Sunday, October 3, 2010

Pity Party

That wire is just to my iPhone.  I'm hiding my port access in my cleavage.
I know what you're thinking.  She finally finished her last round of chemo, how can she be having a pity party now??  Well, when you're feeling weak and dependent (for the bajillionth never-ending day), it's actually quite easy to feel sorry for yourself.  What's even more shameful is that I had myself a pity party yesterday on LIVESTRONG Day, of all days, wearing my yellow survivor shirt to show my support for all 28 million of us to the many stuffed animals Judah drags into my room each morning.

But I did it, and now it's over (thank you, mommy).  Today I'm very happy the sun is shining and I only have to swallow 3 more 50 mg pukey p pills (the biggest and gaggiest ones known to patients the world around).  It is FINALLY October, people!!  And although it's difficult to fathom that this roller coaster of disease has been going on since May, we are now so much closer to the end of treatment then we were then.  I have the scars (and the medical statements) to prove it.

Getting accessed with Priscilla (she has the kindest smile), Dr. Henry's RH lady.
Thursday (Day 1: The Final Frontier) was a much anticipated day; I not-so-secretly feared my blood counts would be too low to be treated and I would have to wait even longer to get my last hit of the junk (thank you, Bedonna).  Alas, my counts were higher than just before Round 5 and so I was ushered into a window seat, and given my premeds (it got real silly real fast - and if we ever figure out how to upload video onto this jawn, you can see for yourself - try clicking on this: Getting Silly on Pre-Meds).  Then came the decadron push (the office version of prednisone), which gave me a very strange side effect for the first time - not listed on any website I visited - that involved my rear end feeling as though on fire while being administered.  Fun times.

After that, it was off to shiatsu with Wayne (heart, smile, sigh...) where I fell into a benadryl/massage-induced coma and he again had to wake me up to get me back to my recliner.  I promptly fell asleep, and would've preferred to remain asleep, but chose to open my eyes just in time to watch the nurse pushing in the gigantic syringe filled with what can only be compared to Snow White's evil stepmother's poison.  Completely nauseating and disturbing to watch it travel through the iv tubes and directly into your own chest.  So glad I got to witness that for the last time.

Eventually, we finished with a lovely cytoxan drip, I was de-accessed from my port and sent on my merry way.  I'm not 100% sure, but I think I may have left the clinic with words along the line of, "no offense, but I hope I never see you again..."  In retrospect, "thank you for your help" probably would've been a bit gentler or even gracious, but I just wasn't in that kind of mood.  More of a let's-get-the-F-out-of-here-and-never-look-back kind of mood.

Getting the party started...
Now.  Before all of this grand chemotherapy finale took place, of course I got to meet with the one and only Dr. Henry to ask him my accumulated list of questions about new side effects and upcoming plans for follow-up. 

How did they know I am a teacher?
In honor of my last round, we brought munchkins (certainly on the anti-cancer diet, no?) for the nurses in the office and a gorgeous bowl (made and donated by the very talented Marilyn Umen) filled with lemons and limes to leave on the plant window of the chemo clinic.  Furthermore, we gave out m&m cheerleader stickers to everyone we saw (nurses, other patients, caregivers, etc.).  Got to spread the love.

We gave Dr. Henry one of our Team Mama Mia buttons (thank you JJCARMS) and I'm pretty sure he mentioned something about wanting to borrow my purple wig in the future.  I have more gifts planned, but I'm saving them for when I get good news from my final round of scans (not until December).  I will have my next set (CAT/PET) in a few weeks, just prior to meeting with my radiation oncologist, at Abington Hospital, when we will discuss the radiation regimen to zap any remaining biatches lingering in my mediastinal cavity.

Even purple gloves???
After all of the zapping is complete, I have to wait 6 weeks for any inflammation to go down at the radiation site before conducting another set of scans to ensure any and all traces of cancerous activity have been eradicated from my person.

So although I'm still feeling physically poopy, weak, and I am yes, still bald, I do have a lot to look forward to:

#1: My hair will start to grow back (I'm told eyebrows and eyelashes and anywhere else you don't want hair to grow will be the first to arrive) on my head in about a month.  Since hair grows in cycles, not all hairs will grow at the same time.  However, something is better than nothing.

