What would Ruth do?

Sunday, September 20, 2020. This has been a bit of a scary week. Hell, it’s been a scary year what with the upcoming election, the pandemic, the fires and our evacuation, the poor air quality due to smoke and always being on guard for whatever’s coming next.

Then yesterday, as I was on my way to post about the next scary thing, we heard the saddest news—Ruth Bader Ginsburg died.

I was caught off guard at how hard RGB’s passing pummeled my heart. I was quiet and moody all day. I could barely get motivated enough to get off the couch to get a drink of water or eat. This tiny figure was not just a giant among women, but of us all. I can’t imagine where we would be now if she had not paved the way for so many.

And I was angry, because the media didn’t have the balls or integrity to give us just one day to mourn her passing and reflect on how incredible her life was. How impactful her presence was in this world. Within minutes it was all about how her passing would affect the current political state of affairs, and all the bullshit and posturing and ugliness we are forced to endure 24/7. The lack of respect was disgusting.

But today we watched CBS News Sunday Morning, and their coverage of RBG’s passing was all about this inspiring woman with none of the BS. They highlighted how she fought her battles with cancer with such dignity, strength, and fearlessness. That’s when the tears came, and I truly realized what an enormous void there is in our world without her in it.

Thank you for all you gave. Rest in peace, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Of course the one thing I have in common with Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg is cancer. I could relate to her battle on a deeply personal level.

Cancer is always foremost on my mind. I am always on guard, keeping a watchful eye for its return. So on Wednesday when I found an unusual lump near my right armpit, I immediately suspected the worst. It felt like a betrayal to find this new lump when I’ve been on my latest chemo treatment for the last 7 months and will continue to be through the month of November. As luck would have it, I already had an in-person appointment with Dr. Rugo scheduled the next day.

I was surprised at the level of anxiety finding this new lump gave me. It’s out of character for me to have a discovery like that affect me with such overwhelming force. I’ve always said, “It’s nothing until they tell you it’s something.” It’s just that all my nothings have always morphed into something.

Even though he couldn’t go into the appointment with me, Steve drove. It was comforting not making the long drive alone, caught up in my thoughts. I was so grateful to have him at my side. Even so, I was really nervous all the way to UCSF.

I was scheduled to have labs done at 9a and see Rugo at 9:30. So once my bloodwork was done, I headed across the way to my appointment. Luckily there wasn’t a long wait, and it was business as usual—check my weight, oxygen level, temperature, pulse and blood pressure. I have never had high blood pressure…ever. So I was shocked when the nurse remarked that my blood pressure was a little high. I told her that was weird because it’s never high. So she took it again. It was even higher. I then confessed I’d found a lump the day before and was feeling a bit anxious. She said she understood and that either Dr. Rugo or her Nurse Practitioner would be in soon.

As I waited, I listened to three different guided meditations, hoping to bring my pulse rate down. But my heart continued racing, and it never dipped below 80. My normal is 62. Shit!

Emily, Rugo’s Nurse Practitioner, questioned and examined me first. Of course, the lump was an unexpected element for what was meant to be a routine visit. We also talked about my Xeloda side-effects which I’m happy to say are manageable, the worst being the extreme fatigue that never goes away. The other being my foggy brain, which is the main reason I rarely post anything these days. I just don’t have the concentration or stamina.

Anyway, then Dr. Rugo came in and examined me. She measured the lump, and said she wanted me to get a mammogram, an ultrasound, and a fine needle aspiration. Emily said she would talk to imaging and try to get me in right away. I was also examined by another nurse practitioner Susie, who assists my surgeon Dr. Ewing. She was sweet and reassured me that whatever this was they would take care of me and I’d be fine.

So that’s what happened. In record time I had a mammogram followed by an ultrasound. Here are the results:

There are no mammographic features of malignancy.

Ultrasound Findings:
Targeted ultrasound performed by physician. No sonographic correlate at site of palpable bulge indicated by patient. Normal appearing pectoral muscle is noted in this location.
Nearby normal appearing lymph node.

Right breast: Benign (BI-RADS 2).
Left breast: Negative (BI-RADS 1).

YES! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

Is the lump still there? Yes, it is. Does that make me a little uneasy? Yes, it does. But, I just have to remind myself whatever it is, it’s benign. So, I’ll just keep monitoring it for any changes, and hopefully it will eventually disappear.

As my journey continues and I reach any unexpected hurdles, I’ll try to stay calm, look into my heart as I think of my super-hero, and ask, “What would Ruth do?”

When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on. —Franklin D. Roosevelt