Friday, July 31, 2015

One down

One to go.

The second drainage bottle is still in. 

Joye, a student nurse, was with Laticia, the nurse who was going to extract the tube.

Joye held out her hands for me to hold. "Look into my eyes and take a deep breath." 

The tube came out.

I felt nothing.

She'll make a great nurse.


Rick came into my room with a big smile.

HUG is in the middle of Geneva. Except for one small park for kids, it is almost the typical concrete jungle.

My room is on the fourth floor, which is why he did not expect to have two elevator mates with a lawnmower and a weed whacker. And he was smiling about the surprise.

The reason?

The roof of the second floor annex is a garden. When we walked down the hall we could see the grass had been just cut.

When you spend time in a hospital, any small thing can be exciting.

still in hospital

I am still in the hospital but feeling great.

The reason?

I'm still draining too much fluid.

Between the nurses, the cleaners and therapist, I've had wonderful conversations. We've shared stories of our kids, travels, worries and plans. The therapist showed me a photo of her lab puppy and her Maine coon cat. Both conquer the adorable market.

Anne became a nurse because of a nurse that helped her mother. Tens of stories from  nice people.

A new roommate arrived. She has a big teddy bear.

I still want to get out.Whoever said patience is a virtue, I want to slap.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Another reason to love hug

Sandra the support nurse arrived with a heart pillow to protect my arm. We chatted. She wanted to be a nurse since she saw a nurse help her mother. The exchanges like this make the stay worthwhile.

Pt and lunch

No sooner had Anne, the therapist , left after massaging my lymph system and showing me exercises, then lunch came.

  • Sliced ham in a Madeira sauce
  • Thin sliced potatoes
  • Stuffed tomatoes...the Swiss and french have a thing about sticking stuffed tomatoes on their plates
  • Vanilla flan
Another cup of tea is coming.

My roommate left. I can listen to Max.

RIP bad breast

It is gone.

In the morning and evening I was able to read a complete book The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

In between I was taken to surgery where I met Cecil, Patrick, Elizabeth, Corrine, Helene and many others who poked and probed and hopefully saved my life. One was even an American who has written a book. I would love to talk with her more.

Mostly it was in French with people who loved my accent, but that little bit of American English was sweet.

Rick brought me orange and purple flowers so we could post on our Facebook group with flying colors where each we post photos in certain colors each week.My color safaris are limited in the hospital.

At night my legs were wrapped in white and orange thingies that inflated which helps circulation. That I did not expect. However it feels wonderful.

My greatest pleasure that my veins behaved presenting themselves for a one time insertion and the nurses and others did not consider me as a pin cushion designed for target practice.

Dinner was ravioli and a delightful strawberry mousse cake.

Life is good, very, very good.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


My roommate snores louder then Rick. I had to laugh because I couldn't really ask her to turn over and there was no snore room to escape to like at home. I did think how loud the snores would be in one of the concentration camps and chide myself on how terribly, terribly lucky I am.

They've just taken her away and she is the surgery before me.

I hope her family isn't too worried.

Time for my douche and maybe I can listen to Max if it's posted before it's show time.

Monday, July 27, 2015


had a lovely conversation with my roommate's husband, who is Portuguese. He has a sister in Dallas. We spoke a few words in German. He works at IKEA. Would be a nice social evening if it weren't for the reasons we were here.

I am in the hospital with the wonderful name of HUG. My roommate, who will also be eligible for the Pygmy Amazon Woman's club after tomorrow, originally from Brazil but we worked thru our strange French accents. She now lives in Fribourg.

Breast surgery makes kindred spirits of us all.

I went to the lobby where Rick set up between visiting hours. I wanted to reassure him I was okay, but I didn't stay long. Supper was about to be served. Beef patty, yellow beans and Seminole with pineapple for dessert. Nicely flavored.

Not sure when I will get to eat again.

On the way up in the lift, the doors opened on the third floor.

A set of teensy twins rolled by in a bassinet. Since there were no tubes or oxygen, they had to be okay.

