CANCER: In Your Face – My Birthday Gift!

Birthday- gift-cancer-diagnosis-CLL-leukemiaFeb. 11, 2011

Yesterday, Feb. 10 2010, exactly one week before my 52nd birthday, I was told by Dr. M. Cotant, a surprisingly kind, caring and very young doctor that I have a definitive CLL diagnosis – CANCER. Chronic Lymphocyte Leukemia.

Blood tests tell it all these days….We’ll see.

Eyeing the word “cancer’’ on my computer, written by me about me, takes my breath away. I’ve been experiencing waves of anxiety and nausea for a week now and I don’t expect this to change anytime soon. Just dealing and doing is where I am at the moment. My usual “jump right in” approach to life seems to be in full gear. Although I’m noticing a certain reticence with myself that is not usual or typical of my take charge self. I guess this is to be expected. Still, I just don’t like it!

Moving on to more important and necessary matters: getting myself to MD Anderson Cancer Center. (There’s that sickening word again. No worries, I will adjust as every 1 in 10 people with cancer today in the United States tries to do.) The way I see it, at this moment, there are three ways to address this mess:

1- adjust, do what I must and live

2- don’t adjust, do what I must and live

3- adjust or not, do or don’t do, live or not

Today, Feb. 11, 2010, I spoke with Sabrina and Luchresa (just love their names). They protect and defend the front lines (and their patients) at the office of Dr. Michael Keating, guru CLL doctor, researcher, and professor at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. The women were helpful, kind and supportive–good people, I’m sure. The last thing anyone struggling with a cancer diagnosis needs is some asshole making your life more uncomfortable than it already is. This has not been my experience thus far, not for a minute. Thank God!

My records from Dr. Cotant’s office are hopefully being faxed as we speak to MD Anderson. Once they are received, Sabrina at MDA will contact me and the appointment process will begin. Sooner rather than later, I will head down to Houston for a minimum stay of two days. Tests, examinations, conversations of prognostication and more. Ugh…just do and keep sucking in air.

Next week on Tuesday I will give blood for the second time for the highly specific Zap-70 test, an acronym for a highly sophisticated gene test. A befitting word – ZAP! This test will determine staging of the disease, likely progression and whether or not treatment is necessary at this time. Does anyone or any test really know for sure? Of course not!

Mayo Clinic has shown promising results from Green Tea Extract therapy during the early asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic stages of CLL where conventional chemo drugs have been useless. This may perhaps halt or slow disease progression before it has a chance to gain momentum. For some patients treatment only ameliorates symptoms, at best. Remember there is no cure for this cancer, only management. Great!

Thanks to my son Ben for this info. I’m sure there will be more to learn from him. Ben seems to be handling the research: finding the best docs, treatments, studies, etc. I’m comforted by his advocacy. Intensely curious, needing to understand everything, much like me. That’s my boy! I love this about Ben.

For now, I’m waiting to schedule my appointment at MDA for my “Zap” 70 test on Tuesday Feb. 15th, and also book my flight and hotel reservations. That’s all for now.

The reason I opened a file on my computer today was to create a medical file of phone numbers, emails, contacts info and the like. The rest, as in this blog post, wasn’t in my plan. Do you see any numbers here, anywhere, on this page?

Perhaps I will change the intention and title of this computer file altogether: “My F….ing Cancer Blog.” I guess I’m just angry.

To read more on Allison’s Cancer journey, check out Cancer In Your Face.

© 2011 Copyright   Allison Stuart Kaplan LLC

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  1. Hi Allison. I am sad to hear you’ve been diagnosed with cancer. I follow you on your website. You are an inspiration to me, and I look forward to your posts. I admire how you are able and willing to share your story. I am sending all my strength and healing thoughts your way. We can’t afford a single negative thought. I’m angry too ! Cancer is bullshit ! Remember to open your heart and let in all the care, concern & love that is surrounding you in these moments. Ps. it’s ok to cry. You’re strong !

    • Thank you Lynn – I appreciate your support and love! God knows there are so many people dealing with Cancer today in need of positive healing energy! I saw it first hand -wow! Thank you for your continued readership and support! xoxoxo Allison

  2. Mari Barnett says:

    Hi Allison. I was shocked to learn about your cancer. I’ve been out of the country and received your daily In Your Face and there it was. I commend you for sharing. It can’t be easy by any means, yet on the other hand many of us will benefit from you sharing your journey in so many ways. It’s healthy to be angry and how blessed are you to have the kids you have?! This community will be a great support to you and your loved ones. Thinking about you and sending you prayers and love, Mari

    • Thank you Mari- Sharing my story is not difficult for me; as I have said- this is what I do; this is who I am; my hope is only to help others in some way. I hope you are doing well – maha gratitude -Allison

  3. kate smith says:

    I am reading all of this for the first time Allison… and trying to process the emormity of this news… as I know that every minute has been way more than that for you. People, all, have very different, and personal ways of dealing with illness… I celebrate every minute of your very personal and amazing way of communicating and letting us in. I am deeply touched by your courage Allison, and I offer my friendship, love and concern to you in any way that I can. Please do not be afraid to reach out. I will hold in my heart prayers for your continued strength. Love, Kate
    p.s. You have been an inspiration to many of my patients.

  4. Joyce Weingarten says:

    Dearest Allison,
    Wishing you continued strength, courage, and a complete recovery. You are truly an inspiration. Thinking of you and sending you much love.

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