Monday, 30 March 2009

It's Official!

It's official-- or as "official" as medical folk get. The ultrasound was, indeed, benign. Why they couldn't have told me that a week ago, I do not know.

Oh wait, I do know.

My doctor was in Hawaii. On business. Hm. (I do actually believe that, it just sounds grossly unfair.)

I still have an appointment with a doctor here on Thursday, and I think it'll be good to just get a second opinion. I would like to note that I still, regardless of their benign nature, want Burt and Cleveland to move on. I still want a biopsy.

But just so you know, I'm having a mini celebration over here, pleased that this first step is much easier than it could be. Surgery is still to come, but it should not be drama-filled. Hurray!

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Six Months? For Real?

It IS good news, and believe me, I'm thankful for it.

I've been told that the recommendation of Dr. Jacobs (ultrasound guy) is to wait six months, and then check on Burt and Cleveland. Dr. Boyd, my primary care doctor, is out of the office until Monday. When she gets back, she'll call me and let me know if she agrees or not.

So that is good.




It feels weird to wait six months. I believe them that there is nothing to be worried about at present, but I also don't want to just let Burt and Cleveland chill in my body for another six months. It's distracting now, I don't think I could handle it for that long.

And let's say I DO wait for six months. Six months is in September, when I am a) in school and b) working on my thesis. I can't be in Seattle when I go to school in California, and Thesis is going to be Time Consuming. If it is something dastardly, even mildly dastardly, even just easy-surgery dastardly, I'd rather deal with it now. And I mean, if they have to be removed surgically anyway, why put it off?

So I made an appointment with a Dr. West in the area, have had my records faxed over to him, and will be popping into his office next Thursday to get another opinion. And let's be honest, if he offered to take a scalpal to my body that very day, I'd take him up on it.

I want these little buggers gone!

But I am very, very thankful that nobody seems particularly concerned by this.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

A Letter to Medical Professionals

Dear Doctors,

I know you are well-trained, intelligent people. I know that you have many people who depend on you every day.

Nontheless, Doctors, I'm not sure how I feel about being forgotten. I had expected to hear from you on Monday, so finally I called your office today to find out what I should be doing-- biopsy, waiting and observing, or just forgetting it all and going to Disneyland or possibly Fiji-- and I was told that my main doctor never even received the results from the ultrasound. Excuse me? I may not be worried, but I am distracted by all of this and would like it sorted sooner rather than later. I've got stuff to do, guys. Papers to write. Projects to work on. People to see! It is hard for me to focus on this with Burt and Cleveland just chillin' there, and not knowing what they will do next.

In college, we're all about planning for the long term. I want to make some plans here, Doctors! If surgery is a good idea sooner rather than later, I need to get the ball rolling from an academic standpoint. If it's an over-the-summer kind of deal, I need to talk to my employers. I know we're all busy here, but please, I'm feeling out of the loop on my health!

I think maybe I should be thanking you for something, though. Thank you for making it apparent early on that I need to be pro-active about my health, that I'm the only one I can rely on for this. Doctors have many patients, and I cannot expect them to be more than human.

I can, however, expect myself to be on top of things.

Thanks for your time,


Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Meet Burt and Cleveland

I have two new friends, Burt and Cleveland.

They are lumps, and they live in my left breast. I'm not going to hold this against them, I'm sure they didn't choose to be there, but I would like them gone just the same. I like to think of us on the same side. They want to get out of body, and I, myself, would like them to get the hell out as well!

I discovered Burt's (the bigger one) presence about three weeks ago, and made an appointment with my doctor for last Thursday. At the appointment, she told me that it was most likely a cyst, and would go away on its own. She got me an ultrasound appointment the next day anyway, Just In Case.

The room for the ultrasound was lovely and warm, and even the ultrasound gel was heated. It was not an unpleasent experience, despite the fact that the doctor discovered Cleveland, the second, smaller lump. Both Burt and Cleveland are most likely fibromas, benign tumours of connective and fibrous tissue. (See how my vocabularly is expanding?) It is incredibly unlikely that they are cancerous, but may need to be biopsied Just In Case.

