I look like a junkie. Tattoos and track marks aren’t exactly a pristine first impression. Fuck everyone. I have cancer.
I went to battle against my cancer yesterday. First, I was denied the right to eat or drink anything for 8 hours before the procedure. I had a plate of linguine with bolognese sauce at 10:30 PM the night before. The ultimate punishment was the denial of my morning coffee. I can’t remember the last time I went without a cup of morning coffee. It was probably the night I spent in jail.
The next morning. Rise and shine. A quick visit to my daughter’s last day of school party and then the drive from Park Slope to Kew Gardens. Navigation systems are dumb. They send you around in circles. I arrived at the imaging center. Short wait to be called, five hours of procedure. An IV filled with radioactive fluid injected into my left arm for an hour. Waiting. Freezing. Then one hour in a contraption with an uncanny resemblance to a rocket ship. They strapped me down so I couldn’t move while pictures were taken of my entire insides. If the cancer has spread or if there is any cancer at all, it will light up like a Christmas tree on the disc they’re sending my doctor.
It was already 3:00 PM. I had an appointment with my Oncologist to discuss this Cytoxan he wants to start me on. I went armed with a list of questions and another list of the information I needed to get a second opinion at Sloan Kettering. I AM NOT LOSING MY HAIR. More needles. Short wait. Then a discussion with my doctor. I told him I didn’t understand why he was suddenly going to put me on this additional treatment when just last month he told me the cancer was practically undetectable from my blood work. He told me it was because I was still experiencing the “B” symptoms of my cancer (night sweats, fatigue, loss of appetite, fevers.) I told him that they come and go and reminded him that he also told me that they would fluctuate. Our conversation ended with this compromise: I will keep the appointment for the Cytoxan for September 12 for now. He will review the PET scan results when he receives the results, he will advise me of his treatment plan. I slipped the list of information I needed for the second opinion at Sloan Kettering back into my bag.
I just wanted to go home.
This cancer is a war. Me against the cells.
I’m going to win.
And the next time I get stuck with a needle, I want it filled with ink and leave a permanent image.
I miss getting tattooed.