Lain's Log


March 31/11

On Friday April 8th, I have an appointment at 7:30 in the evening for a breast MRI. I've never had an MRI before. I know it doesn't hurt, but I'm so apprehensive.

First of all, this procedure has to be done while lying on your stomach. Ever since giving birth to my two kids, I've had back problems (the result of back labour). Haven't been able to sleep or lie on my stomach for 18 years due to the severe pain this position causes. The only way I can do it, is to fold up several towels and put them under my stomach. Now, I have to find a way of explaining this to the technician! He (or she) will probably think I'm insane.

The test also involves the insertion of an IV line and having contrast dye shot into your body half way through the procedure so the images (before and after the dye) can be compared. Many personal experience blogs I've read say the MRI wasn't bad at all. Others say it was terrible. My own doctor has advised me to keep my eyes closed and to wear earplugs (I'm bringing my OWN in case they don't have them there), and you KNOW I'll be taking a 5 mg. Diazepam beforehand! (one of the most important things you're told with an MRI is "DON'T MOVE!" - so you've got to be calm, cool and collected- pretty much UNHEARD of for me!) I've never thought I was particularly claustrophobic, but I guess I'll find out for SURE on Friday!

What I'm MOST anxiety-ridden about though, is the results. I'm told this cancer has been caught early, and I pray that is true, but the MRI reveals all. Once the MRI results have been obtained, I will be sent for another ultrasound, (this time, at Princess Margaret Hospital, instead of a private lab). When that's all done, next on the list is a procedure before surgery which involves needles of dye being injected into the areola (oh joy), followed by the insertion of a wire into the breast to help doctors with the wire-guided lumpectomy surgery. Why do I feel like jumping out a window right now?


Where are the drugs?

March 30/11

As the Cowardly Lion is my blog mascot, you may understand that my fear of pain is huge. I've endured two episiotomies in my life, (one, after the anaesthetic had worn off), and I'm telling you, - THAT pain is not something I've ever been able to forget and I certainly never want to feel again!

I can't seem to get a straight answer from anyone on the issue of pain following a lumpectomy and the removal of lymph nodes from under the arm. I only know I have a low threshold for pain and would like some kind of assurance that I'll be given the kind of pain relief I need when this surgery is over.

The nurse told me I'd get Tylenol #3 when I go home. She said this is enough for "most women". Well, what if I'm not "most women?" What if I need something more? If you've read this blog, you'll know my own GP couldn't understand my qualms when I expressed the fear of pain.

She asked, "Well, what would the pain be FROM?" - What the hell?? You're kidding, right? Ummmm....let me think now,...could it be - the INCISION?? I suppose there are people in this world who don't feel pain as much as others. But I have always known I'm not among that group.

I understand, doctors don't like prescribing narcotics. They're afraid of the trouble they'll get into I guess, and petrified of a patient becoming addicted. I'm certainly no drug addict, but I believe there IS a time for proper drugs, and it seems to me, breast surgery should be one of those times!

Is there anyone out there who can tell it like it is and help me figure out how to get the kind of meds I need, (without turning to the streets)?

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March 29/11

From the time I was seven years old, I was in love with TV stars.

As a kid, I always wanted to look exactly like Connie Stevens,

     or Sandra Dee,

or, (if you can believe it), like "Marina" (the puppet), from the supermarionation show, Stingray!

Stingray - Marina's theme - (I couldn't get enough of this pretty, but sappy song). I never even realized till years later that the face of puppet "Captain Troy Tempest" was modeled on James Garner, even though he looked exactly like him! Guess I was too busy studying Marina's exotic makeup so I could copy it!

I was just crazy about Johnny Crawford, ("Mark McCain") of Rifleman,

Bill Bixby, on left, ("Tim O'Hara") /My Favorite Martian, 

Don Grady, ("Robbie Douglas") /My Three Sons 

and Roger Moore ("Simon Templar") /The Saint.

Hey, hey, they're the Monkees!

Later, as a teen, The Monkees stole my heart, (especially Mickey), and I couldn't get enough of Bobby Sherman, ("Jeremy Bolt")/Here Come the Brides (sigh). I watched more TV than any kid I knew. It should have come as no surprise that I wanted to enter the field of entertainment reporting and meet the stars. Over 30 years, I've interviewed thousands of celebs. Anyone and everyone from the world of television, film, theatre and music. What a blast. I was always professional, but never tried to hide my enthusiasm when meeting my faves. Afterwards, stars often told me it was a pleasure to be interviewed by someone who knew so much about them and was actually a fan. That love of celebrities has never left me to this day.

Bobby Sherman was my ultimate teen idol!

Years later, as a very young radio reporter, I got to meet and interview Bobby. (and yes, I'll admit at age 22, I wasn't as professional as I might have been!) I also interviewed him again several times during the years at Global Television. 
While at Global, I had the opportunity to interview Davy Jones & Mickey Dolenz of The Monkees! (if someone had told me as a teen I'd be sitting down and talking with my idols, I never would have believed it).
Even now, as I think about what lies ahead on this journey into the world of cancer, I find I'm inspired by many stars.

Robin Williams, (here showing off his surgical scar following heart surgery in 2009).

In 2007, Regis Philbin underwent heart bypass surgery.

David Letterman came through emergency quintuple bypass surgery in 2000.
I admire David Letterman, Robin Williams and Regis Philbin, all fabulous entertainers, who were brave enough to go very public with news of their heart surgeries. They inspire me with their courage and also because they found ways to use humour to plow through their challenges and help others face the same issues. Letterman has become part of my coping mechanism after the cancer diagnosis. He's hysterically funny and honest with his feelings and comments and there's just something so calming about him for me. He's always there, ready to talk and make you laugh.

Robin Williams - Never a dull moment!

 As for Robin Williams, he’s the all-time best interview ever! I don’t think he could give a bad one if he tried. Again, funny and honest. One time on a junket in Los Angeles, I was talking to him about Patch Adams, in which he played a doctor who uses comedy to try and make people feel better. I asked if he truly believes laughter is the best medicine. His answer surprised me.

He started off by saying, “Yes, I basically do believe that theory, but there are limitations.” He went on to talk about his dear friend, the late Christopher Reeve, and how he would visit him after the riding accident which left him paralyzed, and do everything he could to lift his spirits. Robin became quite emotional as he explained that even he had trouble believing laughter could help when Chris was in so much pain. I’ve never forgotten that, and recall departing the hotel room interview set, walking down the hall into a stairwell exit and crying. Robin usually leaves you doubled over in guffaws, but not on that day.

I often find just thinking about a star like Christina Applegate, (who had a double mastectomy), makes me feel, if she can do THAT, then I can do THIS.

Jaclyn Smith, Olivia Newton-John, Sheryl Crow, Melissa Etheridge, Suzanne Somers all faced their fears and came out winners. 

