“Share your success with your children. Let them grow up knowing that cancer is not always the end of the road, it is usually just a bend in the road.” Vickie Girard

I have the cancer book library thanks mostly to my cousin, Margie. I have even created my own chemo for dummies version. There are several books that I go back to time and again. One is for laughs, Crazy Sexy Cancer and There’s No Place like Hope is a mini guide to cancer in all phases. I have been busy trying to live instead of fighting to live. Chemo does such a number on your body that I am happy that I stopped or have this opportunity for the vaccine.

For our entertainment, we received our 2nd opinions via FEDEX after much complaint to the company who is “organizing” my documents for me. They claimed to have never reached UCLA, but when asking and asking, they only left voice messages. I am glad to know that they feel my cancer is that important. Jim expressed his concern about this program with his company. This all sounded great in theory, but gives false hope to those people who are really needing answers today and not in a month. Jim and I were joking about the results even though it was really nothing to laugh about. My expert happened to be a gastroenterologist oncologist. The last time I took anatomy, I don’t think ovaries or uterus were connected to the stomach or colon. Things must have changed with modern technology?! I wasn’t even expecting much, but it was great to know that an expert in pancreatic cancer and colon cancer was giving me such a generic 2nd opinion that I could honestly do better online. Our point to Jim’s company was simple. If I was a parent of a child with cancer, this would be unacceptable. The second 2nd opinion came from a Harvard Med School Fellow, but I kept hearing in my head that character on Saturday Night Live, “I’m Brian Fellows”. He had made some good suggestions even though we had known about most of what he said. He made suggestions about trials that are happening out of the country. The best part of this 2nd opinion process is that it made a lovely presentation of all Jim’s hard work in a bounded collector’s edition of my cancer history. It is just beautiful. If I add the photos of the treats for the chemo closet, it would make a nice coffee table book. I am sure glad that I have my plans in place because this process of a 2nd opinion just caused more entertainment with a bit of frustration mixed in. The reality of the situation was like someone tossing a cold glass of water in my face. How can this system work for people who are really sick? Oh yeah, this may apply to me, but I am usually living in my twisted reality.

Of course, my true reality was back with my upcoming appointment on Monday at UCLA for some checking the body tests. I still feel a bit off and convinced myself that once I get my cells back with my vaccine that I will feel better? Then, the email from Scripps came with the delightful time of November the 16th at the end of the business day for my vaccine. Are you kidding me? Great, a drive that could take 2 hours will take 5 hours one way during rush hour. This email also explained that the doctor (who is doing the trial as a hobby) will only see patients like me on Mon and Weds and Monday will not work since the delivery of the vaccine cannot happen on the weekend. Okay, so this leaves me one day and did I mention that the doctor will only see patients starting at 11am. Yes, this doctor may be saving lives in surgery early that day, but cancer is selfish and I only care about ME! I sent my email explaining about child care as if I have 10 kids to arrange after school activities and the driving time as if I live in Los Angeles. Hey, I have to do what I have to do. Thank goodness my quick response gave me an upgraded earlier appointment. Glad to know the power of desperation and exaggeration will work. I know being treated for cancer is like having a cold to these people.  Good to know, I back in the saddle again. Let the games begin!

My bend in the road is something that I would hope no parent has to explain to their child. I would rather have Alex have his hero be Steve Jobs or Captain America instead of me “running an impossible race.” (this quote from his essay that he is writing about me as his hero) I would rather have Alex not fully understand how difficult it is to live with cancer only to make a comparison with children who have cancer. Of course, it was me who explained one day in bed, how does he think a child with cancer would feel? I know my cancer has changed him and I am making every effort that the change is going to have a positive impact  one way or another. I wish he didn’t know what chemotherapy is or a PET scan is….I am happy to have had this “down time” without the chemo, so we could really enjoy our days.

One day at a time…I will do the tests at UCLA and see what happens. I will get my first vaccine and see what happens. Until then, I will enjoy my day.

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