A good omen.

For my first breast surgery as I entered the operating room, I saw a new born.

Babies, the promise the world should continue.

Babies a sense of hope.

vanity and breasts

Silly me.

I'm not vain about losing my right breast. I am vain about going into the hospital with roots so today I colored my hair. I've been redheaded so long I'm not sure of my natural color or colors. Whenever a root shows I feel like a slovenly slut. No, it doesn't make sense, but I didn't want to be on the operating table with my slutty roots peeking out from under the cap they put on.

I did realise that if I have chemo I will lose my hair and will get a chance to see how much of it is the white white I would love to have.

Stupid, but the idea of the hair bothers me more, but then again, people don't see my breasts as I walk down the street.

Anyway, tomorrow at this time I'll either be in surgery or going to surgery--with my hair--without roots.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Rolling veins

The doctors and nurses say I have rolling veins, which means they're hard to catch with a syringe.

Over the past few months only two among the potential torturers have been able to stick me for blood work on first try. Once there were multi attempts by two different nurses leaving my left arm and hand a mass of bandages from failed attempts. Part of the problem is that having had cancer on my right side, they are only interested in the left.

For all I know my right veins don't roll, jump but stay in place like a good vein should.

My desire to become a human pin cushion is right up there with my wish to jump from an airplane at 30,000 feet without a parachute. The jump comes first.

Thus when I learned Friday not only was I signing consent forms for surgery on Tuesday they would again need blood work, I was unhappy. Still Pascale, one of those angel nurses in the unit thanked me for letting her know about rolling veins. She took her time but I barely felt the needle. She "nailed" it first try and took a second sample for next week and put it in the file. "Don't let them do it to you again," she said. "Make them read your file."

Bless her.

Meanwhile when ever a nurse approaches with a needle, I think of the old Rawhide theme which starts "roll em, roll em."

Saturday, July 25, 2015

My last weekend with my breast

My right breast and I are spending my last weekend together.

I admit, I don't feel very friendly to it. It has caused me a lot of trouble.

Since I've decided against reconstruction (which would be full paid for under the Swiss system) it wasn't a monetary decision but not wanting a foreign substance in my body or even the most remote potential for any additional surgery should something go wrong.

My wonderful housemate has also shared some of her experiences which had taken any anxiety from a level to 10 down to a 2.

Immediately after her surgery and before she had her prosthesis, she needed to go to dinner. She was not really worried, but uncomfortable with the idea she might look lopsided. Suddenly her face brightened.

"I knit," she said and went to her yarn stash. Within minutes her yarn-stuffed bra left her looking like her normal attractive self.

Then my friend Karrie send me this website showing favorite cartoon women with the scar.

Anxiety level went to 0.

I will wear my scar proudly, because it will be a survivor badge. If it is good enough for Wonder Women and Mrs. Simpson, it will be good enough for me.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Yea boo day

That was what my late friend Barbara called a mixed day.

  • Impatience in wanting it to be over
  • Even though cooler still too hot

  • I can wear slacks without it hurting my waist
  • Nice lunch of leftovers
  • Everything ready to have stitches out tomorrow and register for Tuesday's surgery
  • Housemate found her notes about the same operation same place. Included little pain and great food.
  • Dress washed and iron for tomorrow
  • Walk to the lake for the first time.

I guess the yeas won, but I still want it to be over.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Gazpacho and house release

My first day out and another day ticked off until my surgery on the 28th. 

The heat here is in the high 30s, but after the British golf match we headed for Marro. I told the new waiter, we ate there almost as much as we eat at home.

All day I'd been fantasizing their gazpacho--but it wasn't on the menu. 

I asked Roberto, one of the regular waiters when they'd have it again.

He disappeared and a couple of minutes later stood in the doorway to the terrace with his thumbs up.

My gazpacho was served in mason jar.

As we waited for our meal, a little bird flew onto the terrace and decided to join us. I didn't have time to focus before he flew away.

Being out of the house was wonderful.

