Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman

If it weren’t for the cancer part, I could probably get into this whole wig thing with a sort of Cindy Sherman approach.

There are endless reasons to think about gender and performance and its construction throughout breast cancer and its treatment, and every single day when I figure out what the heck is going to go on my head — short hair? a hat? long hair? — or have to take a few minutes to draw in eyebrows, there are at least 5-10 minutes I’m mulling all of that stuff over.

And there are, of course, lots of opportunities to think about ability/disability and those things which are temporary vs. more longterm. There are ways to put my own experience within a larger context that acknowledges how lucky I am in so many ways.

And yet, there are still moments, hours, and days, when I still get stuck in thinking “yeah, this sucks.”

And I know it will suck less soon — I’m less than 2 weeks from my last radiation session. But at the moment, I’m worn out. I’m glad it’s the weekend, because at least I don’t feel like I should be doing more things I don’t have the energy to do, and I get a two-day break from the radiation table.

photo: Untitled #88. 1981, Cindy Sherman

Nachos, Cake, Personal Practice & Grown Up Shoes

Nachos, Cake, Personal Practice & Grown Up Shoes

I’m not doing as well with synthesis in writing these days as my brain feels so tired, but I think keeping up with just jotting some things down is still a good practice. And sometimes personal practice is all something needs to be, and if it serves another purpose as well, then great!

Ever since I first was smitten w/this lady’s account/idea, I check in with it as a good reminder of the importance of 1) joy 2) movement (esp. when I don’t feel like it) 3) literal personal practices, whatever forms they may take

I had a wonderful birthday weekend — getting to see more friends than I have at one time for months. Nacho bar, a fantastically creepy piñata, some of my favorite small friends running around a yard that I’m really gonna miss (memories of when my friends first moved there, 10+ years ago), a super-fancy tea complete with rad lady posse and vintage touches, a downright magical cake, a friend in town from Chicago(!), a last-minute chance to see a different friend as Edna in Hairspray(!) and SO many hugs and thoughtful notes and gifts. Thank you, friends — you know me well and that makes me happy!

But although it made me happy, I kinda had a crash on Monday. Everything hurt. I’d say that these days, usually about 1/3-1/2 of me hurts, so this was a definite uptick. Hard to tell if or how exactly I overdid it. Was it just the level of activity? I kept things pretty chill — even took a 2 hours nap on Saturday! Was it the hour I spent putting in seedlings on Sunday? Was it just some random decision my body made? Was I just suddenly more aware of each ache because the “you’re going to feel SO tired” effects of the daily radiation was finally kicking in? The Drs. warned me that would happen around 2-3 weeks, but this isn’t how I thought it would feel.

It’s hard to decipher The Mystery of Feeling Hit By a Truck oftentimes.

Still, after a few days and all sorts of approaches and tweaks (acupuncture, rest, medicine, stretching, tons of sleep, nutrition changes), I’m feeling about back to current-normal. Which isn’t like, an ideal normal, but is still a “much better, OK I feel like I can handle some more of doing life things” state.

And there are more good things! I just noticed yesterday that my eyelashes are starting to come back! Although I don’t want to be overly ambitious, I’ve managed to begin some modest garden work for the season.

I had held off buying any sandals for the summer, scared that chemo was going to make my nails fall off (gross, I know, but it’s a common thing). Luckily, that is NOT a side effect that got me, so I excitedly bought a very grown up (VGU) pair of sandals. VGU means I paid more than $25 for these shoes. This feels weird for me, but I understand that now that my legs and knees feel like those of a 80 year old (No offense, octogenarians — that’s how my PA actually described it!), I should probably be wearing better quality shoes for awhile.

Oh! Also have some new hair — currently blonde until I reach the buzzcut stage, which I’m guessing will be somewhere around August or so. Fingers crossed!

blonde
my house is messy in the background, but whatever, dude.

Trying/Resting

Trying/Resting

I really, really enjoyed that few-week break in treatment. It was so fantastic —not having as many appointments or lots of things each day reminding me of all of the logistics and administrative necessities of treatment. Even more important, feeling better was so welcome, as I began healing from chemo.

During the first week or so of radiation, I wasn’t feeling much extra tiredness from treatment — it was mostly just me reminding myself to be patient with the after-effects of chemo.

A lot of things are getting noticeably, mercifully better. This last week I wore contacts and rode the bus for the first time in six months! I mean, technically, I guess I did both AT THE SAME TIME, though it’s not like I put the contacts in while riding the bus or something crazy like that.

It feels super weird for such mundane things to feel like milestones, or at least worthy of extra notice and excitement, but they are. And I am really so, SO thankful for my healthier eyes, immune system and skin.

It’s just that it’s easy to get a little discouraged, because there are a lot of other things that will take their own sweet time to heal, too. It’s tricky to balance my excitement at the marvel that is a healing body and desire to do normal-life-things with the sheer crappiness of how I still often feel physically.

Should I push myself more? It feels good to have goals and good to meet them. Will that make me feel better? Should I rest? Wait, wait, was that TOO much rest? Was that too much pushing? Ok, cool — finally found some other forms of exercise that feel good or, at a minimum don’t hurt. Oh WAIT! I have to stop doing that one for a few weeks because of treatment? Ok, never mind, I HAVE NO IDEA if I’m on the right track here.

I’m generally not a neurotic person, but man, the conflicting feelings about this energy ebb and flow make me feel like one.

Radiation itself feels like such a daily routine at this point that other than on the days (today, whew!) when I get stuck in an appointment for waaaaay longer than I would have expected (all ya can do is read and roll with it), I have to remind myself that yes, this is still totally active treatment.

Still, I’m getting closer to completing even that, little but little. Just about one month more to go, and I’ll be there. I just have to be patient with still feeling kinda fried and tired, and taking the necessary breaks and breathers as I get there.

So, thanks now and in advance to all the folks who have been kind to me even when I’ve seemed slow or not-100% there. I’m trying. But, ya know, like not TOO hard, like bad-hard. Ha! Trying and resting, trying and resting.