Saturday, March 15, 2008

More Cancer Talk at SXSW

I don't know why we all go so undernourished during SXSW but it's a condition that a so-so breakfast taco at a day party will not solve. I need animal protein, and a cooked vegetable, now, and you vegetarians can keep your ChickN and raw foods to yourselves. It won't save you, no matter what you think.

My nutritionist says so.

I just now ran into C., the woman who was standing next to me last night at X. I found her interesting, supportive, fun, and gutsy. She said, "Do your homework, make your own treatment decisions, and don't look back."

As I mentioned, C. had a Stage III tumor with 6 lymph nodes involved. She's involved in a clinical trial with aromatase inhibitors and something else, instead of Tamoxifen. She also did dose-dense Taxotere instead of Taxol. C. stayed away from vitamins and anti-oxidants, quite the opposite protocol from the one I've been counseled to follow. Her doctor gave her no sleeping pills, etc. She warned me that her flipping fingernails fell off and that other breast cancer gals said they use tea tree oil on their nails to prevent that.

Fingernails! Something new to worry about!

As she said last night, the hair loss is the worst and I must agree. I have heard many times that your new, post-chemo hair can grow back a different texture or even a different color. I will not be that lucky. My hair will grow back stick straight and dirty blonde, I just know it. If I lose my fingernails, that will make most household tasks very hard (yay! more getting out of cooking) but typing will also be a bitch and if I can't sew, well, what is the point of getting up every day? God, I hate the smell of tea tree oil. Too close to patchouli.

I have to admit that I am not in the mood to soberly face the reality that menopause, induced by my treatments and the drugs I have to take after, is going to be a fact of my life at age 45. I'm really mad at myself for not being a better caretaker of my body before all this happened. I've never been as strong as I've wistfully imagined I was, I don't have the muscle tone I would like. I don't like exercise enough to have ever made it the priority in my life. Well, now I no longer have a chance to get ahead of the Menopause Middle Abdomen curve, everything I do now will barely be maintenance of what little strength, tone, and flexibility I have.

I guess it's easy to have regrets when you get an illness, easy to place blame and say, "Man, I should have." It's also easy to think doors that were always open when you were young are now closed. I do feel like I'm standing on the side of the door that's closed. I feel like I didn't do my life the right way and now I have cancer to do, instead. I wonder if this is true or if my SXSW exhaustion is kicking in.

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