Dear Pat,

You asked me what I’ve learned from The Cancer, and it didn’t bother me in the least because after all we hadn’t seen each other in over 10 years, and if you hadn’t brought it up, The Cancer might have sat there in the booth casting its elephant shaped shadow over our conversation. It’s an interesting question, for which you may have expected a clichéd answer, but might have suspected that’s not really what you’d get from me. Sometimes people say that having The Cancer has made them appreciate life more. Well, I don’t think I had a lack of appreciation for life before, but I told you what I didn’t appreciate enough: nose hairs and eyelashes. It’s astounding how much stuff gets in your eyes without lashes to protect them, and it’s crazy how many random nasal drips you have when there are no nose hairs to keep them corralled.

I told you about being follicularly challenged, but our conversation moved on to other things, and later I didn’t really feel like I’d given you a good answer. Thinking about your question, I remembered that when I was in the middle of that summer of chemo, I was waiting at the orthodontist one day and decided to write down on tiny Post-its some things I had learned. I only found two of those, but the central theme was the same for all of them as I recall: Your life is now. Sounds strangely like a Mellencamp lyric, perhaps because it is.

At any rate, if there is one thing that I’ve learned—not from The Cancer, but from God, who allowed me to go through this process—it’s that we don’t get to pick our situation, only what we do with the moment. And there is value in every moment. I don’t mean that in a sappy “life is precious because The Cancer tried to kill me” sort of way, but in a “we need to make it count” sort of way. What I wrote on that first Post-it was this: Say the kind things you think, but don’t always communicate. Don’t waste an opportunity to show love to people.

We don’t have to do what the world considers to be something big with our lives. Sometimes the small things are really the big things. But we need to do those now, because we have no guarantee that we’ll have the opportunity or ability to do them at any other time. So, that’s the big lesson, according to me. I hope I’ve answered your question a little better this time. Thanks for making me think—I’m so glad you’re my friend.

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Hair I Am…18 Months Later.

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Today is exactly 18 months from my last chemotherapy treatment.  I thought that there might be some folks out there who wonder what 18 months worth of post-chemo hair growth looks like, so I snapped a picture.  That’s my “I have HAIR!” face.  I’ve also had, if I remember correctly, 5 haircuts, not including the few times that I shaved my head post chemo to get rid of that chemo clear fuzz.  Yes, my hair IS naturally curly, and yes, it was that way before chemo.

 Also, check out the noob.  What, you can’t tell which one it is?  Mission accomplished.  And speaking of the noob, while I am still not allowed to really exercise, the noob has it’s own regimen prescribed by Dr Grasee.  No, the noob isn’t on the elliptical or taking a zumba class.  Instead, I have to push it around twice a day.  As Dr G put it, I’m supposed to shove it “north, south, east and west.”  Sometimes I even sing it song while it works out, like maybe a little Matchbox 20 or Salt N Pepa. You know I’ve got a whole medley worked out of push themed tunes. 

 I’m sure you’re wondering why I have to exercise the noob.  Well, all expander/implant reconstructions have a risk of capsular contracture.  The body forms a capsule around the implant, just as it would with any foreign object, and that’s fine.  But sometimes, these capsules decide to turn to a life of crime.  And so they contract, and become hard and painful.  When that happens, the implant has to come out, and we start over from scratch.  Since I had radiation, I’m at increased risk for this.  Like, there’s a 50% chance this thing might go bad on me.  So, I have to exercise my noob twice a day as opposed to the standard once a day. 

 Mini Me finds the idea of noob exercises disturbing to say the least.  But then again, Mini Me is disturbed by a lot of this, especially my willingness to show the new construction off to my girlfriends.  At church a couple of weeks ago, Angie wanted to see the newpple.  So, I say come on into the bathroom and I’ll show you.  Mini Me started to follow me, because she hadn’t heard what I was actually doing.  Unfortunately, Hubster gave her a heads-up.  I think it would have been way funnier if she’d have come bopping into the restroom and then actually asked why Ang and I were in the handicapped stall together.

 Last but not least, check out my cool-beyond-words necklace, sent to me by Shirley in South Africa.  Is that not awesome?  I have the coolest readers.