Información sobre riesgo, prevención, detección, síntomas, diagnosis, tratamiento y apoyo para el cáncer.
Información sobre el tratamiento del cáncer incluyendo quirúrgica, quimioterapia, radioterapia, estudios clínicos, terapia con protón, medicina complementaria avanzadas.
OncoLink se complace en ofrecer una amplia lista de lista completa de los agentes quimioterapéuticos más comúnmente usados??. Esta guía de referencia incluye información sobre la forma en que cada fármaco se administra, cómo funcionan, y los pacientes los efectos secundarios comunes pueden experimentar.
Maneras que los pacientes de cáncer y las personas que le cuidan puedan enfrentar el cáncer, los efectos secundarios, nutrición, cuestiones en general sobre el apoyo para el cáncer, duelo/decisiones sobre el termino de vida, y experiencias compartidas por sobrevivientes.
Words and digital images by Alysa Cummings
Affiliation: The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Modified: May 1, 2008
I am in touch with the fantasy, the technicolor fantasy spinning through my head as I walk into the doctor's office on a Thursday afternoon, twenty minutes before my scheduled appointment. It's my very own summer-blockbuster-technicolor-plastic surgery-reconstruction-revision fantasy, and it goes something like this:
I see myself sitting on the edge of the examining table covered with that crinkly white paper that makes crackly noises as I fidget from side to side, wearing a salmon colored johnny that I hold closed with two sweaty hands. The surgeon knocks twice, and walks in the room head down, intently reviewing my medical file. She looks up. Our eyes lock for a moment. The doctor has a cool professional smile on her face, gentle and reassuring. She assesses me with a quick head to toe glance matching the words in the patient file with the nervous person sitting in front of her. Finally she asks in a kind voice, What brings you here today? That's my cue to open the gown with a dramatic flourish, exposing my reconstructed right side.
It looks bad. It feels bad , I will no doubt say, averting my eyes, blood rushing to my cheeks. Like a lightbulb screwed into my chest. It took two years and six surgeries for three doctors to get me to look this way . I will dutifully recite doctors' names and hospital affiliations, surgery dates, procedures and problems from memory, using the most clinically accurate terms I know. (lumpectomy, dirty margins, mastectomy, failed expansion with saline implant, latissimus dorsi flap with saline implant, multiple post-operative complications).
At this point, I will probably think about lightening up the mood in the room a bit, with a joke or snappy comment; (Hey, doc, I guess you've figured it out by now that I went to medical school the really hard way, huh?). This is actually one of my favorite lines to use with new doctors during a first evaluation, but maybe I need to hold back this time. Just the facts, ma'am. Just the facts. After 8 ½ years, it might be high time to let go of the Cancerland Comedian shtick. How's that working for you?
Instead I will probably pause, take a deep breath, and gear up to ask the big question – a question so huge that I have to save it for the big finish: Can you make it any better?
There. I will have said it. Put it out in the open. Asked simply and directly for what I need. No begging. No whining. No pleading words like, Can you help me? Can you? Would you? Now? Please?
The technical term for what I'm interested in getting from my new plastic surgeon is a 'revision,' which is in fact the strangest word imaginable to describe my heart's desire since my 1998 mastectomy – as if my chest were a tenth grade student's five paragraph essay that is in screaming need of a major rewrite. (details lacking, sparse in parts, unbalanced but a noble effort nonetheless! Keep trying! I can't wait to see the next one!) The gold standard in the world of breast reconstruction is symmetry, but when it comes to reconstructing radiated skin, all bets are off.
Despite the odds, even after all these years, I'm strangely hopeful. Maybe number seven will be the charm. Maybe my lucky number seven reconstruction revision procedure will do the trick. What a crap shoot! The truth is there are moments when I weaken and can't quite believe that I am ready to hop back up on the operating table again.
So here's the rest of the fantasy. The sorts of things I imagine telling a female plastic surgeon, believing that since she was born with the same basic equipment, she just might understand where I'm coming from... I dream about wearing a tank top without worrying about the neckline slipping down to reveal the 'pot hole' where the radiation left a sizeable dent. I dream of wearing a real bra, a plain old bra (Victoria's Secret be damned), with two cups that I fill out equally, just like millions of other women every day, all over the world, dressing on autopilot, while they think about other, far more important things they need to get done. I dream of trying on clothes, maybe in Loehmann's or Sym's, right out in the open in the big dressing room without self-consciousness. I dream that I stare at my reflection in the full- length mirror and smile with satisfaction because the clothes actually fit, both sides match and they are on sale to boot! But most of all I dream of taking a shower and looking down, feeling comfortable with my middle aged body – feeling whole and attractive again.
Hey, it's my reconstruction revision fantasy and I'm sticking to it! I will carry it gift wrapped, tied up nice with a big pink bow (naturally) to my new plastic surgeon's office and wait on pins and needles for her response to my question, "can you make it any better?" Can she? Will she? How much longer do I need to wait?
In fact, my actual visit to the plastic surgeon played out much like my fantasy and I'm thrilled to report that I will in fact be going under the knife this Fall for a revision to my reconstruction. Wish me luck! It's just one more step in my CancerLand journey.
31 Days is the latest in a series of OncoLink poetry projects that I have been honored to develop and share with fellow survivors over the years in my role as Oncolink's poet-in-residence. This poetry project is timed to coincide with Mother’s Day and includes thirty-one poems by cancer survivors celebrating the breast cancer experience, thirty-one digital photos and thirty-one healing quotations.
My hope is that it's a healing combination. Day by day, may it bring comfort, no matter where you are on your way to recovery.
Dedicated to my mother, Adele Darris (1929-2007)
She danced with cancer for only half a day, then abruptly left the party.
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