frogg files

"She could never be a saint, but she thought she could be a martyr if they killed her quick." --Flannery O' Connor

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Last Chemo Treatment Tomorrow!

Well, the big day is finally here. Tomorrow marks the end of the chemo drama that has been the story of my life since February. I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to it. Specifically, to the moment sometime around 3pm when they take the IV needle out of my arm and tell me I can go home. For the last time!

(Please God, make it be the last time.)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

To Do Or Not To Do?

Are "to-do" lists a waste of time for anyone else besides me? I mean, ostensibly the whole point of a to-do list is so you can focus and get stuff done that you need to get done, and then you can check those things off when you do them and feel a sense of accomplishment, right? Well, on the rare occasions where I actually have my act together enough to know what I need to put on such a list at all, I'll write all this stuff down and then forget all about it. Or I'll look at it at some point in the day and think, "Actually that can wait til tomorrow, and so can that and that and that." Before I know it, the whole list is a carryover to tomorrow, a victim of my finely honed procrastinatory tendencies.

Or even better, I'll sometimes write stuff on the list that I've already done that day. Then I cross those things off immediately so that if by some amazing chance I remember to look at it in the evening, I'll see the crossed-off activities and think, "Yeah, I did something! Go me!"

Sad, isn't it.

One of my co-workers has a "To Don't" pad hanging up in her cubicle. I need to get me one of those. Maybe I'll put it on my next "To Do" list.

Maybe not.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Judging from conversations I've had with pregnant friends, the symptoms of going through chemo apparently bear (ha) a resemblance to pregnancy: nausea, sensitivity to certain smells, taste changes, loss of appetite and weird cravings (mine have included potstickers, apple juice, V8 and those little Babybel cheeses, though not all at the same time, thankfully). Of course, with chemo, there's no little bundle of joy or whatever awaiting you at the end as a reward for all the ickiness you've endured. There's just you. A bit shaken, and with a lot less hair.

But as I look in the mirror and trace the strange silvery line of the biopsy scar in the hollow of my collarbone and run my hand over my bald head and notice my terribly thinned-out eyebrows and eyelashes, I think coming to the end of chemo is kind of like birth in a way, after all. Only it's yourself that's being born again, into someone who can't help being different from the person who started the whole process. And there is pain and mourning in that, because something has been irretrievably lost. But there is joy, too, for what is being made new.

And I'm not just talking about hair.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Life in Chemo Land

Sick today. Woke up at about 3 a.m., dehydrated and with a truly splitting headache, which is only just now starting to fade. I'm tired and weak, and moving around so slowly, a snail could give me a run for my money. That's when I'm moving at all and not just lying in bed. I haven't been able to eat anything so far but a couple Saltines, a cup of yogurt, a cup of applesauce and a popsicle, thanks to the fact that my appetite has once more gone on holiday to someplace more congenial than my chemo-raddled body.


My last treatment is May 29. I can't wait.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

In A Split Second

The past few months have been hard on my faith. Seemed like one day I looked around at the world and couldn't comprehend anymore that a God could exist, or that there could possibly be an underlying order or meaning in the chaos of my life, let alone other people's. In a split second, just like that, my faith suddenly made no sense. I had a longing for God, but felt I'd lost him. I became truly afraid of death as I realized, for maybe the first time in my life, that I didn't know for certain what, if anything, might lie on the other side.

Then tonight I read this passage, in Marilynne Robinson's novel Housekeeping:

For need can blossom into all the compensation it requires. To crave and to have are as like as a thing and its shadow. For when does a berry break upon the tongue as sweetly as when one longs to taste it, and when is the taste refracted into so many hues and savors of ripeness and earth, and when do our senses know any thing so utterly as when we lack it? And here again is a foreshadowing — the world will be made whole. For to wish for a hand on one's hair is all but to feel it. So whatever we may lose, very craving gives it back to us again. Though we dream and hardly know it, longing, like an angel, fosters us, smooths our hair, and brings us wild strawberries.

Maybe those words mean nothing to you. That's ok. They mean something to me, though. I can't really explain but somehow, after reading them, and in spite of all the doubts and fears that still won't be fully assuaged, I'm comforted. Somehow, even if just for a split second, God makes sense again.

And in that split second, there's always hope. For what? I'm honestly not sure right now. But I'll hold onto it anyway, just the same.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Who's Afraid of My Big Bald Head?

