Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cancer Bitch and the Season of Giving

This was supposed to be a positive post about Christmas and the power of friends and family. But I couldn't proceed without giving a shout out to Elizabeth Edwards and Ree Ree. Elizabeth died Tuesday - I heard about it shortly after returning from yet another round of chemo at Johns Hopkins. She was my role model. She handled her cancer with grace and good sense.

I hope Ree Ree can do the same. Aretha Franklin was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Its a hard road. They didn't say what her surgery was, but I hope it was a full whipple. It's the only kind of surgery that will buy you time. I wasn't eligible for it, but my fingers are crossed for her. I guess the only good news is she will FINALLY lose some weight. Not the best way to diet, but, hey, I'm all about making lemonade out of lemons....

Now, back to the positive. Christmas is the time for giving and I have two suggestions for holiday donations. God's Love We Deliver is a New York based charity that provides nutritious food to AIDS and cancer patients. I also recommend donations to the Johns Hopkins Pancreatic Cancer Research Center. Lets whip this bitch! Um, I mean, Merry Christmas...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Cancer Bitch - Gives Thanks

I have a lot to be thankful for. But it didn't take Thanksgiving to make me realize that.

Thanks to everyone who has driven my whiny butt to Johns Hopkins this year.

Thanks for the soups, casseroles, food gift cards, and the dinners out.

Thanks to everyone who said I look good bald.

Thanks to everyone who said my wig made me look like Mary J. Blige,
Thank you for the hats and scarves.

And, thank you to my family for being weird, wild, wacky and for being there.

(leaf prints on sidewalk in front of our house)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Cancer Bitch - Gets Rubbed the Right Way

I now have an excuse to get regular massages. A new study shows that it provides benefits for those with cancer or lots of stress. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine says "it boosts the body's infection-fighting white blood cells while also bringing down levels of immunity-weakening cortisol."

I recently booked a deep tissue massage at the Dansk Day Spa in Occoquan. When I told a colleague, she was concerned it would be too much for me.

"This is a regular massage," she said, taking my hand and gently rubbing it with hers. "This is a Swedish massage," she began rubbing her thumbs into the back of my hand. "And this is Deep Tissue massage," she dug her elbow into the back of my hand. Yikes! She advised me to ask for a "Swedish Massage and tell them to go deep."

It was too much for my chemo addled brain to process, so I went ahead with the Deep Tissue and came out just fine. I was not sore the next day as many had predicted. I went back last weekend and had the Swedish Massage. It was HEAVEN! I have another appointment with Angie in mid-December, probably when I'll need it the most. I don't know if it helps, but it sure as hell feels good!

And, now, here it is - your moment of zen. Sit in a quiet place in the Lotus position and say, "Ommmmmm...."

Friday, November 5, 2010

Cancer Bitch - The Audacity of Hope

I won't bury the lead - today (Friday) I had another CT scan and my tumor has shrunk another millimeter. The tumor on my liver has disappeared. So, to celebrate, my doctor is putting me on another round of chemo until the end of December, then he promises me a break.

Its been almost a year since I was diagnosed and I really didn't think I'd see another Christmas. One friend (and unofficial life coach) told me that I had given up and it was true. I wouldn't buy myself new clothes to fit my new weight unless they were from Wal-Mart or a yard sale. I was giving my stuff away (sound familiar "crazed stringbean"?

Last week, two buddies from college paid a visit. On our way out of the house, headed to the mall, I stopped to rummage in my purse for my medicine and, Lord, if we all weren't reaching for the water bottle to take our meds! We had a good laugh about our mutual decrepitude. Before they left, Lady T gave me a book by Thea Bowman, a Roman Catholic nun who died of cancer in 1990, Thea Bowman: In My Own Words

My favorite quote:

"Part of my approach to my illness has been to say I want to choose life, I want to keep going, I want to live fully until I die... I don't know what the future holds. In the meantime, I am making a conscious effort to learn to live with discomfort, and, at the same time, to go about my work. I find that when I am involved in the business of life, when I'm working with people...I feel better. A kind of strength and energy comes with that."

So, ya'll. I went out and bought a new wardrobe. Jones New York and rocking some new boots. (um, Steve, we need to talk....)

