Recently, after spending eight hours with abdominal pain so intense I was doubled over, I conceded to my sister Liz, who insisted a trip to the hospital was necessary and crawled downstairs, ordered an Uber, pulled a patterned facemask over my nose and mouth and went. Twelve hours, three hits of morphine and one magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of my lower abdominal organs later, the emergency room doctor told me a lesion on the right side of my liver was the culprit. Based on the scans I’d had taken of my major organs prior to my breast cancer surgery, the lesion was new and potentially the result of the original tumor and/or the treatment I’d received post-operation. An ultrasound followed, revealing the lesion’s 5cm length by 5cm depth by 5cm width. A second MRI has been scheduled.
When I was five, I fell from the top of the swing set in my backyard and onto my right side, breaking my elbow. Why I was hanging upside down from the top bar unsupervised I don’t know, but it’s safe to say I was copying my older sister and playmates. Even back then I was super competitive. If someone else was doing something I had to prove I could do it too. My stubbornness resulted in a sling and a hot and itchy cast that I wore and endured (not quietly) for the entire summer. The swing-set incident left me with a double-jointed elbow that in later years became a nemesis to my synchronized swimming coaches who would holler at me from the pool deck to straighten and tighten my right arm, which being double-jointed and all was not an easy feat…but more about synchro later.
Approximately once a month, we will be sharing stories from Adriana Ermter as a guest blogger. Adriana is a senior editor and writer who grew up in Calgary, Alberta and now lives in Toronto, Ontario. She has spent the past 15 years overseeing the editorial for and contributing to newspapers, magazines and online publications, while coaching synchronized swimming part time.
We all, at some point, need to take on the role of caregiver. For some of us, that time coincides with us needing care as well. At a time when my husband was recovering from heart surgery and anticipating a kidney transplant, where I was to be his donor, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My surgery was scheduled quickly, and I was spared the ordeal and trauma of radiation and chemotherapy, which I am forever grateful for. However, the emotional toll it took was immeasurable.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in February 2016. My understanding of the language of breast cancer that allowed me to fully comprehend my diagnosis and treatment options, came long after the news. Long after the radiologist told me that my mammogram was “highly suspicious for cancer.” Long after the surgeon doing my breast biopsy spelled out that I had a mass in my left breast, at least two enlarged lymph nodes, and was facing “a very difficult year.” Using that language now, I had locally advanced, hormone responsive, HER2 negative, stage 2, invasive ductal carcinoma: T2N1. After that difficult year (and more), my cancer is in remission.