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April
2012
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Cancer World - 2

By Ingrid Buehler


Many thanks for the good thoughts and prayers headed my way since I announced I’m a new resident of Cancer World.

I’m already learning that Cancer World has its own codes and guidelines, buzzwords that need no explanation. For many of you out there, I know this has remained personal and private. Since I’ve chosen to try to deal with it openly (hopefully, a good therapy), I thought I’d share some unrelated thoughts from the past week. While I’m resisting the thought of being defined by a disease, there’s no way to pretend it’s not there either.

I recently went to a store that I normally deliver papers to, but had missed last week because of a doctor’s appointment.

“We didn’t get any papers last week,” I was told. I apologized, adding I was just beginning chemotherapy.

“No problem,” she said, “I’ll stop by the office every week now and pick up my papers. What kind?”

My answer: “Thank you. Lung.”

“I’m sorry. There’s nothing else that can be said.” And that’s the truth. I’m sorry too.

She went on to say she had lost a grandson to melanoma. Certainly there are many with similar stories, but I’m also hoping to hear some success stories along the way.

My days have become regimented. Last week featured a visit to the radiologist in Cleveland for 15 minutes each morning, with a stop at the oncologist for blood work one day. The same routine for is scheduled for this week, then back to chemo. A mesh mask holds my face in place as the rays are fixed in the same position for each dose. When I hear the machine cranking up, I start humming “Kill the  bad guys, kill the bad guys …” as the radiation makes its way in.

It’s a long ride for a brief therapy, but the beauty of the spring season makes it bearable, not to mention the hopeful benefits. The day continues with a stop at the office to be a worker bee for a while, then go home and play at being a retiree – plant some green beans, dig up some kudzu, do some reading.

Happily, I’ve been able to drive myself so far. Covering the county commission meeting Thursday evening was a joy because it was not part of Cancer World.

Knowing that hair loss is a pretty common side effect, I hestitated recently after taking a shower and picking up the brush. I’m figuring there’s a race on to see whether the radiology or chemo takes its toll first, and whether the hats will arrive before the hair disappears, as is likely. Since hair style has never been a high priority for me, this isn’t a biggie other than avoiding any stares.

Phase 2 of my original retirement plan called for retiring the alarm clock (Friday was retired as Phase 1),  thus allowing me to get to work when I felt like it. As it has turned out in Cancer World, I’ve been waking up just before dawn – perfect for grabbing a cup of coffee and spending a magical hour on the porch listening to the double-header of bird song and watching Mama and Papa Birds as they putter around looking for the perfect nesting site. I was rewarded Sunday with a hummingbird coming to the feeder.

I’ve been told to stay active but not to overdo it. The challenge is figuring out the difference.

We welcome your input. Just let us know if your message is private or can be published.



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