Funny about Money

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

The Show Goes On…

So this morning M’hijito and I traipsed out to the Mayo again to meet with the estimable Dr. P.

She suggested trying one (1) more re-excision and then, if that fails, the recourse is mastectomy. In either event, I’ll have to have radiation therapy.

Ugh. This is hard to believe: we’ve gone from two “tiny” little lesions of less than 1 cm to at least 5 sm of mass, not all of which we’ve be able to get out, and we are now speaking seriously of a complete effing MASTECTOMY! And that is despite the fact that she insists it is not a a cancer and may never be a cancer. Maybe.

Not only that but I’ve developed some kind of swelling, which may be seroma, may be an infection, or may be some of both. I’m now on an antibiotic whose main side-effect is tendon tears. You’re not supposed to take it if you’re over 60 or if you’ve ever had tendon repair…which I had about 20 years ago after I slipped on the rocks at the bottom of Aravaipa canyon and ruptured the tendon that operates the right thumb. You can’t exercise. You shouldn’t be throwing yourself around with any physical work. This persists for three to four months after you quit taking the drug.

Lovely.

I went prepared to ask if she could manage to get a pathologist physically THERE during the next procedure so he could do the pathology studies in real time, rather than a day or two after she’s sewed me up and sent me on my way. But she’d already thought of that: she said they would do the pathology while I’m knocked out.

HOWEVER… In that case, what the pathologist does is freeze a number of slabs of the excision. But that is not ALL of the stuff they take out. Later, he’ll finish the job — meaning even if it looks like she’s managed to dig out clear margins in the frozen samples, he STILL could find inadequate margins in other parts. And if he does, I’ll have to get a mastectomy.

She was disgusted because on the preliminary report from the pathologist she was told she’d gotten clear margins out but when the final report came in, she learned otherwise. She was not at all pleased.

Oh, and to put the frosting on the cupcake? Comes in the mail, about ten minutes ago, a twenty-two hundred dollar property tax bill!

Holy shit.

Author: funny

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8 Comments

  1. And ….”when it rains…it pours”….Couple of things….My Dear Aunt who had breast cancer had the course of radiation and reported it wasn’t is difficult as she thought it would be and the chemo she took “agreed” with her (whatever that means). She opted for a drug that she has to take for the next ten years just to be on the safe side. Like you, she’s older (she’s in her 70’s), alone having divorced long ago and saw no use for a new man in her life, and has supportive family and friends like you. So there is hope! I’d keep an eye on that swelling just talked to an applicant looking for a place who is a recent amputee. He lost that leg as a result of “routine surgery” where he contracted a staph infection IN THE HOSPITAL which required the amputation of his leg to save his life. And finally in this neck of the woods there are programs to help folks stay in their homes with reduced property taxes on a sliding scale. Sort of like a “circuit breaker”…maybe check around and see if such a program exists and if you are eligible. Thanks for sharing your ride on this “rollercoaster”….

    • Apparently the radiation therapy has fewer side effects than it used to. Except for causing blood clots, Tamoxifen is also relatively tame.

      However, here’s the rub: over the past weeks I’ve learned that THERE’S A WHOLE SCHOOL OF THOUGHT — a school of thought that is growing — that believes most DCIS should be left along; that DCIS should not even be called “carcinoma” or “cancer”; that the frightening rhetoric induces hysteria both on the part of the doctors and on the part of the patient; and that these things are vastly, expensively, painfully overtreated. This group believes that the best course of action for DCIS is to watch and wait.

      And yes, I am VERY, very scared that this swelling is an infection. I’m calling another doctor this morning and trying to get a referral to MD Anderson or some other place that can look at this and give me a second opinion.

      In Arizona you have to be indigent to get the old folks’ break on property taxes. With my net worth and the casual income, I do not qualify. At least, I assume not: the law is incomprehensible. Get this language:

      “The resident may apply for a property valuation protection option after residing in the primary residence for two years. If one person owns the property, the person’s total income from all sources including nontaxable income shall not exceed four hundred per cent of the supplemental security income benefit rate established by section 1611 of the social security act.”

      What the hell does THAT mean?

      Section 1611 apparently sets a figure of $3,000 annual income for certain somethingorothers (impossible to tell what those somethingorothers are). So that seems to suggest that to qualify for a property tax freeze, you have to be earning less than four times that, or $12,000/year. Teaching six sections of junior college courses earns you $14,400 a year, and Social Security grosses just about the same, for a total of $28,800 give or take.

      Ha ha! And get this: you have to be able to produce a utility bill that dates back TWO YEARS! We all have two-year-old utility bills laying around the house, don’t we?

  2. Sadly I believe I have read the same article you talk about. In fact as I recall the Doc that wrote it drew a parallel between this and prostrate cancer in men and how it was treated ….and how it is treated now. I swear…but it seems you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Prostrate cancer is most times a “wait and see cancer” now. And an article I read a while back claimed most American males will die “of it or with it”…SUPER. Here in this neck of the woods the “tax circuit breaker” is on a a sliding scale which to me seems somewhat equitable. of course you have to hire a”Philadelphia lawyer” who is also a CPA to work your way thru the application. BUT I’m told if your patient and follow thru there are gains to be made. Good Luck Funny in your quest to get to the bottom of your health challenge.

    • Dying with it is different than dying of it. You can die with a bald spot, with myopia, with crowns on your teeth. You can die of prostate cancer, sure; you can also have prostate “cancer” — possibly that’s another phenomenon that should be called by some other name” and die of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, driving your car into a freeway abutment, whatEVER.

      I am calling my old gynecologist this morning and I’m also calling MD Anderson and trying to get in there. I want another opinion before any more slicing and dicing is done.

      No doubt it’s too late to bring a stop to this particular train wreck, since we’ve cut into a thing that formerly was fully encapsulated, allowing abnormal cells to swim around at will in there. However, I did see a study that said for estrogen-positive entities, Tamoxifen can reduce and even eliminate the things.

      On the other hand, I have a temp pushing 100 degrees this morning. I’ll probably die of an iatrogenic infection before I can be carried away by a cancer that is not a cancer.

  3. I go a tiny bit nuts when people start spouting that prostate cancer is something you will probably die “with” and not “of.” Yeah, a lot of men with die with it, and a lot will die OF it. And you don’t know which one you are going to be, do you?

    When my husband had his prostate biopsied it fell into the “fast growing” category number. We couldn’t get him to a surgeon fast enough.

  4. I’m sorry that this situation keeps escalating on you, Funny. Also, I’m very sorry that you are sick, especially with a 100 degree temp. I’ve suffered through one of those while trying to care for my mom after she had surgery. It was NOT fun.

    • Never a dull moment, eh?

      And since this was obtained at the hospital, there’s a good chance it’s antibiotic resistant. I see on the Internet that Cipro takes 3 or 4 DAYS to kick in, so…that’s going to be a long 3 or 4 days.

  5. Oh Funny,
    Sending good wishes and prayers that if it is an infection it is easily cured, and that you get the best information on where to go from here.

    It sounds like the pathology department was lax, not the doc., which while not good, at least keeps your confidence in your doctor.

    Keep us informed, and the best of good wishes.