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When I found that out I have cancer, I
decided to keep a blog to keep friends and
family up-to-date. You¶ll find new postings at
http://chermcfarland.wordpress.com/ and
I¶ll post monthly summaries here on
Before writing, I check out the content
on Chip, and if he covers his ears and says
"La, la, la, la" then I don't write it ... so I
promise not to gross anyone out, okay? I

Cheri McFarland
December 2010


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About six weeks ago, I made an
appointment with Dr. M, a plastic surgeon,
for an abnormal swelling ² I figured my
twelve year old implants were due for an
update. He sent me home with some
antibiotics and explained that the lymph node
system had been overloaded and surgery
might be in order. The antibiotics helped
some, but he was right. In surgery eight days
ago, he removed both implants and left
Vanity, my alter ego, sorely beat-up.
Actually, beat to shit. On Wednesday, he
removed the sutures and delivered the news
² he came across a large mass and took a
biopsy. It was positive. Dr M. had made an
appointment with a surgeon for Wednesday,
December 15th. The new doc¶s prescription:

next week, a series of tests, and then an

appointment with an oncologist January 3rd.
Next step will likely be five weeks of chemo,
followed by surgery, then radiation.
Incidentally, an excellent read: Breast
Cancer: Real Questions, Real Answers, by
David Chan. I find it helpful to know the
terminology in order to ask intelligent
In many ways, this will be easier than
my last escape « I have a HUGE support
network! (Last time, I had to leave my
network of friends behind and could not stay
in touch.) Thanks to everyone, and especially,
my wonderful husband Chip, my children
Lindsay and Gordy, BF, Mom and all the rest.


I¶ve got lots of dreams, big and small. Visit

again « I¶ll share as I learn more.|


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Yesterday, Chip and I took Aspen into
see Hagie, her groomer at Marina Pet Spa
near Venice. Hagie and company delighted in
that we brought her ³party mask´ ² a muzzle.
She loves her groomers, but hates being
groomed. As some of you know, ³I love you,
just don¶t touch my hair´ is the motto of our
ferocious ten-pound Schnauzer. It took only
two people to get her gussied up instead of
three. Always before, Hagie¶s job was to stick
his finger in her mouth, but not this time!
The solution worked well.
After spending a wonderful day in rainy
Santa Monica , I called my brother, Bruce or
to me, BF. The conversation went something
like this.
³I was wondering how you were doing «
you can tell me anything or nothing at all.
You¶re call, Cher.´


³I¶ll tell you everything we know so far.

It looks like I have a very rare, invasive type
of cancer: Inflammatory Breast Cancer. The
pathology results aren¶t in yet, but it¶s pretty
suspicious. Mammograms usually don¶t catch
it as it doesn¶t form as a lump, so self-checks
don¶t find it either, and it comes on very
suddenly. By that time, it¶s quite possible the
cells have traveled to other parts of the body,
but not always. Maybe I¶ll get lucky on that
one. Anyway, the treatment and survival rates
aren¶t as good as with other types of cancer,
but there are survivors.´
³There are survivors. That¶s all we need
to know. You¶ve been through worse than
this, Cher, you lived with Gus. You can beat
³For sure, that was hell.´
I always wished I could meet a man as
nice and wise as my brother, and I did. I
married him!
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Oncologist moved up from January 3rd
to December 23rd, so those little critters will
have 2 weeks less to wander around and
wreak havoc in my little self! I¶m quite
excited, actually « now that sounds just flat
out strange. Very anxious to start
treatment.More next week or so?
I don¶t know if it¶s stress or fighting off
cancer cells, but wow I get tired round about
one in the afternoon. Other than that, I feel
pretty darn good « I¶m thinking it¶s the
positive energy radiating in from all my
friends and family. Today a friend and co-
worker sent a beautiful card I want to share«
butterflies on the front:
³You¶ve got to admire them ² setting off
on a journey of no less than a thousand miles
on only a wing and a prayer. Yet make it, they
will. And so will you.´

Thank you, everyone!


