Breast Cancer blog
PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 February, 2014, 9:11am
UPDATED : Monday, 10 February, 2014, 1:03pm

Seeking a silver lining as ominous news arrives

BIO

Amy is a Chinese American journalist - a native New Yorker - and journalism educator currently living in Hong Kong. She was recently diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 37, and hopes to share her experiences and adventures with other women and increase awareness.
 

Since November I’d been basking in the glow of being pronounced cancer free. Then something in the air shifted from the bliss of the engagement with the boyfriend and the holiday cheer. There was a chill in the already frosty air, if but mild. Something didn’t feel right, have you ever had that feeling and when? Was it all in the head?

The weather brought ominous signs - the polar vortex which sounds like something out of a sci-fi flick, people wearing wooly face masks, and with that the stress of a new semester and season to come.

The calendar was fast filling up with commitments, engagements, and there were brief moments when it seemed so wonderful and yet horrible, times when the thrill of life in the fast lane returned only to be stopped short by sudden panic and a voice warning, “What are you doing? Slow down, health first. Take care of yourself.”

The body is a funny thing, it sends signals and clues. If you choose to pay attention you are smart. So I’ve been watching my body with a hawk’s eye, carefully and wearily.

There was the trip to the eye doctor, no nothing was very wrong, but a friend reminded me that after four or five years I was due for an exam. I did the retina test, once, twice and then three times. The optometrist showed me the failed test, and sent me to an M.D. the expert of experts. The heart stopped and there again was the moment. “It’s not typically a tumour although I don’t know, you need to make an appointment and follow up,” she said. “Immediately?” I asked. “Well I wouldn’t wait more than 2 or 3 weeks.”

The imagination, that Tasmanian devil, awoke from hibernation. Maybe the cancer cell had found its way into my eye and there was a tumour sitting on top of the optic nerve.

Nail biting, nervousness, sitting on the edge of the seat at the M.D.’s office. I took the same test and fidgeted and sweated through it. The doctor looked through the results and asked me why I was here. Was I having trouble seeing things? Did I suffer from headaches? No, no, but I kept thinking about the poor young woman at the cancer meeting who shared her story about her eye cancer spreading to her breast.

“Well, the results aren’t great but aren’t terrible,” he said. “A person of your age should fly through this test, but some people can be poor test takes. Let’s monitor this, come back in six months.” Then he smiled at me trying to ease my worry. “I’d be worried if you were walking into walls, like some of the fragile old ladies that I see, but don’t take offense at this, you don’t look like you are about to fall over." This broke the heavy air, and we laughed.

But the season of symptoms continued. There was then the morning where I detected Kool-Aid colored urine, another sign of software gone haywire. I turned to the ladies on the Facebook forums, and shared my predicament with them. Perhaps one of them would call me a hypochondriac or suggest I see a shrink. No such luck. Having all been through breast cancer in one capacity of another they shared their concerns, one said that she had a hysterectomy and was treated for stage 0 cervical cancer.

Another wrote, “Just saw a show on Dr. Oz about blood in the urine, and it probably isn’t, but could be bladder cancer…also I know from my experience with my dad, could be kidney issues…do get it checked and keep us posted…hoping it’s nothing serious.” Oh sheesh, I sighed. Well, I hoped so too. This was after all the Year of the Horse, the season of lucky read packets. So I focus on the silver lining as faint as it seems, I dare not look elsewhere.

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