Being almost pain free is wonderful.

Being closer to losing the breast is wonderful. 


Monday, July 20, 2015

Another reason I love my husband

I have said since I'm about to lose my breast and won't do reconstruction that I want to form a Pygmy Amazon Women's group (PAW). Amazon women deliberately removed their right breasts so they could shoot their weapons unimpeded by excess tissue.

Today my beloved had a smile on his face when he announced a new purchase for my Kindle. That he can find things to make the downside of this whole thing amusing, that he considers me more than breasts, all add up to why I think he is so wonderful.

Cancer with a loving support group around me makes it easier to deal with.

I am so lucky.

I am so happy.

Friday, July 17, 2015


I have a date for the surgery. The 28th of July and my breast will be lopped off. Good riddance. It didn't show up until I was in my 50s and then it decided to give me trouble with an earlier cancer.

So good bye, farewell, adios, adéu, and let the door hit you on the way out. I'll lock it behind you.

I like the medical test

Switzerland is having a heat wave and the hospital is not air conditioned although it is cooler than outside. Air conditioning is rare here because it is very seldom needed. The last time was in 2003 when a canicule killed 35,000 people.

The nurses wanted to know where I felt pain after the surgery. They took a cool pack and put it on different places on my torso.

With the heat, it felt wonderful. They could have tested me for hours for all I cared. The cool was wonderful. Had it been winter???? Not as impressed.


I didn't realise the attractive young woman with the long brown hair dressed in slacks and a tshirt was my surgeon.

I have noticed that most of the medical staff are just out of 2nd grade, or maybe 3rd.

When we clarified who she was, she explained the procedure.

They would try with a laparoscopy where the suspected cancer spots were, biopsy and if cancer would open me up. Otherwise they would just pull out the rock-filled gall bladder.

She asked me to show her my stomach.

I did.

With a blue marker she drew a line, made five dots and wrote "MASS" and then she was gone.

The next time I saw her, she was smiling. "No cancer." No being opened up. Gall bladder was history, although she didn't put it that way in French.

It took J, Rick and me a while to figure out what MASS meant. It certainly wasn't a recommendation to go to church. It was her first initial and the first three letters of her last name.

I have my own press corp

Move over Obama...

I have my own press corps, although certainly friendlier.

Rick and J. both maintain lists of people to notify about my health. Checking, they found some duplicates.

Social media: After notifying family and family of choice, the next step is FB and blogs.

Monday, July 13, 2015

I have been so moved.

My Syrian friends, wonderful people, that I've met on their visits to Geneva and mine to Damascus have all sent their good wishes for my surgery tomorrow. There is so much more happening in their lives than in mine.

I worry about them far more than they should worry about me. Every time I see them pop up on Facebook I think, they are okay for another day. I will forever be grateful to the World Council of Churches for housing Marina across the hall and the friendship that ensued where we've shared families as well as all the normal things friends do.

I'm all packed and ready to go. Scooby II (a family joke taken up by many over the last few years) is peeking out of my backpack for a photo op at the hospital. 

Although I pride myself on originality, I do think a gall bladder operation as the first step to cure breast cancer is a bit over the top even for me.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

I get to wear my own PJs

Just read the hospital book and  I can wear my own pjs rather than the unchic hospital gown. They also have great duvets.

I go in tomorrow at 13:00, will have consultations with surgeon, anesthesiologist, etc. and be there for dinner.

When I was in HUG last time the meals were great, but then again we are in a francophone part of the world.

The best part is that I will know exactly what I'm dealing with.

I'm ready to be cured.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Surgery on Tuesday.

Not for the breast but for the gall bladder. Bizarre, but I have faith in HUG (Hôpitaux Universitaires de Genève)

They've scheduled surgery for Tuesday. The biopsy will be done at the same time. Since the gall bladder has enough stones to have a rock quarry, it has to go anyway. If it is cancer, they will start chemo as soon as possible. Then later they will deal with the breast cancer. If it isn't cancer, they'll deal with the breast cancer.