(I can't figure out why they "may" have to be biopsied. Why aren't they just going to do it? I mean, in the worst case, they stick a needle in me for no reason. Sure beats the alternative worse case scenerio.)

In either case, benign or malignant, these guys are gonna hafta go. Fibromas don't just go away by themselves, and they grow. I'd rather get rid of them while they are smaller. It somehow sounds less dramatic.

Anyway, now I'm just waiting for my doctor's phone call to update me. I have been waiting for days (since my Friday appointment, though I didn't expect a call over the weekend, of course), and am just eager to know what the next step is. I'm not worried or anxious (a 21-year-old with breast cancer is so very rare), but I'm certainly preoccupied. I wish they would just call me already!

** PLEASE be sure that you are doing your own monthly self breast exams and, if you are over 40, getting yearly mammograms as well. Finding something is no fun, but it is miles and miles better than not finding something that is there. Do it. Your friends and family will thank you.**

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

College Spring Break, Part II

I have been having a simply glorious spring break. The weather may be gross (snow and rain on the same day? Ick), the swimwear has never seen the light of day, and I have been in bed by midnight every night... but it's been just super.

On Friday, I went to spend time with Neptune and Clover, as you may recall. That weekend was family time, and then on Monday I picked two other child-friends up from school and got to have some play time there. Let's call them... Fleur and Penguin. Fleur is 8, and Penguin is 5.

The are about as into crafts as I am, which is pretty excellent. We looked in their craft drawer, and found an enormous tub of glitter pens. I was pretty excited, and we spent a while glitter-ing things. We are artists, I tell you.

In the same craft drawer as the glitter pens was a box that contained three other boxes of crayons, for a total of 120. Penguin had organised each of the boxes by colour-- reds in this section, oranges over here, greens there, and browns and blacks in a separate box. It was the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen. I will never be that organised, ever, in my entire life. It cracked me up.


This post has been waiting for me to finish it forever. I'm just going to post it now, call it good, and catch you up on the rest of spring break later. Wahoo!

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Spring Break!

Oh, college spring break. The stories! The adventures! The bikinis! The alcohol!

I have been counting down to spring break ever since the first pre-spring break due date was issued. I have gritted my teeth through mid-terms, papers, final due dates, last minute assignments. I have rushed to get everything completed, organised my journey to the airport, found my tortoises their own spring break destination (my friend's apartment). Oh I was excited!

But it was not the bikinis and alcohol that had me on the edge of my seat from California to Sea-Tac airport. After all, what would I do with a bikini in Seattle in March? Exactly.

I was flying back to see my family and the kids after 7 1/2 months away. I saw my dad for 5 weeks this winter, my mom for 4 days in November, and that's it! Not my sister, not my brother, not the kids.

I arrived in the PNW late on Thursday night, and surprised the kids by picking them up from daycare on Friday. They. Were. Shocked. It probably didn't help that I've cut and dyed my hair since I'd last seen them, so the fact that I looked different and that they didn't expect me to be there factored in. Still.

Before it registered, Clover looked like she was seeing a ghost. After everything in her head clicked, she was excited. Neptune was right behind her, and never even hesitated. He was just delighted-- and so was I! I was right, of course. They've both grown several feet.

At their house that evening we made "monster cookies" (chocolate chip cookies dyed green-- weird) and homemade pizza. My employers were amused as they watched me putter around their kitchen in my polka dot apron, and wondered about the number of students who were spending their College Spring Break quite the same way. The kids' mom suggested that if I was feeling left out, Clover and Neptune would most likely be willing to put their swim suits on and dance around...

Of course they obliged.

Later that evening we became superheros, along with the family pets, and battled the forces of Global Warming (I'm not even kidding). I was Dazzler, Clover was Animal Allie (her name is not actually Allie, I think she just liked the alliteration... assonance?) and Neptune was... well... he never quite settled on a superhero name. Options included The Force, Tornado Blaster, and a variety of others.

