Thursday, September 26, 2013

Two Stories, One Nicer Than The Other

It worked!
I have a love/hate relationship with my hair. It is naturally curly and naturally mouse gray, although I'm hoping I keep that fairly well camouflaged (a privilege of being tall is that very few people can see the part in my hair and the gray roots camped out there). The older I get, the curlier it gets. When the weather gods are with me, I beat it into submission with that miracle invention, the straightening iron (WHERE WAS THIS WHEN I WAS IN HIGH SCHOOL?!); when they aren't, my hair is left to its hurly burly curly devices.

However, I made a vow to myself last year that I would NEVER NEVER EVER complain about my hair again when I received the news that I would not need infusion chemotherapy to treat my breast cancer.  And I am proud to say I have kept that vow. Too hot and humid to straighten it? Then it stays curly. Which means it's been curly about 95% of the time for the past four months. 
See? Fall is TRYING.

Monday of this week, fall gave us a little sneak preview. The humidity dropped a bit, along with the temperatures (if you call 82 cool, fall weather, which I don't, but it's at least a start). I also had just bought a new hair product that I hoped would live up to the hype on the outside of the bottle (which it did, surprisingly enough). I went to preschool that morning with sleek, straight hair.

My class of pre-k kids had arrived and were sitting at the tables, doing their morning work (coloring candies in a jar - "C" week, ya know), when one of the boys called me over to him.

"Miss Dyanne? Your hair looks nicer today."

My first thought was, "How sweet!" But before I could complete the thought, loud, snorting laughter erupted from my assistant teacher.

"Nicer than usual?" I asked him.

"Uh huh!" he answered brightly.

More laughter from the peanut gallery of one.

In all fairness, the kiddo meant it as a compliment. But the way it came out, um, yeah. 

And now, this 4 year old boy has single-handedly given me a complex. 

Nicer. NicER. NICER.


*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Rockin' the paper gown.
Today was oncology day. Bloodwork good. Passed the "follow my finger" test. No swelling. Breast exam normal (or as normal as it can be when the boobs aren't real). I had requested Mardi Gras beads be thrown to me in exchange for showing him the goods, but he wasn't sure HR would find it nearly as amusing as I would.

Every monthly oncology visit culminates in a trip to the infusion center for my Zoladex injection. When I get called back, I sit in a recliner, waiting for my injection to be delivered by the pharmacy. This can take anywhere from ten to thirty minutes (or more), depending on how backed up everything is. I usually kill time by playing with my phone, sending Snapchats to my friend Allison and looking through Facebook.

Two visits ago, while waiting for my injection to be delivered, an attractive woman of about 45 walked through the center and stopped to have an animated chat with a patient and her two adult daughters who were seated next to me. I kept looking at this woman, because she looked so familiar to me (it's a small town, after all, and it's uncommon NOT to see someone you know or at least recognize any time you go out). I zeroed in on their conversation, shamelessly eavesdropping as best I could, in an attempt to garner a clue as to where I had seen this woman before, when I realized she was talking about her recent cancer diagnosis and upcoming treatment plan. I was taken back for my injection at that point, and all thoughts about the woman faded from my mind.

I sat in my recliner today, pulling out my phone so I could entertain myself until my injection arrived, when an infusion patient, assisted by one of the nurses, slowly walked from the restroom back to a recliner. The patient was dressed in baggy sweatpants, her skin pale and somewhat ashen, devoid of make up, her hair mussed. She walked slowly, painfully, towards her chair, and it was then that I recognized her as the cheerful, attractive woman I had seen two months previously, fresh from her diagnosis and prior to any treatments. The nurse helped her into the chair, where she turned onto her side, pulled a blanket up to her chin, and closed her eyes.

And I sat there, healthy as a horse, guilt-ridden for my good fortune, heart broken for a woman I'm not sure I even know.

It sucks. Cancer sucks.

Treatments are barbaric and primitive and temporary. Always temporary.

And it sucks.


  1. I, do NOT call 82 cool, fall weather. Today, it was above 90 for Pete's sake! ack!

    ..aww... my heart is broken, too, for this woman you're not even sure you know... *sniff*

    1. Yeah, and the 82 was just a tease. It was 90 by the end of the week.

  2. I have seen too many people go through those barbaric treatments. My mom's was the worst. Thankfully, though, those treatments save a whole lot of lives. I'll be praying for the woman you saw, as well as all the other folks I know who are currently fighting the beast of cancer.

    1. Thank you, Christine. I have such guilt out of being such a healthy cancer patient.

  3. Your post is a good reminder that outward appearances do not a person make.

  4. Cancer sucks. You're right. And I'm gonna do what I can.

    This makes me SO CROSS. That you have to go through this shit. That that woman does. That it's SO shitty, and painful, and the treatments to save your lives are so invasive and painful and just crap.

    I'm glad you started off funny here, because I'm gonna go back up there and read it again to get over the last part of your post. I like that kid, but don't get a complex. And punch your assistant in the snoot next time!

    (Also begs the question - just how tall *are* you?)

    Right. Off on a mission.

    1. My assistant and I now have a new phrase to add to our repertoire. We have built up a lot of those in the past four years together and can just look at each other and say one or two words and fall apart laughing.

  5. just does...went to Boston today... back to treatment next week... temporary at best... but still lucky for that I guess... will offer up a meta ( its a meditation if you're not familiar with it) for this woman, you and myself this week...sigh.

    1. Oh, Zoe, I wish I could fix you and make you all better.

    2. I will be fine... just tired this week. After this many years I can actually see the side benefits of thirty years of intermittent chemo....not the least of which is I can play a cut-throat game of scrabble!

  6. Being one of the few to have had a 'better' experience where cancer is concerned, my heart goes out to all of those suffering - both with cancer, and with the horrific results of the treatments involved - but seeing someone come out of it, if not intact, then at least still alive to tell about it, is 'probably' worth all the rotten stuff in between - I just wish, and hope, and pray, that a new treatment is discovered that isn't worse than the disease itself :/

    1. In my case, the treatment was going to be worse than the disease, which is why I didn't have infusion chemo. I am thankful every day, and most especially when I DO get my monthly injections at the infusion center.

  7. Reading about your bad hair 'day', I immediately thought of one of my sisters who has been blessed/cursed with unmanageable hair - especially on humid days - and whose solution used to be keeping it cut brutally short - until the advent of decent hair straighteners! :)
    On reading on in your post, it made me so very thankful that I was caught early enough to be treated quickly, and positively, in the cancer process, and without having to go through the awful treatments so many have to go through afterwards :)
    It truly gives the phrase 'being thankful for small mercies', a definite edge :)