The Letter C

I loved the simple old Sesame Street days when C stood for cookies. Not any more. The new C in my grown-up life is cancer and it has garnered my undivided attention since October 7. There is nothing fuzzy and blue about having C. And I’m about to add another unfuzzy and unblue C to my life.

My first chemo treatment is confirmed for Thursday, December 15.

It seems like it should be scary as hell but the oncologist and nurse tell me differently.

I need to believe they’re right.

Each day one goes without a terrifying medical diagnosis means one is closer to a better treatment alternative, and I know I will benefit from this exact scenario. The advancement in chemo chemicals and ways to ameliorate the grievous torture of yesteryear is profoundly improved. And I am lucky that my cancer was caught early and didn’t leave any detritus behind. I was dreading the anticipated six month duration but cried when I learned it would be only three months, with three-week cycles rather than two-week ones. My chemo journey will be easier than those that a few of my friends have known.

Once I had received the positive final pathology report, the frightening unknowns ahead were over. I have been able to process myself beyond the disease stage to the treatment phase, something I was not sure I could do. But I have. I feel empowered to enter this as a positive chapter, knowing that it is insurance against a possible dandelion seed puff of cancer that may have scattered to lurk and grow someday in another body part.

I have no time for dandelion seed puffs with four little grandberries.

So, the side effects. Fatigue is a big one. I am told I should function at 80% for a few days after an infusion, a number I don’t even think I achieve on good days without chemo now.

I will lose all hair but it will come back, and possibly even differently. Maybe I won’t end up with the kitten hair option I already have.

I have moved my head past the loss of hair. I will get it buzzed proactively before it starts to fall out about the second week following the infusion. I hate surprises and could not stand the shock of kitten hair hanks on my pillow. My beloved stylist wants to take care of it for me but I have decided just to slip anonymously into a cheap franchise for the whack. Whatever is left will likely be gone by the next week anyway.

I have told Tom that his offer to buzz with me in solidarity touched my heart deeply but it will not be necessary. I want to look at everyone in my life as they normally are and not as reminders that I have crossed the border into Cancer World.

Steroids are administered for three days to prevent any nausea and vomiting. They may cause insomnia but sleep aides will help for those days. I may develop a metallic taste or aversions to some smells. It is recommended to avoid favorite foods in this case so as not to establish a negative association, so it looks like I might be eating salmon, okra, lima beans and pancakes ahead.

Blood counts will be closely monitored and I return the day after each treatment for a healthy growth cells infusion. Fighting off infection is critical. If all goes well, I will be done by the third week in February unless treatments are waylaid by illness. I don’t want that to happen. Once I start this walk down The Green Mile, I just want to get to the end.

Wrong, the end won’t be the end after that. Then I will have six weeks of daily radiation. It’s hard to pack any more fun into this party ahead.

But I have come a long way and I accept that the poisons ahead are positive forces. I am getting there. And, I am even beginning to focus on the sound of laughter after, something that I know will again be fuzzy and blue.

[Author’s After Note: this post mysteriously disappeared months after it was posted but both it and the accompanying readers’ comments were luckily retrieved from an archive website; comments are shown in a format different from the original.]


10 thoughts on “The Letter C”
DECEMBER 2, 2016 AT 6:30 PM
Yes, “C” was much more fun with the Cookie Monster. The big “C” of cancer is life altering. But there is another “C” that is the season of Christmas with all the hope, love, joy and the peace that is part of this special “C.” 🎄🎄May the gifts of this season be part of your journey. You are loved! Susan

Liz Goldstein
DECEMBER 2, 2016 AT 6:41 PM
I hope everything goes smoothly for you and that I’ll see you back at Words Alive as soon as possible. I miss you and think about you often.

Lynn Buechler
DECEMBER 2, 2016 AT 7:15 PM
Be gentle with yourself, you have nothing to prove, except to keep going one step ahead. You have ONE thing to work on, yourself. This is the time to be a bit selfish and do what YOU want. We are all thinking and encouraging and loving YOU!
Love love love to beautiful, wonderful YOU!

Kathy Green
DECEMBER 2, 2016 AT 7:35 PM
Praying for your every need, for your strength and peace during this difficult time. Can’t wait to see you on the other side of this. One day at a time. Hugs and love.

DECEMBER 2, 2016 AT 10:43 PM
It”s a word I abhor. Cancer. Yuck! Ugh! No me gusta!!!! However, as I thought, knowledge is power and empowers. You are set. Great information. Great doctors. Fabulous and supportive family and friends. Prayers and positive thoughts enveloping your space. You are fully prepared. 😘😘😘😘🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾 Let’s kick some cancer ‘s butt!

Butch Elliott
DECEMBER 2, 2016 AT 11:12 PM
Your strength and courage, as well as the eloquent way you express those qualities, overwhelm me with gratitude for having such a wonderful friend.

DECEMBER 2, 2016 AT 11:26 PM
You are going into this with a positive attitude and the knowledge that there have been great strides in treatment. You have the upper hand. Your medical team is the best. The hair loss is sad but you will always be beautiful because beauty lives in your spirit. And you will one day be the inspiration for another woman facing this battle. Your strength will become her strength.

Barb Brooks
DECEMBER 3, 2016 AT 5:57 AM
Just think of this process as hurdles. You have gone through — discovery, diagnosis, lumpectomy,and pathology report. Now the journey begins on the downside. Chemo, radiation and freedom. Look at how far you have come. Cancer is a frightening word but you have the strength and support to tackle whatever comes your way. Know that your East coast family continues to think and pray for you. Yes, this is a life altering diagnosis but focus on the joys that lie ahead. Take one day at a time, as we have done for the past 25 years of transplantation. Love. Barb and

DECEMBER 3, 2016 AT 9:28 AM
Oooooo… Maybe THAT is the ‘hair’ I should crochet for you: fuzzy & blue!!! Sending hugs🙂

Valerie Stevenson
DECEMBER 12, 2016 AT 4:06 PM
As the date for chemo #1 nears, I have reread this post. Thanks for so eloquently sharing your journey. You seem well equipped for steady progress ahead. Adalante! (sp?)


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