We stole plans from even scientists, stopped cars from producing Carbon Dioxide, and made sure unnecessary lights were turned off.

You know the craziest thing? This was Neptune's idea. Got to love the imagination of a tuned-in six year old!

In unrelated news, Clover has turned into a craftoholic (hurray!). There aren't really that many choices for a 9 year old girl in the PNW in the winter, but it still is certainly a good one. You should see some of the designs, decorations, and various things she has made. They are fabulous.

Finally, one of my favourite quotes of the evening:

Blythe: I mean, after all, what is an evil scientist without a terrible experiment?
Neptune: A frog!
Blythe and Clover: A frog...?
Neptune: Or a leopard.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Living in a fairy tale is not quite what I thought it would be...

You know how in Disney movies and many fairytales there is a princess (or maiden of some sort) who can sing beautifully? She has a soaring soprano that can lure the men-on-white-horses from all across the land. She can dance too, and has a waist that would really only be acceptable in the days of corsets.

That's not the point though. The point is that she sings beautifully, and her voice echoes across the hills. I enjoyed the romance of the story, the siren nature of the song... it never occurred to me to pity any neighbours she may have had. Who knows, maybe there were people in the area just trying to write a paper. Maybe she was distracting them.

Maybe they would really rather that she go to one of the practice rooms that is open until 1am and rehearse her aria there instead of in the dorms.

I mean... I'm just trying to take into consideration the other people in the fairytales, you know?

Monday, 9 March 2009

A Moment for Poetry

I think it is nice to take a break now and then for a moment of poetry. This is my favourite poem I have ever read. Other excellent poems include The Lady of Shallot, The Raven, The Hollowmen, and anything written by Jack Prelutsky, Shel Silverstein, or Dr. Suess. My interests are nothing if not varied!

anyone lived in a pretty how town
by e.e. cummings

anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn't he danced his did
Women and men(both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn't they reaped their same
sun moon stars rain
children guessed(but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
autumn winter spring summer)
that noone loved him more by more
when by now and tree by leaf
she laughed his joy she cried his grief
bird by snow and stir by still
anyone's any was all to her
someones married their everyones
laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hope and then)they
said their nevers they slept their dream
stars rain sun moon
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)
one day anyone died i guess
(and noone stooped to kiss his face)
busy folk buried them side by side
little by little and was by was
all by all and deep by deep
and more by more they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april
wish by spirit and if by yes.
Women and men(both dong and ding)
summer autumn winter spring
reaped their sowing and went their came
sun moon stars rain

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Oh, just planning my life. Nothing big.

This time four years ago, when I was a junior in high school, I was beginning the college search. I was taking the SATs, calculating my GPA, travelling around the country to look at colleges. I was extremely fortunate to have parents who whole heartedly supported my process, but did not try to bend me to what they thought was best. We made decisions together, though at the end of the day it was my call. I ate in different dining halls, talked to different tour guides, and even spent that night at one or two schools. When, a year later, application time rolled around, I knew generally where I wanted to apply. (With one exception: I got halfway through the application for Tufts until I got to the part that asked, "Why do you want to go to Tufts?" I couldn't answer it, and threw away the application. But I digress.)

Now it is the spring of 2009, and a lot has changed. I live in a cozy dorm room instead of my bedroom in my parents' house. My days revolve around class, rehearsal, homework, projects, social activities, and-- recently-- figuring out how to approach the rest of my life.

On one hand, I realise that my direction may change sometime in the next, say, 40-50 years of my life. Perhaps I won't want to have the same job foreverandeveramen. Right now, though, I need to think seriously about what the next step will be. It's no longer the time to be wishy washy. I certainly will not be that 25-year-old asleep on her family's couch.

But that does mean that a lot of decision-making has got to happen in the next year. I need some specifics to be stressed out about this time next year.

