Saturday, June 26, 2010

Metastasis

Two weeks ago, I wrote a lengthy article about cancer, but a network error destroyed the post. Here, I attempt to recreate that article, appending a positive update that I could not have written even last week.

Wednesday, 2010 June 16

My friend-from-work Debbie has terminal brain cancer. She had breast cancer about a year ago, and the cancer metastasized to her brain, into two separate tumors. One was surgically removed, and the other is inoperable. According to her, her doctors say her chances are slim. She came into work today to see how everyone is doing, to check up on us, to make sure we keep our spirits up. She is that kind of person. A couple weeks ago, she sent a veggie tray to us to try to lift our spirits.

Shouldn't we be lifting her spirits with veggie trays?

Anyway, the last time she came in (before today), she had lost some of her hair to a lobotomy and had cut the rest close for symmetry. The morning of this previous visit, I had flubbed an incognito mohawk and, Sarah had to salvage my hair (for my work's dresscode) with a marines-style high-and-tight. In short, we had the same haircut but for very different reasons. We joked that I cut mine like hers in support.

Today, she had no hair on her head. She had lost all of her head hair from radiation- and chemo-therapy. She said she cannot keep a beard from growing now, though. She took off her bandanna and showed me her bald head, and we joked that I would shave my head to match hers.

Later, I thought, why not? I've got a little over three weeks until my wedding to Sarah, and my hair will grow back by then. Plus, I can keep the beard, apparently!

She told us how painful and difficult treatment has been. I told her that I read Gene Wilder's memoir (about his experiences with Gilda Radner's cancer treatment, and then with his own), and that, like when I read Anne Frank's diary, I sympathized but could not even comprehend what the victims experienced. To me, that kind of pain is unimaginable.

Debbie said that she had not read Wilder, that she thinks she should, but that she cannot stand to read any more cancer books. She went on to say that she really wants to read Lance Armstrong's book (which I didn't even know existed!), but that she has just read enough about cancer.

Thursday, 2010 June 17

I buzzed my hair, then I Bic'd my head. Sarah helped. I kept the beard. Apparently Debbie came and left while I was at lunch today and missed the whole thing. Yolanda took my picture for a present for Teresa (who is transferring), though, so Debbie can see what my bald head looks like sometime.

Having no hair feels surprisingly like having hair. I forget that I am bald until I touch / scratch / brush against my head and feel it with my hand.

Friday, 2010 June 18

My hair grows so fast. The stubble on my head acts like Velcro, making toweling and shirting a challenge.

Thursday, 2010 June 24

Debbie got her latest test results back, and these results indicate that she is once again cancer-free! When my father's brother and parents had cancer, I never heard of this test result. Things seem to be looking better for Debbie. Of course she is still bald and weak and tired, but given some time to rest and keep an eye on herself, she may just end up good as new! We are all so happy for her and her family. Good luck Debbie!