Here in my own hometown of Toronto, Dr. Marla Shapiro, Beverly Thomson, (CTV) Wendy Mesley (CBC) and Cynthia Mulligan (CityNews) are just a few of the incredible women who have made this journey. I only hope I can conjure up the kind of courage that they were able to find within themselves.

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The love of breasts

March 28/11

I've always loved having breasts. In my late teens and early twenties, I had a decent figure and showed it off whenever possible. It certainly wasn't because I thought I was gorgeous. Never thought that. Hated my Barbra Streisand nose, pointy chin, drab stringy hair, big feet, you name it - I hated all of it. But after three years of braces, I had straight teeth, then ditched the nerdy glasses for blue-tinted contact lenses, piled on the makeup, dyed my hair as blonde as blonde could be, and then, look out world!

My poor Mum had to watch as I'd go out the door, sporting the shortest of skirts, the tightest of t-shirts, anything to attract a little attention. Don't really know why. Guess a therapist could have a field day answering that question, but I really don't care. I just liked being feminine, sexy and provocative. Breasts were a big part of that.
As Mel Brooks wrote for Ulla in The Producers - "When you got it, flaunt it!" I did.

Being told I must have a large part of my breast removed, not only scares me out of my mind, (due of course, to the unknown, the pain, how I'll deal with radiation, etc.), but also, just because I love having breasts so much. Some people will likely relate to this, and I guess many others, won't.

OK. What the heck? Let's have some fun. I'll do a little "blog-flaunting" for you right now! (blush)

At 18, I remember finding the most flamboyant, pink string bikini. It was fantastic. A high school friend of mine, Marion, first introduced the string bikini to Toronto when she won the Miss Bikini contest at Johnny Lombardi's island picnic. She was stunning. I wanted a bikini like that, so I got one. My then boyfriend, Bruce, (who you may notice, is extremely handsome!), invited me to meet his parents at their cottage up north. I chose to wear the bikini. (wonder what his Mum and Dad must have thought?) I still love the photo. (As for the baby - not ours! Can't remember her name, but I think she belonged to Bruce's brother and his wife).

A couple of years later, I bought a turquoise macrame string bikini. Wore it on a trip to Las Vegas, where the hotel had a beautiful pool.

Also wore it on a beach in Florida.

I've been given brochures from the hospital about body image and self esteem after breast surgery. I have no clue how I'll feel afterwards. I only know that I wish I didn't have to say goodbye to any part of my breast. Strangely, in my fifties, I've been quite happy with my body. I've kept my weight down (always between 110 - 115), and can still wear a bathing suit, (but not a bikini!)

Even this past summer, I put on my bathing suit for the "annual try-on" during our most recent summer holiday at Fern Resort and thought I didn't look bad for 54!

Now I'll have to figure out a way to get used to my new body, once I've healed and the radiation is over.

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March 26/11

Before my cancer diagnosis, I was distressed, sad and depressed over the death of Mum and reluctantly prepared to sell the house she loved. Since the diagnosis I’m STILL distressed, sad and despressed, but for slightly different reasons. Sadness over Mum, distress and depression over knowing I have cancer and that I’m going for surgery to lose a large part of my breast, to be followed by weeks of radiation. Thank goodness my sister and I are spending so much time at Mum’s place, working together to clear all the stuff. Sure provides for some pure gold distraction.

Can’t even begin to describe the laughs we’ve had (in between the tears), while digging through old letters, cards, diaries and journals. This afternoon, several things had us howling with laughter. Guess they won’t sound that funny "on paper", (er, online), but I’ll give it a shot.

Many years ago, my Gramma was told she may need to have part of her leg amputated due to some kind of circulatory problems. I was young at the time and was horrified at this thought. I begged Mum to bring Gram to Toronto (from her home north of Lindsay), and to find a doctor who could save her leg. Soon after, Mum was able to contact a specialist in Toronto named Dr. Baird who could do a new procedure to turn a vein into an artery, (I think), thereby saving the leg. (which, thankfully, he did!)

While sifting through all the junk in Mum’s basement, we found an old article about Dr. Baird. The story indicated that this doctor sometimes used snake venom in his treatment of patients with thrombosis. The patient in the photo looked a tad freaked. Suddenly, Carrie goes into the “doctor’s voice,” saying “Now just relax. I would like to inject this snake venom into your leg.” As I imagined the poor patient’s response at seeing the big needle of venom, I responded, “And then the patient promptly goes into cardiac arrest and drops dead on the floor!”
(Guess you hadda be there, but we were in stitches over this scenario).

Later, while Carrie was working upstairs, I was in the basement and dragged out the extremely old box of Barbie dolls from our childhood. Mum had it hidden away for decades. Of all the toys we ever had, the Barbies were our fave. We had 30 of them, plus a Barbie car, canopy bed, wardrobe closet, tons of clothes, hats, shoes, etc. We played with them together for YEARS and created a special "voice" for each one – including the men (Ken, Reggie, Allan, Lawrence) - we had names for all of them and each one had a special personality and sound. In retrospect, I think it's pretty amazing, that in later years, Carrie ended up on Polka Dot Door, having to do TONS of wacky voices. God knows, she'd had enough practice and experience with the Barbs!

And as for me - I did voice work too, just in a different way.

When Carrie came downstairs and saw this, we went into fits of laughter and sat on the basement floor, sorting out the wrecky old clothes, pitching some, saving others, and I insisted we DRESS each nude doll. So we did. Hilarious. We didn't have enough pants for the men, so some of them had to endure the humiliation of wearing stockings, bikini shorts, underwear or bathing suits. Other dolls were missing legs, arms, even heads. Carrie said, "It's just too bad Mum can't SEE this! She would have loved it!" We decided to take a few photos.

Best of all, was this one doll (not an "official" Barbie collection doll). He was a weird little wooden soldier we named "Soldgie". His surname was Hughhhh! (pronounced like the sound of a loud snore). Can you believe this? Seriously, his name was Soldgie Hughhh!

Soldgie was a real wreck. Completely falling apart. His legs weren't even attached to the rest of his body. Mum had tried to attach the legs with an elastic band, but they kept falling off. When they WERE attached, we never had him "walk", like the REST of the dolls. We had to "drag" him around, his legs slithering across the floor. Mum was always proud of us for creating Soldgie because he was just "one of the gang." Yes, he was disabled, but we didn't care. He took part in the games and laughter, just like everyone else.

We also had a funny, bizarre GIRL doll called "Finky Florence". Mum thought there should be a lady doll who had similar problems, so, she bought this cheap, dollar store doll, cut off all her hair, drew weird makeup on her with a Sharpee and named her Finky Florence. She had the funniest voice of ALL! Carrie created it. Usually she just laughed, like , "Hoo - HOOOO! Hoo - HOOOO!" We loved her, and she was quite popular with the other Barbies and good pals with Soldgie! After each and every doll was dressed, one female doll had a male's head (we figured, times have changed - we need a cross-gender doll). They’re all packed away again, the best of the clothing bagged up, and we don't even know what to DO with these dolls! We only know, we can NEVER part with them! And to top it off, for an hour, I didn’t think about cancer at all! Hoo - HOOOO!

