My Second Cancerversary

Today is my second Cancerversary.

I went to my Dermatologist for my check up, and I was cleared.

I am still waiting for the results from last Thursday’s scans, so I am not celebrating yet, but this is a big milestone… in the making. I made my next Dermatologist appointment, and had the pleasure of scheduling it for six months from now, a three month extension to the routine from the last two years.

I am very very hopeful, but not celebrating yet. I learned the hard way about counting chickens before they hatch. I will count them when the report comes in. I will also finish my mixed metaphor then as well.

Approaching two years

I just returned from the College Art Association conference. It was at this confetence two years ago that I got my first indication that I had cancer. My dermatologist’s office called me wanting me to come in to the office as soon as I possibly could to discuss the growth removed the previous week. I’m not stupid. I knew what it meant.

Despite this, I was able to give my panel presentation. Functional denial is an incredibly powerful force.

Last year I was deep in the middle of the worst of the side effects. I was barely able to travel. And I was staying with K with whom things were strained and tensions high because of how bad shape I was in the last time I visited. I skipped nearly the whole conference, only showing up to moderate my panel. And i took cabs to and from, despite the fact that where i was staying was on the same subway line as the conference. I remember walking around the LA convention center baffled and exhausted — trying to find the room where we were supposed to speak.

This year was starkly different. I was only in for two days of the four day conference but I went to many panels and was actively engaged in the conversation. My presentation was full of energy. And I really felt good.

I’m ten days from my official cancerversary of February 22nd. But in a way the conference is a premonition of my milestone, much like the first phone call during the conference was a harbinger of the turmoil and illness to follow.

I get my two-year scans on the 18th and I meet with my dermatologist on the 22nd exactly two years from when I was in his office and he broke the bad news to me. Two years is a really significant point in the timeline. My understanding  is that most melanoma reoccurs at around 18 months. That is where the graph peaks. And it dips pretty agressively around 24 months. The curve never drops to zero, so the calculus means the area under the curve ends up adding up when you factor in a lifetime along the x-axis, but it is as close as it is going to get.

I am mostly excited and relieved, but a small part of me is waiting to exhale until after the results of the scans come back. I fully expect them to be negative, but then I was also sure that my sentinel lymph node biopsy would be negative: the odds were 85% that it would be negative and only a 15% chance that it would have made it to my lymph nodes. And yet it was there, 15% be damned.

So I’m getting ready to be hopeful, but I’m being cautious about letting my emotions move into that space yet. Even as i finish titrating off of Lexapro with my last 1/4 dose tomorrow, (leaving Klonopin as the only drug I am still on), even as I make it through this memory laden conference, I still have the scans. Then I can finish this transition and move into a new phase.

San Francisco Bound

O and I are leaving today for San Francisco and Sacramento, followed by 5 weeks in Portland. Finishing where I started. We have a house swap. Our 1.5 bedroom apartment in brooklyn for a 5 bedroom house in Belmont with a sauna in the backyard. Such a different quality of life. We get to play Portland for a little bit, while the drugs leave my system. 3.5 weeks left

Durer postcards and the crazies

My mom has been sending me postcards from a durer collection as a countdown. The postcards are from when I was born. Or something like that. She has been putting pressed flowers on the back of them. I’m down to half way through the fourth to last week.

I’m starting to exhibit some really startling side effects. Violence in my sleep. Talking in my sleep, and saying things that are *not nice*. It is really crazy to be out of control of my basic non-craziness.






Mom sends flowers

Graham Thomas

Peter Mayle

Just Joey

Gertrude Jekyll

Jude the Obscure

Jude the Obscure, Gertrude Jekyll, Just Joey, Peter Mayle, and Graham Thomas hopefully will still be performing when you arrive. If not, there are lilies in the wings.
5 more weeks

mom & dad

My mom has been sending pictures and postcards every week during this last countdown. Here are this weeks five roses. I might have gotten the wrong names on the wrong flowers.


Jumping ahead

I got confused yesterday and injected a day early. I’m not sure if my confusion led to preinjection nausea symptoms, or if I was just feeling bad in the same way I do in the hours leading up to an injection. Either way my body knew/tricked itself into thinking that the way out of the nausea was injection. It is both logical and alarming at the same time. It is crazy how much my body has adjusted to this nasty regimen. AKA “this nasty habit”

13 Candles

O made me a "last lap" prize. I have 13 weeks left, which is 1/4 of the total time. Its like running a mile, and coming into your last lap. I can see the finish. I can feel the finish. This all will be over soon. Three months doesn’t seem like a short time, but considering I’ve been doing this for 14 months, it is pretty doable.

last lap

last lap

Down to 15

I think I am starting the countdown a bit too early. I shouldn’t really start counting like this until it is single digits. Two more weeks, and it is 75%.

My body is really feeling it these days. Very tired. My fingernails are mostly gone. I’m really achy. Headaches all the time. My feet are starting to hurt.

Starting to ride my bicycle again. I can make it two laps around the park (6.5 miles). Each time gets a little easier.

I can’t wait for this to be over.