Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Perhaps another day I will feel like a longer post, but for now, let's just say that there is "joy in Mudville." The PET scan for metastasized cancer was negative.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

PET Scan - Hoping to be a cool cat, not a hot dog

This morning at 7:45 I casually arrived at the Forsyth Radiology Center, dressed appropriately in clothing without zippers, snaps, or other metal fasteners. As if it were an ordinary day, I smiled at the nurses and technicians, chatted amiably, presented my left arm for IV insertion, received the dose of radioactive glucose, and grabbed up a couple of magazines to peruse while the stuff pumped through my vessels to reach all the important brain, my bones, my liver, my lungs. I spent a very pleasant hour, lounging in a recliner under a warm blanket, waiting for the stuff to do its duty.

As I understand it, the radioactive glucose travels around the body, and since cancer cells LOVE sugar, they will gobble it up greedily and show up on the scanner as a "hot" spot. I am hoping, of course, to find that there are no such spots anywhere in my body.

The time in the scanner is short...maybe 20 or 30 minutes, and since I was covered with another warm blanket, I think I slept a bit. Unlike an MRI machine, this scanner is quiet, and except for an occasional shift in or out of the open ended tube, I couldn't tell there was anything happening. The staff is so professional, yet nonchalant, that one could forget that this two hours on a Wednesday morning was an "edge of the cliff" kind of experience for me. Most of the time, I wasn't thinking of the outcome; but when I came out of the machine, the thought washed over me that the answer was waiting on the monitors in the next room. But I am going to have to wait a whole week before finding out whether I am a "cool cat" or a "hot dog."

Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


I've had vulnerability in my mind a lot lately. (This is not nearly as much fun as having "Carolina in my mind" - apologies to James Taylor.) About two weeks ago, I was feeling pretty much on top of the world, eating right, exercising, working outside, planning things. In the midst of that I realized that breasts can be a big hindrance, and that, in many ways, without them, I feel like the powerful, almighty, invincible pre-teen girl that I was 52 years ago....breastless and glad to be.

Growing up in the rural South, I spent a lot of time outside in the summertime, and, until I was about 8 or 9 years old, I was allowed to go "bare-breasted" in the warm weather. There was a sense of equality that came with that shirtlessness. Then came the horrible day when my mother insisted that I was too old to go shirtless. It was a real downer for me. Breasts make a woman vulnerable. Their growth on her chest brings attention, and she cannot hide them. For an uncertain pre-teenager, breasts are just one more differentness to have to deal with. They are easily bumped and bruised, and become one more reason that girls must be treated differently.

Don't get me wrong.; I understand the utility, even the fun, of having breasts. But my memories of my years without noticeable mammary glands are decidedly positive ones. The minute the darn things started sprouting, I began to experience a differentness that was not altogether welcomed. No more tackle football, more closely monitored after-school activities, changed expectations about relationships, etc.

I know breast cancer is not the number one killer of women; I believe that award goes to heart disease. But cancer is still a big and ugly plague on womankind, and it does seem particularly cruel that the part of a woman's body which has made her vulnerable and visible as a woman since puberty should be the very part of the body susceptible to this crappy disease.

This rambling post has not "come together" as smoothly as I would like. The bottom line, I guess, is this: doing without breasts has reminded me of how powerful I felt as a girl and how some of that power faded when I entered puberty, perhaps because I felt more vulnerable. Now, I am really enjoying that feeling of freedom again, going breastless (and sometimes braless) into my future.