Waiting for Savasana


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She Entered With a Dour Expression

She entered with a dour expression.

Her eyes serious and grim.

“I’m so sorry this is happening to you.”

So sorry.

The last we had met was when she cared for my pregnancy.

Well, that’s not true, now that I think about it.  The last time we met she yanked out the bc solution that in fact made me crazy for ten months and may…MAY have contributed to my current predicament.  But that’s another story.

Back to the  sorry.  “I’m so sorry.”

She was.  I saw deep concern in her eyes.  And I told her that if we had met months ago, I would share her expression but now all I can do is be glad I am here.

I am so glad I am here.

We wore the same necklace.

We picked up right where we had left off all those years ago.

I said, “I trust you.  I want you on my team.”

And she said yes.

And we talked about the pros and cons of another surgery.

Oophrectomy.  Look it up.

I don’t want it but I might need it.  I might.

And we talked about Tamoxifen and recurrences and side effects.

And she said, “I can’t tell you how many forty-year-old women I’ve seen on tamoxifen recently.”

And that was serious.

And it’s scary because we are the same age.

And I told her to get a mammogram.

I told her.

I told her.

And it was like old friends coming together, talking and laughing and wearing the same necklace.  Hers from Mother’s day and mine from two Christmases ago.

She said she would be on my team no matter what and then she did the exam.  She told me to go get that CT scan that was ordered for my lung nodule that is hopefully just a post infection thing.

She ordered an ultrasound for my ladybits.  Another check for cancer.  Tamoxifen precaution.

Strange that the drug that may save my life may also cause a separate cancer elsewhere.  But that’s what it is. It is what it is what it is.

This will never be over.

“You look great.”

So do you.

I feel better now that she is on my team.

We both left happy and laughing.

Because there is hope.  There is light.  There is friendship?  Maybe not…maybe just professional camaraderie or a strong mutual bond.

And there was hugging.

I am not out of the woods but I have people to hold my hand along the way.

That’s what matters.

Sometimes, that is all that matters.

 

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Haircut

Well, a trim, really.  My hair is not that long.  It is, in fact frustratingly short.  But it’s shaggy and uneven all the same.

It feels strange to be getting a haircut when I have barely any hair but hopefully my haircut person can work a miracle and make this mess look better/more feminine/less poodley.

When I was a kid, I had very short hair.  People always mistook me for a boy.  It caused a lot of shame and hurt for me.  There were many reasons why my hair was kept short.  It was very thick and described as “bushy”.  I cried when it was brushed (he-hem because it was not brushed properly…just sayin’).  My hair has been a great source of…um… passion and critique for many.

When I was 14, I grew it out and a whole new world opened for me.  And yes, my hair was big and often “bushy” and full of curls but it was me.  And if we are being honest, my hair became a crutch at times.  But still, I am not ashamed to say that I love my hair and when I finally became brave enough to defy others and grow it, my world opened.  And that was a very good thing.  And over the years,  it’s been different lengths and different colors and even different textures and some I have loved and some I have hated but all have been MY CHOICE and my hair was very freeing for me.

The baldness for six months was rough.  Very rough.  Because it was absolutely not my choice.  Wigs made things easier but it wasn’t a fix all.  Wigs are hot and they itch and even the good ones are not the same as a good head of hair.

And now my hair has grown in  a bit but it is a very slow process.  And to be honest, when I look in the mirror, I see the very unhappy 7th grader I used to be and it pisses me off because I am not that girl!

I wear hats…a lot but nothing can replace my hair.

I just have to be patient.  This too shall pass.

I did dye it dark because it grew in white to begin with and then this weird grey color, like pencil lead.  I also had my brows and lashes dyed because they also grew in very fain and light.  My eyelashes are so long though that any mascara I tried smudged my skin instantly.  It looked sloppy.  If anyone knows of a mascara that doesn’t smudge when lashes are long, I would love to hear about it.  Lancome Defincils mascara used to work well but they seem to have changed their formula.

I’m going back to the haircutter who gave me the bobbed hair after my surgery.  The woman I went to for the pixie cut shortly before chemo regaled me with stories of her friend’s mom who died horribly of breast cancer because, she claimed that cancer grew on her implants. ???!!!!

I just sat there, people.  Incredulous at the insensitivity of this “professional”.

I asked my plastic surgeon about the possibility of implants causing more cancer and was assured this was untrue.

“What an idiot!”  was the response I received.

Yeah, thanks for scaring the crap out of me.  No tip for you!

And another thing about hair.  Ever heard of lunago?  My sister claims that the fine white hairs that grew on my face and neck was a response to the chemo and won’t stick around.  Waxing and threading is your best friend in cases like this.  It’s very weird and unwelcome.  I don’t like being fuzzy.

Is this post vain?  You bet it is and I make no apologies.  Beauty is usually fleeting to begin with and it can be bitter when chemo is the reason.  And if I’m vain, then so is the rest of the world because I can tell you that people treat me differently, now that I look different.  And don’t even get me started on how people ( mostly men) treated me when I was puffed up from steroids.  Night and day, I tell you.

Ok off to the haircut store, as we call it in our house.  Wish me luck.  Hopefully, it won’t be too long before I can stick a clip in my hair.  A girl can dream.


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Recovery?

Every week I get a little better.  I have some setbacks here and there but things are consistently getting better.  I’m able to do housework without falling on the couch every ten minutes.  I don’t feel exhausted walking around the block.  I’m getting better.

I started the Living Strong, Living Well program at the YMCA down the street.  Living Strong, Living Well is a 12-week program through Stanford for cancer patients post treatment.  The program meets two times a week and includes a free membership to the Y for the duration of the course.

It looks like I am the youngest person in our group.  And it’s crazy how sick some of my teammates are.  Some of them are dealing with metastasis, many are still bald.  Most of us are the definition of the walking wounded.  And we’re all there to exercise?  Yes.

Doesn’t it give you hope?  I mean here we are, a bunch of sick people getting together to do cardio, lift weights and stretch together.  Cancer patients all.  It kind of redefines the concept of “No Excuses” doesn’t it?

A part of me think it’s a completely insane concept.  Here we are, dealing with some serious stuff while we run or walk on a treadmill or wrestle with an elliptical trainer.  A bunch of cancer patients lifting weights.  It’s kind of absurd if you think about it.  But it’s great.  It’s a way to give cancer the finger.

It gives me hope for all of us, you know?

And I have found that it takes my mind off of things.  Exercise is a good distraction.

I hope someday soon I will start to actually feel human again.  I can dream, can’t I?