Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Early on in the cancer process, I stopped telling people about my diagnosis face to face. I always wanted to let people know, sort of as background information, so that when I snarked about it or played the cancer card, they'd be in on the joke. But, it turns out that when you say, "I have cancer," people don't treat it like saying, "Oh, I have two dogs," (I do) or "My family is from Spain" (they aren't). Instead, the conversation grinds to a halt and then the person has this moment where they are very clearly trying to decide how to proceed. Then they, assume a very practiced caring expression and say something sympathetic (usually, "How do you feel?" to which I always wanted to respond, "Now? Awkward"). But I never wanted sympathetic. I just wanted to continue on with the conversation, only now having introduced a minor plot point. So, to avoid this awkwardness, I just started telling people over e-mail.

But the point of this post isn't that I no longer tell people about my diagnosis face to face. It's that cancer is this buzzword that signifies TERRIBLE! The word itself carries so much cache. People hear that and it's like you've said "I have the worst thing that can happen to anyone." Like there is nothing worse in the world than cancer. And that's not true. At all.

The fact of the matter is that all sorts of people deal with really terrible things all of the time. They just don't have a nice buzzword associated with them. I have friends who have two preschool aged children that were both diagnosed with a really awful degenerative disease. I have another friend who lost both parents while she was pregnant with her first child. Infertility, divorce, chronic pain, whatever it is, nearly everyone I know has dealt with some sort of catastrophic problem. And the people I know who aren't dealing with huge issues still live difficult stressful lives, with bad bosses and long commutes and cranky kids.

And the point of all of this is that yes, having cancer sucks. It's not like a magical pony ride to cotton candy land. But my life isn't any worse than anyone else's. Bad things happen to people all the time, and this just happens to be the lot I was dealt. And, in many ways, my life could be much, much worse than it is, and I'm really grateful that it isn't. I think Jay-Z put it pretty nicely. Is cancer one of my 99 problems? Yes, but a bitch isn't.

(Oh, and I do listen to things other than rap, but you'd never know it from reading this blog.)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Could have been brain dead in a wheel chair but I'm standing in the booth and the skills are still here (Part 2)

I don't know if this technically counts as ironic (I always get paranoid I'm going to misuse that term ever since that damn Alanis song), but I gain a lot of comfort from listening to gangsta rap.  All of the braggadocio reminds me that I'm a force to be recognized and that cancer is pretty much a punkass bitch in comparison.   Lately, I've found this Biggie song to be especially soothing:

(I have so much white guilt, that my stomach felt queasy typing "Niggas" even though I had nothing whatsoever to do with naming the song)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Grades were posted today.  4.0, bitches!  HM=1, Chemobrain=0

(In all fairness, I'm in a Ph.D. program, so it's not hard to get a 4.0.  Still, I'll take a little ego boost wherever I can it.)

Friday, December 18, 2009


That is all.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I had an echocardiogram today.  The results came back the same as always: black and cold. 

Last time I had an echo, a youngish guy tech did it.  If you're female and you've never had a guy ultrasound your chest, all I'm going to say is there is a lot of lube and touching of the bathing suit area involved.

This time I had a female, so I was all excited about it.  Then, when she asked me to change into the hospital gown (open in the front of course), she said, "You don't mind if I stay in the room to set things up while you change, do you?"

To which I responded:

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I thought I'd be done with most of my chemo side-effects by now, but my hair is falling out like whoa today.  I've been writing papers all day, so my laptop keys are all sprinkled with bits of hair.  I wonder if my warranty will cover hair in my hard drive if I pull the cancer card?

I got my MRI results back, and I keep meaning to write an update, but these papers (and a story project I've been working on) have been soaking up all of my writing mojo.  I'll get to it soon, my pretties, soon!

Spoiler alert: the MRI results were pretty good.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I just got called out on a message board for being insensitive to cancer when I said that there were a lot of great things about having cancer.  The commenter had lost someone close to her to cancer and said my attitude made her want to vomit.

I don't know how to feel about this.  I know that my attitude is pretty unconventional.  At the same time, I feel like focusing on the good in a situation, especially one that could be as horrible as this one, is a positive thing to do.  I guess I don't really see any benefit to taking my disease seriously, but I think there is a lot of benefit to seeing the lighter side of having cancer.

Also, what kind of person rips into someone for being optimistic about cancer?  Really?

Edited to add: Apparently it was because I said that I would be sad if/when I was cured, because I wouldn't be able to use the cancer card anymore.  I guess I can see how that would be offensive.  Still, as a cancer patient, I maintain that I am allowed to joke about cancer as much as I want, and haters to the left. TO THE LEFT!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

No, but like seriously you guys. My mouth really hurts.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Motherfucking thrush.  My last chemo and the thrush is back.  FML.

At some point, I want to make a list of all of the little things that I hated about chemo that I never talked about during chemo.  Some of them were too embarrassing to admit when they were happening (like pooping blood) and some of them were just too minor to complain about without whining (painful scalp), but, for some reason, I feel like it's important to preserve an accurate record of what chemo was actually like. 

Friday, December 4, 2009

Oh, I totally forgot to mention Halloween (and it's now December, so that's lame, I know).

If I had lost my hair, my costume was going to be....wait for it...A CHIA PET!  I was just going to put a mud mask on my scalp and stick alfalfa sprouts to it.  I'm pretty sure it would have been the best costume of all time.  But, the hair stuck around and I ended up having chemo on 10/30, so I sat around and looked resentfully at the candy on actual Halloween.  Still, the costume idea alone is worth some cool points or something.
So, right after I posted that hair question, I started losing my hair again.  I lose a little bit after every cycle, but I lost kind of a lot.  I got worried that it was all going to fall out, so I decided to wait until after I finished chemo to dye it.  I just finished my last cycle and it's currently thinning a bit, so dying will happen this weekend. 

It's getting pretty long though.  Check it out!

I have an MRI on Monday and meet with my surgeon on Wednesday, so I should have surgery news coming up soon. I'm so antsy to get this surgery scheduled, I can't even tell you.

Also, I'm so done with having boobs.  I was going to buy a ton of new bras at the beginning of the summer before my diagnosis, but bagged that plan as soon as I knew "the girls" were going to have to go.  So, I've been stuck with kind of ratty, ugly, poorly fitting bras for a few months now, and I am just over it.  Chest of a 12 year old boy?  BRING IT!

In other news, I've started to change my eating habits.  After I got the diagnosis but before I started chemo, I basically cut all processed food out of my diet and started eating between 8 and 10 servings of fruits and veggies per day.  However, during chemo the doctor said to eat whatever I could tolerate.  So I did.  And I also took that opportunity to eat everything that I had given up and missed (read: Chipotle).  Now, super fun food times are over, and I'm back to eating better.  It feels good to have the energy and focus to do something good for my health that isn't necessarily medical, and I'm looking forward to feeling the benefits.  Since the biggest predictor of getting cancer is having had a cancer diagnosis in the past, I never want to face this diagnosis again and think that I could have done something to prevent it.  So, from here on out, I'm Team Eat Healthy.  Also, I have a shit ton of candy that I can no longer eat, so if you want me to send you some, holla.

 I'll also be Team Exercise soon, but I'm waiting until after surgery to start a truly regimented program.