Who Wins Wheel of Fortune Cancer Edition?

Yesterday, as we pulled in the driveway of UCLA, I started getting the associated nausea that often happens with cancer patients. I took meds of course because there is nothing worse than being nauseous before you get any drugs. When I walked in with all the treats, I was treated like a rock star once again and called the miracle girl. I must say I did play the game of recognize the famous celebrity in the elevator who happened to exit the elevator on the same floor. This was an actor in the show Extant with Halle Berry and also in Wolverine and Lost (Darma initiative leader). He was trying to be in disguise with hat, unshaven, and sunglasses which he had to take off since he couldn’t see. The elevator was full. I have great facial recognition (name maybe not) and he knew that I knew, so he just smiled. He did not go to oncology so I really had no scoop. With my new miracle girl celebrity status, I was welcomed by another favorite nurse. Yes, all UCLA nurses are my favorites. He is one of the nurses you want if you are in a clinical trial. His attention to details is meticulous. My blood counts were good except for the red, so this explained my ghost look as Alex calls it. I didn’t mention the hand and foot syndrome that I conviently had now. I didn’t want anything to prevent me from getting in this trial. My nurse tells me this drug has hardly any side effects and has been effective in melanoma. It is immunotherapy so it works by activating your own T cells to kill the cancer. Unfortunately, it takes 8 weeks to start working, but I won’t let any fluid grow to the point I was before, plus I honestly have my team of Westwood nurses and staff who have my back. Each one verified and double checked every step of the way with this new trial. Each 15 minutes, my vital signs were monitored, plus PK (measuring drug in blood) plus urine, plus EKG, plus other blood. I was encouraged to drink a lot.
Then, the doctor evaluation needed to happen, but the doc was in the other building. I decided to go alone with the study coordinator.  Who knew I would have entered the “Who wins the Wheel of Fortune of cancer?” Meaning  who in the room has the worst cancer prognosis, treatment, or winner of most side effects. The room was filled with typical cancer patients who were skeletons, but one had a miniature dog on her lap. This started the riots before the games began. The lady to my left started yelling that she had a compromised immune system, so why was this dog in the waiting area. She asked me to go and complain. I realized that I was 5 minutes from my next set of vitals. I knew I may be fired if I didn’t follow my team of nurses instructions. So, I decided to speak for this woman and asked about my “turn”. I was told that my nurse at this location was on a smoke break?! I addressed the dog issue while others started the yelling about this dog. I was happy that Jim didn’t come since he is deathly allergic to dogs and it would have been a good way to start our vacation. Soon, the dog was removed. Then, the games began. I counteracted the negativity and a queen Debby Downer who has had cancer since 2006 and nothing has worked. I pointed out that she is still alive. She kept with her negative comments and my positive team gained momentum with Melanoma, Breast, Leukemia adding their counter positive moves. This DD could not be beat. Finally, the nurse called her and the Bakersfield Leukemia told the nurse, “watch out this one is very special.” Then, the riots started with yelling who has waited the longest. I heard 3 hours, 2 Hours, and now I was past my deadline too. They voted for me since I won the worst cancer, but had best attitude to go up to the front and ask what is the delay. I heavy accented nurse yells, “JUN Teeman” . I stood up and yelled, “I won”, and their was applause. Unfortunately, it was for John Teenan or something like this. I was told to sit down. Then, my turn arrived with my smoke break nurse who smelled as if she just lit up a cigarette. YIKES.  Lung Cancer was not happy about the odor especially since she never smoked and was a chief dog complainer. I got applause and left the game. While it was fun playing, I realized how important it was to work “the crowd” and give them sunshine moments even when they were in frustration and much despair.
While I waited for the doc,I recognized his new fellow from Cedars. I never forget a face. He introduced me as if we were old friends. I chimed in that we were tight and go way back. Then, doc turned a lovely shade of red. He told me I needed a brain scan that they forgot to have me do prior to the study. I will do it next time and I can do it at the location of my choice? Hoag please!  He explained to me no ziplines, no sword play, no craziness on vacation and stay out of the sun?! I laughed since Maui is not the best place to avoid sunlight, but it told him hat, sunscreen and shade will be my choices. I asked a bunch of questions,but he didn’t really answer since I will be joined by several other ovarian women who will start the trial this week.
Back to the other building where they were going to send out a search and rescue party. I noticed that there was a film crew in the infusion closet. What? I asked if it was for a reality show and the guy next to me said he would choose an alternative reality. No one knew what it was for, but my nurse was now a celebrity. We joked that it was for TMZ. The process continued too long and we were stuck in traffic.
I didn’t sleep that great from excitement, the rash growing on my hands and feet, and now the expected immune response where all your lymph nodes in various places of your body giving me jolts of mini pain. I think that this pain is good, since it means the drug is trying to work.
I’m going now to be with my boys and find lots of sunshine even though I will look for shade. Enjoy these last summer days! Find your sunshine and remember today is now. Don’t worry about the little stuff.  With school year starting, don’t get caught up in the drama of any kind. Just enjoy and appreciate those moments with your kids even though they can be Meanagers. ALOHA!
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