Thursday, September 26, 2013

A billion trillion cells and counting.

Forgive me if I'm beating a dead horse, but this has been on my mind a lot lately.

Why is "cancer" such a medical swear word?  Just saying it sends chills down my spine and a flush to my face.

It's my opinion that when the doctor calls with such bad news, they should phrase it more like "while other folks' cells are sleeping in on the weekend, yours are still up partying," or "your cells are the Duggars of the molecular world."  But "cancer"?  "Cancer" is the worst possible word to hear coming through the static from your doctor.

I'd just gotten to work when I saw that my doctor's office was calling. I figured they were just calling to set up my next appointment, so I picked up the phone and heard "Hi Rachel, we got your results back and they were abnormal."

From that point I tried to listen carefully, but as soon as "cancer" was mentioned, I felt like I was falling through a black hole.

Through my sniffles I tried hard to pay attention, but my mind was wandering and I couldn't concentrate:

                            pre-cancerous                                                                uncommon for your age
                                                need to act fast
                                 too many cells

As soon as I'd set up an appointment for the first procedure and tests, I hung up.  I stared straight out the window trying to get my bearings and trying to stop shaking.  I called Blake and choked out the words, "I'm leaving work. Cancer. Come home now."  Then I left work.  Right after I'd gotten there.  That was a fun one to explain.

I spent the ride home in shock.


Blake and I took a walk around the neighborhood to try to clear our minds.  We called our parents to tell them what was happening.


I couldn't think straight.


I spent the evening writing a list of questions to ask my doctor the next morning when I'd had a chance to calm down.  I convinced myself that it really couldn't be that bad. Maybe I was just over-reacting?

After a night of benadryl-induced sleep, I called my doctor and laid out my questions.  But rather than being calmed, I left the conversation more worried than I'd been before:

                very serious                                            important
                                        rapid growth                                                   abnormal cells
                                                                    extremely uncommon

I suppose they try to prepare you for the worst, but it truly was an awful time waiting for the procedure and then waiting for the results all while having the beating drum of "cancer" invading every inch of my mental space.  (And explain to me why they don't numb you when they're cutting 7 different pieces out of you to study?!).

I'm done with the curse-word cancer.  It's far too scary.

At my 6-month check up I'm going to tell my doctor right off: keep it light, ok?  Just tell me that my cells are advanced for someone my age.  Or that my cells are still on spring break while everyone else's are back in school.  Tell me anything but cancer.

Friday, September 20, 2013


Bear has nightmares.  Do dogs even have those?  Mine does.

Last night he woke up crying/shouting and shaking, so I went over to investigate and found him cowering with the most terrified look on his little, fluffy face.  It took several minutes of rubbing his head and another few minutes of him snuggling into my hand for him to fall asleep again.  Poor little guy.

What could he possibly be dreaming about that's so terrifying?  A big dog that doesn't want to play with him?  Not enough treats for performing a certain trick?  Too many crunchy fall leaves to eat?  It's a mystery.

Luckily for my sleep habits, most of the time he's a pretty happy little guy.  He makes the best co-pilot a girl could ask for (even if he is covered in reddish mud from a frolic in the back yard).

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The one in which I am cancer-free

Oh gosh. Where to start?

I've been avoiding my blog lately.  Avoiding it like a high school nerd avoids a bully in the hallway - glancing at it out of the corner of my eye and wondering if it'll just go away and stop taunting me.

It's been simultaneously a really rough month and a really good month.  I'm way past hating the doctor's office.  I had several of the worst weeks of my life followed by one of the best days of my life. That best day was the day I found out that I officially don't have cancer.  There you have it.

No cancer. I'm 27 years old and I don't have cancer.  What a relief, right?  I can face anything in comparison to that!

Science is on my bad list right now. Science knows enough to tell you something is wrong.  Not enough to tell you what, exactly, is wrong. And certainly not enough to tell you how to fix it.  Just that something is wrong.  (Yes, you're now collectively shuddering at my lack of correct grammar.)

I am writing, not to garner sympathy, but to share how good life is.  Blake is a saint, family is so necessary and wonderful, friends are so generous, and Bear is perfectly snuggly.  I feel like I am experiencing miracles in the truest sense and I couldn't be more grateful.

Friday, September 6, 2013

An endless pursuit

My father-in-law likes to say that life is the endless pursuit of refined sugar.  That's definitely the case for me (I spend much of my time desperately wondering when and where I'm going to get my next hit), but for Bear I think that life is the endless pursuit of snuggles or a nice squeaky ball.

I mean, have you ever seen such joy?

Monday, September 2, 2013

Mr. Bear

Are you ready to be smothered in puppies?  Good, because I'm dumping photos of this cutie like it's going out of style.

After barely sleeping on Friday night due to excitement, we made our way up to the BWI cargo bay to pick up Bear.  We waited patiently inside nondescript door number nine and could hardly contain ourselves when they brought a tiny (1 foot by 1 foot) crate into the room - his tiny face peeping out of the door.

He seemed scared, but fairly quiet.  We brought him outside to the nearest grassy area and let him out to run.  He ran around a bit, but also hung out in our laps (he loves to be held) and in his crate next to us.  Isn't he darling?

We brought him home and introduced him to the yard.  It took him several tries to make it up the patio stairs by himself - understandable considering how little he was!

He was obsessed with our rugs.  Alas, we had to take them up for the time being because he was a tad too obsessed.  He picked at them with his razor sharp puppy teeth, and would pee just a little on them when he felt like being naughty (giving us the side eye all the while, of course).

He spends a lot of his time looking for cool places to fall asleep.  He loves the hardwoods and loves curling up in front of an air vent so he can feel the cool breeze through his fur.

He also loves the feeling of being secure, so he'll run for a spot in the yard where he can hide in the lilies.  He's also a sun-o-phobe. He'll stand at the edge of the shade and refuse to move another inch so he can stay in the shade.

And, like many other puppies before him, he is confoundingly flexible.  He sleeps in the strangest positions and often lays across the floor in spread-eagle fashion with his legs splayed behind him.  

Oh Bear, we love you.