Well, I can tell you that her talent doesn’t come from her formal education. She dropped out of that as soon as she could, so she didn’t have many people telling her what she couldn’t do or say, and trying to squeeze her onto some shape she couldn’t fit in, which she wouldn’t have done anyway — but her going her own way saved everyone a lot of hassle. But she was a voracious reader, and a discerning one. And she was always happily juiced up. She would have been outrageous if she weren’t so good natured. That’s what gets her through the tough ones like this. She’s a lot like her mother, come to think of it. As one of my sons said, “I’m not sure I could even be a fraction of that upbeat, but that’s her and I’m me.”

Comments have been enabled, and I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences. Please Share with me and each other!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Chemo Frenia

I am someone who bursts into tears.
    As you know, if you've read the blurb my uncle unknowingly supplied for the header of this blog.I don't have a lot of formal education.  The lure of lime colored chiffon and feathers dyed to match that was offered by ballroom dance schools was more than I could resist when I discovered it in my late teens. I had already exhausted my ability to be a hippy, which turned out to be a suprisingly similar thing  to being poor and trashy, only with poor, trashy musicians. That was the first thing I tried after leaving high school, at much too early an age. Then came the lime chiffon.
        Regardless, I do know that one wants to avoid cliches like "burst into tears."  ( and one wants to describe oneself as "one," so refined! ) But I can't help it. No other phrase will do. Daily I burst, and thankfully it's into tears, at the tiniest provocation.
        One minute, I'm minding my own business and wondering if I have to wash pre-washed spinach, the next I'm spraying saltwater over who ever has poked me in the emotions, which are right up there at the top, easily reached.
   For instance, yesterday, I bumped into Don W. I was at SuperLakes, the local equivalent of Wegmans. Sort of. I was having the same washing discussion with myself over Kale...nothing but cancer fighting superfoods in my grocery cart...when I bumped into him.

        Don was one of many who sneakily participated in an underground fundraiser for me. It wasn't the sort of thing where there's a bake sale and the chance to throw darts at balloons or guess a person's weight.
       Pause. I'm just thinking what an  unholy disaster a weight guessing concession would be around here. Wow. Okay, unpause.

          Somehow a number of friends got organized by my friend Jan into slipping a little cash here and a little cash there into envelopes and making sure that it got into my hands, disguised as a a "Get Well" card.  Yesterday, I was trying to thank Don for his participation in this effort, and ended up wiping my nose on his shirt. It's awful. I can't get through a conversation without crying.
 My sister and mother are particular minefields. Zero chance of getting out of a text or email exchange without me bawling. But you know what? It's only things that make me see how wonderful people really are, or how great my life actually is, that has this power over me.
       I seldom cry over what people would consider bad news. Well, cancer is bad news, let's face it. But I didn't cry when I was first told I had cancer. Or any of the times since, which seems like about a thousand. I  cried with Bruno when we first considered the reality of being separated by how the world is made. That got a pretty good Celtic style keening out of both of us, but not so much since.

  Oh, I feel it. I react. I react as though Thor the Thunder God just swung his hammer of doom into my solar plexus. It just doesn't make me cry. Things I love make me cry.
      So,  I didn't cry when they told me I was having chemo after all. Yep, you read that right. We went to see my doctor on Thursday, and he wrote an order for chemo as though the last time we'd seen each the topic of chemotherapy had never even come up, never mind that we had high fived over not getting it.
      And of course, I had promised in a group email, to all my friends, that I would never, ever, make Marti of the fluent Spanish go to IMSS with me again.  So there I was, unable, with my faltering Spanish, to ask questions of  the doctor who had just told me to order up a wig, sister, looks like your hair's going to be falling out after all.

         In a later conversation, Bruno talked about how they had moved the football again, but I didn't feel that way. I'm not excited about getting chemo, because I'm not an idiot. But I know that this was the original plan. It seems, therefore, that there must have been some kind of communication between my surgeon and my oncologist, at IMSS. There aren't any new tests, there's no change in my status (cancer FREE), so I think we've just gotten on to the original treatment track, and I find that reassuring.

Still not excited about chemo, though.
    Naturally, I had just made an appointment for an expensive cut and highlights because I wanted to be looking good when I go back to visit my family.Hair genius Jim Coolidge at Gloriosa ( oh, come on, a little link is the least I can do) isn't the kind to hold you to an appointment,though. And, of course, he has no desire to see his work coming out in handfuls. We'll work it out. I've seen all those movies where  the heroine goes crazy and starts hacking off her trademark hair with a Swiss Army knife and it comes out looking adorable, so Jim can certainly pull that off. What could go wrong?  
The short curly (!) hair is what's growing in since my
last dance with chemo. That whole area just went...
bald. Which I didn't know until I wore my hair in a fabulous updo to
a party and caught sight of myself in a corner mirror.
      My doctors somehow managed to intuit, perhaps as a result of me bursting into tears, that an upcoming trip I have planned is very, very important to me. I want to see my sister and my brother. I want to see the rest of my family, and they will all be gathered in the same spot so that I can. I want to see my children, who aren't technically mine, but I think they are. Don't tell anyone, that's the kind of thing that gets you into the Lifetime movie rotation.
 I want to see my Mommy. Whoops! Bursting into tears over here, kleenex, stat! Thinking about this sort of stuff is what gets me.
     If you can believe it, they have planned the chemo around my trip so I can still go. I can still go! I have my first treatment on Tuesday and the rest when I get back. So probably just a few weird patches of my hair and maybe one of my eyebrows will fall out during the week I have to recover before I leave, but you know, it's family, they have to love me.

   Cancer is not exactly what I would call my friend. But I am growing used to the idea that I will live with it until a safe labeled Acme falls on my head.

      So I cry. I burst into tears. But about cancer? Fuck you, Cancer.


  1. Elliott, I have done a ton of wigs for LLT, if you need someone to help in that dept or to help you get one just give me a call.765_6694, Its me Kathleen M. I would be more more than happy to help

  2. Girl, you are so generous, and the thing about it is, there's nothing you can't do,from roofing to wigging! You bet I will call you, and be very grateful that I can. Besos!

  3. I love your posts! You are such a good writer. Glad you will get to see your family!

  4. As my mom used to say, "If you have a pretty face you can wear your hair how ever you want." You've been blessed with a pretty face so you don't need the hair. I am so glad the docs will allow you to make your planned trip to VA. Any chance you will have time to meet? If food is no fun these days, I would happily treat you to a facial or massage. We could enjoy the spa together.