Erica’s Cancer Journey: “Ruh-roh!”

(JD Hancock)

Star Date 12.23.18, Sunday morning 

I was doing routine weekly blood tests for chemo prep when my oncologist asked why I was so out of breath. I told her that my breathing challenges had escalated over the past twelve days. During the 40 minutes of my appointment, I spiked a fever. I know this because my temperature was taken upon arrival that day for chemo prep (98.6 degrees, no fever), and when I was asked the routine weekly questions (99.1 degrees, low fever), before it quickly ratcheted up to a full-blown fever of 101.5 (same frequency as WPDH). When you splice a sudden onset fever with a heap of other health challenges, it spells, in the immortal words of Scooby Doo: “Ruh-roh!” 

Fast*-forward seven hours with Wayne’s World wavy lines. 

(Fast in this context literally means “not eating,” which didn’t feel fast at all.)

After enduring the resolute commitment to uphold “All the Testing Ever Created by Medical Science” along with its charming dance partner “Hurry Up and Wait” and its super low-key cousin “You’ll Feel a Pinch,” I was finally wheeled into the procedure room – I mean CathLab. That’s where they study cats, but they don’t want you dropping off your litters there randomly, so they use the extra “h” to create confusion. Please don’t tell them I mentioned any of this to you. 


After 30 minutes of repeatedly stabbing along my breastbone; pressed like I was on the wrong side of a CAT industrial roller, I discovered with local anesthetic the motto, “Hahaha, listening to ‘Comfortably Numb’ works better than some of this stuff.”

The doctor struggled to find a pool of fluid to draw out since he kept encountering scar tissue, and scar tissue cannot be drained like fluid can. And then, just like Australia vs. USA in 2012 when the women’s team rallied for a victory at 2-1, he tried a final option in a very tricky spot. He pierced and he scored! Plenty of fluid to go around!

Since I never integrated meds for this procedure, recovery was brief, and it didn’t hurt! A mere four hours after that, I was provided a bed, and I appreciated every moment I could sleep in it… as in, moments, at the hospital, whose motto is “You’ll sleep for 40 seconds before the next whir or beep, and you’ll like it.” 

Yes, this fluid will rebuild, but we’ll cross that stream when we come to it. In the meantime, “Scooby Dooby Doo!” 

Head On and Heart Strong!

Love, Erica

Kids’ Almanac columnist Erica Chase-Salerno was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer in the Summer of 2015. To read more about her experience, visit