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What would I do without friends?

March 25/11

I love my friends. This whole experience has brought me closer to many of them (though I haven't even reached the SURGERY part yet!) Just being able to converse, vent, cry, laugh, rant, rave, is a help.

Couple of examples.
My best friends, Franelle and Joanne, both live in L.A.
When I told Joanne I will need to have radiation, she said,
"Too bad you don't live in California, with the air flow from Japan reaching us over the ocean, you could get the radiation for free"!!
(just a joke gang).

And Franelle, - not only is she an Emmy award winning comedy writer, (she wrote some of the BEST stuff Carol Burnett ever did!), and is perhaps the funniest woman I know, has also spent years working as office manager for various doctors. She is well informed about the medical world and also survived a terrible car crash, which left her in constant pain, so she knows ALL about meds!

Me with my best friend, Franelle Silver

I confessed my fears to her about pain following the upcoming surgery. She totally got that, and advised me, "Ask the doctors for the RX's ...not the nurses. And don't be afraid to be assertive!"

Another friend of mine, Karen, (we met when we were 11), has been a doctor in the U.S. for decades. She called me and spent almost an hour on the phone, hearing my tale of woe and advising on what I should do. She was rather shocked to hear I was told they would only give me Tylenol 3 after the breast surgery.

These women are phenomenal and I thank goodness they're my pals for life.
Love you all.

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How can you be so calm?

March 24/11

It's fantastic to receive messages from family and friends. No matter WHAT people say, there is always SOMETHING you can take or file away from their comments and hold on to when you're feeling down, depressed or frightened.

My sister-in-law, Jan, has one of the calmest voices in the world. I've admired that for decades. Having been an on-air news reporter on both radio and TV, I've always hoped my voice could come across as kind of Walter Cronkite-like, calm, cool and collected - (no matter WHAT you might be feeling INSIDE). I have NEVER known what it's like to be completely calm. I guess some people must know that feeling. I've watched reporters and anchor people who CAN'T be flustered, no matter WHAT happens. They are my dream. Jan is one of those people.
Years ago, I was about to have four root canals done all at once. I asked to be "put out" for the procedure. It cost an extra thousand dollars to do this. They gave me a shot, and nothing seemed to happen. I was freaking. They left me alone in the exam room, staring out a huge glass window to the city below. (At the time, I was still working as a reporter and had taken the day off for this procedure). All of a sudden, this UNBELIEVABLE feeling came over me, and my last thought was, "If ONLY, I could feel THIS calm, when I go on the air.".........zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz......

When Jan got word that the initial consult with Dr. McCready was over, we spoke on the phone for a long (calm) while, and she also wrote me, saying, "It is now a relief to feel that the train has begun to roll and that you are in very good hands. I hope you are able to feel some of that today. A few years ago, I read a book about finding meaning in life and it reminded me that there are always simple pleasures, a song, the way the sun lights up a puddle, the smell of spring. I hope that these, the kids, your adoring husband, provide distraction and some inner peace. Look after yourself. We are all with you and love you."

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I'll do it!!

March 23/11

By now, everybody must be sick to death of my fears. (Well, if you can't take hearing about fear, log on to somebody else's blog who's courageous! You ain't gonna find much courage 'round here).

I've never been good with the unknown or with pain. It amazes me to know that some people are! To give you an example, from age 4 to age 18, I cried and cried, every single Labour Day Monday, petrified about going to school the next day on Tuesday. (I always said the back-to-school Tuesday after Labour Day, "SMELLED nervous out"). My poor Mum would hear me, every year, paralyzed with fear about returning to school. I was practically sick with anxiety, even if it was the same school, new grade. ALWAYS hated the unknown. WHY IS THIS?

Then, one Labour Day night, (wish I could recall how old I was), Mum said to me, "There comes a time for courage!" (if you've been following this blog, you'll be laughing here).

My Mum's comment didn't help much at all. (sorry Mum). I still cried my eyes out (just like the Cowardly Lion), but NOW, all these years later, I think back to SO many times when Mum had to call upon her OWN courage to go forward into all those awful surgeries.

I'm trying hard to lean on those words she said to me way back when, and perhaps even "borrow" her courage, to push and propel myself through this journey. Good Lord. If SHE could do, I can do it.
(and as my son, Max often says, "I'LL DO IT!!!!")

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March 22/11

The first consult is now in the past. Everything went well.

Princess Margaret Hospital is amazing. We arrived a little early for the 1:30 p.m. appointment, for paperwork or whatever. Sam took my picture as we were about to enter the clinic for the first time, so I could put it on the blog.

Wore a zip-up hoodie so I wouldn't have to take anything off over my head. Brought with me the films, (mammogram and ultrasound), the pathology report (just in case they didn't have it), newspaper, magazine, my new medical notebook, pen, list of medications, etc. Was given a medical report to fill out. Before I could even finish it, got called into an examination room, right at 1:30.

Had to undress - just the top, and put on a gown.

A VERY handsome young doctor (McCready's "fellow") came in and met Sam and me. Right away, he said he knew how anxiety-ridden I must be, (which I was, despite the 5 mg. Diazepam). He basically told me I have DCIS, (Ductal carcinoma in situ), but that it's been caught early and I can go the route of a mastectomy OR, do a lumpectomy combined with radiation. He said studies conducted over 35 years, show that women in an early stage (such as mine), will get the same results from a lumpectomy plus radiation as they will with a total mastectomy. "Survival outcomes are the same," he said.

He asked if I'd given any thought to what I wanted to do! Had to laugh. I told him, "That's ALL I've thought about." He wanted to know my opinion. I told him, "I want to live." (thank you Emmy winning writer Bruce Kirshbaum for giving me this line - which is the TRUTH!) I explained, if there's a way to do that without a mastectomy, then naturally, I want to save some of the breast. He explained that many women just say, "Take it all."

This young guy examined my breast and could feel the lump. (later, Sam wanted to know what he was doing - even though Sam was sitting right there, watching). I told him he was feeling me up.

After a long discussion, about all kinds of horrible things that nobody wants to talk about, he left. Sam and I were alone, just staring at the wall. Sam turned to me and said, "Well, THAT was intense."

Thank God, Sam decided to take notes. I'm usually great at doing that, but, just couldn't do it for myself! Luckily, since he takes notes every day for a living, he's an expert.

Next, Dr. McCready came in. I recognized him right away from his pictures during all my online research. A nurse accompanied him. McCready pretty much said the same. He told me this is NOT a race against time and that it will likely take about four weeks (after testing) before I get surgery. At one point, he said to us, "There is NO reason to think it's not early enough. You'll be fine." (Sam was THRILLED to hear him say this).

He is a very nice, soft spoken man, explains things clearly, precisely and kindly. Looks you right in the eye and tells you what he thinks you need to do.