Life is.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cancer Bitch-Survivors Guilt

A lot of people have been telling me lately that I look good - I don't look sick and I've actually gained weight (too much weight, I'm going to have to give up potato chips). And I feel guilty. I realize that I've been doing a victory lap in the last few months to say goodbye. I've given stuff away and cleared the decks and have been in waiting mode. Still partying, but also waiting. (I know, I know. I've been called on it)

The lab tech at my doctor's office (does my blood test) also mentioned how good I look. Over a month ago, he asked me to call his mother and talk to her because she had recently been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I didn't want to do it - what could I possible tell her? I'm not doing anything magical or even good. But I did call, didn't reach her and left a message. No one ever called back. Last week, when I went for my blood test, he told me his mother had died, 6 weeks after being diagnosed. He said the diagnosis came too late. But he also stuck me in both arms for my blood test. (Hmmm, blame?)

My cousin in Denver is dying of cancer. She has breast cancer and its metastasized into her sinus cavity and spine. They've asked her to go into hospice. I want to be there, but I've also got to continue my treatments. Guilt.

Its a fine line - trying to stay positive and take care of yourself, but also realizing this is one battle I might not win. I'm allowed to feel sorry for myself and wallow in depression twice a month, when I'm home on chemo. Otherwise, I'm still having a great time and have no intention of slowing down!

The photo is from a trip to Gettysburg National Military Park. Steve and I climbed to the top of Big Round Top to take landscape pictures (couldn't because of all the trees). Had a candlelight dinner at the Dobbin House and toured. I tried climbing onto the rocks at Little Round Top to take pictures, slipped and fell - on the camera. So, okay, adventure - with limits.

And now, a random video that just makes me happy! Haven't seen the movie "Secretariat" yet, but I'm working on it. Know what else makes me happy? Friends and family. Thanks for being there for me.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Cancer Bitch and Crazy Cancer Bitch

I've always swung back and forth on Elizabeth Edwards. I've admired her fight against breast cancer, admired her books - then "Game Change" was published and I read about the "abusive, intrusive, paranoid and crazy" Elizabeth Edwards. Who is this woman?

Last week I watched the "Nate Berkus Show and his interview with her was fascinating. She's opened her own interior design store, "Red Window," because she wanted something for her future that had nothing to do with her past. She talked candidly about her divorce from John Edwards. (hasn't decided yet what to do with the photos of the two of them hanging on the wall) She said they are amicable - "I see the father of my children, and that’s very important to me. Particularly since I have a terminal disease, this is the person who at some point will take over the primary parenting, and it’s important to me that he heals if he needs too."

She knows she has a year, maybe two, and described her life as "a sled going downhill." She also said she's accepted John's baby with Rielle- going as far to say she'd thought about buying stuff at Baby Gap - because the child was innocent and would be growing up with her kids after she was gone. But she hasn't quite forgiven him yet. Oh, and she also admitted she's a bargain shopper:

The interview was taped at her house in Chapel Hill. She was supposed to appear live later on in the show but instead skyped in from North Carolina - she's on a new cancer medication, looked frail and had lost her hair again. Damn, I'm starting to admire her again.....

Friday, September 17, 2010

Cancer Bitch and Fear at Hopkins

All of this madness occurred Thursday - fortunately, my appointment was on Friday. My appointments are in the Weinberg Building, next door to Nelson. It was all my nurses today could talk about. They said Thursday it was business as usual, even though they were in lockdown - too many patients depending on treatment - so they kept working. Wow. I'd have been ready to run for the hills!

Now for the good news. It seems I've won the lottery - at least as far as pancreatic cancer is concerned. The CT scan shows my tumor has shrunk a little bit more, so the doctor is going to have me undergo two more rounds. Steve asked what happens after that, and Dr. Zeng didn't know - he says pancreatic cancer patients don't usually make it to this point. So I guess I was kind of premature in giving away a bunch of my stuff. And, yes, I will take better care of myself. No more nightly ice cream binges. ("Lemon Custard" day isn't until September 24 at Milwaukee Custard)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Cancer Bitch Takes a Snooze

This week's weird symptom: everytime I nod my head forward, the bottoms of my feet tingle. No one can explain why this happens - the doctor just looks at me and says, "chemo isn't doing this." The nurse told me I can avoid this by not nodding my head.

