I looked in my mirror today and realized that I have eyelashes!
That was a really good thing. It makes my face look a bit more normal.
The hair on my head is doing its best to grow back in, and it is all soft to touch because it is really fine.
Basically, it’s baby hair.
And there is a reason that our hair grows in like that when we are babies. It is because we aren’t going to remember how long it took to grow like regular hair because we are just babies and we don’t know any better yet. We are babies and have not yet become addicted to styling products.
Also, when you are a baby, people just think you are sweet for being a little pudgy squirmy thing.
It’s less sweet when you are my age.
Still, it’s all coming together and I am thankful for that.
Elaine has said for a while that every day my body changes. I think I am beginning to see it, partly because I have the whole hair thing going on, and also because I have been going to the gym and trying to be a bit more active. As a result, my moon face is fading and my cheek bones are starting to be evident again and that’s good.
Also, I was out in my yard yesterday and I was stunned and thrilled to see that my crocuses (croci?) had come up. I thought they were toast when the city came in and put in a new sidewalk outside our house. But hey, if you want to live at my house, you have to be resilient and the crocuses have poked up through the new dirt the city boys left behind.
They are spectacular and it makes me feel like spring is on the way.
A bit premature, since it is still January.
And I have all kinds of daffodils and tulips that are poking their green bits up through the yard, so there is a promise of some colour coming our way soon.
Happy, happy, happy.
Still reading this site?
Well, good for you.
I appreciate you checking in, and to show my appreciation, here is a little tidbit of non-cancer related humour.
The Washington Post’s Style Invitational once again asked readers to
take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition. Here are the 2003 winners:
1. Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.
2. Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly
3. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops
bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows
little sign of breaking down in the near future.
4. Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of
5. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the
subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.
6. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.
7. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn’t get it.
8. Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
9. Hipatitis: Terminal coolness.
10. Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)
11. Karmageddon: It’s like, when everybody is sending off all these
really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it’s
like, a serious bummer.
12. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day
consuming only things that are good for you.
13. Glibido: All talk and no action.
14. Dopeler effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when
come at you rapidly.
15. Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after
you’ve accidentally walked through a spider web.
16. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito that gets into your
bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.
17. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a grub in
the fruit you’re eating.
And the winner:
18. Ignoranus: A person who’s both stupid and an asshole.
Just a quick note.
Things are coming along, slowly but surely.
I find that one of the biggest challenges is maintaining some degree of patience while I bounce back. Which isn’t to say I am having great hairy tantrums or anything, I just expected I would be way closer to what normal used to be by now.
But I am getting there.
My hair is making a valiant effort to come back, and I suspect I will be looking pretty normal pretty soon.
My energy level is improving, though a whole day of work is still out of the question.
And then there is sorting through everything that has happened over the last few months and making sense of it, and integrating that experience into the current way I see my life and balancing it in my expectations for the future.
Does that make any sense to anyone who isn’t me?
I have no clue.
Basically, I need to figure some stuff out.
On a different front, I went snowshoeing a couple of weeks ago and I have some pictures I am about to put in the gallery, but I am having a wee wrestling match with the program right now and I won’t be able to upload them till I get that fixed.
On yet another front, we are waiting patiently for a little baby to be born into the fold. That will happen any day now. That’s all kind of amazing and wild.
More about that when it happens.
More as it happens.
Okay, so here we are, 2 months since my last chemo treatment and a month before my first post-chemo bloodwork.
Kind of in limbo right now.
On one hand, I think it’s important to explain to people that, while my test results were looking really, really, really good during my treatment, that is not a guarantee that I am home-free and out of the woods and that everything is groovy.
Basically what it means is I made it through chemo and I am in the group my doctor “considers most optimistically”.
But I will be having tests every 3 – 6 months for the next 7 years and we will wait for test results and see what happens from there.
I just want to mention that because a few people have said things to me that indicate that they think that since I lived through the chemo process, I am good for life, so to speak.
It’s more complicated than that.
I am gonna spend the next 7 years looking over my shoulder and waiting and wondering, and… still, I’ll take that over what’s behind door number two.