I'm so impressed with the efficiency. I'm already checked in for paperwork.

When I called Julia to tell her, she already knew. Funny conversation on the mobile.

Me: Hi, surgery on Tuesday.

J:    Check in 13 on Monday.

Me: What? ESP?

J:  The hospital called to verify.

I'm glad she's not that clairvoyant, although she could have played with her powers a bit. I'd have been tempted.

I can follow my dossier on line. I filled out the forms (above), have my password and have given both my GP and gynie access for their information.

Each person is warm, helpful.

I can't do anything normally.

Cancer of the gall bladder is rare.

Thus when my breast surgeon said that they thought that bright glowing spot in the MRI was gall bladder cancer, I was shocked. They were having a meeting that night to discuss it and my treatment.

There were many questions she couldn't answer as it was not her specialty. "If I were to operate on it, you would be in danger of dying," she told me. I feel a bit guilty for pestering her for information that she couldn't possibly have. She was great for all breast related questions and it was good news that only one lymph node was involved.

As we left the hospital, Rick suggested we go see Stevan, my gynie, for a copy of the ectograph done in May. He thought that maybe that might be the cause of my esophagus attacks. We discovered the organ was a regular rock quarry.

I didn't have an appointment, but that was not a problem.

"Cancer of the bladder? Rare!" he wrinkled his nose and summoned the other doctor to another ectograph. There had been some changes in size, I still had enough stones to build something substantial and there was no bile, no liquid. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm I was given the report to take to HUG. No conclusion possible without more tests.

Rick is convinced it is an inflammation. Maybe it is denial, but I hope he is right.

Having a gall bladder out as the first step in treating breast cancer is certainly not the normal way to do it.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Unfuzzy pets

Definitely not a kitty or a puppy.

Today was Pet Scan day to see if the cancer is anywhere else in my body.

We were at the hospital early and had time to watch the video in the reception area. My nervousness was not at the scan but the needles. My veins have a way from hiding from any medical professional with a needle.

The nurse was NOT going to let my veins escape and inserted the needle.

My next assignment was so lie quietly for an hour and I couldn't read. Doing nothing is not part of my make up. I wondered how do people stand years in solitary confinement with nothing to do.

I made up a story that I'll blog later today in my Http:// called Goldilocks and the NSA and the Three Bears.

The pressure on my bladder grew worse and worse. I hate bedpans. Still I grew so desperate, I rang for the nurse. My surprise was that I was allowed to walk to the toilet. It was a 31 (see blog below) which explains the desperation.

Then it was time for the scan.

I undressed and and climbed on the table. The male technician injected a fluid that was warm. The room was cold, a delight after the days of the canicule. Now that the temperature has dropped the desire to be in air conditioning is less. I wish I'd had the test last week when I was melting.

The machine, the technician said, costs millions. A group from the UK was just over to see if they should buy it for the NHS. The hospital does about 15 pet scans a day.

It is also multi-lingual and told me in English to take a deep breath and hold it. It also told me to breath again. Until now everything had been in French. The technician wasn't sure how many languages the machine spoke, just a lot. This is good for a city that is 47% foreign coming from all over the world.

The movement thru the machine was so slow that I didn't really know I was moving until I opened my eyes and saw the top of the machine in my range of vision was no longer the top of the machine but a ceiling light.

I could see beyond the machine and birds flying by the windows.

The next part was to turn over, put my breasts thru two holes. This test was only ten minutes, half the time. Again my bladder started acting up.

As soon as I got off the table I headed for the loo. 28. The technician afraid I was ill came running after me and was relieved to know the real reason.

At 3:30 we will head to see my surgeon for the results.  I'm scared me but I will at least know that one reason for chemo will be eliminated if the rest of my body is clean.

Rick blogged his feelings while waiting. I am so sorry he is going thru this. I know it proves how strong our couple is, but I could have done without the proof.

I count my pee

I know it sounds weird. It started when I had a bladder infection and even though it felt as if I'd drunk many liters of water, I'd just dribble.