My chemo session went well this week - got in and out in record time, and slept through the entire procedure. The nurse actually had to wake me up to unplug me. Marlis was my driver - we got back early enough to get lunch and make a "Ross" run.
Next week I get yet another CT scan and have a meeting with my Doctor.

I blame "chemo brain" for forgetting that my wedding anniversary was a celebration of 17 years of marriage - not 15, and not 18! I don't do math. It was a wonderful weekend. Mary and Phil flew in from Idaho for the Boise State game and we had Saturday brunch at Eastern Market. (fish breakfast with North Carolina grits and scrambled eggs). We also bought homemade Pop Tarts at another restaurant.

Steve and I went out to a wonderful dinner at the Old Anglers Inn (I had scallops, he had Prime Rib). Sunday we went over to Mike and Geri's for dinner and other friends surprised us there. (Pound Cake with Chambord Sauce!) Thank goodness I still have an appetite.
We have wonderful friends.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Cancer Bitch Gets Served

Today my posse for the trip to JH was a friend who makes a mean Chicken Tetrazinni and homemade Pound Cake!

We exchanged stories on the road about childhood run-ins with bears in Yellowstone (both times bears leaned on cars scaring the crap out of us) and hiking past steam vents at Volcano National Park in Hawaii (once again scaring the crap out of us). She told me about her new glasses, and I told her about my vision problems in May (which went away) and how I continued driving to work at that time. She went ballistic!

Told me that I was alternately gung-ho about fighting cancer and passive-aggressive with negativity - saying to myself I'm not going to survive this anyway and can therefore justify eating an entire bag of potato chips. Caught! It was so true I had to laugh out loud. That's what happens when you ride with a professional life coach. I had a huge chunk of her pound cake for dinner, but I'll have a salad and lots of fruit tomorrow.....

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Cancer Bitch - "No Grits No Glory"

We're back from a whirlwind summer of travel - Grand View, NY; Parkersburg, WV; Pensacola, FL. Am now back on chemo and wishing I were back on the beach. We saw movies ("Dinner for Schmucks" "Salt" "Despicable Me" ate a LOT of food and actually got some rest.

Now, I loved "Lulu's" and "Rockland Bakery" in Nyack, and had fabulous "Grape Salad" in Parkersburg (yeah, I know its not really a salad - details, details). But my favorite place in Pensacola was the "Coffee Cup"(went three times) where I discovered the joys of deep-fried French Toast. Its a southern axiom that anything tastes better deep-fried and damn that French Toast was good!

My second discovery was "Grits A Yaya." They did a lot of creative stuff with grits in Pensacola (Nassau Grits also fabulous). But the "Fish House" restaurant's Grits a Yaya made with smoked gouda and shrimp made me actually consider moving to Florida to be near my new love. My vacation resulted in a gain of 12 pounds. Success!

(shout out to "Oh Snap" cupcakes in Pensacola where Mom was scandalized by the price of $2.50 per cupcake!)

My third discovery was I could actually take it easy and still have a good time. And when people allowed me to rest or when they offered help - I learned to accept it graciously. My cousin, Shenae, actually whipped up some "Spiced Pecans" when I came over for dinner.

You know this was a long time coming. I didn't want to feel like "The Patient" and I was determined to party as hard as I did before the big "C". But I learned, thanks to all who hung out with me this summer, its the people not the party. Took long enough....

Now my next party will feature giant cupcakes and Grits a Yaya. With limoncello!

A very empty Pensacola Beach.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cancer Bitch - Gets Marriage Proposal

Went to West Virginia over the weekend for a family reunion, but first we stopped at Johns Hopkins Friday morning for a CT scan. (I'm becoming an expert at those). Chris, the attendant, started a conversation about driving to Florida on family vacations (I'm an expert at that, too).

I told him the best part of the trip was stopping in Atlanta for lunch at "Steak N Shake." That sent him over the moon! He watches the Food Channel and raved about steak restaurants in Arizona and Texas. He said he was going to Philadelphia with some friend this weekend to tour. I told him he should definitely go to "Spataro's" for a cheesesteak, "DeNics" for a Philly pork sandwich and the Amish Market for Apple Dumplings. And definitely "Ishkabibbles" for Cheesesteaks on South Street - not Pats and definitely not "Genos." At this point Chris told me I was his soul mate and that if he weren't married and I weren't married, he'd propose!