So, in a month I go for my first post-chemo bloodwork. I am trying to be really calm about all that, and really, there isn’t much that can be done about it, one way or the other.
Still, in my mind, having a clean test the first time is obviously something I am hoping for. I’d like to see that the cancer hasn’t come back since I stopped doing the chemo. But I won’t know that for another month.
In the meantime, I am trying to reconstruct my life.
My hair is doing a good job of coming back. Elaine claims that there are days that she can see it grow longer over the course of a day.
Hopefully in the next month I can get back to being bandana-free.
My stamina is getting better, I guess, but I am still surprised by how easily I can get worn out.
I recently spent a day trying to do some legitimate work and it almost killed me by the end of the day. I couldn’t believe how tired I was!
And that was after 7 hours. I used to work 12 hour shifts.
So, that is going to take some work, getting my strength up enough that I can go back to work.
I *did* go snow shoeing yesterday and that was a blast (pictures will be up in the gallery soon.)
But that wore me out a lot too.
I don’t have as much stamina as regular people, but it’s way better than when I couldn’t walk to the store.
Little by little, things are sliding back into place.
And that’s good.
As I am sure you know, my co-workers got together and sent Elaine and me off on a wee dream vacation to the Wikaninnish Inn in Tofino.
It was completely over the top and something I will remember forever.
I uploaded some of the pics to my gallery.
You can see them here
And thanks so much to the folks who made that happen.
It was incredible.
I’m thankful too. We’ve made it through this last year with a huge amount of love and support and help from close friends and total strangers. I’m thankful all the time. But here’s something weird that I figure you only get to know if you’ve been thankful a lot in your life…
I’m kinda sick of being thankful-needful. I’m not at all sick of the wonderful people who are so damn nice to us; I’m sick of being on the “needing the help” end of the thankfulness. I’d rather, when it comes down to it, be on the “giving” end instead of the “receiving” end.
So… I can’t wait for our little boat of life to find calmer waters so we can begin the process of giving some reasons for thankfulness back. It’s close. I can feel it.
On the up side (another up side), it’s fun watching Spike’s eyebrows grow back in. We both missed them!
Well, welcome to 2005, everyone.
I hope you and yours have a spectacular year.
Also, I am hoping that me and mine can have a better year than last year.
And, that said, and not to go all Oprah Winfrey or anything, but it wasn’t all bad.
For one thing, my g-f proposed, and that is huge and fantastic!!
And there were lots of great moments, in spite of all the hard parts.
And, not to sound too much like a self-help book or anything, but there were some really good parts that came around because of the hard parts.
Lance Armstrong says that if he had to pick between being a Tour de France winner or a cancer survivor, he’d pick the cancer survivor.
And I don’t think he is just meaning, ‘whoa, glad I ain’t dead.’
I think he means that it is a bit like being thrown in the fire, and you come out different, and hopefully stronger, in the long run.
This last year has been a wild one, that’s for sure, and I am more than happy to make a fresh start with 2005.
But I have seen a whole lot of the good in people in this last year.
People have been really really kind to me and to Elaine.
It’s been a really interesting experience in real-life human behaviour, including my own.
I am only starting to have time to unravel some of the stuff that I have gone through in the last year, and I am not really sure where to begin. I feel a bit like some old spaceship, coming in for landing and all banged to shit from smashing into space debris along the way.
But I made it through a huge thing, and I am still learning how to exhale.
And, the fact is, I don’t quite know when I get to exhale. Maybe I don’t get to completely exhale for a while.
I go for my first post-chemo bloodwork in February. I confess I am a bit apprehensive about that, but I am trying to appreciate each day for what it is and not get all future-trippy about things.
Someone started a sentence to Elaine by saying, “Now that your girlfriend is better….” and I confess, I was confused. Because really, right now, I am done chemo. For now. Assuming everything stays good.
But it doesn’t mean I am all better.
It means I am done chemo, and we wait to see how well it all worked out.
