26 May 2009

Brushing Shoulders Off

I know it's been awhile between posts. I'm feeling great but have been more preoccupied by the outer life than the inner lately. I took on a work assignment for the first time since March, and then started noticing all of the things around the house that needed to be done. Being a recluse will do this to you.  I'm usually not such a freak about ill-fitting slipcovers. 

In the yard, I noticed my flower beds were starting to look like something out of the History Channel's “Life After People." Vegetation, weeds and bramble were taking over due to a lack of human intervention.  I had to take care of this lest we be invaded by feral cats.  (Seriously, have you seen this show? I have to get out more.) Anyway, weeding was therapeutic in more ways than one.  Got that dirt off my shoulders.

I planted some sunflowers with Caroline and Paulie while Vito attacked his reflection in the garden shovel (I know how you feel, V).  Like every year, we planted some tomatoes in big pots on the deck.  Even though we have room for a garden now, I can't help but do the containers. It's the Eastie in me.  My friend D.  noted it's only a matter of time before we "hot top" the backyard and plant a Bathtub Madonna amid the rhododendrons.  Can't have a yard without a shrine!

Follicle Magic

These days, I tend to avoid all mirrors or anything that produces a reflection.  There are times --  in between weekly drips and getting felt up by Czechoslovakian exchange students -- when I actually forget about the BC.  Then I'll see a reflection in my computer screen and it's right in my face: the glare off my bald head, eyes without eyebrows, the outline of a do-rag.  The alternatives aren't great: Headscarves make me look like Stephen Van Zandt. My raspberry beret, like a Guardian Angel.  My wig, kind of southern -- way too coiffed.  All are reminders, not just to me, but to everyone around me.

Aside: If I'm out and sense someone is uncomfortable, I will pull my wig way back on my head, giving myself a good Jan Brady five-head.  This tends to loosen people up.

Whenever I'm heading out with Caroline, she's adamant: "Mom! Whatever you do -- Do NOT forget your wig!" I originally thought she was embarrassed by the baldness.  But once we're out, she gives me up to everyone within earshot: “Do you like my mommy’s wig? She's actually bald.” 

Last week, I got out of the shower -- spaced out on autopilot -- and accidentally wiped off the steamed up mirror.  I saw a shadow on my head.  At first, I thought it was dirt.  When I tried to brush it off, my head felt fuzzy! Upon closer inspection, I realized I was definitely sprouting some fresh new follicles. The docs told me my hair could *possibly* start growing back in the Taxol/Herceptin phase of treatment, but not to expect it. I didn’t expect it.  And while it's not much, it’s something.  

Even though it could take up to six months to have a covering of hair, I have to say these first few follicles restored a little faith.  I always had a fairly optimistic outlook on life. Whenever I was going through a bad patch, I would flip ahead a few months on my desk calendar, pick a random date, and write something like: "Are things better?”  Usually, by the time I got to the selected date, things would have improved. This whole BC thing, for whatever reason, robbed me of that sense of things turning around.  Treatment is slow and long and it's easy to believe that you'll never feel or look like yourself again. It's easy to believe whatever the insidious bitch BC tells you.  The disease not only screws with your boobs but your head. 

So, my sense of things turning around has returned, at least for now.  This morning, I noticed the expiration date on the orange juice was June 29th.  Instead of gloomily focusing on the words "expiration date," my first thought was: "By June 29th, I will have been finished with chemo for a whole week."  ~Brushing shoulders off~

Bring on the Roadies

Of course, the inner hag wants to shelve the blueberries and quinoa for marbled meats, a few packets of Sweet & Low and a cigarette.  So far, I've pegged the BC on everything from shitty karma to hot dogs.  Last month, it was wine. "Our Daily Red." It's time to turn that around too and release the inner torment/hag/blame.  Get that dirt off your shoulders.  Live healthy, move forward, vices in moderation. And get out of the house more!

My final chemo is June 22. (Four more!)  I'm thinking about a roadie on the way home from the DF, a dirty martini in a to-go cup.  

"Remember what the drowning man said -- a little drunk is better than dead." 

Hats off in the HOV Lane

Two weeks ago, after a particularly long and slow treatment, we were rushing back from the DF, trying to make a Mother's Day Tea at the kids' school.  Of course, there was heavy traffic and by the time we reached Dorchester, we had to cut across four lanes to get into the HOV lane. We made it over in time, only to get pulled over by a State Trooper at the entrance.

James pulled over and looked at me: "Quick! Take off your hat!"

A perfect opportunity to play the cancer card. 

I whipped off my hat and leaned over the driver's seat so the trooper could get a good peek at my dome. James handed him the license and registration.

ME:  My fault. I am late for a Mother's Day event at school. We're in a hurry, the traffic, etc.

ST: (Totally unfazed, probably thinking I was a skinhead).  Reckless driving, lane switching not safe, not cool, etc. 

ME:  But officer, we are rushing back from, you know, chemo.

He let us go.  James' quick thinking saved the day. I made it to the event, a little late, but had had time to get the wig on!


