Cancer hazard #72: Self imposed side-effects

19 Jul

As you can imagine, there are a number of different ways one can internalize the news of learning they have cancer.  Sadness, fear, and determination are just a few emotions that someone might experience, and to varying degrees – depending on the person.  As time goes on, the news sets in and treatments will begin. Hopefully during this time the sentiment of determination will be steering the ship, as opposed to sadness or fear.  It is amazing to me, however, how much some people force themselves to undergo unnecessary side effects (knowingly or unknowingly).  Let me give you an example.

I have my radiation treatments each day at 4:45 p.m., the last appointment of the day.  I purposely scheduled them at this time so I could fit in an entire day of work, thus allowing me to lead as normal of a life as possible during treatment.  Because I arrive at these appointments straight from work, I am typically dressed in office attire (read: dress slacks or skirt, blouse, and heels).  One day last week, I was sitting in the waiting room of the radiation oncology department waiting for treatment.  I was dressed in a haute hospital gown covered in light blue snowflakes that draped over me like a circus tent, despite the fact it was an extra-small.  The office asks that patients keep their shoes on for hygienic purposes and so no one is walking around barefoot, therefore I was also sporting a nice pair of 3″ Bally pumps with my circus tent.  Although this makes for quite the ensemble, I don’t foresee it hitting runways anytime soon!  As I’m waiting for my name to be called, another woman who was waiting for her appointment starts to make conversation.

Sidenote: up until now, the few waiting room conversations I’ve had at the oncology center have been a bit awkward.  Some people are just socially inept to know what and what not to ask.  I once had another patient ask me what I was there for.  Hmmm, well, with some elementary process of elimination tactics I hoped he could deduce I had cancer…now does this creepy-looking stranger really want to hear about the details about the tumor that is currently in my rectum?  I decided to spare him the details and instead told him I had heard that the radiation beams they have here are able to give you a great tan, and since mine was lacking for the summer I decided I’d stop by and give it a whirl.

Back to the point I was trying to get at.  This woman who was sitting in the waiting room with me last week began to make conversation with me and started marveling at how I was able to wear high heels!?  Apparently this was the second day she had seen me in heels and couldn’t fathom the idea of wearing heels while going through cancer treatment.  While I was struggling to find a correlation between having cancer and wearing pumps, she went on to say that she will only get dressed if she has to, only leaves the house for treatments and other necessities, and has put her entire life on hold until she gets through this process.  Now, I will be the first to admit I don’t know the details of her diagnosis (I didn’t ask her ‘Why are you here?’ like some people I’ve encountered) and acknowledge that she may have severe limitations that prevent her from doing any of the aforementioned activities.  However, her overall mentality of putting everything on hold is the exact antithesis of what I believe is helping me through my personal fight.  I continue to maintain that a life of ‘normalcy’, if possible/achievable, is far healthier than succumbing to this ugly enemy.  If there is ever a time to wear high heels, while your battling cancer is the most appropriate time to do it.  In fact, it may even be an opportune time to get an even higher pair!

I try and do something everyday to prove this point to myself.  Even though fatigue has been an issue, and it would be far easier to just nap the day away, I try not to (and have been 98% successful)!  This past weekend, instead of staying in and dwelling on being a cancer patient, I swept that little notion right under the bed and joined some girlfriends for lunch.  Jane, Carrie, Jaime, her handsome son Benjamin, and I met up for lunch on Saturday.  It allowed for some much needed girl talk and bachelorette party-planning!  (Umm, of course there will still be a bachelorette party.  Normalcy, remember?)

Em, Jaime and Benjamin (one of the happiest babies I've ever met!)

The low-residue diet in full effect!

But the day wasn’t over yet.  Just after lunch, Jaime got a phone call from her husband Matt indicating he had just secured us tickets to the Rihanna concert later that night at Mandalay Bay…sweet!  We then parted ways to head home, freshen up, and practice our chic dance moves and reconvened in a few hours to take in a great show!

Rihanna's rocks Mandalay Bay

Em and Jane at the Rihanna concert

All in all, it was a great weekend and I can honestly say I successfully did not cave into cancer hazard #72: the self-imposed side-effects…the journey continues!


9 Responses to “Cancer hazard #72: Self imposed side-effects”

  1. Barbara McCarthy July 20, 2010 at 6:01 am #

    WOW! Your blog inspires me to feel upbeat for the entire day, Em!

  2. Rita Hartert July 20, 2010 at 6:48 am #

    Love those shoes! Aunt Rita

  3. Mariah July 20, 2010 at 8:35 am #

    You are nothing short of inspirational! Keep up the great work!

  4. Kate (Ihrke) O'Hair July 20, 2010 at 1:55 pm #

    Keep rockin’ those heels, Em!
    I too am a TRUE believe that the right pair of heels can be such an inspiration when you need it most!

    They make you look more beautiful than you might feel, convince you (and others) that can (and will) kick the shit outta anything in your way, and give you the confidence to stand a little taller when you need it most.

  5. Jeri Laughlin July 20, 2010 at 2:45 pm #

    I was at Mandalay Bay Sat nite, too! Only @ the Ziggy Marley concert with my JWMarriott girls! Em, know you are in my thoughts and prayers.

    • stacey smith July 20, 2010 at 11:01 pm #

      Forget about the shoes—the legs are fantastic.
      Thanks for sharing.
      How about a photo of Nick in the heels?
      Wonderful reading. We are enriched by your example.
      Bye for now.

  6. Mary Nakaki July 22, 2010 at 11:11 am #

    I need to know your shoe size! I think I have just the right pair to send you. I love reading you blog and getting the reassurance that yo
    u are hard chargin’
    Soldier on girl!

  7. Sandy Ross(aunt, once removed!) July 23, 2010 at 6:05 pm #

    You are fantastic! I love your attitude and your strong will. You will be the most successful cancer treatment patient ever!
    Love, Aunt Sandy

  8. Chelsea Rivera July 26, 2010 at 12:57 pm #

    Way to go Em!! You are keeping such a wonderful attitude throught this whole process, which will help more than anything else I think.

    I’m here if you need me! We will have to all get together soon!

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