Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My Odds

DISCLAIMER: 
I sugar coat nothing here. No one, and nothing gets hidden, or colorized, or disguised. (other than the word itself, catstir)

I do this because, I need to be honest. I do not practice honesty to hurt, or judge, or dismantle. But yes, sometimes that happens, and I'm trying really hard NOT to apologize for it.




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

In My Dreams

I am driving in a car. I am accompanied by a snake and a honey badger.  At first, I think it is a skunk and worry it will spray me.  I am thrilled to learn this "crazy fuck" is at my side.  He eats the snake as it attempts to coil itself around my neck.  We approach a bridge. The bridge has no railing.  I turn to look at the honey badger and discover that he has eaten half of my car.  All that is left is the steering wheel, a gas peddle and the seat.  There are no brakes. "Get out of my car you crazy fuck!" I scream.  I wake up.    


How am I?

   
I am suffering from situational sadness. My catstir has disrupted my sense of normalcy. I am too sad for facebook, twitter, or any social media. I am too sad for social meddling of any kind unless I am not expected to be happy or entertaining. But because I am an entertainer by nature, I am disappointed in myself when I don't deliver.

Antidepressants will NOT help me.
Anticancer pills WILL help me. But so far, they don't exist outside of my mind.

Where did I go?
I don't recognize ME anymore. When I speak, think, or write, I am negative, bitter, defeated, and weak. I do not know this me. 

I have no clever stories to tell you. The only thing that churns inside my head are percentages and the odds of THIS and odds of THAT.

80% of biopsies are benign. 
Radiation therapy can reduce the reoccurrence of cancer by 70%. 
Radiation on the left breast increases the chance of coronary artery disease by 59%. 
Women ages 50 to 59 have a 2.38% chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer.
The risk of developing breast cancer in both breasts is about 10% over a lifetime.

How did a healthy, (arguably) well-balanced, 52 year old woman with no hereditary factors, and zero medical conditions, suddenly become uninsurable? What are the odds of that?  

If you REALLY want to be morbid, DeathRiskRanking.org can calculate YOUR risk of dying, taking into consideration, age, sex, place of residence, medical issues, etc.  

Why so Morbid?

I had an MRI on the anniversary of my son's birth and the following day I received more disconcerting news. My not-so-eloquent wording of this is, "my catstir has catstir." The medically correct wording is a "highly suspicious mass located behind the ductal carcinoma." There is a chance that this "mass" aka "tumor" is benign, but the catstir specialist says that is "highly unlikely."

This changes the game.  Just as the diagnosis of catstir in both breast changes the game.


My choice ...my personal, well informed, proactive, peace of mind, get on with my life, refusal to define myself by catstir choice, is to undergo a bilateral (double) mastectomy.  If my "mass" is not benign, I will undergo chemotherapy.  I may have to consider other medical options as well.

Please understand that this is a personal choice and yes, of course, after MUCH research and four opinions, I will incorporate western medicine, homeopathic remedies, and a bevy of mind empowering approaches to healing.  But PLEASE do not doubt or judge me. Or if you do, PLEASE keep it to yourself.

There was a time when my big decision of the day was whether or not to order a grande or a venti coffee at Starbucks. Now there are life and death decisions at every turn. And regardless of how prepared I am, I am constantly surprised by new developments.


The Need for BALANCE


This past weekend, the Secret Tea Party Society (STPS), an eclectic, generous in heart, group of anything but teatotallers, gathered to celebrate the simplicities of friendship.  Here, in this NO PINK zone, I felt safe enough to be vulnerable. I did not entertain and I was not expected to entertain. Here, I was able to turn off the volume and redirect my attention to the everyday joys of life.

I returned home with a magical, crystal GREEN monkey, a powerful, antioxidant elixir, a snowman I've named Sam, and a smile.

This coming weekend will be my last weekend before my surgery. My last weekend with my natural breasts. What will I do?  Where will I go?  How will I celebrate this dramatic change in my life?

I will be creating a CATSTIR cape. It will be green and silver, and silky and shiny.  I will wear it to my chemo treatments (if needed) or anytime I feel scared, or vulnerable, or overrun with pain, or the fear of pain, or the fear of the unknown, or just plain fear.  I will wear it when I feel alone. I will wear it when I need to be alone. I will wear it in celebration of a life well lived.  Deliberately lived.


Special thanks to those of you who wanted to HELP... 
Your cards brings me joy. Pure joy.
I plan to string them along the ceiling of my bedroom, so I can see them as I rest and heal.


xo, MonkeyME
  

36 comments:

  1. See, that's the good thing about friends. We're not here just so you can entertain us, we're here so we can support you. x

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    1. thank you Sarah... its very comforting to hear that.

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  2. Thank you for continuing to share your journey with such blinding openness. Your personal exploration in the face of adversity, gives everyone who reads this blog a window seat to the reality of facing a life outside the bounds of control. As you point out so poignantly, none of us can know what tomorrow will bring, but moving forward is really the only option. I dare say that the odds are 100% that none of us will get out of here alive. The moments that we have here before that eventuality, mean the most if we LIVE them. All of us die, but Shannon you LIVE. You live grandly, loudly, dramatically, and sometimes sadly. You don’t mute your words or edit your passion, you travel screaming and kicking through the world, challenging everyone around you to LIVE also. I love you and am beside you in spirit, kicking and screaming a little on my own.

    Inky

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    1. That...was beautiful. Inky, you are reading what's left of my mind...

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    2. that......really WAS beautiful Inky! so....love you! xoxo

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  3. Do what you must do, be yourself and live. That is all that is important, She of the Cape. Wishing you all the best on this journey.

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    1. thank you Debra! I really appreciate your support.