I was reading this article a couple weeks ago in the NY Times, in which a current cancer patient is featured, and this paragraph jumped out at me at the end:

She knows she frightens people with her bald head, so obviously a cancer patient. When someone is on crutches with a broken ankle, strangers offer condolences and ask about the injury. But people avert their eyes when they see Ms. Kutt. Only once, she said, did a stranger approach, and that was a woman who also had breast cancer.

The reason it caught my eye is because I totally don't know that I frighten anyone with my bald head when I go out sans chapeau. Sure, sometimes kids stare, but they haven't exactly run away screaming. So am I just oblivious? Are people actually scared when they see me? I can't really imagine it. Maybe it's just because I live in LA, where pretty much anything goes in the hairstyle/looks department and and anyway everyone makes a point to be extremely blase´and unsurprised about anything out of the ordinary.

I do get the impression that some people probably think that I've shaved my head on purpose. Today, as I was walking into a Starbucks, a security guard who had a bald head complimented me on mine. I just smiled and said, "Thanks," preferring not to make it all awkward by explaining why I actually have one, but I kinda felt as though I was being complimented under false pretenses. I mean, as though I were this bold, tough chick who doesn't give a damn what people think about her. Which wouldn't be true.

Well, okay, maybe the latter part is a little more true than it used to be. But not totally true. And bold or tough? That's actually funny.

I still miss my hair, even though I've gotten more used to not having it. I rarely wear hats anymore, unless it's cold. It's not pride or confidence, just laziness and the fact that I'm kind of tired of hats.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Domestic Matters, Etc

Tonight I tried to make cookies. I used a brownie mix I got from Trader Joe's, and added some Bailey's to it just for fun.

Sadly, they turned out terrible. Oh well.

It's rare that I display any sort of domestic tendencies, but this is the second time in less than a week that I've found myself doing some baking. So strange.

In other news, over the past weekend I felt generally better than I usually do after a chemo treatment, which was nice. However, I haven't been sleeping too well, so today I felt pretty tired, and when I went for a walk after work my legs felt fatigued, and then later I noticed my sense of taste was off, and that I wasn't really feeling like eating again, and I'm just very tired of this cycle of feeling good/feeling bad/feeling good. I am SO ready to be done with this chemo crap.

On the plus side, maybe my latest domestic endeavors are indicative that I'm becoming some sort of new and improved person as part of this whole surreal experience. Although you'd think Miss New-and-Improved wouldn't screw up a box brownie mix. But hey, give her time... she might surprise us all eventually. Including me.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Good News!

I had another PET scan on Monday, and my doctor called yesterday to tell me the results came back negative. Which means the tumor is officially gone! Yay!

Unfortunately, that doesn't get me out of doing chemo. The doctor says I have to finish out the treatments, to decrease the odds that the cancer could return. In fact, my next session is tomorrow. Boo! But you know what, whatever, I don't even care. Chemo shmemo. The tumor is gone! YAY!!!!

Friday, May 01, 2009

Summer Travel Plans

I'm so excited for summer right now! This week I booked airline tickets to two different destinations, both of which I've been wanting to go to for quite some time. The first trip is a long-weekend jaunt with a friend up to Portland in June, for the express and simple purpose of visiting Powell's City of Books. And yes, I realize how totally nerdy this sounds, but hey, Powell's is one of the world's largest independent bookstores — possibly the largest. How can I not want to go there? Call it a sort of pilgrimage, if you like. Whatever the case, I can't wait! (I realize I do not sound any less nerdy now, but I don't care.)

The second trip will be in August, when I head off to Switzerland for about a week to visit my brother. Woo-hoo!

Actually, it's possible that Switzerland will be the third trip, because I'm also thinking of taking a weekend in July to go up to San Francisco, but then again, that doesn't really count because that's still in California, and plus I used to live near there, so I've been there a lot already, unlike Portland and Switzerland .

Wow, that last sentence was really, really long.

Anyway, the point is, the travel bug has been biting in a major way lately. And thankfully, the cure does not involve chemotherapy! Whew. On the other hand, I'm a little surprised at how much money I spent on airline tickets this week. Surprise will no doubt turn to horror when I get my credit card bill, but hopefully I will survive. It would be kind of embarrassing to win the battle against cancer only to die of sticker shock.