Monday, July 21, 2008

If You're Going to Have Radiation, Then for Cripes Sake, Find a Way to Have a Good Time!

CyberKnife therapy: Three sessions complete. Piece of cake.

Today I decided that cancer is my hobby. It fills my time. Lots of my time. For instance, having CyberKnife to the nodes in my left collar bone has required multiple visits to the CyberKnife facility for consult, simulation, CT and then three days of treatment. No treatment lasted more than an hour or so, and the only reason one lasted that long is because they had problems positioning me correctly and that took some time.

With cancer ever on my mind, last week pretty much had me immersed in my disease. But I've learned a few things through this ordeal, so listen and learn folks. You can do this if you have to. Today's lesson: If you have to do something miserable, find good things to balance it out. Don't let the F-ing disease drag you down. Thus, I bring you: Two Fabulous Days Spent with Sister #2.

She showed up at our home on Sunday evening. We left in the morning for what could have been (depending up New York metro area traffic) a two... or four hour drive. Sister #2 had the wheel. Having driven myself out for my last course of treatment in 2006, back and forth from the hotel and everything else, this was a fantastic luxury! I just sat. And chatted. And relaxed. It was wonderful! Thankfully, traffic was very light and we were able to go straight to our hotel to check in before heading to the hospital for my first treatment.

About the hotel: My sister-in-law and her husband (who need proper incognito names, I know) collect Marriott points. They kindly provided me points for my hotel stay for my first go-round with CyberKnife and they made the same offer to me this time.

However, I know how precious those points can be, especially when you do a lot of traveling with the kids up and down the Eastern seaboard because you happen to live in North Carolina and everyone else you know lives in Jersey or New York. So, I was a bit reluctant to take them up on it. Most particularly, because I wanted to get a bit more out of my hotel experience this time around. The first time it was just me, three days in a row, in October, and I brought work to keep me occupied. So, one of those business traveler inns did me just dandy. This time though, I was with Sister #2 and it's JULY and I want a pool to sit at when I'm not in treatment and I want a place to get food on-site. Food. Not Pizza Hut. Yeah, sometimes, I'm a diva.

I explained this to my SIL and BIL and told them that I understood that if this particular Marriott stay would consume too many of their valued points, and that if they would prefer to hang on to them for such a time when they could enjoy them properly themselves, no prob. I got it.

However, as I am explaining this to them, I hear BIL click-clacking away on his keyboard and bless his Marriott-point-filled heart, he tells me the room has been booked for the night. Joy!

And so it comes to pass that Sister #2 and I check into a lovely hotel with a pool, and a bar, and a restaurant and a convenience store and all the accoutrements an ailing, pathetic cancer patient like myself needs. With indebted thanks to My Love's sister and BIL.

We dropped our bags and headed off to the hospital. Grabbed a light lunch in the hospital cafe and then headed down to radiology. I was in my usual hospital battle armor: black yoga pants and cotton T-shirt. Full comfort.

I also came in with my preselected CDs to listen to while undergoing treatment. For my music selection, I am remembered by the staff. I do not want any mellow crap to serve as the score for the attack I am about to launch upon my cancer. I want to feel like a fighter pilot who hurtle determinedly into battle with nothing but confidence, energy, intimidation and winning on his mind before the starts dropping bombs on his enemy targets. I started with Godsmack (my favorite band) and kept it moving over the three days with AFI, Serj Tankian, Three Days Grace and Fair to Midland.

Each day, I let the music pound through me as I lay on the table and let General Grevious rotate his multi-pivoted head around my own, aiming his destructive light saber at my infected nodes. I imagined myself walking into an arena to take charge of the octagon in a UFC fight. My mind alternated between two healing phrases: "Die mother F-ers Die" and "Cancer Dies, I Live."

That is how I took control. This is how it looked:

Ol' Prednisone Face laying in her body mold.

Ol' Prednisone Face with her face and neck squishing through the Mask of Immobilization.

Ready for collar bone lymph node cancer obliteration

You're still waiting for the part about the great two days with Sister #2, aren't you? Well, after I put in my time at the CyberKnife facility, we went back to the hotel, changed into our swimwear, grab books, hit the bar to pick up a few pina coladas and then sat poolside for several hours. Perfect. Relaxing. Easy. We chatted. (We did lots of chatting.) Floated around the pool. Sat in the jacuzzi. That's right -- we hot tubbed. Allll afternoon. I also made a point of making sure how appreciative I was of Sister #2 to support me through this whole ordeal. Her selflessness, it was simply poignant.

After we tired of the pool we retired to our room where we lounged around until we decided we needed a fabulous seafood dinner. Being on Long Island, that wasn't hard to find. So, we prettied ourselves up and out we went. And we ate appropriately. I do believe I had the red snapper with shrimp over risotto. We split a steamed mussels appetizer. Yes, I had multiple glasses of red wine. I finished with a cappuccino and crisp apple tart with ice cream. I was well sated and had pretty much forgotten what this little trip was supposed to be about. On our way back to the car to head back to the hotel, we maneuvered into a jewelry store where we purchased silver anklets to remember our little holiday.

Back at the hotel, we fell asleep quickly and woke up still full. So after just relaxing around the room and reading the paper and eating a light breakfast, we packed up and checked out. We headed back to the hospital where I had my second session. In an hour, I was done and we were on the road again heading home. Light traffic again and a relaxing ride for me. As we got close to my house, we realized we needed Chipotle Grill for lunch. So we had it. Then, we cruised through the White House Black Market and Ann Taylor Loft across the street. I picked up a bargain pair of jeans that I will be able to wear properly once... you know... I am off prednisone for 15 minutes or so.

Speaking of: I have at least 77 platelets onboard and get WinRho this afternoon. I have be allowed to drop my prednisone intake by 10 mg/day. Yippee! Next chemo: July 29.

You didn't seriously just read all that, did you?


Anonymous said...

Yea for sisters, sils and bils. They always come thru. Good to make something pleasant out of the fight.

Luv ya, Mom

Anonymous said...

I checked out the boys deck of StarWars cards & you are SO right. It is General Grevious!!!
Also, nothing selfless about it sista! It was simply done out of love & will be done again if ever needed. Compared to what you endure every day, my part was easy!I appreciate you letting me tag along & allowing me to feel like I actually made your life a little easier, if only for a few moments. Love you!!! -Katie

Anonymous said...

Yes, I seriously read all of that! I'm glad that you and sis 2 had a good time together despite the circumstances. Now, you need to repay her and come visit! ;)


Anonymous said...

What a cool time w/ sister #2. Hooray for reducing the prednisone, too.
- Suzanne

Kelley said...

Sister #2 sounds terrific. Keep on keeping on, T.