I spent the day at Froedtert for my semi-annual check-up and also got to hang with my friend, Margie, for her penultimate (gawd, I love that word) chemo appointment. We have the same oncologist. Margie asked me to come into her exam room with her, so Dr. Cheng looked totally confused when he saw me sitting there.
It felt like an out-of-body experience to be a witness to my friend’s appointments as well as have mine in the same day. Mondays in chemo-land are always behind schedule. One great thing about Dr. Cheng is that he will take whatever time he needs to take with his patients. The bad thing is that it sets up a domino effect. He was late to see Margie and he was late to see me, which meant that I had to miss hanging with Margie during most of her chemo. At least she was able to nap and I was able to read more of O Magazine than I needed to. I now know what kind of clothes I should be buying this year and that Reese Witherspoon has her own lifestyle brand that Oprah was willing to plug most likely because of their shared experience in A Wrinkle in Time. What is it with celebrities and their lifestyle brands? Is it similar to their need to have a Cause du Jour?
Other than the fact that I don’t feel like a female anymore, I have no issues. Sure, I worry about all of the women I know who have had cancer concurrently with me are dying, have died, or have had a recurrence and are dealing with metastatic cancer. That sounds like I’m taking it lightly. I’m not. It weighs on me each and every day. Why them? Why me? Why any of us? See, this is one of those reasons I do not believe in higher powers. If there was such a thing/being as God/Allah/Buddha/Whatevs – then cancer would be reserved for child molesters, serial killers, school shooters, etc. Normal people like me and my friends would not get cancer.
I told Dr. Cheng that I am bone dry everywhere (I gestured to my vagina, my eyes, my nose, all over), have no desire, and don’t feel like a woman anymore. He nodded and said that he has heard that before. He said he can refer me to a specialist in the Wish Clinic. Of course, my sarcastic mind went straight to the “I Wish I Was a Woman Clinic” – who names these things? Someone with good intentions, no doubt. I can’t take an estrogen cream, so I have no idea what the doctor will suggest. Maybe the doctor is like a fairy godmother and will grant me three wishes. One of which – no cancer – is impossible.
We had our ongoing discussion about whether or not I would continue taking Exemestane (aromatase inhibitor) beyond the five years (1.5 more to go). There isn’t much statistical benefit to continuing beyond five years. Single digit. Not big enough in my book. Sometimes, I think what the oncologists are selling is fear. I told him we could keep having the discussion, but that I’m not convinced that anything beyond five years is going to make that much of a difference.
The only blip was the results of my bone density test from October. My spine shows bone loss – osteopenia. Ha! I almost typed – did type – osteopenis. Bone boner. Osteoporosis is -2.5. My spine is at -2.
I attribute that to two things. I’ve been taking half the dose of calcium because I can’t be bothered to take pills twice per day and I virtually quit running after the Chicago Marathon in 2016. I burned out. I told Dr. Cheng we could wait until my next bone density test to see if my bone loss has reversed.
I’ll be running a marathon in September in honor of my friend, Lori, who just died. Fucking ovarian cancer. The silent killer. Maybe re-introducing weight-bearing exercise will help. That and upping my cottage cheese and salmon intake and taking a calcium pill mid-day — all of those things should help. If I lived someplace sunnier and got more Vitamin D, then that also would help. Does anyone want to marry me and move to Spain, the South of France, Mexico, or Australia?
One of the ongoing conundrums of cancer treatment is that you get to choose your poison. In my case, it is the aromatase inhibitor which leads to bone loss, dementia, and heart disease — oh joy! But doesn’t lead to uterine or endometrial cancer or pulmonary embolisms — oh double joy! So, I will suck it up and run, run, run. Run for me. Run for Lori. Run for Pam. Run for Patty. Run for Waid. Run for everyone affected by cancer who cannot run.