Cancer & Lymph Nodes & Coffee, Oh My

Remember me?  I used to write a blog fairly regularly.

But just as I was feeling some closure (sort of) and relief (sort of) and chance to catch my breath (sort of) my life (once again) became topsy -turvy, off- kilter, askew, curve-balled and all together spastic.  Here’s a quick summary of the past couple of months.

Mid November:

Felt like poop. Went to doc.  Wound up at the ER. Cardio catherization. No major blockages, lots of little tiny ones.

Diagnosis: Microvascular Disease.

Treatment: Drugs.  For the rest of my damn life.

Early December:

Felt like doody with symptoms of yet another urinary tract infection (third in as many months).  Quick test sort of showed UTI, culture really showed blood.  Lots of it.  That’s not good.  Time for a urologist.

Diagnosis: Unclear

Treatment: See diagnosis

Mid December:

Sweet talked my way into an appointment sooner than the end of January.  Scheduled for a CT scan just before appointment.  Met with doc who, prior to doing a cystoscopy, shared an “incidental finding” on the CT scan – a 9 mm nodule just under the spot where, should I still have it, my right breast would be.  Huge WTF moment.

With the cystoscope (see pic below…looks like fun, huh?) he pokes around and utters  “looks okay”…until the very end: three little fronds.


 Diagnosis: Bladder Cancer

Treatment: Surgical removal (snip snip snip) of the fronds (which look like little trees but are actually cancer) and, given what he has seen thus with his handy dandy camera that went places no camera should ever go, that should be the beginning, middle and end of it.  But, will be followed for the rest of my damn life.

But, wait!  Remember that “incidental finding”?  Well, I didn’t.  I called my oncologist’s office and was given an appointment for the middle of January.  Yeah, no, that is not going to work for me.  Like at all.  I emailed the doc directly (love him) and he got me in the following week.  (I showed my appreciation by bringing him and his assistant each a freshly baked batch of my fabulous granola. If you are nice to me, you might be on the receiving end one day.  It’s pretty much the only thing I bake that is consistently outstanding.)  (I’m not much of a cook.) (But I can write.)

I spent most of the day at DFCI first having an ultrasound followed by a three hour wait for my afternoon appointment.  That was fun.  Oh, wait, no it really wasn’t.

Diagnosis: Stupid lymph node. Phew!

Treatment: Big glass of wine to celebrate.  Oh, and some reimaging in three months..just to be sure.



As if all this wasn’t enough and during a time some extra support would have been swell, one woman in the group I wrote about here decided I was no longer welcome: ousted, kicked out, stomped on, exiled, removed.  What began as a minor disagreement -for which I repeatedly owned my role – took on a life of its own.  Proof: one morning, having thought a little spat had found its place in history,  I approached the table and put my coffee down so I could remove my coat.  As I did this, she stood, told me (and by told I mean barked) that I was not allowed to sit there.  Incredulous, I asked her if she was serious. (She was.) Um, what? (I might have asked her if she owned the place…) Of equal upset was the radio silence from the other women.  I like to assume that they were all so dumfounded, horrified and disgusted by what was happening that they lost their ability to speak, but I am not sure that is the case.

This, my friends (my actual true ones, that is) is nothing short of bullying.  I have never been subjected to anything like it.  I have certainly never treated anyone else that way.  And, ironically enough: my initial, and apparently unforgivable, infraction was defending a third woman when the bully-lady went after her about something.  Seriously, that was all I did.  (Note: as this continued to escalate I began to think that I must have done something else, I had to have, right?  Nope…)

Not gonna lie: this stung.  And when it stopped stinging: it infuriated me.  And when the anger stopped: I was still angry.

Shortly after this watershed disagreement, I sent a thoughtful email apologizing for my role in what had gone down.  She waited three days and responded only with a “thanks for your note.”  Um, okay.  However, once she was told of my recent maladies she emailed me expressing her “sincere” (aside: if you have to say you are being sincere perhaps you are not really being all that sincere) concern for my health and I, quite mistakenly, assumed we were officially moving on.

My response:

Thank you.

 As much as I love “The Real Housewives” this whole thing was feeling more and more like a story line dragged on way too long for the sake of ratings. 

 I again apologize for the role I played in all of this and hope that we can do a reset to the way things used to be.

 Wishing you and your family a happy, healthy and drama free year ahead.

 And hers:

I want you to know that I am sincere in my good wishes for you.

 At this point though, I don’t think that we can do a reset and go back to the way things used to be. 

Translation: You are no longer welcome to sit at a table when I am holding court.

Conclusion: Don’t worry…I won’t.

If I have said it once I have said it a billion times: women have to be kind to one another.  We all come to the table (both figuratively and literally) with our own history, fears, vulnerabilities, dreams, insecurities, hopes, opinions, strengths and weaknesses.  Everyone needs and, more perhaps more importantly, deserves to feel supported and safe.  Women who are not kind to one another confuse me.  People who assume and then abuse their perceived power – yeah, don’t get them either.

I thought a lot about whether or not to post, let alone write, about any of this – the medical or the otherwise. I am not looking for sympathy or even empathy…rather I am taking advantage of my audience to remind everyone that you can be a boy, a girl, a dog or a Martian, just don’t be an asshole.



