at first i found your reactions to my 15 year cure news surprising. but then i realized a few things. i’ve known about it for a month and have had space and time to let it percolate, sit with it, and internalize its implications. similar to what i’ve written in the past, i’ve always had this sense of impending doom anyway, waiting for the other shoe to drop. so it fed into that mental paradigm. as i’m out and about more in the world now, i see you, and you see me, and i look normal, non-cancery, just a chick with a short hair-do. so with this visual, the 15 year cure news is discordant. it doesn’t add up.
i hope the 15 years comes and goes without incident, but i’m not yet confident that’s my story. just being honest.
i started the daily pill tamoxifen and the monthly zolodex shots on june 6. easing into menopause has never been so great! i kid. if my life goes as my doctors and all of us want it to (e.g., long), i will have entered menopause 3 times. by my late 50s, i will be a menopausal pro. maybe that will be my second career–menopause coach. the title needs some work.
the zolodex shot is pictured here. it is, in fact, that large. the nurse hannah’s hands are not freakishly small. i had no warning about this until i arrived at the infusion center, where the tech asked if i wanted my ice pack. huh? she said, “oooohhhh….this is your first one? i’ll get a nurse.” eek! fears instilled! as i was icing down my stomach, i learned that i have a choice each month: get the shot straight up (or in, that is, at a 45 degree angle), or get a shot of lidocaine to numb the stomach area before the zolodex shot. i’ll take “none of the above for $400 please.”
after some hemming and hawwing, and some tears, i chose the shot straight up, right into the belly fat i had been icing to numb it a bit. the bruise it left is just now fading. mike said i’d have to withdraw my entry for the swimsuit contest with that blemish. thanks, husband.
and life moves forward. next time, i’ll bring a friend and we’ll get a foot massage up the street afterwards (thanks, jamie).
i entitled this post up and down, because life is feeling that way especially so right now. a BAYS member gave me the idea after she reflected on a week that was a microcosim of life. in a nutshell:
- we lost another BAYS member, chi, who was also a contributor to the book and wrote about seeing her two young sons grow up. you might read her passages with a different kind of sorrow now.
- a fellow board member, betsy, of the canadian environmental grantmakers network, also passed away. stupid f-ing cancer.
- the supreme court ruled that myriad genetics cannot own a patent on the BRCA genes, setting a precedent and a path to lowered costs of genetic testing. no one should ever have to fight with their insurance company again to cover the $4000 or more test.
- my radiation burn is really healing fast now, with just part of the skin left to peel off. it seemed to just happen when i woke up this weekend.
- i went on my first work trip since last june followed by another one today, and i survived and was even energized by it, seeing everyone’s shining faces. and deenergized by it, realizing how much work and travel i’ve been punting until now.
- katie couric and ken burns are turning the cancer tome, “emperor of all maladies,” into a documentary series, which will highlight how far we’ve come and what’s promising for the future. i read that book the year before my dad, mother-in-law, and father-in-law were all diagnosed with cancer. it has some eery significance for me.
- i hit 10,000 steps four days in a row on my pedometer.
- we cooked dinner with fresh herbs from our garden.
- and on thursday, BAYS launched our book at a party in san francisco. many contributors did readings. we bore witness to each other’s stories, laughed and cried with humor and with pain (i’m a faucet these days) and left with a new appreciation of love, turning experiences into words into a book into life’s lessons.
and these are just the headlines, leaving out the moment to moment swings. we go down, down, down, up, up. then down. then up (and kind of down simultaneously). hopefully the balance is up eventually.
speaking of up, i’m writing this post from 35,000 feet in the air above the great plains. as we descend into nebraska, it’s one of my favorite sights–a quilted patchwork of farms. it reminds me of home. i miss everyone there.
in the last email exchange i had with betsy, she said something to me that i keep rereading and wish the same for all of you tonight and always: “i am holding you close in my heart and mind with every intention for your complete healing, for peace and strength.”