold a bunch of books. We had a fun and memorable weekend in honor of my birthday in Glen Ellen drinking wine and eating delicious food with Mark and Angelo. My cousin Lauren and I had a memorable weekend with our grandma going thrift store shopping for a new armchair for her new place here in San Rafael (she moved out here from Florida at the end of 2014). I spent hours and hours dealing with the insurance company and the tree removal guys and the carpenter dudes who were rebuilding our crushed fence.