A few things came out that I EXPECTED and a few I DIDN'T expect.
I had thought he would tell me I needed more testing, which would include another (larger) biopsy, but the only test he is calling for is another ultrasound and possibly an MRI. However, what I WASN'T so thrilled about is that they will need to remove some sentinel lymph nodes for testing.
(the doc called it a sentinel lymph node biopsy).

He explained, that for the surgery, they will need to do what is known as a "wire-guided lumpectomy". It apparently involves jamming a wire into your boob. Just fantastic.

In order to do this, I will have to come in the day before, have dye injected into the areola - (you better believe I'll be talking about proper use of Lidocaine again!) - and then have the wire put in. Then, the next day, I have the surgery and go home later that night! (or possibly a day later).

What they apparently will do, is to remove the entire 2.5 cm. fibroadenoma (which contains the cancer). They will take a little more than they might need to, hopefully to be sure to get clean margins. They will also remove the lymph nodes at the same time (all while I'm under a general).

Then, I have to wait TWO WEEKS before I get the test results back to see if they got it all and to find out if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes. The drag is, if they DIDN'T get it all, then they have to do a second surgery and do a full mastectomy. I asked how often this happens. He told me, in about 5 percent of the cases. And if it HAS spread to the lymph nodes, I have to go back and have THEM removed.

It's really a tough decision(s) to make and I'll be doing a lot of reading and research for the next while. They gave me TONS of stuff to read.

After McCready left, two nurses came in. I had to sign a consent form, allowing the surgery and agreeing to allow them to use any tissue they remove in their teaching and training. I said yes to this. (why not, right?)

Then, they asked me to go the lab for an ECG and blood work. They took me immediately for the ECG (which was over in about two minutes) and then, immediately for the CBC (complete blood count), which took about one minute.

They also want me to go back to my GP to have her sign some paperwork and to have a full physical. I was SO mad, because apparently, my last full physical was March 23rd, 2010, so, according to OHIP, I can't have the next one till exactly a year later. Can't do it Wednesday, since we're FINALLY meeting with the lawyer, re: Mum's house/property. May be able to get in for the physical on Thursday.

The doc told me to expect to hear from his secretary very soon with a surgery date. He's hoping it might be April, but no guarantees.

Two weeks after the surgery, assuming they got clean margins, etc., they will then, "map out a treatment plan," which may not include chemo, but will definitely involve radiation (lots of burning).

I was also able to discuss my pain issues with the nurses, but it was ridiculous. One nurse told me, "Many women find lumpectomy surgery
isn't that painful and they just need some Tylenol 3s!" (I laughed).

I told her about "the pain woman" - (Hollye Jacobs, who writes a blog called Brookside Buzz for The Huffington Post. She didn't get the meds she requested after surgery and suffered horribly for many days). Yes, I realize she had a double mastectomy, but I mean come ON! There's a time for heavy meds like Dilaudid and Morphine, and I'm thinkin' breast cancer surgery is one of those times! Call me crazy.

Seriously...I've had Tylenol 3s for DENTAL pain (or hangnails), and they barely made a dent! Good grief. You can bet the pain management team will be next on my list. I need to talk to these folks.

I've also been warned that removal of lymph nodes causes all kinds of delightful "side effects" like arm swelling and leaking. You also often have to get a drain placed under the arm to remove fluids. Sounds like a real barrel of laughs.

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Dreams and nightmares

March 21/11

D-Day! (as in - DR. DAVID McCready day!)

Woke up, after a wild and wacky dream. I was in my old house. I thought I heard some noise around the side door - a bird squawking and some scratching or something. Went around to the side and was extremely startled to see an ape, climbing up the wall of the house. When he saw me, he ran away into the backyard. Then I noticed the side door was open and I was FREAKING that someone must have broken in. I walked gingerly up to the door and peaked in. What I saw, was THREE lions! They caught sight of me and started to walk towards me. I turned around to hightail it back to the front of the house, but, as is always the way in dreams, I could only seem to go in slow-mo and couldn't get away as these three lions came after me.
Then I woke up. Yikes. That was not fun. Really hope Dr. McCready does not look like a lion.

Isn't it odd, that all my thoughts these days of the Cowardly Lion, took over my brain in my dream? Nothing but fear fear fear. Drat you Bert Lahr! WHY did you have to be so convincing in that part??

Carrie (who I am now referring to as "Serenity Sis"), heard about the dream and mentioned, at least my sense of humour is still intact! (thank God). She also had a few sage words of advice. Here goes.

"Be brave. Be clear enough thinking that you really LISTEN to what McCready says. Or at least make sure that Sam is your "listening back-up". This is the most important thing here: that you hear what he has to say. A few times before you go, or during: Breathe in slowly through your nose, if you can. Breathe out very slowly while doing a quiet controlled "sssssss". Feel the breath through your body as you do this. Repeat. (It's a singing relaxation exercise)".

Started breathing and getting ready for the consult. Drove kids to school, got home at 9 a.m., listened to Dave Agar's calming voice on Talk 1010 news. Sigh. Did the whole shower/makeup/hair routine, took a 5 mg. Valium (prescribed by my GP for days when the adrenaline is pumping a bit too hard!), packed up everything I needed to take, including a notebook and pen and off we went.

Feeling marginally better this morning than I have the past week. Still very nervous, but I guess once the day arrives, you have to put up or shut up. Strangely, my Toronto Star horoscope today says:

Just step forward with courage and invite fresh magic into your life.

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One giant step

March 20/11

The big appointment with Dr. David McCready at Princess Margaret Hospital is tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. I can barely breathe I'm so scared. Fear is not my forte. Never has been. I'm so frightened right now that even the thought of walking into this man's office makes me want to run the other way, but I know I can't. I've never fainted in my life, but at the moment, feel like buying stock in smelling salts. My heart is racing so fast. (now I'm starting to sound like my late Mum, who always suffered from palpitations!)

The "home team" - Kate, Sam, Max and me!

To take my mind off everything, Sam, Max and I decided to attend Kate's solo concert at the Tarragon Theatre tonight. She's performing there as part of the Paprika Festival. Turned out to be one of the best concerts she's ever done! Mostly her own music, plus a few covers thrown in, including her great version of Drake's Best I Ever Had, plus her take on Rebecca Black's hilarious Friday. She just did SUCH a great job! And the crowd was terrific. (thanks to sister Carrie for coming to support her and to all Kate's friends!)

Just as we left the concert together, my sister, Carrie, gave me a tiny card and wished me good luck on Monday. I read it in the car. It said:
"Lain, I will be thinking of you all tomorrow. Keep me posted. Call anytime! I thought the flowers on the front of this card looked like breasts! (and that's what we're thinkin' about here!) Love you. Use the strength and courage I know you have! Good luck Jim! Love, Carrie."

Carrie - best sister on the planet

Note: The "Jim" reference goes way back to Mission Impossible. Whenever that announcer guy on the tape machine said to Jim Phelps, "Should you decide to accept this mission," etc., he always ended it with, "Good luck Jim!" We stole that line and have used it pretty much daily ever since!

