Lucky Thirteen

May 30

Today I sat in Chair 13 in the Chemo Room.  My chemo friend Spunky was there; she is twenty-seven and was diagnosed with a rare lymphoma cancer in January after she felt a lump near her collarbone.  She has a two-year-old and a wonderful husband and family.  We get each other; she is only other person under fifty I have met in the Chemo Room.  She–miraculously–still has her hair, but Hairy would be a pretty terrible nickname for her.  We both have a kick-some-cancer-ass attitude: thankful for the technology, the doctors, the treatment.  Chemo is our friend; we clink IV poles and talk about how this is the most expensive girls day out we’ll ever do.  Ha!

We met Newbie when she sat down near us; she is a 52-year-old woman who had a normal mammogram in December, and then felt a swollen lymph node in her armpit two weeks ago.  Now she has Stage III breast cancer.  She walked in today, with her husband, with her brave smile, and I was drawn to talk to her: she reminded me of myself nine weeks ago, on my first chemo treatment.  We chatted for an hour; she has eight chemo treatments in her schedule, and she is dedicating one chemo to each of her children and grandchildren.  She is writing a letter to each of them on their day while she sits in her recliner.  Spunky and I debriefed her.  She calls us “you young ‘uns.”

Spunky, Newbie, and I all have positive attitudes about life, and life with cancer.  If the three of us were in school, we would be the ones that the poor teacher would be pleading with us to pay attention and stop making such a ruckus.  I hope our laughter is contagious; I hope our Wednesday drip party continues to grow.

When I was diagnosed, I knew right away, thanks to Dr. Awesome, that surgery was not an option for me.  As in, there is too much cancer; the cancer is too large to cut.  (Yikes.)  Surgeons strive for, they need, clean margins when they cut.  There is no point in cutting out some cancer if you know you are leaving cancer behind.  My early prayers in this process were that the chemotherapy would shrink the cancer to a point where I would be a surgery candidate.  Non-operable to operable?  Yes please!  Praying this prayer is a scary thing: I have no promises in this deal.  It’s easier to pray for green lights when I’m late, and for my child to just-take-a-long-nap-for-once.  It’s hard to pray for the big stuff because I want it so. much. more.  But I pray anyway.

Insert Dr. Wonderful.  He is the dude who is orchestrating the symphony: the steroids, the anti-nauseas, the variety and intensity of the chemo drugs, the schedule, the balance of my immune system, the warts, the nail issues, the digestive aids, the office visits, the exams, and, most importantly, me.  The person in the body.  He cares about me.  Today I overheard another patient asking him about a routine blood draw appointment: she was planning a vacation and was planning on going for six days (after her chemo and returning for her blood draw.)

He said, “No, you can go on vacation.  Don’t come back for the blood draw appointment.  We’ll skip it that week.”

She, flustered, “What? Really?  It’s okay, we can come back.”

“No, no, no.  Go on your vacation.  That’s why we’re doing all this treatment: for things like vacations.  We want you to live.”

Yes!  Live abundantly.  Live expectantly.  Live joyfully.

With that, he stepped into my exam room.  I was grinning because I was thinking of all that living.  Oddly, he made fun of my (rather large) bag, saying, “That’s quite a purse.  Or bag?”

Me, eyeing my overstuffed bag, “Well, this morning I dumped out all of my diaper bag things, and put in all of my stuff.  I have books and thank you notes and cook books and my iPad.”  I continue as he looks a little befuddled, as most men do, when women start explain why they need all of the miscellany that is in their purse.  I stop explaining.  “Dr. Wonderful, it’s not often that I’m told to sit in a recliner and relax for four hours at a time.  I need stuff to do.”

Him, still befuddled, but smiling (maybe laughing at me?) “That’s the most positive spin I’ve ever heard someone put on chemotherapy.”

Me, genuinely surprised, ” Really?” gaping at him.  “I get snacks brought to me, and warm blankets, and the nurses check on me.  But mostly, I love it because you are giving me drugs to kill the cancer.  What’s not to love about that?”

He smiled in his quiet way.  He is the bomb.  (I know, I just seriously dated myself by using my high school slang.  Oh well.)