And you know what?
I'm really, really excited.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Save YTN!

When I was 13 until I was 17 I lived in Taiwan. It was a wonderful experience, one that I would not trade for anything in the world. However, upon moving to the Seattle area, I found myself smack dab in the middle of high school, where everyone around me had grown up knowing each other since their sandbox days. People weren't cruel or unfriendly, but it is almost impossible to fit in with people who have known each other since preschool. There's no breaking into that group!

That was ok, though, because I had a different outlet: Youth Theatre Northwest. This theatre on Mercer Island (in Washington) is the most welcoming place I have ever had the pleasure to associate myself with. It is warm and friendly, and the staff are eager to get people involved. It was a home away from home for my last two years of high school-- I had rehearsal almost every weekday from 6:00-9:00, and some weekends as well. Shows ran for three weekends. Hence, NO free time. But that was ok, because it was not only my creative outlet, but a place to relax and enjoy.

We worked hard, of course. Theatre doesn't just happen! We were expected to behave in a professional manner, and the rules were the same for everyone, whether you were 8 or 18. Be on time. Be off book by the deadline. Take rehearsal seriously. Be respectful of your director, stage manager, fellow actors, and everyone else. Wear closed toe shoes. Show up every day ready to work. A lot was expected of everyone, and all involved gave a lot back.

Youth Theatre has classes available for the wee ones (3-5 year olds), all the way up to the nearly graduated (15 and up). I have not only been in many plays there, but also teched for a couple as well as assisting with a variety of classes before I went off to college. I think it could be argued that assisting with the summer classes was my first "real" job.

But it's not just about me, of course. Once you get to YTN it doesn't matter if you're the popular one at school, or if you spend every lunch by yourself. No one asks what your grades are, but everyone's willing to listen if you have a problem. This is no exaggeration. In a time when so many kids get home from school and play video games, isn't it important to support an institution that is not only a creative centre but also a community in its own right?

Where I am going with this?

With the recession our economy is in right now, YTN is really struggling to make ends meet. There is a possibility that it will actually have to close. This saddens me more than I can say. No one from YTN would be the same person today without all of the people there. They gave us confidence when it was lacking, something to look forward to every day, friendly people to turn to, and a deep seated respect for the arts.

PLEASE don't let YTN go under. I'm not a begging sort of person, but if you have ANY money to spare, I implore you to help a wonderful organisation that is so much for so many people.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Find Your Tennis Ball!

A couple of summers ago, I drove down to Portland for a weekend. Several of my friends live there, and it is always nice to see them. On this particular weekend, I stayed with my friend, London (so nicknamed because that is where she now lives). London's family has a dog, Luke. Luke is charming. Luke is gregarious. Luke is, well, a bit of a nutcase.

There is no greater joy in Luke's life than the presence of a tennis ball. Pick up a tennis ball, and you are his new best friend. Some dogs (and people, come to think of it) are like this about food. Luke likes food too, but it's nothing compared to the joy of the tennis ball. I spent ages playing with him that weekend, throwing the ball for him to retrieve, and hiding it for him to find. When he discovered we were going to play TENNIS BALL, his whole back end would start wagging. He had a grin on his face that just said, "Oh I LOVE this! This is the best day IN THE WHOLE WORLD!"

And so, my friends, I have decided that it is all there is to it. Find your tennis ball. If there is something that makes you happy beyond all reason, then do it. If there is a job, activity, or hobby that makes your whole body feel like it's sparkling, then don't try to talk yourself out of it. You, your friends, your family, and everyone who comes in contact with you will have the benefit of spending time with someone who is satisfied with him or herself. Someone who is happy and excited.

And that is how I hope to approach my future. I know that reality is going to sneak in there and become an issue, but if I set my sights on being happy (and, you know, with food and shelter, etc), then I HOPE I can't go too far wrong.

I got this quote from Yaya's blog, and I like it a lot:

"Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." -Howard Thurman