Peter Graves as "Jim Phelps" - Mission Impossible - "Good luck, Jim!"

Later in the evening, when we got back from the concert, my cousins, Kevan, Marilyn, Sacha, her boyfriend, Mark and my Auntie Ray called me and put me on speaker phone. They were all having dinner together and wanted to wish me well with the Dr. McCready consult tomorrow. Naturally, I was in tears. I have such a kind and supportive family. We've been through so much together over the past five months, with the death of Uncle Ev (Kevan's father/Auntie Ray's husband), and my Mum (Auntie Ray's sister, Kevan's Aunt). I've learned that my family is small but mighty. Hear us roar. (take THAT Cowardly Lion!)

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Blog idea

March 19/11

Other people's blogs inspired me to want to do one of my own. I'd been keeping a journal of everything that went on from the day I discovered a lump on February 4th, but didn't actually think of putting the blog together until March 19th. (all the past entries were composed after-the-fact, from my notes, scribbles, emails and journal). It's been kind of weird working "backwards."

I wasn't sure it was a good idea. Why should I do one? Do I have anything useful to say? Could it help anyone else? Will it help ME? When I mentioned to a few friends and relatives I was considering this blog idea, I was happy to receive some good feedback from people who liked the concept.

Others questioned going public with all of this, asking if I really want to put it out there? I pondered that for about a second, and then thought, yes!

My beautiful cousin, Marilyn, told me I should go for it.

A fellow blogging buddy of mine, Dennis Earl,(
said he thinks I would find it a rewarding experience. My long time friend, Bill Brioux, (whose blog - TV Feeds My Family - is pretty much my favourite one out there, and my comic inspiration), agreed to let me run the entries by him and help me out.

My sister said I have to do it! And, my pal, Bruce Kirschbaum, (the aforementioned Emmy award winning writer) had nothing but encouragement for me.

I took notes as Bruce told me WHY he thought I should do it.
I'll quote him here.

"Remember, the most important thing is say to yourself, 'I want to live.' That's the macro view - do what needs to be done to live. Keep your eye on the prize. The ultimate goal is to get your health back. But this blog idea could be a wide ranging soapbox for you. It might surprise you! It could start off as a blog, but you might find yourself stepping into the map of unexpected places. It can be funny, it might be meditation and reflection. You say you want to tell it like it is, no candy-coating. So the guidepost is honesty, but it runs the gamut. This could be a platform to go into very wide-ranging terrain".

After hearing Bruce's unique take on it, I got pretty excited about trying my hand at writing a blog!

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Bruce Kirschbaum

March 18/11

I have an amazing friend named Bruce Kirschbaum. Have known him for over three decades. I first met him when I went to Provo, Utah to visit my best friend, Franelle Silver, who was working there as a comedy writer on the Donny & Marie show. Bruce was also one of the writers. Little did I know then, he would hook up with Franelle's sister, Joanne, (my other lifelong pal), marry her, and that we would be in and out of each other's lives forever. Thank God.

Bruce is brilliant and hilarious. He may not agree with this comment, but he's always reminded me of Woody Allen. He's a bit neurotic, (like Woody), is every bit as hysterically funny as Woody and even, (in my opinion!) looks a little like him.

Bruce Kirschbaum with his pal Larry David

After Donny & Marie, he went on to write and produce for shows including Seinfeld, Everybody Loves Raymond, The Ben Stiller Show and many others. He's also an Emmy award winner (for the Stiller show).

When he learned of my diagnosis, he began calling me and our conversations would go on for at least an hour every time. This is a man who can talk about ANYTHING, no matter WHAT you bring up. I've often whined that the art of conversation is dead, but Bruce could teach a course on it. There is simply NO dead air. I HATE dead air. That is a non-existent concept when you talk to Bruce.

His creative mind has been so helpful to me during this scary time. Once, when I complained and kvetched to him about my diagnosis, he surprised me. I had told him I sent up a prayer, talking to my Mum, Uncle Ev and my grandparents, asking if they could help to make things turn out well for me and that anything the doctors find would be benign. (our family has joked for years that my Gram had a "hotline to heaven"). Then, when the diagnosis came in - CANCER. Thanks gang.

Bruce told me he had to hang up, go away and think on this, but that he would call me back. I didn't expect he would, but half an hour later, he did, and told me he'd figured it out.

He said, "The mammogram showed nothing, right?" I said, "Right."
He went on, "The ultrasound was inconclusive, correct?" I said, "Yes."
And then commented, "And the core needle biopsy involved three tissue samples. Two of them showed nothing and the third, showed the cancer, right?" I responded, "Yes."
Bruce then told me, "THAT is the blessing!! They found the cancer in the third sample! If that hadn't happened, you never would have known about it. The fact that they found it, is the answer from your family."
I said, "You think?"
He snapped back, "Absolutely!"

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The unknown

March 17/11

After learning of my fear, especially fear of the unknown, several friends and family members have tried to help me through it.

My old pal, TV writer Bill Brioux says "Be strong, kick ass, feel the support."

I looked back at old notes which came from my late Uncle Ev, who was faced with so many surgeries and setbacks. His advice was, "Look into yourself and find your own coping mechanism. Whatever works."

After speaking with my sister about "the meaning of life," we both came to the conclusion that what's most important is the people. Those who are your family and friends. The ones you care about and who care about you.

Cashmere, velvet, bandanas & fedoras, baby!

I've decided, at least today, that MY "coping mechanism" HAS to be my kids, Kate and Max. I HAVE to see the directions they go and the way their lives turn out and be there to watch it all happen. They're the reason I've got to kick ass.

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White Choral Bells and fear

March 16/11

Some days I feel OK. Other days, I just want to scream. Today, I'm in a horrible state, mad at the fucking world. I'm about to go all "Sheeney" on everyone, so look out.

Woke up in the morning with a song running over and over in my head. It's a song I haven't thought about in decades. Mum used to sing it with Carrie and me as a roundelay when we were kids. Why do I think of it now? Here are the words.

White choral bells upon a slender stalk
Lilies of the valley deck my garden walk
Oh, don't you wish that you could hear them ring,
That will happen only when the fairies sing.

Don't know if Mum was trying to tell me something, but just hearing this song in my mind was making me cry. I'm wishing fairies could wave their wands and make this all go away. Then, after making that wish, my brain visualizes a tidal wave crashing into me.

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March 15/11

Thrilled to know that the surgeon I chose and requested to see is able to meet with me On March 21st. The horrible feeling of living in fear is very much relieved by having Dr. David McCready heading "my team." Several friends have told me they "got goosebumps" upon hearing the truly twisted tale of how Kevin Shea and Bobby Sherman may have somehow "led" to this turn of events.

One pal said, "The universe really seems to be aligned for you now, (and no, I haven't smoked anything!), but it's truly incredible how everything is just falling into place so beautifully."

Kevin Shea himself told me, "These networks work in mysterious ways. Who would have thought, that me pitching Global TV stories about Weird Al, might eventually help your health? Be confident. You truly are in the best hands."

