Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Mom and Dad and the Good Lord Above

I know that I have posted many things about hair.

One might think I am obsessed with it.

I am not.

But some things that happen along this cancer trail just beg to be documented.

Last week, I was showing an apartment that is for rent. One of the women looking at the apartment said "I LOVE your haircut!"

"Thank you."

"Is your hair naturally curly?"


That was the word that came out of my mouth.

The words knocking around in my head were much more sarcastic.

"With hair this short, how on earth would I curl it?"

But I didn't let those words out.

When I saw Jerry last week, he commented on my hair growth. (Apparently, I am past the "semblance of fuzz".)

I relayed to him part of the "is it naturally curly?" conversation.

Jerry's response?

"It's the chemo."

Why thank you, Jerry. It is the chemo. But it is also ME.

Because I have/had curly hair.

So now, if I'm asked if my hair is naturally curly, I will be torn.

Shall I say "yes, it is natural"?

Or "no, it is drug induced"?

I am willing to allow the chemo to take credit for the white hair.

But I am not sure I am willing to let chemo have credit for the curls. I think Mom and Dad and the good Lord above should get credit for that.

So, if asked again about the curls, I will smile and say "yes, it IS natural".

Thank you.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Lost: Extra Credit Points

I got to see Jerry yesterday.

It had been seven weeks (!) since the last appointment. That means, I think, that it has been 8 weeks since my last chemo treatment.

How time flies.

Even though I was the first appointment of his day (10:30 a.m. -- pretty sweet time to start work), Jerry made me wait 30 minutes. I realize that doctors do other things than see patients. Perhaps he had to go to the hospital? Or just got a late start after relaxing with his cup of coffee and the newspaper?

All is well.

My white blood counts are still low, but not lower than to be expected.

I have lost some of my extra credit points with Jerry. For all of his earlier praise, I really messed up.

I did not live up to my reputation as 'the perfect patient'.

Because I was not so intelligent.

For some strange reason, I did not read the label on the bottles of lapatinib, the clinical trial drug, before I started taking it. I did wonder, when Don brought home the package from the Post Office, why the research department sent me so darn many pills. Four bottles of 90 pills each.

I dutifully began taking the lapatinib on Thursday, July 9th.

But I didn't read the label.

At all.

I took one 250 mg pill at bedtime every night for a week.

And then I saw Jerry.

Normal dosage of lapatinib is 1500 mg daily. I need to be taking 6 pills every night.


Jerry said "Drenda, what did the label on the bottle say?"

"Well, I can't say that I read the label."


At that moment, I felt incredibly stupid. Careless. Unsafe.

How could I not read the label? (Note to Legacy Research: In the future, please say, over and over if necessary, how many pills a patient should be ingesting...) I AM smart. I AM! Usually. Not this week.

But Jerry, bless his beating heart, did not say anymore.

I love a man that knows when to keep his mouth closed.

Especially when I am really stupid.

Sunday, July 5, 2009



In the first weeks after I learned that I had breast cancer, I actually said (a number of times, even) "I am not saying 'why me, God?'."  I said "why shouldn't it be me?".  

Oh, those words sounded so good.

So noble.  

So mature.  

Strong and courageous, perhaps.

I wasn't going to be the Christian who questioned God.  No.  Not me.

Instead of asking "why me?"  I was asking "how did this happen?".  Those were my actual words.


How DID this happen?

I don't know.  

And it doesn't matter, really.  

Because it DID 'happen'.  And there is no alternative but to walk through the "happen".

Then I realized that "how did this happen?" can be translated to mean "why me?".  


I WAS asking God "why me?"

And I was doing the asking in a very prideful way.

The question was not, and is not, the problem.

The pride is.

I had my life planned out.

Well, not completely or really planned out, but the outline did not include breast cancer.

My outline did not include suffering.

Or pain.

Or emotional turmoil.

Or anything difficult or negative.

Time to scrap the outline.

And live by God's outline.  

Really, it is living by God's leading.  He has my hand. 

And, remember, He has promised to go into the foreign land with me.

Funny that I have never asked God "why me?" when I receive good news, or something I consider a blessing.  Perhaps because I expect good things?  Because I think that I deserve good things?

Suffering can be a blessing, too.

I am starting to see that.  

God tells us to consider it pure joy when we face trials.

Pride must be pushed out of the way.

God knows my questions.  

He knows my emotions.  

He knows my sin.  But He won't remember it.  That is the promise of the cross.

And He loves me anyway.