...to my good friends Stevie B. and Colleen.  Both have been mentioned numerous times on the PU over the years.  Colleen left Boston several years ago to go work for the American Cancer Society in DC. While she no works longer there, she still participates in the Society's Annual Relay for Life. This year, she's assigned my name to her cause. I was overwhelmed by her letter.

This is Steven's 3rd time riding the Pan Mass Challenge.  This year he's dedicated his ride to his dad who just finished treatment for colon cancer, and also to me. He even mentions the PU on his page. His said no tears allowed. Too late, Stevie B. 

Thank you (with love) to both of you and everyone else who participates in these events, gives back, or just gives because they can. 

Please check them out!

Colleen-Relay for Life

Stevie B.—Pan Mass Challenge


Seven Songs of the Day -- 5/26/09 

1. Milk -Kings of Leon

2. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots -Flaming Lips

3. Chocolate Town -Ween

4. I Know I'm Not Alone -Michael Franti and Spearhead

5. Sweet Virginia -Rolling Stones

6. One Big Holiday -MMJ (strong NED theme contention)

7. Fees So Good -Chuck Mangione Live at the Holiday Bowl

 **Bonus/Filler: Mahna Mahna -Cake

 --Today's playlist comes courtesy of Alex Scalisi in SF! Thanks, AS!


Anonymous said...

HI Kate:

So good to see your post!

4,3,2,1 - then done! You're a trooper! You're getting there - and we're all behind you! I'd stop at every bar on the way home from DF on the 22nd...I will be toasting to you on that day FOR SURE!!

Madonna in a bathtub- I once heard it referred to as "Mary on the half shell"...

SMILE - when you see your reflection. You are beautiful!!!

Glad to hear you have FUZZ -- hooray!! I loved you in the short hair...anyway - once it comes in - every day will be a "Good Hair Day".

Lots of "Fuck Cancertini's" at the BBQ!


Auntie J

KT said...

Ms. Kate!!! So awesome to read your blog again. We all missed you!! Four more to go, ma dear. Hope to join you for hummus and free sangys at one of them.

Anytime you need a 'lil pick-me-up just drop by the Tayla's. All the Daily Red you can moderately drink and sweet puppy kisses from Soul! (Vito's new buddy north o' town.)


P.S. My verification word is "retrooto" as in "Great headscarf: Very retrooto!".

Anonymous said...

So nice to see you writing again, keep your chin up. Looking forward to night fishing on Chappy with you guys this summer.

I still think the RN was out of state.

Mark R
(2009 Leinster supporters club)

Diana said...

For some reason Trav's "Flowers in the window" come to mind. Those small follicles sprouting on your head are like springtime in Boston. After a long, cold, barren winter, the flowers are in bloom!

June 22: You tell me when and where and I'll be there to raise a glass to your health and happiness.

Love you. xoxo


BG said...

Great to hear from you KJ. Hair & eyebrows or no hair & eyebrows, you are always beautiful.

PG said...

Hey Kate -

It was great to see a new post from you today. I've been checking the PU on a daily basis as I look forward to reading your updates. The 22nd is going to be here before you know it!! Always thinking of you.


Anonymous said...

Hey Kate!

Glad to "see" you again on PU. We missed you!

Dawn and Mike

jal said...

KATE! Brush away baby! Glad to hear you are enjoying spring/summer. You're almost there and are absolutely gorgeous!!! Let's work out that BBQ at 155 soon too. Everyone can come.

Roving Lemon said...

So glad to hear that you're feeling better. More energy, new projects, and hair--all good! Counting down the days to June 22 right along with you.


stevieb said...

katie, thanks for the shout out, let me know how to get those follicles going I could use some help also! See you soon
Stevie B

Anonymous said...


looking forward to seeing you guys this weekend... I just needed to tell you .. I have had three people... who you don't know but are faithful PU stalkers (after i of course insisted they take it in) who have visited Stevie's site and donate...all because of your inspiration...

Also as an "aside"... Lk had a friend back in the day (around 5th grade i think)... and the two have them had been newly introduced to the lessons of mother nature (BO, body hair, etc, etc).. One day she was at the house seeming kinda dour.. after she left I asked Lk what was up, that her friend seemed kinda out of sorts... LK responded,"Well she's a little down cuz she caught the FUZZ" I must have looked confused because she went on "you know....down there.....fuzzy!"... so indeed the onset of active hair follicles affect us all, after all you never know when you may catch "THE FUZZ"....

Stay strong!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Glad to read your post again. You can do 4 weeks standing on your head. Hope to get together with you, Jamie and the kids when we come back in August. Keep up your wonderful spirit.
Aunt Carol & Uncle Billy

Code Red said...

Cameo and I are going to tailgate in the DF parking garage on June 22nd. We'll be outside waiting for you to finish treatment...ready to hand you a celebratory dirty martini! Four more!


lpd said...

Count me in for the celebration on the 22nd, KJ.

I agree with BG - hair or no hair, you're still gorgeous. And you always will be. xo