week, upon realizing that it had been a full year since the successful
completion of my chemo, I decided I should take a bit of a self-assessment and review
how that year had passed. (To clarify,
when I say “successful completion” of chemo I mean merely that I endured all of
the strongly recommended installments thereof, put the cancer into remission
for at least the present and had fewer occasions than anticipated where I had
to use the bed pan – which is not even a bed pan these days but rather an
inappropriately-colored sky blue slinky-like device with an awkwardly sized
opening that forces the cookie tosser to surround not only the mouth but also the
nose thereby only increasing the need for such a device once the show begins). Granted, it has now been more than a year
since the chemo ended as another week has passed, but, as also noted in last
week’s post, I am of the Jewish faith and consistent with that we like to drag
out the celebration of any holiday for days, New Years included. See, for example, Hanukkah – eight days. Sukkot – eight days. Passover – eight days. So this may – or may not – be the last installment
in this series.
ended last week’s review post with what passes for me as optimism – “not all
has been negative, so far.” The one
non-negative element that I touched upon, albeit briefly, was that writing this
blog – and similar articles and other pieces for various media outlets – has been
a source of great comfort to me. In
fact, as one of the members of my cancer tribe so insightfully pointed out just
this morning, many of us with cancer just need a place to articulate that which
we are experiencing and to have a means to connect with others who are, sadly,
sharing similar trials. And, as he
pointed out, often it is just not possible to have these frank and frequently
painful discourses with our loved ones.
They are just too close to the subject matter – i.e., us. It is painful for them and for us, and we
already are enduring enough pain as it is.
I have never heard of anyone with cancer complaining that the pain – in whatever
form – was “surprisingly manageable” much less inconsequential. Cancer is not a flu shot.
marks one year since I finished chemotherapy and, despite knowing that I was
not cured, ringing the anti-cancer bell to much unwanted hoopla and
fanfare. Never have I felt less happy at
an allegedly celebratory moment than that one.
For those who have not had the misfortune of this experience, you can
perhaps liken it to celebrating most any birthday starting with your 40th: Sure, you made it – and there is cake – but
it is also a sobering reminder of the passage of time and its inevitable
conclusion. Except that when it’s the
chemo bell, there is no cake, and even if there were you would be too nauseous
to eat it.
I have taken a full trip around the sun since I completed chemo, however, I
thought I would do a sort of Year in Review.
This also happens to nicely coincide with my spiritual new year – Rosh
Hashanah – although I am unclear whether I should be marking the passage of
cancer time on a solar or lunar calendar.
I guess whichever will give me the most time until the cancer’s return would
be my preference, but I realize one does not get a choice in these things. Cancer, in my experience, is not subject to
the rules of time and science that pertain to the rest of the universe. Cancer has its own calendar.
post from a few days back, I bemoaned – which is one of the most apt verbs when
describing myself – the arrival of September (https://itsinmyblood.blog/2019/09/12/september/). Amid my complaints about sticky desk chairs
and “new” math, I also touched upon my mixed emotions regarding the month’s
role as the official 1/12th of the calendar dedicated to leukemia
and the awareness thereof. As many of
you know, however, September – despite it being one of the shorter months – has
no shortage of cancer awareness on its schedule.
For starters, I should make clear that September is not limited to merely the awareness (celebration?) of leukemia. Rather, leukemia is required to share the ninth month’s festivities with its rival blood cancer, lymphoma. Now, as many of my readers undoubtedly are aware, I am not the best of sharers, a trait I attribute to being the younger child growing up. Thus, while I think leukemia is a superior cancer – one that certainly merits its own month – lymphoma is honing in on the action. Nonetheless, I am – perhaps surprisingly – okay with this co-habitation on the calendar. My reason is simple: Although I do have a type of leukemia, I have been told that it acts more like a lymphoma. I do not know what that means, but I do think it entitles me to be able to doubly enjoy this awareness month. It is not unlike celebrating both Christmas and Hanukkah, except that the only presents one gets for either are something unexciting such as socks.
know everyone says this every single year, but I am going to state it again
anyway: I can’t believe it is already September. I really can’t believe it, as
evidenced by the fact that the month is almost half-over and I am just now
coming to terms with its arrival and complaining about that fact. Part of this disbelief, or at least suspended
belief, is that September is the month that more than any other signifies that
the party is over and it’s back to work time.
We learn this early on in school, as at least in some parts of the
country – such as New York, where we know a thing or two about good schools –
it is the month when the students return to the classrooms. No more lazy summer days or idle parental
admonitions about “okay for now, but when school starts . . .!!” September is all back to business.
addition to never wanting to get back to work, and at the risk of offending everyone
bedazzled with sapphires – as well as approximately two-thirds of the Virgos
and about half-as-many Libras, I must admit that I do not care for
September. This may come as somewhat of
a surprise to many who know me as those people undoubtedly are aware that I most
vehemently dislike hot weather and did in fact enjoy school. (This may partially explain why I was not
overly popular as a child nor, come to think of it, as a parent of school-age
children.) Yet September, at least in
most of the United States, can still be quite hot and, even worse,
exceptionally humid, which made sitting on those wooden deskseats in
un-air-conditioned classrooms a rather unpleasant and, as we grew older,
pungent affair, thereby cancelling out any enjoyment I might have unpopularly
derived from trying to become educated, which I also hear has largely fallen
out of favor these days.