Thursday, January 12, 2012

CATSTIR


CATSTIR[kat-stur]noun: Code word for the other "C" word that rhymes with Dancer


The doctor called yesterday, January 11, 2012 at 12:15 pm.  

"You're not getting that extra twenty bucks I baited you with," I told her. "You missed your deadline by fifteen minutes."

After my biopsy, I promised her $20.00 if she gave me my results before noon on Wednesday.  

"Well..." she said (long pause). 

"And I warned you about the pause," I reminded her. "Just give it to me straight."

"The tests came back positive for catstir," she told me.  

Immediately my palms began to sweat, then my feet. And then I got an intense rush of heat across my back.

"I was high on valium during the biopsy," I confessed. 
"I thought so," she said.  
"I took more than the prescribed amount," I added.
"You're a naughty girl," she said.  

Yesterday was my day to get drunk and cry. Today is not that day. Today I picked my catstir doctor and made my appointment. I have to wait two weeks to get the doctor of my choice but I'm okay with that, it gives me plenty of time to process the diagnosis - a high grade of Intraductal Carcinoma. By then I will have a list of questions that will blow her mind. 

Today my phone rang at 6:56 am. It was my supervisor notifying me that a security guard called out sick. Without turning on a light, I called the guard and asked him if he had catstir.

"No" he said, "I have a stomach virus."
Then go to work," I told him.

Today my daughter called from Florida. She has been vacationing with a friend for the past 10 days and was due back today. 

"I cancelled my flight," she told me, "I need you to watch Mylo."
Mylo, her dog, has been staying at her Dad's house while she was away. He's a great dog but he has issues.

"I can't," I told her, "I have catstir."

I had planned on waiting until she returned to tell her but it just sort of gushed out. My daughter has endured a lot during her 21 years on earth - the loss of two young cousins, a brother, and a grandmother that she adored, and she was recently diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. It sucks that she now has to deal with her mothers illness but there is no reason to keep it from her.

I didn't want her to worry, so I explained it in a way that I knew she would understand.  

"I'm just like Samantha on Sex and the City," I told her. "Yes its true, I have catstir, but I'm still fabulous."  

I don't care if I lose my hair. I have plenty of wigs.  
I don't care if I lose a breast or two. I have made the most out of them. I nursed two children with them. I twirled fire topless with them.

Yes, there where times when I flaunted them, but I have never been defined by them.

They did their job. They served me well, and I will have a party in their honor when they're gone.

I know having catstir will suck but it will NEVER be as hard as losing a child. THIS is something I can do something about and I will fight it with every ounce of my existence.

There are gifts in this catstir, just as there are gifts in all pain, suffering, loss and trauma. 

Today, I received my first catstir gift - knowing I want to live. For years after my son's death I wanted to die in the worst way but I didn't have the brain disease that my son had, and therefor, I knew I could not take matters in my own hands. 

Knowing I want to live and that I will fight to live, makes everything sweeter.

Please don't gasp, or cry, of sigh. Don't pity me. And for fucks sake don't ask stupid questions. Just smile at me and know that I have been given this catstir for a reason. I believe that with all my heart. 

There are so many unknowns but for NOW, in this moment, all I know for certain is that I WILL write about it.




For those of you that are late to the party - "catstir" is my code word for the other "c" word - no... not THAT "c" word - I would never say THAT.  "CATSTIR" is code for...that scary, big "C" word.  If I use the word in a post, google gobbles it up and then starts targeting me with big "C" advertisements, etc.  I don't want to see a wall full of big "C" stuff every time I turn on the computer.


59 comments:

  1. I thought I recognized you. I do that a lot. I lost a son too. You are not only going to be fine, you will be fantastic. I feel it with all my heart.

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    1. all of a sudden I have a "reply - delete" button? when did that happen. why, its another gift!

      Thank you Curmu :) I love/hate that we have so much in common.

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    2. I love you. You are an inspiration, going for my "evaluation" on Thursday to see about my suspicious micro-calcification. Much as I would love to join your party, I really hope that I can just support you in yours, I don't know how much good I will be if I am actually "in" the club. We shall see, hugz love and prayers to you my new found monkey friend.

