8 ROUNDS – Round 1: Pretend to be Somebody Else


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, for my first day of chemotherapy I thought it might be helpful to pretend to be somebody else. Thankfully, I didn’t have to rely solely on mind control. The Cancer Center provides a free boutique full of wigs, funky hats and paraphernalia to disguise yourself.  For part of my treatment, I was Mary Tyler Moore. WWMD if she had cancer? 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 pervasive 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: I planted flowers in the garden, went to a movie, ate pizza, grateful for a reprieve. Mary Tyler Moore lurks in a shopping bag under my desk, ready to step in when I lose my hair. But today, I’m still me.

Posted in Breast Cancer.


  1. Glad you resurfaced to have that pizza. That was encouraging to read. BTW, ginger helps with nausea. So does other good growing weeds. Sending you lots of good thoughts. Paulette

  2. Pizza certainly goes a long way to helping in most situations, I like the idea stated above of other growing “weeds” – we even have legal “pharmacies” that sell it here in DC – if its sold in DC, certainly it’s sold in AZ!!!
    Sending healing thoughts…

  3. If someone sent me that picture and said, “which of your dear friends is this?” I would reply that I don’t know her. So, then, how perfectly appropriate that you should go through chemo as someone else. I love that. It means Denise is fine, but that poor blonde woman is going through hell. Try something Asian next time. If you’re interested in a Hungarian look, let me know.
    Love you madly,

  4. I must be living under a rock lady because I had no idea this was going on! Our prayers are with you and we have faith that you will make it through this Denise.

  5. That was beautiful Denise, well written, honest and creative. I’ll be anxiously following your progress and hoping for that ultimate success. Love you, Rick

  6. Holy Crap, I think it’s time I changed my picture. This one is over 2 years old and I only look like this in my dreams. I’ll post a more recent pic soon.

  7. MTM? Interesting choice. Wonder who else you might become throughout this process…? Thinking of you, and sending love and healing thoughts.

  8. You are not just brave but strong, too. Thank you for keeping us in the loop. And yes, a good sense of humor and ginger are good ways to help with nausea and otherwise nasty things.

    Sending you a big hug and lots of healing vibes.

  9. Denise, Somehow I see you as that girl, rather than Mary Tyler Moore. Whatever the case, we are wishing we could be there to hold your hand. I know you are going to come through this with flying colors and lots of good stories. Love, Phil and Don

  10. Thanks for sharing–as Mary Tyler Moore or anyone to that matter! My thoughts and best wishes are with you during these challenging times! Love, T

  11. Geez Denise no matter what you do you always seem to jump in hook line and sinker. I always thought Mary Tyler Moore was too boring for the likes of me. You love are never boring !

    Next time be a 10 year old playing black ops on their x box and take aim with the chemo bullets and zap all the bad motherf*s. Only 7 more weeks to reload I know you will beat this f’ing game!

    Anyway I’m praying God s always with you even though I know I know but too bad this time He s playing at being your shadow and may He send you healing light, strength and endurance to kick ass which you always do so well. Much love Lady Denise !

  12. Thanks for taking the time to leave all the comments, you guys! Rest assured that I read every single one of them and get a warm feeling in my moldy little heart.

  13. How timely to read this blog post, I forgot to ask you the other day if you were writing. Glad you had a good day on Saturday, it sounds perfect. Hope each day gets better! I adore MTM so you can pretend to be her any time…but we prefer you, Denise!
    P.S.-WWMD? She would certainly never say “mindfuck!”

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