Thursday, March 29, 2012

Losing my Winter Coat

"Have you been shaving your hands?"

A question of profound dignity and gravitas, it was asked, as so many others, over chicken soup at my parents' house, and by my mother.  A little background: ever since I became a teenager I have been, technically speaking, a pretty hairy bastard (...ladies).  Not like wolf-man or Chewbacca hairy, but through a mix of genetics, heritage and skin care choices, hairy enough that had you seen me and someone were to ask you to make a statement on the hairiness of that fellow, you might use terms like, "fairly," or "relatively," or "that guy should probably shave his hands."

However, I had not, nor have I ever shaved my hands, nor are they baby-smooth at this very moment.  Still, my mom was correct in her assertion that I am not as hairy as I used to be.  What body hair I do have is thinner, shorter, lighter and more sparse, such that I am probably now in the, "eh, I guess" category of hairiness, rather than the "oh yes indeed" category I had long occupied.

I hadn't noticed the change before then, honestly, unless you count my concern over my eyebrow, which leads me to believe I'm losing hair all over.  It would probably be pretty distressing to me had I maintained any delusions of keeping my hair, but as I haven't and shave it with the same electric razor I use on my face, I hadn't noticed any change there.  My eyebrow seems to have stabilized now, so if I'm becoming slightly less of a hairy bastard due to my chemo then I'll just add that to the perks of having brain cancer (it's a short list).

Speaking of chemo, I just started round six last night.  I'm pretty ready to stop taking this stuff.  I'm tired of spending half of every month exhausted and foggy.  I'm tired of dealing with prescription delivery services that screw up, then screw up again when they call to inform me they screwed up the first time, so that I get my pills just hours before I need to take them no matter when I call in my order.  Sick and tired of being sick and tired, blah blah blah.

But hey, at least I'm not a yeti anymore.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

What's the protocol for this?

I'd like to say that I haven't posted lately because I've been very busy but that's only a half-truth.  I did have a lot on my plate, but I wasn't picking at that, either.  Instead I was staring at my plate, wondering why it kept piling up and how much longer I'd have to wait before it magically resolved itself.  It didn't.

I used to wonder if this kind of self-destructive behavior was rooted in questions of self-worth; if I was trying to sabotage the good in my life because I didn't feel that I deserved it.  I'm not sure it's fair to pin it all to my disease either.  The truth probably lies somewhere in between, as with most things.  My last round of chemo hit me harder than the previous (though I think that has more to do with how hard I was pushing myself than my body simply reacting poorly) and I remained mired in a fog for weeks.  I wanted to work but I couldn't.  I felt physically unable to put words on the page and when I forced myself, the result was terrible and embarrassing.  Nothing I'd want anyone to actually read, never mind purchase with their hard-earned money.  Or, you know, department funding.  Whatever.  Thankfully my boss is patient and understanding enough to help me find solutions rather than point out faults, and, when necessary, light a fire under my ass.  I've found my voice again and cleaned off most of my plate, so I felt it was time to check in.

I'm faced with a new question this morning.  The president of the company had another sort of cancer when he was younger and feels that this is a point of connection between us, which is fine.  His variety wasn't quite the same as what I had but I'm not going to turn down sympathy and compassion from the man in the big chair.  This morning he sent me an e-mail on a new "cure" for brain cancer.  It's a sort of supplement called "essiac tea."  Well, he's the thing.  Essiac tea does not cure any cancer (surprise!).  In scientific trials it was shown to have no effect on cancer whatsoever until you get to large enough doses... at which point it may accelerate tumor growth or flat out kill the patient.  The FDA has described it as a "fake cancer cure" and Sloan-Kettering has advised patients to "avoid" it.  So when my president says, "it couldn't hurt," how do I respond?

I thank him politely, promise I'll look into it (which I have), and hope he never, ever mentions it again. 

Anyone else have any similar experiences?