Interviewing Weird Al

Another friend kindly commented, "You have certainly contributed more than your share of goodwill throughout your life and hopefully, this will be some kind of reward."

Even my husband, Sam, (who may be somewhat biased!), believes this MUST be karma. He feels since I've tried to be good to others as often as possible, that, "Whatever goes around, comes around." In fact, he's gone so far as to say, "I'd better start being nicer to people!" Made me laugh.

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March 14/11

Sometimes some pretty strange things happen. Things, that seem can only point to a weird intervention or karma. After "the Bobby Sherman experience" yesterday, I decided to post about it on my Facebook status. Didn't say a word about my health issues, but only that my best friend, Franelle, had arranged for our old teen idol, Bobby Sherman, to call me on the phone on the 41-year anniversary of having first met him together at the Toronto airport back on March 13, 1970.

Immediately after posting this, a message came up saying, Kevin Shea likes your status. I thought, wow! I haven't spoken with Kevin Shea in eons! He was a record rep back in the days when I was interviewing tons of musical artists, like Weird Al Yankovic! I wondered what Kevin is doing now and clicked on to his FB page.

At this point, my referral letter to the esteemed Princess Margaret Hospital oncologist, Dr. David McCready, had been faxed to him by my GP, but I hadn't heard anything back about an appointment. I wasn't even sure I'd be able to GET a consult with him, as he's in such high demand.

Once landing on Kevin Shea's page, I was astounded to discover (drum roll please!) that he now works as manager of Public Relations for the Princess Margaret Foundation! Coincidence? I think not. Decided to send him a pop-up message. He was surprised to hear from me too. I asked if I could call him and he said yes. Ten seconds later, I was on the phone with him.

Turns out, after his father passed away three years ago, Kevin decided, though being a music rep was great fun, perhaps he should be doing something with more meaning and fired off a resume to the Princess Margaret Hospital. Weeks later, despite his lack of experience in the medical area, he was hired!

Then, I told him my own situation, that I've been diagnosed with breast cancer and was planning on going to, "the best breast surgeon in Toronto." He responded, "Dr. David McCready." Yep. He was extremely sympathetic and asked if there was anything he could do? I said I had no idea WHAT he could do, but I just found it incredibly bizarre that after posting my "Bobby status", then seeing his response and checking his page, he turns out to work for the Princess Margaret Foundation! Twilight Zone time. Told him I'm still hoping to hear from Dr. McCready's office with a consult date.

Kevin offered to give me two names to contact and to use his name, if I thought it might help. My late Mum always believed, "God speaks through people," so decided to follow up.

Right after hanging up from Kevin, I sent email messages to the two people he suggested and hit send. Four minutes later, got a response from one of them, telling me they're just waiting for the doctor to triage the referral and I should hear from his office soon.

The next day, I was called with a date for my consult on March 21st!

I have NO clue if my email messages, Kevin Shea or even Bobby Sherman for that matter, had anything to do with this turn of events! I choose to believe that they did, and I thank Kevin for his kindness.

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Bobby Sherman!

March 13/11

Today marks the 41-year anniversary of the day I met my best friends, Franelle, Joanne and Valerie Silver. It happened at the Toronto airport on March 13th, 1970, when we were teeny boppers awaiting the arrival of our idol, Bobby Sherman. He was coming to town to perform concerts at the O'Keefe Centre (as it was called way back then!) If it hadn't been for Bobby, these three unbelievable women would never have entered my life and THAT is something I can't even fathom. The crazy things we've done together over the decades are unforgettable and I love those girls.

I decided to call and email them, as I always do, every March 13th. Hadn't spoken to Franelle in quite a while, and this time, had to break the news about my breast cancer. She was great about the whole thing, just as you'd expect your best friend to be. Franelle is always loaded with suggestions and ideas. Naturally, we talked a little about Bobby and what he's up to now. He became an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) who volunteers with the Los Angeles Police Department. He works with paramedics and gives CPR and first aid classes.

After our chat, I felt much better and decided to go out to buy a few groceries. Was only gone for about 10 minutes and was just pulling up in front of my house when my cell phone rang. It was my son Max. He said, "Mum! Mum! BOBBY SHERMAN just called!!!"
I shrieked and burst out laughing, realizing that sneaky Franelle must have arranged the call. WHY did I go out? I missed him! But when I got inside, I discovered he'd left a fabulous message.

Franelle told him about my health issues and he immediately agreed to call. I know his voice SO well after a lifetime of listening to it. (and interviewing him several times over the years). He sent me his best wishes and love, called me darlin', and told me, "You will overcome!"

I called him back (from the call display number) and got his machine. The message I left started off fine - I was calm, cool and collected, thanking him for the call. But as I tried to tell him what it meant to me, I completely lost it, choking up and sputtering through tears. I was 14 again! I ended the call with Bobby's own famous words, "Peace & Love Babe!" When I hung up, my husband said, "Now he'll NEVER call you back!" I just laughed. Not true. Bobby has heard crying girls in person AND on the phone for many years. He's used to it. Don't you think that was about the sweetest thing for your teen idol to do? (not to mention, what it means to have a friend like Franelle who would arrange that for me!)

How was I to know that Bobby's special phone call would lead to a very unusual event the next day?

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Knowledge is power

March 12/11

Have purchased Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book. HUGE book, which people have told me is the "Bible" for those who have just been diagnosed. I've got the 5th edition (the latest) and am starting to read everything I can. Have also received all kinds of advice about becoming proactive. People say change your diet, (even after cancer has already been detected). Eat mushrooms, broccoli, sprouts, pomegranates, cut out sugar, take Vitamin D and on and on. I will do my best to try and eat right, get back to the vitamin regimen, drink water, sleep well (which isn't easy)

Spoke to one amazing woman, the wife of a good friend of mine, who survived a very bad bout with cancer. It's been six years since her surgery. She knows I want to hear the unvarnished truth, without the candy-coating, so gave it to me straight, (as they say in the movies). She told me, not only about the surgery (mastectomy) and treatment, but also about the debilitating mental anguish, which often goes untreated. At times, she said, she felt her life was over. She lost her hair due to chemo, suffered terrible nausea and vomiting, lost sensations in parts of her body, tried art therapy as a way of coping (and sometimes, all she could paint was black), investigated traditional Chinese treatments and joined various support groups. She was kind to spend so much time on the phone with me, discussing her experience. I know (and am happy), that others have had more positive experiences, but in researching and learning, I prefer to hear it ALL, (the good, the bad and the ugly), and avoid surprises.


Desperately seeking the best!

March 11/11

Have spent long hours Googling, reading, researching, brainstorming, watching interviews with Dr. Marla Shapiro, checking the blogs of media people who have been through this, (like Cynthia Mulligan of CITY TV) and others, contacted my old pal, Beverly Thomson of CTV - (we worked together for years at Global), and she said she'd be happy to speak to me, and talking to people who are cancer survivors.

