Blog Archives - The Funny Thing About Cancer
 
Sorry for the pause there.

I started Chemo.  I'll just go ahead and leave it there because chemo/cancer is the perfect excuse for... everything.  But that's a whole 'nother blog :)

The last question I get alot of is "what is your treatment?"  As I said at the end of the last blog, due to some changes in my diagnosis, my treatment plan has been simplified.

Well the big change is we got some additional results back on something called a FISH test.  Don’t ask me what it does or anything like that (heck, I might even be getting the name all screwed up).  But what it found is that a small % of my cancer cells are HER2+.  

Basically there was a small cluster of cells in my lump that are “fed” by a certain protein my body produces.

Because cancer wasn’t complicated enough, my body decided that I should house two totally different types of cancer… yippee!!!  I'm sure this isn't that uncommon, just my cluster of HER2+ cells were so small that they were difficult to find.

Anywho, as the majority of my cancer (triple negative) has no treatment outside of chemo and surgery, and the Avastin trial isn’t getting great results when looking at other forms of cancer, my doctor recommended that we use continuing treatment for that small % of my cancer that has a proven and excellent long term treatment.

And I’m totally onboard.

So here is my treatment as I am thus far aware of it. 

First, I will have 4 rounds of AC, every other week.  Un-abbreviated, this means Adriamycin and Cytoxan (hence AC).  This is one of the most common treatments for breast cancer. 

The Adriamycin (or the A of AC) blocks DNA production and also inhibits the enzymes responsible for repairing DNA.  Cells cannot live without DNA, thus when they’re deprived of it, they die.  No, this drug cannot tell the difference between healthy cells and cancer cells, but as the cancer cells are generally the most rapidly reproducing, this is where a majority of the effect takes place.

The Cytoxan (or the C) stops cancer cells from replicating.

So basically the A helps destroy cancer cells that are already in my body and the C stops them from being able to replicate and grow into tumors. 

After my 4 rounds of AC, I will have 12 rounds of a drug named Taxol, one injection per week.

Taxol slows or stops cell division, or keeps enzymes from making proteins that cells need in order to grow. 

To help with the HER2+ portion of my cancer, I will also receive a drug called Herceptin.  This will be given starting at the same time as my Taxol.

Herceptin is an antibody that blocks the HER2 protein from attaching itself to cancer cells, preventing them from growing.  Basically, herceptin attaches itself to the cancer’s protein receptors, stopping the cell from being able to absorb the HER2 protein.  It can also signal the body’s immune system to destroy the cell that it’s attached to. 

I am not sure how often I will have to get an injection of Herceptin.  This is a drug that in the past has been given weekly for a year.  There were studies recently done saying that it might be as effective given every 3 weeks.  This is a conversation I will have with my doctor as we get a little closer to that time.

So that pretty well covers my treatment plan.  None too exciting eh?

All in all, I’m feeling incredibly positive about this.  I feel like this is a good comprehensive plan for my treatment and covers as many bases as can be covered.

It is good to feel that peace of mind and joy that comes when you feel like you are in the best possible hands.
 
I'm 30.

Holy sh*t! 

I'm THIRTY!

OK, I'm not really freaked out at all.  No I don't feel old, I feel just like I did yesterday. 

But the fact that my age starts with a 3 now is totally wierd.

It's like when we moved from 1999 to 2000.  Starting the year with a whole new digit just took awhile to get used to.  Well now I have to start my AGE with a whole new digit!

I do have to admit I feel a little cheated though. 

30th birthdays are supposed to be BIG events involving dressing up in your most scandalous outfit, having a few drinks and going out dancing with a big group of girls that MAKE the fun wherever they go.... or was that just MY idea of a good time? :)

OK... so that was actually my birthday last year.  What can I say?  I had so much fun I think there should be a national dance party in honor of this very important day EVERY YEAR!

What?  You didn't know January 25th is national "Go Out Dancing In Honor of Cynthia Ericson's Birthday" day?