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I must share our exciting afternoon at
the doctor¶s office. Well«almost exciting.
Chip and I went to lunch, a two margarita
lunch. After all, I hadn¶t read anything in the
pre-mammogram paperwork forbidding
margaritas. Now, remember, I¶ve just had two
implants removed, a biopsy, a nasty lymph
gland infection, and probably have lymphy
stuff going on, the details I¶d rather not know.
Not to mention one hell of a big lump still
sitting in the left boob. Chip said something
about he had no idea what I would be going
through, so in the middle of margarita
number two, I explained.
³Just imagine you¶ve had « oh, shit.
What¶s that called? I remembered a few
minutes ago. You know. That snippy thing.´
³Huh? what snippy thing?´
³You know, the snip, snip, no more
babies thing.´

³Oh, a vasectomy.´
³Yeah, that. So, you¶ve just had a
vasectomy and your balls are the size of
grapefruits and you¶re about to let someone
stick them in a vice and wait for the squeeze.
Next, you know they¶re going to stick needles
into them and suck out a chunk just to see
what¶s inside. Sounds like fun, huh?´
³Well, think of me when I¶m in there «
because that¶s pretty much what they¶re going
to do! Do we have time for one more?´
³No, I¶d have to carry you out of here.´
³Darn.´ Off to the doctor¶s office. After
the ultrasound and mammogram (which
wasn¶t as bad as all that, but it made a good
story), the radiologist moved me into a
waiting area until the surgeon approved the
biopsies. Text, text, text to Chippie and no
response. I could hear the nurses at the
station, ³Where did all our patients go?´


I hollered from around the corner,

³You¶ve got a live one here, wake me when
you¶re ready!´
My radiologist appeared and said, ³Oh,
we only like men when they¶re in the waiting
area. I¶ll go get your husband.´ Previously,
she had let us know that Chip couldn¶t come
into ³the room´ with me ² so yes, she was
joking. Sitting in my slinky hospital gown,
trenchcoat draped over my shoulders, I
moved my pile of clothes from the chair
beside me.
Chip sat down. ³I tried to return your
call but my battery died.´
³Oh, okay.´ My bra slipped onto the
floor. I picked it up and draped it over Chip¶s
head; he almost had bunny ears. I had to
sing.´Little Chippie Cotton Tail, hopping
down the bunny trail, hippityhoppity
Christmas is on its way!´ Damn that man
must love me. I returned the garment to the
pile on my lap; he shook his head and

Now, after the biopsy, I know how a

turkey must feel. Poked, prodded, carved, and
then packed in ice. It¶s kinda cold out, you

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Another fun-filled day at Kaiser
Permanente. Our 10:30 oncologist
appointment ended at 3:30; the doctor
ordered a battery of tests after our first visit.
The blood tests were as blood tests go,
sucking vials of the stuff from a vein, not so
memorable. The second one, the CT Scan,
now that was interesting! After drinking a
bunch of chalky liquid, I walked with Chip
around and around the outside of the facility,
and got to watch Chip eat fries and a burger
in the hospital cafeteria . Now, you know
when I think that fries smell good, I¶m damn
hungry. I hadn¶t had anything but a protein
shake at six this morning. As a distraction, I
shopped for hats on-line via my Blackberry
(thinking ahead). Two hours later, I changed
into yet another sexy hospital gown . But this
time, I got to wear my cowboy boots and
socks with it! I think it¶ll be a new trend «

fashionista! Another poke in a arm for an IV

and into the circle. The machine talked,
³Breathe in. Breathe out. Don¶t breathe.
Breathe.´ For once, I did as I was told, and
Chip wasn¶t even there to witness. Next, I was
informed as the dye went through the IV, I¶d
feel warm sensations from my head moving
downward towards the groin. Wow!
³Do you feel anything yet, Ms.
³Just a burning where the IV is « oh,
wait! We¶re there! Are you sure I didn¶t pee
my pants?´
Nope, I hadn¶t, but never knew
something could feel so much like something
it wasn¶t! Next week, two more tests « bone
scan and something else, and a Tuesday
orientation with the ³infusion specialist´ after
which she¶ll likely schedule my first
chemotherapy for Wednesday. Guess there
won¶t be any toddies toasting in the New Year
for me! Clink one for me, will you, please?
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Ha! That CT Scan « the technician
advised I might experience a metallic
aftertaste for a few days as the dye flushed
through my system. Funny thing, I never
knew dye to taste like poop. Not that I¶ve ever
tasted poop, mind you, but you know how
you anticipate a particular taste based on
smell? Well, there you go. You don¶t have to
taste poop to know when it¶s in your mouth.
In the middle of the night, blah! Drink water.
In the car on the way to Arizona for the
holiday. Stop Chip! I gotta have mints or
something! I thought it had subsided
Christmas Eve, but several hours later, after
the Turducken and Kendall Jackson¶s Reserve
Chardonnay, it came back. Apple Streusel
Cheesecake with a poop chaser. Divine!
Despite the taste tests, the holiday was
wonderful: four dogs, , my son Gordy, Chip,
Aunt Carol and Uncle-Cousin Den, Mom,

