Staying Negative

Facedown and flummoxed.

Because I am creatively demented, one of the things I did as I was having a breast MRI this morning, was to start composing a parody of the lyrics to “The Trolley Song” that Judy Garland sings in the movie, Meet Me in St. Louis.

Clang, clang, clang went the magnets,
Bang, bang, bang, it was hell.
Thump, thump, thump went my heartstrings
As I hoped it would all turn out well.
Ache, ache, ache went my shoulder,
Pound, pound, pound went my head,
Thump, thump, thump went my heartstrings
As I tried to defuse my own dread.

The day was bright, the air was sweet,
But my anxiety just knocked me off my feet.
I tried to talk, I couldn’t squeak,
In fact I felt so lost that I could barely speak.

Buzz, buzz, buzz, it was over.
Time to finally emerge.
‘You should drink lots of fluids.
That will help all the contrast stuff purge.’

I tried to stand,
I needed help.
And when I moved my arm, I gave a little yelp.
The tech was sweet,
Knew what to do,
Because she said her mom had had breast cancer, too…

That was when I pretty much completely lost it. I’d started to lose it early on, sometime during the third set of clangs. It occurred to me that each clang and bang perhaps represented one of the few thousand image slices the MRI was taking of my breasts. So I started to cheer them on. “Just find those effing cancer cells, okay? I hope you don’t find ANY, but if they’re there, just find every one of those rat bastards.” And I started to cry, which isn’t the best thing when your face is jammed into a foam-covered face rest. At least I had a face rest. Last time I had one of these, there was no face rest, so my head was turned to one side the whole time, leaving me with a massive crick in my neck when it was over. So, I was glad I didn’t have a crick in my neck today, just a couple of pressure lines across my cheeks and forehead from the face rest. No biggie. All I’d have to do was mop my teary face in the bathroom and rearrange my hair. Yep. That’s me, the Queen of Snark, feeling decidedly unsnarky, trying to see the glass half full.

My right shoulder had turned to cement from trying — and occasionally failing — to keep it still for forty minutes. I’d had to squish the little rubber thingy a few times so I could ask the tech to wait a second while I tried to revive some circulation. “Radiation damage,” I explained to her when it was over. “It’s forever.”

“Yeah, that’s what my mom says.”

“So, your mom is okay?”

“Yes. So far.”

“I hope you stay okay, too,” I said, hugging her tearfully.

“The bathroom is right down the hall.”

Now, now, now is the hard part.
Wait, wait, wait for a week
While they check ev’ry image
That my dense tissue yields to the magnetic fields of the scan,
And I hope that they plan
To inform me as
Soon as they can and they’ll say I’m okay and instead
I’ll be dancing with NED!

Dedicated to everyone one being tested and waiting for results. With love.

UPDATE: Got my results on Friday, 10/26/12, and they were NEGATIVE!! Just in time to start prepping for Hurricane Sandy…

This entry was written by Kathi, posted on Tuesday, October 23, 2012 at 03:10 pm, filed under Diagnosis, Recurrence, Screening and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

26 Responses to “Staying Negative”

  1. Oh, girlfriend! I sympathize as I had the same tortuous breast MRI last month, but I wasn’t nearly as creative as you. I love the new lyrics to the “Trolly Song” and will share it on Twitter & FB. And for your meditation time, imagine that you are free of all little rat bastards. I’m betting that you are.

  2. Free of the rat bastards – sing it:)


  3. Snark away, girlfriend. Your musical bitching truly did ‘lift my heartstrings” and i love you for it!
    We will wait with you, my sister in arms.

  4. 😀 Thanks, chicas. I’m so stinking emo today, I can’t stand myself, but it helps to know you all get it…

  5. Love the interlude. Thank you. Gah, what a massive PITA this is for you. Yeah, free of the rat bastards…bat rastards? Has a nice ring. Big hug.

  6. No rat bastards to see here… keep moving. 🙂

  7. I love the way you think. And sing. And write. And snark. And care. Heck, I just love YOU! Hope you got a lengthy nap in. It’s all so exhausting isn’t it? Thinking of you as you wait…

  8. ‘I went to lose a jolly
    hour on the “Trolley”
    and lost my mind instead.’

