ELDER MUSIC: Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone
A TGB READER STORY: Dinosaur Girl

“You are an Anomaly” Said the Oncologist

What an amazing amount of loving kindness you all left in the comments of last Monday's post. There are not good enough words to say how much you all mean to me. The best I can do is, thank you.

* * *

After several minutes of pleasantries at the beginning of our tele-medicine conversation, the oncologist told me that my most recent CT scan is “not bad.”

Not bad in the sense that although the cancer has increased in my lung since the previous most recent scan, the growth has been slow. This is surprising, he said, because I have had no chemotherapy (meant, in my case, to slow cancer growth) for a year.

And, apparently, it is enough of a surprise to classify me as an anomaly – an outcome that is not what is expected with my type of cancer and treatment. Don't let that fool you, though. The cancer continues to do what cancer does – grow and spread.

For now, said the doctor, additional chemotherapy is not recommended due to COVID-19's propensity to attack lungs and my impaired immune system. Of course, the chemo clinic takes every precaution against infection but nothing is perfect and I am more susceptible than people without lung or breathing difficulty. So no chemo and I am not certain that if it were recommended I would do it again.

What I didn't tell you in last Monday's post where I announced my week-long hiatus, is that the largest part of the reason for that downtime last week was to keep my anxiety to myself. It's always that way for me: pretty much full-time mental paralysis waiting to discuss a CT-scan with the doctor.

You might recall this paragraph from a week ago:

”And in recent weeks, what I believe to be late(r)-stage cancer symptoms: increased fatigue, body pains...waning appetite, weight loss and a golf-ball-sized growth I discovered four days ago on an inner thigh.”

The waning appetite had already begun to turn itself around when I spoke with the oncologist on Wednesday and the weight loss is righting itself too.

As to the body pains, the doctor said he could prescribe an opioid but I will wait. So far, over-the-counter medication is working and in the past seven or eight days, I have had almost as many pain-free days as painful ones.

So there you are – the cancer is on the move, although not too quickly. Appetite and weight are back to what is normal for me. Pain is controllable. And – oh yes, that golf-ball-sized growth in my groin.

Not cancer. I had to see a doctor in person to deal with what is called, she told me, Bartholin Gland Cyst. I was her second case of it that day.

It is relatively common and usually treated with an antibiotic and/or drainage of the cyst. I've opted for door number one for now and so far it is down to less than half its largest size.

So, that turned out to be a minor distraction compared to the daily upkeep of cancer and COPD.

There is no missing the fact that I am slowing down. Although the heavy fatigue I mentioned last week has morphed into lighter fatigue, there are those pesky pains. When there are none, I spend the day on alert, waiting for one to stab me here or ache there.

I am trying to stop doing that, with no discernible success yet.

You would think by now that I would have this living-with-a-terminal-disease stuff down pat. But no. My body keeps coming up with new ways to get at me, and my mind seems to have a mind of it own – dragging me around to check out some of the darker corridors of my thoughts.

Nevertheless, living is still good most of the time, and I'm not ready to trade it for anything else – especially now that I am officially an anomaly.

Comments

Near-perfect way to begin the week - proceed to care and honor this body that's been a good part of you and continues the good fight.

And as Diane on Cheers would have said in this instance: For all women and men on this blog, "May I say 'WHEW'!"

Ronni,

I am so pleased that the doctor visit went well. You are a shining example of how to handle life.

You have been in my thoughts and prayers all week.

Three cheers for Ronni.

Peggy

Thank goodness for anamalousness!

Holding you tight to my heart. Virtually of course. So much love to you.

A virtual gentle hug and time to sit you and listen to your stories

Anomaly is good! As is the discovery of a Bartholin cyst and not something else.

As for the mind doing its wretched thing on you, clearly the addition of added stress of life in the time of Covid19 added to your usual ones is reason enough for the wandering, unpleasant thoughts. Hard to focus these days. Hoping you may find a new, pleasant distraction to keep you on an even keel.

I just let out a breath that I didn't realize I was holding until I got to the end of your post. “Whew,” indeed! Long may you be an anomaly!!! So glad to “hear” your “voice” again this Monday morning, Ronni.

I am pleased for you, Ronni. I'd say you are a miracle, and I hope you continue to be.

Dear Ms. Anomaly, like Peggy, I've had you in my thoughts and prayers, and am feeling so very happy that you are as you are.

