Friday, May 11, 2012

A Very Good Prognosis

My sister knows how devastating the stroke has been, for me and my whole family. She’s been a rock of strength and support. But every so often, when we’ve talked about how hard it’s been, she would also remind me: I’m on the upswing. It’s not like, say, cancer, she would say.

Well, in January I was diagnosed with cancer—sort of. It's a kind of breast cancer called ductal carcinoma in situ (D.C.I.S.), often called stage 0. It’s not one of the kinds of scary cancer my sister was thinking about. There is even some controversy about if it should be even called cancer (I like this NY Times article). D.C.I.S. is almost never life-threatening.

But it’s been a long four months since the diagnosis, and figuring out what to do about it. The fear that comes with the word “cancer” is one thing. The fatigue of entering back to the medical (and bureaucratic) world is a whole different story. It has felt so cruel: finally I had enough energy and fluency to chat with other parents at the playground, but now I needed to put my energy in talking to doctors about treatment options. Also, most of the doctors and medical people have been nice, but they haven’t seen many mid-life stroke survivors. At the appointments, sometimes I wanted to say: do you know how much energy this is costing me? Do I really have to change into the examining gown this time? Because I might have the energy to change into and out of the gown, or make dinner this evening, but probably not both.

Fortunately, this chapter of my saga is closed for now. I had minor surgery, and I can go back to focus on stroke recovery.

The really weird thing is this: I seem to be getting better all the time, despite everything. Maybe the diagnosis forced me to talk and write even more. Maybe my brain fog has been better because I've had to strategize about how to explain my issues before every appointment. Maybe I have even more of a sense of urgency about my stroke recovery.

 Who knows? Or maybe my brain was just ready to get better.


  1. Grace, you are handling an unanticipated challenge in a gracious way. All the best wishes...

  2. Oh Grace, big hug.

    I am delighted to see you are writing so optimistically about getting better all the time.

    Limbo, waiting for news, is such a scary and exhausting place to be. I know we have to keep pushing ourselves ... but speech practice by talking about that kind of traumatic thing should never have to be the way to work on it!

    more hugs!

  3. Thanks, @Billy. @Linda, I've often drawn inspiration from your story about your painful thumb (finger?)--that it was awful, but it might have helped your recover some of your left hand function. Or that's what I tell myself, on some days...

  4. Wow, Grace. I've tried to imagine dealing with another medical issue on top of this one. I feel like I've had my quota. You are so strong.

  5. Ah, Grace, once again demonstrating why you are one of my most favorite people in the whole wide universe. Allez, oop!

  6. Hi...I came across your blog today looking for blogs from other stroke survivors. I'm glad that your challenging news was dealt with easily. It sounds like you have a great attitude! All the best to you. :)

  7. Thanks. I look forward to reading your blog.

  8. Grace, This is good news, indeed. All of it. That the brain fog is lifting, that you can get thru something like this diagnosis with sense of proportion and humor intact, that you're still making serious recovery from the stroke. You have more strength than I can imagine ever having. You're a remarkable woman and a great model of perseverance and determination. You go, girl! XOX, Jaylyn

  9. I have noticed also that docs have a hard time with my age group having a stroke (46). They can talk about tumors much easier than the stroke. You do have a fantastic attitude!!! I could probably learn from you...