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The ‘Ectomies … aka The Three Witches of Cancer


“When shall we three meet again – in thunder, lightening, or in rain?”

“When the hurly-burly’s done, when the battle’s lost and won.”

“That will be ere the set of sun.”

-William Shakespeare, Macbeth

At some point during high school or college most of us studied Macbeth; Shakespeare’s tale that begins with three witches foretelling the rise of a king and a lady that will stop at nothing to see her husband fulfill their prophecy. Cancer reminds me of Macbeth, specifically the three witches which set the tone of the tragedy. When I look back upon my cancer experience and I examine the scars that bisect my torso it reminds me of all the surgical procedures that brought me to this point. The ‘ectomies or as I like to call them, the three witches of cancer, because that’s kind of how this whole cancer thing began. I’ll introduce them one by one – and you’ll quickly see, their names match their personalities.

Get to know, Titswitch, Sonofabitchwitch, and Fuckwitch...

A lumpectomy, or as I’ve named her, Titswitch, introduced herself to me in 2007 to figure out what the hell was bulging out of my right tit…initially termed as a biopsy until I signed the papers permitting the surgeon to remove the entire mass instead of a cross section to determine the pathology. Titswitch saved me some aggravation from the start. I recall stating, ‘just take the whole damn thing out’ as that ‘ectomy began; naively convinced it was simply a cyst that had gone rogue. I had no idea…

An oophorectomy, aka Eggywitch, was first mentioned in 2008 after I completed treatment and decided to have the BRCA testing done. Eggywitch, is considered to be the younger cooler half-sister of Fuckwitch (whom we will meet shortly) only bears a quick mention here. This ‘ectomy is the removal of ovaries and tubes and would only be necessary if the testing was positive – which it wasn’t…so though still an ‘ectomy, not one that I needed…yet.

A bilateral mastectomy, or Sonofabitchwitch, flew into my life in 2012 removing both my breasts, which was done after I found out that indeed I had drawn the short straw yet again. This bitch at least brought the good drugs to the party.

The hysterectomy, this trollop jumped on the ‘ectomy bandwagon in 2014 once treatment was completed after my second cancer dance and I’ve named her Fuckwitch. I’d been gossiping about her sister ‘ectomy, Eggywitch, with my gynecologist when he called one day to tell me that he felt instead of removing just the ovaries and tubes it would be best to remove alltheladybits at once leaving nothing more to chance. I agreed and we proceeded making her my third and final ‘ectomy. Good thing too – had I gone with hysterectomy’s younger cooler sister half-sister, Eggywitch, they would have never known that precancerous cells were flourishing in my endometrial lining.

Merriam Webster defines a witch as a very unpleasant woman. They also denote that in medical terminology the suffix ‘ectomy means, essentially, the removal of something. I’m going to keep writing, ranting and educating until we find a witch that will cast a proper spell when the hurly-burly’s done that brings all of us a cancerectomy.

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