Beyond the Byline: Cancer is so unfair

By Melanie Mizenko - [email protected] | May 5th, 2017 6:17 pm

Cancer is so unfair. I mean it really, really is unfair.

I know, I’m stating the obvious, but it is so unfair. It doesn’t matter how old, young or what gender or skin color you have.

My 21-year-old sister, who is graduating from King’s in under 20 days, should have her family so happy for her. And believe me, we are. But we’re also dealing with my problem.

I was coming home with my mom from Fox Chase Cancer Center on Wednesday — the second trip in as many weeks — and my sister called wanting to tell us about her senior seminar presentation. For those who don’t know, a student has to pass their senior seminar to graduate.

My mom and I had just been dealt a “you have to have surgery as soon as possible” — which the doctor just so happened to pencil me in Monday before even meeting with my mom and I.

So, we were processing and trying to figure out the logistics about the surgery because I’ll have to be in Philadelphia for some time because of the surgery and my doctors are down there.

But we’re on the turnpike discussing our plans and my sister calls my mom, who just blankly says “hello.” My sister quips back with “don’t sound so happy to talk to me.”

I wanted to cry.

This time should be used to celebrate my sister’s graduation from college, but instead we’re focusing on me, with cancer rearing its ugly head.

Despite feeling great since mid-January, we knew something was bound to happen. Life was too great. Then the symptoms began in late March — back pain, blood clots, frequent urination.

We hoped it just an infection that could have been taken care of with an antibiotic, but my last CTScan proved otherwise. I have a tumor on my bladder, which is big enough that it’s growing into the bladder. Several other smaller things are all occurring for the perfect storm, but the doozy was the news that the tumor on the bladder hasn’t shrunk with the chemotherapy pills I’m taking.

Armed with that knowledge and a new plan from my amazing doctor, we saw two new doctors, a urologist and radiation oncologist. Everything from radiation to surgery is now on the table.

The silver lining – and yes, those who know me by now, there always is one – is that I’ll feel comfortable.

Just as with my gynecologic oncologist, my urology surgeon is great. He’s very laid back, and my mom and I trust him a lot.

I’m actually excited I get to be at Fox Chase for at least overnight, because it’s the one thing I haven’t done there. I’ve done clinical trials, I’ve gone to the different wings of the place, and I’ve even had in-and-out procedures, but I’ve never had surgery which will require me to stay overnight.

But, while I’m in surgery, my mom has to sit in the waiting room and wonder if everything will go okay. The past two times I’ve had surgery, once for my hysterectomy, it was supposed to be three hours, it turned into five and a half, and the other for a port placement, turned into three hours from 45 minutes.

And while life has dealt me an rough hand, what is really and truly unfair is that my sister and my mother have been dealt just as bad of a hand, just as bystanders to the situation.


By Melanie Mizenko

[email protected]

Reach Melanie Mizenko at 570-991-6116 or on Twitter @TL_MMizenko