Absolutely! Cancer has no redeeming value, but it’s definitely a game changer. Yeppers. Cancer has changed my life for better or for worse. Among the changes: (1) It cleared the view to my mortality; (2) It provided a scapegoat for anything awful; (3) It ended my desperate pursuit of relevance and (4) It makes some people look at me with puppy-dog eyes, something handy when I’m craving attention. This post discusses item (2) cancer as the whipping boy, plus a bit of good news.
Before my lung cancer diagnosis in August of 2012, like many people I had never been seriously ill. The Manila slum filth coated me with a health armor and strengthened my young immune system that fought mightily for the survival of the future Drama Queen. I remember after marrying my first husband in Estancia, New Mexico USA he, some friends, and I took a trip to Juarez, Old Mexico across the bridge from El Paso, Texas. On the second day of the trip, almost everybody suffered from “stomach bug,” or Montezuma’s Revenge, they called it. Heads hung over the commode and bodies curled up on couches because of stomach ache. We blamed the water, the tacos, the smoked bishop’s noses (turkey butts), and anything we had stuffed in our faces except the beer. Not me. I did not get sick. My immune system batted a homerun and egged me on to crow that my Filipino bug would beat the Mexican bug any time. As for life in general, I used to find solace in blaming everything, including hangovers and end of football seasons, on El Nino.
After the lung cancer diagnosis, cancer replaced El Nino in the blame game. I blame cancer for anything unpleasant that happens. One time my right arm hurt near the shoulder, limiting the hand’s range of motion. Suddenly I could no longer be like my Italian friend who, while dining on veal pomodoro, moves his united fingertips close to his lips and exclaims, “molto bene!” and “mwah!” Lifting my mug of beer became stressful. Right off the bat I blamed cancer. I dug my left fingers deep inside my armpit and searched for swollen lymph nodes. I blame cancer for giving the words lymph node, an important part of the human immune system, a menacing sound. I felt nothing suspicious there. And then light dawned! I realized that the positioning of my right hand had been ergonomically incorrect when typing on my new Polaroid tablet, causing the pain of the muscles aggravated by repetitive motion.
A few months ago, I responded to an Inspire survey for which I got paid. After receiving my 65 Amazon dollars, a problem arose. What can somebody like me who has everything buy with $65? Let me be clear. I am not rich. It’s just that I have never wanted much, so I have just everything I need. You can take the girl out of the ghetto, but you can’t take the ghetto out of the girl. After crunching numbers, shipping costs, dollars and pennies, I decided on a water pik to replace the one I had once owned but inadvertently left on the vanity of the Conrad Hotel in Cairo, Egypt in 2006. I’m hoping the pharoahs will have a clue what it is after they rise from the dead.
A new day dawned with the arrival of the water pik. Furnished with seven attachments of heads of tiny brushes and water jet holes, it begged tinkering. It got me all excited! It doesn’t take much to entertain me. I used one attachment after another, aiming the water jet at every space between the few remaining natural teeth in my head. Imagine a water gun – my fingers were trigger happy! It happens when an insufferable know-it-all blogger doesn’t know how to crochet or knit.
One evening when I was about to start my water pik routine, I noticed the area under my tongue looked like liver. OMG! I had never seen such a thing. I surmised it was bruised by the relentless assault of the pik’s water jet. You’d think I would have been satisfied by that concept because it made sense. But no, not me. I had to blame cancer. I returned to Google University (GU) and audited some courses. A problem arose. There is a word for almost every part of the human anatomy, but what is the English word for the part of the mouth shaped like a horse shoe under the tongue? My inner genius rushed to the rescue. I figured since there is a roof of the mouth, I’d call it floor of the mouth. Duh. Then bingo! There GU had it: black-and-blue floor of the mouth is caused by any of a number of things including trauma. We had a match.
Due to the bacterial infection I suffered in September last year, I had to have an interim CTscan to check out if the two new nodules in my lungs had disappeared. They did disappear. Otherwise, I would have been booted off the trial. To put me back on track, my next CTscan was scheduled FOUR months away. I was aghast. Four months! That’s a long time for me to imagine the nasties in my lungs organizing a progression party. I blame cancer when I have misgivings. Well, as it turned out, the latest CTcans declared STABLE and UNREMARKABLE, putting the start of my third year on CO-1686 on the right track so far.
I think I’ll skedaddle from the blame game for now and celebrate a little.
Happy dance, Feisty Heifer!