What does it feel like to have cancer? —PART 2



I hope everyone is up for round #2.  You won’t hurt my feelings if you delete or ignore this, I completely understand.  I am doing this for me, not you.  Each word I write is a seed being planted, waiting  to be nurtured and grow, hoping to heal myself and be a better person going forward.  Corny, I know!

If you missed part 1, and truly want to read it….click here.

21.  Scolding.  Being told by my first oncologist to stay away from the internet.  It would only confuse my mind with all of the bad information/pessimism floating around.  Hello Doc, how do you think I was comfortable and confident coming to see you….I googled the hell out of him. 


 22.  Party.  We were welcomed with open arms to the first round of chemo.  A three-time survivor greeted us, gave a very long speech and a goody bag.   I was taken aback, she was invading my space, I wanted to keep this a private affair and I was in my zone (mentally).   Three years later I still can’t tell you one thing she preached, but I do appreciate her encouragement and sisterhood. I still have every blessing and prayer that were in that goody bag,


 23.  Science project.  The systematic way the drugs must enter the body.  Steroids and nausea pills the day before and day after chemo, cushioning the body for the devil to do its deed.  The actual day begins with Benadryl, prednisone, 2 bags of Taxotere and 2 HUGE syringes of Cytoxan.  I was a walking pharmaceutical!!


 24.  Fire.  First round of Taxotere missed its mark ~ burning the vein six inches up my forearm.  Angry, red, painful to the touch.  Five months later….still visible; eight months later it has disappeared, taking the vein with it.


 25.  Head in the clouds.  I watched too many movies, seeing cancer patients puking their guts out and lying in bed.  For me, reality was fogginess so thick that even a lighthouse couldn’t be seen from my rocking ship.  Treatments were on Thursday, by Sunday I was on that ship rocking side to side desperately looking for that light.  Finally Tuesday’s rolled around….fog clearing, lighthouse straight ahead.


 26.  Rat on your head.   The appointment with the wig specialist cancelled, after being told that this is a very traumatic/emotional experience, she will allow an hour for me to find a wig.  What?  You mean this isn’t a chance to fulfill PT’s wildest fantasy….long hair, short hair…..red, blond…oh, the possibilities are endless.  I am fully aware that this can be emotional, but I choose to make it as fun as possible.  God bless CB for dropping everything on a Sunday in the hunt for a wig shop.  And God bless the little oriental lady who probably thought we were nuts giggling through all of the hair!


 27.  Mary J. Blige.  Deciding the wig is not for me, thankful I spent $36 versus the upwards of $2K I would have spent at the specialty wig store.  Blessed that HM brought me a dozen bandanas, every shade you can imagine.  Deciding that I am better off channeling my ‘biker babe’ image than the Mary J. Blige look.  For anyone who is going through treatments, I would love to send you this wig.  It is stunning, it just wasn’t for me.  Maybe we can have the traveling wig, connecting and bonding people along the way.


 28.  Irony.  Walking up the stairs at work, hearing a conversation on the importance and significance of zodiac symbols, and being asked for my sign.  Mood lifting instantly, bright smile plastered on my face saying, “Ironically, I am a cancer”.  That little snippet of irony made me smile all day.


 29.  Million needles are piercing my scalp and each hair on my head weighing a ton.  Two weeks after starting chemo my hair started to fall out.  Two and a half days later, the pain and the constant hair balls (leaving presents for people is only fun for so long and lets face it….very juvenile =) were too much; a dear friend shaves my head.


 30.  Waiting game.  Waiting for appointments, waiting for test results, waiting for life to feel normal again.


 31.  Sprint.  How many miles can I walk each day (averaged 3.5 per day), minimal days off work (got lucky with the timing and 2 fell on holiday weekends), keeping so busy there is no time to breathe.  I wish I had listened to my boss who said, “Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint”!  To wind back the clock, I would have listened to him!!!


 32.  Weight gain.  Seriously, I have to be the only person who gained weight during chemo.  That was supposed to be the one POSITIVE from it all….losing some weight.  Nope, must have broken a record by gaining 15 pounds!


 33.  Orgasm.  The feeling when the shower spray hits my bald head and wanting to lose myself, never leaving that stall.  Absolutely amazing!  This is the only thing I miss from losing my hair.


 34.  Relief.  The BRAC1 and BRAC2 genetic testing came back negative.  Confirms my belief that my cancer is pure environmentally earned.


 35.  Regret.  Why didn’t I have the hospital put in a port?  I am running out of veins, the T & C burning rubber after each treatment……and they refuse to use my left arm due to the mastectomy.


 36.  Your favorite glass vase crashing to the ground, shattering into a million pieces.  White blood cells taking a nosedive to .07, pushing me into isolation.  Someone please tell me how a person can feel so good, but the immune system has shut down?


 37.  Eighty year old woman.  The Neupogen and Nuelasta shots to keep my white blood cells up make every step I take sheer torture.  My hip and leg bones ache, but I push forward….walking uptown to breakfast with my sister and K…even walking the 6 miles roundtrip to receive this dreaded shot.


 38.  “You’re Outa Here”. One of the hottest days of the summer.  Umpire had to be dehydrated, calls getting worse as the innings were getting longer.  The M’s and the D’s egging him, disputing every call.  PT opens his mouth after we were all told to zip it, and the ump actually kicks him out of the ballpark.  Still hilarious to this day!!  If anyone knows PT….coach…athletic director….teacher, and the most mild-mannered guy I know getting kicked out of a ballgame.  Still one of the best stories around!!!!


 39.  Bulls eye marks the spot.  I had a red bulls eye on my throat all through the treatments.  Don’t understand the rhyme or reason of it, and very self-conscious about it.


 40.  My heart is breaking.  Since losing my hair, B wants nothing to do with me.  He is so freaked out by me that he is avoiding this house like the plague.  My heart and soul breaks every time B walks away from me, gives a smart ass response or rolls his eyes.  PT tells me to give it time, he will warm up to me.  Don’t get me wrong, I am eternally grateful for our dear friends and neighbors who opened their home to him for 4-5 months, it was best for B.  What was best for me, was having a son accept me emotionally and physically, and not repulsed by the very sight of me.  For him to know that I am taking the steps and going through hell, hoping to prolong my life and praying to have the chance to watch his kids grow…my glorious, hope to have someday grandchildren!!

Hopefully I didn’t scare all of you away….Part 3 (and final) will be here soon.  Thank you for letting me share this!