43 thoughts on “Cancer & Lymph Nodes & Coffee, Oh My

  1. I love that last line Julie. It reminds me of a quote from “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension,”….”Hey, hey, hey — don’t be mean. We don’t have to be mean. ‘Cause, remember: no matter where you go… there you are.” Sounds like that person is on a narcissistic power trip. You deserve better friends than that.

  2. I’m glad you’re back in the blog writing game, the good, the bad, and the ugly. I always enjoyed reading them. And I’m glad I bumped into on granola day and of course, I expect some next time too😉

  3. Crap, Julie! So they’re just watching you? No treatment? I can’t believe it! I was just thinking I should schedule a colonoscopy…….
    What is up with people? Seriously? I’m glad you are casting her aside and moving on. ❤

  4. Julie, OMG! You handle yourself with such grace and aplomb under the direst of circumstances! You are a blessing to ask that know you.

    I stopped watching the Real Housewives franchises because I was sick of the petty bickering and thought it a poor representation of female friendships. I’m aghast that there are “real life” examples of this aberrant behavior. Hopefully they are a minority.

    I miss our little outings and hope to see you in the New Year!

  5. My goodness, I am so sorry to hear all of this. As horrible and as scary as all the health things are, in my mind the treatment by “friends” is worse, especially since that is the one thing that people have some control over. As much as people malign the internet, I have received a lot of support and unconditional love through if from people I barely know or have never even met. I hope we do the same for you to get you through this rough patch when the In Real Life friends aren’t there for you.

    • I am blessed to have many friends of long standing. In fact, I rarely have interpersonal issues with people which is part of the reason this was so unnerving and upsetting. Women: be kind to one another!

  6. That sucks- about your health stuff and the bullying. I happen to run a women’s connection group in metrowest but have members as east as Brookline, north as Bolton, and south as Rhode Island. It’s a group dedicated to positivity, women lifting each other up, and NO DRAMA. Feel free to pm me for details. We are one chapter of over 60 in the country and growing daily.

    • Interesting. This sounds like a perfect place for some people to learn to act like adults and not like 14 year olds. I am so blessed to have many dear, kind and long term friends in my life. I love the idea of this, though!

  7. You have always led every conversation from a place of love & support. You embrace everyone you meet ! Just keep moving forward… I love you !

  8. Yes, kindness is so important! Thank you for continuing to share your story. I’m sorry for the health issues you have been facing. Sending lots of positive thoughts your way!!

  9. Dang, woman – you have been THROUGH IT with your health! Here’s to the rest of 2018 being about a billion times better for you.

    And as for those women, sigh. Yes, I’m including all of them, because as you pointed out, they could have said something, anything, when the ringleader was being such a B. (side note, we rewatched most of The Office over the holidays and there’s one episode where Michael is on the phone to his mother and whispers “P is being a real B” and none of us can let go of that one…) I’m really sorry they didn’t turn out to be the people you hoped for. It’s a real let down when people actually let you down like that.

  10. Good grief! I’m so sorry to hear all of this 😦 I’ll happily have coffee with you anytime! In fact, I’m due for a trip to the north shore 😀

  11. I am so sorry, Julie about your physical issues. As to the woman, she is a total narcissist and not worth having as a friend. If one cannot forgive and forget, who needs them? There are so many other kinder, nicer people in the world, why let one self centered child pull your strings? I had a similar issue recently and just dropped her as if she never existed. Life is too short to allow yourself to be hurt by tone deaf children trapped in adult bodies.

  12. ❤️ Your last line should be a mantra for us ALL… (apparently your friend missed it in your previous blog post) The rest of 2018 just has to be better for you; sending healing thoughts and prayers your way!

  13. Julie,
    Sorry to hear about this health issue. When they snip, snip it, you should aksi figuratively snip, snip those women out of your life and give neither another thought. That kind of stress, you don’t need. Looking forward to reconnecting later this year at Reunion.

  14. What is wrong with people?
    I know I shouldn’t say this, but….with today’s “leadership” the bullies are taking over. You’re one of the good ones., and good things will come to you, Bullies will end up,with what they deserve.
    I’m putting my sheckles on you,
    Come back to brookline, there’s always a seat at the table for you here.

  15. Wow!!wow wow wow to all of this. I’m so sorry about all of the health awfulness (sincerely, I am). And the mean girl bullshit…wow. Go on and keep fighting the good fight!

  16. Julie – Are you recounting a story of something that happened to you in junior high school? Cause it sure sounds like it, Sorry you had to move your tray to another table since the mean girl wouldn’t let you sit at “her” table. Seriously???? As far as I’m concerned, it’s her loss. I don’t even know this person, but I’m angry anyway.

    Hope the health issues improve soon – sending you all sorts of love and good karma. Remember – don’t let the turkeys get you down.

  17. Julie, my best positive thoughts and prayers are with you. The way you write about the thorniest subjects (real life) is so immediate and real. Don’t mind that coffee lady, she just can’t handle your fabulousness.

  18. First, let me say I HATE BULLIES! I also hate women who don’t stand up for other women. I am so sorry to hear this happened to you! I am, however, so relieved all is well medically and would love to meet for dinner again soon! Xxoo

  19. Pingback: Everybody Needs a Tribe | George. Jessie. Love.

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