Friday, July 25, 2008

"You Don't Look Sick"

This is meant as a compliment. I have learned to accept it as one. I know I thought Cancer Patients were supposed to be ashen grey, swathed in a pashmina, and coughing roughly into a bandanna. I've had some hyperpigmentation in my skin, but the very thought of being wrapped up in anything heavier than a Kleenex brings on a hot flash. Other than that, yeah, I don't look sick.

I have begun to get compliments on my "haircut." My hair's light grey now, and coming in wavy. I look very punk rock. It looks bad ass. People who have known me from "before" are taken back (in a good way). Still I cannot resist telling them, "Yes, they give you this hairstyle free when you get breast cancer."

This is what I told my beloved sewing teacher, Sandra Betzina, when we met again this week at the San Francisco Sewing Experience. Sandra is one of the loveliest people I know, ever. She is so generous, not just with her considerable sewing knowledge, but with herself. "You look great, kid!" she exclaimed. We were trying on her garments, ones that she has made (or her assistant has made) from her own Vogue patterns. It lets us get a feel for how the designs fit and whether we want to attempt them or not. Sandra has a new jean jacket pattern, one that's a lot less mamaw than other designs.
She had one in a stunning dark denim, and one in olive leather. That's right, leather. You can sew that on your home sewing machine. Well, I was loving the leather one, and made a lot of jokes about how I was gonna just keep it for myself (everyone does, everyone wants Sandra's garments for themselves, they are so beautiful).

The next day she came in for class and said, "You know, I was thinking about you last night. You've had a hard year. Why don't you just take that jacket?"

So when I'm rocking that jacket in November, you will know where it came from. Membership has its privileges.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Post Chemo Wrap Up

My last chemotherapy infusion was June 11, followed by a week of the worst health I'd had since I'd started treatment. My fatigue and ennui was overwhelming, it was very shocking. I'd come home after labs on my birthday, intending to reward myself by working on sewing, but instead I plopped down and watched the The Retro Network (Rockford Files, thanks for asking).

After more Neupogen shots, my condition improved dramatically and we took a Vacation From Cancer, an Alaskan cruise. I'd never been on a cruise ship before and that was fun. The pace on a cruise is verrrrry slow and that's what we all needed. Alaskan scenery is stunning. We wore warm clothes a lot. We have a little movie of it, if you want to see it.

The week following that, I had to immediately return to The Job and get my scans — a CT, a bone scan, and a breast MRI. Here's a tip for you if you're getting a CT: if you tip your head back, back, and pour barium smoothie "shots" from a small Dixie cup down your throat, it's a lot easier to deal with (as opposed to trying to "drink" it). Also, my barium had gotten a little frosty, so it was a slushy texture — also made it easier to get down.

An MRI is a funny deal. My mother-in-law always begs us to never let anyone put her in a MRI chamber, but with a breast MRI, you're face down and can't see anything anyway. So I close my eyes and just listen to the techno sounds of the machine. I swear it's true — someone out there has probably found a groove based on the sounds of an MRI.

None of these things are painful. The worst part, including the chemo infusions, is forcing yourself to go to these places and have these things done to you. It's so strange. You are there under duress, and yet for all appearances, you are there voluntarily and happily submitting yourself to whatever is in store. It's actually your decision to be there. You can't know what this feels like until it happens to you.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Where did she go?

Long silence, yes?

Lot to catch you all up on.

For now, just know that I am in my favorite place — San Francisco — doing my favorite thing — sewing. I am in the company of new and old friends and I am very well.