26 June 2009

Life Ain't So Bad At All/Live Life Off the Wall

(Who did NOT have this poster?)

We returned home from a senior-citizen early dinner at the new Fours yesterday only to learn that Michael Jackson had died.  What a double whammy, the news coming just hours after Farrah's  Or triple whammy this week, really.  (Poor Ed McMahon) 

We fired up the iTunes library and had an MJ dance party with the wee brownies.  Later, Caroline and I fell asleep watching MJ videos on MTV.

I became irrationally angry over Rhianna's pilfering of "mama say mama sa mama coo sa" for one of her songs.  

Now, let's hope there is some peace.  

For Farrah and her iconic hair, peace from her cancer -- and from Ryan O'Neal.

Aside: Hopefully, we'll no longer be subjected to O'Neal crying on cue in the media.  He struck me as an insincere and opportunistic DB throughout her whole ordeal. 

For MJ, peace from all of his inner torment (and tormenters).  Hopefully his kids will have the childhood that he never had.  He will obviously live on forever through his music and videos.  

Anyone my age would be hard pressed to go back to any time in our lives where there isn't a Michael Jackson song playing in the background.  For me, it was "Off the Wall" at the ice skating rink when I was nine.   Trying to learn all the dance moves to "Beat It" in the St. Mary's schoolyard. Listening to the entire Thriller album (taped from vinyl) over and over on a hot pink boombox at the beach.  And that random song "Farewell my Summer Love."   The "We are the World" and "Say, Say, Say" videos.  "Man in the Mirror" playing in a club during  spring break in Bermuda and people forming a big dance circle.  I think one of the BLA prom themes was "I"ll Be There."  "Bad" and "Black & White" blaring at keg parties in college.  T-Bag doing the Thriller dance on Nantucket and inspiring others to do so at subsequent weddings.  Singing "Rock with You" as a lullabye to Caroline and Paulie.  

More than ever, I am wishing I had hair right now so I could pay tribute with some feathering and a jheri curl.  Luckily, it's been done before and documented.

Farrah's hair provided endless inspiration for throwbacks like me. 

Some MJ hair, albeit completely unintentional at the time.


Seven Songs of the Day 6/26/09

Let the madness and the music get to you..

1. Theme from Charlie's Angels
2. ABC
3. Shake Your Body Down to the Ground
4. Off the Wall
5. Rock with You
6. Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'
7. Man in the Mirror

**Bonus*** Dirty Diana (ouhh)  
(egregious omission the first time around, Cam)

22 June 2009

Sun, Sun, Sun on the Last Drip

Woo hoo! We're here at the DF for the final drip. It's appropriate that we started this journey on Ground Hog day because every Monday since Feb 2 has been some version of the same day: Up at dawn. Get coffee/green tea. Drive in gridlock listening to WERS and Jack Lapieres on the news. Valet the car. Go to DF10 to get blood drawn. Grab a pager and go to the caf to wait for chemo to be mixed. Read paper, go online, have snacks. Pager goes off. Back to 10th floor to mainline pre-meds, Herceptin and Taxol. James goes in search of Red Sox ticket lotteries and sandwiches. Ten minutes before the drip ends, he goes to get the car so we can tear off down Binney Street without slowing down. Sometimes, I've almost run out of there with the IV still in my arm. Today could be one of those days.

The better Mondays included chemo buds and cafe sandwiches. The worse ones, a camel nurse on Memorial Day (warded off, thankfully, by Nic's & Amy's giving of the stinkeye). It's been almost six months of ups and downs and there is an even longer road ahead, but today is a huge milestone. Even the late June clouds and dank cannot drag us down. The sun is shining. I will be back here every three weeks for Herceptin but that's an antibody, not a poison.

It's also brighter in here today due to the ginormous, beautiful flower arrangement from the Moschella clan with a card that simply read:"No More!" Right on.

The people watching here is usually depressing but even that's lightened, both literally and figuratively.

In the waiting room, a 50-ish woman in a hot pink bandana and auburn shag wig wears a t-shirt that says “Cancer Sucks!” The words are in large block letters that recall "Frankie Says Relax" (Dating myself. Let's do the time warp agaaain.)

As I'm getting my vital signs taken, a woman outfitted in lime green eyeglasses, lime green shoes, and lime green pants with yellow pineapples on them (The fruity equivalent of whale pants. Cue T-Bag sashaying by in tight-fitting jean jacket) takes the seat across from me. She begins staring at me while my while my IV nurse is tapping my veins. Then she keeps staring to the point where I am uncomfortable. Who is this lady and what is her fucking problem?"

Then she speaks:

LIMEGREEN: Excuse me, can I ask you a question?

ME: (Here we go) Mmm hmm.

LIMEGREEN: What was the name of that skating lady from Boston who got hit by Tonya Harding and some thugs?

ME: Nancy Kerrigan?

LIMEGREEN; Nancy Kerrigan! Right! Golly! It’s been driving me crazy all morning. Thank you so much!

I cracked up at the utter randomness but also at the fact that you really never know what is going through people's heads. Very often they aren't rude, just insane.