I'm not sure that whole title would fit on calendars... we might have to shorten it to GODIHCEB day... kind of like MLK day?

Yes, I just compared myself to MLK.  No I don't really think I'm that cool, he's just the only day I could think of that has a short little acronym for his national holiday.

Anywho, I've gotten totally off topic.  Nevermind, this blog doesn't really have a point.  After all the serious blogs I've written lately, I just felt the need to lighten it up a bit with my normal rambling, nonsensical inner dialog.

If you can't tell, I'm excited to be turning 30.  It's crazy and wierd, but exciting.  Here's to hoping that my 30s are even awesomer than my 20s! 
 
The next thing that everyone should understand about cancer treatment is that it changes ALL THE TIME.

You know Susan Komen foundation and the 3 Day walks and all those other fund raisers?  Well they help fund research.  And there is a TON of research going on that is exciting and changing the face of cancer treatment every single year.

So after my last blog, we all know that standard treatment = surgery + chemo + radiation (if necessary) + other drugs depending on the type of cancer you have.

These treatments alone have translated to an average 75% survival rate for breast cancer patients, which is amazing. 

But to get to that elusive "cure", we move onto the exciting world of possibilities.  The world of experimental drugs and drug trials.

Wow, that sounds bad huh?  Mom, I swear the experimental drugs I'm talking about are ALL legal ;)

Anywho, as a cancer patient, these new drugs and trials are VERY exciting.  The direction these drugs seem to be going is towards blocking/destroying the building blocks of cancer cells.  Drugs to this point have focused on killing cancer, but none of these drugs have succeeded 100%.  Doctors feel as though even after chemo, radiation, and surgery, the body continues to house tiny traces of cancer that can eventually lodge somewhere and cause a recurrance.  The new drugs focus on stopping cancer growth and stopping recurrance by not giving cancer the fuels it needs to grow/survive.

Exciting right?  I just wish these drugs were tested and trialed and proven!  I wish these things were part of every treatment and that there was a true cure.

But we're not there yet.  Many of these drugs are super new.  SO new, in fact, that they are only being tested with stage 3 and 4 cancer patients (people with wide spread cancer). 

I, luckily, am NOT in that group.

There is only one drug that is currently in the trial phase that I'm eligible for.  This drug is called Avastin.  The idea behind how it works is that it stops the body from creating new blood vessels.  If the tumor can't create new blood flow, it can't grow.  At least that's the theory.

This drug is already in use for certain types of cancer. 

However, with stage 3 and 4 breast cancer patients, it hasn't met the barriers necessary to get FDA approval.  It does extend the life of these later stage patients, but only by a few months.  That being said, within that group, people with MY type of cancer (triple negative) had stronger results.  It still didn't extend their lives drastically, but it was more effective than with the hormone receptive group.

Which leads to the current trial.  They want to test to see if this drug has any benefit for the stage 1 and 2 cancer group as far as stopping recurrance.

I've been asked to take part in this trial and I'm struggling a bit with the decision.  In my cancer group (triple negative), I don't have any long term treatment.  There are no drugs to keep my cancer at bay.  Recurrance rates are higher.  Survival rates are lower. 

If this drug can possibly keep my cancer from coming back, then I'm ALL ABOUT IT!

That being said, I can't get surgery while on this drug.  Due to my pregnancy at the time of diagnosis, I only got a lumpectomy for my first surgery.  The plan was to get a full bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction after the baby was born and chemo was complete. 

I personally feel that a bilateral mastectomy is still very key to keep recurrance at bay.  In my family history, everyone that has had breast cancer has had recurrance in the other breast.  This surgery is very important to me.

So those things being said, here are my perceived options:

Option 1:  Get bilateral mastectomy before I start chemo.  This means chemo is delayed for at least another 6 weeks.  The thought of little cancer cells floating around in my body trying to spread freaks me out.  It makes me want to start chemo yesterday.  But surgery first means I can probably have the best of both worlds, surgery AND being a part of this trial.