And for sure, I want to get my life, and Elaine’s life, back in order and back to normal, whatever that means to us now. But I want to point out that it was kind of unlikely that the chemo would have killed me. The point of the chemo is to kill the disease.
And now we wait to see if the chemo worked in a long term kind of way.
That’s part of what is on my mind now.
That, and trying not to think about it and just get on with life, because you’d think by now I would have learned to enjoy every single day.
So… looking ahead, I have my fingers crossed.
And I am grateful for the things I have learned.
And I want to take the time to sort through some of the stuff that has happened over the last while. It’s been a bit intense.
One of my favorite things that happened in 2004 was going to the Metallica concert. It was just so fun.
I am really glad we got to go see Cirque du Soleil, especially since I got to go before I started chemo and got too sick to be in public. It was a great show.
I am also really glad that I got to go to Tofino, and to spend time on and around Vancouver Island.
And meeting the uber-rich man in the steam bath of the Wickaninnish Inn, the one who told me “cancer people have to stick together”, that was a highlight for me too. Because I realized I actually did have some common ground with this guy and that was kind of incredible. And he liked me because of that, and we could take it from there. That was incredible.
My cats have been an endless source of delight, amusement and comfort.
My girlfriend has been flawless in all this, and should get the Nobel Prize or something.
I’m really glad I had such a good surgeon. He wasn’t a really chatty kind of guy, but he stayed late on a Friday night and got the job done, and did a good job, and I am thankful for that.
I am really thankful for all the friends who came to visit at the hospital or came by the house or helped get firewood or cut the hedge or took me out for a car ride when I was too messed up to be able to drive, or bought me a t-shirt, or got my prescriptions for me, or hung out with me through chemo, or returned my library books, or invited us to dinner (whether or not we actually made it), or the folks who shaved their heads to support me (because I was *so* unhappy about having to be bald and it was really hard, and those guys were so great). I am grateful to the people who polished boots or had a bar night or a party of some type to raise money for Elaine and I. Thank you.
I am grateful for the friends who came and helped me cut the lawn, or clean up the yard, or take out the recycling and the garbage.
I am thankful for the folks who gave me pants when I outgrew my old ones.
I am grateful for the people who I reconnected with after losing touch over the years. Lots of people came back and jumped in and helped, and that was so cool.
I am really thankful for the trips I got to take out of town, and for the people who helped make that happen, in so many ways.
I am thankful to have been able to make a quick side trip to Quadra Island, even in the dark.
I had a wonderful time on Hornby Island.
I had a great time in Tofino.
I am lucky to have bosses who held my job for me, and who cared about how I was doing the whole way along.
I was lucky to have co-workers who came by and had coffee and brought picnics and stuff.
I have a great GP and she has been completely available to me and totally supportive of me.
I think the folks at the BCCA have been really really good, even if people like me do present some challenges for them. I think they mostly don’t let on that I am kind of peculiar by their standards, and I have never felt like I was getting second rate treatment because I am a big freaky queer.
In fact, I think the BCCA deserves a round of applause for their “we don’t discriminate on the grounds of…” policy and their follow through with actually living it.
So, yeah, this past year has been incredibly hard in a lot of ways.
And there have been some really good moments.
Thanks to everyone for the things you did, or the sacrifices you made, I appreciate it. I know that some stuff happened behind the scenes and I don’t know about it, but know that I understand that lots of people did lots of things and made lots of sacrifices so this can be easier for me, and for Elaine.
And hopefully, you got something back along the way, one way or another.
We are having a small Open House tomorrow, January 2, to say thanks to people. If you are part of our crew, feel free to drop in between 1 and 6 pm tomorrow. If you need directions, give me a call or e-mail me.
And finally, here is a little movie (below) that Elaine made of me stomping in the surf at Tofino. I had been walking in the water quite a bit and my boots were being remarkably water-proof. While this movie was being made, the water-proof status gave up the ghost and you can hear much whining about all that.
You’ll have to download it to watch it. I hope you enjoy it and get some small idea of how fabulous it was to be in Tofino.
Happy New Year to all.