      Delete
  2. Knowing that you want to live, and how MUCH you want to live, is indeed a gift. Knowing that if necessary you can do without breasts is a gift, too. They come at a high price, but as you point out, you've already survived the worst pain a mother can experience. I wish you didn't have to go through this, but I know you will draw on your considerable strengths and come out victorious.

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  3. As if you didn't already have enough to write about.

    Amen to what Blissed-Out Grandma said.

    I won't gasp, gasp, sigh or pity you, but I will be here as one of your many supports as you kick Catstir's ass.

    -Jay

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    1. Everyone... "Jay" was my initial contact person. Husband was number two. I knew there was a strong chance that husbands response would not be BIG enough (see how difficult I am) and I knew Jay would give me just the right amount of drama.

      "I have catstir" I texted.
      "I'm coming over" texted Jay.

      purrrrrfect reply!!! Thank you :)

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    2. and I forced him drink scotch! I'm bad like that :)

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    3. I want to live close enough to come over be forced to drink scotch! Dammit.

      Also, you're an asskicker. This we know. Right here if you need anything.

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  4. The Reply button appeared yesterday! I love it.

    You know, Lou Reed has come up in my discussions with you on more than one occasion, and your blog here made me think of a line from one his Nineties albums: "There's a bit of magic in everything / And then some loss to even things out."

    Every time something bad befalls someone I know, this line pops into my head against my will.

    But it seems to be true...

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    1. yep... once again... proof positive that Lou is the man! Thanks Katy ~

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  5. Well, I'm jealous. I don't have a reply button. No pity, no sigh, I did gasp though and I will cry later. Right now I'm thinking I need to send you a sock monkey hat. :)

    I've been here awhile you know and I'm always here if you need anything Monkey but I must warn you... I don't have any drama. :0
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

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    1. funny Jules, I ordered a monkey sock puppet kit today!~ and YES, I do know you're always here for me and that really does feel good! xoxo

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  6. Alright, I didn't gasp, but I mustn't tell a lie-- I did cry, and I'm still doing it. What's more, I sighed as my fingers starting tapping away at the keyboard. In effort to not get all liquidy (shortly following the tears is snot, and that's just gross), I shall have to adjust my previous Witches stirring cats vision. It's not going to be pretty, but it might involve some, well, boiling in oil and heavy drinking. The cats may not make it, but I'm absolutely positive that the monkey will. Muah!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. double ((((Muah)))) back at chu! you're quirky keen spirit is always exactly what I need.

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  7. I'm sorry. I cried :( But I believe in you and I know you'll make it through this! A big "muah" to join the others!

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    1. oh man did that feel good! thanks ben, now if you wouldn't mind scratching just below my right shoulder blade... nope, a bit to the left, now up higher... yep, right THERE!!! Thank you :)))

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  8. Well Thank God you explained what Catstir is... I was like what the F#$k is *that*.... yes, I know I'm late to the party, but I got here as fast as I could.

    Anyway.... I know you know you are loved (here and out there) so for now I just want to say I'm floored by your ability to stand behind a guy that looks like Jesus :)

    You not alone, y'hear me.

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    1. Ha!!!! :)))))))))) Haaaaaaa!!! good one Mark! and yes, I am listening :) xoxo

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  9. Well, that just sucks giant moose cocks. It's often said that when it comes to catstir, attitude is everything. If that's true, I think this catstir will quickly find that it has fucked with the one bad-ass mama, not to mention the army of people who love her.

    Hugs...

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    1. "giant moose cock" ....now THAT is fun to say!!!

      One of my Burning Man campmates said, "we will rebuild them and make them flame resistant" - because I have been known to twirl fire topless. I am going to copy and paste that line everywhere - in my car, at work, and especially in my bathroom.

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  10. I just took a very deep breath (after I figured out what the hell was going on!) My SITC memory was not working well! This Phucting Catstir is a pissy Bitch but I know you can teach it a couple of things - my Mom did and my sister in law Marcia did and my friend and neighbor Heather did (and they threw in a couple other tucks or enhancements for good recoup.measure) and they are all doing well and look great! Call me! And I'm sure Marcia or Heather will be available if you want (they have a lot of info.). I went to all of Marcia's apppts.at Hopkins w/her.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I forgot that SuzQ was YOU Sue! I was thinking it was a different Sue, who didn't know and I thought she knew and she was REALLY confused.

