I never know how to start a blog anymore. I often sit here staring at the screen for a few minutes trying to decide where to begin. I have so much going on in my days and in my head that it is hard to organize it all. Do I make this a simple daily update beginning with what I had for breakfast? My mom would appreciate me chronicling each bite I put into my mouth every day. Do I just briefly say how I am feeling and get on with the facts I learned at the cancer center today? Or do I write a meaningless paragraph about my inability to chose a starting point for my daily blog? I think I will go with C, Bob, thanks.
So today I got up at 6:00 am and ate a bowl of Oats and More cereal with strawberries in it. (That one's for you, mom). Then I drove into Austin for a 7:00 am appointment with my dentist. Along the way I questioned myself about why I chose to make a 7:00 a.m. dental appointment in the first place. That is too damned early for hygiene. But the drive was nice and the traffic was light on the pristine expanse of toll road I traveled.
I had to fill out an update sheet for my chart and it included an update of medical history. You know the long lists of 'have you evers' that you circle N or Y. Heart disease, diabetes, seizures, etc. Cancer. This is the second time I have had to circle yes to cancer and explain. It feels weird. Makes me want to be a smart ass. At the radiology center last week they ask the question strait out on the form, "Do you have or have you had cancer?" My mom read over my shoulder while I filled that one out and asked "Did you write 'yuppers'? Yuppers. I had. Do you have cancer? Yuppers. I don't know why I think that's funny. I just do. But I digress.
I have been to this particular dental office for a few years and always see the same hygienist. Very nice, upbeat and knowledgeable lady. She always tells me where I need to improve while she cleans. Not getting this back tooth area enough. Or the gum line right here needs some attention. Not in a judgemental sort of way, just helpful. I like her. And today I needed advice on how chemo will affect my mouth and teeth. But it is so hard to tell people you have cancer. She had read my updated history sheet, so she knew coming to get me so I didn't have to just out with it like I did to my eye doctor. And as with nearly everyone, she turned to me with such sad eyes. Not pity. I either haven't gotten or can't detect pity. But people look at me so sadly when I have to tell them. It makes me want to comfort them, reassure them that I am OK, I can handle it. Please don't be sad.
She was interested, so I told her all about it, what we know, what we expect, I'm going to be cured, etc. And she and the doc had advice for the mouth pain and some preventative measures to strengthen my teeth. And I have no cavities and all is good. She sent me home with a boatload and samples and freebies. I am the freebie queen lately. People give you stuff when you get cancer. Plus the great parking.
The ladies at the dental office told me how amazingly brave and positive and expressive I am. Said I should be a speaker for cancer someday. I don't know about that, but I do seem to be morphing into brave motivational cancer girl. I am not sure why it surprises people that I am taking it this way. I just don't know how else to be. I can't stop being me just because I have to go through chemo. I am who I fundamentally am and that doesn't change. I am happy, even through hard times. I am a smart-ass and a cynic and a liberal and I regularly talk like I know more than I do and on top of that it now seems I am becoming a self-indulgent blogger who writes endless posts about dental visits instead of getting to the meaty portion that the eager readers want to hear about...
What are the numbers?!? Well, Dr. George looked at all the test results and scans and has made the decision that I am in stage 2 of my lymphoma. All of the affected lymph nodes are above the diaphragm. My bone marrow came back clean. Yay! And the game plan is for me to undergo 5 more rounds of chemo with CT/Pet scans after the 3rd and 6th rounds. Radiation will probably not be part of my treatment. This is all very welcome news. Five more rounds spaced three weeks apart. Five does not seem such a scary number to me. Six total rounds, one is completed. I can do this. This will suck and will probably feel much longer than it is. But if I can just take it one round at a time, get through each one as it comes, I will be done before you know it.
I always feel like little miss sunshine when I talk like that. Chin up, it could be worse, it won't be forever. But I simply have to combat any negative thoughts and feelings as they come. And I do have them. Today while we waited in the lobby of the cancer center for my appointment, there was a lady there, in her 30's waiting too. She was in a wheelchair, wearing robe and slippers and covered in a blanket. And bald, bald, bald. I turned around and saw her and felt like I had been hit with a sucker punch. I couldn't breath. I felt a moment of panic and shakiness that said 'Marsha you are about to lose it!' And I said back 'Don't you dare break down, don't you dare.' And I took a few breaths and conquered it. It was just hard to see her there, knowing that last week I was in the wheelchair suffering the effects of treatment and as much I wish it weren't so I will be there again in another week. And I don't want to be the sick bald girl in the wheelchair. I don't. But crying and screaming and pitying myself will do nothing to prevent me from being the bald girl in the wheelchair waiting for treatment in the cancer center.
And while we waited, Jackson pranced about the lobby talking and entertaining us all, her included. And we talked and laughed together, me and mom and David and the lady in the wheelchair and her support person. And she had such a beautiful smile. And like me she seemed to be laughing and living despite being forced into a role she didn't want. I guess that is all we can do.