#2: My energy will return in a few weeks (yes, only to be zapped during radiation - but I have a lovely chaise to help with the relaxation).

#3:  There is a Township Public Affairs Committee Meeting on Wednesday night of this week.  Can you guess what issue will be brought to the table??

#4:  I'm searching locations for the dance party we will be hosting in a few months.  I'm getting the setlist prepared, and as soon as I can think about food again, I will get to work on the hors d'oeuvres, decor, and invitations (yes, you're all invited). 

#5: As soon as we meet with the radiation oncologist, we will have some sense of how many sessions with the zapper I'll need.  This will allow us to plan a much needed, wicked vacation to some sunny place far away from the limitations of our house (and the marching band, in particular).

#6:  At some point in the not so distant future, I will be able to stop taking a great number of pills.

#7:  Going back to work!!  Truthfully, I'm not always thrilled with the idea of returning to my full-time position at school.  It requires a lot of energy, just to do the bare minimum (which isn't actually enough to be successful).  But I miss my kids and being productive in a way that doesn't involve laying down and saving my own life.  I long for the sense of normalcy and routine (as crazy and draining as it is) that having a job (outside the home) brings.  Oh, also?  You get to talk to other adults.

#8:  Sewing pillowcases for ConKerr Cancer.  It is a delightful organization that collects new pillowcases (sewn to specific measurements) and delivers them to children with cancer in local hospitals.  At the end of Round 4, I picked out a whole bunch of cute fabrics for this very purpose, but have not had the strength to get started on the project.  It will give me a chance to be productive, while still conserving my healing energy.  Plus, you get a discount on your next purchase when you drop them off back at the fabric store!  Wahoo!

#9:  Which brings me to.... shopping!!  Not that I have any money since I'm on sick leave, but I can browse, right, Dan??  We may not need accessories, but we will always need groceries.

#10:  One word: pedicure.  I am told there are various organic nail salons in center city since we moved to the burbs.  I will be sure to review each and every one publicly (not that I plan on trying them all, but in case any of them want to send me freebies, I will be more than happy to post good things about them).  [Sidenote: Due to risk of infection, I have not been able to indulge in salon treatments such as the much awaited pedis.  While I have done my own nails for the past 4 months, in varied shades of violet, lavender and sparkly grape - thank you ladies, you know who you are - I am looking forward to a more normal immune system as well as being pampered.]

And since there aren't enough thank you's in the world, I must again put out a huge Thank You to all of you amazing folks who have been bringing us dinners for the past 4 months.  It's been quite a relief to not have to worry about getting food on the table in time for everyone's hunger to kick in.  You will never know how much we have appreciated all of the meals - made with love and by some darn good cooks.  Although I look forward to being independent again, I'm not sure how easy it will be to start cooking again (but in our soon-to-be brand new kitchen, at least the surroundings will be pretty)!

Since this post is on the longish side already, I will not go into thanking all of the wonderful friends and family who continue to send messages and pick-me-ups from near and far.  You will just have to keep your eyes peeled for the 2nd Triannual Team Mama Mia Appreciation Day, coming your way a few weeks from now.

Pre-access, of course.



  1. A gift certificate to THE best organic nail salon in the city is waiting for you. Let me know when you are ready and a fabulous mani/pedi will be yours at Tierra Mia on 17th Street. You will be pampered and indulged to your hears content by Karina (sp)?, my new favorite person in the world, and her adorable fiance, Justin, though he usually just provides comic relief. I'll forward their web site info to you. When can you go? Joyce

  2. May the One who was a source of blessing for our ancestors, bring blessings of healing upon Mia, a healing of body and a healing of spirit. May those in whose care they are entrusted, be gifted with wisdom and skill, and those who surround them, be gifted with love and trust, openness and support in their care. And may they be healed along with all those who are in need. Blessed are You, Source of healing.

  3. Mia, you are a source of inspiration. I admire your courage and your sense of humor, you make me laugh, more importantly, you make yourself laugh even in face of such hardship. You'll make it babe! Would you like to use our house to have that DANCE PARTY you talked about? We'll be able to help out w/ food and decorations etc... love you, Rabia