Left JH to go to Parkersburg with the grand-girls. Had a great time in the hotel pool then spent Saturday at a Cornhole tournament. Went out to dinner and brunch. But was tired and disoriented on the drive home so I mistakenly called Dianne Burr and wished her a Happy Birthday (a month late. Meant to call Carol Van Dam instead. (now two days late)

Went back to JH Tuesday morning, where I got some good news - no problems detected on the MRI (the doctor checked them from China where he was vacationing). He also said the CT scan (thank you Chris) showed the lesion on my liver had almost disappeared and my tumor had shrunk again.
The bad news - one more round of chemo. Dammit. Any of the posse up for another trip to Baltimore?

Had to take a photo of the fabulous spuds Mary McCowin brought us from Idaho.
Can you tell which one is the real spud? We had stuffed baked potatoes for dinner tonight.
They were damned good! (at least the one on the left is - we're afraid of the one on the right! We're looking forward to lying on the greasy
beaches of Pensacola, soon.
And, for once, doing absolutly NOTHING.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Cancer Bitch - Now its Bananas

(Brenda with friends doing her favorite thing in the world - eating)

About the only thing I enjoy during my trips to Johns Hopkins is eavesdropping on my fellow patients. (once heard a guy talking about his backwoods militia group).

Today the discussion was what to eat - one patient confessed to another that she had pigged out on bbq ribs and potato chips. I ducked my head in shame. I ate a whole bag of chips over the weekend! (and a carton of ice cream and all 5 desserts at tea with Jamie on Saturday)

The nurse told me my potassium levels were still high, and I confessed that I had given up on collard greens but I was eating a banana every day with breakfast. She gave me a look that pretty well said I was hopeless.

Went to Hopkins today so that we could leave for Grand View, NY on Thursday. Nelly has a job interview at a clothing manufacturer on Friday in Manhatten- I told one of my doctors about it today and she gave me a list of places Nelly could stay if she gets the job - including the number of her daughter in the Lower East Side! The power of networking.....

I'll try to do better on my diet - after we get back.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Cancer Bitch - When Vegetables Turn on You

My chemo treatment was delayed today by over an hour because my potassium levels were high. They looked over my blood tests, hooked me up to an EKG - everything was fine and eventually I got the chemo. Posse member Beth and I drove to Silver Diner for lunch, then had to scramble for home when Steve called and said the home nurse had already arrived. I swear the fork was halfway to my lips!

I told Jackie, the nurse, about the potassium concerns. She asked me if I consume a lot of orange juice, bananas or kale. I had made a big pot of fresh collard greens last week and had been eating them every day. Case closed.

Some of you know that last Friday's trip to JH was a big old mess. I was scheduled for a CT Scan because my doctor was concerned about the occasions I experienced blurred vision and he said my face was no longer symetrical (like Lyle Lovett??). Turns out he had actually ordered a brain MRI. I knew it was a mistake when the nurse told me to drink 2 large cups of water to expand my bladder. What tha what? The MRI is now scheduled for Saturday morning. Holiday weekend.

On the way back from JH Friday, Steve, Doris and I drove to Ellicott City to meet sister-in-law Mary for lunch. We got lost. Repeatedly.

Today, we received a box from Amazon. It was a GPS system, sent by Doris. Steve loved it - got indignant-loved it. He then took it to his basement lair to play with it. I had only one emotion - THANK YOU DORIS!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Cancer Bitch - Baltimore in the Summer

Nelly at the Wheel

Drove back to Johns Hopkins in the summer heat (just got home air conditioning repaired - now the car)

8:30 AM in the waiting room and I hear an incessant buzzing - like a hornets nest. I look across the room and an elderly woman is on her cell phone and everyone else is just sitting there, either reading or talking to each other. I finally realized that I has hearing vuvuzelas. And the elderly woman was watching the world cup on her cell phone. THERE IS NO ESCAPE!

Everything went well - even got out of there in record time. But the home nurse didn't show up. So now I'm exchanging telephone calls with "Home Solutions" while they try to figure out where she is and what went wrong and if they can get me hooked up tonight. If they have to do it tomorrow, I'll have to wait until Friday to get unhooked. We are not amused.

