Funny about Money

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ―Edmund Burke

News of the Day…

…Boob Department.

So, late, late late yesterday afternoon St. Joe’s called with the verdict on the biopsy: it’s cancer.

However, as cancers go, it’s far from the worst of all possible worlds. Their pathologist declared it a papillary carcinoma, which is a rare cancer that, in older women, is usually slow-growing. And in my case, both tumors are “encapsulated,” which means they’re closed off from spreading around with gay abandon.

If she’s correct, then as this kind of news goes, it’s actually fairly positive: According to the American Journal of Clinical Pathology “EPCs [encapsulated papillary carcinomas) are in situ carcinomas with an excellent prognosis and can be managed with local therapy with or without sentinel lymph node biopsy.”

That’s from a 2009 paper, so of course it’s a bit old. However, from what the radiologist said, the thinking must still be along these lines. She said they no longer yank out your lymph nodes — which, other than the disfiguration of your boob (which is hardly fatal), is the big issue with breast cancer, because it leaves you vulnerable to infection of even the tiniest little nick or paper cut.

Rummaging through the Hypochondriac’s Treasure Chest, we find a literature review in an open-access journal. Open access is less questionable in the hard sciences than it is in the humanities. As of 2014, this review of published research indicates “this form of cancer is usually low grade and rarely recurs. . . . Understanding the low-grade nature of this form of breast cancer allows treatment options to be less radical and safely omitted.” However, this same group of authors calls papillary breast cancer “diagnostically challenging” and remarks that if the tumor appears in conjunction with invasive cancer, that might not be great, especially if it occurs in a younger woman. However, I fortunately am old as the hills, and I’m told these things were quite small.

And finally, the Brits say, in a website dumbed down for the public, “Doctors usually treat papillary breast cancer with surgery. These cancers usually grow slowly, and don’t usually spread to the lymph glands or other parts of the body.”

So if I’m understanding what the woman said to me, it looks like the outlook is about as positive as it can get for a cancer diagnosis. I feel a great deal less frantic than I did while waiting for news…right now what I most want is just to get the surgery under way, get the damn things out of my boob, and move on.

My son is going to take the dogs for as long as I’m incapacitated. Suspecting this was coming up the pike, I’ve already hired a cleaning lady and lined up a pool guy. Cleaning lady has begun deconstructing my house — in addition to breaking the vacuum cleaner ($140!), she also quietly knocked the shower door off its track. Neighbor is coming over this evening to try to fix it. I just hate hiring cleaning help…honest to god, they do more damage than good! And then when they break things, they don’t tell you — they leave it for you to find out. Had a helluva time getting out of the shower stall this morning.

Let’s hope that’s not true of pool guys.

Tomorrow I’m meeting with a surgeon at the Mayo. I have no intention of letting St. Joseph’s cut me up, having damn near died there a few years ago. Besides, St. Joe’s Healthgrades ratings for patient safety are much lower that the Mayo’s and even lower than John C. Lincoln’s. JCL is located in the heart of a desperate slum, for hevvinsake, a few blocks from the headquarters of a dangerous meth gang. So…one wonders. At any rate, if I have to get radiation treatment and the Mayo doesn’t do that at its (relatively nearby) hospital on the 101, then I’ll have to get that done at JCL or St. Joe’s, since I can’t afford the gas to drive halfway to Payson five days a week for five to eight weeks.

So things appear to be as under control as they’re going to get. Unless, of course, the Mayo’s surgeon upsets the apple cart tomorrow…

Author: funny

This post may be a paid guest contribution.


  1. I really wish there was some way we could give you a hand somehow. And good gravy, what is WITH your cleaning lady breaking things and not telling you??

    • It’s SOP. Cleaning ladies do that all the time. The yard guys follow suite. 😀 I don’t find out when they’ve busted a piece of the irrigation system until a plant dies.

      {sigh} Just got off the phone from an oncological social worker. She said I’ll need someone to watch me 24hours/day for about two to seven days — either they come to my house or I go to theirs. Who on earth THAT might be escapes me. My son can’t take that kind of time off work, nor could he stand to be around me that long, the poor kid.

      Tom (the famous SDXB) has volunteered to babysit, but he won’t be in town until the 10th. That’s not very long…we’ll see what the surgeon says tomorrow. But if she’s hot to get it done sooner than that, as far as I’m concerned, the sooner she can excise the damn things from my boob, the better.

      However, I learned from said onc. soc. worker that the doc whom I propose to see at the Mayo has a superb reputation and is very well respected. She’s supposed to be some kind of superdoc. So we’ll see what she says.

  2. I admire your positive and realistic attitude toward this news. Reach out and let your friends help out, draw down on your bank account of faith.
    Ship your oar for a time and take it easy, this will be instructive and hopefully over soon.

    • Unfortunately, I don’t have a large fund of friends. People scare the bedoodles out of me, and I tend not to get on very well with other humans.

  3. I’m glad you have some answers for now, and that you’re feeling like you’ve got a game plan and support team. Though really – I’m with Revanche – shouldn’t cleaning ladies know how to clean without destroying your house?!?

    • LOL! You’d think so. IMHO it’s a function of the improvement in women’s work opportunities. Back in the day, when bright women couldn’t get decent jobs, many cleaning ladies were from the middle class and had their own washers, dryers, vacuums, and the like. Today that seems to have changed. Middle-class women can get office jobs; they don’t have to clean house for extra money or to get by after being widowed or divorced.

      It’s much harder to find a housecleaner who can read and understand instructions on the back of a bottle of cleanser (many of the women I’ve hired don’t read English — the present one doesn’t speak English, either), and often the woman you hire may never have even seen a vacuum like the one you have in your house. She may use coin-op laundromats and not know how to operate that $1200 washer sitting in your utility room. She doesn’t understand that the shower door isn’t rolling on a bottom track and can’t be shoved around without dislodging it from the top track.

