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Cancer is the asshole~

Today was the first time in a long, long time that I’ve called Bruce an asshole—and the first time since his cancer diagnosis.
How can you call some one with cancer an asshole?
After all, cancer patients don’t feel good--they’re dealing with a deadly disease, there are all sorts of worries, frustrations, and side effects and changes to their bodies, quality of life issues... and all the other little quirky symptoms that I only find out about about when Bruce tells his nurse.

I’m pretty patient and understanding by nature, and all the more so now when he vents the inevitable “cancer anger” a little (or a lot).
Today he got impatient and snippy, frustrated that we couldn’t merge our iCalendars—he hates when technology goes awry. Who doesn't? For him, it's one more thing out of his control.
He started to tell me what I’d done incorrectly in the attempt to merge, and kept cutting me off when I tried to show him what I did...which, by the way, was correct!
“You’re being an asshole,” I…

Leave my dream alone~

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During lunch with friends, one offered me her bag of potato chips—she knows I’m addicted. I must have been in one of my rare and transitory healthy phases, because I said no.

“Then take them for Bruce,” she urged.
“No, he doesn’t eat them any more...” Then, because of the looks on their faces, I added “Oh, he stopped eating them before...” meaning before his cancer diagnosis.
They knew what I didn’t say; one told me she was sorry to hear; the other asked a couple questions... and all this prompted me to go into my “We’re fine, he’s fine, I’m fine” mode.
But I decided to share my owl dream, and how it had revealed to me that I was angry and feeling out of control--even though I’m fine, for all practical purposes!
I started in about seeing the owl, wanting to take photos, not having my camera...but Lin interrupted me with a question: “What kind of owl?”
Now I like details, too, and tend to interrupt to get them sometimes, so I told her: the head was a barn owl and the b…

Dreams Do Tell~

I had a dream last night that stuck with me all day. 

A friend and I were driving somewhere--she was a photo friend of mine—Lisa R—who moved away several years ago.

She was driving and when she slowed down to turn into wherever we were going—a zoo? I yelled, "Stop, because LOOK! There’s an owl!" A barn owl with a snowy owl’s body—so normal in a dream.  I was so excited, until I realized I didn’t have my camera... even though the sole purpose of our trip was picture taking.

We got out of the car, and I watched Lisa take pictures. I pulled out my iPhone to at least capture something, but people kept bumping into me and stepping in my way. And when I COULD see the owl clearly enough to snap a picture, the sun was like a fireball behind him and he was only a black shadow on my iPhone screen.

I cried a little in frustration, but stuffed the feeling down. I told Lisa I was so glad she had her camera and was able to get good pix.

But then I said, “Who am I kidding? I’m so mad!” And I let…

And so it begins~

I sit in the second floor waiting room at Dana Farber Cancer Institute while Bruce is taken to a room to pee in a cup and have some blood drawn.He’d already peed in a jug for 24 hours and dropped that off to be analyzed for funky monoclonal plasma cells. They take his "vital signs"--height, weight, blood pressure.
He’s back soon and we get coffee and ride the crowded elevator to meet our nurse practitioner Mary, who will tell us what to expect of this journey into cancer land. Whenever anyone gets off the elevator, I check the floor chart to see what his or her cancer might be. Awful names! We get off at “hematological carcinomas.” Seventh floor.
The end result of today’s visit is Bruce’s first shot of Velcade and his first two oral chemo pills: Revlimid and Dexamethasone--the RVD chemo treatment that makes Multiple Myeloma quake—we hope.
“One pill makes you happy and one pill makes you small. One pill…something, something…” I can’t help singing this. I’m hoping B’s pills p…

Double Duty~

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There are countless stories sitting in the upholstered chairs in Dana Farber Cancer Center's waiting rooms, feet resting on worn spots in the carpet, where so many other feet have rested in the past. Most stories will go untold.

But sometimes a person opens up and shares a little.
Bruce and I were seated diagonally behind a man who was waiting to be called for his blood draw. I noticed a little Chihuahua peering at me from beneath the man’s legs; he was drinkingfrom a PETCO watering dish. When the man scooped him up, I realized there was a larger dog lying on the floor. 


So I sauntered by to get a cup of coffee. Actually, I didn't care about the coffee; it was the dogs I wanted to see.The man gave me a smile so I asked about the dogs, which, he said, are trained companion dogs.
He told me he was at one time a nurse, but he almost died on the job when he unexpectedly passed out and had to be intubated. What a way to find out you're allergic to latex! He’s also al…

Dana Farber, Here We come!

Cancer is a stealthy opponent, wreaking damage before you suspect its presence.

The first inkling that Bruce might be facing “something” was last summer. I was headed to the beach with a friend, while he was headed to the doctors for his annual CT scan by his cardiologist, who regularly checks the size of his aortic aneurism.
We’d thought the aneurysm was a big deal when it was first discovered several years ago! It was! But in effect, it was, if not life saving, the issue that got B into cancer treatment sooner than otherwise. For that, we thank the dreaded aneurysm.
When I got to the beach I decided to call B and see how his appointment went.
“The good news,” he tells me, “is that the aneurysm is stable; it hasn’t grown in size. But,” he tells me in what sounds like a nonchalant voice, “the scan shows a spot on my tenth rib.
So I matched his nonchalant tone, “Lots of times the spots turn out to be nothing—just shadows," I tell him.
I stayed at the beach, went swimming, jumped waves…

Doctor Perfect~

Bruce has treatments at Dana Farber every Thursday. Between his blood draw and infusion, we take the elevator to the third floor cafeteria for a late lunch.

The fact that I spotted a doctor eating lunch was no big deal … except for one thing: he was striking! He was the absolute epitome of a “doctor,” the kind you see in TV ads—white coat, white hair, open, friendly expression, grandfatherly, a concerned expression while he reads information (about some patient awaiting a diagnosis, I imagined). And … he was reading on his lunch break, no less. Perfect doctor!

I nudged my husband. “Doesn’t that doctor look almost like a FAKE doctor?” I asked.

“What do you mean? He looks pretty real to me.” Bruce is very literal.

“He’s real, obviously, but he looks exactly like the stereotypical person an advertising agency would cast as a doctor. Don’t you think?”

Bruce agreed.

When we got up to toss our trash, I followed Bruce right past Doctor Perfect.



I was almost by him when I impulsively stop…