When I count, it is slow 1, 2, 3 . . . Granted there might be variations in the speed, but it gives me an idea.

I know:
  • 20 is about normal
  • 25 unpleasant pressure
  • 30 desperation
My record was 42 and I can't describe the relief.

The reason I'm explaining this will be the blog above.

Monday, July 6, 2015

I love HUG

Here is HUG. I love the faces on the building.

The system is you take a ticket and wait for your number. They ask your birth date, name then print out tons of labels to put on whatever other documents they need to identify the patient.

There is a positive message about stoning the cancer right out of your body. Give me lots of stones. Julia has threatened to beat it out of me. Maybe they are in cahoots. I don't care how it comes out, it has to go.

I love the colors in the waiting room. The room has a peaceful feel.

I didn't recognize Dr. Monnier at first. She was my wonderful surgeon for my 2011 cancer. However we hugged at HUG. Unswiss but felt good.

Rick was with me. He wants to be part of this and I don't want him to feel shut out. I also don't want his imagination to conjure up unnecessary worries. I can do that pretty well myself.

This time Dr. Monnier and I spoke in English, more for him than for me. She'd spent seven months in San Francisco, which had improved her English considerably. Her nurse Pascale also spoke in English, but was not comfortable doing so. Later on she and I communicated in French. I do admit I do need more repetition in French and often discovered I DID UNDERSTAND after all but feel better having checked.

No delays on anything. I will have more tests on Thursday to determine if there is cancer anywhere else.

What happens with my Lymph nodes depends on if they are clean or not.

The breast is most likely history.

Chemo is not OFF the table, but it won't conflict with Llara's visit at the end of August.

Pascale took me to an air-conditioned room for the paperwork, directions, appointment times. She also showed me all the prosthesis alternatives. Okay, so I won't be pretty naked, but I'll look okay clothed.

Another step out of the way.

The speed is good. Surgery will be July 17. Unlike when they operated on my face it WON'T be on my birthday.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

boob musings

I called my gynie to tell him. Last surgery I didn't, and after the hospital notified him, he called me to make sure I wasn't upset with him. He wants to make sure he is there to help me as needed. 

He has encouraged me to come see him after I see the surgeon and I probably will. With the heat, leaving the cool house unnecessarily is on my low priority list. However the canicule can't last forever, can it?

Until I spoke with him I'd ruled out the idea of implants. It did flash through my mind it would be nice to look almost normal when undressed.

This morning I went on line and researched the option.

I learned there was saline or silicone. I read there were problems with about 1 percent of the implants but they were pretty horrific. I knew there was a scandal not that long ago about silicone implants leaking and  causing problems. The problem was the manufacturer that couldn't be bothered with quality control. France offered replacements to women, the UK did not.

I know implants can be done at time of surgery but there's more follow up care. The idea of having to see a doctor every couple of weeks to inflate my boob doesn't thrill me.

And they may have to be replaced which would mean more surgery.

The more I think about it, the more I don't want those things in my body.

I also learned about prosthesis. There was even a knitaboob directions if I wanted to make one myself. I do have lots of colored yarn in the nest so I could probably make several.

The women I know who opted for the prosthesis look normal when dressed and I'm not in the habit of asking them to undress to see what the scars look like.

And I remember the breast tattoo that Facebook kept taking off its pages.

The art work is beautiful, but tattoos hurt too. And I would still be uneven in my clothes.

Nope, I think I'll opt out of the implant. It is a personal decision and every woman may have reasons to or not to depending on what feels right for them.

So at the moment, no implants, no tattoos and the knitting needles may come out just for the challenge of it all.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Last time

Rick went to get the car for our drive to Geneva where I will see the surgeon on Monday. We definitely wanted to be off the road by tonight as half of France will be going on vacation on using Friday night, Saturday and Sunday to reach their destination.Nightmare roads in a canicule with temperatures in the 30s and even reaching the 40s. That 90s and more in F.

