Monday, October 16, 2006

How Cancer is like a wedding...

At the height of my chemo, I attended a wedding of a friend. It was beautiful garden affair and of course, it brought up reminders of my own nuptials. I sat at the toile covered table, watching the dancing. "Shout!" anyone? I was too tired to partake. I popped a painkiller, tugged on my wig, and thought:

"Cancer reminds me of a wedding"

Huh? You ask? One of the shittiest things to happen to you is like one of the best? Yes, my friends it is.

1. They are both expensive.
2. You get presents.
3. You get behind in thank you notes.
4. You obsess over every detail.
5. Sometimes you wish you could just hop a plane to Vegas.
6. You have a binder detailing every expense.
7. You have the obligatory nervous breakdown.
8. Your mom thinks she knows what you want.
9. You find the most amazing things to buy on the internet.
10. You talk to relatives you haven't seen in years.
11. You haven't worried about your hair this much since prom.
12. You wear gowns. Sure, one "opens to the front", but who cares?
13. You look at your husband and tell yourself how lucky you are.
14. It's all about you.
15. When it's all over, you think to yourself, "How will I fill the time?"

Shenanigans aside, the real reason I thought of this is because of the surprises, pleasant and otherwise, these two situations bring. Some people will surprise you with their generosity. You will be overwhelmed and touched. They will go out of their way to make you feel special, loved. You will consider yourself lucky to share this with them.

And some people will disappoint you. They send a crappy gift (shut up, you know you've all thought about it, too.) Or better yet, no gift at all. Or they don't RSVP in time, or they just plan don't show up to the party. I think every person I know had one relationship change over their wedding- jealousy, priorities, schedules- they all make it hard. You think to yourself, "How could they not come to my wedding?" You realize as much as you want it to be, your wedding is not the center of people's universe. Doesn't make it hurt any less.

Cancer's just like my wedding. I have grown closer to some people. more distant to others. I have seen the true colors of people. Some relationships are forever changed. Some people have reached out beyond my wildest imagination. Some people plain haven't shown up to the party. It sucks, but it doesn't mean I'm not dancing with everyone else. And they definitely won't get an inivitation to our raging anniversary party one day. Or to my 10 year cancer free blow out bash.

Another reason why they're alike? Once it happens, your life is never the same.

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Cost of Cancer

When I first joined my union, I complained a bit about my dues... or the fact they collected dues on earnings I made before I even joined. Sure, it included things like health insurance, but come on! I joined my union last July. I was diagnosed in February. I have not only bitten my tongue, I have swallowed it completely. *not saying a word as writing current dues check*

Cancer diagnosis: (scans, biopsies, etc.) $4,671.25
Genetic test: $2,975
Surgery: $26,668.85
Port: $26,820.50
Frozen Baby Harvesting: $8,582
Harvest Drugs: approx $5,000
Chemo: $38,690.18
Radiation Planning: $24,483.71
Radiation Treatment: $77,925

Total Cost to Date: $315,723.27
(not including prescription drugs)

Insurance Payout: $219,945.72
(negotiated discounts/hospital adjustment/my out of pocket)

Future Costs:
Tamoxifen: Approx $200/month X 12 months X 5 years = $12,000

Cancer ain't cheap. Thank God for my insurance. I didn't have insurance for 5 years out of college. If you don't have insurance for the following reasons: (all are mine)

-you are too lazy to look into it
-your company doesn't offer it
-you don't want to pay premiums
-you think you're invincible

Please, please, please- you have no idea how important it is. And if you are lucky enough to have decent insurance and blessed enough to have enough cash to cover any deductibles, please do something to help the millions of Americans who can't afford insurance. Do something about the f-ed up system that drives people into the poorhouse if they're unlucky enough to get sick. Or poor to begin with.

I will write my dues check with pleasure. I will donate time and money to help those less fortunate. I will vote my conscience.

Easier than writing a $300,000 check.

(stepping off soapbox)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Think Before You Pink...

It's October 2nd. Two days into Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Everywhere I turn there is something pink. Pink wristbands, pink koozies, pink Dyson vacuums (yes, I said vacuum). You can buy something "for the cure" wherever you go. Everywhere I go I am constantly reminded of breast cancer. At least I got the socially popular cancer. The one that looks so good on a teddy bear. It's two days into this month and I'm already sick of pink. I have finished treatment and I am trying to move on. It's pretty damn hard when I can buy something off the "pink stuff" table when I'm buying milk and juice.

I go back and forth between rage at the commercialism for a cure and being grateful that it may help someone. That if someone gets checked or pays attention to their body it was worth it. Funny thing is, there have been plenty of Octobers before. And plenty of pink crap. And I don't remember any of it. I wasn't "aware." It didn't stop me from getting cancer. Maybe I'm just bitter. At the same time, I do have the cliched pink ribbon magnet on my Mini. I think to myself someone may see me and my bald head, check out the magnet and put it together. Maybe they'll feel themselves up later. Or someone else.

I have a feeling it's going to be a long month. I have a feeling I will be happy and sad, angry and blessed... every day. It's a crapshoot. So every day, I will steel myself for the magazines, commercials, spam email, TV specials, etc. etc. I will count the days till October is over. At the same time, I will accept every pink gift as a gift of love. I will still be tempted by the pink thermos at Starbucks. It's cute. I will probably buy a few pink items myself. Life's about contradictions. C'est la vie. I will get through October, hoping I get to see many more Breast Cancer Awareness Months.

I haven't written in a while. I'm sorry. Please check back later. I have a ton of posts I've half written- it's been an up and down few weeks and I haven't quite been in the mood to let it all out yet. But I promise brilliant, witty, poignant, sarcastic posts in the future.