Takeaway

November 24. I went to the cancer support group on Monday. I wasn’t in the mood to be there. I’d just been told the day before that a dear friend had passed away. I was heartbroken and grieving, and it had nothing to do with my cancer and everything to do with hers. She was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer a little over a year ago. 

But I’m glad I went because there was a takeaway…thankfulness. Everyone who was there had a chance to say what they were thankful for during this Thanksgiving holiday season.

For me, it was easy. Shirley. I was thankful that in 1993 our paths crossed, and we became friends. Shirley was one of those people who is easy to love. Funny. Smart. Cheerful. Caring. Generous. She had style and grace. She was a devoted wife and mother. She was silly and kind and nurturing. I’m so thankful to have known her and loved her, and even more thankful that she loved me in return.

Her passing away made my cancer seem smaller and less significant. For a few hours she occupied my every thought. Every tear held treasured memories of our shared times. I still have moments of grief, but I will always be thankful. 

When I count my blessings, I count you twice. —Irish proverb

Progress?

November 14. I get a phone call from UCSF…finally. But it isn’t Dr. Rugo’s office, it is Dr. Ewing’s—the oncology surgeon. An appointment is scheduled for Friday, November 30 at nine in the morning.

Me. But, I haven’t seen a general oncologist yet. I’m still waiting to hear from Dr. Rugo.

No problem, the nice young man tells me.

Me. If I still don’t have an appointment with Rugo by the time I see Ewing, can Ewing refer me to someone.

Of course, he says.

So. I send an email to Rugo’s scheduler letting her know I now have an appointment with Dr. Ewing. And I suggest that it might be best if Rugo referred me to another oncologist, or I could ask Dr. Ewing to refer me to someone when I saw her.

The response. Lana, I could place you on dr. rugo’s schedule for Dec 18th at 4PM, however, will still need all your records from initial 1999 breast cancer diagnosis first. (core bx, surgical path) Once I have these, we could schedule with dr.rugo following your visit with dr.ewing. Dr.ewing will be able to speak w dr.rugo directly following this appointment. Please work on getting those original documents to me as soon as possible.

Are you kidding? I thought they had everything they needed. Really frustrated at this point. “Sigh” 

I scan and send what I have.

November 15. I call Dr. Wang’s office and ask them to send the records from 1999 to Dr. Rugo, which I had assumed they had already done. Waiting for a call back. The voice message says it could take 24 hours before I get a response. Really?

So frustrating and disappointing. 19 years ago UCSF was much more responsive. It felt like there was a sense of urgency. Not so much this time. I don’t get it. But that’s the way it is with everything these days. Am I a dinosaur? Maybe. All I know for sure is that I have cancer and no one seems to be in a hurry to figure out what to do about it except me. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

All you have to do is look straight and see the road. And when you see it, don’t sit looking at it—walk. —Ayn Rand

Three things

FIRST THING. No. I still do not have an appointment scheduled at UCSF.

Monday November 5. My email: I’m wondering if there is any news on Dr. Rugo’s decision to see me or not. If she will see me, do you know how long of a wait it will be to get an appointment? If she opts not to take my case, I’m hoping she can refer me to another oncologist at UCSF.

The response: Thanks for checking in. I am writing dr.rugo again this morning to see who she could add next week and week after. I will follow up with you once I hear back from her. thank you for your patience. I will prioritize your case since you are open to continuing treatment with UCSF.

A simple yes or no. That’s all I want. Yes, she will see you or no, she is referring you to someone else. It’s hard to be a patient patient.

We are made to persist. That’s how we find out who we are. —Thomas Wolff

SECOND THING. Not doing anything just doesn’t work for me. So I’ve been doing a little research about things that feed cancer in our diet. And the number one answer is…sugar.  And then there is processed food (that usually contain sugar) and sodium. Dairy products which includes butter. I love butter. You know, it’s all those things we call comfort food. Of course.

So, for the last 10 days I have eliminated all sugar, sodium, processed foods, etc., etc., etc. from my diet. I’m trying to eat more raw than cooked — lots of veggies and nuts and seeds and berries and apples and pears. Oily fish are encouraged — salmon, trout, herring. I have smoothies with unsweetened almond milk (it does have a dash of sea salt…bad Lana). Mushrooms are recommended. Organic everything. Olive oil and flax oil. It’s a whole education on cancer fighting nutrition.

The good news. I have noticed my skin seems happy with this diet. Truth be told. I’m okay with it, too.

A dear friend who has now got me turned onto roots, herbs and tinctures. And, of course, I’m adding CBD capsules to the mix.

Who knows. By the time I see an oncologist at UCSF, my tumors might actually be noticeably smaller. Wouldn’t that be cool?

To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible. —St. Thomas Aquinas

I have faith that I am going to beat this.

THIRD THING. I went to a cancer support group at the Resource Center of Mendocino County. I’ve never been to a cancer support group before. I was nervous about it. I don’t know why. There were 7 of us, all in different stages of treatment or non-treatment. We were all about the same age, give or take 10 years. They were lovely and supportive of one another. Everyone took turns talking about where they were at in their survivorship. It was a room overflowing with courage. It was a privilege to share the hour and half we had together. And I will probably go back when they meet again in two weeks.

There was one thing that was said that made me so sad. More than anything, I was stunned by what I was hearing. One person shared that one reason they enjoyed the support group was that due to the cancer they had lost a lot of their friends. And then, even more stunning, the majority of the group agreed and said they experienced the same thing!

What? Really? How can that be? That has not been my experience at all. Just the opposite. I’ve never felt more supported and cared for and loved and encouraged and empowered by my friends than in this challenge I now find myself immersed in. So, thank you. THANK YOU! Thank YOU.

If everyone helps to hold up the sky, then one person does not become tired. —Tshi proverb