(Addendum - nurse called. 8:30pm and she's on her way. She forgot)
(addendum#2 - 10pm. Nurse just left. She's a substitute and no one told her she had to come today. At least I got my meds)

Also saw sign today at Camden Yards that pretty well sums up our situation!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Cancer Bitch - On the Upswing

Got good news today. Dr. Zeng says the tumor has shrunk, and I've gained weight. The bad news - blood pressure is up and I can't eat just everything. (I've demolished entire cartons of Haagen Dazs with the excuse that I've got to get my weight up).

So, I'll allow myself the Eastern Market Lunch crabcake - I'll just skip the french fries and soda.

Also, got to start another round of chemo next week. Sigh.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Cancer Bitch Graduates

I did it y'all! And the invisible posse turned out in force - whether at graduation, at the party, or with cards and flowers.

Mother in law Doris, Brenda and Lil (Brenda's Mom)

Doris and Mo drove in 7 hours from West Virginia, Mom and Sister Dawn flew in. Cousin Charles and Allene surprised me at the ceremony after flying in from Denver.

I came home Friday to find Gail and Doris cleaning the house (and questioning Nelly's boyfriend)

I appreciated every bit of it.

Now for the confession. I overdid it. I will now admit on this page that I am NOT superwoman. I cannot graduate, party all day, then do it all over again on Sunday. (Although "Iron Man 2" was the bomb) I woke up Monday feeling like hell, but understanding completely I did it to myself. (I hate it when Lynn is right)

Went to Johns Hopkins today, and everything went fine. I'll be resting for the next two days and reliving pleasant memories of family and friends over my own personal superbowl weekend!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Cancer Bitch and Drugs

I'm learning many things on this journey - just because they give you a lot of pill bottles, don't necessarily take them. All. At the same time. And move them away from your bed so you don't pop something random at 3am and wonder why the hell the bed is starting to move like a toboggan at the Winter Olympics!

Had a trip to the emergency room after class on Saturday, temperature spiked to 100.7. I didn't want to go, I was exhausted and lethargic, but Steve dragged me into the car in the driving rain. I figure the emergency room visit would just make me feel worse - but it didn't. We went to Inova Fairfax, where, after checking me in, I was immediately shown a private cubicle (elapsed time 5 minutes). Two blood tests later, they said they couldnt find anything, my temperature had dropped so they kicked me out. They all gave me their numbers to check back on the blood tests and everyone was as friendly as could be.

Lets go back a few years - one Saturday night when she was 5 or 6, Nelly ended up at the emergency room at DC General. She had spent the night with a relative. Said relative called me at midnight and elegantly pointed out that I needed to meet her at DCG because Nelly fell against the corner of a wall and , cut her forehead, and was "bleeding and her meat hanging out." I was there in two minutes, they arrived in a cab (got mad cuz I wouldnt pay for it). I rushed her in got her checked then sat and waited for service. Nelly had a dish towel wrapped around her head. I spent two hours sitting amidst drunks and gun shot victims watching Billy Dee Williams informercials until I noticed Nelly was bleeding. I jumped up, dragged her to the counter, plopped her down on it and went all "Riki Tik" on their asses. Needless to say, she got immediate attention. I wonder if she would have that scar on her forehead if I had taken her to a better hospital.

Yesterday was a LOOOOONG Hopkins day. Got there at 8am, and was told I should have yet another CT scan, then chemo. This time both Steve and I slept through the chemo. The only problem is, and elderly blue-haired lady in the cubicle next to mine was arguing with the nurse about her blood results, "What do you mean I tested positive for cocaine? I don't use cocaine!" I rolled over and went back to sleep.

Oh, also found out that one of the drugs the doctor gave me was an "anti-psychotic" that fights nausea. Yeah, it also makes you lazy as a lizard and dizzy. They took me off that. And the $400 drug? There's a generic. Sigh....

We got back from JH at 5pm and found a wonderful treat in the doorway - a box of Wolferman's English Muffins, scones, coffee and cinnamon creme honey. Paradise!

What comes up, must come down. JH called tonight - have to go back for surgery tomorrow. Just. damn.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Cancer Bitch tries home remedies

New round of chemo. This time, Lynn, a charter member of the invisible posse, drove me to JH, to the Blalock building, where I had a port implanted. Had to take a photo of Vivien Thomas and Alfred Blalock, even though, thanks to HBO, I'm always going to see them as Mos Def and Alan Rickman.