Option 2:  Start chemo and be a part of the trial and wait for surgery.  This study has 3 groups, one that has plecebo, one that gets 8 rounds of Avastin (all during chemo treatment) and the 3rd that takes Avastin all throughout chemo (8 rounds) and another 10 rounds after treatment is over... totalling about a year of treatment.  If I get group 1 or 2, then I could still get surgery when I originally thought I would, which is after chemo.  If I get the 3rd group, then surgery would be delayed a year.  The mastectomy, recovery and reconstruction is another long process and I couldn't even begin to embark upon that until 2012.  And would my insurance even cover it a year later?  Just so many questions.

Option 3: Don't take part in the study and just go with my original treatment plan.  Chemo, then surgery.  My fear with this is that the cancer comes back in a year or two and I always wonder "what if I had done the trial?"

And this is my current struggle.  I need to have some conversations with my doctor, talk to my insurance company and get some questions answered.  The more information I have, the better the decision I can make.  Hopefully I will be able to come to a decision in the upcoming week as I learn more about each of my options.

Note: I wrote this blog on Sunday.  I spoke with my oncologist yesterday and some things about my diagnosis have changed that change EVERYTHING.  Aside from the obvious "MORE CHANGES?!?!?" reaction, this is actually a really good thing.  I'm 100% comfortable with my diagnosis and my treatment plan.  More to come on this :) 
 
OK, so now you're aware of my diagnosis.  I have Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, grade 3 of 3, triple negative.

Next question is what is your treatment.  Before I get into the specifics, I thought I ought to explain a few things.

1. Standard Treatment - surgery, chemo, radiation, and other standard treatment drugs.
2. Clinical Trials - experimental drugs, what they are and the trials I am eligible for.
3. My plan of treatment (this is still to be decided, so I will leave this for last)

This blog will be about the "standard treatment".

Every surgeon and oncologist will tell you there are 2 steps to cancer treatment. 

First there is localized treatment.  Cancer is generally located in one place, sometimes more if it's spread (metastasized).  How do you "treat" the tumors?  You remove them.  This means surgery.  In breast cancer, this translates to lumpetomy (removal of just the lump) or mastectomy (removal of all of the breast tissue).  Mastectomies are broken into unilateral (one breast) and bilateral (both breasts).  Surgery and recommendations are based on the type of cancer, how large the tumor is, and if the patient has a genetic mutation/family history that makes them more likely to develop cancer in both breasts.

The 2nd half of treatment for any cancer is "systemic".  So surgery removes the cancer, but there is the belief that even after you remove the cancer, there are tiny cancer cells roving around your body that could turn into cancer elsewhere (metastisis).  This is where chemo and radiation are introduced. 

In very simple terms, chemo drugs are drugs that attack rapidly dividing cells.  As cancer is made up of this type of fast cell division, it stops the growth of cancer and can kill it.  This is also why chemo causes hair loss and sores in the mouth.  The fastest dividing cells in a healthy adult are hair, fingernails and in the mouth.  Chemo attacks those healthy cells along with the cancer cells.  So the hair falls out, the fingernails slow growth and some patients experiance mouth sores.

The order in which these treatments are applied are currently being researched.  There is Neoadjuvant therapy, which means chemo prior to surgery.  In the case of larger tumors, chemo can help shrink the tumor to make it more operable.  There is also Adjuvant therapy, which means the drugs after surgery.  In cases with my small tumor, this is usually the direction suggested.  

There currently is no set scientific studies that has determined which order of treatment is best, although this is being studied right now.

So those are the forms of treatment that are most commonly used currently, chemo and surgery.  Radiation is applicable depending on what type of surgery you choose.  If I were to stop at a lumpectomy, I would also get radiation to help treat the remaining breast tissue, kill any cancer cells the surgery missed, and decrease chances of recurrance.  As I plan on removing all the breast tissue (mastectomy), I would not get radiation.