      It’s the difference in social class and affluence — when you hire people who are so poor they can’t afford the kinds of amenities you have in your house, it’s unfair and unreasonable to expect them to be able to use these objects and care for them without instruction. Trouble is, when you’ve lived with such things all your life, it’s very hard to second-guess what the person will not have encountered. And even harder when you and she don’t speak each others’ languages well.

  4. Well….I guess this beats a sharp stick in the eye….but it’s a stick in the eye none the less. Cheeeez…..this cancer it seems everyone has it or has had it…I swear. Any idea iof the size of growths…pea size…marble…etc? I wonder if they will try to shrink the tumors first with radiation…then operate OR remove the tumors and then radiate OR just remove the tumors and require no further treatment OR say….screw it …it’s take 60 some odd years for them to grow to this size and do nothing. Glad to hear your ol’ friend SDXB has agreed to pitch in…that’s what friends are for….

    • They’re very tiny. I think they said .5 cm.

      They’ve probably been there for awhile and weren’t noticed by the older generations of mammography machines. These newer machines are much more sensitive…that’s why they spin off so many false positive results.

      From what I’m told (so far), because they’re encapsulated they can simply be removed. Radiation therapy is then applied to try to ensure that any malignant cells that might have escaped unnoticed are zapped. Apparently the combination has a very high rate of success with this type of tumor.

  5. Well, that’s definitely bad news and good news. My mom went through a breast cancer many years ago (back in maybe 1998 or 1999) and although the treatment sucked… it wasn’t as bad as we’d been expecting. And her prognosis has been good ever since. And that was more than 15 years ago. Medical technology has just gotten better since then.

    • In one research sample, there was a 10-year survival rate of 80% for this particular abnormality… And considering that the women in question were mostly in their 70s at the outset, we could call that not bad at-tall. If I manage to live another 10 years, I’ll be damn near 80.

  6. Been praying for you for the last two days. Not the news we wanted to hear, but as you say, under the circumstances, the best news possible.

    Glad to hear the surgeon is one of the best! Her skill and your positive attitude will ensure an excellent outcome. We all look forward to your full and speedy recovery and to many more years of Funny adventures to share. You are one very special lady, and you are held with love and concern.

  7. So glad you finally have some answers. I admire your drive to find your own answers and take charge of your health. You are my inspiration for getting through the day.

  8. Can’t some of your friends from church choir or other areas help you? I bet you have more friends than you realize. Glad the news is…well…it’s not good, but it sounds manageable, at least. You can count on all of us to help keep you company (in a way) during your recovery.

    • You would not BELIEVE! I’ve been besieged. It’s 9:30 p.m. and the last of the parade just left. My neighbor Maria repaired the shower door before my neighbor Tom could surface to do it. While she was here, she unpacked the new vacuum cleaner and put it together.

      The choir director called and said he had nothing else to do this summer but wait on me. (right!!)

      The director of the church health ministry called and dispensed a ton of valuable advice — she happens to be a retired oncological social worker and so a) knew the Mayo doc I’m seeing tomorrow and said she’s widely respected and considered to be excellent and b) was able to advise on what to expect and how to cope.

      Two friends at the church said they’d drive me around and get groceries.

      My son surfaced and said he’d talked to his boss, who told him to take time off tomorrow to go with his aged muther to the surgeon!

      Holeee mackerel. Who’d’ve thunk it?

  9. I agree with Linda. (she thunk it).

  10. Well, this was about the best possible bad news. You may be surprised: the surgeon may be able to remove these growths under a local anesthetic, so you won’t have to deal with a general. I’ve heard people say that the needle biopsy is worse than the removal of these very small growths. Here’s hoping …

  11. Wishing you the best. As far as bad news goes, it sounds like it’s not as far down the ‘bad’ spectrum as it could be.

    In our neighborhood there is a lady that cleans a lot of houses. We don’t use her, but I know a lot of people do. It’s a shame there isn’t someone similar that you could use, as the personal connection seems to yield better results.

  12. I had a double-lumpectomy seven years ago. Opted for that rather than biopsy first as the doctors thought the chance of cancer was high. One of the “lumps” was near the chest wall, and the other under the nipple (incision circled half my nipple). My surgeon used local anesthetic while putting me under with Versed by IV, so I didn’t need general anesthetic. The deeper incision had a drain that was removed the next day. A nurse told me to take my pain med at least half an hour before the drain was removed. It was great advice. Pulling the drain doesn’t take long, but it smarted quite a bit. My daughter stayed with me that first night and the next day, but went home the second evening. I had my wonderful schipperke, Toby, then, and didn’t have trouble taking care of him, but he was 11 and healthy. I had the normal problems of showering, dressing etc.. that accompany keeping stitches dry. I was uncomfortable using that arm and shoulder for a few days, but it wasn’t impossible. I found that a supportive sports bra stuffed with gauze pads kept me fairly comfortable during the healing. I had to fight the temptation to go around holding my breast so it didn’t move or jiggle at all 🙂 Not socially acceptable! My “lumps” turned out to be scar tissue consistent with car accidents (hitting chest on the steering wheel), or in my case, a youth spent riding and training horses (hitting chest on saddle horn during more exciting rides), and like you had been there a long time but unseen until newer medical equipment. Since mine were benign, I didn’t have follow up treatment, so can’t speak to that, but I think my surgery was similar to what yours might be. Sorry you have to go through this.

  13. Sorry to hear you havent found good hired help. I rarely hear of people having issues with cleaning ladies, but to break the vaccum? Ouch. And boo/yay on the news… at least you know, and it sounds, though not good, better than what it could’ve become on the other extreme. Positive thoughts your way!

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