the disease caused by an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in a part of the body.
PMH Receptionist: “Hello… my name is Sally from Princess Margaret Hospital, your Doctor1 has referred you to an Oncologist and your appointment is Monday morning at 8:00am.”
Me: “Umm… so I guess that means that my biopsy results aren’t so great?”
PMH Receptionist: “…. (long pause followed by even longer silence) – so you haven’t spoken to your doctor?”
PMH Receptionist: “I’ll have to call you back.” -hang up without saying goodbye.
Doctor 1: “I’m sorry, I gather you have figured out by now you have cervical cancer – I’m sorry that PMH called you before I got a chance to, I’ve been trying to get you in right away.”
Me: “I figured it wasn’t a good sign with the lady from PMH didn’t ask if I wanted a PMH Lotto Ticket. What happens next?”
Doctor 1: “We send you to see Doctor2 and they will send you for an MRI, CT Scan and maybe a PET scan & blood work and then wait for results.”
Then… I go for all my scans and wait.
And then, while away on vacation a call arrives to the middle of the ocean…
Nurse B “Nikki… are you there? I’m so sorry to tell you this while you are away but we have been trying to get a hold of you – unfortunately, the MRI & CT Scans show that your cancer has spread to your lymph nodes and you have stage 2B cervical cancer and the doctor would like you to come home right away so we can start a new treatment plan of radiation/chemo.”
And then we flew home…
When I finally spoke to my oncologist after arriving home this is what she told me…
Doctor 2: “Don’t worry – it’s not catastrophic!”
WTF???!!!!!! Not catastrophic? Have you ever looked up the definition of catastrophic?
involving or causing sudden great damage or suffering.“a catastrophic earthquake”
extremely unfortunate or unsuccessful.“catastrophic mismanagement of the economy”
So.. THANK GOD my cancer isn’t kadəˈsträfik/ ??!!!
So, the thing about being diagnosed with cancer is that I’m not a doctor so all of the fancy terms become very overwhelming. So unless you have a BA in Medicine then trying to not only understand the information then relay that to your friends and families is almost impossible. At a time when your overwhelmed and can’t get all the words out – it’s hard to explain to everyone what everything means, nevermind how much time it takes – it’s exhausting.
So, below are a couple of “terms” that I’m collecting.
Biopsy: The removal of a small amount of tissue for examination under a microscope. Other tests can suggest that cancer is present, but only a biopsy can make a definite diagnosis.
Chemotherapy: Treatment with drugs that kill cancer cells.
Chemoradiation: Is a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. It is also sometimes called chemoradiotherapy. Chemoradiation may be given: before surgery to help shrink the cancer and reduce the risk of cancer coming back
CT Scan: a series of X-ray that are combined by computer into images of the bones and soft tissues inside your body. CT scan images provide much more information than do plain X-rays.
Davinci Hysterectomy: State-of-the-art da Vinci uses the latest in surgical and robotics technologies for simple and complex procedures. Your doctor controls the da Vinci System, which translates his or her hand movements into smaller, more precise movements of tiny instruments inside your body.
Grade: How abnormal the cancer cells look under a microscope and how quickly the tumour is likely to grow and spread. High grade tumours tend to be more aggressive than low grade tumours.
Lymph nodes: Tissues in the lymphatic system that filter lymph fluid and help the immune system fight disease.
Metastasis: The spread of cancer from the place where the cancer began to another part of the body. Cancer cells can break away from the primary tumor and travel through the blood or the lymphatic system to the lymph nodes, brain, lungs, bones, liver, or other organs.
MRI: Another imaging device that is especially useful in viewing the brain, spine, the soft tissue of joints, and some other parts of the body. MRIs do not use X-Rays.
Radiation Therapy: The use of radiation from x-rays and other sources to kill cancer cells and shrink tumours.
Radical hysterectomy: In a radical hysterectomy, the cervix and the uterus are removed. The upper part of the vagina next to the cervix as well as some of the supporting tissues and nearby lymph nodes in the pelvis are also removed. When possible, the surgeon will do a modified radical hysterectomy. This surgery removes less surrounding and supportive tissues around the cervix and uterus.
Oncologist: A doctor who specializes in treating people with cancer. The five main types of oncologists are medical, surgical, radiation, gynecologic, and pediatric oncologists.
Pathologist: A doctor who specializes in interpreting laboratory tests and evaluating cells, tissues, and organs to diagnose disease.
PET Scan: Unlike CT and MRI which look at structures (i.e., the architecture of the body), PET looks for cancerous activity. Cancer cells often “light up” on a PET Scan because they metabolize glucose differently than do normal cells. PET scans are often used to see if cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
Stage: The extent of a cancer in the body. It is based on the size of the tumor and whether it has spread. Stage 1 is early stage and Stage 4 is the most advanced stage.
Tumor: A mass formed when normal cells begin to change and grow uncontrollably. A tumor can be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous, meaning it can spread to other parts of the body).