These two treatment types are currently used in almost all cancer treatment.  And I say almost because there are always exceptions to every rule. 

Beyond chemo and radiation, there are other drugs that are now used in longer term treatment of cancer, but these are specific to the TYPE of cancer you are diagnosed with.  If you have hormone positive cancer, you get hormone blockers like Tamoxifen.  If you have HER2+ cancer, you take Herceptin to block production of the protein that feeds that cancer.  The only other somewhat commonly prescribed treatment currently for breast cancer are drugs called bisphosphonates.  These are drugs that help to build up the bone and strengthen the bone to help stop the spread/recurrance of cancer into the bones.

This covers the commonly used and fully tested drugs that are used to treat breast cancer: chemo, radiation, hormone blockers, Herceptin, and bisphosponates.

Next blog will discuss clinical trials, the exciting new drugs that are being tested currently and what trials I am eligible for personally.
 
Since breaking the big, awful news, I've gotten a ton of questions.  Most of the questions center around treatment, when, what, where, how?

But in order to feel like I've adequately answered these questions, I think I need to give some history.  In my family blog, I gave some details on my cancer, but I've kind of left it off of this blog. 

So this blog will center around my diagnosis, my cancer type, my stage, etc.

To state the obvious, I have breast cancer.

However, this is an over simplification of the disease.  There are several different types of breast cancer.  I was going to attempt to amaze everyone with my intense knowledge of everything breast cancer... but then I realized I actually know very little about the other forms of cancer (aside from what I have).

So here is a link if you care to read up on it: BREAST CANCER TYPES

I have been diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC). 

I am also negative for estrogen receptive, progesterone receptive and HER2 (this is explained in the above link as well - on page 2).  This is referred to as the "triple negative" subgroup.  What does this mean?  Basically it means that they have no specific "culprit" for what triggered my cancer.  It wasn't hormones (so not the pregnancy) nor was it HER2.  It ALSO means that I have a very aggressive form of cancer.  And a cancer that has a higher rate of recurrance.

They also give your cancer a "grade", which tests how fast the cancer is growing.  Mine was grade 3 out of 3.  No surprise for a triple negative cancer as they tend to be aggressive and fast growing.

So after the initital testing, my "stats" are Invasive ductal carcinoma, grade 3 of 3, triple negative.

The next step of the "staging" process is to determine how large the tumor is and if it has spread outside of the breast.  Generally, the way they determine this is via loads of scans (PET, CAT, MRI, X-rays, etc), as I was pregnant at the time of diagnosis, these were not an option.

So I had my lumpectomy and that was dissected in the lab and run through another battery of tests.  It came back that the tumor was small (under 2 cm) but that I did have a small focal point of cancer in 1 lymph node.

I still have not been officially staged.  My doc has ordered up a whole battery of tests (MRI, EKG, X-rays, mammogram, etc) to be done next Wednesday.  It is going to be a LOOOOOONG day at the hospital.

But judging by the preliminary information, I am somewhere around Stage 1b and Stage 2a. 

This is very good news as it means I caught it pretty early. 

Hopefully this helps answer some of your questions about my cancer.  The next blog will discuss cancer treatment and what my treatment is currently looking li

DIE!!

1/20/2011

1 Comment

 
For anyone who doesn't know me well, I have a little boy.  He is almost 2 years old and is in the process of learning how to talk.

As any parent can attest, this means endless hours of entertainment as you learn your kids language.  Every child has a few words that they just seem to have difficulty with.  As a parent, you learn what those words mean and you can respond accordingly.  So basically you learn a whole different language just so you can communicate with your child.

It's amazing how such a small human can train a grown adult :)

Anywho, one of the words that Caleb just cannot master is "bye".

Instead, when you say "Bye Caleb", he responds with "DIE!"  And he tells everyone to DIE with a big, sweet smile, a little wave, and maybe even a blown kiss.

