In between debugging my turtle of a laptop (thanks, Vista), I find myself constantly combing through stories of celebrity cancers. Are they dead? What did they have? What stage was it? Was it something complicated? Could it be me next? I can’t help myself. It’s like watching a trainwreck; sometimes I’m the trainwreck itself. Last year, it would barely be a blip on my radar. This year it means something.
Patrick Swayze gone. The news stimulates the hunt for answers. If it weren’t for the obnoxious hematoma/bruise left in the crook of my arm by Nurse Ratchett in the Hunstman Infusion Room, I wouldn’t know I have just had my second round of chemo. So I have to keep comparing my ‘story’ with others’.
The only side effects I had from the first round was hurling Chinese food the night after doing Eskimo rolls at the Ogden Paddle Fest; and the runs one day about a week later. Hair, check. Period, check. Energy, check. Pain free, check. Appetite, check. In fact, I’m stronger than I’ve been in months thanks to Patrick, my Huntsman personal trainer twice a week. It was actually pretty fricking cool that I had three weeks of no doctors’ appointments and no tests for the first time in two months. It was almost like the scare was gone. I did the next round of chemo last Friday and suffered even less. I actually sent emails to my oncology doctor wondering if he was dosing me with a placebo or something. I couldn’t believe that I had no dramatic reaction.
Just to prove I wasn’t hallucinating, came Round 2. Talk about “pinch me I must be dreaming.”
The stint in the arctic Utah Olympic Pool the day before sucked the buoyancy out of my veins. Even after warm wraps, three liters of water and a Lorzapan, nothing. They couldn’t find a vein in my right arm anywhere. So they called in the big guns- a grey-haired grandma that yelled “stop it” as she unsympathetically shoved a needle into my arm prompting a terrifying cry to escape my lips. I bit them and the tears developed. The pain didn’t end as she continued to shove. “Don’t”, “Stop it,” she said again sharply and sternly. Apparently screaming as you are tortured like a drug smuggler in Turkey will freak out the other guests of Chateau Chemo. Suzanne Sommers blames the chemo treatment for Patrick Swayze’s death not his pancreatic cancer. Chemo can cause all sorts of nasty side effects like stroke and leukemia.
My T-Cell count was low on the day of chemo. I was sent back to Huntsman for a Neulasta shot on Sunday. That’s to stimulate your long bones like a femur to produce more white cells. Scary. I feel fine but I could still wind up in the hospital with a deadly infection faster than you can whip up a PB&J. They told me that because the count is low to avoid contact with ANYONE- including Sage and Ryan- until I get my shot. And here I am going to a Pig Roast outdoors with a bunch of snot-dripping toddlers who are drinking from Sage’s sippy cup and falling on her in the trampoline. One guy there tried to talk me into a drag on his joint as if his next paycheck depended on it. Of course, I said no. Ryan on the other hand, seized the moment. The next day he complains of achiness all over and chills. So I sleep in my office for the next two nights to avoid catching something. I got the shot that morning on my way to the climbing gym. They warned me of deep bone pain as my marrow regenerated TCells. Never happened. Another placebo?? I did feel quite blah on Monday but chalked it up to PMS and the Park City rain. Today, I’m up at 7 a.m. and off to Legoland or Harbor Days in San Diego.
I know I’m not playing some character in a movie where everything is a prop and I can go home at night to a reality that existed before the diagnosis but I can’t help wondering whether everything I’m going through is really working when I feel fine. Silly, I know. I should be thankful that not a soul can tell I have cancer; not even me. I shouldn’t need to get rushed to the hospital to know I’m taking care of myself. That’s just wrong.

P.S. Anyone who tries to tell you how they would want to be treated if they had cancer is full of shit. You don’t know until you actually have cancer.

Cancer is unlike any injury, illness, tragedy you will ever have in your life. It hasn’t made me a “better person” – I can still be a big bitch – but it’s made me part of a tribe. I have a deeper understanding of what my brethren go through and a huge irritation for those who assume to know.

Thanks to my friends for dropping food at my door and taking Sage for a couple of hours on some days. That truly helps!


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