I needed to give Lydia another set of keys for the flat. She works at the end of the street in the "crypt" a small medieval room in the 13th century church which is converted to a tourist office during the summer.

As I walked down the street I realised that this was probably the last time my right breast would ever be there. It is strange to think parts of your body are going to be separate from one's self.

And the vanity part of me did wonder about summer tops that now show a cleavage that I will no longer have.

There is comfort that I was so small breasted most of my life that cleavage was rare.

And I do know I can opt for reconstruction. In fact last time just with a little scar and dent I was encouraged because it is not considered cosmetic, but the idea of something artificial in my body bothers me more than being uneven. At least it does at this point.

By the time I reach the crypt, which was refreshingly cool, I was at peace with the notion of what will be will be.

Pygmy Amazon Women

The organization needs a logo. I blogged earlier that Amazon women cut off their right breasts for greater strength. I'm too short to be a true Amazon so I thought I'd form a group called Pygmy Amazon Women.

As I said to my housemate

Bubble wrap will no longer be popable. I can deal with losing my breast. But not bring able to take my frustrations out with a pop pop pop pop pop pop pop pop pop pop pop pop pop pop pop...

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

I never wanted a sequel

I never wanted to have breast cancer twice. I didn't want it once. I know as a writer, blogging keeps me sane. I wrote several of the following blogs as it was happening and I'll publish them in the order they were written. I wanted to wait until I knew for sure, had a game plan and notified the people I loved who read my blogs so they wouldn't see the news on line. I will continue to blog. We are heading to Geneva tomorrow and I have an appointment with the same surgeon as before on Monday to get those little suckers out of my body.

I spent a few minutes this morning in front of the mirror staring at my naked chest. One breast if normal, the other has a scar over a nipple.

The week has been turbulent since two "Nodules" were found. I've had my blood test, the appointments for the biopsy and a MRI/IRM.

The idea of facing another cancer round is upsetting at best. I had done so well on the first. Not only is it documented in this blog I published a book to give to other anglophone breast cancer patients who might be scared of facing things in their second language or in a language they don't understand.

My housemate faced the same thing, lost the breast but needed no follow up chemo.

It is not losing the breast that scares me. I was flat chested so much of my life it is not a problem.

It's the chemo that scares me.

With the first bout my housemate J was incredible supportive. I hope I was supportive of her. I wish there were no need to be supportive.

My new husband says it doesn't matter that I might lose a breast. I'm not my breasts.

If it is cancer again, I want those evil little cells out and they can take the tissue around them too.

Stop annoying me cancer. Once was enough.

2 good things

1. K. Messages me asking how I slept. I've slept better since talking to her. The crazies were held in bay.

2. My daughter will be in Ocean Grove this weekend with her surrogate aunts if/when I have to tell her. It will give her immediate support if it is bad news.

Tea with K at Hostalet. She has just had the all clear on her cancer. The boys bring a timer so we can decide how long we steep our tea.

I ask her how she had the courage to do a nontraditional treatment. She replied she didn't have the courage not to.

K is fantastic. She finds beauty in a raindrop and grabs life with force. Someone called her a Fruit Loop in a bowl of Cheerios. It's a complement.

She always seemed to brave. I asked her how she maintained it and she admitted she lost it in the middle of the night. It is as if she gives me the right for my 2 a.m. crazies, a product of my imagination. Both of us are over imaginative. This is a gift wrapped up with paper and bow.


I need to tell my housemate about the biopsy because of inter-twinning plans that have deadlines.

She went through the same things a couple of years back, a second bout and loss of a breast.

"I don't mind losing a breast, I dread the thought of chemo."

"Unless you insist on keeping the breast and removing the lumps they don't do chemo or radiation." She does  add that lymph node involvement might change that.

"It doesn't really hurt.

I remember how quickly she bounced back almost as if she'd just gone to the dentist for a filling under Novocaine. She hated that she couldn't drive and did before she should but only because I nearly knocked myself out on a car door.

I feel better talking to her. She wrote." There is still hope and again even if, you'll be in Geneva, you'll have
Rick and me and you'll get on with it and have a lovely life even after!"

