Six Months

Today is the six month mark.  I guess some would term it a “cancerversary,” but I wouldn’t call it that.  First, because I hate the term “cancerversary.”   And, second, I haven’t bought any commemorative jewelry for the occasion.   (Note: Click on the link.)

A lot has happened in six months.  I’ve had my breasts bared and pressed, lifted, smooshed, squeezed, fondled, and photographed (and not one effing string of beads).  In addition they’ve been numbed, probed by small needles and by really large gauge automated ones.  I’ve been irradiated from the outside and from within.  I’ve had long ass needles inserted in and through my lung and my lumbar spine.  I have been legally high and constipated (yes, they go together).  In pain, out of pain, and in pain again.  I’ve been Stage II and Stage IV.  Frustrated, annoyed, sad, accepting, happy, and generally pretty cool.  In work, out of work, and in work again.  Experienced my first Pinktober and raged against that little pink machine with some potency.  Oh, yeah, and there was that nuclear meltdown in December that made things interesting.  I’ve laughed, and cried, and laughed again.  And boy have I laughed.  I have amassed an overwhelmingly positive and supportive network of friends, physicians, advocates, and fellow patients that must be, in my experience anyway, second to none.  And because I’ve added so many new pills to my life, I’ve had to upgrade my pill containers–putting me within an arm’s length of senior citizen town.

Aside from learning that my lifespan has been shortened, the most traumatic result of the last six months has been the assault on my professional life.  Tamoxifen surely exposed itself as both my best friend and my most spiteful enemy.  Thanks to that tumor flare in L5 and S1, I have been in pain since mid-September.  Those enlarged lesions brought back life to an old injury, its resulting surgery, and arthritis that developed as a result of that trauma and of simple aging.  The relentless assault on my senses made the last few months confusing and hard to bear, but I got through them.  The worst part was not being professionally productive.  The proverbial thorn in my side.


Where the magic happens! Taken when I first moved into the space two years ago.

But on Thursday, January 17, I returned to the office!  It wasn’t much, just four hours in the afternoon, but it made me smile from ear to ear.  I turned the key, opened the door, and I was–in a very real sense–home.  I looked around and surveyed the scene: the conference table was filled to the brim with an exhibit that had been taken down in my absence, the empty Snapple bottle was right where I left it (probably with a science project in it), the paper piles representing projects in process were still in place, and my plant died.  I hung up my coat on the 100 year old coat rack, turned on the lamps, and sat down in my chair.  And for the first time in months I was truly happy.

I walked into the unit and received many hugs and good wishes from my colleagues.  Our student employees were happy and enveloped me in tight hugs.  I walked into the stacks and smelled the books and archives.  Not a scent that I am so crazy about, but it is the essence of my work and I inhaled it like a triumph.  My mailbox was jammed with a month’s worth of mail and publications.  I received a warm welcome from my boss and got caught up on a few things and I knew it was just scratching the surface of what awaited me.  And I had simply forgotten just  how much walking one has to do in this large bi-level workspace.  The building in which I work is enormous and while not as large as some, when it was built in 1932 it was the largest library in North America.  There really isn’t such a thing as “just running” an errand to an office on another floor; it’s more like setting out on an expedition sans Sherpa.

I closed my day after four hours, but it was surprisingly productive and I repeated the drill on Friday.  By the end of Friday I was pretty tired insomuch as my lower back was fatigued and smarting a little.  I looked forward to the three day weekend ahead of me (the first Martin Luther King Day that I will have observed in over twenty years!), logged out of my workstation, closed the lights, and gave my office the once over before I closed the door.  I walked home a little sore, but I still had a bounce in my step.  I was back in the saddle and I had overcome a significant obstruction in my life.  Yeah, when I finally got home I did a fist pump when I closed the door.

The last six months have certainly been interesting, to say the least.  Knock on wood that the next six months will just get better and better.

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40 Responses to Six Months

  1. Keep the humor goin! I just had my two yr on Sat. I wish there where gifts we got for the anniversaries lol but living is a gift enough!!

