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.