10 days… I finished my 30 treatments of radiation 10 days ago. A week later I went to see my oncologist. “Well, not much we can do for a few months. Why don’t we do a blood test and then in May we’ll run another PET scan.”
We stopped by the lab; I had my blood drawn. I wish I had kept track of how many times I’ve had my blood taken through this cancer ordeal. Afterwards we strolled through Whole Foods. It was our date weekend. Adrienne always says, “It’s the great booby prize of divorce. Every other week we have date weekend.” We loaded our cart with fancy cheeses, crackers and organic wine.
I was starting to feel normal. My fatigue seemed to be releasing its grip on the afternoons. Maybe this time was it; the cancer forever gone from my body.
This morning, I sat at my desk, working on my book. My story has been coming along. I’m beginning to feel like a writer. I looked over at Logan. Logan is our new dog. He’s a white poodle who I have taken to calling, “Senor Fluffy”. I remembered that the Poodle Parlor had called. Logan looks like a stray dog that hasn’t had his hair brushed in months. In reality, he’s a dog with a home and hasn’t had his hair brushed in months. He needs to be groomed. I dialed voice mail. Many calls from creditors. Between divorce and cancer, my phone has no shortage of calls that begin, “This is a call to collect a debt…” Delete, delete, delete. Then a call from Gloria.
Gloria works at my oncologist’s office. “Dr. Ari needs to discuss your most recent blood test with you. Our first available appointment is Thursday…
Many cancers have blood tumor markers. I had mine tested on Friday. I still don’t know how high the number is; but I know that if the Doctor wants to see me it’s not under 5.
I know where the tumor is. I have spent the last month convincing myself that the pain I feel against my ribcage is soreness from the radiation and healing from the surgery.
I dial the number and talk to Gloria. She won’t tell me the number over the phone.
Crying doesn’t come easy for me. It never has. Adrienne and I lay in our bed. She cries for both of us. I can handle the treatment. Since June 2010, I have had 3 major surgeries and 3 minor ones. I have 10 scars that are related to cancer; one being a permanent colostomy. I’ve spent 14 days in the hospital. I have been zapped by radiation 55 times. I’ve nauseated my way through 19 chemo treatments. One of those treatments lasted for 5 weeks straight; chemo 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. My oncologist once told me that I’m made of “tough protoplasm”.
The bulk of my sadness is not for me. It is for my family.
Yesterday I noticed how short Mac’s pants were. He loves to be measured. I added a mark to the wall. He marvels at how much he has grown since we moved into this house 3 years ago. I think of Quinn. Her solid sense of self amazes me every day. She’ll ask my opinion on her outfit. She doesn’t care if I like it or not. She knows what she’s saying with her choices; which usually include some duct tape flourishes. I am in awe of her fortitude and strength; unlikely in an almost 11 year-old girl. I think of Stella and her current dilemma: what kind of girl is she? Goth? (In Mac’s opinion she likes hearts and rainbows too much to be Goth.) Rock Chick? (Probably more like it; she is a lot like her mother). I wonder what she will choose. I lay next to Adrienne and think of her alone in our bed.
Maybe I do mourn for me. Not to quote an Aerosmith song, but I don’t want to miss a thing.