Worst dressed list

No one can accuse me of having fashion sense, particularly when I still – almost thirty – insist on wearing different coloured socks. But you can’t say I’m a clothing monster, either.

Like most people, I have a few favourite pieces, a favourite season and a time to shine (summer dresses, summer tops, summer shoes = yay!) and alternatively I have outdated tops, bottoms that deserve the garbage and sweaters that do not flatter my shape.

Whatever. Winter and fall have never been my good seasons. It’s my philosophy to simply keep my head down from the wind, wrap that scarf tighter, and for goodness sakes put on a toque. And for this reason, and this reason alone, I’ll never win best dressed actress of the year.

However Zsolt has another award he’d like to bestow upon me: worst dressed chemo patient ever.

Do I deserve this? Hmmm . . .

Today we arrived for the TENTH treatment. ¡Ay, caramba! Time has granted my request and started to fly. Only six more sessions and that green chair will be history.

You know what, I’m incredibly lucky. There are people in that ward who don’t know when their chemo ends . . . chemo ends when it ends; things either work or stop responding. Who’s brave? They are brave. This lovely women was chatting to me today and she was giving such a positive front despite this being her second round to clear cancer. “We don’t know how long I’ll be here” she said, then quickly mentioned this was her second attempt. And all the while she smiled – now there is bravery.

Things are coming along. It’s funny because the nurses still expect me to get sick. This one lady was changing my picc line and talking about how AC chemo was difficult. “I just hated giving you that red stuff,” she said, which was surprising. The nurses know what’s coming, yet they do their best to chat about the weather, wear that ‘this is normal’ face, and make the experience pleasant . . . as pleasant as possible . . . I had never realized they might just hate what they’re inflicting.

That was an insight.

So was my husband’s response to my ‘Going to Chemotherapy to Kick Breast Cancer Ass’ outfit. It’s not the first time I’ve worn these cloths, but it is the first time he’s noticed.

Going to Chemotherapy to Kick Breast Cancer Ass Outfit (worn every Friday since the second dose of Paxlitaxol):

Really thick socks.

Shoes – preferably with shoe laces undone, if remembered.

Sweatpants. (the more loose, the better)

Tank top.

Giant husband-sized hoodie (sweater) discarded by Zsolt due to faulty zipper. (Zsolt’s main cause for protest)

My wolly toque.

Oranges in the mouth.

Frankly, the only people dressed more causally are the C5 patients in their robes. But this outfit has purpose! The socks keep my ankles warm; the sweatpants don’t restrict movement so I can lift my legs while sleeping; the tank top gives me a choice between warm & cold (hot flash protection); the SWEATER keeps me warm with its excessive size, and also the arms are so big that I can wear it and my picc line remains available for the drip; the toque blocks out light so that I can nap happily.

It’s a thoughtful outfit, despite looking terrible. Zsolt doesn’t understand, and I guess none of the other chemotherapy patients do either – many of them actually show up looking GOOD. Fashion as defiance in the face of adversity. Well, I tried that and couldn’t sleep properly in the chair.

So award for the sloppiest fashion in the chemo ward goes to me. It’s an honour.

Who doesn’t love a great outfit? But there’s a time and place – and when I feel tired, well frankly, I don’t give a damn.

It was a good session. 🙂

P.S. I’m waiting on my oncologist to send a letter to the doctor in Ottawa. It seems my file was misplaced, so they didn’t have the needed information. Enough of that – I called the secretary on Thursday and gave her the missing contact details. On Monday I’ll call again to confirm that the letter has been sent.

What is brave, anyhow?

I like watching movies; people are allowed to be brave, and we can be brave with them. Last night – against Zsolt’s wishes – we watched the Fellowship of the Ring (Lord of the Rings book one, film one). He says it’s a film for teenagers, but he thinks that of everything fantasy/science fiction. There is no point arguing, though obviously I disagree and am correct in my opinion . . .

Anyhow: Bravery.

Frodo  didn’t want to carry the ring. He wished he’d never found it, never been chosen, never this, never that. Never.

I wish the same all the time. As each day passes and chemotherapy approaches I wish I didn’t have to go, didn’t need the injections, didn’t get so sick. Didn’t this, didn’t that. Didn’t.

When BBC news reports a famous designer has died from breast cancer, I wish I’d never gotten it. Never started growing, never reached my lymph nodes, never this and never that.  Because I’ll never be 100% sure it’s not still inside. Reoccurrence scares the shit out of me.

So how am I meant to be brave? Why can’t it be like the films, where there is a moment of heightened music, tears in the eyes . . .  and then a short nod, steps forward. Challenged mounted. Why can’t I be brave without also being chicken-shit scared?

Last week I went to the hospital for a picc line flush and zolodex shot. It overwhelmed me; I threw up in the corridor, in the chemo chair, after my shot. The smell of the ward nauseated me, the sight of the patients made me cry, the click of the chemo drip made me gag. Bravery? No, I’ve tied a leash round my neck and dragged myself in. That’s not brave, that’s compulsory.

And I know, I really know, “it’s not just the body, Catherine”. It’s the mind. It’s the reaction, the conditioning. This is my work in progress. Throwing up is a release of anxiety, but there must be better ways. Well, I’m trying to scream. Who knows what the neighbours think, I scream each day and imagine all the fear and the nausea shooting out with the sound.

Will it work? I don’t know – we’ll see next Thursday when my blood is tested. I’ll scream in the middle of the ward, thus triggering mass panic amongst the patients and probably get committed. Or asked to leave the country.

No, I won’t really scream. Of course not.

Today is Monday.  In four more days I’ll be back in that green easy chair with a drip hooked up. This time it’ll be a different course of chemotherapy. They say it’s easier, “a little easier.” And since it’ll be every week, it sure as heck better be easier.

I can’t take much more of this bullshit self-induced sickness. Even if it is resetting my immune system and clearing out those nasty fucking cancer cells that may/may not be in my body. Rude unwelcomed FUCKERS.

Bright side: well I’m glad to talk about being scared.  That helps. We’ve changed the sheets (finally) to my pink rose on blue pattern. I haven’t thrown up in three days. The students are back at the university. And . . . Zsolt is washing the dishes!

Thank goodness for small miracles.