Saturday, September 11, 2010
We prepped Judah in advance that he wasn't going to be getting much attention during this hour, as all the grown ups wanted to watch an important show, but that he could get in his pj's and stay up late until it was over. Luckily, Rachel brought over a bucket of goodies for him to busy himself with during the first half of the show (including doodling all over his left hand in black marker because no one was much interested in him for all of 60 consecutive seconds), and we put I Heart Big Machines for him on the portable DVD player with headphones (life-saving technology for all of you who have not yet had the pleasure of flying cross country with a 2 year old) to enjoy the rest of the show without commercial or Judah interruptions.
Having attended the first telethon in person 2 years ago, I already knew it would be a cry-fest. Even then, BC, I could surely empathize with people who had undeservingly lost loved ones or fought the loveless bastard themselves. Having lost my aunt to glioblastoma in 1998, my uncle (a long time Hodgkins' survivor) soon after, and then my paternal grandfather to colon cancer, I had been "touched by" cancer. But of course now, I have a completely different perspective on the whole damn thing. Deep in the fight myself (and disappointed that I was unable to attend this year's show), I can see with clarity the need for targeted chemo, for clinical trials, for patients to get the care they need - quickly.
As written by my amazing brother and machatonim, Laura Ziskin (along with other talented writers who I'm not related to) cancer doesn't care what is going on outside of your body, in your daily life. If left misdiagnosed or untreated, it moves fast and furiously to destroy all that is good and normal on your insides. It doesn't care how much money you have (or don't have) or how your child needs you (no matter his/her age) or what your dreams or plans are for the future. Cancer is pure, rated R evil. And we must put an end to it once and for all.
I was inspired by my brother's words, spoken by good ol' Denzel Washington, reminding us of all of the fights already fought and won by the brave leaders before us. It is up to us to take drastic measures to change the medical world for not only our own chances of survival, but for our childrens' chances and beyond. I am so thankful that Laura (the only person I know with the gusto and production experience to spearhead such a powerful hour of television) has been so relentless and proactive in moving mountains to raise money and awareness on behalf of all of the current and eventual evil fighters in the world who deserve to live long and healthy lives (and in memory of all of those who courageously fought and lost).
I distinctly remember thinking (and saying) a few months ago, "Why me? Why didn't this happen to ______ and then I could be making her dinner and sending her cards and packages? Why ME?" But by now, my question is, "Why anyone?"
Not that I don't still have those self-pitying moments when I can't imagine what I did to bring this upon myself, but I have most definitely come to the conclusion that no one should have to go through this: debilitating treatment and side effects, families stressed and (occasionally) medicated right alongside the patient, hundreds of good-hearted friends lending their own precious time helping out, trying to lift the spirits of, and pitch in and do the countless jobs of just one typically overachieving working mother (or father or daughter or son). I'm going to take the high road here, leaving all murderers, rapists, kidnappers and the like out of this conversation on the assumption they have all been cursed by some kind of mental illness or abuse that would lead them to commit such immoral and inhumane acts of indecency.
As for the rest of us, we are all innocent. Many of us were raised in loving homes, by parents who fed us well (fresh fruits, vegetables, and lots of books - I didn't even know what a potato chip was called until kindergarten), expected us to graduate from college, and taught us to go out in the world and do something fulfilling and productive. So it's up to us to make this happen.
A big fat thank you to my baby brother, Eli and his wife, Julia, who played instrumental parts in the writing, planning, and execution of last night's extravaganza. And also to Laura, who, aside from giving me valuable chunks of chemo-surviving advice, I can honestly say has inspired me (and I'm the one who entitled a previously written post: Inspiration, Shminspiration) to make some good come out of all of the crapola that is cancer.
As for my fifth round of chemo, it's, well, it's going. I came downstairs today, so that must be a good sign, although my legs continue to shake on the steps. I've consumed no fewer than 3 bowls of black cherry jello, all topped with (organic) whipped cream, some of those potato chips I now (unlike during my pre-K days) have a close personal relationship with, and a few of my usual over-medium eggs. Not a great day, eating-wise, but perhaps tomorrow will be better.
There is a light at the end of this tunnel: 1 more dose of R-CHOP to go. With or without a window seat (thank goodness for all of us, this past round was "with"), I have just one more to get through before my scans. And then the radiation chapter begins.
Although this journey is far from over (do survivors really ever consider themselves finished with cancer?), we're certainly closer to taking my life off of the hold button and getting back to doing more than healing (not to belittle the crucial work being done by my vital organs, platelets and t-cells at the moment). We are closer now than we were 3 months ago, the seemingly endless summer coolly drawing nearer to fall, a Jewish New Year upon us (5771 for anyone wondering), filled with hope for good health, happiness, and of course, a cure.