I can't figure out why he has so much difficulty because he CAN make the B noise and his favorite song is "Bringing home my baby bumble bee".  I mean, he can say "baby" and "bee"!

But he still tells each of us to "DIE!" as we walk out the door.

Plenty of people (who aren't his parents) find this really funny.  I admit I chuckle at it too. 

But in light of the fact that I've been diagnosed with cancer and his daddy is currently in a war zone, methinks I need to have a little conversation with my son about this :)

I imagine it will go something like this:

Me: "Caleb, please don't tell me to die.  I really want to live FOREVER so that I can torture you when you bring your first girlfriend home with the many, MANY emabarassing videos and photos I've collected of you so far.  Seriously, I might have to set aside an entire night and do a whole video montage and slide show... what do you think?"

Caleb: "DIE!"

Me:  "Hmmmm... ok so maybe I deserved it that time."

It's little things like this that make me laugh.  My son loves me, he wants me to be around forever, but the irony of that one word is...well... priceless.

Much love and again, thank you for all the fun and funny gifts and cards I've recieved.  I feel infinitely loved and cared for.  Thank you.
 
Blog readers, I warn you, there will probably be no rhyme or reason to my blog topics. 

This blog will be thoroughly dependant upon my moods and the things I find funny.

And today, what I find funny is the state of my boobs.  Apologies to family members that find picturing my breasts wierd.  But as this whole blog IS about breast cancer, so you better get used to it!

Anywho, back when I was at the tender age of 23 and working my first job after college, my boss introduced me to a phrase that I had never heard before. 

"Crazy Cones"

In case you weren't aware, my first job after college was at Marshall Field's (now part of Macy's).  I worked in the buying office for the junior's department of a large department store.  This translates to working with almost all women with a sprinkling of gay men.  Let's just say that when you get that many women together, lunchtime conversations revolve around things that most heterosexual men would be horrified to know their wives discuss in public.

This particular lunchtime conversation was shortly after my boss had announced she was pregnant.  I think we were discussing breast feeding versus formula.  She said she was hoping to breast feed, but that her biggest fear was ending up with "crazy cones.  You know, kind of like a lazy eye..." and she then used her fingers to indicate nipples that were pointed in totally different directions.

As a vain 23 year old that had absolutely no comprehension of pregnancy/motherhood, I was all "that really happens?!?!?!?!  I'm SOOOO not breastfeeding!"

What?!?  I was young, dumb and probably pretty obnoxious.

Fast forward to present day.  Post pregnancy but pre-surgery, my boobs weren't exactly what they used to be.  I mean had a ROCKIN rack when I was younger (and yes, I'm darn proud of it.  But no, I will not post photos).  Motherhood definitely changed that, not quite as perky as they used to be, but nothing to be ashamed of.

However, a lumpectomy has done for me what motherhood and breastfeeding combined failed to do, I now have the infamous crazy cones.

Seriously.

Here's how that realization went:  I finished surgery, finally got home after a 1.5 hour drive, went to the bathroom (because man, having an IV makes you have to pee ALL THE TIME), and was washing my hands when I looked into the mirror. 

I wasn't wearing a bra so there was nothing to hide the complete unevenness of my breasts.  One nipple was pointing forward (the one I had surgery on) and the other was like an inch lower and pointing to the left.

I laughed at the shock of it.  Not sure what I expected them to look like... I guess I just hadn't even thought much about it.

And then I laughed some more. 

My mom was like "what the heck are you laughing about?"  I walked out and pointed out that I wasn't exactly even and we chuckled some more. 

I now refer to one boob as "the perky one", which is the one that I had surgery on.  Seriously the surgeon must be a magician because if you took away the scar, my boob looks GREAT!  This breast probably comes in at a full B or a small C.

The other boob is "the not so perky one".  I think it weighs in at a full C or a small D cup and doesn't exactly point forward anymore.

Let's just say this makes shopping for bras difficult.