Meantime, I wish you many, many moments of joy. I'm just so happy for you, and all your readers, and myself!

With love to you, Salinda

Congrats on being an anomaly! Best wishes for comfort and serenity on this journey.

Cheers for some good news anyway. New reader here and I am so glad I found your blog. Your honesty is refreshing. Stay safe and strong!

Glad to hear that you're an anomoly!

Ahh, the joy of your return to your column — not that you didn’t deserve the time off to focus on your health and well-being! If sharing is healing, then you’ve mastered it with grace and generosity.

'Ronni the Anomaly' has a good ring. Tee-shirt and bump sticker worthy. Enjoy it and wear it like the badge of courage that it is.

Amen to Patty - didn't realize I was holding that breath til I let it go. It is, indeed, a superb way to begin a week that is sure to rake us all over the coals with terrible news from all over - to have our own dear Ronni back with good tidings.

But, of course, you were an anomaly long before cancer. Where else in cyberspace to read such caring, thoughtful considerations of matters large and small.

Now more than ever, we need eachother and TGB
Love, Ann

I can’t pretend to understand (let alone imagine) what you’ve been dealing with, Ronni. I do relate to the anxiety, been living with a chronic condition (in my head & face) for over a year now, and it does take its toll on my emotional well being; but time & time again, I think of you, and your COPD & cancer and how you somehow muster that courage and strength to do what you do best.

Dammit this sounds like a generic ramble, but it’s a sincere one. You’re in my heart & thoughts everyday.

Anomaly You

Thrilling TGB shipmates

Sails billow again!

So many of these comments I agree with!

You show us all how to be strong, enduring and endearing, and anomalous!

Many hugs!
Carol

I am also happy to read your post this morning and to learn your lump was "harmless". As someone else wrote here this is a time of great anxiety even though I limit the news.

I am taking this time of isolation to go more than 50 years of my photos collection. Looking at them and separating out ones to keep and ones to send to each
of my 3 children has caused me to relive old times and now I'm dreaming about my sisters in the photos and me trying to keep 6' of distance between everyone around me.

It would be interesting to read what you and your TGB followers are doing with this self-isolating time at home...I am a procrastinator but, if not now, when? Have you done any of that cleaning up, weeding out, getting rid of, etc. ?

good for you Ronnie-one foot in front of the other! You've got this!

I have been a lurker for years and enjoyed the good times and cheered for you as you proceed through these challenges delivered to you. I only want to say I am pulling for you and rarely confess love to someone I only know from the net but I've grown to love and admire you for your courage and your transparency. You're facing each day with courage and even joy. Life is still wonderful and worth fighting for. That's you lesson to us.

So glad you're "back" Ronnie. And you definitely are an anomaly - that's one of the many reasons we're all here!

Right now I think "not bad" is pretty good, and I'm very glad. I am another who has been holding her breath for a week. I'm also happy to see your appetite is coming back, your pain is manageable, and the "growth" was Bartholin's cyst and not something worse.

You and TGB are important to me. Even though I haven't time to comment often, I never miss a post. Cheers to you and all good wishes.

The whole world has become one big anomaly.
Everything is not as it should be.
Native Americans believe we are living in a time when the Earth is not in balance.
It's tough to disagree with that.

I am glad the news was so much better than you had feared. Reality is often better than my worries, I find--which doesn't stop me from worrying way too much.

I read an essay this morning that somehow seems to speak to the moment. It's by a man named Brian Doyle, who I knew a little. He was the editor of the University of Portland's magazine and a very talented writer--able to be inspirational without being saccharine. He died at age 60 of brain cancer, and I've been reading his last essay collection, called "One Long River of Song," which I recommend highly. Here is the ending of the essay I referred to above:

I think, if we are lucky, if we read the book of pain and loss with humility, we realize that we are all broken and small and brief, that none among us is ultimately more valuable or rich or famous or beautiful than another; and then, perhaps, we begin to understand something deep and true about humility.

This is what I know: that the small is huge, that the tiny is vast, that pain is part and parcel of the gift of joy, and that this is love, and then there is everything else. You either walk toward love or away from it with every breath you draw. Humility is the road to love. Humility, maybe, is love. That could be. I wouldn't know; I'm a muddle and a conundrum shuffling slowly along the road, gaping in wonder, trying to just see and say what is, trying to leave shreds and shards of ego along the road like wisps of litter and chaff.

