Is that your phone or are you just glad to see me?

Published by pam on Wed, 08/29/2012 - 6:39pm


Tomorrow, I  will reach a milestone.  Tomorrow - if my white counts hold - I will receive my  final dose of Taxol.  Herceptin will continue for a year, but herceptin is a targeted therapy.  It doesnt effect white counts.  It doesn't cloud a person's head.  There are no premeds, no side effects.  Other than the fact that I will continue to need a port to receive it,  herceptin is no big deal.  


Taxol is chemotherapy.  It forces a person to change the way they live.  No sushi or litter boxes.  No sick children or tattoos.  No restaurant salads or unsanitized fruit.


Maybe, just maybe, tomorrow will be the beginning of the next phase of my life.   Knock on wood.   One leg of this marathon will be behind me and it will be time to prepare for the next leg.


The transition from chemo to radiation is important, but that isn't what I want to talk about.   I want to talk about phones.  I have learned so many things over the last six months.  I know about tumors and anesthetics.  I know about onco-physiology and the role of turmeric in an anti-cancer diet.  I know about hydration and post-mastectomy sleepwear.  Hopefully the details of such things will fade over time and what I will remember from this time, what will flood back when I think about surviving breast cancer, are the walks.  I have taken an unbelievable number of walks.  From the first surgery on, I think I have missed three days, other than chemo days, of course.  I have quite literally walked the island.  And thanks to an amazing community of friends and family, I have rarely walked alone.  


These walks have taught me a few things about myself and others.  First, I am prone to talking too much and listening too little.  Its a bad habit and one I have had the opportunity to work on over these last six months.  I have found - no surprise, I'm sure - that when I focus on finding just the right question, I enjoy the conversation more.  I actually discover things about people.  Not gossipy things, but things that unite us - struggles, dreams, fears.  Being a little cloudy headed has helped.  There have been plenty of days when I had no choice but to listen  Generating an interesting strings of words would have been challenging.


The  walks have woven themselves into a rather interesting tapestry and the picture that has emerged is a nice one.   Most people seem driven to do the right thing and they are constantly trying to live their lives better.   Given the opportunity to help,  people will rush in and do just that.  Of course, my data sample is suspect since the people I have spent time with are the sort who are willing to give up an hour or two of their day to help me stay healthy.  I'm not stupid.  I accept that my conclusions are skewed.  But, I'll cling to them anyway.  Happyland is a nice place to be, even if it's built on faulty data.


As much as I have enjoyed the time I have spent with people, one thing has continued to surprise (and occasionally annoy) me.  What is the deal with phones, anyway?  Not only do people bring their phones with them everywhere, even on walks, something I find ever so confusing since its like toting along a portable nagging device. But they don't even tuck their phones away in a pocket or a bag anymore.  More often than not, people hold their, screen up,  in one hand.  Messages are never more than a glance away.  As if the delay in reaching for one's phone is  a hardship.  Instantly available should mean just that. 


Seriously?   Why does anyone need to be that available?


And hasn't anyone seen WALL-E?  


Aren't people afraid we will all soon be floating in tubes with a screen 4 inches from our faces, unable to think or move for ourselves, always being directed by a steady stream of data?  


Of course, maybe the reason people look at their phones all the time is because I am just a little bit dul.  But we wont go there.  The truth might be too depressing.


Today, after my white count-boosting shot, I  made a quick trip to the market.  A man walking in front of me appeared to be homeless.  Or perhaps he was just desperately poor.  He was unwashed. His hair hadn't been cut in a long time.  Nor his beard.  He walked stiffly, as if he hadn't slept well.  Ever.  As if his bed was hard and cold and unforgiving.  I passed him thinking it was unusual to see a transient on bainbridge.  It's expensive to cross the big water, even though its free to get back home.  


As I left the market, I saw the man again.  This time he was sitting on a bench.  He was sitting on a bench and, yes, your guessed it.  He was checking his phone.  Really.  His phone.  He appeared to be texting.  Texting?  The next time I walk off the ferry and pass through the row of pan handlers, will I be hit up for money so they can  upgrade their cell plans?  Are phones the new MD 20/20?  An addiction so strong it can displace all the others?


I'm just asking.


But back to important things.  Tomorrow is the last (hopefully) chemo and today was my set up for radiation.  Seeing the size of the door to the radiation room - it's at least a foot thick - is pretty darn creepy.  If it's so safe, why is the door SOOOOOOOOO thick?  And why do they leave me alone?


Probably,  I don't want to know.


Anyhow, thanks for reading.  Wish me luck.  I have my first scan soon.  No one expects to see anything unusual, but I've been told that before.  




Great news!  Camille and I have been hoping and praying for you to round that corner.  Now if you could just get that guy with the Stanford shirt to shape up.
Mike V

Although I didn't need chemo/radiation, I still found it hard to change phases - the first transition was going from 3-month check-ups to 6-month check-ups.  I kept asking...are you sure we should wait so long between check-ups?  Then when it went to a year I was devastated - so started scheduling "routine" check-ups with my local gynecologist for once/year but at six-month intervals with the ovarian cancer surgeon and that way someone was always checking me every six months.  Entering each phase has a set of unknowns, but then, when you change phases again, you realize you're happy to be progressing.  Anyway, wishing you all the best.
Debra & Jeff

Hi Pam
Firstly, I apologize for posting so many times on your blog.  You must have thought I was a stalker.
Anyway, since your Dad explained to me how your blog works, I am less hesitant to post a message.  I thought that whatever I wrote would be posted for the world to see the second I pressed Enter, so it couldn't be so much from my heart.  I prefer to remain unacknowledged.
Your perspective on your cancer treatment continues to amaze me.  I feel I have gained a deeper understanding of what a cancer patient must go through.  This has deepened my compassion that hopefully will be felt by others I may meet in  similar situations.  
As for phones, I am in complete agreement.  Yesterday I was having a serious conversation with my granddaughter as she sat there texting between sentences! 
Please know that there are many, many of us praying for you.  The pastor's wife from Emmanuel Baptist in Mount Vernon (not my church) called the other day and wanted to send you a card from their prayer group.  Roger discouraged this but said "Just keep praying".  He loves you so much.
I don't know if you have had to endure that radiation yet, but it does sound terrifying to me.  I pray that God will be in that room with  you with his arms wrapped tightly around you shielding you from any pain or harm.  I pray that he will walk with you afterward and that you might feel his love as he holds your hand and gently leads you to health.  We all pour out our love to you Pam.
Sincerely from my heart. 
A friend in Christ,  Dana