I'm not alone.

The biopsy

The woman at the hospital information desk stared at my appointment card. "Wrong hospital" she said in French.

I asked directions for the right hospital, but she wasn't particularly interested in telling me. However, her co-worker was. She asked that we wait. Soon a second woman came out.

"For the translation," the nice woman said in French.

 I realized that the translator was a hand-held device in a pretty pink, not a person who spoke English.

"French is fine," I told her.

Her face lit up.

The women told us clearly the route and we wrote down what they said. Her assistant printed out a Google Map and we were on our way.

Because we had allowed time we arrived a few minutes before our scheduled time by a hair.

Unlike in Geneva I was expected to bring my own anesthetic, which I had purchased at the pharmacy.

On the wall of the room where they were going to do the biopsy, was a print of bags of colored powdered in my favorite colors of purples, blues and roses. For the tenth time that day I wished I remembered my camera. On the way to the wrong hospital were many great photographic possibilities. we can go back.

This biopsy was only different in that they took samples from my two nodules. One is very close to where my last tumor was. The other is closer to my armpit and that gives me worry.

I don't mind losing a breast. I don't want chemo.

I try and tell those little bastards to stay in their little capsules.

The doctor was attractive maybe late thirties.

I asked several questions which she seemed to ignore until I repeated them. It didn't seem like a language problem.

I'll have the results June 29. It seems a long way away.

The blood test

I thought there was too much of a line at the center that took blood.

Rick did not.

After the debacle at HUG where it took five tries to get a needle in, I was less than anxious to have my veins disparaged as hard to find. 

Watching this little girl and her big sister (not shown) were better than any movie and passed the time. She was annoying her big sister and winning the battle with her mother who only saw part of the manipulations.

Too soon I was called, and I was faced with a wonderful elf of a man whom I thought was older than me.

We determined we would speak French with English as a fall back, or Franglais, which is the languages I exist in a good part of the time.

I needn't have worried. He slipped the needle in and a prick that was less than a lazy mosquito.

We talked about how we'd both been in Germany about the same time in the sixties, the differences how the French tried to integrate (not easy with the long standing (read centuries) differences and how the Americans did not.

We shook hands.

I thanked him for his skill and general niceness.

Not good news

The plants in the waiting room where I am to get the biopsy results are rather haggard looking.

"I know I said I was sorry I wasn't with you when you went through breast cancer before..." Rick starts.

"...So, I'm giving you a chance to do it now." I remind him how when he said he wanted a Swiss army knife and a certain shirt, I got those for him. Humor gets me thru.

The doctor is the same as the one who did the biopsy. She tells me it was cancer only she uses the word "mauvais" bad. The good news is they are tiny.

I was not surprised. I will do what I have to do.

Telling J and L

J is on Skype the second I bring up my computer. The internet is still down in part of the village so we are using another service in the nest. She wants to know the news. I tell her


DLN: QUADRUPLE CRAP but I have a great role model to follow.

JSL: Remember that if they are tiny and enclosed you have plenty of time for decisions!!! Don't rush it.

DLN: And relatively young. But I want the little suckers out of my body and I want to punish the breast by trowing it in the trash.

JSL:Quintuple CRAP, SHIT, SCHEISSE, MERDE -hmmmm wonder how many languages we can come up with. Also, not that I should give anyone advice, wait until you have a game plan before alerting Llara.

JSL: You go girl: trow that breast! At least it made me laugh.

DLN:The only thing is this weekend she is with Susan and has support

JSL:Even if that wasn't the intention: someone should come up with a lexicon of funny bloopers as we type to fast.

DLN:Donna-Lane NELSON: True.

DLN:I will find humor damn it

JSL:: Ah ha - then by all means Skype with her this weekend. By-the-way, has she had a base mammo?

JSL:  If you can't find the humor, we're all done for.

DLN: No and I'm giving her one when she is here for 62 Euros

JSL:And yes, I ended that in a preposition just to make you smile

JSL: Good idea - the mammo that is.