I’m glad to hear that you are doing well. Whether or not we have cancer—and some of us do—most of us experience more and more strange pains as we grow older.

Sometimes it’s difficult to distinguish between the natural aches and pains of old age and some new malady, so we are always mentally examining ourselves more than we did when we were young.

But mostly we just suck it up and find ways to live with or work around the fatigue and pains that plague us. And we usually find that we are stronger than we ever thought we would be.

Anomaly is a good word, long may you have the label.

Glad the lump wasn't at all what was happening in your worst fears. Boy we hate lumps of all kinds. I translate any I have had into death and destruction and loss of brain and movement. Plus incessant pain sprinkled over the top.

It is so good to have you writing again.

May anomaly reign.

XO
WWW

Aging is a very personal and unique challenge so don't beat yourself up by worrying that you're not doing it right. We've never lived this long before plus we've each got our own unique conditions. Seeing the cell counts creep up with no palatable treatment options is, I suspect, as bad as Chinese water torture. (Haven't experienced water torture.) Happy to have you back.

What a relief, a cyst. Sending up virtual balloons for that. Sending hugs to you. It's tricky living alone in these days even if one were healthy. Thank you for being an anomaly, our anomaly. Love you.

Anomaly, you certainly are, medically and in the wonderful gift you give to the world with your blog. Saw you on the Ronni and Alex show and thought you looked amazingly good. May your Anomalousness continue for a long, long time. I love your spirit and common sense.

As always, it was good to read your post. It is a learning experience every time, and I thank you for your willingness to share so much. You are a wonderful guide on how to travel the path. I share the feelings of other posters--we all come from different places and experiences, but we still have much in common. Carry on!

Another WHEW here. So relieved your golfball was just a cyst! And of course you are an anomaly. That's why we are all here. You're one in a million.

Keep on anomilizing for as long as you can. Thanks for the “not bad” news you shared today. Hoping your “good” days still exceed your “bad” ones or at least give you more than one good day in a row to help you feel productive. It’s great to learn we’ll still be reading and hearing you. Prayers answered once again.

'Ronni the Anomaly' that says it! Good, good, good!!!

Naps are good. Resting is good. Breathing is good.

I'll go with what Berta just posted and the others before her. We are all relieved and wishing you the opposite side of worry. Even if hard times do make us appreciate good times, I think worry gets way too much of our time even when we try to let it go. Don't let the aches and pain take over. Hope you are thinking of your pain meds as prevention more than just when needed. Here's to a good day and another and another and.....

Wonderful to have you back, dear Ronni!

So glad that your news is relatively good. I had a Batholin's cyst removed when I was in my mid 20's back in the early 70's. It was annoying but healed up quickly, so if you do end up having to go along that route know that it's nothing to compare with what you're presently going through. Your posts always help to put things in perspective, thank you for being such an inspirational role model.

Great news, Ronni -- I can only imagine the relief it brought you, since I know how much it brought me. Wear that "anomalous" badge with pride, and keep on keeping on!

MBarstow -- nice haiku

Bruce -- I suspect poor Mother Earth experienced a tipping point some time ago and has been dealing with her own strains and stresses ever since. At least this closing down time may have provided a bit of a reprieve from as many abuses as are normally heaped on her each day.

Joan -- I've been trying to do some of that cleaning and weeding out, but I've become rather addicted to travel and food shows since being on lock-down and they've been much more comforting than going through "stuff" would have been. And now we've gotten a break in weather and my fancy has turned to yard work and preparing for the return of the migratory birds. However, we've just had another month of lock-down added here in Illinois, so there is still hope that I may get to the "stuff" before going back out into the larger world.

I just read through all of the many, many comments -- and am not so sure what I can
add. Other than enormous waves of relief -- in many ways, I too feel as if I have been holding my breath all week.

When I saw your heading, though, I realized that my idea of beginning with "Dear Anomaly" was hardly unique..

I suddenly felt a couple of things: one, I am one with most of the people who have sent
their comments -- most of them, in other words, are also hanging on to that word ANOMALY. And two, I am just so happy and relieved.

Live on, Ronni. Keep writing. Keep amusing/educating/enriching us. What joy you
give us!

Ruth-Ellen

You go, girl!

Can you hear your cheering squad that is scattered around the world?

