Cancer sucks. Went to my oncologist the other day. Routine visit. Waiting room as packed as a gym in January. I’m hoping it’s cancer screenings bringing people in for a healthy start to the new year and not the room full of cancer patients it appeared to be. The cheerful lady checking me in was wearing a Cancer Sucks button which I prefer to Fuck Cancer, if there is such a button, because while cancer does suck, that is simply a fact you can acknowledge as you set about getting rid of the thing. With a Fuck Cancer button, I see anger with a scrunched face, the very negative energy cancer probably would delight in provoking, and I’m not stooping to that f-ing level. I will occasionally use the #fuckcancer hashtag because it invites a warm camaraderie.
Foot in mouth syndrome. I showed restraint this time and shut my mouth in the lab as the last visit was mortifying. As an aside, much as I have tried to conduct myself, I similarly have taught my kids to not stare or ask people inappropriate questions, such as, “Mommy, look, that lady has a baby in her tummy” when that lady might simply have a thing for Lays chips and Breyer’s mint chip. I mean, who doesn’t? So back to last visit’s labs. I noticed that the nurse drawing my blood had lovely skin and a kind face, and I was happy to see that she was expecting too. I never ask people when they’re due because of that same advice I give my kids because what if they’re just plump? This was not the case with this woman as her weight distribution and tummy swell were clearly the hallmarks of a baby to be. I smiled and asked the question but instead of the ubiquitous, “When are you due?” or “What are you having?” I decided to give my query a unique spin and out of my mouth came this winner: “What ya got brewin’ in there?” fully assuming she’d tell me the baby’s gender. Seriously? Seriously. Smiling through a strained grin, she matter-of-factly offered up, “Honey, I’m just fat.” We found ourselves in the most pregnant of pauses and grasping at nothing, I looked away from her tummy at her bright eyes and said she looked like she was up to something, you know, with those up-to-something eyes and all she must be brewing up something?—she’s mischievous?—and then blathered on about her expert blood draw, piling on an enormous compliments and situation spin avalanche to quickly flatten my beyond ignorant and disrespectful question. We both knew it was a C- attempt at a save, but thankfully she needed to remove the needle from my vein and bandage me, so we moved on. I repeat: seriously? 🤦♀️
Lab etiquette. As if she were a teacher handing out gold stars, this lab tech showered me, her star student, with compliments. The instructions were kindergarten complicated: How nice that I got up when my name was called, listened to the instruction of which chair to sit in and rolled up my sleeve. Thankfully there was no time for me to search the room for the not pregnant lady and try and issue an apology expression for four months ago, which of course would have only buried me deeper. This nurse gushed over her surprise that a patient could actually follow directions, peppering our dialogue with stories about everyone else needing to be called two or three times, missing the lab door entirely, much less locating the proper chair, and then wearing too many layers which took forever to peel off. Somehow in this same exact seat as before, this time I managed to get it right. If only A’s were this easy everywhere.
Stop helping everyone. Anne Lamott said it best here in in this practical advice from her Ted Talk, which I rewatch every year for a good kick in the butt. Stop helping everyone. This visit found me urging my western educated highly trained oncologist to get in to see a chiropractor. Not just any chiropractor, my chiropractor. The poor guy looked strained when he walked in and said he will be standing because he has an injury from ten years ago when he fell off a ladder. From time to time his pain flares up, and today’s one of those times. He looked miserable and instead of talking about me, I focused on him. He’s been to PT and is doing the exercises, but I asked if he’d consider seeing a chiropractor because I also fell years ago going down Stone Mountain. Not to outdo his ladder story but my tailbone hit granite. What did yours encounter? Clearly, he was not interested in my chiropractic recommendation, but nonetheless I went on. After two visits I was pain free and would he like the name? He wasn’t having it.
Lucky 7. Yes, we realize alcohol is a toxin, but still, we cancer patients like to bargain in hopes some new study has churned out an even higher drink allotment. It turns out it’s still seven drinks a week I get, but best to have one on Monday and one on Tuesday etc., instead of two on Tuesday or three on Wednesday, which can only promise more fun. I smiled a what’s the point smile and we moved on.
Carbs aren’t your friend. With labs thankfully uneventful this go round, next up was my weight, literally. Despite my practically stripping before stepping on the scale I’d still managed to gain two pounds. In my defense, I have perfected my scalloped potatoes recipe, tweaking it twice in two weeks (and loving every minute of it thank you very much). Not sure how it came to be that I live with people who don’t share this same obsession, but I happily incorporated these potatoes into breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Try it!
Uneventful visits are the goal so I’m counting myself lucky this go round. As I’ve reminded you before, ladies please do monthly breast self-exams and stay current on your mammograms. xoxox