Table For One

It is three in the morning and I am in my office downstairs, unable to sleep. Everything is spinning in my head since last week’s Friday’s diagnosis and since yesterday’s Friday’s meeting with the surgical oncologist.

A cancer diagnosis has necessarily brought me to a table for one.

It is a table where many before me have sat, including a lot of my friends. It is a place where numbingly scary words are heard, possibilities are discussed, and tears are shed. It is impossible to intelligently process the waves of information. I wish for the prescience to know what I should have asked, afterwards. It is hard to be brave.

During the technical meteor shower at Moores Cancer Center with Dr. Blair, I heard sparkles of good news: small (7 mm), Stage I, 90% cure rate. I heard shards of terror: triple-negative invasive ductal carcinoma, aggressive, recurring, probable chemotherapy, possible mastectomy because of complications from having autoimmune disease (rheumatoid arthritis). I only wanted to hear kittens and puppies.

The drip drip drip of waiting is going to continue. The surgeon will be gone next week. I have two medications that have to cease for two weeks before surgery can be done. The earliest likelihood will be in three weeks.

I will have molecular breast imaging just prior to the surgery during which a radioactive dye will be injected to better illuminate the tumor and start a lymph node sky show. Glowing nodes will be removed with the tumor.

I am awake because now I wish I had asked if having a mastectomy would make this all go away.

Whether I like it or not, I am at a table for one. I need to look ahead to Laughter After.

13 thoughts on “Table For One

  1. Having a mastectomy now will remove essentially all breast tissue on the side that you have the mastectomy. If there are any other, unknown, areas of cancer, you will also remove them. And you will have no breast tissue for another cancer to start up in. But it will not change the need for chemotherapy now, which is intended to treat any tumor cells which may have already escaped form your breast and lymph nodes and gone elsewhere unbeknownst to anyone, and undetectable at this stage. My wife’s sister who had at least some positive receptors, had a bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction, and has never looked back. I am glad she did, because they found two other sites of cancer after the pathologists carefully examined her breasts which were completely unexpected. Hope this helps clarify the question some.

  2. Terri,
    While your questions flood your mind during sleepless nights , this initial prognosis is good. Please rest , eat well and meditate to prepare your body. Love ya, Rosalba

  3. I remember the feeling well. I thought of a hundred questions after I left the office. This is a shock to the brain and the heart. But it seems like it is fairly early in the disease and you are in good hands. You are not alone. You are at a table for millions.

  4. It will get better! Hooray for ‘just’ stage 1!! Keep exercising, for both your arthritis and the cancer fight, and read-up on Alkaline Diets during those sleepless nights. A daily smoothie with dark, leafy greens and fruit (cherries, berries) helps to both nourish your body in general but also soothe stomach irritation. This has helped BL immeasurably during his treatments. Hugs!

  5. Awww… I’m sure it has been very overwhelming for you with the abundance of information that you have been receiving. Although I am saddened by your news, I’m really glad to hear that it’s only Stage 1. Every cloud has a silver lining. You’re not alone. Please rest up! XOXO I’m always thinking of you.

  6. So wonderful to see you today and so happy that you are not holding back with your hopes and fears, tears and laughter. You’ve started a solid beginning even with the waiting period that you have to endure these next few weeks.
    We, your friends, will be your safety net at all times. Already today we shared laughter and hugs and books – all the normal things that have more significance because now there is fear, but just for awhile. I feel very positive about how you are going to do, Terri. Much love and I can help with the skedaddle days, too.

  7. Mrs. Hamlin,

    I can only imagine how tough all of this must be on you. Please know that you have so many people in your life that love and care for you. Continue to be strong and optimistic. If yu happen to have some time there is a great site that you might find some useful info

    Take care and please contact me if you ever need to talk.

  8. You may be at a table for one, but you have many loved ones who would love to be invited to join you. Share your worries with us! I hope that you can get the answers you need.

  9. Terri,

    You have so many invisible friends at Your Table for One to share this journey with you.
    You are strong and I know very determined to overcome this latest hurdle, and once the waiting is over you will be taking each recovery step in stride because that is YOU!

    Thinking of you daily and sending warm and loving wishes,

    Lani Duke

  10. You may feel at times that you are at a Table for One but the place where you sit is at the head and the side seats are filled with numerous and loving guests both family and friends. Picture the immensely long dining table at Hearst Castle, one so great that from your seat you might not even recognize the faces at the far end joining in the communal meal that you have invited us to (OK, blame it on the crappy overhead lighting). This is our way of sharing back to you what you have given to us so gracefully and often in the past. From the first course to the anticipation of dessert we share together in every delicious bite of words, laughter, tears and silence while always ready to lift a glass and say, “You are not alone.” Meanwhile, we get to know the diverse people in your life and who sit next to us and learn from their experience as it is gifted onto you.

    You are so loved and no one can say it more proudly or with assurance than your brother.

    I love you — Rusty

  11. You express so well the many thoughts and feelings that whirl in one’s head when facing the “Big C” word. Your gift of being able to share this journey with others through your writing will help many others facing scary health issues. So glad it is stage 1 and that you have good doctors and many new treatment options. Many of us who care and love you are sitting at the table with you! You are not alone!

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