My daughter and her husband have moved to a different bedroom in their house. He says she has now doubled her commute. (Her home office is a few steps further away!) Lucky girl designed her own beautiful comfortable office...in a room that opens to their deck. Her talented husband loved building her very expensive looking, customized desk. A well known corporation pays her to work there everyday. No Seattle commute with horrendous freeway traffic, no cubicle, no wishing for a window, a corner office, or a cleaner restroom. No expenses for downtown lunches, spontaneous shopping trips, or daily perfect makeup and ever changing wardrobe with the essential five accessories. It is most amazing to me that she is not isolated, and enjoys close relationships with many of her work colleagues around the world. Technology is apparently the water cooler of corporate life. (4 more, but who's counting?)
At the same time the residents of Hanford, Washington are coming forward with information about the devastating effects of radiation exposure, I am lying on a table in Seattle, Washington, tattoos aligned with the redlines shooting from a machine, allowing radiation to be poured into my body. I know without a doubt that in the future there will be a better, safer treatment. I am a child of my time. Really glad it's not leeches!
I wrote before about my "friend" who won't stop trying to engage the cancer conversation. I am now pretty sure she continues her campaign just so I will have a place to put any pent up anger. This weekend over pancakes at a local restaurant, she started again. I told her again: I am not talking to you about this. Pouting apology. "Well I want to support you." Well then, shut up and pass the syrup."
Then there's Susan. She pops in with a meal just as I decide I am too exhausted to cook. She decides to fix a closet door that won't latch properly. She says: get your jacket, we're going to see Godzilla. We will eat popcorn and scream in terror and laugh at ourselves for watching this ridiculous movie with a theater full of nine year old boys!"
And my neighbor Bruce who checks in just to say hi. And Joyce who calls regularly and sends me her birding photos. And Paula who leaves sweet messages of encouragement that I save and listen to over and over. And my work pal who calls for advice. And Katie who sends soup for my freezer. And my sister who has figured out the time difference so that her texts arrive just as I finish my Daily treatment. And my sweet daughter who thinks of surprises and shows up randomly at the beginning or end of a treatment with flowers, a hug, an ice cream cone.
Right after this all started, I got to thinking about FOREVER. And it occurred to me that my daughter would have very few photos of me in her forever. It became my immediate priority to get some good likeness made before I jumped into cancer treatment. I knew the name of a very good photographer, but nothing about her except that she was about my age. She invited me to walk with her and her camera at 5pm when the light is "just right." We met at a coffee shop. What followed was a stoll through an old picturesque part of the city with a fascinating tall woman who talked non stop while snapping pictures of me, the movie star. Self consciousness disappeared because there was no way out. There is more to this story besides great photos. Saved for another day is the story of Danielle, the tall silver haired lady photographer who used to be Dan, the dashing Emmy winning photo journalist who shot pictures hanging from helicopters.
Today was my planning meeting with The Radiator. He is a smart young doc who looks a lot like Cary Agos (Good Wife) i.e. way younger looking than he could possibly be. Scans and measurements, a "cast" made so that I will be in precisely the same position every time I come for treatment, and four tiny permanent tattoos to ensure that they don't aim the beam in a way that might fry my heart. All a bit surreal, but I can't escape the idea that one day advanced science will look back at this treatment as barbaric.
But. Let's talk about tattoos. I never thought I would have one. Now I have four.
So this blog isn't suddenly going to be all about cancer, but right now that is my experience so there may be a post or two or more. Right now I am feeling pretty lucky to have very good friends and family to support me on this journey. And now for the rant: my friends fall into two categories close and casual. I love my close friends and they love me and understand my quirks, insecurities and need to be in charge of my own life. They let me be selfish or lavish with information and they know when to hug and when to back off. They tell me they will blunder but only out of love and a wish to "be there" for me. They call regularly, bring food and offer distraction. The rant is about a casual friend who upon hearing of my diagnosis came bounding into my life with gushing compassion, and a never ending set of questions..the worst being "what stage is it?" Look lady. I don't know you. Why do you need to know that about me? Why would you ask? Why do you need to sort out in YOUR head information I did not volunteer? Why do you annoy me so much? Why do you get all pouty when I say:" I know you are trying to be helpful, but your probing interview questions are unwelcome. Please let me share only what I choose. " Why do you a day later send me a text saying "please tell me about your treatment. Does it hurt?" Delete. Delete. Delete.
So you're going along. Doing your thing. And then you're not. Routine mammogram. Lets do another image. Will do an ultrasound. And then a needle biopsy. Let us send you home with this ice pack and these cut flowers tied with a pink ribbon. Please see your regular doctor doctor next week. Thanks for coming in, I'm sorry you have to deal with this. Here is the name of a surgeon, she's very good. MRI, bloodwork, surgery, healing. Waiting. Post op: here is the name of an oncologist. Thanks for coming in I will be your oncologist. Here is the name of you radiologist. See him next week. In six weeks you will be back to normal. Your new normal. Going along. Doing your thing.