Since finding out I have Cancer, I've been much more aware of my body.
I question every little ache and pain, wondering is it normal or is it the cancer? The period of waiting for the cancer to be staged was the worst. Knowing it was possible that the cancer was in my other organs or in my bones made me hyper aware of my body. I'd get a cramp and be convinced the cancer had spread to my stomach. My leg would ache and I was sure it was in my blood.
I felt like that WebMD researcher who has a cold and concludes "I HAVE CANCER!" The difference was, of course, I actually do have cancer.
I had a solid week of this type of behavior between the tests themselves and actually finding out the results. It was a long week. I knew my best case scenario was stage II. Worst case was stage IV.
As it turns out, I'm Stage II (SCORE!). Stage IIBX, to be exact. It's funny how that title becomes a little bit defining. On every support site and information forum, your byline is your type of cancer and it's stage. "Hello my name is Dana and I have Hodgkins Lymphoma, Stage IIbx." Hi, Dana.
So what does that mean?
Stage II means I have a perfectly good excuse to hibernate through the rough Detroit winter. It means I will be done with my treatment before the springtime flowers start to bloom. It means, like the flowers, my hair will start to bud and grow back in time for summer. It means I get to spend my weekends on the river instead of in the hospital. It means I turn into my mother and think of my hair as rosebuds and write cheesy lines to validate staying inside when it's fucking freezing outside. Hey what ever helps you sleep at night, right? Stage II means five months of hell, but then it will be over (knock on wood). And as Winston Churchill says, "If you're going through hell, keep going."
The "B" part of the staging means the tumor is "unfavorable." LIke anyone feels that a tumor in their body is favorable. But according to the doctors, favorable tumors exist, and unfortunately I don't have one. The B means I have certain side effects associated with the cancer: fever, night sweats, weight loss, etc. I'm still not convinced I'm actually a B patient. You could say it's denial, but I'm just looking at the facts. Yes, I did have fever and night sweats for a week several months ago, but never before and never since. And as for weight loss, I don't think 2 lbs counts as "significant weight loss." I think the stress of finding out there's a cancer in your body will scare 2 lbs off of anyone.
The X means my tumor is bulky. Anyone that knows me, knows that no part of me is considered "bulky." But lately I'm finding out that I have very bulky insides. Not only is my tumor large, but apparently I have both an enlarged heart and a "bulky pancreas." On my original CT Scan, there was a mark on my pancreas that they believed to be cancerous. This is why they believed me to be at least stage III (cancer is in areas above and below the diaphram). Turns out, I just have a bulky pancreas.
Some people are blessed with big butts or big boobs, but not me. I was blessed with a big pancreas. Eat your heart out Sir Mix A Lot.