Saturday, October 27, 2012

People Plan and God Laughs

Our super-busy Saturday ended up being not-as-busy because the Baby conked out after her second party, so the Boy, the Baby, and I are home chilling while the K and the Girl are at party number three of the day.  Having three kids means that I've gotten used to having plans upended. But, I'm especially bummed to miss this party because I was looking forward to drinking a beer and chatting it up with some grownups. The K works late a lot, so I spend the majority of my time talking to people under the age of nine. The Girl, the Boy, and the Baby keep me in stitches with their wacky theories, and they never give me their unsolicited opinion about the presidential election, but sometimes you just want more profanity in your conversations.  (Speaking of which, the other night, the Boy said, "I'm going to say the f-word!"  Before I could stop him, he shouted, "Frosted Flakes!")


The other thing I was looking forward to is that the K's band The Midlife Crisis The Happy Enchiladas will be performing at the party.  Yes, the K has a string trio.  The K and D both play guitar and J (who is a chick) plays the banjo and is their charismatic lead singer.  They have a playlist of about six songs and are available for bar mitzvahs, weddings, and baby showers.  Book them now!

The hostess of the party that I'm missing is my friend, Beth.  She and her husband have thrown a Halloween party for the last few years, but this year's is a little different.  The invitation read, "Join Us for a Good Evening, Because Life Can be Scary..."  This is a fitting theme because in January Beth was diagnosed with breast cancer and she's spent the majority of this year going through treatment.  Throughout was what a really difficult time, Beth impressed me by continuing to be Beth.  When she was going through chemo we went to a concert together at Variety Playhouse and she rocked her headscarf and if she was feeling lousy, sure didn't show it.  She's got a kind of wicked sense of humor (I mean this in the best way) which has, I'm sure, served her well during treatment.

I'm trying to keep things light here on the blog (name of the blog, notwithstanding), but I do think it's important to recognize that October is breast cancer awareness month.

Beth has allowed me to share one of her Caring Bridge journal entries from this summer when she was starting chemo.  The happy news is that Beth is all finished with chemo and completed radiation this month.  She still has a couple of hurdles before she can put the whole cancer thing behind her, but hopefully the theme of next year's Halloween party will be "Life is Good."  Enjoy Beth's writing!

My dear friends,
I am so sorry that I have not updated my journal for an entire month.  I have meant to at every milestone on this "journey" - hate that term for this, I prefer to call it "twisted path", emphathis on "twisted."  But see as a busy mother, and most of you completely understand where I am coming from, there is always something else to do.  I kind of took a break from this and fell back into the wonderful world of grocery shopping, house cleaning, cooking dinner, etc., those tasks that we often loath as they are so short-lived, and you have to start all over again all too soon.  But I found myself really liking these dull everyday activities as they seem so safe and predictibly endless, but not really that bad when compared to these big, scary things that spring up out of nowhere and take our lives in directions we never expected them to go.  I was trying to hide from cancer for a bit, but it kept finding me.  I found it exhausting.  I would come up with all these great new topics to explore and then at the end of the day, which is long, I would sit down to journal and my head would hit the keyboard before I got very far at all.  And as you might have guessed, I love to write.  I was a devoted fan of "Sex and the City" and I have always wanted to be Carrie Bradshaw.  How cool to write about something you have experienced firsthand and use colorful language to really bring it to life.  I want to do that.  Not just deliver the facts, but capture the feelings of being turned upside down and finding out where that takes you.  It's often not pretty, but it sure is clarifying.  It reminds us what is most important.  And this kind of writing takes time.  And creating time for just oneself is something that women are really bad at doing.  We are too busy taking care of everyone else first.  I am trying to learn to take care of me first, (or close to first - get real).  Cancer is teaching me that, among other things.  And I want to share these lessons with my friends.
So, in the midst of my everyday activities, the doctor's visits and often painful decisions continued, and the clock was ticking on the worst deadline ever and this thing at the top of my "to do list" - "Decide whether to do chemo" was just too huge, too major of a life decision.  I just could not do it.  I found myself frozen in fear.  And when I am afraid, I hide.  But then I got ahold of myself, with help from a very dear friend, I called for help and advice which led me to getting a second opinion from a different doctor.  That was the best thing I could do. Suddenly everything became perfectly clear. The "gray area" I ended up in due to a test on the genetic makeup of my tumor, called my "Oncotype Recurrent Score", was really not as gray as I thought it was, according to the 2nd opinion.  And any lymph node involvement typically involves chemotherapy.  That is our current "standard of care".  This is why the clinincal trial.  We are still not sure if those with fairly low scores really need chemo.  But the doctor I saw thought it best for me to have chemo, so that was my answer.  I made my decision.  So, no trial, go straight for the hard stuff.  Shaken, not stirred, like a martini in a James Bond film.
Today was my first course of chemo.  I will have 4 total, 3 weeks apart, so my summer will be filled with all this - May 17, June 7, June 28 and July 19.  Then I am done with chemo.  Radiation?  Still not sure.  I will deal with that later.  Hopefully not, but I need to see another doctor.  sigh.  Another doctor.  Just can't do that quite yet.
It's been a rough week, filled with lots of stress and anxiety and what I like to call "break through" crying, where you try to keep your chin up and talk to people and then you are fighting back tears because you just can't let yourself cry right now or you might never step into that room, the infusion room where the chemo drugs are administered.  So, this morning when I was sitting in the waiting room outside the dreaded infusion room, one of the chemo nurses came up to me and said that it would be just a few minutes.  I said, "You can take all the time you like, darlin'.  He came over to me and put a hand on my shoulder, and said, "Sounds like you really don't want to be here."  And I said, "Nope."  Then he said in his best party host voice, "Welcome to Camp Chemo".
...and my first day at camp wasn't so bad after all!


  1. Susannah- wow. I am sorry you missed our party, but what a great piece of writing you produced as a result and I am so honored to have been featured on your blog. Thank you and keep writing! Love, Beth

    1. Thanks for letting me use it! Relatively speaking, it's one of my most popular posts. :) Anytime you want to write anything else, let me know.