  2. Carol Shaw says:

    Oh happy day! Bet your co-workers were thrilled to have you back. May the force stay with you.

  3. Carol says:

    Oh happy day! I’ll bet everyone was thrilled to have you back. May the force stay with you..

  4. Deborah says:

    **clapping of many hands** Sending you Lovelovelove. Deb

  5. Katie says:

    I imagine not being able to work or do what you’re passionate about would be even harder to deal with than the actual physical pain. Congratulations on your cancerversary. …I’m sure the most exciting aspect of your diagnosis has been being able to use disgusting terms like that.

  6. Tracy says:

    Onwards and upwards, so good to hear you’re back at work, getting hugs from your associates and feeling positive. You inspire the rest of us, thank you for spurring us on.

  7. ah, scorchy, this post just made my day! a real triumph. i was picturing you walking home with that added bounce to your step. i think you helped us all feel a little bouncier, more light hearted, hopeful and sooooo happy for you. you ROCK, girl!!!

    love, XO,

    karen, TC

  8. Sadly there is no way to miss out the anger, frustration etc of a MBC dx, but I take the point of view that those are some of the things you have to get out of the way before you can move forward. Being positive all the time is just not a reality because you have to let out the negative to make room for the positive to come to the fore. I’m celebrating 5 years with MBC. It can be done. F*£k statistics – push the envelope!

  9. Just read your latest post and also went back and read “Cancerversary.” Almost the same date as you for the 6 month mark and I did comment on it yesterday myself – 6 months since I found my lump. Not sure what I make of it though I do know that I am one of those who does remember dates (though I regularly miss my wedding anniversary date – my mother before she lost her memory, used to remind my husband but not me! As for the reference to Pinktober, it was so new to me last October that when many of my friends and family wanted to do our Canadian CIBC Run for the Cure, I got on the bandwagon and even raised money. My friends had t-shirts made and we did that walk but now I know that only 15% goes to BC and the rest to admin, I think we will now do our own walk and maybe even by fall, I will have cause for celebration while ignoring Pinktober. Back to your return to work though; I tried to imagine that massive building and your walk through it to your office and the scene and even your dead plant. And your “happy.” Those happy moments for me come and go and I guess that is part of the deal with BC. Thanks Scorchy, for your continuing posts that come to my email. Enough today in fact to inspire me to do a blog post myself!
    🙂 Marian

    • Scorchy says:

      Marian, Those “firsts” are weird. I always forgot my wedding anniversary. Now that I’m divorced (for many years) I remember it. Oy veh! This year I think I can ignore Pinktober. My word, last year I raged and raged. Taking out all of that Death Star anger on the month, no doubt. We have had six months we won’t want to relive, that’s for sure. As you probably are, I’m pissed that we even had to live it in the first place. Hugs!!

  10. Marie says:

    Yay for you! I’m so glad to hear it. Just don’t wipe yourself out before Jan. 30th , cuz we are planning to have some fun that night!

  11. Acacia says:

    That’s wonderful Scorchy! I understand not wanting to commemorate your “cancerversary” but you totally deserve a prize for the progress you’ve made. Maybe a nice mani-pedi? A new bag to carry to work? Kick-ass shoes?

    You sound so happy and proud to be back at work that you’ve made me less apprehensive about starting teaching again on Thursday. You rock!

  12. Susan says:

    Oh Scorchy, you are so uplifting. Just keep on climbing. Hugs to you – Susan

  13. planetann says:

    You. Are. Amazing.

  14. Janet Golden says:

    So good to read this.

  15. Here’s hoping for lots more fist pumps in the next 6 months. Congrats on being back in the saddle.

  16. dglassme says:

    Fist pump it baby, fist pump it!!

  17. gregsmithmd says:

    All I can say is, you go girl. This is EXCELLENT NEWS.

  18. All I can say is, you go girl. This s EXCELLENT NEWS.

  19. Crystal says:

    Wow! You sound so much happier! I am SO GLAD you are back, were productive and had a wonderful day. Good karma coming your way that it continues.

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