Spent 3 hours getting chemo, then got hooked up to a pump which dispenses chemo for 46 hours. The good news is - I'm at home during all this - the bad news, I'm nauseous and sleepy. The prescription for my anti-nausea drug costs $413, so I declined and went old school (think college dorms). A nurse will come to my home and unhook me Thursday. Unlike last time, I only have to do this every two weeks!

Got a mystery answered this week. On the way to JH, we always past a large brick tower and I couldnt figure out its purpose. Its called the "Shot Tower." Did they shoot people? No, but close.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Spring has sprung

Easter was fabulous! Went on the annual cherry blossom walk with the girls (for some reason the guys complained about not being invited).

Grandbabies visited, and we had Easter brunch with the usual crew. I've learned that if I don't suck down a lot of meat and fat, I don't get as sick (go figure). So, I ate a small amount of ham, lots of salad and tried to hurt myself on the Red Velvet Cake.

Back to Hopkins today, where I was told I'm being taken off the Abraxin trial because my liver just wouldn't allow it. The good news is I'm still on chemo, starting a new regimen next Tuesday. The bad news - I have to get a port. Just damn.

I look on skipping chemo as good thing - it gives me a week of energy to study for the comprehensive test that I have to pass Saturday in order to get my Masters, and time to write the article I have due for class. It's all downhill from here.

Graduation May 8th!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cancer Bitch Pimp Slaps the Bluebird of Happiness

Ok, I confess that the blog is late this week because I spent more time in a funk. Labs weren't good Monday AND they insisted I get a mammogram right away because of something they saw in the CT scan from last week.

After demolishing most of a carton of Lemon Haagen Daz and part of an apple pie, went to Washington Radiology, where they told me that the lump spotted in the CT scan was probably a false alarm.

More depressing news: a local company that was trying to develop a drug to fight pancreatic cancer has given up. Fortunately, it wasn't the drug in my trial, but still bad news.

Now for the good news: spent last weekend and will spend this coming weekend with good friends. My classmates at American U have formed a team for the American Cancer Society's "Relay for Life" with a goal of raising $2,000 by April 17th. They've already raised more than $2,500. Go "News at 11!"

And I'm off next week! Time to munch on some chocolate bunnies....

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

No Wonder Poe Was Depressed.....

First we were driving up in blizzards. This week it was Baltimore in the rain. Had to be there at 7:30am for more tests so it was a long day. I didn't get good news - the tumor has not shrunk, but it hasn't grown either. They're also now worried about my liver.

When Steve asked how long I would be in chemo, the Doctor said they didn't have an end date yet. Despite taking me to Cheesecake Factory as a bribe, I spent the evening in a blue funk.

Picked myself up by finishing my homework assignment, "DC Sex Scandals." If that doesn't make you feel better nothing will!

Another thing that made me feel better - some of my classmates are participating in the American Cancer Society's "Relay for Life" at American University. The team is called "News at 11" and they've raised around $1,000 so far. The relay is April 17-18 at Bender Arena and they plan to camp out at the Arena. Go team!

Last thing to feel good about - Nelly's back and she brought presents from Paris!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Cancer Bitch Takes a Week Off

No chemo today. Just tests and more tests. Since this was a vacation from the drugs, I pretended I was in Paris with Nelly.

Since I actually had an appetite today, Steve and I visited Lexington Market for lunch. Reading Terminal it ain't. That place is all the way live. I don't think I've ever seen so many restaurants in one place selling chicken wings (stewed, fried, barbequed, baked, broiled and smothered). Also chitt'lings. Eeuuuuw! It was great to see something in Baltimore that had nothing to do with the hospital. It occurred to me during the drive up there today that my hospital visits were making me hate the very sight of the city.

Anyway, feeling good today and getting started on homework!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cancer Bitch does too much

Cancer Bitch copped a ride to the Philadelphia Flower Show with a group of crazed women journalists. The flower displays were gorgeous. I especially liked the decorated cargo containers. But as usual with the Flower Show - its not the flowers its the food and drama...while leaving the parking lot in our mini-van we witnessed our parking attendants meltdown. One began beating his partner over the head and shoulders with his orange flag, while the other aimed karate kicks at his tormentor. We left Philly in a hurry!

