May 2010


 

I shouldn’t be worried, right?  The bridge isn’t even built yet, and I’m already thinking about crossing it.  I’m  freaking out internally over nothing . . . except my internal-most of internals, my genetic code.

Taken roughly three months afer my father's death by cancer. This photo's also dated almost exactly a year before I took the stupid test I'm waiting for results on today ... I look at this and I honestly don't feel any less fragile now.

That’s right.  I did it: I took the BRCA genetic test.  For those of you not in the cancer “know”, the BRCA test is a blood test that determines whether or not you carry the breast cancer/ovarian cancer mutation gene responsible for around 20% of breast cancer cases worldwide. 

Why did I take it?  Well, my family risk is high, for one thing: my maternal grandmother had breast cancer by the age of 60, my mother did by the age of 47.

And did I mention?  My mom took the BRCA test a few weeks ago and tested positive.  That means you can statistically flip a coin and figure out my chances of carrying the gene, too.

Heads or tails, reader?

Call it lack of faith, or whatever… But I can’t live with that kind of uncertainty.

And neither can my mom, being a mom. So she talked me/prescheduled me (however  you want to read it) into getting the blood test—to put our minds “at rest” on the issue.   HA!

The wait for results is worse than the actual blood test (which is saying something, coming from me, since I routinely turn green whenever someone comes at me with a needle –something in my memory about a bad “stick” from my early adolescence who, failing to find a vein in my arm that didn’t roll after several poorly-aimed tries, decided that she would draw blood from the back of my hand.  I felt like a freaking pin-cushion. And then the feeling of the blood in the tube funneling nearly hot over my pinkie into the testing vial… Yes, I almost passed out).  It’s been nearly a week since I got stuck, and I’m feeling more sapped by the day.

Read this article  to figure out why I might be worried—notwithstanding the risk level for cancer that the gene would give me (Mom’s oncologist would guess me around 85% chance of getting cancer before the age of 60 if I do carry the gene)–pay special attention to the part where they discuss what my docs might do to me if I test positive for the mutation.  If you don’t want to read the article, consider that the terms “prophylactic tissue removal” (meaning removal of high-risk organs like my ovaries and/or breasts), chemotherapy, and drugs like Tamoxifen are far too familiar to me–and aren’t something I would want to face just as a “precaution” sometime in my thirties or early forties.

I’m so sick of cancer just walking in and stealing from me whenever the hell it feels like it.  I really am. 

My one ray of hope is this: my phenotype  alone seems, to my eye, to discount my genetic link to the bad gene.   To put it simply: my cancerous mother and her cancerous mother were built like Dolly Parton back in their primes, and I—well, I ran for president of the Itty-Bitty Titty Committee in college.  My aunts who are similarly less than bustily-blessed have all been cancer-free.  Here’s hoping I can at least catch a break for being a barely-B cup for once in my life.

 For now, I wait.  And once I hear back, I’ve got more thinking to do. 

Just pray, okay?

Advertisements

It’s cute how you all have high hopes for a romatic ending to my golden IMS Pole Day event ticket story.  Well, here’s the boring answer:

I gave up looking for a recipient and returned the extra ticket to the event office, where it was given to a patient on the wait list.  This was the resasonable solution, as the ticket was to the event area only, and would have bored to death any man who actually wanted to watch the race from something other than an air-conditioned tent with closed-circuit live TV broadcasting from the Track itself but not actually giving visual sight of the Track.

Here’s the cute ending, though:

After I finished working the event, I just wanted to go home. Maybe it’s because I’m a girl (and not a Danica-kind of girl), I could care less about watching a bunch of shiny, over-horsepowered cars zoom around an oblong track after seeing it in action for about three minutes.  That, and the over-aged frat boys hanging out in the Track yard were getting drunk and taking their shirts off to reveal copious amounts of gynecomastia.  Or maybe I was feeling overwhelmed at the foot traffic of over 15,000 people moving about in one place in search of a late lunch before their favorite driver went to the qualification round. At any rate, I was hot and tired, and I was done.

As I made my exit, I came across a small boy crying–a dark-haired, freckled boy maybe seven or eight years old.  He was looking around feverishly, obviously lost, and clutching his lunch box.  I thought I looked very unscary in my sneakers, ponytail, and children’s hospital tee-shirt, so I decided I could probablly approach him without scaring him further.

“Hey, bud. Are you lost?”

Sniff. “I can’t find my dad. Anywhere.  He was supposed to be going to the car–and I can’t find the car–and—”

My nanny instincts took over, and I started walking the lot with him, asking him where he thought the car was.  He sniffled and eventually got us close enough to a spot where I saw–being marginally taller than the boy–a 40ish year old man looking around with a worried look. 

“Looking for someone?” I called out.

And the man answered, “Yeah, my–”

“Dad!!!” squeaked the boy, recognizing the voice.

I still had my super-special Indy car garage pass, and I had no intention of using it. And the kid was still shaken and tear-stained. “Here, this will get you into the garage for free to go look at the cars.  Go ahead and take it. I won’t go.”

“Seriously? Awesome!!!”

So that, dear friends, is what happened to the other half of my own golden ticket.  So worth it, don’t you agree?

Lesson is:  calling up boys is silly when God decides to call you. 🙂

So, my job gave me tickets and garage passes to the Pole Day event at the Indy 500 Track on Saturday.  Granted, I’m stuck running PR and photography at an event there for the major hospital corporation I’m now working for as a marketing intern.  But now I have an extra ticket and parking pass, and I’d really like a guy to use them.

I called my brother (now heading to California for a week; he’ll be gone Saturday), my cousin (his paternal grandfather just died–funeral is Saturday), my uncle (has a ticket already–figures) . . .  and yes, even an ex-boyfriend who really liked NASCAR and the fast track (also already has tickets, but was very flattered).

