Archive for August, 2008

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Walking Wounded

August 30, 2008

The scene in the waiting area of the cancer treatment floor was a little grim Thursday. I’m quite used to seeing folks who look much more “sick” than I am, but this particular day was a bit too David Lynch for my liking. Across from me were two very nice and very large ladies. One spoke through a tracheotomy speaker in her neck, the other sported a large boot cast on her leg. I’m not quite sure which one was getting treatment. The lovely lady next to me, frail and in mismatched clothes due to her skinny body and distended stomach, was sinking in to her happy place as pain meds kicked in. A big Polish lady with a walker wore the all too common bandana on her head, but inexplicably, it stood straight up in the air like an old diner waitress hat. The kicker was the guy in the helmet. An older gentlemen shuffled out of the treatment area and into a chair clad in a leather/vinyl helmet. Kind of a 30’s football/Snoopy Baron Flying Ace thing. He removed his headgear as he sat down, clearly revealing he’d had extensive surgery on his brain. Lordy.

So, as I sat sipping my Starbucks and reading Gourmet, I couldn’t help but feel like I didn’t belong here. I’m not skinny and bald. I don’t need assistance walking. I don’t wear a helmet. I just kept thinking how fucked these people seemed and how I had somehow been cheating the system this whole time. I’m stage 4 for crying out loud, why don’t I barf, lose weight, and stumble from treatment? Believe me, i’m thankful. Blessed. Something. Everytime a nurse asks me “who are you here to see, dear?” it warms my heart. I get it. I don’t LOOK sick and I’m greatful. But staring at the walking wounded this past afternoon, I felt glum that this might be my future. Maybe not this round, but someday I could be sporting the vertical bandana.

I often feel out of place in support groups and lectures, because I’m not recognizeable as a patient. I get the “Its great that they caught your’s so early.” comment a lot because of how I appear. Yeah, Stage 4, not so much the “early detection”. I’m not sure what exactly I want to change in the situation. Probably nothing. I just feel lost sometimes, one foot in the sick world, one foot in the land of the healthy. Its wonderful to walk in to a bank or a grocery store and not have the obvious signs of a cancer patient. I don’t endure the casual looks of pity or altered tones in voice that so many others encounter. But I feel equally anonymous at the hospital and cancer fundraisers. I don’t have the battle scars that my fellow patients bear. I guess I just don’t feel like part of either club. Just this snarky gal in limbo land with some retarded cells that better not get any ideas about conquering new territory.

So, I sit. I read my erudite magazines. I sip my over priced coffee. I hope that my path veers sharply from the folks I sit amongst. I wish my compatriots well and look forward to my ativan/benadryl induced nap that lies before me. When I get home, I will drink a room temperature cocktail and count it among my many blessings.

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As promised, some stuff about booze

August 18, 2008

So – this blog can’t be chemo AND vino without some boozey fun. What follows is a rockin’ margarita recipe that works better for me than zofran and doesn’t leave me constipated. Bonus.

AND I’m on The Steve Cochran Show today at 4:30 CST. WGN radio 720 am or stream live at www.wgnradio.com. Oddly enough, I’m featuring a cocktail today. Mostly because I’m bringing along my great pal Sean from www.bevx.com and he’s a total spirit -cocktail -madman- genius.

Behold the great Chris Blumer cocktail invention:

THE MOSCATO MARGARITA

Into a shaker pour:

2oz blanco good quality tequila (Partida Blanco is a nice one. Stay away from aged tequilas or anything “gold”)

 1oz Cointreau (or other orange liquor, but Cointreau’s my fav)

1 splash of OJ (something real with no pulp like Tropicana Pure Premium)

juice of 1 fresh lime (none of that weird stuff that comes in a plastic lime-shaped container)

1 handful of ice (really no need for a paranthetical here, but thought I’d keep the gag running)

Shake your shaker (and your moneymaker!) for about 30 seconds and strain into rocks glasses filled with ice

Top each glass with a splash of a nice Moscato d’Asti and give it a gentle stir. ( I adore the Vietti.)

Drink up and mentally transport yourself to a beach filled with the half naked cabana attendants of your choice. (Matt Damon is my first choice.)

Ahhhhh…..Summer, Margaritas, and Matt Damon. Good Times.

And if you want to see me LIVE this fall, I’m doing 2 wine festival appearances! Catch me at The Old Town Wine Crush on Sat Sept 13th at 3pm. (Double check on the time closer to the event.) And Winefest Chicago on Sun Sept 21st at 2pm.

One more thing! If you live in Illinois, please check out my friend’s cancer blog Everything Changes and educate yourself about a bill that will really help young adults with cancer and insurance problems in our state. Its her August entry entitled, “Flat as a Pancake”.

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Skimming the Polluted Gene Pool

August 5, 2008

My Mom was adopted, so I have little medical history from her biological side of the family. We have contact with two of her siblings and a little info on her Mom and Dad, but until recently nothing helpful like – ‘Oh, did we mention several of your Aunts and Uncles as well as your Grandmother died of colon cancer?” Yeah, that would have been a nice heads up. But alas, they were raised in different times and folks just didn’t talk about such things or even think to make contact with natural parents/relatives for this kind of information. I reallY wish we could have some type of database for adopted children to have access anonymously to their medical history. Biological parents could update the history anonymously and make sure that their natural children were alerted to any health risks or genetic testing info if they wanted. I know the idea is frought with privacy peril and legal crap, but it would be SO EASY to do and help so many families. (arrrgh!)

My Mom called recently to let me know that several of my relatives on her biological side of the family lived to be over 100, so I must have some good hearty genes in there too. While I know she meant to be encouraging, all I really wanted to say was “You know which ones lived to be 100? The ones who DIDN’T GET COLON CANCER!” But I didn’t.

Aparantly the state of the art treatment my biological grandmother recieved was a nugget of uranium implanted in her belly. Can you freakin imagine?! Overall I consider myself fortunate. My Doc told me that my chances of getting this hereditary type of cancer before I was 40 was about 80%. Well crap, thank God I got it at 38. Five years ago they didn’t even operate on this type of cancer and Avastin was still in clinical trials. I wouldn’t go so far as to call myself “lucky”, but things could be much worse.

My Dad’s father will be 102 this fall. He’s awesome and still very mentally sharp and still smokes a pipe everyday, God bless him. Sadly, he has outlived 3 of his 5 children. I wonder if living to be 100 is all its cracked up to be, anyway.