DLN: I noticed. I'll do anything to make you end a sentence with a preposition.

JSL: So you have, dammit!

JSL:Again, dear roomy, am sorrier than I can write. I am in your corner if I have to bludgeon those little cells myself (I will put you out first of course).

JSL: Seriously, I've got to go or I'll never get there. But I will travel easier not having to wait longer for the awful news. The shit has hit the fan, now we have to clean the walls.

DLN:I am emotionally Okay. I know what I have to do, properly annoyed that I have to do it, don't feel bad about the breast loss (not thrilled either).

JSL: "See" you in a couple of hours. And will be sending mountain energy!

DLN: Thanks for the laugh.

DLN:Drive carefully.
JSL:On the positive side - bras for prothesis have gotten much cuter - a bit far to go just for cute bras, but what the heck some of us go to extremes.

DLN: giggle

I Skype with Llara, my daughter.  She has just finished one HR contract and has a few days off before she begins another in Harvard Square (I'm a bit jealous because Harvard Square was always a favorite sport).

She is in Ocean Grove with her surrogate aunt who knows. I'm happy someone will be there for her to talk it out after we get off.

Her reaction is "Oh shit." I reassure her about the good parts, share my fear about chemo, but she is okay with it. She will be here in late August when hopefully it will be over. Even if I do need chemo, we will know where we stand.

I plan to be around to harass her for quite a while. As J says, the purpose of parents is to embarrass your kids. Deep down, I think she's relieved I never have been a traditional mother, just an adoring one.

MRI easy peasy

Well not quite.

I was really nervous, so nervous that I forgot the injection fluid. I was afraid the machine would totally enclose me and the claustrophobic part of my personality was threatening to overtake me.

"Pas grave," the nurse told me about my forgetfulness. I still find it interesting that in France you bring your shots to the hospital having purchased them at any pharmacy.

We had been amused at the parking in front of the building.

All those places for Dr. Robert who doesn't work in the building.

Unlike most hospital gowns, this one had long sleeves and was warm against the AC, which considering we're having a canicule felt good. Heat and I will never be friends.


The machine was open. The waiting room had had a picture of its delivery on the wall. Was it wrapped in the breast cancer pink on purpose?

There were two holes for my breasts that would have been okay for a person with  44DDDD boobs. "I'm not THAT big!" I said in French.

I lay on my stomach, inserted my breasts and told not to more for 15 minutes. I shut my eyes and felt an ever so slow movement. A little later I felt the coolness of the liquid in my veins used to show things up in color. Who wants a black and white MRI reading anyway?

Divert my thoughts. First I thought of Obama singing "Amazing Grace" then I thought of  Leonard Cohen singing "Hallelujah" at the Montreux Jazz Festival. He skipped off stage at the end after several encores, but I couldn't think of all the lyrics.

My next mind trip to keep me from moving was to pretend my body was slowly turning dusty rose starting at me feet and slowly swirling up to my neck and back again. Dusty rose is my favorite color.

Sometimes with the banging and humming of the machine the color retreated a little but by the time my body was covered and uncovered and back to its normal color, it was over.

The doctor told me my left breast was clean. One of the tumors is close to the lymph nodes, which worries me. I want those bastard cells not to make the leap over. It will be what it will be.

Rick was waiting for me. What a comfort to see his face.

Pygmy Amazons

Wikipedia describes Amazon Warriors: 'Hippocrates describes them as: "They have no right breasts...for while they are yet babies their mothers make red-hot a bronze instrument constructed for this very purpose and apply it to the right breast and cauterize it, so that its growth is arrested, and all its strength and bulk are diverted to the right shoulder and right arm."'

I pointed out to Rick I was joining some really strong women when I lose my right breast. He pointed out that I was tiny. At five foot one or 153 cms. I'm not impressive.

I thought of starting a Pygmy Amazon Warrior group who would work not for war, but world peace. However, I was never that good with spears or bow and arrows.