However cancer maybe anticipated in fantasy, the reality is different.
Somehow the stories we have in place never fit the reality, and sometimes this disjunction can be worse than having no story at all. ~ Arthur W. Frank (2013, p.54-55).
While walking today I was reminded of the advice I give people. I have ranted about things not to say to cancer survivors. On the top of that list is “If I had cancer, I would …”
And yet, I found myself going down that path. I found myself thinking … if this turns into that, then I would …
And then, I saw the logical flaw in my reasoning. The reality is, if something did happen, I would have no clue how I would react. I would have no idea what would change or not change. Worrying about the what if is just a waste of energy.
So, what caused today’s what if? Actually it all started yesterday morning. Stacey (@coffeemommy) and I were up at UCSF to give some of our blood for research. When it came to be my turn, I put both hands on the table and notices that my left hand was visibly swollen. Fortunately, Stacey was quick thinking and suggested I remove my wedding ring before the swelling got any worse.
After donating two small vials of my blood (we used the right arm), I made a quick phone call to my surgeons office. I was in to see her assistant later that day.
We are not sure what it is yet, but the biggest suspect is early stage lymphedema. This is can happen as a side effect of breast cancer surgery – specially because they remove a few lymph nodes to ensure the cancer hasn’t spread (or if it has, they remove any cancerous lymph nodes). I have only had a couple removed, so I was at very low risk for lymphedema. It won’t get diagnosed for certain until next week. I have an urgent referral for the lymphedema clinic at Stanford, so hopefully I’ll get in to see someone on Monday or Tuesday.
Now, the what if, I would … if I need to wear a lymphedema sleeve I’m going to try and get a paisley patterns one so it looks like I have a full arm tattoo!