Monday, September 6, 2010


Note the double scalp protection...
Yesterday was the most glorious day of the year.  A cool 70 degrees (perfection in Philadelphia), with sparkling sunshine everywhere.  Lucky for me, I got to spend it on the beach of Ventnor, NJ (thank you Joyce!).  Dan volunteered to spend the day with Judah B. while my mom and I packed up only our own belongings and headed down the shore for some peace and quiet, some R&R, a day of de-stressing before the madness is to begin again on Thursday.

Well, we arrived at the beach around 12:30 pm, and by 1 o'clock, we had already moved our chairs twice.  The first move was due to the irritating and meaningless chatter of someone's (sports talk) radio (haven't you heard of headphones, people??).  The second move was to find a spot upwind of some lovely lady's second hand smoke.

When we finally arrived at our third (and I was insistent, final) destination, my hound dog nose quickly picked up the scent of a nearby cigar.  Starting to lose the cheerful and relaxed state of mind I had come here for, I was ready to pull off the bandana/sunhat combo I had going, to shove my bald head in someone's face.  JUST LET ME SIT IN FRONT OF THE OCEAN AND READ MY BOOK AND MIND MY OWN BUSINESS AND NOT BOTHER ANYBODY!!  I wanted to scream. 

My mother, occasionally more diplomatic than I, went up to the offending cigar smoker and explained that her daughter had cancer and would he please mind smoking after we left (knowing full well we were settling in until dinnertime)?  He was kind enough to put out his cigar, only requesting that we let him know when we leave so he can light up again.  Just for the record, I did go over and thank him myself.

Now let me say to all of the smokers out there - you have every right to smoke.  Everyone (that's not a direct descendant of mine, of course) has a right to do with their bodies what they wish.  If that means drinking your liver into oblivion or smoking tar into your lungs, so be it.  I'm not here to try to get anyone to quit.  What I am here to say is you don't want to have cancer.  Trust me.  You really don't want it.  And if all it took to lower your chances significantly of leaving this earth (or suffering through chemo) before you're good and ready is to just NOT smoke, maybe it's worth it to give quitting a try.

On the flip side, as a non-smoking, undergoing chemo cancer patient, I have zero interest in breathing in any more toxins than I already have.  I won't go into the details of where the vent in my classroom (2 years ago) sucked it's "fresh" air from.  I do not want to put myself at further risk by ingesting additional air pollution.  If I am offending any of my smoker friends, I am sorry, but I wouldn't wish this cancer experience on my worst enemy.  (Well, maybe I could think of one or two people... no, no, really, just kidding.  I think.)

This poses a problem.  People have a right to smoke their cigarettes.  But I have a right to clean air, to be healthy, to have the best possible prognosis.  What is the solution?  Do we have a smoker's beach and a non-smoker's beach?  Put a line of masking tape to divide the two?  What happens when the wind shifts?  What happens when smokers and non-smokers want to play paddleball (I'm envisioning the ball sailing back and forth over the border...) or sit together and talk by the edge of the water (my chair on one side of the tape, yours on the other)? 

I'm not trying to segregate, here, just maybe tell it like it is and hope that people want to avoid this experience badly enough to quit smoking.  Or at least quit smoking near non-smokers.  Honestly, I already feel as though there's a black cloud hanging over my head.  I don't need a real one.

Cigar man having been so kind, we managed to enjoy the rest of the day with little to no further smoke issues.  There was that same woman (from whom we moved the 2nd time), whose smoking friends had come to join her.  At one point, my chair was facing hers in an effort to give my sensitive skin a break from the sun, and I (with my mother's permission) removed both layers of head coverings to show her what her head could look like in just a few short months.  After my 45 second timer (also my mother) went off, I was forced to cover my head again, for fear of a reflective burn on my scalp.  But it did feel good to show off my bare noggin, my badge of honor for the fleeting moment, in an attempt to change someone's future.


Tomorrow, I take Judah to the urologist to review his scans from last month.  I will then drop him off at school for a few hours so he can play with other children once again.  Hooray for organized, structured, goal-oriented pre-school!  Please, wear my kid out!  I will then bake banana bread and try to finish as many thank you notes as possible before Wednesday, or the Eve of Day 1 (again). 

Today, I'm putting off the thought of starting all over again and just enjoying that I still have 2 more days of semi-normalcy, good range of motion, an incredibly loving husband and son (and doggie), fantastic parents nearby, sparkly toenails, most of my eyebrows and eyelashes (just putting this in writing is like taunting the follicles, daring them to drop).  And in the mirror yesterday, I swear I found some hairs on my head that are longer than others.  Some hairs have grown!?  How this is possible, I do not know.  But I have two witnesses who saw what I saw and concur, this whole chemo thing is without a doubt, the weirdest thing.  Ever.



  1. Hey, smokers have feelings, too!

    Mine?.. I Love You,Mia. AND,
    those unlikely hairs...
    GG and Uncle Larry

  2. As far as I know there is NO SMOKING on the Jersey beaches. I think I even recall signs everywhere stating it... I know for sure in Cape May and Wildwood you are not allowed to smoke on the beach and don't dare to smoke on the boardwalk either. I guess I just don't notice as much...

  3. Just seeing a photo of you and Judah makes me smile.