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Archive for May, 2009

Wedding!

Today was not the greatest day, healthwise, but I’m pleased to say I didn’t let it hold me back. I woke up early and went to the farmers’ market, where I got tiny new potatoes and beet greens, which I plan to saute with some goat cheese. I’m supposed to be eating leafy greens for magnesium, but they aren’t too appealing when I’m sick. Hopefully a little goaty goodness will help.

I had never been to a peer wedding before, so I was very excited for Bradley and Laura’s wedding today. They’re Catholic, so there was a nice Mass with very pleasing readings and songs – Pachelbel’s canon, Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring, Ode to Joy. The men in the wedding party wore gray suits and ties and looked very handsome. Laura had a long dress with a train and sparkly rhinestones. There were several very poignant moments, as her father died on Easter – it was very moving when she danced with her godfather at the reception.

I had thought that a wedding with so many grad students would be a little more baccanalian, with people diving into hotel pools in all their clothes and so forth. This did not happen. Instead, after the reception we drove to a nice restaurant and sat around eating mixed nuts for about two hours while the wedding party took pictures. I used this opportunity to nap in the car. We had some very tasty roast beef and delicious cake with buttercream frosting and chocolate terrine. I also had a glass of champagne punch to drink the couple’s health.

There were a few dances, but only for the wedding party, which I found a bit disappointing, but it was nice to see so many people I know. Joshua and I were dressed a bit on the formal side – I’ll post pictures in the next couple of days, I hope. A lot of the men weren’t even wearing jackets, which I think is a shame. I also noted that the bride and groom were walked to the alter by both their parents (or in Laura’s case, her mother and godfather, I believe) which is a Jewish custom I really like. All in all it was a beautiful wedding and I am very happy we were able to attend.

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Day 3

Feeling pretty rotten, but there have been some nice compensations. Last night my friends Andrew and Sam came over to make me dinner – “pasta with stuff,” as Sam called it. Small shells with sausage and peppers – quite tasty. They were originally planning to stay awhile and watch a movie, but I was so tired after supper that I sent them home and promptly fell asleep on the couch. I slept until around 11, woke up disoriented and confused, and then went to bed properly until 7:45.

I woke up nauseous – so much so that all I could stomach was a Carnation Instant Breakfast, which, cold, is not that bad. It’s no milkshake, but neither is it a barium smoothie. Josh took me to the mall, where I got a brown hat to wear to the wedding tomorrow, and to the post office to pick up some gorgeous clothes I bought online. I cannot wait to wear them!

It’s awfully sweet of people to think of sending me hats, but I think it’s easier if I choose my own.  Hats are a thing one likes to try on before buying.

I went to the doctor today for a shot to help me make white blood cells, and it revealed that I have loads of them, so that’s good news. Normally they would give five days of the shot, but because of the weekend I think we’re just doing 3. The shots are painful because I can’t have them in my port, but I’m glad I’ll have some semblance of an immune system for the wedding tomorrow. And hopefully soon I’ll be able to post pictures, so stay tuned!

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Update: Brain Cancer

Got my MRI results; I do not have brain cancer. My brain is normal, unremarkable, pristine. I feel better now, you?

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Update: Cancery Cancer!

By the way, Dr Joyce was very pleased by how much my tumor appears to have shrunk after just one chemo treatment. She also got a second opinion from a visiting doctor who, based on my MRIs, thought I could have had a lumpectomy before chemo and still wound up with a decent cosmetic result, so that’s encouraging. I got blood drawn yesterday to see if I have the BRC1 or BRC2 genes, in which case I might start slicing off body parts left and right, but the chances of that are less than 5% (they tell me) so I’m feeling pretty optimistic!

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Chemo: Round 2

Had my second infusion yesterday, as well as a very reassuring meeting with Dr. Joyce. She decided that, although she thinks it’s almost impossible that I have brain cancer, given my symptoms my insurance company will surely pay for an MRI, which she thinks will set my mind at ease. I am prone to magical thinking, and cannot help feeling that looking at my brain and thereby acknowledging the possibility of brain cancer will give me brain cancer, because I am perhaps the world’s least rational person with a degree in Logic. I do at least recognize that this train of thought is insane, so we’re doing the MRI this morning. I’m hoping that Day 2 fatigue will allow me to take a little nap, preferably until I get the results.

I had many diverting things to read at the infusion center, including the latest Real Simple (I know it’s devoid of semantic content, but I find the photography very soothing), a book of Y: The Last Man (best comic series I’ve read in a long time, seriously it’s amazing), a Miss Manners book, and another Barbara Pym, because I love comedy of manners. I started reading Barbara Pym because Laurie Colwin waxed rhapsodic about her in one of her Home Cooking books, but although LC claimed that “the food in Barbara Pym is wonderful,” I can only ever think of a cauliflour cheese with a big gray caterpillar in it that someone serves to a guest. Nevertheless BC’s novels frequently make me laugh out loud, so that’s a plus.