Today, Dr. Wonderful determined that I AM GOING TO HAVE SURGERY!  My tumor has shrunk enough so that the cancer is going to be cut out of my body.  (Surgery specifics will be discussed with Dr. Awesome, my surgeon, at a later date.)

::Happy Dance, jiggity jig!!!!::

We are still finishing my chemotherapy protocol; I’ve done 4/4 of my first drugs, and now I’ve done 2/12 of the next round; chronologically, I am halfway through my chemo treatments.  I’ll have a break to get my strength back after chemo ends and then surgery.  I am psyched!  The physical presence of the cancer bugs me; I hate it.  Knowing that I get to have it cut out makes me giddy.

See?  Lucky thirteen!  One of the Big Hairy Scary Prayers answered.  Thank you God!

52 comments

  1. Shell Powell /

    Yaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy !!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Love you!
    Shell & da gang xxx

  2. Dave /

    Love it. I will not stop praying big prayers for you!

  3. Julie T /

    Wonderul news…prayers answered and we will keep them coming!!! Doing the happy dance with you!!!! Hi to Brad!

  4. Marty /

    What wonderful news! Also I am finding it so inspiring that you are bringing joy and a positive attitude to the chemo environment. I bet the doctors and nurses don’t see much of that and it must be inspiring for them too.

  5. jen geverdt /

    That is AWESOME! Your warrior attitude and determination is so contagious and encouraging–bless you for allowing your story to seep over into others’ lives. It brings life to all of us.

  6. Michelle /

    Yay for surgery! Woo hoo! Congrats on the great news!

  7. amy wheeler /

    What a fabulous thing to read at the end of a long day. Congratulations on the wonderful news!! Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

  8. nikki yofk /

    Yea!!! Kick cancer a$$ and keep on sharing light love and gratitude! Prayers for you and your family from Texas.

  9. Jodi /

    Wow! Wonderful news! I wouldn’t want it just sitting in there either. Keep focusing ahead to the next step!

  10. Julie T /

    We both had long days that just ended and usually in bed an hour ago but I am chilling a special bottle of expensive wine that was a gift a couple of years ago and had been saving it for a special occasaion…this is it…celebrating you! Clink…

    Your warrior from the North

  11. Jennifer Duke /

    Praise God!!!!

  12. Aunt Annie /

    Tremendous! Stupendous! Yipeee!

  13. BCS /

    An especially beautiful entry. And I’m so so so happy to read your great news! Drip on, girl.

  14. Rindro /

    This is wonderful news! Thank you for sharing your journey. I enjoy reading your blog, it is inspiring and refreshing.

  15. Heather /

    What fantastic news! I am grinning from ear to ear for you :-)

  16. Pat Powell /

    Mar says wonderful that this old lady knows just how this special girl is travelling – keep going at it all – Lovely girl!!!!

  17. Super big congratulations!!! Really if you have any questions get in touch. My friend feels I am a wealth of knowledge (and of course she’s right). I have received great news from my DR(s) Awesome. This stuff really works. I have learned a lot along the way that has made all this easier if that can be said of cancer. Keep enjoying fun!

  18. deniseleoomara@gmail.com /

    Hi gorgeous, This is just brilliant news – on my birthday good things happen. I Love the sound of your trio of positivity and fun. Fantastic happy dances and cartwheels if I could. love neecie and leo

  19. CONGRATS FRIEND!!!!! Dancing with you!!!!! xo

  20. Bonniebj /

    What can I say but Thank you Jesus…our God is mighty and has the power to heal through your doctor buddies. Thrilled doesn’t express our excitement!!!!!!!!!!

  21. Julie Tomaszewski /

    Oh, what wonderful news! I always love reading your blog. Your words flow so easily. I feel like you’re sitting right next to me speaking to me. Congrats that you’ll get to cut that thing out! Much love to you and your family.

  22. Erika /

    Doing the happy dance with you!!! Woo hoooooo!!!! Excellent!

  23. Angela Johnson /

    WOOO! Way to go! Your positive attitude is definitely helping your cancer die and your body and spirit triumph – I know that in my bones! AND you’re helping other women be positive and brave and happy in their fight. Probably making Dr. Wonderful’s day better, too, with your fresh perspective. Well done. We are pulling for you and praying – keep doing the great work!! I’ve never in my life been so excited to find out someone needs/can have surgery before – celebration!!

