Thursday, May 20, 2010

It's been a long time, I shouldn't have left you without an update to step to

Yesterday marks the one year anniversary of the doctor telling me she strongly suspected I had cancer, and tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of finding out I definitely had cancer. In honor of that, I figured I'd do an update (also, because people keep asking me if I've deleted them from the update list).

So, what's been going on in Cancerland since we last corresponded? For the most part, things have been really, really boring. Radiation was boring. I just went every day and lay down on a table for 15 minutes and left. Sometimes I got to watch a little of the Price is Right in the waiting room, but Drew seemed to be in a funk so it was bittersweet. Radiation made me really tired, and during the last week, I had some burning and peeling. But it was nothing compared to the time I forgot to put sunscreen on my feet and couldn't walk for 3 days. So, boring.

My new Avastin-only chemo is really boring, too. It's only a half hour infusion, so there is barely time to watch a whole episode of trashy TV (truly the highlight of the chemo experience). Last time, I didn't even get to see the birth on 16 and Pregnant! And compared to "real" chemo, the side effects are pretty lame. My sinuses hurt and I get tired really easily and I have a lot of headaches. In terms of drama, needing to pop a sudafed and an advil doesn't really compare losing my hair and crapping blood (I never told you guys about that one, did I? Surprise!). So, there just hasn't seemed to be anything worth talking about.

So, while cancer has been boring, I've been doing a lot of ~thinking (I know, don't hurt myself) and having a lot of ~feelings. (Aside: For those of you who aren't familiar with the internet shorthand, a tilde basically means the same thing as air quotes would in speech.) On the one hand, having cancer has become so much a part of who I am that I can't even conceive of myself before cancer. But, I still also can't conceive of myself as a person with cancer. In my conceptualization, cancer isn't something that kills people. Cancer is just something that makes you go to the doctor a lot and meet nice people and take a bunch of naps. It makes me special, but it's not dangerous. And then every so often, I will see someone on a TV show or movie where cancer is used as shorthand for "about to die" or "horrible illness" and I have this moment of "Holy shit! I have cancer! I could die from that!" Then I get this pang of anxiety that just slices through my psyche for a second before I go back to pretending that I'm just having a fun adventure.

That being said, I've made a few changes that have been making me feel more optimistic not having to ever go on this particular adventure again. I've started seeing a nutritionist, working out every day, and being more discerning about the things I put on or into my body. That's really helped me feel in control of my health. After a year of feeling like my body belongs to anyone but me, it's really nice to feel like I have some say.

Also, I think I'm technically a "survivor" now instead of a cancer patient, although I retain all rights to pull the cancer card until I'm done with this new round of chemo. However, I might get one of those "I made cancer my bitch" t-shirts. Because, what's the point of having cancer if you don't exploit the chance to wear novelty shirts?

Over and out,


  1. Christ, Woman- you are the most optimistic, well rounded person I've never met. I meant the well rounded as a bad pun btw :P I always think of-"We should come home from adventures, and perils and discoveries every day with new experience and character." I forget who said it- but it made me think of you and your awesomeness.
    Congrats on the chemo completion-You have every novelty T out there.
    PS- Drew ruined The Price Is Right.That show is dead to me.

  2. I'm really glad you updated. I was wondering where the hell you were.

    P.S. If you get an "I made cancer my bitch" t-shirt, I wanna see pics.

  3. Shit, do I have to make Cancer Survivor Cards, now?

    Thanks for the update. Been wondering/hoping.

  4. Thanks so much for updating. Thought about you lots, glad to hear that your treatment is going well. :D

  5. glad to hear from you. :] i'd like to request more "boring" updates plz

    also i'm curious as to what your hair looks like now

  6. Sending you tons of love, lady. xo

  7. You described the compartmentalizing of cancer so well. To me, it was an inconvenience - lots of days off work, appointments, etc. - but then a woman who was diagnosed along with me had a recurrence in January and died this month and WHOA. It kills! Just not me. Right?