To be totally honest, this really doesn't bother me in the least.  Maybe it's because a mere year ago, my boobs were simply feeders for my child.  Or maybe it's because I now view my breasts as traitors (they're aiding and abetting CANCER!).  Or maybe it's because I know in a few months, I'll be getting a whole new rock star set. 

Now all I can do is think back to my old boss and her reference to "crazy cones" and chuckle.

I've also come up with some rather awful jokes that center around my boobs:

    I could be like the old sign posts you see in movies.  Just put me on a corner, write "Baton Rouge 500 miles" on one breast and "Philadelphia 200 miles" on the other and I'd probably be pretty accurate (although this might result in some car accidents).

    If I were a stripper, I'd really confuse my customers.  It's like a lazy eye, they wouldn't know which one to look at.  

OK... bad jokes I know, but they do make me laugh and laugher is the best medicine (or so they say).  If you come up with any other good ones, shoot them my way and I'll add it to the repitoire for all the doctors I have to show my boobies to in the upcoming months :)
 
OK, I know this seems an odd follow on blog to my last one.  And probably filled with more humor than you would expect... but much of this humor comes from the weeks immediately after my diagnosis.  

But as time is of the essence, I need to post this and ask for your help.

There is this amazing woman that is hoping to get a Pepsi Refresh grant for $25K for her charitable cause called The Pink Ink Project.

I've gotten to know this woman somewhat through the message boards at the Young Survivors Coalition and she is amazing.  She is a tattoo artist who feels as though her calling is to help cancer survivors get tattoos as part of their breast reconstruction.

I'm sure right now you're thinking "whaaaat?  tattoos?"

Well, if a patient needs/chooses to get a mastectomy as part of her treatment, the surgery typically involves removal of the nipples.  They do this as the nipples tend to be a "hotbed" of cancer activity and removal of the nipples greatly reduces recurrance rates. 

Basically, what women are left with after surgery is a large piece of flesh that is in the shape of a breast.  It fills out clothing nicely, but doesn't quite look  like a breast. 

It's missing that finishing touch, the nipple.

When I realized this would probably be what I would elect to do, in part because of my family history, my mother in law pointed out to me that some women choose to get things other than nipples tattooed on their breasts.  Tattoos of things that are meaningful to them, like pink ribbons, butterflies, dragonflies, or whatever.

Well... I immediately felt the need to express this to my husband.  I came up with a TON of great ideas of things I could get tattoo'd on instead of nipples.  Here is how that conversation went:

Me: How about eyes?  Would that freak you out?  Would you feel as though my breasts were staring at you?
Husband: How about nipples?
Me:  OOH!  How about spiders?  That could look cool, right?  Or paw prints?
Husband:  How about nipples?
Me:  Or I could get Blue and Magenta (Caleb's favorite cartoon characters)!  Then everyone could be entertained!
Husband: How about nipples?
Me:  You have no imagination.

OK, so I was just torturing him. 

I fully intend to attempt to return my breasts to their normal shape, size and look, including nipple tattoos.

But unfortunately, this type of tattooing isn't always covered by insurance.

Which is where the Pink Ink Project comes into play.  Renee is a tattoo artist in Florida whose dream is to provide cancer survivors with that "finishing touch" on their breast reconstruction, nipple tattoos.

She is applying for a $25K Pepsi Refresh grant in hopes to not only cover the cost of the tattoos, but also so that she can help assist cancer patients all over the country by either flying to them, or having them fly to see her for their tattoos.  She also is working on setting up a network of like-minded tattoo artists around the country to help fill this need.

In summary, I think this is a great woman with a beautiful heart who wants to help cancer survivors finish their incredible journey and get back to feeling like women again.  Please go vote for her and this cause:

http://www.refresheverything.com/pinkinkproject

You can vote daily.  I promise I won't repost this every day to remind you, but she needs as many votes as she can get as she has to be top 10 to get the grant.

