OK, there’s a plan.
Today, I had lots of appointments. Sammy came to the one in the morning, with the surgeon. She’s making things happen with test and decisions and appointments. Then my dear friend A came with me to the one in the afternoon. She had to skip some meetings and take the afternoon off work, but she did and I’m forever indebted. I put down her relationship to me as “bridesmaid” and she rocked it. She asked questions and everything. Then we had lots of falafel and sorbet. Which fixes everything.
Besides, I don’t feel like too much needs to be fixed. I think mostly, we’re on the right track. I trust the doctors. I feel like they know what they are doing. Things are moving. The waiting is nearing an end. And what I’m really bad at, anyone who has worked with me knows, is this thing called patience. I always told my mother it was a virtue I didn’t have when she recited that whole “patience is a virtue” thing to me when I was young.
Everyone is so worried about my emotional health right now. I’m really OK today. I’m actually delighted there’s a plan. I’m not as fragile as you think, promise! Sure, sometimes I get frustrated and upset and pissed, but then I make charts and go to yoga. Sometimes it feels awful, but right now, after the day of appointments I have so long awaited, I feel ready to do this. Bring it. I think I have bad-ass doctors, and there’s a rock-star resident who, when she interacts with my medical oncologist, who is her supervisor, makes me smile because, A and I both agree, they’re kind of like me and my PhD supervisor.
You know what this approximates? One time, a long time ago, I was an AMIGOS Project Director for the third time, and I was ecstatic to be living in a yellow house across from the mayors office in Boaco, Nicaragua. That was even our address, “Yellow House in Front of Mayor’s Office, 2 Blocks North of the Central Park.” It was one sunny morning, and I looked outside and saw a bunch of people with a) big machine guns and b) big cameras. So obviously, I thought, a movie! They must be filming a movie! We live in a film set!
This part is when like they thought the cancer was a pappillary lesion. Grossly wrong, in both cases, but in both cases, seems totally benign to either have a lump in the boob or lots of men with machine guns and movie cameras on the front door step.
So, off we went, my APD on errands and my SPS (who is now a Regional Director! boy am I proud) on community visits. I had the whole house to myself, except for a pukey volunteer and a baby bird I was feeding with an eye dropper. That’s when the shit started to hit the fan. First the sketchiest hotel man ever called to tell me to get the hell out of the house. Then I peeked outside again, and knew it really wasn’t a movie. There were rubber bullets, trucks full of men in black gear, and hundreds of protestors. And guess what was right smack in the middle? The AMIGOS staff house. You betcha, we got front row seats.
This is kind of like when they had to do the surgery for the lesion. I thought, we can deal with this. It was a front-row seat to what cancerland looked like, but not actually, cancerland. I’d never even been in the theatre, and this was like a sneak peak.
So I bundled up the volunteer, and gathered various electronics, and told the volunteer to hold my hand and keep her head down. We were about two houses down when I realized I forgot the baby bird, so I had to bring the volunteer on a u-turn to get the baby birdie. Once we had safely tucked him into my purse and also realized we should bring a change of clothes, we did the whole hand-holding-head-down-sprint-down-the-street-and-try-not-to-see-the-rubber-bullets-or-machine-guns. We holed up in the sketchy hotel, some staff and more sick people joined us, and waiting ensued.
There’s lots of waiting in cancerland.
Then things started to go sour. People got dengue. We couldn’t get our cots. The protests worsened. The SPS saw a man got shot and we had to pile up in taxis and leave town without clothes or cots. I have a vivid memory going down the mountain behind another cab full of staff and volunteers with dengue, and because we had worked all week to throw a suprise birthday party, we were carting a pinata, and staring out at us from the back window of the cab was that spiderman made out of crepe paper, his body filled with candy and his eyes blank out the window.
That’s like when the doctor called me to tell me the biopsy was positive. Scary as fuck, and I was entirely unsure how we would fit all these people in Maribel’s 2-bedroom home, where we were headed. And also, some weird black humor. The spiderman pinata.
We had a party in her house, with the pinata, and slept five to a bed and the bed broke in the middle of the night.
Like when A and I decide to eat lots of ice cream and get boudoir photos taken before the surgery.
Sometimes things got bad, like when I couldn’t admit we would actually have to live in Teustepe (believe me, not good) and we had nothing in our house with dirt floors and a latrine except for a few cots, and S had to come and break the news in person.
That’s like when I just kept hoping I’d wake up from this terrible, terrible nightmare.
But eventually, we got some plastic chairs, and I learned to love our outdoor shower, and the latrine wasn’t that bad (in retrospect), and I learned all the things on the menu at the only restaurant, and at least I was in the same town as Maribel.
So, that’s like now. I have a plan. I have a team. Things will happen. I have a nutritionist and multiple oncologists and a personal trainer and a special nurse.
It’s not like I really have a choice about this. I need the chemo. I need a wig. I need a mastectomy. I need a port in my chest and a hundred blood tests and another biopsy. I need big earrings, soft hats, and new jammies. I need to write like mad RIGHT NOW because I need a draft conclusion. That doesn’t make me brave or awesome or emotionally unstable or in denial or anything. It just means I have to do what I have to do and I have to do it now. It’s really the same as the “movie that wasn’t a movie” in Boaco. We just have to bundle the kittens, and run like hell.
And I never want to leave Canada. Like, ever. Everything is paid for. There’s no co-pays. It’s really really good.
Plus, I’m part of a study that entails me getting a personal trainer. And they love that I do yoga. And I can swim with the chemo port. Any my boobs will be perkier than everyone elses when I’m old, because they’ll be silicon, and they’ll be tattooed brightly with california poppies and dandelions.