A question of scale

I used to really like miniatures. Miniature anything, I loved the pieces to Monopoly, my tiny tea set, the tiny food craze was pretty cool too. Big things are fun too, I love a big sweatshirt, oversized hammocks and large computer monitors.

When my daughters were babies I would put them in some adorable onesies and dresses that just don’t work on adults. It’s a question of scale, a baby sized bright yellow dress with ducks all over it is super cute, put that same dress scaled appropriately on an adult maybe not as cute. I have a special place in my heart for people who deal with a lot of kids at once. We have one more daughter than adults in this family, I am not sure that is the correct ratio for daily sanity or organized living.

When cancer is staged, it is all about size and number. The measurement in centimeters of the tumor and the number of tumors determine the initial stage. Surgery and lymph node pathology confirm or change the stage.

In this case, the smaller the tumor and the smaller the number of tumors along with the smaller number of nodes impacted and the size of the cancer cells, if any, found in the nodes. Obviously zero is the best case scenario, when zero is no longer an option the closer to zero the better.

The surgeon will have an idea of what they are going to find through imaging and biopsy, it is still a best guess, a well educated and highly informed best guess but a best guess nonetheless. Everything can change once they get in there and poke around–in either direction– better or worse. If you get to choose, choose better.

I went in with the stage where I was only going to need surgery to remove the tumor. Surgery, healing, move on. Easy, excellent plan, you know, considering.

Unfortunately, during surgery the need for chemotherapy became apparent. This would be a change for the worse, chemo is brutal. The thought, as I understand it, if there is a cancer cell in the lymph nodes, there are cancer cells moving throughout the body and chemo is the best chance to kill them before they organize and become a tumor somewhere else. The smaller the cancer cell in the node, the fewer potentially moving about. Four infusions is the going rate these days.


While it is not that far from zero, it is far enough. Chemo is brutal. I am thankful everyday in every way not to have required more and for the job it did in healing me. I would not wish it on anyone, anyone at all.

It has been described as feeling like you have the flu. Again, a question of scale. Not just the flu, but the worst flu you have ever had or ever imagined, resetting the bar for worst each time, because as soon as you start to feel ‘not the worst anymore’ it happens again and find out there is a new and worse worst. And then it is over.

When it is over there is another new bar, for gratitude and appreciation for life. It is amazing, kind of like the feeling of a birthday party as a kid, but every day. Every single day is better than the last, how could you possibly ask for more than that? Even the bad days are still better than the worst days of chemo or a worse outcome. This is a fantastic feeling to scale up, if a little is good, believe me when I say a lot is even better.

When it comes to cancer, zero is best, closer to zero is better than further away. When it comes to appreciation and gratitude, infinite or as close to infinite as you can get is best. Remember it is a question of scale, some things need to be scaled down while others should be scaled up. Keep all that in mind when buying adorable dresses and keep it in mind when supporting good causes like Survivor Sherpa.


Published by survivorsherpa

I am a wife and mother to three daughters, a chemist and a breast cancer survivor. I would very much like to help others by caring and advocating for them while sharing my experiences and tips that may help to thrive during and after treatment.

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