      I called your Mom today. I should have called her yesterday. She's the best mother-in-law in the world!!! she let me go on and on about what was new with me and then she quietly said "I know"

      Thank you Sue for reaching out! Hope to see you when Stormy is in!

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  11. Shannon, This is exactly what I was thinking in that second email I sent you. You are a powerful, life-embracing woman who has now been provided with an opportunity to reach an even wider audience with your tremendous gifts. Your process, as you process this, will be educational for all of us. True that it sucks. It absolutely sucks. But I, for one, am looking forward to how you report on it in the weeks ahead. You've moved me already with this post. With or without boobs, you will always rock. And, oh my, that cat at the top? Lordy! Somebody get him some catnip!

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    1. Katie, will you please check in with me from time to time and give it to me straight... meaning, I will need to know if I'm getting too sappy or depressing. I don't want all my writing to be about catstir. I don't want to depress anyone. OKAY.. I don't want to lose readers :) so will you tell me if I need to shut it off or town it down. :)

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  12. Yes, you have faced the worse thing that a mother must go through. You will fight this, but my heart is breaking that you have to. I know what you mean about wanting to live. You have much to live for. You are strong, and smart, and sassy. You are an inspiration.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. you forgot... and a pain in the ass.

      I don't want to be defined by my breasts or breast cancer so I'm not sure how long I'll stay on this subject but for now its all I can think about.

      Delete
  13. wow...speechless....keep writing is all I got...Luv Jbird

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    1. I promise to keep writing if you keep reading Jaybird!

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  14. All I can say is... You're going to kick Catsir's ass. And I look forward to watching.

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    1. Catstir is going to be sorry it landed on a Monkey. It's ass is going to be kicked!

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    2. I'm trying to figure out if I should post pictures of my first incision. Knowing me... I probably will!

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  15. Do you have your final pathology yet? Im hoping for you it's pure DCIS and low grade, Shannon. And very small in size.

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    1. sadly, its considered high grade - aggressive and the cancer cells have moved beyond the ducts :( I'm not doing well today

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    2. marie5890 from BCOJanuary 13, 2012 at 4:07 PM

      SHIT!....When do you meet with a breast surgeon? I know a more full pathology comes after the area is actually fully removed.

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    3. I have two appointments set up.. one on the 23rd at Sloan and another on the 26th at Greenwich Hospital (town I live in)

      Hey everyone Marie5890 is my new Best friend from my catstir support group!

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  16. No stupid questions, eh? Well, that let's me out.

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    1. Alright maybe ONE stupid question ... :)

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  17. I am impressed that nowhere has there been a hint of 'why me'.

    There are worse things. One you have already had the vast misfortune to experience. The power to do this is in you. You already know this.

    I'm sorry to say, there are some days when you will have to draw on every ounce of inner strength you posses, no matter who is holding your hand, but you already knew this, too. You can do it.

    Some days you have to hold on twenty minutes longer than you think you can. You can do this also.

    When you feel a need to make the sickest of jokes about whatever, feel free to email me. My family are still appalled at some of the things I thought funny. Still do, as a matter of fact and they're still appalled.

    I don't believe in coincidence. You have a purpose. Fulfill it. No matter what happens YOU WILL BE ALRIGHT. Believe in that. Looks like you already do.

    Always here.

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    1. yes, the why me has entered into my mind but I know I signed up for this so its more like, "why the fuck did I sign up for this?"

      love the sick joke option and yes, I will take you up on that!

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  18. Well fuck. I did cry. Forgive me? Just one big tear...and a sniff. Hardly counts, right?

    My prayers are with you. Healing is so much the mind, and your attitude is spot on. I recently watched the movie THE GUITAR. Woman diagnosed with cancer. She was leading a half life, perhaps less than half. But with a month+ to live, why not lead fully. She did. Next visit to the doctor showed the tumor had disappeared. "What did you change?" they asked. "Did you change your diet, your exercise, you thought patterns?"

