Thursday, July 15, 2010

What's going on?

So where have I been? Obviously, not blogging. A year has flipped by, projects and doings, but I've also had health issues which continue to weigh on my life. I don't want to be someone who is defined by their issues with doctors and tests, so I haven't told many people. I had health concerns in my youth with a heart murmur and then scoliosis as a teen, so I can say whole-heartedly that I've been in a lot of doctor offices and looked at a lot of drop-ceiling tiles as I lay on the table in a paper-towel material robe. And here I am again, looking at ceiling tiles, and listening to scarier terminology from a doctor's mouth. This is not who I am, but this is obviously part of my life's journey.

In a nutshell, I had a routine laporoscopic hysterectomy this past March, all went well, I healed from the surgery. The pathology report came back with an unexpected shocker - cancer was found and my samples were sent to three labs. The cancer was extremely rare, called PEComa, no one had ever encountered it or heard of it, but at this point, don't be too concerned. So I went on with my life. Two weeks ago, I went to see my GYN. A GYN oncologist at Johns Hopkins had announced my cancer as malignant. What do we do now? No one seems to know and this is where the fact of uncertainty takes over. It is fascinating and scary to see how uncertainty affects each of my doctors as they impart their information. Yesterday I saw a new GYN oncologist locally, he called the cancer aggressive and said, "with your history, you need to have everything checked." Your history. Suddenly, I'm in a cancer category. I had bloodwork today, I have a PET CTscan on Monday. While I'm not thrilled with this idea, it will give everyone a baseline and solve the question of whether there is any cancer left in my body. I don't think there is. I did, it was taken out, and now it is gone.

Language is so important here. I speak of the cancer in past tense on purpose. The power of positive thinking.

The hardest part was telling my parents because I kept thinking if I were a parent, this would be one of the worst things you could hear coming from your child. My parents are retired dentists, they go into medical mode, and they were good about it. My father said I've always been very stoic. Really? My husband told me yesterday that I'm one of the strongest people he knows. Huh.

I'm riding a roller coaster of emotions these past weeks, some days I'm centered and fine, other days I'm in tears and frozen. Practicing yoga really helps me feel strong. It sounds so cliche to say I'm taking one day at a time, but I am, sometimes even a minute at a time, one breath at a time.


  1. My thoughts are with you, Marianne. I know that sounds so cliche-ish, but it is certainly true.

    Yes, everyone is right, you are strong. I think that's why we were so tight in high school. We were alike in that department. Strong on the outside and there for our friends, but there was that lovely soft spot inside that only a few had the privilege of seeing.

    I can't say that I can even imagine what it is like for you, but I lived through a very rare cancer with my mom just a few short years ago. She has fought the odds and she is perhaps a little slower, but she is still her feisty self. :-)

    This is part of your journey and you will come out of it perhaps a slightly different person, but it is your strength (I wouldn't necessarily call you "stoic")that will make the difference.

    Nameste, my friend.

  2. My thoughts and prayers are with you Marianne. You are one of the strongest people I've met here and I know you will lick this and come out singing at the end :)

  3. Wow! What a lot for you to absorb! I know how the parent-side of this feels. We found out in late May that my youngest daughter has Hodgkins lymphoma. I was in a state of shock myself at first. I go to her chemo sessions with her (4 down 8 to go!. It was tough at first to see them fill her with poisons that I knew were intended to heal her, but would make her sick. So my yoga too has changed. It is more about opening up to possibilities I never wanted to think about before. It is also about being as fully present as I can for my daughter and my granddaughter as this unfolds. Some gems unfold even when things are not what you imagined they would be. The 3 hours my daughter and I spend together every 2 weeks during her treatment has been great. We bring books, but never read, we end up talking. And I have spent lots of time with my granddaughter each of these weekends too. Keep me posted. My thoughts are with you.

  4. Marianne, you are an amazing woman. Not only strong, but also delightful and full of vibrant LIFE spirit. I know this will carry you through. I still remember that moment before your wedding when you, Catherine and I stood before wind and splashing water shouting out "I'm alive! I'm alive" Yep. At the same time, I absolutely understand how vulnerable you must feel... cancer is so scary in its insidiousness. Keep doing your yoga, breathing, singing and playing as you know so well how to do. I MISS you!!! And sends lots of love and a long hug, maria