Wednesday, November 18, 2009

- Enough Is Enough

Yep, so I was back at the Jewish General today for a Genetics appointment...I met with Nora, a really nice lady (Nora, are you called a "Genetic Counsellor"? Let me know!) I'd been screened by her and the team in 2006 for the BRAC1 and BRAC2 (Breast Cancer) genes, to see if I was at risk for developing cancer, since at that point there were eight cancers in my family (that total has since climbed to nine, plus me is ten - do I win something?)

The team determined at that point that I did not have what it took to be at risk genetically for breast cancer. That all sounded fine and good until this past summer, when I was actually diagnosed with it after all. So back to the drawing board.

They'll now complete the study they started in 2006 by giving me the final blood test, worth $4,000. Please, all my American readers, take note: this is costing me zilch. Nada. Nothing. Thank you, Lord, for socialized medicine.

I know that in the States you're always hearing how awful our health care is, but I'm telling you, it's absolutely awesome to be in the midst of a crisis like this and not have the horrible strain - on top of everything else - of wondering how we'll pay for procedures, or worrying about whether or not an HMO administrator is going to find a loophole absolving themselves of all payment responsibility.

Simply stated: I love the fact that as a Canadian, I have Medicare.

This blood test wasn't given to me three years ago because they didn't believe it was necessary, since I showed no genetic predisposition to breast cancer. Now that I've been diagnosed, though, and had a bilateral mastectomy with lymph node involvement, they'll take a closer look by doing this test.

Giving this test to anyone and everyone who walks into the Genetics Department is just not economically feasible and would quickly bankrupt the system, but....lucky me! I qualify!

If the results of the blood test aren't great (I'll spare you the technical details here), it'll mean I'm at risk for ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer, and other lovely stuff. Aaaaauuuuugggghhhhh.

That will mean more surgery to remove my right ovary (my left one was removed a few years back for other reasons) as a preventative measure. And I guess it will also mean monitoring my health pretty closely to watch for symptoms? I dunno.

My Medical Oncologist, Dr. Cohen, also told me the other day that they may want to radiate my incision area, just to make sure no cancer cells kinda got stuck in there and are hanging around. My surgeon had said no radiation would be required if I had The Girls removed, but guess what?! I'm not exempt after all! This is just getting better and better as we go!!

Are you feeling sorry for me yet? Grrrrrr. Stupid cancer. Bad cancer! Naughty, naughty cancer!!! Go away!!!

Anyways, one procedure at a time.'s the lineup for the next fifteen months of my life:

Monday, November 23:

- 7:30 am: Cardiac care unit for baseline tests - bloods, yada, yada (remember I said I'm going to be on a Heart Study since the chemo puts me at risk for heart problems / damage)

- 8:45 am: Pre-chemo blood tests

- 10 am: "AC" chemo starts & goes for around 3 hours, I think. This round of chemo will be once every 3 weeks for 3 months.

The fun part about Monday is.....Liliana and the film crew are planning to come along and film me getting my first chemo! Yay! I get to ham it up for the cameras while getting jabbed and stabbed with needles!

March - May 2010:
"Taxol" chemo starts, this time once per week for 3 months.

June 2010:
A round of Herceptin starts, once every 3 weeks for 9 months. The good thing they tell me about this particular treatment is that, unlike the chemo, it shouldn't make me tired. So that's a blessing!

In between all of the above appointments are 6 echocardiograms for my heart, a CT scan (to look for other tumors), some counselling sessions with my awesome Social Worker Naomi, who'll spend time with me to make sure I don't crack up (!), a consult with the Radiologist, and a consult with the Plastic Surgeon, whom I'll need to fix up some parts of my mastectomy scars that are less than gorgeous.

I also plan to hang out as often as possible at the Wellness Center, get some nutritional counselling with the Dietitian, persuade the Personal Trainer to persuade me to exercise, and chat with some of the many women who are travelling this journey we call cancer.

Well, that's all for today, folks! What more can I say? Stay well!
We'll talk soon! Bye bye, ta ta!


  1. Oh My Lord Wendy you are such a scamp!! When I read your posts I want to be serious about what you are writing and you make me laugh so hard..
    all the best always,

  2. Having cancer is a full-time job! It's great that you are posting your day-to-day experiences / feelings / procedures in your blog, because after a while, they all seem to blur together, and you forget what happened when. I wish I had done that when my dad had cancer. Now I can't seem to remember many of the details, and I wish I could.

  3. That's one intense schedule O_o But yea, hooray for Canadian health care! You tell 'em!

  4. We'll be checking up with you each step of the way Wendy. God will be with you and give you much strength. Continued prayers from many of your friends. Stay strong and rest plenty with your treatments. Always in my thoughts and prayers, your "breast" buddy, Wendy G.

    Proud to call you a "SURVIVOR"!!! You go girl!!!