Fork Tender

Tomorrow is my last day of radiation—yeeeeee haaaww! So long, dark and couchy waiting room! Good riddance, jigsaw puzzles! Buh-bye Guiding Light! No longer shall you oppress my weary soul. After tomorrow, I’m outta here, never to return. At least, if I’m lucky, the cancer center will have moved into its new building before my follow-up appointment. Ah, the new building…towering in all its modern glass and brick beauty, only a half block from the current cave of a facility. Oh new bright and beautiful building, how I have longed to take my treatments within your gleaming glass walls! How I have yearned to slip the surly bonds of 1994 décor and touch the face of 2008!

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Back to being burnt…the pit healed up just dandy, only to be followed by a big nasty burnt area on my chest. This was quite painful, and as a result, I ditched the bra, which means I ditched the Foob. At Christmas. And there he was, all dressed up like Santa, too. Boy, was he ever mad at me! He’s still not speaking to me, which is just as well, because that phony French accent was really starting to get on my nerves.
And I was in pretty good shape up to about treatment #24, too. It’s really kind of bizarre how fast my skin went from being a little red, but not in bad shape to “Oops, I didn’t make it to the fallout shelter in time.” Dr Haerr said that’s how they used to determine that a person had gotten enough radiation. Apparently you were done when you looked done, or were fork tender. Lucky me! Nowdays, they have a set course of treatment, and I got to keep going even though I definitely look and feel done.

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Foobitude

It began after my last post. First, it was just a whisper on the crisp, December air. “What’s that sound?” I wondered aloud. Slowly, the sound began to grow until there was no mistaking its message: “WE WANT THE FOOB! WE WANT THE FOOB!” Of course The Foob, who had been highly perturbed that I didn’t write about him in the last entry, was feeling mighty full of himself. In his snotty French accent (the one he’s recently adopted that sounds suspiciously like the French peas in Veggie Tales) he said, “Zee! I told you zay do not care about your zilly radiazohn or zee zilly roller zkates. Zay want Zee Foob! Now, go make me a zinnamon latte.”

You’ve created a monster. I hope you’re all happy.

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Provided that the ol’ pit heals up, I’ll be finishing my radiation next week. Woo hoo! Right now I’m doing what they call a boost. This targets the scar line, giving the armpit a break and a chance to grow some new skin. After this week, I’ll have 3 more treatments. I’m so ready to not have to drive into town every day.

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Lately, it seems the question everyone asks me is, “Did they get it all?” They are, of course, referring to the cancer. I guess everybody wants a happy ending. Either that or they’re getting tired of this whole thing. “Dang! I wish she’d hurry up and get cured already! Sheesh! This is taking for-ev-er!” Trust me, nobody would rather have this all be ancient history than I would. The problem is that there are no guarantees. You can’t mess around with this stuff, so we always assume that they did not get all of it. Otherwise, why would I be doing radiation? For the tan?

So, the answer to the question is “We hope so, but probably not.” Even if I get the all clear in the next few months, I will still have to be tested regularly for any signs of cancer. The possibility of recurrence will always haunt me. There’s no ending, happy or otherwise, in sight right now.

But don’t let that bum you out. Life is not on hold because of a little cancer. Good grief, how far behind would I be by now if that were the case? Besides, that would be SO boring. Imagine if I turned down every non-cancer related opportunity. “Sorry, we won’t be able to go skating. I’ve got the cancer, you know. And I’d love to shop for an Angel Tree child, but I can’t because I’m just totally wrapped up in thinking about my cancer this year.” Or if every conversation revolved around me and my cancer, how obnoxious would that be? “Hey, Susie, what’s going on? I just thought I’d call and tell you about my cancer—again. It is all about me, you know. By the way, do you know anyone else with cancer? I just love cancer stories, especially the ones where people end up dying. I feel so refreshed in my cancer-ness every time I get to really focus on cancer…”

Mobile Blogging, and One of my Favorite Things

Wow! It’s been a long time, huh? It’s December, and life is crazy…what can I say? This year has been particularly insane due to Hubster’s work schedule and my radiation schedule. Add that to the usual stuff, and you’ve got one heap of busy. Last Friday, for example, I had radiation at 10 AM, then the monthly homeschool skating day from 1-3 PM, then ringing the bell for the Salvation Army from 4-6 PM, then an open house in the evening. Interspersed throughout was shopping for our Angel Tree kid, lunch and a whole lot of driving.

One of these days maybe I’ll learn to multitask well enough to post blog entries while I’m behind the wheel. You know, maybe I could just have some sort of high tech setup where I speak my blog entries and they’re posted here in real time….”I’ve just arrived at radiation where I’m sure that Kelly has changed the channel over to the Food Network…ARRRRGGGHHH! Oh my word, it’s on channel 10 AGAIN! Stupid Family Feud!” (Later that day…) “We’re on our way to the skating rink. This is the first time I’ve been able to use the skates Hubster got me on Ebay because…DRIVE MUCH, LADY?! Sheesh! HEY BUDDY—EVER CONSIDERED DRIVING IN YOUR OWN LANE?!” Okay, maybe that real time mobile blogging thing isn’t such a good idea.

As a side note, I just read the above paragraph to Mini Me, complete with Sam Kinnison-esque screaming. Upon completion, all she had to say was, “There’s something wrong with you.” What would I do without such affirmation? She’s the wind beneath my wings, I tell ya.