And now there are a few other exes I could call… and I feel very silly digging into my personal archives.  Not that it isn’t good to reconnect in a friendly fashion and give a guy a chance for a free day of wandering around the Motor Speedway, but it is a rude awakening to discover that I’ve gotten so busy that I’ve essentially run out of men.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m still looking. I’m working in an office building all week long, and I’m visiting in a hospital twice a week, with young men buzzing around somewhere, I’m sure.

But where are they?

Nominate your ticketeers in the comments.

Every few years–since my show choir days, actually–I’ve had issues with my left hip.  Too much tango dancing? You’re not walking tomorrow.  A rough, 4-mile hike uphill at Hanover? Sorry, kid–you’re gonna ache for days. 

I’ve had it looked at now and again. It’s my stupid IT band that’s the problem. For those not in the athletic know, the IT band is an overcompensating tight-wad of a ligament.  It’s one of the longest in the body, stretching up the length of the outside of the thigh from the iliac crest* (the edge of the hip bone) and down to the insertion point at the tibia below the knee.  It supports the alignment of the knee as it undergoes weight-bearing and stress from lateral flexing (like a tango twist).  Mine does a sucky job. 

That long white strip of fibrous tissue is the IT band. Illustration credit: SportsMD.com

I recently started running again, with the intention of pushing myself to join a running group at the hospital where I work.  So I’ve been training, increasing the duration of each run every week.  And I wasn’t stretching well enough, apparently, because that IT band got tight and a little achy.  When I set up tables for a hospital event on the 17th of April, I started feeling shooting pains in my hip, which I later learned was a result of my IT band rubbing and snapping across the  femoral epicondyle as my bent  knee moved from a flexed position into an extended position while I lifted displays and moved tables around.  By the time the event was over and I’d hit the fifth aisle of the grocery store during my after-work errand, I was seeing stars behind my eyelids and gritting my teeth. 

I came home with what I’d managed to stuff in my basket, and then I laid myself right down on the floor until I could get to bed. It literally felt like my whole hip was spasming with heat and needles, stabbing down the top of my thigh. I was crying like a baby.  I admit it.

And Mom was a mom–that means she brougth tissues, ice, and Oxycodone.

And, oh, blissful pharmaceuticals! I finally slept several sleep cycles through for the first time in days, waking up in a puddle of melted ice and a mildly throbbing hip.  It was great.  

And I felt like my lesson had been learned: I need time to stretch before running myself ragged, both physically and emotionally.

Then Mr. J called—yes, that Hispanic guy I went on a date with in Dating File #2 that I reallly didn’t want to see again–and he KEPT calling, even after I texted him and told him I was nursing an injured hip and planned on sleeping the weekend away under the fuzzy blanket of painkillers and anti-inflammatories.   Apparently, his English either reallly sucks, or he can’t take a hint.  He called seven times and left three text messages.

The upside is, he gave up after his tenth attempt and after he left a bratty voicemail message about how I obviously couldn’t appreciate/respect his concern for me enough to call him back.  ::Blah, blah, blah, insert the tiny whine of a miniature violin played by a Siamese cat in a sombrero. . . ::   I might have fallen for his guilt trip if he hadn’t stepped in his own trap by ignoring/disrespecting my obvious wish to be left alone to sleep and heal.

So, for those of you who’ve been asking what happened to Mr. J, there’s your answer:  Gone in a huff.

In the days following–full of intense time at work planning for another event, one of our biggest annual PR events (c.1,00o guests), to boot–it occurred to me that, while it was a good thing for this communication cut to happen in the case of Mr. J at this time, I’d run this script before with men during times of stress.  And that’s not a good thing . . .

While I’m sure many of you would agree that it’s understandable that, with my father’s death looming in the background, I was a bit of a basket case over these past months, and especially in the final year of his life.  But that makes two years now—TWO YEARS–of a running streak of failed relationships usually caused by my own flake-outs and inability to handle romantic relational stress on top of the major transitions in my life. 

Apparently, I, like my bitchy IT band, don’t handle being put through too many paces at once without the chance for some downtime to stretch, grow, and recuperate. 

So, I’m trying to figure three things out with God right now:

1.   How can I get the downtime to gently stretch myself emotionally in a relationship?

2. How soon can I do number 1, based on my emotional recuperation from the major changes in my life and the PTSD-induced effects of caring for my father during his dramatic decline and slow, drawn-out, suffering-filled death?  (Seriously, people, if I’m ever terminal with cancer, just shoot me or give me an OD of something. I’m not going through the organs shutting down/brain-chemistry-and-mind altering scary shit my dad did as he died.  And I’m not putting my kids through the nightmare of witnessing that, either.)

3. How am I ever going to encounter a potential mate in my current work life scenario, and how am I going to trust God during the waiting period?

I don’t have any answers to any of these questions, really, just hopes.  God only knows–and I’m trying to trust him again.  Ironically, Anne Rice is helping me do that.  That’s right–vampire authoress-turned-Christian-Anne Rice.  I’m reading Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, the first book in her religious series exploring the childhood and youth of Christ.  Fascinating?  Yes. I’ll be writing more about it once I finish.  It’s definitely worth your read, just because of the wrenching humanity of the young Jesus coupled with Rice’s intense historical research that places him in probable ways amidst some fascinating circumstances surrounding the early Jewish rebellions against Rome.  Picture Jesus as a precocious child who knows too much and too little all at once and often feels overwhelmed and very small—and very human–during a brutal time in history that did little Jewish boys no favors.  Oh, and he occasionally spaces out and sees angels, which freaks people out.   I’m in chapter 10 of 30 or so.  We’ll see what happens.

To read more about Anne Rice’s conversion, visit her website here.