Yesterday held a full day of learning new words, starting with the ones from the air conditioner repairman, who spewed a bunch of terms that splattered around me like ketchup squirted from five paces. Since I didn’t get to write all the terms down and analyze them, I can only guess what they mean. It’s an educated guess, though: We’re gonna have to pay a ton o’ money for the privilege of conditioned air this year. When he simplified all his technological words for me, I learned we had to buy a new AC unit. Not just the fan and compressor unit outside, but that monstrosity that gets a closet to itself inside too. While we’re at it, we’re going to get one of those new-fangled digital-display temp controls, too. Goody.
The other words I studied yesterday came from this comment on a Xeroxed page handed to me during my doctor appointment: “Intermediate to high grade ductal carcinoma in situ with variable comedonecrosis, cribriform primarily, secondary solid with associated microcalcifications. . . ”
That’s a mouthful, isn’t it? Basically it means I have breast cancer.
I’m weird enough to study the etyology of words, and since this sentence held a ton I’m not familiar with, I broke it down to words, prefixes, and suffixes. Since I don’t have anything else to write about today, I thought I’d share my studies with you:
Ductal–being the ducts in the mammary gland
in situ–Latin for “in position”
Ductal carcinoma in situ–DCIS–means there’s a cancer in one of my mammary ducts. Good news is that it is an “early form of cancer defined by the absence of invasion of tumor cells into the surrounding tissue.” Yeah. I like that.
Next up: variable comedonecrosis, cribriform primarily.
variable–tendency to progress to invasive carcinoma
comedo–thickened secretion plugging a duct (term usually used for the skin condition, “black head”)
necrosis–premature death of cells in living tissue
cribriform–perforated like a sieve
So, this group of dead cells plugging my mammary duct are perforated like a sieve and have a tendency to progress to invasive cancer. Don’t like that part.
Next: secondary solid with associated microcalcifications.
Microcalcifications is easy enough: tiny specks of mineral deposits (calcium).
Which means, in the tissue sample they took during the biopsy, they found cancer and calcium. The calcium part isn’t unusual. Most people have calcium deposits somewhere in their systems, only 20% of the time are they cancerous. I happened to land in the 20%.
Finally, the really good news, which I left out above and used an ellipsis instead, is this: “no evidence of invasive malignant neoplasm.”
I know what “no evidence” means.
I know what “invasive” means.
I know what “malignant” means.
Didn’t know what neoplasm meant. Neoplasm: “an abnormal mass of tissue as a result of neoplasia, an abnormal proliferation of cells.”
No evidence of proliferation of cancer cells. No evidence the cancer has spread.
DCIS–contained cancer–comprises 15-30% of all breast cancers in men and women, ages 50-59. Highly curable. Good news. Very, very good news.
What it all boils down to is, yes, I have cancer, but the doctor is optimistic that a lumpectomy performed in day surgery and possibly an estrogen-blocking pill will be all the treatment I’ll need.
I can handle that.
After a hard day of learning new words and phrases, and research and study and letting it sink in that this really is good news for a cancer diagnosis, I decided to shift my attention and learn another new phrase: Reece’s Crispy Crunchy.
I know what each of those words mean individually, but collectively, I wasn’t sure. I mean, it’s totally new to me. More research was necessary to get a grasp of what this monumental new phrase meant.
Basically, this is a scrumptious diet-buster, weighing in at 470 calories, enough to cover at least one meal. It is crispy. It is crunchy. It is chocolaty. And it is perfectly appropriate for someone who had a good news/bad news kind of day like I did. (So BACK OFF, diet police!!!!!)