Saturday, December 31, 2011

Theresa Petrey v. Inflammatory Breast Cancer

Well here it is at last, the blog post where I share a day in the life of a lawyerly lady in a small town attempting to work her way through treatment for a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer.  Early on, I made the decision, mostly by default due to my own experience with the highly effective grapevine news system in this community, not to try to keep the diagnosis quiet.  I did not know what to do, whether I would be able to work, and, if this was indeed  inflammatory breast cancer, whether I should even try to work. 

Interpreting the studies and the statistics remains enigmatic.  What does it really mean when a study places a five year statistical mean for survival at 40%?  Let me tell you, that I REALLY like the study that came up with a five year survival rate of  58%.  The overall five year survival rate for breast cancer is close to 90%.  I was one of those people who had a delay in getting diagnosed and treated, because the Cancer Medical Industrial Complex in Central Washington, was, in my experience, systemically incapable of timely deployment, so I've repeatedly wondered in the end how much that delay changed the numbers for me.

Ultimately, we wound up at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA), seeing a team of Doctors for a second opinion.  It took only minutes for us to realize that I should be treated there and that I should have been there six weeks earlier.  My husband calls SCCA the mill, but in a loving way.  I call it the land of the Baldy Chemos.  I was put off by all the hairlessness initially, but have since come to rejoice in being able to go to a place for treatment that my pathetic little baby bird fuzz like hangers on under my wig seem to belong.

I have really resisted engaging in the Cancer Medical Industrial Complex in many ways, preferring to take a pragmatic approach of attempting to keep my practice and life as we know it back here in Ellensburg basically rolling along.  I limited Rotary attendance for the year, passed the Kittitas County Bar Association Treasurer books along to the highly capable Paul Sander, delegated, delegated, delegated to the rest of the Kittitas County Democratic Central Committee Board, decided that most Sundays during Chemo treatments, one hour of church meetings is good, and on some Sundays, just staying home and listening to Christmas music on Pandora was also good enough.

Many potential litigation clients were sent away.  I even fired a couple of clients.  I continue to take new clients who need consults or transactional legal work. The rest are all hanging in with me as I plod through completing my backlog.  One family even calls and emails on a regular basis, telling me that I am a "dear one to them."  That is very moving. 

My colleagues are supportive as well.

I am able to work.  Not as much as before, but I can do several hours a day.  Currently, I've got a great legal assistant, Candee Cox, who helps tremendously.  I've almost got the office situations fully resolved with my relocation.  I feel like I can make it through the next rounds of chemo therapy, even though this second phase of Chemo lives up to the bad reputation the process has, surgery and radiation therapy.

I am planning to win.

Labels: , , ,