Jennifer Goodman Linn You Fearless

Tumor: Friend or Foe

So, if your keeping tabs on us, you know that the last two types of chemo we have tried have not been successful and we are expediting surgery to get rid of this very fast-growing and painful tumor.  I have been so fortunate over the last 5.5. years that all forms of chemo have worked so  I guess I am due for a bit of a hiccup (doesn’t mean I want it, just trying to be ever the optimist).

The very unsettling thing about this tumor is that it is towards the front of my abdomen and looks very much like a pregnancy (according to the doctors, the “front” positioning of the tumor is actually a good thing because it is not wreaking as much havoc on some of my internal organs which tend to lie at the back of the abdominal cavity). 

I have also been experiencing common pregnant woman symptoms like a painful lower back and stomach stretching.  I noticed the other day that my “innie” belly button is now a “neutral to outie” belly button.  My pants no longer fit and I waddle like a duck.  I really, really can’t wait to get this thing out of me!

It’s amazing that something that looks like, and has similar symptoms to something so wonderful (pregnancy/birth) could be so vicious and deadly.  I’ve thought about this strange dichotomy many times over the past years as there have been many symptoms or bodily reactions that I view as either “great” or “devastating” depending on the situation.

For instance, I love to exercise.  When I am feeling strong and healthy, I go to the gym practically every day and I “judge” my workouts by how much I sweat during the session. I know that this is not the most accurate way to assess the quality of a workout but in my mind, the more I sweat the better the workout.  However, over the years, there have been many times when I have woken up in the middle of the night and my side of the bed is drenched due to night sweats (my body is fighting the tumor).  Do I say to myself, “Wow, Jen, good job kicking that tumor’s butt!” and celebrate a good 3AM workout? No! I totally freak out that the tumor is taking over my body.

Interesting how the exact same “result” can create such different reactions.

So now, here I am…looking pregnant and feeling pregnant but we all know that this bump is not a baby but a deadly tumor.  I keep on waiting for someone to congratulate me on my pregnancy…I have two responses that I am sure will get a reaction!
1)   “Oh, it’s not a baby, it’s a malignant tumor…would you like to feel my belly?”
2)   “Oh, thank you, I can’t wait to abort it this coming Tuesday!”

Yes, if you sense I am a little bit angry about this setback, you guessed right. It’s only natural!

Since the bump has become more pronounced, I struggle with the question, “Do I kill it with kindness or ignore it?”  Parents talk to their bumps all the time…some mothers start at just a few weeks of pregnancy playing classical music and talking to their bumps in an effort to forge a relationship.

Well, I don’t want a relationship with my tumor but it is very evidently inside of me.  To ignore it feels like I am not making “peace” with my body. So, Dave and I have decided to talk to my tumor (although I don’t believe tumors have genders, I am referring to him as a male). 

  • We tell the tumor that he has extended his welcome and that we hate him.  
  • We tell him that he better enjoy being comfortable now because in a few days he won’t know what hit him.  
  • We tell him that we wish he could just talk to us and tell us what he needs so we could find a compromise that works for both parties. 

And when we are not talking to him, we pray that he is not as smart as we think he is.  That he has survived the past 5.5 years merely by luck rather than by learning my chemistry and evolving himself into a stronger, more resistant group of cells with every relapse.

Humor me…tell me what would say to my tumor…