Drip, drip, drip. -- 32 minutes to go and then off to the Teddy Bear Picnic with a keg cup of wine.


Seven Songs of the Day - 6/22/09

1. Here Comes the Sun - Beatles

2. Dance, Dance, Dance - Lykke Li

3. Get Up - REM

4. Maybe Today - Ryan Montbleau

5. Rightstarter - Public Enemy

6. Sure Shot - Beastie Boys

7. Lovers in Japan - Coldplay

16 June 2009

Fables of the Reconstruction

In addition to reaching the land of NED, I assumed the light at the end of this crapbasket would be a fierce boob job. Nothing like gravity-defying cleavage to turn around a tragic boob situation! But I recently learned that the huge amount of radiation I am going to have will pretty much destroy any chance of implants -- at least successful ones. I'm told if I attempt them, I could be walking down the street one day only to have one slip out and get trapped in my pant leg. Clip the wrong end of a revolving door? Bang, explosion. Booosh.

This turn of events will not doom me to a boobless existence, however. Instead, I'll likely have reconstructive surgery, a procedure that involves building some brand new hammers out of my own fat cells. Many pals have already offered up generous T&A donations (thanks, friends) but the doctors said it doesn't work that way. So much for going up a size.

Anyteets, reconstruction involves more extensive surgery, skin grafts, and the very Sci-Fi experience of walking around without nipples for up to a year. Nipples are "tattooed" on post operatively. There are people out there who actually specialize in this rare art. If you do a search for nipple tattoo artists, you'll find people who design all kinds of nips from the natural looking to those for which no areola is too big.

Later, Lefty
But all of this is down the road. In the here and now, I am completing chemo on Monday (yahoo!) and preparing for my mastectomy which should take place sometime in July. I've been kind of lax about getting a surgery date scheduled. I've had this laissez-faire "it's all good - whatever" attitude that's been zapping my sense of urgency. Maybe it's fatigue, or maybe I'm just sick of talking about tits! Also, some of the side-effect meds (not marijuana, but may as well be) could be causing this mellow cloudiness. I've had trouble writing lately (if the lapse in blogging is any indication) and have had all the mental clarity of an elderly driver at a farmer's market. I've also been in a very, very good mood -- unshakably good, but mindlessly so.

Last week, the only thing I had to do one morning was call my surgeon to schedule my consultation. I started picking balls of dried grape jelly off of Vito’s hindquarters and completely forgot about it for the rest of the day.

Would you please pass the jelleh?

I'm afraid I've become too complacent while plodding through what seems like endless treatment. At my last oncologist appointment, I learned that the A/C, Taxol and Herceptin has worked so well that the 10cm mass in Lefty is no longer palpable! My doc said I may even be a candidate for a lumpectomy since the tumor has shrunk so much. While I was thrilled to hear the treatment is working so well, this surgical scale-back threw me off a little. I've already bid farewell to Lefty and have resolved to go as drastic as possible surgery-wise to ensure this cancer doesn't come back. I'm trying to rekindle that sense of fear and urgency I felt in January.

Aside: Besides, Lefty is busted. It's always been trouble, rogue even, popping out of bathing suits at the most inopportune moments. Nobody has been subjected to this horror more than poor BG. Waving his hand like a white flag on the beach: “It’s out again! It’s out again! Put it back! No!”

My doc said survival rates are the same regardless of the type of surgery. There's a less than five percent chance of local recurrence (If HER2 recurs, it usually recurs distantly). There is always the chance of getting a second BC in either Lefty or Righty, but it's also a small one.

I trust my doctors and I know there are protocols that are more attractive, but ultimately you have to do what’s right for you. The BC statistics have been in my favor all along but have not necessarily come in on my side: Only six percent of BCs occur in women under 40. Only 20 percent of all BCs are HER2 positive. This is a trend I would like to buck. So I will not fuck with the odds just because they seem to be in my favor. So, off with the boobs! I want to be talking about reconstruction next year, not recurrence. I don't intend on going through this ever again.

DF 10, June 15 - Killing time
It's been awhile but my social worker (SW) has popped by my chemo cubby for a wee visit. She keeps calling me Kathy but I'm way too mellow to correct her: “It’s all good, you crazy coot.” The last time I saw the SW, I was in a crooked do-rag looking for happy pills so I can see how my newly calm exterior would throw her off.

SW: How are you feeling?
ME: Just chillaxing.

James returns from a sandwich run and sees the SW. Realizing we never tried to guess where she was from, we dig into our favorite time-killer.

JAMES: Definitely Brookline or Newton.
ME: “Yeah, man, sounds good. Good. Good. All good.”

A subsequent Google shows she is indeed from Newton Center.

Seven Songs of the Day -- 6/17/2009

1. Heavy Metal Drummer - Wilco
2. Hell Yes - Beck
3. Sports & Wine - Ben Folds Five
4. Tower of Strength - Mission UK
5. Outside - Tribe
6. Dry Land - Buffalo Tom
7. Hello, My Treacherous Friends - Ok Go

Today's playlist comes courtesy of Bart Parker in ME. Thanks, Bart!