Such good news for the beginning of the week: you appetite is coming back, your weight is stabilizing, you only have a cyst and you are an anomaly. We are all very relieved and pleased. Take care.

The guess here was that you'd acquired a Bartholin cyst -- we've been there with one of those -- not me, Erudite Partner. Having seen a draining, I think you should be happy you can go with the antibiotics!

But Anomaly -- how wonderful! Cheers from NorCal.

So far, so good! Hang in there, you are certainly an unusual and lucky person. B

Ronni, so happy to look forward to being with you longer than you earlier might have predicted! But WHO can predict, really?

Dave and I plan to escape the AZ heat by driving to the Oregon coast for the summer. We will be there for three months holing up like we are here with a lovely huge garden and a deserted beach nearby Langlois. Looking forward to rain and temps averaging 75!

Just finished serving as a Plaintiff in a lawsuit to remove an anti-public education kook from our local ballot.
Public schools teach kids to become liberals, says he. (Guess he means a “liberal arts education?” Tee hee) Hope our team of teachers win, we will know in a day or two.

Should you ever have a wild desire to change the name of your blog, "Ronni the Anomaly" would certainly be fitting. Huzzah for you!! Maybe we could get Randy Rainbow to create a theme song for you?
As for that Bartholin cyst: avoid a draining if at all possible. BTDT - NOT fun.

I am crying tears of gratitude for having you back today and also at the heartfelt expressions from your devoted followers. More words could not express the relief and joy I feel.

What a wonderful thing to be called an "anomaly" and find that we all embrace the concept.

Like everyone else, a giant WHEW! Happy Monday!

I have an eye infection and had a telephone visit with an ophthalmologist on Friday followed by a prescription for an antibiotic ointment. I am thankful that we have the technology that allows these "visits" in such a time of calamity.

On another note, I saw on the news that Trump is considering not making appearances at the daily briefings following the bleach injection fiasco. Hallelujah!!!! I wonder how many will become ill or die as a result of his idiocy?
The same number that are ignoring the stay at home dictate and making it harder for those of us who are listening to the experts?

Love to all at TGB as we celebrate Ronni's return!

To quote Little Richard, "Good golly, Miss Anomaly, sure like to ball....." And thank you Caspar Bartholin the Younger!

Blessings, Ronni! I'm so happy to hear the good news. One day at a time.

I've wondered how you were doing this past week, and am so glad to hear that things are not as dire as you had feared! Congratulations!

You know, Ronni, anxiety is inescapable in life, but most especially when, basically, you have death sitting on your shoulder. How could you not be terrified at times? It's like the old Simon and Garfunckle song, "Hello darkness, my old friend, I've come to talk to you again". You are doing as well with your illness as I imagine anyone could.

So here comes another spring and summer. Eat local strawberries with whipped cream, make homemade lemonade, and find fresh sweet corn in August. We are small, we are faulty, but enjoying all the good things of life are our best way of honoring it. Bless you.

Whew...I was waiting for (anxiety prone person here) something, not such good news...and I'm relieved to read your words today. Your life, way across the country, but here in my in-box on computer several times a week...and on the razor's edge of cancer and COPD - well, I've come to feel a sort of weird intimacy of this blog world, so I'm very happy to read this post. (I also had the surgical procedure finally after several Babtholan Cysts, and have COPD and another breathing disorder.) Yay for you Ronni...I'm so happy to hear you're an anomaly! You are certainly much more as well!

For whatever its worth, my Dad was diagnosed with lung cancer and refused treatment other than strong cough medicine. A few years later, I had him to the MD on Weds., and he died that Friday from a stroke or heart attack. When I took my Mom to the MD a few weeks later, the MD told me: that if Dad had followed MD's recommendation for intervention, they would have been patting themselves on the back as his last X-Ray showed that the tumor had decreased -- with no medical intervention. It seems that the cancer may have been a slow-growing cancer (??) plus growing more slowly since Dad was 78 or 79. Yeah, but why did it get smaller? Now, there is an interesting anomaly.

Hi Ronni: Always a pleasure to read your posts. To all others: Ronni is just the same in person as she appears on line. No surprise, right? Ronni, our ACC discussion group meeting on Zoom went well, although I missed your acerbic humor! By the way, one of your musical blogs recently hit home for me. I’m telling my kids that when I kick the bucket they can play “The End of the Line” by the Travelling Wilburys-my new fav. Best wishes always,
Jim

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