Sunday, April 03, 2011

Shock and Garlic

Eight down, eight to go. That's what I keep telling myself about chemo now. Eight weeks remain of twenty, eight treatments of sixteen. Radiation looms sinister on the horizon, but lately I am daring to believe that—barring the dreaded specter of recurrence—the worst may be behind me now.

It's a happy thought, but also disconcerting, because once I am done focusing one-step-at-a-time on cancer, I will have to reemerge into a world where most everyone around me has not been through this ringer, where life goes on undisrupted. It must be something like surviving an earthquake and never quite trusting the ground beneath your feet again. You stumble unsteadily forward while the crowds dance nimbly by.

Perhaps this feeling will fade?

While dressing this morning, I caught a glimpse of my chest in a mirror and was surprised at how pale the scar is now. It hit me yet again that I've had a mastectomy, that it is permanent, that this is, indeed, really happening.

At this point, I'm still entirely shell-shocked. Hell, the shelling hasn't stopped yet, though the intensity has diminished.

Little by little, I am reclaiming my life. 

Exhibit A: After chemo on Friday, J~ and B~'s grandmother went to B~'s choral performance – a three-hour dinner cabaret I didn't think I'd have the stamina for. Instead I stayed home alone and made this meal of garlicky scallops with red onion, black-eyed peas, zucchini, tomato, kale, and nutritional yeast.

It was a big deal that I dared stay home alone after chemo, a surprise on top of that that I cooked for myself, elaborately no less, and a real shock and pleasure to note, I can once again eat garlic!

I don't know if it's a common reaction to Adriamycin/Cytoxan, my first chemo regimen, but for a while there, I couldn't touch anything garlicky. Toxic chemical mouth burn, loyal readers and vlog-watchers, you've heard me complain about it enough. But, like I said, little by little, I'm reclaiming my life, and what better place to start than my taste buds?

So bring on the garlic, I plan to indulge. Those of you who may see me in person, consider this your fair warning.


Kerry said...

Looks yummy...! I did not plant garlic this past season, was not available at the co-p...too $$$ online...:(...always happy to see you've jumped another hurdle. My big question is...and I should know this...what is that plant you've photographed?

Shafeenaaz said...

Amy, I can so relate to the feeling (anticipated) of how to emerge from all this at the end of treatment!!!

I wonder too! You think we'll miss Planet Cancer?


PS: Food looks gooooood! :)

Melisa said...

Amy, I can't tell you how much I empathize with you. I too am halfway through chemo--my 8th Taxol infusion is Friday.
You summed it up so eloquently in this post: that maybe we'll never again trust stable ground after this cancer earthquake. This is EXACTLY how I'm feeling.
Thank you profusely for your posts and your honesty.
Big hugs to you and best wishes.
Lisa P., NC

Anonymous said...

Hey Amy,

I lived through a very bad earthquake. It took a year before I could fall asleep without thinking about it. But it's okay now.

I love the dreadmill at times too--it's okay--great way to pace yourself and even the pro's use 'em!

Glad you were able to give the ChuckIt a try--it takes some practice but it'll save your arm. I must say, it's a thrill to watch someone you've not met receive a gift you sent to them--I'd do it every day if I could!!

Hugs from California,