Cancer Girl

September 3rd, 2009

So a few months ago, my mom is talking to me on the phone about, oh, I don’t know, her boyfriend, aka my former teacher, or whatever, when suddenly she goes, “Oh, remember that time the doctor had to pull your ovary out of your bellybutton?”

Which is not exactly how I would describe having a laparoscopic oophorectomy, but it’s my mom, so I go with it.

Me: “Um…Okay. Yeah?”

Mom: “Well, my doctor has to do the same thing, only out of my vagina.”

!!!!!!

Okay, first of all, what?

And second of all, WHAT?

So it turns out my mom is trying to explain she is having some lady problems, which end up with her having to get her lady parts extracted.

Only not through her vagina, it turns out. They have to extract her lady parts the hard way, through her abdomen.

Because, she explains, her vagina is quite petite.

Because what you really want to have with your mom is a conversation about how petite her vagina is. And how surprised she was to learn that, having given birth to your ten pound brother.

“But,” she goes on to say, “my vagina really is quite petite.”

“Oh,” you say. “Okay.”

Then you have to spend the whole rest of the day thinking about your mom’s petite vagina, even though YOU DON’T WANT TO.

And you really want to call your brother, and go, “Mom said she has a petite vagina.”

But you don’t, because this is a burden you feel you should carry alone, and spare your brother, who is having his own problems (not to mention your other brother, who has even bigger problems).

No, you have to bear the burden of Your Mom’s Petite Vagina ALONE.

For which you feel you should win the big sister of the year award.

BUT THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS THE BIG SISTER OF THE YEAR AWARD.

Then Mom ends up spending a few nights in the hospital, which she thoroughly enjoys because she gets her own room with her own painkiller dispenser and TV with a remote control.

“I got to watch MSNBC and Nightline!” she says, all happily. “And the nurses came in and brought me whatever I wanted!”

Me (quite jealous, because when I had my “ovary removed through my bellybutton,” I didn’t get any of that good stuff, except some old dry crackers which the nurse told me not to eat because she said I’d barf them up on the way home, one hour after my surgery. Plus I was never told my vagina was petite): “It sounds like a spa.”

Her: “Oh, it was.”

Of course then they analyzed the tissue they got out of her and found out that Mom had stage one uterine cancer. The cancer was quite petite, smaller the size of a pencil eraser.

But still, you’re worried. The skin cancer that killed your father started out small, too. What if your mom dies?

Now suddenly you realize you’ll miss hearing about the delicacy and petiteness of your mom’s vagina, even though it is an immense burden.

Naturally, Mom was concerned about how getting radiation therapy was going to interfere with her busy crafting and Huffington Post reading schedule (and her summer vacation in Maine).

“I don’t have time for cancer!” she declared.

Mom so didn’t have time for cancer that when the former head of Johns Hopkins told her she didn’t have to have chemo or radiation after checking her out because her cancer hadn’t spread anywhere beyond her lady parts, which had been removed (but she still has to be vigilant about having CAT scans to insure the cancer hasn’t come back), she immediately left for her boyfriend’s house in Maine on vacation, and hasn’t looked back.

Uterine (also known as endometrial) cancer generally effects post-menopausal women, but it may also occur around the time that menopause begins. Click here for the symptoms.

If you’re like me, you just read about those symptoms and you’re thinking, I SO HAVE THIS!

Don’t panic. You probably don’t have it. You probably have something else, like a UTI, or an ovarian cyst, or some other cancer.

But if you do have uterine cancer, the good news is, this type of cancer is usually found quite early and is highly treatable. Your doctor will be able to tell you for sure.

Studies show that while most cases of uterine cancer aren’t preventable, you can cut your risk of getting the disease in half by taking oral contraceptives (the Pill), getting regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight.

My mom’s completely changed her diet to the Anticancer Lifestyle. We’re all reading Dr. David Servan-Schrieber’s amazing book about his brush with brain cancer (twice), and incorporating anticancer foods into our diet.

I have already lost five pounds on the Anticancer Lifestyle, just from switching from gluten-free white rice flour bread to gluten-free flax seed bread, and from eating fruit with every meal.

Everyone has more energy and feels much better now.

Who knew so much good could come from something so petite?

More later.

Much love,

Meg