Monday, July 17, 2017

Random Stuff and a Health Update

1. Things I Did While Procrastinating Writing

The white stovetop is really, really clean. Aside: DON'T get a white stovetop. While we saved a bunch of money buying the display model, frankly it's FILTHY 99.5% of the time.  I also did the dishes, cleaned the sinks and counters, and put dishes away. It's fleeting, but satisfying. Now here I am, nothing left I want to do except leave and do the shopping, avoiding the computer at all costs. (Hey, don't worry, everything's a mess again already.)

2.  Random Quotes I've Encountered

Over the last few weeks, I keep hearing or seeing quotes that scream (or whisper, or sing) into my ears and settle in my head nonetheless. So I'm just going to share them with you. And maybe blab about them.

I'm reading Sherman Alexie's new memoir, "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me." Last night I read the following as Alexie described his mother's death from lung cancer:
                     Fuck you, Cancer, fuck you, Cemetery Dancer,
                     I’m going to learn or invent a war anthem—
                    A song that will obliterate you when you attack.
                    Note by note, my song will kill you, atom by atom.
                    My song will protect cousins, nieces, nephews, sisters
                    And brothers. My song will protect everybody’s fathers
                    And mothers. Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you, Cancer,
                    For making me wish that I could write a song
                    Powerful enough to banish you. Fuck you, God
                    Of Cancer, for killing my mother, for splitting her
                    Into many halves, for turning her blood and body
                    Into host. Fuck you, Small-Cell Cancer. Fuck you,
                    Mr. Death, for making me so grateful to be alive—
                    For making me count and write odes to each breath.

Jerry Garcia: "They always love it when I don't die." Is this great or what? (Except that he died.) I'm not a huge Dead fan but I loved the Amazon Prime six-episode series "Long Strange Trip." I don't know, I just found so much strange humor and joy in this sardonic, simple statement. For us, when people hear we have stage IV, they expect us to die! And die pretty soon. I know of people who died within a couple of months, and some who are still going at twenty years. The lucky among us don't die for the time being. We lucky ones live our lives pretty normally most of the time, to the point it would be hard to tell we have a terminal disease. I for one am happy to be in this position, save for the bald spots on top of my head, the gray bags under my red, irritated eyes. But someday, like Jerry, we'll die of or with our disease. In his case it was too many drugs, a bad heart, bla bla bla. In ours, it'll be the random shitty luck of getting cancer. We love it when we don't die! Our families and friends love it when we don't die! Even our followers on Twitter or Instagram or whatever - unless they're trolls - LOVE IT WHEN WE DON'T DIE! 

Jocular Fellow (JF) holding court at the barber shop the other day: He'd had some medical testing to establish the identity of the little spots in his lungs. Spoiler - it wasn't cancer. Another waiting client (all chairs were full and there were about four of us waiting - between the barbers, the clients in chairs, and the "waiters," me included, the place was on a crazy roll of storytelling, teasing, and loud rock music) asked JF if the offending spots were "pre-cancer." JF went into punchline mode. I swear, there might as well have been a drumroll: "OF COURSE IT'S PRE-CANCER! EVERYTHING IS PRE-CANCER! UNLESS IT'S CANCER!" I nodded my head; the whole place broke up. All I can say is it was a pretty fun wait for a haircut.

In the same Grateful Dead series, a roadie said something so profound (to me, anyway). I am 100% certain he didn't say it to be profound. On second thought he was probably tripping, as they all were so much of the time, so maybe it was an incredibly deep thought. He was talking to the interviewer about how no one was really in charge; there was no leader, and that's how the Dead liked it. Then he said, "The situation is the boss." The situation is the boss. I'm guessing other cancer peeps can relate. We can live our lives - go to yoga; go fishing on the lake; run and swim; bike 20 miles before chemo appointment; host a family reunion; leave a husband or boyfriend; fight with our kids and have a great time with our kids; get on a plane and explore a new place... I could go on and on but I'll spare you. You get it. Cancer, our situation, IS the boss. It can change our plans on a dime, cause you to sleep for 14 hours when you had intended to get a whole lot of shit done during the latter six of those hours (though you secretly revel in those delicious 14 hours of sleep).

3.  A Very Belated Health Update

I last saw both of my oncologists (medical and radiation) in June. I could not think of a thing to say here afterwards. I'm already halfway through the three months I have before the next scans and appointments. Not a health update, but I will never be able to go and see the medical oncologist, Dr. Vuky (who is highly intelligent and knowledgeable, and a breast cancer expert) without experiencing a shit ton of grief because my oncologist of five years moved away. I'll never be OK not seeing him.

That out of the way, my radiation oncologist (Dr. Kee) has really grown on me. He's brilliant and blunt, patient and precise. He explains things so thoroughly it ends up being me that wants to get out of there, instead of the typical doctor experience where you feel shortchanged as you're shuffled to the check out counter to make your next appointment.

Bottom line is my body below the head continues to show NED (No Evidence of Disease). Yea! My brain has a few tiny lesions floating around. We are still not going to do anything about them right now. Some have grown a millimeter or so; Dr. Kee calls this growth statistically insignificant and deems the scan to show stability. Yea! So, that's where I'm at and I can't complain, though I do anyway.

4. One More Fuck You Cancer

The husband of a close friend has leukemia. This shit is unreal. Nobody deserves this in their lives. So,
                                                                                     Fuck you,
                    Mr. Death, for making me so grateful to be alive—
                    For making me count and write odes to each breath.



  1. I liked Dr Kee too. When I asked how they could know if positive results were from chemo or radiation he looked at me and said deadpan," Of course it is the radiation. " I love you. Fuck cancer.

  2. I love this. I love you.
    And absolutely..... the situation IS our boss, or slave master, our whore. Some days , right before I become coherent in the morning.....I wish I would wake up being the boss again . And then all of the pain sitting in my body rushes into my consciousness and I yell. I scream. I cry.

    And realize I am absolutely not in charge anymore.

    I miss you.
    I love you.