As always, thank you for your support.
 
This post isn't funny.

I'm about to share more devastating news and it sucks.  I'm so tired of bad news.

We lost the baby.

Those 4 words make me cry every time I have to repeat them.  Out of all the crazy sh*t that life has thrown my way, this is hands down the most devastating and awful news I have ever recieved.

This is like the cancer news times a million, except I can't find a funny side or a silver lining.  With cancer, there is a course of action, a treatment, a fix. 

There is nothing that will ever fix this, just pain.

I have so many emotions that run through me on a daily basis that I can't even begin to describe them.  Anger, sadness, confusion, and hurt are just a few.

I'm struggling with this on such a deep level.  This baby was my light at the end of long, hard, dark tunnel of treatment and now I've lost that light.  To quote a friend of mine, I want to shake my fist at God and ask WHY!?!  Why me?  Why now?  What did I ever do to deserve this?

The one blessing I have in my life right now is my husband.  Due to the surgery 2 weeks ago, Chris was approved for 2 weeks of emergency R&R.  We found out a week after he arrived that the baby was gone and I crumbled.  He's been my strength and my support through all this.  I cannot fathom how much worse this would've been without him here.  I thank God daily for that.

Please pray for me, for us.  Pray for peace.  Pray for strength.  Pray for my faith.  Pray that God will heal this giant hole in my heart.  Pray that God will keep my baby close to him.  And most of all, pray for blessings.  Pray that God will bless me with good health and a long life to enjoy all that he has already provided me with and that on my darkest days, I am still able to appreciate those blessings. 

I know I've already asked for your prayers, but I ask for one more thing.  If you do see me, please do not bring this up.  The pain is too fresh, too hard and I really hate crying in front of an audience.  In time, I hope I will be able to discuss this, but right now, I just can't.  If you wish to express your condolences, please do so here.  Know that I will read every word written and take it to heart, I just need to do it on my own schedule and on my own time.

Thank you all so much for your support.  It does brighten my day.  Every funny story and every good word makes me smile and those smiles make me stronger.  Thank you.
 
Yes.  You read that right.  I am like Harry Potter.

Bear with me, it's gonna take a little time for me to get to my point, but I personally think it's worth it :)

So this past week, I've been opening up to people in my office and in my life about the fact that I have cancer.  Due to holidays and doctor appointments, I've been in the office for 3 days this week.  I've spent at least 2 of those days having "the conversation". 

I've gotten many reactions from "I'm sorry to hear that, how often are you going to be out of the office?" (which is actually the easiest converation I had) to lots of tears and even one person who questioned me for about a half an hour on every single detail of everything.

It's been emotionally draining and exhausting.  I think I should've been allowed a nap after every single conversation.

But back to the point, there is ONE main thing that I've noticed in all of these converations.  People hate to say the word cancer.

It's almost like they feel that if they say it, it makes it worse.

Like maybe the cancer (cue scary music) will find them and kill them and their entire family.

Kind of like Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter series :)  Yes, I'm a Harry Potter geek and I'm OK with that.  In the books, almost everyone refers to Voldemort as "He-who-must-not-be-named".

I kinda feel like people treat the word cancer the same way. 

I've had it referred to as my "illness" and my "situation" and loads of other euphemisms that all refer to cancer without actually naming it.

I am Harry Potter.  I am unafraid to name my foe.  I will refer to it as cancer and not be scared of it!

But there are days when I feel like maybe I should name it something for those that are uncomfortable with the word.  Maybe it'll make them feel better? 

Would it be odd if I named my cancer?  Like maybe Fred.  Or Bobo.  Or shall we simply call it "the-illness-that-must-not-be-named"?

I personally still intend to call it cancer.  But if it makes you feel better, you can call it something else.  Just clue me in to the name so I know you're talking about cancer and not some long lost classmate or family member. 

Or just submit suggestions in the comments and I'll choose my favorite!

Let the naming of my little disease begin!