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Sarah 1: Cancer 0

June 21, 2013

This will be my last cancer post because…

I am happy to report that yesterday I received news that the pathology reports show that they got all the cancer with the surgery and I am officially now in the “cancer survivor” category. Give me a moment…


saveahorseOK, I’m back.  I am extraordinarily relieved to be done with this. I have more medical follow-up and check-up appointments over the next several months, but as long as I heal okay, this is over. A total knock-out fight and cancer lost. Take that, cancer! I am admittedly a little worse for wear, but all things considered, it was never a fair fight. With all the positive vibes you were sending me, cancer never stood a chance. And I just wasn’t ready to die yet.

I thought that for my final post on this topic, I’d try to answer some of the many questions that I’ve been hearing a lot.

How did you do this so fast? It’s only been a few weeks since you were diagnosed!

We caught the cancer super-early. That only happened because I get regular exams at my OB/GYN. I’ve been so pleased with the number of women contacting me saying they traditionally avoid their yearly exams, but scheduled an appointment after reading what I’d written. Paraphrasing an Australian PSA poster someone mentioned to me: “It’s a few moments of discomfort for an entire year of peace of mind.” Another factor in my speed-cancer-killing is that my doctors were eager to get the surgery done quickly (as was I), and I told them to be aggressive with what they removed…to err on the side of “too much” just to make sure we’d get it all and I wouldn’t have to endure another surgery or radiation, the two likely next steps were this surgery to fail.

Did you really live-Tweet during your surgery?

I did indeed. I had to stop part-way through due to an allergic reaction to the anesthetic, so it wasn’t as “blow by blow” as I’d hoped to achieve, but I did as much live as I could and caught up once my arms and hands stopped shaking violently. I am still somewhat baffled that I was left conscious for this, but apparently it’s standard practice.  I would recommend to others that you may want to inquire about a general anesthetic if you have to do it (which I hope you never do).  If I ever had to do it again, I would mandate a general.  I left out most of the gruesome details believe it or not (my choice), but have openly discussed them with anyone who’s curious or looking at facing a similar procedure themselves. Below are my Tweets from right before, during, and after the surgery. Read from the bottom up.


How did the surgery go?

The surgery was successful and the cancer’s gone–so the surgery did its job. They had to remove far more tissue than they’d planned, which made the procedure take longer. Unfortunately, I had an unpredictable allergic reaction to the cervical block (read: several injections with a BFN (big fucking needle).  I was violently shaking, nearly seizing. But they wanted to go ahead with the procedure so we did. I had two female nurses holding me down to keep me as still as possible (and a female doctor).  And in true Sarah fashion I made a lewd joke to cover my fear and freaked-out-ed-ness. I said “If all three of you were hot naked guys and the doctor was holding a vibrator instead of a cauterizing gun this would be a great porn film.” At least it made the nurses giggle.

What has recovery been like after the surgery?

It’s been difficult.  I didn’t really move much at all for 72 hours. I gave myself one more day off work than I thought I needed, then I could only do a half-day my first two days back and am home working today to give myself more recuperating time. My energy level is low and I get tired super easily. But I suppose that’s to be expected after having chunks cut off of you, being burned and charred, and losing a lot of blood.

Who did you have to help you?

I could not have gotten through this by myself. My bestest friend Carol helped me with the surgery and immediate aftermath (stuffed animals in the car FTW).  I’ve also had help and support from a few other local friends–making or bringing me food, scooping the cat boxes, or simply stopping by to say hi.  But I especially want to thank Michael who’s done much more than he had to.  And really, anyone who gets me out of the house for the first time to see Henry Cavill with his shirt off gets bonus points for life.  For *life* I say!  I have also had remote encouragement and help from hundreds of family and friends, revealing to me a support network that I didn’t know existed.  It’s heartening to think that in the worst case scenarios in our lives we have people to reach out to.  Of my remote “spirit-keeper-uppers” I want to send a special thanks to Nicolette and Andy whose humor and practical advice helped make things tolerable.  To all of you: MWAH!

How are you feeling now? And you’re seriously going to ALA? Are you insane, woman?

