Friday, September 17, 2010

Yeah, so. I've got cancer.

I look at that sentence and I giggle.

Beloved Pens, when I called her, was at the Salvation Army. She wandered around the store for an hour longer, feeling sort of blank, and then went home and drank gin and ate ice cream.

Beloved Sister was driving when I called. She went home and had a fight with Beloved Brother-In-Law about money.

I don't know what my Sainted Mother or Beloved Father did.

I think about all of that, about life going on around me just fine, and I giggle. I saw my neighbor, Pastor Paul (Man of God) and his Lovely Wife, planting trees out in their back yard, not fifteen minutes after he'd come over and prayed with and for me, and I giggle.

Because, you know, life does go on.

At some point, my hair will fall out. If I'm lucky, I'll end up with a big scar down the back of my throat. If I'm not lucky, I'll end up with a big scar where you can see it, down the side of my neck. I'll have radiation, and maybe chemo, and possibly hideous treatments that are only whispered about in the bowels of Sunnydale.

But life will go on, regardless of what happens to me. Unless I announce it in the middle of the grocery store, nobody there will know that I Have Cancer.

I'm saying those three words over and over and over, because it's important that I understand just how serious this is. So far, it's all happened in third-person, sort of the way the discovery of the lump did. I have a feeling that that third-person sensation will return at every juncture or every new discovery: I need chemo, so I'll go third-person. Radiation is done, so I'm in third-person. Surgery is tomorrow: I'm third-person. CT is clean: it's third-person.

I recognize that it'll all come down to first-person at some point, and I really hope I have the wherewithal to write about that. I would hate to abandon the blog for lack of material--and it looks like I won't have to, now, wahoo!--or because I'm just too tired or overwhelmed to write.

So I'm not going anywhere. That's the second thing we can all hold on to as fact.

*** *** *** *** ***

I'm wearing my hair down tonight. After so many years of keeping it very short, I'm going to miss it when it goes. But then, I can be one of those women with the cool scarves and the huge earrings.

*** *** *** *** ***

I tried to reassure my Brother in Beer and Pens tonight that I was not going anywhere, that I do not plan to die from this. It is, after all, a low-grade carcinoma, with or without vascular involvement (which, frankly, scares me because I don't know what it means). My BiB kept saying, "Oh, Honey, I am so sorry" and Pens kept reassuring me that she was there for me...but I feel like I need to be there for *them* right now. It's easier for me, in a way, because I'm living through this. I may not know what's coming, but at least I don't have to imagine it happening to anybody else.

*** *** *** *** ***

Maybe radiation will clear up my acne.

*** *** *** *** ***

I really hope there's a way that we can do all this that won't involve me being trached and PEGged.

*** *** *** *** ***

This is the first night that I have cancer. By the time Rob shows up tomorrow evening, it will have been about twenty-four hours since I found out. I wonder what I'll do tomorrow to pass the time. Maybe I'll pay bills (needs to be done anyhow, and would be a nice normal thing to do). Maybe I'll research this further, though I don't know where else to look. Maybe I'll rage at God and shake my fist at the sky.

One thing I know for sure: God, whatever you conceive Him to be, has plans for me. I would not have gotten this diagnosis if it weren't part of some bigger, better plan.

I may have to work my ass off, but I'll deserve the second chance I get.


Penny Mitchell said...




Cartoon Characters said...

I am speechless. Just wanted to send you all the positives and every good wish on a star....and a prayer to boot. There HAS to be a bigger plan. It's just finding out what.
Glad to see the fighting spirit. We are all out here rooting for you.

Erica Rose said...

I just told my husband that my friend, the badass ICU nurse has cancer. That's right, a blogger I've never met... my friend. So weird, but makes total sense at the same time. I love your blog and look forward to your posts, so yeah, I feel like a friend has cancer. FUCK. I wish you a quick and successful treatment, and easy surgeries. I will constantly be sending you good vibes. Saddle up and ride, friend, it's time for you to kick some ass.

Molly said...

Cancer sucks. But this sounds like one that's one of the better ones to have, if you have to have it, at least in terms of the likelihood of it expanding. And hey, hair grows back, sutures come out...eventually this'll just be one of those things you look back on and think "well, THAT sucked" and then gloat about how you kicked its ass.

Maha said...

My thoughts and prayers are with you Jo. That's all I got because I know you're going to come out of this stronger and better.

Lurkette said...

I wrote a lot in my comment on the previous post that would have been better off here, but I like to read in order.

You'll lose control over a lot of things, but one thing we always have control of is how relate to the world outside of us. Remember Man's Search for Meaning? It's all about the value we assign things - not quantitative value, but qualitative.

