I’m in the elevator stuck between floors.
Today I am cancer-free. But in two weeks after my follow-up scan I’ll know if that’s true.
My Oncologist prepared me. Warning he’s never seen a completely clean first scan. There will be cysts and lumps here or there. “Normal” he said would actually be: 1cm cyst in left lung, small hemangioma in liver etc. I get it. I just learned that most people really only have one functioning kidney. Unlike me they never get the opportunity to find out. I also learned that when you lose a kidney it categorizes as having kidney disease. Go figure. As my doc put it “One kidney is in your body. The other is in a petri dish.” Even I have to concede that is impaired normal function i.e. disease.
So my upcoming scan will reveal if there is anything lurking, lying in wait. I’ll know if it’s safe to exhale. But for now, I am in the between place.
This week’s Dungeon writing prompt is Secrets.
Are you a secret keeper? Do you have a lot hidden away that you share with no one or do you have certain friends that you tell everything to? Do you have the confidence of others knowing that your ears lead to a closed vault or are you known for your secret broadcasting system? Are you offended when you suspect others are keeping secrets from you, or do you not want to have anything to do with things that are kept hidden? What do secrets mean to you?
I am not big fan of secrets (other than my blog- which no one knows I write). Hypocritical I know. Because in life I am an open book. I don’t hold back or hold secrets. My friends and family only give me information they won’t care is shared. I don’t want to be responsible for holding another’s secrets. I am too open and apt to find a moment that your piece will help another and poof out it comes without a second thought.
I’m the woman who wants to know you think this dress makes me look fat. And if you’re having an affair tell me so I can move on. I want the truth. Secrets have a way of rotting.
My ex-husband’s best friend was dating my best friend. Yes, already headlong for disaster. Well he decides to bring another woman to our house to “hookup” (note: this has been seriously edited for content which goes something like Oh no you didn’t bring a plastic chippy h….you get the picture). Anyhoo the following weekend all of us were heading out of town to go camping. Obviously he was looking for an out. I gave him the week to man-up and confess. Otherwise I was letting the cat out of the bag. I already learned the betrayal felt when your friends know your boyfriend is unfaithful. It is like being crossed twice and you end up feeling like an idiot alone in the dark.
I bet you can guess he never told her. I ended up breaking the news on the way up the mountain. Long story short- they fought. She stayed.
So last week I’m watching Grey’s Anatomy.(I know very high brow entertainment. Don’t judge). Anyway. The show opens up with the usual voiceover.This week however begins with cancer. O K I’m listening.
Cancer is a biological bully. Always picking a fight. And it’ll sneak up on you. It will wait until the body feels safe, until it feels healthy and strong. That’s when cancer will move on in and gets bigger and bigger. The body never even sees it coming. Because cancer is the master of surprises.
Now the episode’s central patient is an 18 year old with multiple cancers. As in bone, chest and previously removed brain cancer. She has a rare genetic anomaly called Li-Fraumeni Syndrome. This is a lottery you don’t want to win. It is a mutation on the tumor suppressor gene. The TP53 or CHEK2 gene in our body normally helps control the growth and division of cells and basically polices the development of cancer. The warrior gene, if you ask me, going to battle against invading colonies. Well without, you’re kinda strung up for the wolves to feed on.
And her younger sister, cancer free, didn’t want to know if she had the gene mutation. Her parents were ready to find the cure and take on the cause. Long story short, drama extracted, she died. Of course now her little sister wanted to know if she had the mutation. And yep she did.
In my family there is another rare genetic disorder called VHL (Von Hippel Lindau). This is also a mutation on a tumor suppressor gene. It too is autosomal dominant, a 50/50 toss of the genetic coin, leading to tumor growth. Yadda yadda. So the episode, as you might imagine, lit me up.
Where was I? OH right. The point of all of this rambling. Secrets.
Yesterday I met with a geneticist. I embarked on a journey of unlocking the secrets encoded in my DNA for gene control. The double helix holds the keys to what lies ahead. The mystery encrypted in my DNA, secret codons lurking behind my cancer and family history.
If you read my blog you know I walk around with my pocket medical degree. And I research a lot. Therefore I have lots of questions and curiosities about connections. During middle school I totally geeked out on genes and heredity. I loved mapping recessive and dominant anything. If there was a gene for curling your tongue I would chart it. Speaking of charts I created an Excel spreadsheet mapping my family cancer tree. Ooooh Yeah, you read that right, an enigma the doctor called it.
She and her team discussed my case, my family history and low and behold what comes from her lips but that Li-Fraumeni is more probable given my factoids then perhaps even VHL. Wait! Did I just hear Li-Fraumeni for the second time in the course of a week? I’m metaphysical enough to wonder if the universe isn’t actually talking to me. Though I’ve become disillusioned by frequent radio silence to know better than to hope.
Not that I want any anomaly. I’m not eager for a rare genetic disorder that causes cancer in my body. But I do want to know. I don’t need any more surprises that jump up to bite me in the kidney or the adrenals or the brain. I think you get the picture. I must know. So blood was drawn. And in 12 weeks the secrets of my DNA will be mine.
And then like my friend with the cheating bo I’ll need to decide what to do with the information.
Blast from This Blogs Past
The Weekend Reading List
- Cancer Has a Long Grasp (Poem) ~ I doubt I’m the only one moved by this. It is love’s grace expressed.
- A Lesson From Elizabeth Bennett ~ I took one of those Jane Austen quizzes-Which hero would you be with sort of nonsense. Every time for me it was Mr. Darcy, Mr. Darcy, Mr. Darcy. Now I understand that’s because I’m an Elizabeth Bennett.
- Hip-Hop and Shake, or Can You Be a Twerking Feminist?
- The Neurological Similarities Between Successful Writers and the Mentally Ill
When Love Arrives ~ Sarah Kay & Phil Kaye