“Pa’lante!” – Hurray for the Riff Raff
During surgery to remove cancer, a tracer is injected into the patient. This tracer will travel the likely path of any cancer cells, clinging to those cells as they are encountered. Afterwards, a dye is injected, turning the tracer blue. This makes visible to the naked eye any cancerous cells that have reacted with the tracer. Think of the tracer as a ‘scout’ traveling a winding path, signaling back to the dye as to where to go.
On May 22, Angelica will be operated on in an attempt to remove the cancerous tissue and any other tissue that runs the greatest risk of becoming cancerous. The procedure will also help the doctors confirm whether or not the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in Angie’s right arm. If cancer is found, those nodes are removed, which could possibly lead to other health issues in the future, like lymphedema. After all the cancer is removed, a plastic surgeon will immediately step in to begin reconstruction. The whole process that day will take several hours, resulting in an overnight stay and hopefully a clean bill of health.
When Angie and I began this blog, it was intended as a means to keep everyone up-to-date with Angie’s progress without being overwhelmed by texts and calls. We also wanted to show everyone the empowering nature of music. Now, as we move forward with the fight, it becomes more obvious to me why it’s important to document and discuss the horrors of breast cancer:
For those who WILL fight.
Recent statistics predict that one out of every eight women run a lifetime risk of developing breast cancer. There will be over 200,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer this year alone. That could be someone in your family, someone at your job, or even a childhood friend you’ve known since 2nd grade. As unfortunate as it is to receive positive test results for breast cancer, we’re fortunately not the first ones. Angie’s grandmother, as well as my aunt, and my coworkers’ wife, have all been down this road before. They all stand along the edge of this dismal and worn path, holding up their lamps of experience. It’s dark and we’re unsure of where we are going, but because others have been here before, they help guide us.
That’s why we should talk about it. That is why we share our experience; It can help those that come after us. Because we share our own fight with others, the childhood friend I’ve known since 2nd grade knew where to turn when she was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer, just days after Angie completed her chemotherapy. Not only can Angie and I offer her gleams of light, but we can share with her everything we’ve learned, which means we can share everything Angie’s grandmother, my aunt, and my coworker’s wife have learned.
I’m not saying that we’re saving a life, but I will say that it’s a lot easier to go down a dark road when someone who has been there is saying to you, “forward!”
This responsibility to others hasn’t escaped Angie. She’s merely halfway through her battle, yet here she stands, lantern in hand, signaling back for others to keep moving forward.
The coming week will be a busy one. We have three different prep-op appointments on Tuesday alone. We’ll be seeing Tank and the Bangas in concert on Thursday, and Margo Price on Saturday. On Friday, Angie will be fitted for post-op clothing, the kind that is comfortable and functional for mastectomy recipients during recovery.
Concerts really are a great way to occupy time between appointments and/or side effects. A couple Thursdays ago we made a last-minute decision to see Hurray For The Riff Raff, but only after debating for an hour whether or not Angie could see them perform. A week after that, it was The National at the amphitheater. The energy and sounds of a live show seem to help release Angie from any mounting stress and anxieties of what lies ahead. It isn’t written in her treatment plan, but we both know damn well it could be.