At the present moment I’m feeling good, but I’ve also been working from bed all day. I still hurt but it’s tolerable. I’m still weak, but if I pace myself it’s okay.  I was cleared to travel so I am indeed going to ALA for 5 days.  I’m presenting three times, pre-recording one additional presentation because they double-booked me, and competing in ALA Battledecks (I will bring the hurt, people).  I have a ton of parties and evening events lined up as well.  I’m going to see how I do and not push it.  If I can’t stay for your whole party/event, or you see me sitting on the floor in a corner nodding off, cut me some slack and/or bring me a Red Bull.  And yes, I am most certainly insane, but that has nothing to do with this particular conversation.

To close – goodbye cancer and hello future 🙂

“Sarah 1: Cancer 0”

  1. Jamie M Says:

    No general anesthetic?? Are you crazy? 🙂 I need numbing just for a cavity!! So glad to hear it all went well and you are recovering, but I never really doubted anything less.

  2. Amy Ryan Says:

    I had a LEEP procedure seven years ago and I can still remember the smell from the cauterizing gun. Also, your porn joke is really funny! I got my nurse to laugh when I called the goo they use to seal the cauterization “cervical spackle.” Doctor did not see the humor, though. Glad you’re cancer free! It’s a wonderful club to be in.

  3. Andromeda Says:

    Dunno what that doctor’s problem was. “Cervical spackle” is *hilarious*.

  4. Sarah Says:

    Amy: You got spackle? I don’t believe I got any spackle. Or maybe I blacked out for that part…entirely possible. Maybe they don’t spackle anymore… And Andromeda’s right – that is *hilarious* 😀

  5. Melissa M. Says:

    Awesome!!! Bye-bye, cancer, and good riddance.

    They do a lot of things on just local anesthetic these days – including my father’s pacemaker. Amazing but not comfortable.

  6. Rob Says:

    Wow Sarah, thanks so much for sharing this story of courage, guts and love for your friends. I’ve witnessed this fight closely with a friend of mine, who healed from breast cancer. She said she lost a lot of her body, but got new lifetime friends in return, true friends that don’t run away at the word ‘cancer’. I recognized much in your story. And I am glad you are still among us. Thank you!

  7. The Rodent Says:

    Great news! Hope the rest of your recovery is speedy.

  8. The Tome Reader Says:

    Sarah, before this you were a hero and a role model and an inspiration to me.

    Fuck it, now you’re a goddess.

  9. ellen Says:

    This is good news.

  10. Stephanie Willen Brown Says:

    w00t! Very happy to hear this! I admire your honesty on your blog & on Twitter. So glad to know that cancer has vamoosed!

  11. Holly Williams Says:

    YYYYEEEESSS!! My hands shot up into the air when I read this. It may be a little odd to be so freakin’ happy for someone I’ve never met, but I truly, truly am, Sarah. This is spectacular news!!!

  12. Doug K Says:

    congratulations, wonderful news ! well done to you and your doctors..

    so, let’s see – doc slashed and burned his way into the lady parts, and this was done with ** local ** anesthetic only ?
    I would not have been joking, piteous wails would be more my mark..
    The highest salary recorded in the BLS data is anesthesiologist, higher than surgeons – maybe that’s why the local..

  13. Sarah Says:

    Someone pointed out to me that C-sections are routinely done now with locals only, so as she said, if “‘make seven-inch incision, remove baby’ doesn’t justify a general” it’s not surprising mine didn’t either. I would, however, have preferred it.

  14. pollyalida Says:

    Best news ever! Hooray!! So happy for you. Good luck w ALA. exhausting when in the best of health.

  15. claudia098 Says:

    Awesome awesome awesome! Won’t be at ALA, but am in awe that you will be. Rock on, girl!!

  16. CarolK Says:

    Right on! So glad to hear this news. As always, enjoy your life!!!

  17. Erin Says:

    You are awesome, congratulations! Just came across this “eff cancer” shirt and thought of you!

    Be well.

  18. Sarah Says:

    Thanks Erin! I have this shirt, actually. (a bit more explicit…and black):

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