  9. Well I really like your lyrics, and how they so musically capture the MRI experience. As for the crying – I’m there with you. My last MRI had me bawling with emotions. These technicians must see it all, and I’m so glad yours had tons of compassion. ~Catherine

  10. Compassion and kindness always make me cry even more, Catherine. And at the same time, I hated hearing that the tech’s mom had gone through this, too. And all this shorthand goes through your head, because you know what she and her mom went through. And here she is, doing this for a living. Bless her.

  11. Thank you, KK! I’m getting ready for my mammo and onc visit in November. I needed this — rat bastards, indeed!! Sing it Sistah!

  12. Kathi, so sorry you had to go through this, and totally understand the feelings you experienced. Two valiums, ativan, or xanax… only way to go through the MRI without terror, anxiety, fear, pain, tears, and anger. Some machines are better than others, (open MRI) the face-smashing is, really, too much. When the contrast solution is pumped in (OMG), it is the closest thing to feeling like you are having a heart attack or a stroke~ Oh, just thinking about it gives me the shivers. The creative soution is to imagine songs, sing along with bang boom beeeeeep…. write a story about the colorful land of scan…
    Hopefully, all will be clear. MRI is the best way to find cancer in dense breast tissue (speaking from experience, ugh).
    Love and gentle hugs… xo <3

  13. Kathi, any way to edit? Sorry about all the typos… xo

  14. Done, dear Indi! xoxo

  15. dear kathi,

    i just discovered your blog, and “awesome” doesn’t even come close to how impressed and inspired i felt reading your writing, your story, thoughts, and feelings. i am a “newbie” to ST IV metastatic BC, dx’d 12/2011, 9 mos. of chemo, surgery, radiation and now deemed NED. i know it could all be taken away in a heartbeat, but still feel happy and hopeful; my husband was dx’d with multiple myeloma in 2009, had surgeries, chemo and 2 stem cell transplants and is also in remission. so…though cancer is a bitch and we are both regarded as “incurable”, we’re runnin’ with it, living life as large as we can. i chose to open myself up to every and all issues concerning BC, especially MBC, the dirty little secrets about pinkification, and the fall-out suffered with BC cancer treatment – thus, to me, your blog is sooooo right on.

    the best thing about a breast MRI is when it is OVER. i will keep you close to my heart, sending powerful vibes for your scan to be free of any of those little rat bastards. so, so glad i found you.

    warm hugs to you, kathi,

    karen, TC

  16. Wow, Karen! What an amazing story! First of all, thank you so much for your kind words. I’m glad you found the blog. But second, and more importantly, I’m near speechless and thankful on your behalf to hear that you and your husband are currently in remission. Do you know A great group which puts virtually all of the funds it raises into research on metastatic breast cancer. I am not Stage IV, but I wanted to do something concrete in support, so I administer a blog for METAvivor, which you can find at The METAvivor Blog. We’re in the midst of publishing a series of posts about the research that’s been funded so far.

    It pleases me greatly that this blog resonates for you. I’ve lost too many incredible friends to the ‘rat bastards’ of MBC. Your vibes and warm hugs are very much appreciated. And warm hugs and vibes back to you and your husband.

  17. Hugs Kathi, here’s to good results and a quick end to the agony of waiting.

  18. Sharon, my friend! Thank you. I owe you a phone call. xoxo

  19. You are such a wonderful writer, Kathi. (((((((hugs)))))))) Sorry I haven’t been around much. My Mom is battling her own cancer right now, and I’m taking care of her the best I can. Love you girl.

  20. Traci, I haven’t been around much either, but I have been thinking of you & your mom. Sending massive hugs.

  21. Glad to hear from you, though this story totally stinks. The worst part is that you can’t move in those things, and when you’re overwhelmed with emotions, it’s hard to stay still. Sending love, as always.


  22. Hey, Praelior! Glad to hear from you, too. Big update: it was NED!!

  23. Fantastic news, Kathi – and, as always, love your work!!

  24. Liz!! I’ve got to catch up. How are you? Need to get over to your blog soon!

  25. AWSOMELY AWESOME Kathi!!!! The lyrics AND the NED!! XOXO my friend!!

  26. […] I got. The last time I had a similar experience was 2012, and my surgeon sent me for a follow-up breast MRI. That MRI was also, fortunately, negative, but getting it was a memorably stressful experience. […]

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