I had my cancer coming out party over the weekend on Facebook. I later realized it was a misleading party because it was a pretty belated announcement. I’ve known for sure that I have cancer since September 20, 2017.
Most of these posts are going to describe events that happened in the not so distant but not so recent past. But today, yesterday seems like a good story, especially for friends and family wondering where I am right now.
So, yesterday, I woke up in my bed, next to Monty, Kiki on the pillow above my head, reached over and looked at my phone, 8 am. That is kind of late for us but Monty has been sick with the flu so it didn’t strike me as crazy at all.
Suddenly I remembered I had an appointment at nine for an echocardiogram. Quickly, quietly, I crept out of bed, drew my eyebrows on, sprayed my never ever washed hair with brown tint dry shampoo, scraped my lashes with a second coat of mascara, caked concealer under my eyes, drew some flirty cat eyes on top of the whole mess and texted Warren.
Warren is Monty’s dad and we live in a duplex, upstairs downstairs. “I have to leave in fifteen minutes!”
No response. I had to run upstairs twice before I left, and even when I’m leaving leaving he is still upstairs “making a cup of tea.”
Tired, I drive on autopilot to the chemo infusion center. Not today silly! I turn around, trying to remember where the cardiology office is. I’m late, which in my world is barely on time. I get to the building and run up the stairs. Gives my heart a little boost.
Sunday morning on the cardiology floor is – empty. Much better than my experience two weeks ago when the hospital up at Stanford was so packed that I had to be admitted through the ER and stored in a basement with a gobbledygook cast of characters.
I hear the receptionist call the last patient about leaving his watch behind before they take me back. I launch into my usual charmfest. I figure if you want them to be deeply invested in your wellbeing, give them a reason to really want to save you!
“Can you confirm your birthday?” This question! Ugh, this question will haunt me forever at this point. I have been asked it so many times right before getting sliced, diced, injected, stabbed. But I also still love saying my birthday. It is like a little chant, five five eighty five.
The technician and I started talking about rhyming birthdays in my family and it turned out she has one too. She also told me some bizarre stories about multiple patients with matching birthdays involving a woman named April. Then, today, looking at the test results, I noticed on the report that her name is April. I thought she mentioned the other April because the matching birthdays were April birthdays but it was also matching names! Ok, and now I just realized that those two facts fit together perfectly because people name their April babies April.
Anyway, I’m watching my heart on the ultrasound. She’s recording it and I have to breathe, hold my breath, breathe, hold my breath. It looked a little weak to me but I was probably paranoid because I have read so much about how bad my TCHP chemo regimen is for my heart. (Actually that same report that clued me into the April name “coincidence” also said my left ventricle needs to be watched and isn’t pumping like it did a few months ago.) I’m a little nervous she will have to look at my heart from below my boob because I have some fresh scars.
Two weeks ago, my right breast, the troublemaker, came down with a case of cellulitis, probably because of chemo lowering my defenses. So after five days of being locked to an IV of antibiotics in a dungeon, I got opened back up. There was a chance that I would end up looking like an Amazon for a while but my amazing plastic surgeon was able to switch my tissue expanders (think softballs) for regular silicone implants instead (think much squishier than a softball; also it was surgery I had to get eventually anyway so whatever, kind of.) It was an ordeal but nothing compared to the mastectomy and I bounced back fast.
I always kind of cringe at having to tell someone who knows I have cancer that I also have a three year old. But I ended up telling this technician because she was really fun and also a mom. And I also told her my fresh scars story once she started to go for the underboob heart ultrasound angle. She had barely even noticed the scars! She literally said, “Oh is that where the incisions were?”
The technician also randomly mentioned to me that the last dude had left a watch and a gaudy ring behind. Hmm, not to blow anyone’s cover but the receptionist did not mention that ring on the phone! I just said, “Oh sweet! Like, thanks for the tip!”
After all that was over, I was feeling jazzed that the technician had barely noticed my scars. I decided to go to my first yoga class since this last surgery. I wasn’t wearing a bra or underwear and now I was slightly covered in ultrasound goop. I was totally fine with that. It was an absolutely perfect Ashtanga class and it was just – amazing, like dancing with the perfect partner after not dancing for a while.
My cell phone has kept me oblivious all morning. My car finally clued me into why things had seemed a bit off: freaking daylight savings time.