Friday, July 18, 2008

Vaya Con Dios, Felipe!

My sister-in-law is a nurse. That's the only reason why she was able to insist on a CAT Scan instead of the Sonogram when she was having Gallbladder troubles. The CT revealed a Gallbladder that was most likely dead along with a 7" X 4" mass that had taken over her left ovary. At first they called it a "genetic mass" and had a name for it that I've since forgotten.

Basically, it's a mass of genetic matter that has been with her since birth. Some people believe it's what's left of an unabsorbed twin. Within the mass there are sometimes teeth and hair. She felt dirty, like she was somehow flawed.

I tried to make her feel better by reminding her that people are just gross by our very nature. We're shitting, farting, seeping creatures who are nasty as a rule. She smiled, but we both knew seepage, no matter how unpleasant, isn't the same as a lump of stuff that may or may not have been a sister or brother in your belly. So instead, I named it. I figured if she had to have a growth like this, and it had hair and teeth, it might as well have a name, and so...Felipe was born.

Still freaked by the development, she pushed for further testing. Again, she's a nurse and it's probably the only reason she was accommodated so quickly. That's when they saw the shadow within the mass and said the word "cancer" for the first time. They would operate on the following Tuesday and determine exactly how bad things were from there. We prepared ourselves to say good-bye to Felipe.

Tuesday, I got to the waiting room with Jen just as my brother came into the room. They had taken her back, he said. The surgery would start any time now. We all sat down and stared at our shoes. She pulled a decent crowd, but it was a crowd that kept their heads down. Her friends, nurses who were making pests of themselves with the doctors, reported that the Gallbladder removal had started and was going well. They sat with us and we chatted.

The first surgeon came out with pictures. He explained his part of the surgery was a piece of cake, and that they were starting the removal of the mass now. I got to see Nikki's liver, and yes...I got to see Felipe. I saw no hair or teeth. To the untrained eye, Felipe looked like he belonged there. He was just another pink wad of internal mechanics that appeared to serve a purpose.

A couple hours later, the second surgery was completed and my brother was ushered into another room for the report. The cancer was confirmed, and a full hysterectomy was done. The prognosis was good though, There would be some chemotherapy, but this form of cancer was very receptive to treatment, and while there is some cleanup to do, everything looked great. This was a bit of spin of course. No direct lies were told, but they didn't go into the details that they disclosed today.

And still we don't know everything yet. The Pathology report is expected later today and that will tell the rest of the story. That will be the point that they are able to start discussing stages of the cancer and then get a specialist involved. And so we wait. There is always some piece of information that is out there on the horizon, and we are just now realizing that this is something we're going to have to deal with for a long time to come.

When it's all over though, I'm sure we'll have great stories to tell. These are the things that define families and relationships for a while, and that part of it I'm not concerned about. It will just intensify what we already have between us, and what is there is good stuff.

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