The Wai-ai-ting Is The Hardest Part

Sorry for the delay in updating everyone but I’ve had Landon here for the last week and a half and the few quiet moments I get are spent crawling around the house looking under things, trying to collect my wits. Plus, I have a cold.

I saw the gyno-oncologist on the 16th. With apologies for the mental picture, I will tell you that he poked around a bit and said everything looks terrific. I told him I get that from all the boys.

I saw the radiation-oncologist yesterday. She too said everything seems to be a-ok.

No plans have been made for any scans. Gyno Guy says it’s too early for that due to the cumulative nature of the treatments. He says MAYbe a PET scan around the six month mark.

They both (allegedly without rehearsing their lines together) said I tolerated the treatments amazingly well and that I was a pleasure to work with. No kidding! In fact, Rad Doc said she has some really whiny patients right now and every time she has to see them she thinks, "I miss Mimi!"

I got through it all without radiation burns, baldness or barfies, and with precious little whining. While I attribute the latter to piss and vinegar, the former I only chalk up to dumb luck. And kick-ass anti-nausea drugs. Hurray for anti-nausea drugs!

While I remain 99% optimistic, nothing is called cured until one passes the five-year mark. I’ll see each of the oncologists at four-month intervals (Gyno Guy four months from now, Rad Doc four months after that, lather, rinse, repeat) for two years, then every six months for the following three years. If I accomplish five years cancer-free, I get to see them annually for the rest of my life. Good thing I like them both, huh.

The drive home from Gyno Guy was a pooky time for me. Evidently I was suffering a bit of denial and had forgotten about that whole five-year thing. I had gone there thinking there would be a big happy-clappy proclamation of renewed health with celebratory high-fives all around, glittery balloons dropping from the ceiling, a bubbly toast, and a whack at a piñata. Yeah, a piñata would have been nice. A tumor piñata. But, none of that happened. Instead, I got a guardedly optimistic thumbs up (no, not there!) along with a tactful but cautionary tale about how if the cancer didn't all get killed then blah blah something something. I kind of zoned out at that point, pining for the piñata that never was.

But then again, I did get cakes.

And now, a word from our sponsor...

Everything's lookin' good from here, Gamma!

'Sup? Anyone still following this blog?


Some of you know...some of you don't...the reason for the looonnnggggg gap between posts here. My last post was January 6th! On January 11th I was diagnosed with Stage 1B endo-cervical cancer.

January was spent riding an emotional roller coaster and getting every test known to mankind. By February it was determined that, while it had not metastasized, it was an "aggressively growing" tumor that, obviously, required immediate treatment. Chemo and radiation started in February and lasted until the first part of May.

I actually fared quite well in that I didn't barf once (thank you, modern medicine!) and my hair thinned but did not all fall out. I did lose my sense of taste for everything except sweets, which sucked because I'm not normally a sweet-eater. But since that's all I could taste, that's all I wanted to eat. Probably because of that, I only lost 10 pounds during treatment. Darn it!

Although I haven't gotten the final "all-clear" from the docs yet, we anticipate it will be so, so for my birthday Koby and Brooke made me tumor cakes.

before after

And here's a pic of some of the awesome chocolate-covered strawberries I made as thank you gifts for my doctors nurses:


I've been off work since the first week of February, and am still. Being a generally active/productive person, I went into this thinking the side-effects of treatment would be so minimal it would amount to a vacation from work. Yeah, I'd nap now and then, but mostly I would take advantage of the time to catch up on all those home improvement projects that have been sitting on my whiteboard for months and years. Ha!

While I did make a decision about kitchen flooring, it hasn't been ordered. I still haven't made a final decision about color for the kitchen and dining room walls. My shower, which has been in sore need of a complete overhaul since I bought the place in 1987, remains status quo. The gate still needs to be replaced, the back yard still yearns for paving, and the pond still has a leak. Oh yeah, and I totally forgot to write the great American novel.

Recuperation has mainly consisted of getting lots of sleep. I've read nearly a book a week. I also watched as a close friend of ours rebuilt our rotting patio roof while Steve assisted. That was exhausting for me. I also got to enjoy a weekend with my besty, Debbi!


My favorite daughter-in-law graduated from U.C. Davis last week. Her degree is in genetics and she's set to start her first actual grown-up job this coming Monday at a lab in West Sac. We're all uber-proud of her!!!  

Last weekend Steve and I went to Joel's for a visit. It was all too quick, as all our visits are, and I'm looking forward to Joel coming up on the train in a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, we have Landon. We brought him back with us just for the fun of it and so "Gamma" as well as Uncle Koby and Auntie Brooke could have some quality time with the kid before Gamma has to go back to work July 5th.

Landon, now two and a half, is getting lots and lots of words, some of which are actually intelligible. I hope to record him while he's here, as I recorded Joel and Koby when they were toddlers.

Landon is almost constantly in motion. The picture above represents the only time he holds still: when he's watching a Toy Story movie (aka "toy-oy-oy-oy-oy"). I'll post more pics of him in the coming days.

Gamma feels exhausted and has realized she may not be fully recuperated.


And now, a footnote relative to a NY Times article I heard about on NPR yesterday...

Six Things You Should Never Say to a Friend (or Relative or Colleague) Who’s Sick. And Four Things You Can Always Say

So at the risk of offending some well-meaning people, as Bruce Feiler says in his own rant, I'd like to add a few DON'Ts of my own:
  • "I can't tell you how horrible I feel for not having come to visit you!"
    Trust me, I feel horrible enough. I don't care or need to hear how horrible you feel for not having assuaged your own guilt over ____ (fill in the blank).
  • "You need to get a handle on this whole depression thing. Buck up!"
    Screw you and the happy horse you rode in on. I'll be depressed if I want to. Unless I'm in the fetal position in the back corner of my closet, trying to open a vein with a bobby pin and drooling out of one side of my mouth, leave me alone. Sometimes I need to cry, and I don't have the energy to concern myself with how uncomfortable that may make you.
  • "This may not be the only time you'll go through this."
    Seriously?? This one defies explanation.
  • "When you're finished with all this, let me tell you....."
    Whatever the issue is that you're dealing with, I'm sure it's of paramount importance to you but it pales in comparison to what's happening in my own universe. I really don't have any room for your stuff in here. Really. I don't want to hear it.
The most helpful words I received were from Steve, immediately after the initial diagnosis. He said, "It's all about you now. Nothing else matters." That meant I didn't need anyone's permission to say no and I didn't have to waste any energy on feeling guilty about how others might feel when I set my boundaries. He was right, and he supported me in that vein throughout my ordeal, even though he ultimately had to deal with the consequences of those words himself.