CHEW CHEW TRAIN
I’m now halfway through radiation/chemo.
Mind you, I have a year of follow-up chemo after this, but we’ll think about that later.
I’ve been kvetching about the minor side effects of the treatment. You know, things that make for great cocktail party fodder – like an achy-flakey scalp, or constipation, or owie ears, or insomnia, or a sore throat. Oh, and I want to add one to the list. I now have a “sunburn” on my head, face and spine from my vacation time in Little Chernobyl.
So it’s time to address the other side – how well it’s going. My primary symptoms – dizziness, forgetfulness, and a badittude from hell, still exist. But some of the other symptoms that were really bugging me – the inability to write by hand, the inability to type, and the inability to walk unassisted and for more than a block or two – are either improving or are completely better. My oncologists (and I) are crossing our fingers that this indicates Sara may be slinking out the back door. We won’t know until an MRI after this first round of treatment, but it appears that she may be taking the hint.
Aside from my initial response to the radiation, this whole experience has been – dare I say – fun?
What’s that you say? Cancer? Fun? No!
Yes, I tell you. And let me tell you why.
Well, for lots of reasons. Operation Woo-Woo mandates things like massages and Reiki and acupuncture and chanting and puppehs and kittehs (adding some stuff next week, bet you can’t wait to hear!) and sleeping in and watching TV and saying, “No” and long walks in forests and shopping for whole new looks that one must get if one is hairless. I mean, if all that doesn’t make you want to go to Candyland, what would?
But here’s been my greatest pleasure. And might I add, I think this has been pivotal in how well this is all going so far.
Meal Train (thank you Abby for setting it up!).
Every night, some lovely person(s) brings dinner to our house. It’s homemade. It’s organic. And I mean, each and every meal has been amazing and in line with this diet I’m supposed to be following. So before I go on much more, I want to thank EVERYONE who’s been traveling the train tracks with toothsome nourishment each night. We have been to the store just a small handful of times (we forgot to put toilet paper and Tampax on the meal train list, dammit!) and each night, we don’t have to think about anything knowing that soon there will be a knock on the door and a four-star meal in our bellies.
I have gained 10 pounds since treatment began, which actually is kind of irritating me because it turns out I love being super-duper bony and I now realize that my whole life I’ve just been one cancer away from my perfect weight!
Nevertheless, the doctors are happy because A) The body is taking such a pummeling during this process that it needs to be as healthy as possible; and B) The follow-up chemo causes a lot of weight loss because it does make you sicky sick – so I needed to have weight to lose (which I’m collecting in a body bank located on my back, gut and arms, thanks to the train ride).
But what I really want to drill down about Meal Train is not corporeal at all. It’s about you, me, us, we.
Get out your Mary Jane and your pipes. This is gonna sound like a Simon & Garfunkel song without the beautiful lyrics and the hypnotic melodies.
When possible, I’ve asked people to join us and eat the food they prepared (and for those of you who didn’t join us or haven’t been on Meal Train, let’s have dinner!). And you know, we’ve known so many of you for so many years, but we always rendezvous at parties or school events or shows or something where the conversation is basically wedding talk, “Hi! How ARE you? Traveling anytime soon? How are the kids? How’s your mom?” That sort of thing.
Sitting down and breaking bread in a non-rushed super-chill home environment has been totally enlightening. Who knew that she had rheumatoid arthritis? Who knew his father died in that war? Who knew she invented that cure? Who knew he led that expedition? Who knew she grappled with agoraphobia? WHO KNEW ANYTHING?
And I just feel so lucky and privileged to get to know you all so much better because of all this. I feel like I want to marry each and every one of you, except that would be messy and confusing and they don’t make beds that big anyway. But hear ye hear ye: We must all commit to real communion with each other from hereon out!
(By the way, the steroids I’m on can make people a little weepy and sentimental, so I might drop you all like a ton of bricks when this is over.)
I saw a great t-shirt the other day that said, “Make memories, not excuses.” I’m so all about that right now. (Incidentally, I saw another great t-shirt once that Bazuka Joe was wearing that said, “I have potential.” It’s still my all-time favorite t-shirt.)
So where am I going with this? Let’s see. Make memories, not excuses. Ada (my cousin) calls these little revelatory moments “the gift of illness.” And yes … the gift of everyone’s generosity is not only changing the way I’m seeing all of us as part of some kind of cool primordial love soup, but its power may be so great as to help save a life.