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  4. I'm still working on your card :-)

    Thinking I'll finally get it colored this week and sent.

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    1. Ben!!!!!!!! :))))))))) I had NO idea there would be COLOR!!!!! Monkey jumping UP and DOWN!!!

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  5. Love you Monkey, love you love you love you.

    MG

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    1. :((((((( :))))))))) love you, love you, love you, right back at chu!!!

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  6. She wondered "why me?"

    With great pain will come great joy

    Hope grows in a dump.

    This isn't supposed to make you feel better. Maybe it will, it wouldn't me. It's really all about me. Except for technical writers everything is about whoever is writing it. I used to rescue people all the time. Now I watch and hope. Besides, I promised you a haiku and the post office is almost a whole five miles from my house.
    My wife told me about one time she got lost. She was standing in the center of a bunch of cows when they found her. Her parents were so relieved. When she is unhappy I see her as that lost little girl surrounded by cows. Well, I see you're surrounded by cows.

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    1. mudge....... "hope grows in a dump" I am working on this place I am in now... I call it a "hole" and hope grows here as well but it takes time. I love what/how you write. your honesty...your talent. yes, yes... cows are everywhere!

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  7. This is all happening so fast! And I still haven't finished my gift for you! (no it's not a car)

    I remember when my friend's Mom died, she said she didn't need anti depressants, becasue it was NORMAL for her to feel depressed. I love that you know anti depressants will not help you right now, as it's normal to feel the way you feel.

    And we're all here for you, riding the coaster. :)

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    1. yes, anti depressants definitely won't work but I have finally given in to anti anxiety medication. at least for this next week. i'm a mess....

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  8. FUCK the odds! FUCK EM FUCK EM FUCK EM. Odds are meant to be broken, and if anyone is gonna do it, it'll be you! Such spunk don't go down with out a hair pulling fight, and I want to see Catstir when you're done with that motherfucker! And when you are, pass if over to me. I'd like to give it the beating of it's god forsaken life. ARRRRGH! I missed the post about the hand made cards (sheepish). It ain't Catstir, but I am in the midst of my own melodrama here that makes my support less than it should be. My best friend Stephanie had her tumors out last week. We had coffee yesterday, wished it was wine. Someday it will be. We've been side by side 20 years. Seen a lot of sickness, seen a lot of death. But we're still kickin, and I think you will be too!

    ((Hugs))
    `Annie

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    1. THANKS Annie! FUCK is my new favorite word.

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  9. Dont have anything profound to say. It sucks. It's shitty. Can't make it better. But I do send you thoughts of love and strength and whatever else you need. You may feel alone, but your arent. Even in those darkest of dark hours.

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    1. no need for anything profound but thank you so much for your all knowing support. xoxo

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  10. Shannon, you are in my thoughts every single day. And my heart continues to tell me that you WILL kick that bad, old catstir out into a Black Hole somewhere deep in outer space.....and it will never return. (You have nightmares.....I have powerful day dreams!)

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    1. LOVE your card Becky! You are the real deal! Monkey Love to you!

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  11. Aloha Shannon,

    Have a boatload of words that, when written, are done in a way to show you that you are not alone and people care.

    The boat is pulled off in a truck stop south of Terre Haute Indiana. When you're ready, I'll ship 'em over.

    Take care, my friend, and well, shit the rest is in the boat.

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    1. exactly! I'm ready for the boat! I'm ready for the boat!!!

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  12. YOU are making the best decisions for you. I admire your honesty and I honor every single stinkin' emotion you have. You are in some crazy carnival of emotions right now, taking a ride on every ride. Each will lead you where you need to go. I'll be in the Merry Go Round waiting for you. I'll save the Flying Monkey just for you. Thinking of you constantly.

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    1. Oh Betty, I miss you! yes, it is a crazy carnival!!! xoxo

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  13. Shannon

    You must be going for the extra special grand prize! You earned your super-sized wings and extra fluffy cloud long ago. Still sending positive thoughts your way.
    Love,
    Your friend Bev

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    1. we need to sit by the wall... Tuesday? I'll email you!

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  14. Hey, Sunshine...the most important thing right now is you...

    Focus on you...

    I will never second guess you... only provide total and unconditional support for you, sweet one...

    *huggles*

    ~shoes~

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    1. SHOES!!!!!! so appreciate the support. xoxoMonkeyME

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  15. no need to be clever.
    just be you.
    dark night of the soul
    is not fun,
    but leads to wisdom,
    and peace.
    One minute, one day at a time.
    REIKI can be amazingly healing and insightful,
    esp if you get initiated yourself
    and self-treat daily.
    Love you, Sis.

    Aloha from Waikiki
    Comfort Spiral

    >< } } ( ° >

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    1. YES REIKI is a fabulous idea! Love and peace to you my comfort spiral friend!

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  16. Do whatever you need to do to lift yourself up. I love the cape idea and can't wait to see it, it sounds magical! I'll be thinking positive thoughts for you, Shannon.

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    1. thank you Marty. I treated myself to a burger the other day when I was in the city and thought of you.

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  17. Thinking of you and sending thoughts of peace and balance.

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  18. Shannon, your creativity is not depressed, it seems to give you comfort and wonderful healing ideas. I think of you everyday.

    I'm a Reiki master. Tonight I'll send you Reiki. I assume that's okay with you. And I send you love.

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  19. Sam is a great name for your new monkey! Your multi-prong attach on the catstir is excellent. One kind of medicine can't do it all. I like the cape idea. I can picture you wearing it to treatment. That makes me smile. - Sam

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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
greenmonkeytales@live.com

Shannon E. Kennedy

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Photo by Joan Harrison