ACT 1, Scene 1
As much as one can fortify the body and mind and spirit for this sort of adventure, I was feeling ready, come Monday, August 18th.
The day before, my two amazing and selfless girlfriends, Chrissa and Vern, scrubbed my apartment from head to toe (and they’ve got some gooood karma coming back!) . I ate as much raw and unpeeled (but scrubbed) produce that I could -knowing these would be off limit once treatment began. I caught up on some correspondence and went for a walk slowly and painfully down the driveway to deposit some letters in the mailbox. The touches of summer turning surprised me a bit. In the evening, we celebrated life with a good meal. I got to snuggle up with Joey and finally watch the footage from Josh and Tammy’s wedding, which I had to miss as it was just 4 days after the surgery. We laughed and cried and I was so touched that Tammy spoke on my behalf after speeches were made. I didn’t realize how much of my presence they had ensured would be there in spite of my physical absence.
Although the night was mostly sleepless, with my mind filtering 100 thoughts per second, I woke up alert and calm, ready to face the day. Joey and Julian said good by at the hospital, where I met my mom and headed in to face the music.
My best approach to the unknown is to 1. research like hell and, 2. ask a lot of questions and, 3. when it is time to pay the piper, cast aside all expectations. If you have done steps 1 and 2, and you’re still in that chair, then you are in the right place. When it comes to step 3, the best thing to do is really let go, releasing anxiety, fear, projections and the like. Your journey will be like no one else’s, so no use comparing notes endlessly.
I was in the office a little over 5 hours, receiving fluids, steroids, benedryl and the first two drugs of my chemotherapy protocol, Adriamyacin and Cytoxin. These two drugs are to be administered in a dose dense cycle, every two weeks for a total of 4 times, followed by 12 rounds of Taxol, administered once a week. All in all, this looks to last 5 months, before I can wrap up this wicked chapter of my life.
What was this first (AC) dose experience like? Remember when Bruce Banner is hit with gamma rays and becomes the fearsome and powerful Hulk? Although I did not leave feeling powerful and hulklike, there was this burning transformation taking place in my body. Adriamicin, also known as the “red-devil”, was slowly pumped into me by the doctor who was carefully clad in gloves, cap and gown, and I peed red for the remainder of the evening. I remember that night that I could feel this stuff running through each of my organs with an icy-hot burn. Here is where I paused in my description. I am very much IN IT, in the baby beginning steps of this. Everyday is different. I don’t want to whine and complain, nor do I want to scare anyone else who may face this someday.
I wish I felt heroic… like the pose I struck after my radical haircut, day two after chemo. I wish I felt like Rosie the Riviter, marching boldly forward. The truth is, I am scared of the next dose. I don’t like what this is is making me feel inside… this slow death. I want to assure all the people that love me and that are keeping tabs, that I will not quit. Holding Julian’s little 4 year old hand as he fell asleep tonight, soft baby skin -interlacing his fingers in mine, “Mama… I love you”, he says. I know I will be right back in that chair in one week… because I love him and I am not going anywhere for a long time.