It takes time to wrap your head around the idea of baring your veins to a killer that will slowly slay your living cells one by one, so pretending to be somebody else is a good way to get through the first day of chemotherapy. Thankfully, it didn’t solely take mind control. The Cancer Center provides a funky boutique full of wigs and hats to disguise yourself, so for part of my treatment, I was Mary Tyler Moore. WWMD? Probably, she’d put on a Denise wig and pretend to be me.
“Everyone reacts differently,” said Lauren, my chemo nurse, who hooked a bag of bright red fluid to the IV stand. “We just have to wait and see. But you should feel great today because of all the steroids and pre-meds we gave you.”
I thought “great” was a little hyperbolic in the general scheme of things, but sure enough, aside from the complete mindfuck of it, the first Monday of chemo was relatively uneventful. As the week wore on it hit me with a pervasive feeling of stomach unrest that bordered on nausea and a bone-tired fatigue that felt like walking underwater.
By Friday, all my little antibodies were in an uproar. “NO!” they shouted, in Ed Asner’s voice. “We will not take this lying down!” I could feel them regrouping and propelling me out the door. “Move! Walk! Don’t give in! It’s only Round 1!
Saturday was my best day: planted flowers in the garden, went to a movie, ate pizza, grateful for a reprieve. The Mary Tyler Moore wig lurks in a shopping bag under my desk, ready to step in two weeks when I lose my hair. But for today, I’m still me.