As I got closer to the end of my treatments, I started to wonder what life would be like afterwards. I was already in pretty iffy mental health before this newest slap upside the head so I wasn’t sure what shape I would find myself in as treatment ended and my “new normal” began. I quickly realized that, once you’ve had cancer, even if you’re in remission--or maybe because you’re in remission--you will always have a monkey on your back. This is not helped by a saying they have in the cancer biz: You never know if you’ve beaten cancer until you die of something else.
The monkey was troublesome. If I didn’t get a handle on it, it would gnaw quietly at me every hour of every day, maybe eroding an already wobbly psyche. When would the cancer come back? How would I know it was there? What if I didn’t know it was there? What form would it take? Would I have to go through the horrible treatment all over again? I have a stomach ache/headache/cold/what-have-you--is it the cancer coming back? It then occurred to me that, while there was nothing I could do about the monkey—it just comes with the territory, the lovely parting gift given to all cancer patients—it was imaginary so what was to stop me from using my imagination to decide what kind of monkey it would be? I could let it keep the form it had when it arrived, a nightmare of a baboon, heavy, threatening, fearsome...
Meet Omar, my cancer monkey. He's a tamarin.
I had shared the concept of reimagining the monkey into a an adorable tamarin with my friend Linda, forgetting that she is a world-class rememberer. When she, I and two other friends had a small post-chemo party at the local donut shop last Sunday, she presented me with this little guy. (The tiara was an afterthought, borrowed from one of the women at the table, but I think it looks dashing.)
I now, literally, embrace my cancer monkey. A little imagination—and the love of a friend—can go a long way.
Remember the Alien Genitalia of June ’09?
Or the Chocolate Wonders of October ’09?
This year’s contribution is the Pepper from Hell.
The little tag that came with it says "sweet pepper" but I don’t believe that for a dad-blamed minute. Look at this thing! It screams, “If you touch me with the tiniest bit of your tongue, your eyes will pinwheel like a cartoon character’s, you'll flood the immediate area in feet of sweat, and then your head will pop off and the astronauts in the International Space Station will wave as it flies by.” And it has two satanic friends still lurking on the pepper bush.
I will be giving it a taste test anon and will report...typing with what's left of my charred fingers. Sweet pepper, my arse!
Despite the fact that I've created something that will burn the retinae right out of your eyes, sock-knitting seems to be heading in the right direction again.
Don't ask me if the color in this photo is accurate because the answer might make your head explode. If anything, the real yarn is...brighter! But I figger these socks will perk up the gray days of mid-winter. Or if we have a power outage, I can just put them on and see my way quite well.
On the cancer front, tomorrow is the last of 17 chemos so, in honor of it, I'll be wearing this:
'Round about 3 or 4 p.m PDT, listen for the WOOOOO-HOOOOO!!!!
Over the years, I’ve knit countless pairs of socks and have managed for the most part to avoid Second Sock Syndrome. Just in case, I’ve also developed an effective antidote to SSS: I knit two completely different socks and then go back to Pair One and complete its mate, then back to Pair Two and complete its mate. Works quite well. By Sock Two of each pair, the yarn becomes interesting again. So, here we have:
Sock One of Pair One:
Sock One of Pair Two:
Sock One of Pair…oops. Crap.
Although I haven’t been blogging and although I haven’t been knitting much, occasional photograph-taking has still occurred. And since you haven’t had a chance to see much of them lately, here are the two cats o’ my heart, being, as usual, weird.
From this winter. Benny was cold. Can you tell?
A few days ago, feeling much warmer. Don't you just want to skwoodge that belly?
From today, Joon also enjoying a summer afternoon. She was sound asleep.
I miss the blog so very much but if I had been posting over the last few months, it would’ve gone something like:
Dear Blog: Had chemo today. Slept.
Dear Blog: Today, I had chemo. Slept.
Dear Blog: Chemo was given today. Slept.
Dear Blog: Chemo today was given. Slept. (As I got desperate to make it interesting.)
Querido Blog: Recibí chemo hoy. Dormí. (As increased desperation made me resort to Spanish.)
The good news is August 15 is the last infusion of the unending 17. Also—although I’m terrified I’ll jinx it by saying this out loud—rumor has it I’m in remission!! There’s something hinky in the left boobie but they say it’s benign-hinky and they’ll keep an eye on it with alternating mammograms and MRIs every six months.
Hair growth has continued. I’ve gone from the baby-orangutan look…
…to close-cropped ‘60s radical feminist…
…to baby curls…
…to full-on head of hair.
The treatments and medicines continue to wreak havoc with my joints and tendons, even my pinky toes. When I stand up, I have to slowly uncurl, like an arthritic pill bug. Although I had to forgo knitting for quite a while, I recently fell down the rabbit-hole again and have been churning out socks. I’m pushing the envelope a bit, and I know it, but the hands and the psyche get downright twitchy if I'm not doing the ol’ “off jumps Jack.”
Here, a pair I knit as a house-warming surprise for my sister just in time for the hot San Diego summer because I'm smart like that.