Sunday, July 09, 2006

Damn it feels good to be a gangster

5 vials left.
5 little vials.
What exactly does that mean to you and me? One month of chemo left as of today! One month, people.
Dust off your party hats 'cause it's almost time for the event of the year: The No Mo Chemo Party.

You've heard of the Bionic woman and Six Million Dollar man? Well, the Boob and I spent our time waiting in line at the pharmacy the other day adding up the cost of the last year's medical adventures. I think I could feasibly be their love child. The value of my body breaks down like this:
11 months of at home injections: $132,286
1 month of in hospital high dose treatments: $200,000
33 day hospital stay: $500,000
1 stool sample for my "favorite" nurse: freebie (and eternally satisfying)
14 treatments of Vancomyacin: $14,000
1 toe removal: $30,000
Various scans: $100,000
Crutches: $40
Salvation Army Wheelchair: $60
Kytril (5 pills): $1500
Vicodin, Lexapro, Phenergan, Ativan, steroids, etc: $20,000

Outliving all you b*tches: PRICELESS!

The tentative date for the "No More Chemo Party" is August 19th. Mark your calendars, save the date. You are expected to show. Come as your favorite prescription drug and you get a free syringe of vodka!

As far as how things are going, here's the gist: the chemo is hurting me today, but I think, more than a mental state, it's probably the fact that I sat out in the sun for a while trying to get my car started. Plus, there's the fact that I'm having trouble with bowel control. Yes, that's right, kids, we're back where we started. We've gone from week-long constipation to dropping a load in my shorts 2 or 3 times a day now. Actually considered getting Depends today, and for good reason. Jeez. I'm so ready to have this all over with.

It's hard to think it was a year ago on August 9th that all this began- not the cancer, but the chemo. I'll never forget that month in the hospital- the days taking years to pass and eons going by over the 45 days it took to get discharged forever. Wow.
I'm not going to lie and say I'm not scared that remission won't last. It's really common for melanoma patients to find tumors or more malignancies in the year after chemo. It happens, and that's reality. My friends, they don't want me to talk about it, but I feel like I need to be honest and just embrace the fact that this may not be the end of this fight. When I threw a fit and told Dr. Daya I didn't want to do chemo any more, he flat out told me, "If this melanoma comes back, it will only be a matter of months before it will have taken over your lungs, your liver, your brain. It moves that quickly, and it will all be over."
It's a chilling thought- especially for someone who thinks the world revolves around them... that I could be gone, just like that. I know we're all dieing in the whole all-encompassing sense of things, in the way that none of us can escape it, ultimately. But once you've been touched by the reality of death, the way you think of it is totally different. And, on the other hand, you struggle with it the way your "old" self would, too. I'm reading "Dancing in Limbo," a great book about the way cancer changes life more than we ever know until we're faced with life after treatment. I read the other day a great quote, and I just had to share it with all of you: The author wrote that, "[s]urvivor grief is a paradox. It seems wrong to grieve when we have got what we most wanted- another chance at life. Furthermore, we are grieving major losses... we grieve a deeper loss. Our most comforting illusions are gone. We are both mortal and vulnerable, and we know it beyond a doubt."
I don't think it's a coincidence that cancer patients are more likely to suffer from depression after their year of chemo is over than when they are in the midst of treatment. Life is different. People who don't understand you and break you down instead of building you up seem invisible in a lot of ways.
Melanoma, it's rough enough on it's own: an aggressive, quick-moving cancer that nobody wants to think about. Lots of people never deal with melanoma-or, the beast, as its commonly called- after their first year of fighting it, and then, you know that some do. You pray this will be the only episode, but you want to be prepared either way. I feel like acknowledging that somehow helps me to win this fight.
In the real world, I'd just bluff my way through a confrontation when I was scared.
Here, in cancer world, it's different. It's a much bigger deal. But I've been lucky: had great doctors and great luck, and I guess, in a way, that's why I'm here, to beat the odds. Just a simple girl kicking cancer's ass.

What really surprises me is now that the chemo is coming to an end, I feel strange about not having an active way to fight the cancer. You hear survivors say, "everything has changed," and, for the first time, I'm seeing why they say that. It's a change I'll never be able to explain, just like I'll never be able to explain why, in a strange, sick part of me, I don't want the chemo to end. But I'm doing what I've learned to do: I'm stepping into the scary place and pretending I know what to do next. It's the old "Fake it till You Make It" routine, and all I can think to do is focus on eating right, getting active again and rebuilding a part of my life I've missed out on. I've joined a running club called Achilles Track Club and it's specifically for runners with "disabilities," as wierd as that sounds to say. I'm very excited to get back into the joy of running, and I meet my mentor on Wednesday, who's going to set up a schedule for me so I can start taking part in local fun runs and such. Most of all, I miss the freedom that running allows, but there's also the appeal of the discipline and comraderie you find in running. Plus, I can't wait to look good in a bathing suit again. And isn't that what life is really about?

Thanks for listening to the rant. I know some of this is scary, but for those faithful few of you that are always with me on here, you help tremendously by simply being present. Seems like we did this together, and now I can't believe how close we all are to the end of this again.

I'm thinking of all of you and how great you'll look dressed as suppositiories! Keep the comments coming....

Miss M


Sarah said...

It is a scary time isn't it? I was (am) the exact way... no more treatment is very scary, but exciting.

Sounds like you have lots of great plans to get active and re-connect with your life in a way you haven't been able to in a while.

OMG you are going to feel so amazing it will blow your mind!!!!! Being on INF so long, you forget what it is like to feel normal, but the normal is heightened with an overwhelming sense of appreciation for the tiniest things in life so it is pretty amazing when you are off the chemo! Is for me anyway.

I'm glad you were able to get out some of the scary thoughts in your blog. That's exactly why I started mine, because in real life no one wants to hear it, and it is much harder to speak the uncertainty than write them.

Yay Miss M!

Peter said...

Thanks for sharing everything with us.

I went to a local Cancer Association meeting this week, and listened to an oncologist who, for an hour, laid it out straight... I thought this was a bit on the insensitive side, but at the end I realised this is what we need: Find out the facts and get it clear in your mind - And then move on, carry on with life, and do whatever is necessary to be a survivor.

Miss M, I am so disappointed I will not be able to join your party in person; That's the advantage of the internet, making friends on the other side of the world, but there is also a downside!

I will put it in my diary, and perhaps be able to join you via Skype, and share a glass of wine over the 'net.

Bill G said...

Marking my calendar for August 19. Can't be there -- but I'll tip one in celebration. (well, probably more than one)

Bill G -- from MPIP

Bill G said...

Marking my calendar for August 19. Can't be there -- but I'll tip one in celebration. (well, probably more than one)

Bill G -- from MPIP

Bill G said...

Marking my calendar for August 19. Can't be there -- but I'll tip one in celebration. (well, probably more than one)

Bill G -- from MPIP


I'm Too Young For This!