It makes me so sad to see frail old people in the infusion center, but then it occurred to me that it might make them sad to see me. Of course, since I’m not really bald yet, they may not know I have cancer – people get infusions for all kinds of things. But none of them, I suspect, are awesome. This is one of the reasons I try to resist thinking of my situation as unfair. Obviously it’s pointless to whine about fairness, but also I very much doubt that people who get breast cancer at a more conventional age deserve it any more than I do. There’s no knowing why, on a cosmic level, any of us got cancer, but it’s just something we have to get through. It can be difficult, however, when my guts decide to vacate my body and I’m exhausted but I can’t sleep and my skin is all broken out and I can’t find a hat that will match my dress for the wedding, not to feel a little put-upon. I simply try to acknowledge those feelings and then let them go. Nothing lasts forever, and in so many ways I am as lucky as can be.

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To Missouri this weekend, to visit Joshua’s family. I was nervous about this, as they are strict Pentecostal and, in addition to the usual worries associated with making a good impression on a beau’s family, I had to worry that I would snap under pressure and start shouting “Darn darn darn!” at the dinner table. This didn’t happen, though I did commit one or two worrying lapses, mostly during a poker game, because I was concentrating on poker. I said “shoot” and “heck” when I lost two particularly good hands, and I made reference to having seen R-rated movies. Also, the television was on in the background, and I accidentally giggled at a condom commercial. I should mention that I am not exaggerating at all – these are all, particularly the R-rated movies, things that Josh’s parents strongly disapprove of.

We met his parents on Friday at Lambert’s, a famous Southern restaurant where they throw rolls at you. Josh and I shared some fried catfish and ribs, which was quite tasty. I also tried some of the fried okra, because I don’t like okra and need to learn to. As of this writing I still find the texture off putting. Josh’s parents are very nice, but extremely formidable. I felt much more comfortable with his younger brother, as he is a lot like Josh.

On Saturday, we went to the Strawberry Festival, a fundraiser for the Christian rehab center Joshua’s dad runs. There wasn’t a lot to the festival, really; we had barbecue sandwiches and strawberry shortcake, then went on a hayride, where we saw a mule jump over a fence and listened to one of the drug addicts tell us about his recovery and dedication to Christ. I found this rather moving, as it was clear that this fellow meant to turn his life around.

The next morning, we went to Pentecostal church, something I had never seen before. Joshua’s family are Assemblies of God, the same denomination as Sarah Palin. They don’t handle snakes, but they do speak in tongues, something I was keen to see. First, though, we went to Sunday school, where a missionary to Papa New Guinea spoke to us about the evils of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Because those are all basically the same thing. That wasn’t really the focus of his talk, more of an aside, but the rest involved a very speedy reading of several Bible passages, which I didn’t entirely follow.

Pentecostal church services are really intense – people cry and shout out agreement and murmur eerily. There was indeed some speaking in tongues, which when it actually happened I found terrifying and started to cry. Suddenly this man was spouting what sounded like utter gibberish, and then someone else was filled with the Holy Spirit and interpreted in English. Then there was a sermon about how we are all utterly vile and filled with sin. Then we got to go out for lunch.

We were originally supposed to go golfing after church, but it was raining and Joshua’s mom didn’t want to golf in the rain (nor did I) so the menfolk went out and played a few holes or whatever the unit of golf is, and Josh’s mom and I stayed home and took naps, and in my case read Barbara Pym and wrote in my journal. The next morning Joshua and I took 11 quarts of strawberries (4 for me, 7 for our friends) and headed back to Indiana via St Louis. We got to St Louis around lunchtime and went to the arch, where we rode a tiny elevator – more like a cross between a roller coaster car and a space shuttle, but with no windows – to the top. I thought it would be terrifying but it was merely alarming. There are tiny windows on top, but no glass floor or anything really scary. Then we rode down again, had lunch, and went to the Basilica, which was very beautiful. Also I found the Catholicism of it reassuring after my intense brush with Protestantism the day before.

All in all it was an excellent weekend. Fortunately my body behaved itself and I felt almost completely normal. I had to drink tons of water, though, after going to the IU clinic on Friday and learning that I was, once again, as dry as an ancient raisin. It’s irritating to get so dehydrated AGAIN, after needing IV fluids once already. Today I have my second infusion, so it’s time to get back on the roller coaster of awful. Wish me well.

NOTE: Please don’t comment with disparaging comments about Protestantism or religion in general. I will be held responsible for anything you say. Dad, I am talking to you.

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Gross.

I cannot drink my GATORADE because entire chunks of HAIR keep falling into my glass. It’s times like these that I begin to regret cutting back on the damn swearing.

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