Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Everybody Needs a Laughing Place

A laughing place, to go "Ho, ho!"
Take that frown, turn it upside down,
And you'll find yours, I know, ho ho!

I found my laughing place last weekend. A last minute trip to Virginia Beach turned out to be the best medicine for this allergy-infused chemo girl. After being duly warned by nurses about staying out of the sun, I wrapped myself in long linen pants and shirt and a floppy straw beach hat, with SPF 85.

It was cold and gray, so we went to the Virginia Aquarium and hung out in Norfolk. We played a lot of games and stayed up way too late. And we laughed and laughed and laughed. I had tears streaming down my face. My emotions were so closely entwined and so close to the surface that they quickly interchanged. It was crazy, but it felt so good to get that out!

Tomorrow: an appointment with Dr. Feigert to determine when to start the next intense round of chemo. Part of me wants to just git 'er done, and the other part wants to wait a week just to get through these crazy allergies (post nasal drip makes me nauseous!), my roommate's wedding (yahoo Diedra!), a ward split (a complete overhaul of visiting teaching!), and lovely spring weather.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Super Powers... ACTIVATE!

This evening I went on a walk with Marni in the delightful, perfect spring air, bursting with blossoms and the smell of charcoal barbecues warming up all around our neighborhood. Oh it made me hungry. And then I saw it--a perfectly normal little two-door white Honda, with a sketch of Spider Man on the side.

I asked Marni what superpower she would paint on HER Honda if she HAD to paint one on. She wants Wonder Woman. I decided on Inspector Gadget (I believe he has super powers--Go-Go Gadget spring feet! Go-Go Gadget whirly helicopter head! Go-Go Gadget rubber band arms!). Oh the places we'd go!

Tonight Debbie and I were texting our weekly check-ins back and forth. She's due with her third baby in the next couple of weeks, and I, well, have cancer. We joke that we're both getting dumber by the day--I with my chemo brain and she with her prego brain. We're a good match.

As I expressed my concern that each chemo pill is making me dumber AND less fertile, Debbie made a new suggestion (and I quote): "It will probably super charge them and you'll have super powers!"

I love it. It's my new plan. My chemo is super charging me. It's not JUST killing my cancer. You just think my short-term memory is failing. In reality, I worked on a chapter that was due in November and it's in pretty good shape. And I have plans this week for my dissertation. Plans, my friends. And those eggs? Well they are being super charged to make one or two or three REALLY bright, darling, talented children. Just you wait.

And all that anxiety-energy that keeps me up at night? Well maybe I'll super charge that into some incredible PhD power and rip out my dissertation this summer. (my advisor is now rolling with laughter at the possibility)

It all comes down to this. I really believe that our greatest weaknesses can become our greatest strengths. I believe that deeply and fully. I believe it takes a lot of hard work and even more divine power. Grace.

I love the quote Janiece sent me tonight from Neal A. Maxwell, my fellow leukemia-super hero:

Her deprivation is like an excavation, the readying of a reservoir into which a generous God, one ... day, will pour the Malachi measure of compensatory blessings, “that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” (Mal. 3:10.)

Friday, April 08, 2011

Hair Update

It's time again, friends. I know you've been waiting with baited breath to see how much my hair has grown... and now you know...

Unfortunately my doctor said it'll fall out with my late intensification round of chemo which will run in May and June. Also unfortunately my nurses said exposure to the sun will make my chemo-infused skin will turn it a weird, streaky color. Exciting!

At least I know my hair will grow back in, right?

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Chemo Filter

Yesterday I lost my filter. I blame it on chemo.

I went to a Look Good Feel Better workshop at the Cancer Resource Center at the hospital. It's a great program aimed to help women with cancer literally look good and feel better. They give you a makeup demonstration and free makeup and they show different ways to wear wigs and scarves. There was a lot of helpful information and they even had sheet cake for a 20-year anniversary celebration. I couldn't bear the thought of that much sugar and frosting, but it was a nice effort.

I think I was the youngest of the six cancer women there by at least 30 years. That, for some reason, made me feel a little feisty. And--I'll be honest--a little vulnerable and defensive that these are my peers. That I'm here, learning how to paint on eyebrows, especially when my eyebrows didn't fall out (for which I am eternally grateful). I didn't want to talk about hair falling out (mine obviously already has) or nausea (mine will return next month) or any of the discomforts of my life.

Then they showed us some creative head coverings--one with a pair of tights placed on your head and the legs wrapped around like a turban. My immediate thought was something along the lines of fear and discomfort at the thought of putting the crotch of a pair of tights on my head. My head is pretty vulnerable and I'm pretty particular about what touches what. Hey--I have cancer.

The lady kept talking about how she buys all this great stuff at thrift stores, including ratty wigs, shoulder pads, and tights. Now, don't get me wrong, I LOVE a good thrift store when I'm at my ultimate health, even then, with a big can of Lysol. But then when she told me if I wanted to try a pair of her cute tights-turban wig, my reaction?
"Uh, no. I don't really want a stranger's crotch on my head."

She looked at me, completely baffled, and said, "oh."

Why, oh why couldn't I just say "no, thank you"? I blame it on chemo killing my filter.