I’ve gotten used to having cancer
It’s Tuesday, 29 October, 2019. I haven’t made a blog entry in several weeks. It’s not because I’m not interested or because I have nothing to say. It’s more because I’ve gotten into a routine. I’ve gotten used to having cancer. Nobody should get used to having cancer. You should get used to the neighbors’ noise, having dinner at 6:00 PM, and doing laundry on Thursdays. But you shouldn’t get used to cancer.
I have a routine, of sorts. I quit working in order to focus on rest and taking care of myself. My days are generally simple, if not uneventful. I don’t sleep well. It’s not unusual for me to sleep just four hours. 11:00 PM to 3:00 AM is not uncommon. I blame steroids. So I cat nap throughout the day. Often at the worst times. Like, in the middle of a really good TV show. I’m all into it, right? Then, damn! I wake up. Wait, I fell asleep? What happened? Who killed her? Shit. Rewind.
I take a fistful of pills first thing in the morning so I have a little breakfast right away. It’s best to take medication with food. And I’m a glutton. I’m always hungry. Even cancer hasn’t killed my appetite. Isn’t that fucked up? Don’t you think if you’re going to have a disease that is trying to kill you, it could at least make you skinny? Breakfast is normally instant oatmeal. I add chopped pecans, raisins and powered fiber. Fiber is my friend. I’m either going or I can’t go, but you don’t need to know that. After breakfast my dog gets her morning walk. Then…?
On Mondays and Thursdays I have chemo in the morning. That too is a routine. “Hi!” I always bring a smile and jokes. I sincerely like the folks at the Cancer Center and I love interacting with them. I can’t imagine what it’s like for them to care for so many people with cancer every day. And, moreover, what it’s like for them to lose patients they’ve cared for. They’re strong, loving people. I try to put a little bright spot in their morning. They certainly put a bright spot in mine.
Some days I don’t feel particularly well and I don’t have a lot of energy. On those days I don’t do much. Rest. Watch TV. Walk a little. Read. Other days I feel pretty darn good and I use those days to catch up on errands, clean house, meet with friends. I take advantage of my energy when it’s available.
Last weekend was exciting. I went on a 5-day road trip with my 82-year-old father to visit my nephew. He recently retired from the army and settled with his wife and kids in East Texas. That’s across Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Three states! The trip was exhausting and hard on me but I loved hanging out with my dad, seeing my nephew after too many years, and meeting his lovely family. This is the kind of thing I’m doing now. I spend time with my family and friends. I make memories for myself and I leave memories for them. Anyone up for lunch? You’re buying!
Failing at Cancer 101
Truth is I’m kind of intimidated by others with cancer. I feel like most cancer patients rise to the occasion. Seems like they bike and run and grow their own organic veggies. Some knit afghan blankets for their grandkids and paint landscapes to sell at the swap meet. Some travel and write… And let’s not forget the mountain climbers. God bless the mountain climbers.
Then there’s me. I think I’m failing Cancer 101. I’m not amazing. I’m not crushing it. I watch TV. But not just any TV. You know those true life murder shows on ID Network? Like Snapped and See No Evil? I devour them. My friends ask me who I’m studying to kill. Let’s just say you should stay on my good side. They’ll never find your body. I also watch stand-up comedy, documentaries, history. Netflix. Amazon Prime. And I read silly, useless stuff on the Internet. I’m serious. I actually go looking for it. Why? I don’t know. Why not? I have the time. I walk my dog, who is 13 years old and satisfied with a few good walks a day. She doesn’t play. I’ve never even seen her chase a ball. I rescued her 3 years ago and she really just tolerates me. I’m allowed to feed her and give her a home. And she sleeps a lot. I’m jealous.
What else? I don’t attend support groups but I drink smart water. I don’t wear a fit-bit but I make fresh smoothies most mornings (with fiber!). Oh, I shower every day and floss my teeth. You’re welcome. I wear clean clothes, usually trim my beard, and keep my apartment clean. Real clean. If I die during one of those cat naps they’re going to find my apartment with clean toilets and a properly made bed. I will not go on to my reward with everyone talking about what a mess my place was. Do you think the mountain climbers can say that?