From diagnosis to her life as a survivor, Susan Simon, my wife has endured. The Actual Dance is a play that presents the events of the year 2000 from the point of view of the spouse of the woman going through breast cancer. unlikely survivor. The Actual Dance is the story of that experience from my perch. The husband. This the 4th year of my October daily blogs, my focus is a bit more on myself
Day 15: On and Off Switches: “Got it all Susan! Got it all Sam! First there was very little additional cancer in the right breast. In the left breast we found nothing! The best news of all though is that there was no cancer in Susan’s lymph nodes! … [T]he surgeon was almost ecstatic he was so happy!” The Actual Dance
Once someone has breast cancer the biggest piece of news is if the cancer is in the “lymph nodes”. In many ways lymph nodes themselves serve as on and off switches for the spread of cancer. They are the gateways from the breast area to other organs in the body. If there is cancer found in the lymph nodes it is presumed that it has traveled throughout the rest of the body. If they find none, then the cancer probably contained to the breast area. In 2000, the lab testing of lymph nodes for evidence of breast cancer was done in two steps. First, during the mastectomy the lab would look at lymph tissue under a microscope to see if cancer can be seen. Second, the lymph tissue was subjected to various “chemical and dye” tests to see if cancer could be detected.
The news was delivered to us when the surgeon came by the hospital room three days later: “The lab found no cancer in the lymph nodes.” He was almost ecstatic. Susan seemed to have expected the news. Inside, I didn’t understand. It seemed to “turn everything I knew on it’s head.” I couldn’t believe the story was going to end differently. I was already sure “I know how this story was going to end.” I really didn’t believe that it was true. The doctor seemed to have no reservations. Though the “lab report” wasn’t yet available.
Stat of the Day: If there is no breast cancer in the lymph nodes survival rate is 99% If 4 or more nodes show evidence of cancer the five year survival rate is 66%.
Task of the Day: Start a Journal. Here is nice blog about journal keeping for caregivers. Who knows, maybe one day you can use what you write to create a play!
Resource of the Day: A great list of breast cancer blogs is here.
The Actual Dance: Performances. Donate