    "Everything" she replied. I changed everything.

    It was said that there are instances of a person changing so much, that the parasite (cancer) no longer recognizes the host (self) and leaves. I don't know if it's true. I just found it interesting. My mother had breast cancer. My sister. My sister in law. I expect it. When my time comes, I will refer here.

    ((Hugs))

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    1. and I cried whey you said you cried (did that make you cry?) I will be tweaking my attitude - working between honoring my fears and staying strong.

      will watch the movie The Guitar (as apposed to Love Story)

      I so was not expecting this. It's not in my family. However... I will be so happy if I can keep it in my breast. I don't need my breast.

      Delete
    2. or.. I might have cried when you said fuck. I've been saying fuck a lot lately. it feels good

      Delete
    3. marie5890 from BCOJanuary 15, 2012 at 2:32 PM

      That one of the "feel good" myths about breast cancer. One of many. That it NOT being in your family means you most likely wont get it. The biggest risks are 1) being female and 2) growing older....Most women who are diagnosed with it dont have it in their families to be honest.

      1 in 8 women through out their life time, will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and most wont have it in their families and most will be mothers who breast fed their children.

      Delete
  19. I'm new to your blog, but I can already tell you're a tough, strong person and a force to be reckoned with in the case of this catstir. I'm sending you all my hugs and good wishes, and I don't know how much that means coming from a complete stranger, but please know that I wish you well and am sure that you will pull through just fine. The will to live is a beautiful, powerful thing.

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    1. Thanks for reading Julie! and yes I am strong :)

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  20. Replies
    1. slappin' love right back at you Shoes!

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  21. Shannon, thank you. You are so genuine and honest. It's unimaginable that at a time like this your words should serve others, but I think they do. At least they help me realize how complex life can be and how a woman who has lost a child and had other sorrows, still has a willingness to keep on living - and life is a fight. So keep on fighting. The fight itself makes you a winner.

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  22. So sorry...:( Sending out lots of love, big hugs and healing energy! Don't lose that fighting spirit that inspires us all. You can beat this.

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    1. thank you Jamie! it means a lot to me!

      Delete
  23. Of course, you're angry. If you weren't, you'd be fucking insane. Any feeling you have at any given moment is absolutely valid. I can't believe that now, of all times, your husband is losing your insurance. Are you eligible for COBRA?

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    1. oh Jayne! wise wonderful Jayne! thanks for reaching out. my plan is to dump the husband and find another husband who has insurance. or... sign up for cobra :) I'm on the fence right now.

      Delete
  24. well, fuck. i dont know you aside from what i have read here, .... and from that, i have sensed a "dont fuck with me" attitude.
    rock on girl !!
    hugs
    ~laura x

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  25. I've just now stumbled upon your blog. I've tended to peruse blogs relating to catstir, since my diagnosis back in September. I even drunkenly started one, though I am normally too shy and insecure and neglectful of it to comment and therefore leave a trace of it somehow. But, I'll take that risk because I have to comment tonight after reading what you said about catstir being a gift. Usually, I am loathe to call it a gift. I keep trying to find a different word like "lesson" or something else. However, you made me look at it differently tonight with these words: "...I received my first catstir gift - knowing I wanted to live".

    I was slowly recovering from one of the worst and scariest bouts of clinical depression I'd ever had right before I found out I had this. Catstir did, indeed, mysteriously (to me)take the word "suicide" out of my mental tape player. That truly is a gift. There is no other way of looking at it anymore. "Knowing I want to live and fight to live". I can't even express how heartbroken I am for the loss of your son. Thank you for speaking up about depression...I have to stop now because I'm really in need of a tissue (sorry, I can't help it). I just wanted to let you know that your words, and your willingness to share them, are a gift as well.
    ~ Chris

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    ReplyDelete

Thank you for encouraging my JOY of writing. By reading and commenting you are feeding my soul, stroking my heart, and in the end...making me a better writer.

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing
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Shannon E. Kennedy

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Photo by Joan Harrison