Winning

Those of you who know me outside the blogosphere know that my luck, relatively speaking, has been fantastic since I was diagnosed with DCIS on April 14, 2011.  I mean winning tangible goods–things!  Good things!  Things I would not buy myself!  But there has been a downside to acquiring all these prizes.  Without fail, my winning has coincided or forecast my receiving bad medical news.

It started the day I was diagnosed.  Feeling very sorry for myself, I went to a community raffle event for women.  I knew I would run in to some girlfriends, and was hoping someone would pick my heart up off the floor of my newly minted Cancerific condo.  Needing $20 to buy six tickets, I walked dejectedly to the ATM.  There, sitting in the cash dispenser, was a crisp, new $20.  I couldn’t believe my luck!  Then I realized it was a test, and brought it to the front desk at the JCC.

The woman looked at me like I was crazy.  “What is this now?”

“Someone left it in the ATM.  I know they’ll be back.  If not, here’s my number.”  (so far no calls)

“Um…OK…” (probably thinking…’Who the Hell gives back $20 that she just finds?’ And that would be me.  At least on that day, at that time.)

I walked in to the auditorium and bought six tickets for $20.  The way the raffle worked was you put your ticket in the basket in front of the item you hoped to win.  I viewed the nearly 25 different items up for the bidding, chose my favorites and waited.

I didn’t have to wait long–soon, every other name called was mine!  It became a joke!  I’ve met people since who only know me as the crazy lady who won every prize at the Ladies Raffle. When the laughter was done and all the tickets called, I won five out of six tickets worth of prizes, everything from a lovely turquoise and diamond heart sterling silver necklace and earrings, to fine art photographs, museum tickets, and more!  What mazal I had on that day that I learned I wasn’t invincible.  I was a winner when I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, and had five prizes to prove it!

It was at that same event that I found my friend M.  I commented on the beautiful glass heart on a silver chain she wore.  She told me her mom gave it to her on her last chemo treatment for breast cancer.  She then shared she had bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction.  I almost passed out from gratitude to Hashem.  I asked Him for help and He sent it THAT DAY! Here she was, right in front of me!

He answered my prayers in a very real way that day, from the $20 to the prizes, to M, who has been a constant source of inspiration ever since.  The Breast Cancer, too, I suppose, was a gift from Him, although I’d give back all the prizes to have my real tatas back, Uncancerific, please.

I’d like to say that’s where the story ends, but that was only the beginning.  Later that week, I won a $50 gift card from a raffle at work.  Then a golf shirt.  Later that summer, Quaker Oats sent me an mp3 player!  Who wins one of those contests you enter from a box top?  Oh, that’s right, ME!

The drawback to these winnings has been severe.  Every time I’ve one something, later in the week I’ve gotten bad medical news about being Cancerific, or with something related to being Cancerific, like the $500 Jay Strongwater picture frame with autographed card I won at another community event.  The next day I was told I had a lesion on my L2 vertebrae that looked malignant.  Woof.  Take the frame back, please!  After much debate, it was decided I would not have a bone biopsy, instead, I’d wait three months to see if the Cancerific cells grow.  Awesome!

A month ago I won a gift certificate to my favorite clothing store.  Don’t remember even entering that one, but it landed me in the hospital with a UTI.  The month before I won free admission to Darien Lake, a Six-Flags amusement park and went to the hospital with chest pains (turned out to be strained muscles, I’m thinking from the implants).  So imagine how excited I was earlier this week when I won ANOTHER gift certificate to my favorite clothing store AND a free gift certificate to one of my favorite online boutique sites.  Thursday I got the results of my imaging.  It has been three months since I won the picture frame.  Since my prizes were not THAT huge, I figured the information would be bad, but perhaps not fatal.  Unfortunately, I still don’t know the answer.