Sunday, I had lunch with CSU pals Beverly and Ellen. We looked at yearbooks and remembered life at Moo U. Steve and I also attended the Tuckers Oscar party, where I correctly guessed the most Oscar winners. I won(?) the Tucker Oscar Traveling vase. Someone is getting that for Christmas....

All of this to say I did too much. When I went to chemo Monday, my white cell count was down, and I had to admit to the nurse that I had NOT worn my face mask while venturing out in public and had probably picked up all kinds of germs and viruses. As a result, I only received one of the two chemo drugs. I wore my fedora to Johns Hopkins Monday, my face mask, and with my glasses on I looked like "The Invisible Man."
I'm reading an interesting book sent by Sarah, "Black and White and Dead All Over," by John Darnton. Its about the murder of an editor at a big city newspaper. Obviously fiction. I also received "When Things Fall Apart," from Judy and Barbara gave me a copy of her book, "Fingerprints of God." Hopefully I can make a dent in all three before class starts again this Saturday.

PS: Big thanks to Marlis for taking on driving duties and for the hats and scarves!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Cancer Bitch - Road Warrior

Steve took a Monday off, so Cancer Bitch had a new driver. Self-described "little old lady driver" (death grip on the steering wheel, hugging the right lane) Gail took me to Johns-Hopkins Monday. We left my house at 6:30am and arrived at 7:45am, a new record time!

We had company at the Weinberg Cancer Center, the ex-husband of a dear friend insisted on coming over and regaling us with stories about in-laws and weird law cases for a couple of hours. I hadn't seen him in years and was very grateful for the visit. Was glad to introduce Gail to "5 Guys" (she called it 5 boys). For some reason, after chemo I always get a craving for Cajun fries. Our potatoes that day came from Shoshone, Idaho.

Cee-cee and I aren't getting along. (my wig) It's itchy and hot. Last night, Steve knocked the wig stand over. I woke up this morning to see a styrofoam head with hair standing up all over the place. I really need to learn how to tie a head scarf, or get confident enough to rock a bald look ala Isaac Hayes on the "Hot Buttered Soul" album.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Cancer Bitch as Pin Cushion

Seriously? They could find a vein but couldn't put the needle in for chemo?

5 times???? And it took 2 different lab techs? While I was jumping out of the seat with each jab of the needle, Steve demanded to see a doctor, someone who could tell us why they could stick a needle in my vein but not be able to do anything else. Miraculously, after his demand, they found a vein. Needless to say, after today's torture session, my arm is black and blue.

I had to include a photo ( and a "Thank You") of some of the tokens that were given by friends - cards, angels, scarves and a big Teddy bear. Still don't know who sent the profane Valentine's day bear. That calls for some investigative journalism.....

PS: Today's Horoscope for Libras was a hoot!

"You're willing to take risks with your physical image. After all, hair usually grows back. And you can always change your clothes. You might purchase a treatment or product to amplify your natural beauty."

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Cancer Bitch Rocks a new 'do

It's official - I have truly regressed.

After experiencing massive cataclysmic hair loss on Monday, I bought a wig today. I haven't worn a page boy in decades.

This, the acne outbreak and the American University hoodie makes me kind of believe I'm moving backward through time.....

Monday, February 15, 2010

Cancer Bitch is Fine

This was a surprise. Saturday I got a package containing a little stuffed bear with a mouthy heart. No note, no indication of who sent it.

Just know I LOVE IT!

It came from Love is Lame, which has a number of seriously bent products.

Did the trip to Johns Hopkins today - this time no traffic, no snow worries, and we were in and out of there in record time.

Its my first Momless Monday in two weeks, and I'm missing her, but she's got a life to get back to. She's the one who taught me to keep busy in the first place!

Haven't lost a dread yet - but I'm noticing bald patches in between so I'm now trying to teach myself how to rock a scarf. Did you know they give you prescriptions for wigs?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Cancer Bitch and Snowpocalypse 3: The Snowening

Yeah, you could say that we're laughing in the face of cancer. Or you could look closely and see that those are candy cigarettes.

