June 10, 2012

more journal pages, and some news...

Just a couple more journal pages- these were made a couple weeks ago, while I was recovering from the surgery I had on May 15th. Some personal stuff to follow, but... since I use my blog sometimes to 'process' and work through stuff, as well as to remember things later, here it goes: 

It was a stressful couple weeks: having the surgery and recovering from the surgery- not feeling like myself, no energy, etc. etc. I had scheduled two weeks off work to recover (yay! for laprascopic surgeries), and had a follow-up appointment with my doctor scheduled for 4 weeks after surgery. One week after the surgery, the doctor's office called- the nurst said, "the doctor has an opening tomorrow at 1:20 and would like you to come in." Well, that's not good now, is it?!? Especially since I knew I shouldn't be seeing him for another three weeks... I immediately called Tom, who rearranged his work schedule for the next day to drive me to the doctor. (Not that I'll forget anytime soon, but that follow-up appointment was on May 22nd...) I was kind of defensive with the doctor when he came into the exam room (who wouldn't be in those circumstances, right?) but he was really nice about it-- no beating around the bush, no 'niceties' to pass the time, or anything like that to prolong the waiting... 
As soon as the doctor said the words 'malignant tumor' my ears sort of turned off for a few minutes, I think. It was really weird; it was like I was hearing things underwater, or something like that-- it's hard to describe. So, that was the news... one of the fibroids he had removed wasn't a fibroid at all, but was a tumor on my ovary. But wait, there was some good news, too, actually, if you want to call it that- and I do choose to call it good! The good news is, it was smaller than average, and we caught it early! That is a HUGE thing: if I hadn't decided to have the surgery I did, who knows when we might have finally realized what was going on?? Another good piece of information is that it's a slower-growing type of cancer with a very high survival rate when treated.  
Another very good thing is that he even sent it to pathology at all, since we didn't have any reason to suspect any sort of cancer prior to the surgery. This whole chain of events may actually have saved my life, or at the very least, saved me from medical issues that could have ended up being much worse. (This doctor is going on my Christmas card list, for sure!)  The doctor said something like 'this isn't a very good birthday present' (my 43rd birthday was on the 27th) but I actually disagree. Oh, not about the cancer itself (that sucks!), but the fact that I know about it, and that we're now taking the proper steps to treat it?!? That is a HECK of a good birthday present, in my opinion!!
So, in the last few weeks, I've done more art journaling than I have in months... including the pages with doodled circles and the scribbled circles that I made in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep. Although I didn't do it consciously (I've just been drawn to using circles lately), all the circles I've been using on my recent pages probably do represent cancer cells. (I didn't see the connection at all, but Tom noticed that right away). I guess this is one of those things that proves for me, art journaling has become my own personal art therapy process: the cutting, pasting, painting, and doodling (and scribbling!) is almost meditative for me, once I get into 'the zone' and get out of my own head. (That whole 'getting out of my own head' process is important for me: the inside of my head can get pretty crowded sometimes!)
I've already gotten lots of very good advice from some very wise people (my older sister, my mother, Tom, and our good friends Mike and Billie, to name just a few) about how to get through this whole experience... I have very good doctors looking after my medical needs, and I have a lot of very good friends and family looking after my emotional needs. And, there's a good chance I won't even need chemotherapy: if the cancer was confined only to the tumor on that ovary, we'll just have to keep an eye on things for the future in case there's a recurrence. I'll know the answer to that question sometime in the next couple weeks, since I'm having a second surgery this next week so the doctor can 'stage' the cancer. (Click here for a general description of the staging process.) 

So, now that I've gotten here, I don't really know how to end this post- I'm really not trying to say 'oh, poor me' or garner loads of sympathy by writing this post. Although your good thoughts are most definitely appreciated! :-) I guess, I wrote all this more because I know I'd feel awkward (? not sure if that's the right word, but it's the best I can come up with) if I didn't at least mention it here, since this whole experience is influencing my journaling (at least for the time being) and I don't want to censor myself too much when I post photos of my journal pages. I may not always write out my feelings / emotions in words on my pages, but they're there in the art, nonetheless, and I guess I wanted to be candid about their origins.

As well as to make another public service announcement, like I did a couple years ago after I had the stroke: make sure you get regular check-ups, don't ignore issues when they do come up (like I have done sometimes in the past, to be totally honest), and if something doesn't seem right, keep following up!

(and again, your good thoughts are truly appreciated!)

Once I'm feeling up to it again, I'll be back with more journal pages, I'm sure. (now that I've replenished my glue stick supply- lol!!)

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