³Uncle Bill´ ² my cousin¶s wife¶s uncle, and

me. AND, all the blood tests came back well
within healthy ranges. Will upload a photo
later. Today, I went in for a MUGA scan:
      !   "     
$%%     % % &  %
Yeah, I know. That was exciting. I¶ll let
you know if the radioactive injections
produce any interesting aftertastes or glow-
in-the-dark effects ² much more interesting.
What¶s next? I¶ve mentioned some stuff
previously « chemo orientation this
afternoon, chemo Wednesday morning, bone
scans Wednesday afternoon (more
radioactive injections), and then I get to rest
for the remainder of the holiday. Oh, I was
mistaken on the chemo schedule. We¶re up
for a series of four infusions three weeks

apart, followed by another series of four one

week apart. I¶ll likely be out-of-order the day
or two following each session, and after seven
days I¶ll be in solitary confinement for one
week (away from the germs of the rest of the
world and working from home), then free for
one week before starting again. Whew!

Until later « Cheri & Chip


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What else can I say? Not that I¶m totally
surprised, but the nasty little cells have
invaded the liver, lungs, and bones. Just
specks at this point, but whoa shit. I¶ve
explored every path of blame and there¶s
simply no placement « I limited this to a
brief exploration as I can¶t afford to expend
negative energy. So, here we are.
All told, I wouldn¶t trade this point of my
life for anything prior. Finally, my life is as I
always wished it could be. Perfect. And
perfect it will continue to be. Now that brings
us to my family « the best family one could
ever dream up. My son is finally well after
battling a 10-year illness, and I can now go to
sleep knowing I will wake up the next
morning (a few years ago it wasn¶t that way).
And Chippie, I told him last night his
nickname is Luscious, because he is just that.
So there you go. I have a dream life with the

perfect family, and I live with Mr. Luscious,

and of course, Aspen, the Princess Schnauzer,
and the Ewing family, featuring Bradley, my
very two-year old grandson. These next few
months will be tough, but we¶ll all get through
Please do me a favor. If you see a frown
on Chippie¶s face, just call him ³Luscious.´
Thank you!


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Survived the first day « wasn¶t nearly so
scary as stories I¶ve heard. I sat in the
turquoise blue salon chair (no, they wouldn¶t
do a pedicure) and watched old episodes of
M.A.S.H. while being pumped full of various
potions. I¶ll tell you, there¶s nothing closer to
instant grog than Benedryl intravenously; I
couldn¶t even hold my head up! Chip
sat alongside and played with the Ipad he got
me for Christmas. After three hours, we left
the Irvine hospital and went over to Lakeview
for the bone scan. Another injection of
radioactive isotopes, went out to lunch and
then back for a half-hour nap in the cradle.
Besides sleeping off the Benadryl from six last
night till 3:30 this morning, I¶ve felt pretty
good « actually better than last week « at
least now there¶s damage control underway.
For the past couple weeks I could actually feel
and see the changes « really a creepy feeling.

Along with the chemo treatments go

strict do¶s and don¶t's: no spelunking or cave
crawling (darn, what will we do on our next
vacation?), no SCUBA diving, no soy lattes,
no gin and tonic or wine, no spit-swapping «
and on the do-list? Condoms. I am officially
proclaimed a toxic waste dump!
We see the oncologist again next
Wednesday for the CT Scan review and likely
a change and/or extension in treatment to
address the wayward cells. I hoping to work
from home next week, or at least most of it.
Mom and Aunt Carol are coming from
Arizona to stay for a couple of days, so
looking forward to their visit.
Many kind wishes from so many people
« we can¶t |!  enough!

Wishing everyone a Happy and Healthy New

Year! ² Chip and Cheri