I've decided the surgeon I want to see, if it's possible, is Dr. David McCready, head of Oncology at Princess Margaret Hospital. He was Dr. Marla's surgeon and has a stunning reputation. I checked with another surgeon acquaintance of ours at Sunnybrook (who saved my Mum's life and gave us five more years with her). He kindly gave me some very helpful advise and also confirmed for me that Dr. McCready is a superb surgeon.

My GP has sent off a referral, but I fear, this man's reputation has him in high demand and wonder if I will be able to get an appointment or consult with him at all! If not, I have one or two others on my list, but in my opinion, "He's the man!" We'll see what happens.

Meanwhile, I continue to live in a high state of anxiety and try to break it up with reading, writing, watching funny TV shows and talking to funny people (and I know a LOT of them!)

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Why me?

March 10/11

Guess I'm entitled to feel a little sorry for myself. I'm sad, angry and most of all, scared out of my mind. Where's Mum when I damn well need her? Woman goes and quits on me. What the hell? (just joking Mum. I know how much you wanted to survive it all). And as for you, Uncle Ev? Cacking out at 97 just doesn't cut it! (again, only kidding - He fought as hard as he could. He SO wanted to make it to 100). I just wish they both could have lived forever. I miss them so much.

Sam is oh-so-positive. Tells me he'll be there for me every step of the way, and I know he will. (as he always is). I chose a good man when I married him almost 28 years ago!

Spoke to Auntie Ray. Cried my eyes out. At 91, after losing both her husband, (Uncle Ev) and her sister, (my Mum), I hate that she has to deal with MY battle. She says she will now officially be my "surrogate Mum."

My parents-in-law emailed and phoned to tell me I'll be alright and they'll pray for me. They say, whatever they can do for me, just ask, and they love me.

My sweet sister-in-law, Carolyn wrote to say she's with me - heart, mind, soul and prayer and reminded me of the tremendous support team I have surrounding me. My other dear sister-in-law, Debbie, cried with me on the phone. (we're like that when we chat.)

My cousins, Kevan and Marilyn both spoke to me and are always so loving and kind. They've been with me through thick and thin and they live only five minutes away, which gives me comfort.

As for my sister, - as Billy Crystal would say, "Don't get me STARTED!!" She feels every bit of pain I'm going through - even telling me, she's started to feel a strong tingling in her breasts! (She puts it down to "sister sympathy"!) She tells me, "The next period of your life is to heal. Be a good patient, like Uncle Ev always said. Live day by day, doing what is required to get rid of this thing. Eat well, sleep well, meditate, eat broccoli, try not to worry too much, depend on family, keep your sense of humour, talk to people who have been through it, stay positive, take baby steps. I'm with you. Let others step up to the plate for you, as you've done for them." Thanks Carrie. Love you so damn much. Both of us have "stepped up to the plate" to fill the void in each other's lives, now that Mum is gone.

Many others have sent me "virtual hugs", positive vibes and offers of help.
I am blessed.
Next, finding the best breast surgeon in Toronto!

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Bad news

March 9/11

Got into see my GP just before 6 p.m. It had been 33 days since I first discovered the lump. At long last, she had the written pathology report - a copy for her, a copy for me. We looked at it together. Already knew, the mammogram showed NOTHING. The ultrasound was inconclusive. But the core needle biopsy indicated two samples showed nothing, and the third showed carcinoma. That was the only word I could see. CARCINOMA.
I asked, "So I have breast cancer?"
My doctor said, "Yes." I sat in shock, knowing I was about to embark on a whole new journey, one I really didn't want to go on, but HAD to. We talked for quite a while. I broke down in tears at one point, when I told her the pieces of my life finally all seemed to be coming together. I was slowly coming to grips with the loss of my Mum and my Uncle Ev, we were working on clearing Mum's house, hoping to put it on the market soon and I'd even been thinking of trying to go back to work after more than six years, and now, this.

She suggested a breast surgeon at Women's College Hospital, but I told her I needed time to research and decide the best surgeon for me. She said I could get back to her and she would refer me to the doctor of my choice.

Sam and Carrie were at home, desperately waiting to hear from me. Called Sam from my car. He always hates it when I tell a long story, asking me to "put the lead up front." (once a newsman, always a newsman). So I thought, OK, will do. I simply said, "I have breast cancer." I knew he was shocked and devastated. Told him I was coming home. Then called Carrie and told her the same news. I felt so sad to have to tell her. We're so very close and I knew she'd been praying the lump would be benign and everything would be fine.

When I got home, I was greeted with hugs from Sam. Max was asleep on the den couch. I wandered in, he woke up and I told him I didn't get the best news. After hearing it, he just slumped over onto the couch. So very sad. I told him we'd get through it. He hugged me. Kate was out for sushi with a friend. She called to ask what happened. I told her, and she said she was coming home immediately. She did, and we had a long hug.

Sam and I sat down to talk about what to do next. No one else in the family knew about any of this and it would be hard on me to call each person to let them know. Sam suggested I send out an email message to all the family members, telling them what's going on and what the next steps will be. I sat down to write it and hit send. Minutes later, phone calls came, lots of tears (mostly from me), and offers of help from all sides. As I said at the very beginning of this blog, I am very lucky. I have an extremely loving and supportive family.

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Insanity reigns - so make it happen!

March 9/11

Kate posted a quote from Charlie Sheen on Facebook.

Interviewer: "How do you plan on winning that war?"
Charlie: "With zeal. And focus. And violent hatred."

Somehow made sense to me. Maybe I need zeal, focus and violent hatred to win this "war with cancer". (if that's what it is). Going into reporter mode, I decided I am going to GET these results TODAY, come hell or high water!

Got a call from the office manager at the biopsy lab telling me the pathologist, Dr. Kulkarni, had called my GP and given her "a verbal" of my results. I was thrilled. Got all ready to return to the doc's office for a second time to find out the news. As I was about to leave, got a call from the GP's secretary saying the doctor CAN'T give me the results because she only has a VERBAL, not a WRITTEN report. I practically lost it, but said I was going to GET that written report to her SOMEHOW! She seemed skeptical.

Rushed to the computer, tried to locate the name of the lab where the pathology report was being held. I knew it was Gamma something. Finally found it - Gamma Dyna. Called the 1-800 number in Brampton. Got an unknown woman who amazingly KNEW Dr. Kulkarni (pathologist) and told me this doc had already spoken to my GP by phone. I said, "I KNOW, but the doctor won't give me the results because she only has a VERBAL, not the WRITTEN copy". The woman told me the pathologist wouldn't be into the lab till the next day so I would have to wait. - Sorry, not going to!

Called the biopsy lab back and spoke to the office manager. She told me I would NOT be able to reach the pathologist because she was working out of some other hospital that day (Humber River Regional) and I couldn't contact her. I suddenly felt I was channeling Pierre Trudeau. "Just watch me!" The more someone tells me I can't do something, the more I want to do it!

