Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Today I cooked.

Today I cooked puttanesca casserole (puttanesca sauce over ziti with tiny crumbles of good cheeses throughout) and blueberry muffins and some Americano-style fried rice. I boiled pasta and crushed tomatoes and melted butter.

Because today a friend of mine called me. She's 27. For the last three months she's been steadily losing weight--attributing that to stress--and having dyspepsia, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and bloating. The onco nurses in the readership know, of course, where this is going.

She has stage I ovarian cancer. She's going in tomorrow for surgery to remove the ovary and the Fallopian tube; she's been on Ovarex for about three weeks now.

Thank God, I suppose, that it's stage I. Depending on what sort of cancer it is, she has between a sixty percent and an eighty percent chance of surviving to her 32nd birthday. It's weird to think of sixty to eighty as good news; with brain tumors, you generally die or you don't.

It's weird to think that there's a 20% to 40% chance--if all goes really well--that she won't live to be as old as I am.

I've ordered a pink wig. She's a "Sex In The City" fan; she'll get the reference. I'm also taking over some big earrings, since she's already losing her hair, so she can be one of those bald women who are all about earrings.

And mashed potatoes. She's down to a size 2; the woman is five-eight at least and looks healthily slender in an 8. And a mix CD for courage. And some macaroni and cheese, since she needs the calories.

I promised her that when she's ready, I'll shave her head for her with the same clippers I'll use to shave mine.

I'm proud of my reaction when she told me. Rather than freaking out, I said, "Well, shit. That sucks. But, you know, you can't die. You'll save your husband some paperwork (she's in the middle of a divorce), but dying is really not all it's cracked up to be." She laughed. She's looking for things to make her laugh, these days.

So today I cooked. There's a limited amount I can do to make my friend laugh, the night before her surgery, so I'll cook. At least it keeps me from crying.


Judy said...

I was 46 when I was diagnosed with colon cancer - stage 2b (T3N0M0). The first thing that went through my mind when the doc told me was that my 5 year old wouldn't remember me.

He's 10 now and I'm still cancer free.

I hope your friend can say the same thing in 5 years.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad your friend has you to be there... I hope all goes well. I'l keep you both in my thoughts..

Unimum209 said...

You are such a wonderful friend, I just hope that in times of crisis and hardship that I would have such kind and thoughtful friends as you. My prayers are with you and your friend.

may said...

my thoughts are with you and with your friend...stay strong...

shrimplate said...

May you both rock on and live excellently.

In fletu solatium

(Solace in the midst of woe.)

Beastlouise said...

Hey Jo- I just enrolled in this darn "blogspot" to tell you what a favor you have done your friend by making her laugh, especially in the way you did.

I was dagnosed with cancer a few years ago, at age 33. I told very few people at first. When I told one of my buddies, I shared with him that I had kept it pretty quiet because I did not want to be seen as a "cancer victim".

Later that evening, we were playing pool at a bar and I made an especially nice shot. His comment was "You're pretty good...for a cancer victim". Oh, I laughed, really laughed for the first time in weeks, and it felt so good. i have never forgotten.

Well done, nurse (and friend) Jo.

Anonymous said...

While I don't have cancer, I do have Disseminated Coccidiomycosis and have been on fluconazole (Diflucan) since Dec. 2003 and haven't had hair for over a year now. And yeah, baby... the earrings are so important! So are very, very soft hats (I get ulcers all over my head and mucous membranes) - a beautiful cashmere hat might be the ticket if you live somewhere cold - or a soft cotton baseball cap if it is sunny (a client found me an incredibly soft cotton baseball hat and tie-dyed it for me!).

Telling people, I make sure I say, "No pity! See me? I'm ALIVE. That is how you see me, okay? Alive." And it has helped with prayers, light-sharing, and good thoughts... they aren't poor, poor Barbara... but, wow, Goddess... look at how she keeps going even with meningitis every 6 weeks and bleeding ulcers in her mouth and nose and woman parts! (No meningitis for a YEAR now what with delightful doses of Acyclovir each day.)

I will send thoughts to your friend... thoughts of her dancing, laughing, and wiping tears as she passes through the good, bad, and life-changing paths she has ahead.

Blessings to you, too, for loving her.

Kristina said...

I'm so sorry for your friend. You did AWESOME. May we all have friends, and the power to be friends, like you.

I once met a breast cancer survivor that told the most beautiful story about how her friends supported her through her months of Chemo. Two great ideas to help any friend in a rough spot:

1) On the day of her first Chemo appointment, she was understandably nervous and scared when she showed up to the clinic. While signing in, the receptionist told her she had something waiting for her. It was a gift - some bath stuff from an anonymous friend. Every day she had an appointment, she had another gift waiting for her. To this day she doesn't know who it was that did this for her.

2) One morning soon after her diagnosis, she went to the front door to get the paper. On her porch was a basket she had never seen before. In it was another small gift and a type-written note. It said that each day she was in chemotherapy, a gift would appear in her basket. For months, her and her children would go to the front door each morning to get her gift - sometimes a CD, or some stationary, perfume, a hat, a gift certificate for a facial or a massage, or just something simple like an inspiring note. Like the gift at the clinic, to this day she still does not know who did this for her. I suspect it was a network of her neighbors - she has many friends who live nearby.

Anyway, being supportive is a hard job - if *you* need any support, your blog and your blog readers are here for you.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Jo. How did her surgery go?

overactive-imagination said...

Sorry to hear about your friend Jo. She is really lucky to have you.

I had an abdominal "mass" (arising from female parts that are now gone as a result) removed about 2 years ago. I had a really hard time convincing my Dr that "there was something in my side", I could feel it when I moved around. A new doc and 6 months later I had a mass of 18cm (no, not a typo, not mm but cm) removed and it proved to be non-cancerous.
I now have that same feeling again. Having no health insurance right now I can't afford the catscan I know I need to ahve done. I soothe myself by saying "it wasn't cancerous last time so most likely it isn't this time either".

Sorry to hijack your comments. I haven't told anyone I know in RL so this seemed like a good place to let it out of my mouth.

My very best wishes to your friend and to you as well.