My Second Cancerversary

Today is my second Cancerversary.

I went to my Dermatologist for my check up, and I was cleared.

I am still waiting for the results from last Thursday’s scans, so I am not celebrating yet, but this is a big milestone… in the making. I made my next Dermatologist appointment, and had the pleasure of scheduling it for six months from now, a three month extension to the routine from the last two years.

I am very very hopeful, but not celebrating yet. I learned the hard way about counting chickens before they hatch. I will count them when the report comes in. I will also finish my mixed metaphor then as well.

Four Weeks Out: I’ve been too well to want to write

I’ve been feeling so well that I have been throwing myself into feeling well. I keep realizing I need to write a status update, but I just would rather ride my bicycle, or have sex, or make a good meal, or email a friend I haven’t seen in a while to meet up, or… All of this is good. Really good.

I’m exactly four weeks out from my last injection. To put that in drug terms, during this time I have taken Atarax less than 5 times, for a while I took less and less Klopin, I only took Tylenol when I had headaches I realized were actually Klonopin withdrawal symptoms, and thus started them back up. I’m meeting with my Oncological Psychologist today to discuss phasing out strategies for my remaining three drugs (lexapro, klonopin, and seroquel). we’ll see what he recommends. Obvs has to be done carefully.

Okay, emotional terms: I’m happier than I have been in 18 months. I feel like myself again, except better. The process of facing down my own death made me less afraid of death, failure, admitting mistakes, honesty, etc, and more willing to ask for help, be honest about emotions and needs, and better at saying no to people (as I always say yes, and always end up over extended.) I’m happy, full of energy, and a lot less of a pain in the ass.

Okay, my energy levels: I have only had two proper dysesthesia attacks, and a few tremors that I have been able to control through meditation and breathing. I get up in the morning, and can go through a whole day. All this, despite the mid August NYC heat. I’ve been riding since my return 6 days ago. Rode three of the last four nights. 2, 4, 2 laps around the 3.3m park. Feels really good. I’m hitting lactic threshold in my legs, and i’m pushing aerobic capacity, especially when i did 4 laps. it feels good to be able to feel where my body is. where i can go. and then week by week, expand that. i’m good at rehabbing, actually. i’ve done it a *lot* of times. too many times. a lot more than I should have…

It is fun to restart things in the studio. I have spent this week taking a big picture look at everything we were working on, and figuring out what needs to happen next. A lot of strategy. Big picture thinking I could *not* have done a month ago. Turns out I’m working on 101 distinct projects. Oops. About 20 of them are more than 90% done, and just need finishing touches, and at least 30 are just brainstorms i sketched out on paper and a lot of them can be straight up killed b/c the other ones are so much more worthy. But still. Way too many.

I’m riding the subway. I’m actually typing this on the subway right now. PDX got the heat wave, and NYC had a luke warm rainy summer until this week that I returned. Everyone keeps saying this is the hottest week all summer. It is supposed to chill off in a week. But it feels good to realize I can take the worst of the NYC summer, and I’m okay. I’m still wearing my ice vest for commuting, but I don’t need it anywhere near as much as I did a month ago.

My hunger is back. I’m eating more. I’m eating faster. I’m eating everything. I have had all the things I was unable or prohibited from eating: shellfish, orange juice, lemonade, mustard, rare steak. Strangely, I have not had any sushi yet, and though I had some Indian food, it kind of kicked my ass from the spice.

I have glasses now, my hair has thinned and has no curl anymore. I had to cut it really short to get rid of all the chemo hair that was brittle and frizzy. I can’t wait for my fingernails to start growing back. I can brush my teeth again, and finally shaved with a razor today, for the first time in maybe 9 or 10 months; my skin just couldn’t handle it.

All in all everything is going so much better. I’m looking forward to going back to teaching. My department chair has been really good about working out a schedule that eases me back in. I start with some advising and internships, and going to faculty meetings, and pick up the second half of two “team taught” classes mid semester. I am confident I will be able to do that, and looking forward to being back in the classroom. It has been 18 months, and will be another two more.

Unless anything drastic happens (good or bad) I will prob be writing less and less, which is a good thing.

Mom sends flowers

Graham Thomas

Peter Mayle

Just Joey

Gertrude Jekyll

Jude the Obscure

Jude the Obscure, Gertrude Jekyll, Just Joey, Peter Mayle, and Graham Thomas hopefully will still be performing when you arrive. If not, there are lilies in the wings.
5 more weeks

mom & dad

My mom has been sending pictures and postcards every week during this last countdown. Here are this weeks five roses. I might have gotten the wrong names on the wrong flowers.


straight talk from the dr – and its good

departure for portland is creeping up fast! i’m going to portland at the end of the month and staying through mid august. after friday, i only have six more weeks of injections. my drs are all v positive. they seem really genuinely happy when my scans come back negative – as if they really thought there could be something on them. my oncologist doesn’t want to talk numbers, and always gives me the crazy ranges like 5 to 35 percent. i asked my derm to give it to me in plain language, and pull no punches, and he basically said that if i was going to relapse, it would have already happened. he says that he has two kinds of melanoma patients: the 60 year olds, who usually relapse w’in the first year, and the 30 year olds, who all survive w/o relapsing.

He told me the story of a guy who came in 5 years earlier w/ a massive melanoma on the back of his head — so close to his major lymph nodes. Apparently it had been bleeding for 6 months, and he finally came in to the dr. It was advanced stage III – in lots of lymph nodes. He had surgery and did the interferon, and 5 years later, is perfectly fine.

Today is my Cancerversary


Happy Cancerversary

I was diagnosed with Melanoma one year ago. O took me out for a fancy dinner, complete with a marzipan scroll that says “Happy Cancerversary” on it. And she gave me this awesome trophy. The trophy has a special story. It was one of the props from when Lance Armstrong was on Saturday Night Live. I don’t thing it was actively used — maybe it was an alternate, or just in the background, but it was made custom for Lance. So say what you will about the fact that he was better at covering up his doping than all the other riders who did the same thing, but got caught: the man kicked cancer’s ass. So the base is enscribed “KICKING CANCER’S ASS, 2008-2009.”

It is crazy to think how different life was a year ago. How much I’ve grown. How much violence my body has endured. How drug addled I am. And how much I feel like a different person.