So on Friday, I went to radiation and informed them that the skin was peeling in the armpit. (And, FYI, I have NOT been wearing deodorant lately) I had discovered this the night before when applying cream to the area felt like I was sawing on my pit with a steak knife. They tell you (you know, that omniscient and mysterious “they”) that radiation may cause a sunburn sort of thing. One of my books actually says, “You’ll probably have a mild sunburn effect.” Let me just say that this doesn’t look like any sunburn I’ve ever had…but perhaps they mean the type some would normally get from direct physical contact with a flaming orb. At the very least, it looks like I spent a good 30 minutes pouring boiling water onto my pit. The rest of the treated area looks a little red, but doesn’t feel bad at all.

Am I the only cancer girl out there who has had it up to her flaming armpits with people not telling the truth about this stuff? When THEY tell me that I might peel like I’ve had a bad sunburn, that brings to mind a painless, dry peeling, not the nasty, painful, serious skin loss I’ve got going on. This isn’t the first time I’ve had people not quite tell me the whole truth about side effects. What’s up with that? I can handle just about anything, but it’s helpful to me if I can have some idea of what I’ve got to deal with instead of some sugar-coated bull!  

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As I mentioned before, one of the places we went on Friday was the skating rink. Joy! I LOVE to roller skate, but even though I’d recently gotten a pair of skates, I wasn’t yet allowed to use them per Dr Schmidt’s orders. (He never lets me have any fun.) While some people may consider Disneyland to be the happiest place on earth, for me, the happiest place is the skating rink. There, I get to enjoy two of my absolute favorite things: roller skating and watching people fall. Yeah, that’s right, watching people fall. Flame me if you want to—I don’t care. Physical comedy just slays me. And no, I don’t wait to laugh until after I ask, “Are you okay?” Now, if somebody fell into, let’s say a big hot dog factory meat grinder, I might not think that was funny. But just a run of the mill, arms flailing in a desperate attempt to steady oneself by grasping madly at thin air, good old fashioned fall on the butt is my kind of humor. Consequently, being at the skating rink full of kids is a little slice of sparkling disco ball heaven. Friday was a good day.

You Wouldn’t Like Me When I’m Angry

The last few days, the folks at the Radiation Shack have been running behind . The extended time in the waiting room has been sapping my will to live. If gnawing my arm off would’ve gotten me away from the blaring soap operas, I’d have done it. In fact, I was half-tempted to start gnawing just to take my mind off of the assault on my senses. One day I was there 1-1/2 hours…only about 20 minutes of which did I get to spend in the sanctuary of the treatment area. Yesterday, I was lamenting all of this to Kelly, one of the therapists. She commented that the TV has been on the same channel ever since she’s been there. People, she’s been there for 5 years! I’m thinkin’ “Good grief! Even back in the day when we had to use carefully sculpted aluminum foil on the rabbit ears, we still managed to get at LEAST two channels!”

Why in the world would that TV have been on the same channel for five years straight? Well, I have a theory. The TV has a sign taped to the front, over the control buttons that says, “If you want the channel changed, ask the receptionist.” My theory is that this is because about 5 years and 1 day ago…the day before Kelly started working there…there was a big throw down in the waiting room over the channel selection. Coincidentally, the normally mild-mannered Dr Haerr had just completed an experiment gone awry, in which he’d caused himself to turn green, become muscle-bound, and bust out of his clothes whenever he became angry. When Dr Haerr saw Mildred and Ruby beatin’ the tar out of each other, and tearing up the joint in the process, he lost his cool. Needless to say, this made a lasting impression on everyone involved. Everyone, that is, except Dr Haerr, who curiously has no memory of it.

In the interest of harmony, the receptionist decided to switch the TV to Channel 10—which neither Ruby, nor Mildred wanted—and put up the aforementioned sign. Other folks could request that the channel be changed, but everyone was so freaked out by the whole episode, that no one ever has.

Fast forward to yesterday…I’m crying to Kelly about being oppressed by the soap operas. She comments that she just might have an idea of what to do about that. As I’m leaving, I give her a card with my blog info on it. Today I come in, and lo’ and behold—it’s the Food Network! Woo hoo! Somehow, the room seems lighter, happier. Somehow, I don’t mind the time I have to wait. When they call my name I’m like, “Already? Dang it! Emeril’s right in the middle of Chicken Spinach Lasagna.”

I’m pretty sure that I wasn’t the only one who appreciated the change, either. Even the woman that Mini Me and I have nicknamed The Crabby Lady for her constant negative commentary was happier, in her own crabby way, and said, “I hate this place! At least they don’t have those stupid soap operas on today—I hate soap operas…”

Thanks Kelly—you rock!

We can only hope Dr Haerr prefers the Food Network, too.

Oh, Ya Better Watch Out…

Isn’t the Christmas season fun? I love all of the festivities this time of year. No other time is so full of joy, giving, and opportunities to rewrite tunes that everyone knows in my own warped little way. I triple dog dare you to join me in a little impromptu sing-along. Don’t give me that nonsense about how you’re at work and you can’t sing with me, you Christmas carol-hatin’ weenie!

All together now….

You better watch out
You better not cry
You better not pout
I’m tellin’ you why
Santa Foob is coming to town!

He sees you when you’re peeking
Trying to see which one’s fake
Though he looks natural under clothes
He’s a Foob for goodness sake!

So, you better watch out
And look me in the eye
He’s callin’ you out
‘Cause you’re not too sly
Santa Foob is coming to town!

There—wasn’t that FUN?! Isn’t it reassuring to know that all my creative genius is used for good, instead of evil? Speaking of evil, I had to spend entirely too much time at the BMV Saturday renewing my license. I didn’t even try to look good in my picture—it never works anyway. The result is that I look like a total thug. Like I’m getting ready to take my big earrings out and kick your butt because I don’t like the way you look. Like I’m kickin’ cancer and takin’ names. You wanna piece of me, Big Lots cashier who needs to see ID? I didn’t think so.