Had a wild ride to Johns Hopkins yesterday for my third treatment. We left at 6:30am. Roads were snowpacked, cars spun out everywhere. Steve got us in at 8:45 am.

Guess what? Their staff didn't make it. The trial nurse was no where to be found, not enough people in the lab.

We didn't leave Baltimore until almost 5pm. Came straight home and got in the bed.

So far, the chemo has exhausted me and caused nausea, but I haven't lost my hair. Yet. Every day I wake up and yank a dread just to see. Don't want to lose them while walking around in public. I also now have the complexion of a hormonal teenager. Damn.

Mom and I watched movies all weekend, including "Something the Lord Made." While were at Johns Hopkins I showed her the Blalock Wing - didnt get a chance to see the portraits, though...

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Cancer Bitch- Angels in America

First an update. Second chemo at Johns Hopkins yesterday. Had to be there at 8:30am, hence at 630am departure. This time I remembered my I-Pod and I tried lying there doing guided meditations, but there was too much background noise. I ended up closing my eyes and rocking out to the "Black Eye Peas" and "Lady Gaga" among others. When I heard Steve and Mom laughing, I figured maybe I shouldn't sing along.....

This time after chemo I was completely wiped out. Slept the whole way home, most of the afternoon, and made myself wake up at 9pm to fight sleepiness and nausea for 2 hours until I finally went to bed. The bad news yesterday, found out I have to give up liquor, fatty foods, and grapefruit. The good news - can't pick up after the dog anymore!

Sometimes I get so caught up in illness I forget about the good things that have resulted, and the angels that are in my life. So, in lieu of a proper "Thank You" card -

Thanks to those who sent scarves for my pending baldness;

Thanks to everyone who sent books - I'm still not convinced you-know-who actually finished "Game Change;"

Thanks for my stuffed bear and the clothing to replace my baggy pants;

Thanks to everyone who has taken us out to lunch and dinner;

Thanks for my private yoga lesson - I'm continuing to practice on an online site;

Thanks for the home delivery of Trader Joe's Italian Blood Orange Soda;

Thanks for all of the cards and letters;

Thank you for my invisible posse.

"Cancer Bitch" may just have to change her name to "Blessed." Then again, that just might be the Oxycodeine talking......

Monday, January 25, 2010

Cancer Bitch - Chemical Warfare

I have a new definition of hell.

Its sitting for over an hour in a hospital waiting room, and listening to a nearby kid constantly playing the song "Witchdoctor" by the Chipmunks.

"I Told The Witch Doctor You Didn't Love Me true!
And Then The Witch Doctor He Told Me What To Do!
He Said That:
Ooh to the eeh the ooh the ahah to the ting to the tang the wallawalla bingbang
Ooh to the eeh the ooh the ahah ting tang wallawalla bingbang"

By the tenth airing, even the parents had enough and decided they'd rather tolerate screaming from their kid than another round of helium-infused rodent voices.

Another day of doctors rounds, more puncture marks - but I finally got a chemo schedule today. Every Monday through March 1st, at the crack of dawn. Had some nausea after the first treatment, but so far, so good...

Friday, January 22, 2010

Cancer Bitch - Progress

Got my chemo schedule. I'll be on Gemcitabine and the new drug. Finally!

The bad news is - the dreads are going to go. I'll be rocking the funky hats and head scarves.

The only reason chemo isn't scaring me yet is because my new teacher has given out about 20 assignments in the past week.

So for now, I'll concentrate on "best practices of the AU website" and compare and contrast to the competition.

Let the games begin!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Cancer Bitch - On Ice

After a day of tests at Johns Hopkins Wednesday - I waited for the phone call - the one telling me when I would begin chemo, Thursday or Friday. Instead the nurse called and said they don't have the test results in yet - my Bilirubin was above normal last time and they want to wait until they have the labs in before starting chemo. Would Monday do?

I pitched a fit - to no avail - pointing out that both my husband and I have to schedule time off our jobs for this. "Well, I'm sooo sorry for the inconvenience," she said before hanging up the phone. Or did I hang up first. I was too angry. So are my labs bad because I'm not receiving treatment? I have an appointment tomorrow with the Alexandria oncologist. I'm tempted to let him takeover.

I'm also well beyond being a good patient and am angry, sorry for myself, and tired of smiling and keeping a stiff upper lip. F$%^ this!