Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Little C

Do any of you follow Leroy Sievers's “My Cancer” blog on the NPR website? Unlike many of the other personal cancer blogs that I follow daily, I check in on this one every two to three weeks because I don't want his posts to influence my own.

But a recent post, Even with Cancer Life Marches On, really struck a chord with me. After having the kind of stressful “bad day” that often infiltrates our daily lives, with or without cancer, Leroy mused that cancer patients should get a pass from non-cancer-related stresses.

After all, with the worries associated with the Big C, who needs to stress out over non-working dishwashers, over-flowing toilets or under-performing gardeners? Why shouldn't cancer patients receive a "get out of stress card," the perfect companion to the “cancer card” that grants special privileges? (Speaking of the cancer card, a few weeks ago my car mechanic said he'd need my car for a week. I shamelessly pulled off my wig, revealing my glistening scalp, and I had the car back the next day. But that’s another story.)

My non-cancer stresses have been relatively minor: The "will she or won't she" graduate episode. The laptop that went belly up just a few months after the warranty expired. The WiFi that suddenly stopped functioning. The new gardeners who need constant supervision.

Truth be told, it's good to have minor annoyances to take my mind off the other nagging worries that I seldom discuss: The dismal median survival rate of MCL patients with blastic variety. The underlying worry about how long I'll stay in remission. Then there are the frustrations that I've covered extensively in Cancer Banter: My blood's unwillingness to quickly bounce back after chemo. My ongoing struggle to harvest stem cells. My total inability to answer the basic question, "So, when are you going in for your stem cell transplant?" I think about these things, but I don't lose much sleep over them.

But what happens when the little stresses are replaced by a big one? In my case, I lost two pounds in West Virginia instead of packing on the usual three extra pounds of flesh. I went on to lose another three pounds in three days after I returned. My sleep is erratic. I wake up with a grumbling stomach.

The cause of the stress is not the Big C. Let's just call it the Little C (Cindy). I won't share the details here, but would be happy to spill the beans if I see you in person or talk with you on the phone.


SAMO Calling said...

Oh dear. That doesn't sound good.

janet aird said...

I wish we could take some of this on for you. What a nightmare.

Susan Carrier said...

I've received a number of calls from dear friends who've called to check on me.

It's good to know that people care and that I'm not alone in my struggles. Somehow through all of this, I need to learn to cope. It's getting a little easier every day.

I do at least have the title for the one-woman show that I eventually want to write: Big C, Little C.

Donnie said...

Hi, Susan. I don't usually read your blog, because Janny tells me all about it. But I thought I should read and comment today. A bad day is a bad day, but there's no excuse for the cosmos to treat you this way. As I often say to myself, when I'm talking to myself: Why can't some of our more notable politcal failures have these kinds of days? Exclusively. Don't burden the good people with them!

On a positive note, I hope this bad day slinks off like a bad dog and leaves you to your normally happy self. We're thinking of you. Let us know if we can help in any way. By the way, I went to Costco today and somehow came away with one of those nine-packs of cinnamon rolls (it stuck to my hand, and I couldn't shake it off). If Janny hasn't eaten them all, I would happily bring you one. I give my personal testimony that one will put a pound on you.

Lisa Cooper-Keil said...

Mitchell and I just finished listening to Piper Robert (whom Mitchell declared to be a really good piper~!). Now if listening to bagpipe music doesn't make you feel better, try the cinimman rolls! Consider this a big E-Hug~ Love L.

Makr and Dee said...

Dearest Susan - My grey hair was once black, my now happy daughters were once troubled, my life was tough, and now it is better, because I have made it so with them and Dee :). My three daughters are great, lovely and at the same time have been a challenge (!), and they will eventually figure out what's best for them - it's their life, not mine. My 28 year old just got married, and now it's the 26 year old's turn. The 18 year old is pending! Hang in there my dear - it will all work out! It means so much for us to read your blog - we love you so very much - Mark and Dee

Anonymous said...

What a great title for your one woman show!
I love it.
Two troubling C's .......how about C -for change
I am confident that C is on its way.
Things alway change and your up for a positive
maybe you can work that C into the show.

Paula Johnson said...

Susan, you know I really care about you, right? Even though I am not as sweet and nuturing as your other friends?

I say give the Big C and the Little C a rest, and spend the rest of September focusing on the Big O. It likely will not boost stem cell production, but after the fifth or sixth one, you won't really give a hoot.

BTW, great having lunch with you today, even though your weight loss makes my ass look even bigger.

Susan Carrier said...

"C" is also for control - something that I'm in short supply of, whether it's increasing platelet production, pumping out stem cells, or forcing an 18-year-old path to make the "right" decisions.

Karen said...

What's the Big O? I know about the Story of O, but somehow I don't think that's what Paula had in mind. ... Is it?!?!

After many years of living (no, I won't say how many), I've concluded that no one has much control over anything. Certainly, no one can control platelet production. Not even with drugs. I used to think "Well, at least we can control how we react to things." But now I don't think even that's really true. I'm a terrible worry wart, and can't control it. And when it comes to kids, I don't know how anyone can control the anxiety they induce.

But it does help to know you're not alone -- that others have experienced the same woes (maybe that shouldn't make us feel better? are we selfish when it does?), and that others are thinking of and rooting for us. I haven't experienced the same woes you're experiencing, but I am thinking of and rooting for you.

And I have to say that over the last few months you have convinced me that some of us at least (i.e., you in particular) have a lot more self control than I ever imagined possible. Which is inspiring, even if I can't begin to emulate it.

With love and admiration,
Mrs. Duck

Paula Johnson said...

Yes, Mrs. Duck, the Big O is exactly what you think it is. Let's just say if Susan smoked, she'd want to light up afterward...

Anonymous said...

My kids were watching Sesame Street last year and Queen Latifa was on as a special guest. She did a song called "Chasing the Big O." Yes, the lyrics were about that! Thankfully the visuals were about the physical letter. Every line was so full of double meaning I was shocked it was on a kids' program, and not SNL. My kids were confused at to why I was laughing and slightly embarrassed. I just pulled the "mommy card" and said I'd explain when they were older. Sesame Street! Who knew?

Tara in Virginia

Susan Carrier said...

Paula, I'm glad you cleared that up. I read your post and thought, "Huh?!"

Hilarious story, Tara.

Karen said...

I say give the Big C and the Little C a rest, and spend the rest of September focusing on the Big O. It likely will not boost stem cell production, but after the fifth or sixth one, you won't really give a hoot.

ROTFLMAO!!! Oh Paula, you absolutely crack me up. And no, I had no doubt about exactly what you meant! :-)

The Other Karen

Susan Carrier said...

ROTFLMAO? I had to go to the Urban Dictionary to figure that one out.

Suzy keleher said...

O's are very healing...and then have a delicious supper! i really look forward to the "big C little c" show! It will be a great eye opener and , I'm sure...funny...even tho things are not so funny right now...positive change is coming. Praying always for you and all! Love you, Suze

SAMO Calling said...

What a hoot! My mom says O is the medicine for everything and that we should all take our medicine as often as we can. Got a headache, have an O, have an argument, have an O, got a flat tire, have an O. You get the idea...Get to work Susan!

Anonymous said...

"Samo calling" has a very VERY wise mom!!

That "medicine" takes care of 95% of whatever stresses women out! Take as many doses as you need, then take however many you want!! (:

Tara in VA.

Susan Carrier said...

If my mom ever talked about the Big O, she would have been referring to origami, the Japanese art of paper folding.