Thursday, 5 March 2009

Good news

mainly sunny, mild, temps zero

Had great news at the doctors...we weren't worried but it's still good to get the 'all clear'...I'd had a mammogram in early January and it showed something odd, so they invited me back to get a clearer look, and while we were in Quebec City we got a call to say it still looked odd and we needed to take it to the next level - an ultrasound.

This, strangely, was the same week I heard A RULE AGAINST MURDER had made the New York Times Bestsellers list. I thought it was just like life...make the list and find out you have cancer all in the same week. Of course, this was FAR from finding out I had was just something they couldn't explain. Between us? I think it was a gummi bear lodged in there...I do inhale them sometimes.

We decided to have the next set of tests done in Montreal - at that Victorian asylum known as the Royal Victoria Hospital. So an appointment was made at the Breast Cancer Clinic and off we went yesterday.

It was an amazing, very humbling experience. To see the men quietly waiting for their wives. One of the men took Michael in hand and showed him where to hang his coat, and the magazines, etc. I went into the back area and into a robe. And listened as a group of women talked across the aisle about what stage their cancer was at, whether it involved the glands, whether they'd had chemo, radiation, a radical mastectomy, lumpectomy... they spoke so matter-of-factly. Most were younger than me - one in her early 30's. The lump had been found a year earlier and dismissed by the physician as being nothing...she was so young and with no family history. A year later she was in pain, and was finally diagnosed. The woman next to me was diagnosed as she breast fed her latest baby.

It was so moving to hear them talking - so calmly. I guess that's natural. By now most were veterans of this war. No drama.

I wasn't worried...I'd be reassured it was almost certainly nothing...and the ultrasound confirmed that. Though they scheduled an MRI to be absolutely certain. Seems a waste of time to me, and resources...but seems they might know better than me.

Got home exhausted last night...wrote lots on the book today...very happy so far. The beginning of any book is always a bit tricky...introducing the characters, especially the new ones. I feel I need to spend the time to get it right. So that I feel them, and see them, and they become three dimensional. Such fun to actually 'create' people.

Saturday is International Women's Day and I get to celebrate it with a dinner in Knowlton in honour of three local writers...Sharon McCully, Laura Teasdale and Winona Matthews
I'm the guest speaker. And while I won't talk about my visit to the clinic - I felt like a fraud, a voyeur - I will take that feeling with me. Of women helping women. And outside, the men who love them helping each other too.

What a lovely world we live in. Not always fair, but almost always beautiful.


Jo B. said...

I understand the feeling you had from being in your doctor's office and hearing the stories. I, too, was one of those lucky ones. My uterine cancer was found early and only required a hysterectomy, but I heard and saw lots of women, young and old, with different stories for the five years I went in to be checked. It is very life changing!

Lesa said...

I'm pleased for you that it wasn't cancer. (I know the first results were too early to be one of my gummi bears!) We have too many women who had breast cancer in my family. I'm glad you have a (probable) clean diagnosis, Louise.


Bobbie said...

Dear Louise,
I am so happy that your ultrasound turned out okay. I've had several, they are scary times. And yes, the technicians and doctors are calm and nice, and reassuring. But yes, it's the husbands and wives who are so courageous and helpful, it certainly does make one feel so humble.

And I assume you are going to stop inhaling gummy bears? Or not? :-)

Glad you were able to write lots on the book, and that you enjoy creating the characters so much. I certainly enjoy reading them, and similar to wanting lots of gummy bears, want more more more more Louise Penny books now! :-) I know, I know, impossible to go that fast...yes, want them as carefully and beautifully written as ever...but it doesn't hurt to be eager for more of your books, grin.

And your last few words say it all. Thank you. And do celebrate Internation Woman's Day. You are a beautiful part of this world.


hilary said...

I have been thinking about your ultrasound, and am happy to hear all seems well. They send me for an ultrasound after every mammogram -- to the point where I've asked the doctor if I can have a "Pass Go -- Collect $200" card -- and proceed to the ultrasound without the mammogram, but apparently each picks up different things. You may always be asked for that ultrasound. Don't sweat it. Not exactly a professional opinion, but perhaps the voice of experience?

Cheers and hoping all is well,


Elizabeth said...

I had a feeling you weren't telling all about the mammogram. In the U.S., the recommendation is to start at age 40, not 50 as here, and when we were living in DC, I had suspicious "calcifications" at age 44. Bill was seconded to the Asian Development Bank in Manila at the time and he flew (economy!) halfway around the world to be with me for the surgical biopsy. The results were benign, but the whole episode probably took years off both our lives. By the way, tomorrow I'm going to do the final edit on a book proposal. Then I'm going to send it and hold my breath.

Anonymous said...

So glad to hear that everything turned out well. I recently read a column in the local paper from the New York Times that referenced the same experience that you had - "the loving care that flows freely among female strangers even in short-term groups like this one" - during breast cancer testing. (The whole article is at I find it reassuring to know that people (especially women :) ) can support each other in difficult times.


Anonymous said...

Louise, I'm so thankful that your news was good. So thankful indeed. Thank you for sharing your experience and sharing your thoughts on the women and men waiting there. You painted quite the picture.

Life is such a blessing and I know that very, very well. Have a good week, dear friend and enjoy your International Women's Day event this weekend.

Louise Penny Author said...

Dear Jo B,

How brave you are to call that nothing. It must have been frightening. But I know what you mean about understanding how lucky you were...when we consider what happens to other. Still, though I've never had one, I understand hysterectomies are not much fun!

Louise Penny Author said...

Dear Jo B,

How brave you are to call that nothing. It must have been frightening. But I know what you mean about understanding how lucky you were...when we consider what happens to other. Still, though I've never had one, I understand hysterectomies are not much fun!

Louise Penny Author said...

Hi Lesa,

Oh, I might be an arizons gummi. It was wearing boots, I think. Hate to say the obvious, but I presume you get checked regularly?

Louise Penny Author said...

Hi Bobbie,

Thank you for being so supportive, and I'm REALLY glad you're addicted to the books. Yay...from your pusher

Louise Penny Author said...

Dear Hilary,

Thank you - that is very comforting actually. Indeed, the doc says the MRI gives loads of false positives too, so we'll see. Oddly enough I'm not at all concerned, Must be the sugar high

Louise Penny Author said...

Yay, Elizabeth...And I will send out good thoughts and energy for you. How exciting!!! It can take a while to hear back, and it sure feels longer...but how exciting for you.

And how terrible that time must have been for you, and Bill. Now, that's love!

Louise Penny Author said...

Dear Karen,

Thank you for the link... I'll tell you, I think a study should be done about the very real effects of kindness. Yours included, Karen. Thank you.

Louise Penny Author said...

Dear Kay,

Happy Women's Day!!! I've been trying to post comments in reply to these lovely messages and been stymied. But here I am!

Yes - you more than most know how fragile and how beautiful life is. Thank you for writing!