Monday, October 27, 2008

3-Day Training Day

Before reporting for the 3-Day training for Crew members, I ran into Decatur to a special clinic that Emory runs. I waited in a waiting room with lots of little kids, some looking very normal; talking normal. Other kids definitely had some kind of medical issue that was visible. One family left the clinic to return to a Holiday In next door. In other words, they had come a long distance to come to this strange place to find answers to questions that could not be answered in their hometown. Their child was about five, but being wheeled in a stroller with a pacifier in his mouth. He was lovingly dressed in the best clothing any child could ever have, with a warm, cuddly sand-colored sweater on to shield against the sudden cold and wind outside. I watched with an ache in my heart for them as they left this place I was sitting in, and was struck by their love and sadness.

When it was my turn up, I had an interview with a genetic counselor. Interestingly because of the lack of cancer history in my family, they are only going to screen for the BRACA-1 and BRACA-2 genes. While these genes are more common in the ethnic Jewish community, they also appear randomly in the general population. There are other mutations that occur, but they are not testing for those. If I had had more relatives with ovarian or breast cancer, they would have gone for the broader screening. Go figure.

Giving blood for the test was easy because a pediatric phlebotimist took the blood. Often it's a problem for me with my small veins. Everything else may be large, but the veins are small.

It was quick and easy for me. They will send me a letter and phone me with test interpretations in a couple weeks. Why is this important now? I mean, they can't PREDICT cancer at this point! They can tell me if there is a genetic component though. THAT is important because if it is a genetic cause, as opposed to a random mutation, there are implications for my future treatment. Should I have a BRACA gene, I might have to have further surgery to be safe. If there doesn't appear to be a genetic component, then my ovaries can stay right where they are.

Right after I left this scientific world, where I walked through hallways full of equipment and windowed doors leading into laboratories, I left to go to the 3-Day training. It was in a world a long way away in more ways than one. The start of the walk was at North Point Mall in Alpharetta. Alpharetta is probably 70 miles from my home, and about 7 light years from RURAL to ultra-upscale-conspicuous-consumption URBAN. Stores everywhere for anything. One store was a Dick's Sporting goods and I zipped in and bought a pair of waterproof slacks in anticipation of a rainy Friday. Boy was that a smart move on my part! I finally found the training location and went to several meetings. We were trained on how to use cheap, NEXTEL piece-of-crap phones. We were trained on how to be gracious to walkers. We were trained on the ladder of authority for the 3-Day. We were let loose to go to our hotels (we had to be back at 5AM so no one was going far).

My socks had hurt my feet with a seam across my toes, so ran out looking for a Target or Walmart. I stumbled upon a Walmart and got some "diabetic socks" that were seamless. Driving around this area just stunned me with the density of stores. Upscale stores. Everywhere. Where do the people live that shop in these stores? Specialty stores. Stationary stores (not fixed in one place, I mean stores that focus on the artful and personalized paper needs of the upscale writer); maternity stores, every big-box store you ever thought of, and many I never thought about.

Sure enough, it was raining Friday morning. And raw. That wet kind of of cold that grips you and makes you know all the way down to your inner core that you too are cold. The water running down my new waterproof jacket and new waterproof slacks, and across my hiking boots that were not waterproof but were close enough.

Yes, that's me on the far left. This is a picture of the Bus Liaison crew who showed up ON TIME. Our crew captain finally showed up about 20 minutes late, which left us standing around in the rain wondering what in the heck we'd volunteered to do! I know it's dark in the picture. It's 5 frippin' AM! The flowers that I'm carrying, ended up being a last minute purchase to decorate a tent I'd never move into. They were instead used as if they were a queenly scepter. I'd use them to wave to walkers, direct traffic with pink panache, and shower walkers with "blessings." I carried them with me the entire 3 days and came to enjoy them very much. A piece of impromptu chicanery that turned into something useful and frivolous.


Watercolor said...

I love the touch of the flowers!!! It sounds like you had fun. What joy!

Susan said...

Brrr I am cold just looking at that picture. I thought of you all out there on Friday in that cold rain. Looking forward to hearing more of your story!

Breast Cancer 3-Day said...

Thank you so much for being part of the crew!