Monday, September 28, 2009
The C Word Part II
My sister has cancer.
The C word.
It's breast cancer, one of the more fashionable diseases, like AIDS.
For better or for worse, men's fascination with breasts has probably saved millions of women's lives.
Dana has surgery on Thursday at St. James hospital in Santa Monica. I pick up Mom at the airport, she's better now, less consumed with fear. I'm glad my sister is having the tumor removed so quickly, I'm told having a tumor is like being in the tub with a large black spider and you just want it out as soon as possible.
We pay $12 to valet and go up to the 2nd floor, where Christos nervously keeps watch in the waiting room. The surgery has already taken place, Christos whispers that the surgery appears to have been successful and Dana is in recovery.
"What about the lymph nodes?" I ask. The lymph nodes are where the doctor's determine if there has been any spread of cancer. Typically they take between 6 to 12, a sampling to check for cancer spread.
"They only took one." Christos remarks.
"One?" I ask, dumbfounded. "I thought they had to take at least three?"
Christos nods. "Normally, but they were happy with what they saw, so only one."
An hour later we are admitted into recovery, Christos first, my mother second, myself last. Unlike them, I am not nervous. I know my sister is going to be okay. I grew up with my sister, and it's going to take more than some piddly little thing like breast cancer to kill her.
Like a volcano or a tac nuke.
When I first see her she's pale but smiling, relief emanating in all directions. No more spider in the tub, it's been removed and put into a jar where it is being examined to see if it left any of its brood behind. We get back to Malibu and Dana spends the rest of the day valiantly trying to stay awake so she can sleep through the night.
Christos writes an email thanking everyone for their love and support. He calls my sister, myself, and mother into the room and reads the email aloud.
By the time he is done tears are rolling down his face.
Dana sits in his lap, silent. She frowns, brow creased with concentration as she peers at the monitor. A moment later she leans forward and begins making corrections to the email.
I can't help it, I start laughing.
"I may not be able to control the cancer, or the surgery, but at least I can control this!" Dana snaps.
Definitely a tac nuke.