Some people were shocked by some of what I said and did. F--- 'em if they can't take a joke. It's my cancer and I deal with it in the best way for me. For example, the idea of fighting cancer is a valuable and therapeutic concept for most people. It was not for me. I chose "living with cancer". I'm alive and living my life and if the cancer is there, too, well so be it. But it's my life and I'll concentrate on the living part, thank you very much. (Obviously does not mean not treating what can be treated.)

I hated that everyone was giving me advice, and here I am - giving you advice. I can be such a jerk sometimes.

As always, all that good stuff coming at you from Jerusalem.

Ally said...

I've been reading your blog for quite a long time and never actually commented. Your stories of your work are so... human and interesting, and your views seem to echo my own. I'll be keeping you in my thoughts, and with a spirit as strong as you show here, I know you can beat this.

GingerJar said...

I sit here, with tears in my eyes, for a friend I have never met. You are a great nurse, and I know you will beat this thing. I actually woke up in the middle of the night with the thought I needed to check you blog to see if you had posted. I am sending healing prayers you way!

Jennifer Thorson said...

Jo, you are awesome, which comes as no surprise to those of us who have been reading your blog. I have no doubt that whatever this diagnosis means for you over the next year, five years, ten years, you will make good come from it. Just don't forget to let people take care of you while you're at it.

CCSutton said...

Jo - If the support of friends and loved ones plays into healing cancer, and I believe it does, you have an entire universe of support out here. I know this sounds weird because most of us are in the ether, but tell us what WE can do for you, if anything. You're a friend and inspiration to so many out here. We're with you in this as much as we can be.

Prayers (and dog prayers) from up here in NY.

Crabby McSlacker said...

Aw damn it, was really hoping for better news. But you are STRONG, woman, and I'm with Molly: you will kick this things ass. I just wish you didn't have to go through this whole ordeal to get to the other side where life goes back to normal. But who knows what weird silver linings the universe may send along to go with this thing; seems only fair.

Sending hugs...

Katie said...

Well,crap. That sucks. I'm sorry.

Lori said...

I am also tearing up for someone I have never laid eyes on, but so love her fabulous blog. Your fabulousness will get you through this; along with you wonderful sense of humor.
Thoughts and kitty rubs from my house.

juliejulie said...

I don't know you, just found you through Crabby's Twitter, but I think you are brave to write this on the first night you have cancer. That's the sentence that made me cry for you, and for all the people who have cancer, because the night before last you didn't know and now you can't go back and everything changes today, but not really, because people still plant trees in the back yard.

Jenn said...

I suggest a scarf party. Celebrate with others your new style aka be cheap and let others do something so they feel like they are helping. Silky scarves do slip off your head easier but they feel nicer on your head. And there is nothing wrong with a wild crazy pattern on a scarf, I think it looks more awesome that way.

Cynthia said...

Well, wow, that sucks! All I can think to say is through the chemo, surgery, whatever this throws at you, don't let go of LIVING.

Yeah, things may change a bit with your routine, but remember there's still stuff to laugh at, people to love, beautiful sights to see and you'll be kicking the hell out of this cancer while you are laughing, loving and enjoying life.

messymimi said...

Amen and amen. There is a bigger, better plan.

Yes, sometimes it is easier to have it happen to us than to be on the sidelines imagining it happen to another.

Prayers will continue.

Kirstin said...


(This is geoduck from the Delphi boards.)

I went through the same shock when I was diagnosed with melanoma for the first time. Mine is metastatic now; we're trying to wrestle it into remission with biochemotherapy.

If my blog would help you, go there. If not, just know that you're in my thoughts and prayers.

greydogs said...


sending you love and strength and my dogs have their paws crossed for your complete healing.

you can do this.

RehabNurse said...


You are a strong-willed woman. Go into this with guns blazing and tell them you want the Marine surgeon who doesn't leave anything behind.

And take it one step at a time...too many steps at once will beat you up.

I think the scarf party is a great idea. I took care of a lady who had a haircut party when the chemo started making her hair fall out. She controlled, balloons, name it. The end result was that she controlled the haircut. She had the best crew cut I ever saw when she was done.

Good luck on your battle.

Anonymous said...

From someone who has been following your blog closely, my prayers are with you. You are a friend whom I have never met, who has given me so much strength and hope. Please know that you are not alone and I know you are strong enough to beat this. With much love, hugs and prayers....someone from Singapore

Geosomin said...

I'm sorry.

I've lurked here for ages and just wanted to say hello. You have an incredible attitude about it all...strong. I do sincerely hope that strength carries you through it'll be in my thoughts and prayers.

Safety Dog said...

Nurses should have a pass on getting cancer. it seems all too prevalent lately. WTF? Wishing you well