Thursday I DID find out that I do NOT have metastatic bone cancer.  However, the spot on my L2 has gotten worse and looks like osteoporosis.  The day before my amazing dermatologist used a 2mm punch to biopsy a spot on my right upper thigh and right forearm to check for something called Mastocytosis.  I get the results in 7-10 days.  I asked her about the procedure.  “So, if this shows Mastocytosis…”  She stopped me.  “Oh, don’t get me wrong.  You HAVE Mastocytosis.  We are doing this to stage you to see if/how much chemo you will need…” Win!  I win!

Wait.  Chemo?  Did that bitch say chemo?  Doesn’t she know I cheated The Guys In The White van TWICE? THIS is why I won a gift certificate? I escaped The Guys as a child and adult–why chemo?  And yes, her mentioning chemo made her a bitch.  She was amazing before she uttered that word.  NOTE:  I don’t need to win anything else!

It seems my mast cells are going crazy and need a little taming.  Chemo sort of ‘resets’ the histamine-response that has gone crazy in my system.  The thing that pisses me off is this is exactly where we where before The Guys distracted everyone into thinking my being Cancerific was the problem, not crazy mast cells. And let’s not gloss over the fact I never won anything when my face was swelling for no reason.  I spent a total of a month in RGH and SMH between October 2010 and Decemer 2010 without winning nary a card game with my child.

Now, 18 months later, having won many, many prizes, here we are with another doctor walking me down the chemo path, this time for a disease that is not a cancer, per say, but is treated like a cancer because it involves bad cells that release toxins and cause damage to the GI, skin, colon, bones, joints, headaches, etc.  Kill the bad cells before they kill the patient, I guess is one way to look at it. Win.

Will I keep winning?  Time will tell.  This Tuesday I am having Cancerific surgery to repair a faulty Alloderm sling (holds the implant) and liposuction some tush or thighness to create a little cleavage to replace the awesome one that The Guys took from me.  I can tell you one thing–I’m not buying a lottery ticket!  Last time I won and learned the moles that were removed from my back were pre-cancerous!  I can’t imagine what would happen if I won the Mega Millions!

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3 Responses to Winning

  1. Sara says:

    Does any doctor know why you are back at the starting line? Were all the other treatments just side lining the major issue? Seems like the whole picture was not being looked at.

  2. Julie says:

    WHOA THERE!!!!! First of all – you can’t tell what stage you are by a skin punch. Secondly, mastocytosis does not mean you have to have chemo! I have Indolent Systemic Mastocytosis. I take daily… claratan (level 1 histamine blocker – yeah, the over the counter stuff), zantac (level 2 histamine bloger – yeah, the over the counter stomach stuff that’s actualy an antihistamine), aspirin for elevated PGD2 levels due to too much histamine in my system, continuous birth control and lots of calcium and vitamin D. THAT’S IT! I’m relatively healthy as long as I avoid triggers. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE – if your skin biopsy comes back positive for mast cells, please reach out to a masto specialist. If you are near Darien Lake – then a trip to Boston wouldn’t be horrible. Seek out Dr. Marianna Castells and Dr. Aiken at Brigham Women’s hospital. They are the dynamic duo of all things mastocytosis.

    Also – if you do have systemic mastocytosis, you would need to be tested for a Jak2 mutation to see if chemo would even do anything. The chemo used in masto will not work if you have the Jak2 mutation.

    Please feel free to email me if you need resources. I was diagnosed about 3-4 years ago and have lots. Just know that it is not necessarily a big deal.

  3. bridget says:

    i have masto also and chemo is one of the last things they use to treat if, and that’s primarily if it’s aggressive or leukemia (both of which are rare, people who are in mine or julie’s boat are far more common where we just take antihistamines or mast cell stabilizers for it) there are a ton of resources out there, and sadly a lot of doctors are unaware of how to treat the disease properly because it’s so rare. there are groups on facebook and on the internet that can give you a lot of support and advice and point you in the right direction for treatment/doctors/etc. also everything Julie said was spot-on

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