Got the correct spelling of Dr. Kulkarni, Googled the hospital, got a recorded message, tried about seven times to locate a message machine for this pathologist, but no luck. Then, suddenly, like a bolt of lightning, I heard a tiny, quiet woman's voice say, "Hello?" I said, "Dr. Kulkarni?" She replied,"Yes?" I just about passed out. Felt like Bob Woodward digging for information during Watergate. (FYI - All the President's Men - my favourite movie of all time!)

I apologized for bothering her, but said I knew she'd spoken to my doctor that morning to give her my test results. She instantly remembered the case and asked WHY couldn't I get the results? I explained my doctor needs the WRITTEN report before I can get them. I told her I was in a state of high anxiety and could she please help me? Miraculously, she answered, "I understand how you're feeling. I will call my secretary right away and ask her to fax those results to your GP immediately." YES!! Success! Winning!

Called the poor secretary at my GP's office again and told her the biopsy test results are being faxed NOW and to let me know when I could come in THAT DAY to get them. Then called the biopsy lab to speak to the office manager again (I guess, to gloat), and to tell her I HAD reached Dr. Kulkarni at Humber River Regional and that she personally took it upon herself to get my results faxed. The office manager seemed astounded and congratulated me.

Finally, at 4:40 p.m., I got a call from the GP's office saying they HAVE the results and I could come in for the last appointment of the day at 5. Rushed out, it was snowing like crazy, brushed off the car and drove to the office exactly by 5, but there were still three more people ahead of me! Breathe, breathe. Called Sam. Called Carrie. Once again, told them I'm waiting for results, this time, all alone.


Tick, tick tick

March 8/11

Biopsied breast SO bruised now. A week later, yikes.
Not a word yet from anyone re: results. Freaked when I saw a letter in the mailbox from the lab. Ripped it open, only to find it was another request to make my mammogram appointment! (thanks guys, duh, already did it. Winning!)

Finally couldn't stand the wait. Called the lab myself. Believe it or not, they said they HAVE the results, but hadn't faxed them to my GP yet! What the hell? Come ON! A nice woman at the lab said she would fax them right away. Yay! Called the doctor's office to alert them the results were on the way and that I want to come in to find out what they are. Secretary said OK. Later, hopped in the car, drove to the GP's office. Had to wait quite a while, since I had no official appointment. The secretary told me the doctor had already seen the results. Heart racing now. Called Sam's office and told him I should have the results very soon. Called Carrie too.

When I was finally seen, the doc tells me, yes, I have the results for the mammogram and ultrasound! What the f***?? I already KNOW these results! I came here to get the results of the BIOPSY! The secretary tells me, "We don't have those yet." I said, "But the lab told me they faxed them to you." Then the doc says, "Well maybe YOU could call them again!" (Guess it's pretty much do-it-yourself" when it comes to results these days).

Called the lab again, spoke to the woman who said she faxed the results. She checked and then apologized, saying she had only faxed the mammogram and ultrasound results - not the pathology report. The office manager came on the line and told me they have the results for EVERYONE else who had their biopsy done on March 1st, EXCEPT mine. She said she would ask the doc who did the biopsy to call the pathologist in the morning to get the results for me. Called Sam and Carrie back to tell them no go - ANOTHER day of no news and living in fear. Never a damn dull moment, as usual.

Charlie Sheen

March 4/11

Lucky I have the Charlie Sheen saga to keep me entertained through all this. WINNING! Epic winning! Bi-winning!
The Charlie song was just what I needed to send me into hysterics (thankfully laughter, not tears).

Had hoped to get biopsy results by today, (since the doc said there was a slight possibility it could happen), but nope.
Gotta get thru the weekend without knowing.

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Kate, Max and DRAKE!

March 3/11

My kids, Kate and Max are handling all this crap really well. (better than I am, that's for sure).
Today, Kate did her second performance at the Toronto Women's Bookstore. The first time she played there, it was mostly her own material, but she threw in her new version of Drake's rap song, "Best I Ever Had." Maybe some Mums wouldn't be thrilled with that, but I thought it was AMAZING. How she memorized all those fast-paced lyrics, I'll never know. She thought it was kind of funny to learn that the book shop crew would want her to play it again, (since you might think they hate mysogynistic men), but she does it so well! Here's one of her versions of the song, played at home.

As for Max, his drumming is fantastic. His band used to be called Gentlemen & the Jury, but they later changed the name to Basement Scene. One of my favourite drumming performances was in December '09 when his band played Holly Jolly Christmas at the Riverdale Share Concert. Max is just so much fun to watch in action.

These two incredible kids, Kate and Max are the main reasons I want to live!

Oh, and P.S. - lead singer Emmett Webb and bassist Charles Wilson are also two of the best and most talented kids you could ever hope to meet!

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The waiting game

March 2/11

Breast very sore and bruised from the biopsy. Taking Ibuprofen, as suggested by Dr. Korb. So happy it's over and am hopeful about the results. I continue to think about my Mum. Oh how I wish she could be here with me to share in this experience and talk with me about it. She was always the most sympathetic person. I miss her every day, cry often and sometimes wonder if I will EVER feel better about her loss. My beautiful sister-in-law, Carolyn, lost her own sister to breast cancer in December of 2009. She once told me you don't ever get over a devastating loss like this, but you just have to learn to live with the hole in your life. (I'm still trying).

Thank goodness for my kids, who fill the house with music and laughter and keep me distracted. I sent some prayers up to Mum, Uncle Ev, Gram and Gramp, asking them to watch over me and send me positive vibes. When I saw the bright sunshine today, I imagined, perhaps they were answering. (they certainly must have done something to pave the way for the painless biopsy procedure yesterday!) Keeping fingers crossed for good news.


Core needle biopsy

March 1/11

My appointment is scheduled for 11 a.m. Sweet Sam came with me. At the office, the nurse called me over to whisper to me that Dr. Korb had received my letter (re: fear of pain) and that he would do everything he can to make it comfortable for me. The radiologist's report said I have a "solid lump of dense tissue/possible nodule." Once called in, and dressed in a gown, I was asked to lie down on the examination table, slightly on my left side, right breast exposed. Bernie, (not the doc), came in to "prep me", telling me what to expect. Good man. Then Dr. Korb entered, told me he got my letter. I said, "Guess you think I'm a real wimp." He told me no, and that lots of women feel this way. He said he would put the Lidocaine in 'nice and slow,' (which made me think he may actually have READ the article I delivered re: proper - slow, use of Lidocaine!) I asked if he would be using "the gun" for this procedure. He said yes, and that he would show me how it sounds so I wouldn't jump when I hear it. He popped it once for me. It didn't sound too bad. Then he used a needle to administer the Lidocaine. A little pinch. Not bad at all. He told me he would be taking three tissue samples. It took a few minutes to get all three. I was so happy and relieved because I didn't feel ANY pain. I asked the doc if there was any way he could expedite the wait time for results. He said he would try. Minutes later, I was dressed and back in the waiting room with Sam.

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