It's a creekmore world

Week #1 – How to kick Cancer’s Ass: Join the Circus.

This album doesn't have photosOf course we’d rather be blogging about exotic family travel, but that’s not gonna happen this summer. So I’m hijacking CreekmoreWorld to blog Trish’s cancer recovery. Her first bout with breast cancer was the main reason we committed to extensive family travel so it’s relevant. (Not that I needed to justify that to you<.)

Follow us here for the next 21 weeks as Trish kicks the cancer’s ass into the cold hell of chemotherapy and then mercilessly cuts it out of her body.

The Schedule

21-week treatment calendar
21 weeks covers the hardcore treatment and surgery. The entire process, from the time she found the lump to the (expected, but not guaranteed) complete recovery is more like 6 months. The major parts are the six chemotherapy treatments, each three weeks apart, and the double mastectomy at the end. The surgery is major so she will not be fully recovered at the end of the 21 weeks, but she should feel pretty good. And they may do radiation, but that’s relatively easy.

An outline of her schedule is on the left. Red weeks are very difficult, orange weeks are bad and green weeks are fairly normal.

Week 1: Awaiting the diagnosis

We start the week at the Surgeon, who gives us some surprising news. She doesn’t want to remove the breasts immediately, as we expected. The 3cm lump, a little smaller than a marshmallow, is big enough that she wants to shrink it first with chemotherapy.

She can see that it’s in at least one lymph node from the mammogram. Her chances for successful surgery are better if we wait until after the chemo is done. It’s disappointing at first, because Trish doesn’t want to carry the cancer around for the next few months. But we adjust to the news and trust that it’s a good idea.

Go Big or Go Home!
Dr. Alley doesn’t recommend talking to the plastic surgeon yet about reconstruction. That can wait until the summer, which is good. We set up a hilarious facebook page to allow our friends to vote on her replacement boob size. Suggestions include more than 2 boobs, and a split C/DD pair for ‘the best of both worlds’

A short shuffle down the hall is the oncologist. Dr. Hendricks schedules a series of tests, and will see us in about a week. Mentally it’s tough for Trish. The procedures all involve needles, of which she is deathly afraid. And the tests will reveal if the cancer has spread to her other organs. The anxiety and uncertainty is a heavy load to bear for even a few days.

Finishing the week strong

How do you kick cancer’s ass? Step one is to join the circus. Only hours after Friday’s MRI, Trish goes to the final practice for her circus show. The following day Trish will fly 30 feet in the air in the inaugural performance of the newly built Trapeze School of New York in Washington DC facility in Southwest DC.

Just one of Tinkerhell's many trapeeze stunts.
Trish (and less recently, I) have been trapeze enthusiasts since we first went to Club Med in 2003, right before her initial breast cancer. Trish is really good at it now, but it took a while to develop. She’s a trained dancer, having spent years in the San Francisco dance scene in the early 90’s. But she lacked the core strength to fly around until her re-constructive abdominal surgery repaired her stomach muscle damage from a car accident and a C-section. Since that surgery, she’s gotten steadily better.

Even then, for a few years, she had to travel to Baltimore to do Trapeze. (They didn’t have a place in DC) And she had an office job that made scheduling difficult. But when she went freelance last summer, and TSNY opened up a new facility in SE Washington D.C. along the water, she could go easily. She joined an Intermediate Flying Workshop this spring and practiced flying every Friday afternoon for 8 weeks.

When we first found out about the cancer, she was more worried that she would miss her performance! I put together a little slide show here. TSNY was incredibly supportive and loving of their girl. They home-made little pink ribbon arm-bands, served ‘Pink’ velvet cupcakes and dedicated the show to Trish.

Obviously being able to participate in the flying trapeze was a victory for Trish. Her first of many battles she will win against the Cancer. We rested on Sunday and enjoyed a calm day before the storm.

One thought on “Week #1 – How to kick Cancer’s Ass: Join the Circus.

  1. Cathy

    Please send Trish my love and let her know that I am here for her. I underwent a double mastectomy less than two years ago, and I’m doing great. Please let her know that when she’s feeling up to it, I can walk/talk her through. Egads, the next journey has begun. I also recommend integrative therapies. Can send info. Much Love, Cathy

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