Monday, May 3, 2010

well that's something new

I should be writing my thesis right now, but I’m a little distracted. I have a lump in my right breast that is hopefully nothing, but the doc said he can’t rule out some weird malignancy. Seems like every time I calm myself down and put it in the back of my mind, I look something up and of course, it correlates with breast cancer. My lower back hurts, never has before….breast cancer metastasis. I have a headache…. metastasis. The tumor is growing…aggressive metastasis. I look at my babies….no mother. I look at my husband….scared and alone. I don’t want to tell my folks…..they’ll never get over it. I’m less concerned with what happens to me then what happens to them. I feel like I’ll carry the guilt into the great abyss if something happens and all of a sudden, I’m not here anymore, and they’re left alone to grieve.
I want my babies to know how much I love them. I have spent many moments try to burn them into some deeper plane of reality, so that I can visit them whenever I want. Nothing has brought me more joy then to bring them up in this world, watching them grow, holding their little bodies, their big hands. What a gift it’s been to be their mother, to hear even once the word uppy, to watch as their faces light up when I pick them up, shall we dance in the kitchen, make-up stories every day, laughter, uncontrollable at the word poopy (yes Rob, that one’s for you!). I want them to have every chance possible to find happiness in this world. It’s not an easy thing to accomplish, I missed it, overlooked it, ran away from it many many times in my life, and only by accident did it ever occur to me that it has always been within my grasp. Even now, as I write this in the most distressed state of my life, I have a warm smile on my face thinking of all I have to be grateful for.
Just had a core needle biopsy in Quinlin's office. I’ve been a wreck all day, I can’t stop reading about angiosarcoma. I didn’t realize until he read me the cytology report that the pathologist actually listed angiosarcoma as a possibility. I want to know one way or the other, the waiting is just filling me with anxiety to the point where I can’t breath normally. I feel like once I know, if it’s bad, I’ll be completely freaked out at first, but will then deal with it very well. I just can’t stop thinking of what it will be like for my family to see me wither away, that thought alone consumes me with total despair. I have not spent one minute worrying about me, or death, or being scared of what’s next, but I can’t stop thinking of my babies and how hard this is going to be on my entire family. I’ve told Ted on numerous occasions that for me, it’s really no big deal. In fact I feel like the luckiest person in the world to have been able to have the life experiences that I have had. I honestly feel like I have packed it all in. Happiness, check. Beautiful children, check.. Wonderful husband with whom I have never fallen out of love, check. Incredible career, check. Great friends, check. Good relationship with both folks, check. Adventures and the feeling of total freedom, check and check. I’ve experienced birth, nursing, the deepest I’ve ever reached into life has been in silent moments shared with my children and for that I’m so grateful. I have burned those memories so deep into my soul that they have to have transpired into another dimension. I come home every day to loving arms that have supported me, that have raised me up to be the happy and fulfilled person that I am. I have friends that know my thoughts so well, there’s no need for words. I have run marathons, jumped out of planes, picked up hitch hikers, talked to everyone, listened to everyone. I love science and the process of discovery, and feel so lucky to have found it. I love life and feel like I’m living it well. I don’t have any outstanding things to do, from this point on it’s icing on top of the cake. I’m smiling now writing all this despite the tracks left on my cheeks from the tears that have been streaming down my face all day. I need my babies to know how much I love them. I will make every effort to take care of them, to let them know me, to find a way for my unconditional love to remain with them as they follow their own paths.

May 1, 2010
Waiting on my core biopsy results: I don’t really get why we’re so scared of death. The way I look at it is that there are 2 possibilities. One, nothing happens. Two, something happens. If nothing happens what is there to be so concerned about, Nothing happened to you before you were born too, but there was nothing to lament. Nothing isn’t bad, it doesn’t hurt, it’s not sad, it’s just nothing, like a forgotten memory, it happened but now it’s gone. The memory doesn’t care that it’s not there any more. In the great nothingness, the molecules that make me up will simply return to their composite atoms and disperse into the universe…pretty cool, we are star dust! Two, there’s some kind of afterlife. Really people? Pearly gates, sitting on clouds for all eternity? What exactly would be the point of that? Why would there be a constant need to make new souls, traffic them to some earthly realm to “test” them only to bring them to ecstasy or horror for all eternity? It’s not at all possible folks that the thought of nothing just doesn’t jive with the majority of people, so somewhere along the line someone told a bedtime story to a wide eyed child and it stuck? Oh yes sweetheart, we all go to heaven if we’re good, so be good for goodness sake. I’m not scared of the great big nothing, but I’m not looking forward to the ride getting there.