  24. So happy for you Jen, it’s a huge step forward to know surgery is on the way. Keep up the positive attitude!

  25. Donna /

    Dancing with you…praise God!

  26. TheWhites /

    Excellent news! So happy that the drugs are doing their job.

  27. Fredda /

    yay surgery!! Yay cancer killing drugs–you go!!

  28. Lisa Mader /

    WOW – truly AWESOME news!!!! Dancing with you, for you. Keep it up! Thank you, Jesus!!!!

  29. Karen /

    You are absolutely amazing. I love you. I have never met you and only started reading your blog through momastery but I wait everyday for you to post something new. You have the most amazing attitude and your spirit lifts me up. I am so thrilled for you that you are able to have the surgery. Rock on! And I think that you are the bomb :)

  30. Ashley /

    Yay! Huge Yay! Continuing to pray, pray, pray!
    ~Ashley in Louisiana

  31. Oh, I just started to cry when I saw your surgery news. You are a brave, entertaining soul and I love reading about your journey. (I don’t LOVE your journey, though…you get that, I think). You give me hope that I will have such a positive response to the trials of this life. Blessing to you and your doctors and your nurses and your chemo buddies and your family!

  32. Jen /

    Hooray!! FANASTIC NEWS! I shed some tears too:)

  33. That is AMAZING! Hooray!

  34. Shannon Weiss /

    That is WONDERFUL news!!!! All that ass-kicking has really paid off! :) Awesime!!!!

  35. Hallelujah and congratulations!! Keep up the cancer ass-kicking!

  36. suenitz /

    Oh you amazing wonderful person!! What a ray of sunshine you are to so many. After reading your post this morning, I went about my day thinking of so many things. The things your post brought to my mind were that each of out journeys, with or without cancer is different and unique. To embrace what is a cross or difficulty as a blessing and to make it a wonderful experience is such a gift! I may have shared with you that Psalm 139 is my favorite! If you have a minute read it. “You are fearfully and wonderfully made!”

  37. jen powers /

    Hallelujah!!!! Celebrating with you!! Ellery and I are doing a massive Praise God, happy dance!

  38. Sue Nitz /

    Oh you amazing wonderful person!! What a ray of sunshine you are to so many. After reading your post this morning, I went about my day thinking of so many things. The things your post brought to my mind were that each of our journeys, with or without cancer is different and unique. To embrace what could be a cross or difficulty or a suffering as a blessing and an opportunity to have faith and trust God and to make it a wonderful experience is such a gift! I may have shared with you that Psalm 139 is my favorite! If you have a minute read it. “You are fearfully and wonderfully made!”

  39. Sue Nitz /

    Oh and I love the reply from the woman pastor that wants to use your story in her sermons! That just makes me smile.

  40. SandraA /

    Halleluja! Praise God. You are blessed, and you share your blessings with others. Spreading your magic.

  41. Maureen /

    Fantastic news. VBG (very big grin)

  42. Carli /

    Yes! That’s awesome news! Go chemo, go!!

  43. That’s amazing! Time to CUT! Woohoo! Blessings abound!

  44. musingmomma /

    WOOHOO!!! I have been following your journey and am beyond thrilled to read your great news! Yaaaaaay!!! Thank you too for being such an inspiration showing how to live life with optimism and hope and joy even in the midst of something so sucky as cancer!

  45. Cameron /

    Hooray for surgery! God is GOOD!

  46. Rebecca /

    WoooHooo! Wonderful, wonderful news!!! Kick it, girl!

  47. So glad to hear such great news!

  48. Great to hear about the planned surgery! Yay!!

  49. Julie /

    Wow! So happy to check in and read such joy! Congratulations and keep up the good work- praying, fighting, loving.

    We pray every day for you.

    Julie + Baby

  50. Thank you, God! I am so happy for you!

  51. Lisa /

    Great news!

  52. Cyndi /

    Wow!! I’ve been out of town and look what I missed…GREAT, BIG, WONDERFUL results revealed!! Whoppeeeee!!!

    Sending up joy-filled prayers of gratitude…and dancing and celebrating in South Florida…

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  1. The Lifers | AndersonFamilyZoo's Blog - [...] Last week at chemo, I ended up sitting next to Newbie and Spunky: the three of us were all…