May 4, 2010,
Drum roll please……angiosarcoma of the breast. It official folks, my time here is limited. All silliness aside, it feels good to know. It’s just totally surreal knowing that there’s this aggressive tumor trying to eat me from within, yet I feel so healthy. This is going to harder on everyone else then me. My first hurdle is over, telling the folks. I was sure that my mom would burst out and not be able to speak coherently, but she was so so very strong. I can’t tell any of you how much easier that made it for me. My dad too was soo strong, he really believes in me, he knows I’m a fighter. My brothers were in shock, I love them both more then they realize, and I guess it was nice hearing that back from them today….see folks….silver liningsJ. Then there was the friends.. They were unanimously shocked. Heather, so very sad. Gina, so very mad, Jen, right here by my side. Thea, working her magic, and pulling her strings at Dana Farber.
I was with Ted when the doctor called and I pulled over, gave the phone to Ted, got out of the car and made a complete spectacle of myself right there in the parking lot of WPI. We went to Umass so I could tell my co-workers, Allan, Daryl and Larry. As you might imagine, they were all sympathetic. Larry later sent an email saying I could pot-doc in his lab, and that he’d help me however he could. That meant a lot to me. I don’t want to bring this to Daryl, she needs to grow her lab, not bring it down with a charity case.
Ted and I are going to take the girls to a synagogue. We want to bring an organized religion to them and Ted thinks Judaism will make them feel closer to me. My god I love life. Even during this horrible realization there’s so much to be grateful for. I have the opportunity to reach out to all my friends and family and let them know how I feel, who they are to me. I think life is so beautiful, and if I can remain calm enough through this initial shock, I hope I can inspire people to see the beauty all around them, to thoroughly enjoy the moment, to love deeply, burn themselves into time, to not miss me, but to meet me where I am and see the path through the trash and dirt and sand and asphalt that’s so clearly laid out before me so that they can visit me anytime


  1. I meant to finish that with, they can visit me whenever they want.

  2. I love you so much. My life is infinitely better for knowing someone as stellar as you. You're a fighter, Corrie!

  3. When I 1st saw the blog heading today I thought it was some silly joke or sarcasm. After reading through your blog just want you to know how sad I am to hear this and how strong I think you are for caring about your family. Ted and the kids are so blessed to have been a part of you and I feel lucky to know you. Keep fighting and god bless. Yeah you are a fighter for sure.

  4. Corrie,
    You are an amazing person and I know you will fight this. You will be here to see every step of your babies lives. I have no doubt. Your smile brightens up a room and you always know how to make a person laugh! I am blessed to have you in my life! I am here for you and I love you very much!

    Love and hugs

  5. Corrie,

    This is so unfair, but it may just be a test and you are one of the strongest people out there! Stay strong and fight! You can beat this!!! As other people have said, you know how to make a person it's your turn for us to make you laugh!

    You are an amazing human being and you must know that we all love you! Thinking of you,

  6. Corrie,
    You are a woman I carry deep admiration for, and I feel blessed to have our paths cross. You are an amazingly positive, realistic, loving, funny, deep, intelligent woman.
    Love, Karin

  7. I don't even know how to begin to tell you how much of an impact you've had on me and how proud and grateful I am for knowing you. You are such an unselfish, wonderful friend to so many people. I want to punch angiosarcoma in the face. I love you.
    Love, Jen Hicks

  8. Your words here are a gift to all-written with such depth and clarity-pretty good for a scientist. It eases the pain for us and I hope it can do the same for you. You are in my thoughts when my mind rests from the daily tasks.

    We remember random insignificant snapshots of people, but ones that represent their being. My mind's snapshot of you is at my house holding Maddy as an infant in your outstretched arms while VIGOROUSLY bouncing her on my exercise ball with the vacuum going for white noise with a big smile on your face. The conversation never faltered like this was a common activity for you and I'm sure it was.

    That picture will be in my mind forever.