Wednesday, November 19, 2008

It's hip to be........done. Kind of.

When I look back upon my life, lo in some 50 years or so, and think about my greatest accomplishments, this one is certain to be top among them. No, I’m not talking about being (ahem) 4th in my AG at Evergreen Lake – this is bigger than even that, a true triumph of the indomitable will and spirit of the American people. Person. Whatever. But let me start at the beginning.

So Monday was my last day of radiation, and naturally I felt the need to bring an appropriate celebratory victual to the hospital to mark the occasion. And to perhaps get something for that evening’s celebration with friends. I wound up at a favorite German bakery in Chicago, one that’s a familiar standby for such things. After deciding I’d get brightly-frosted, flower-shaped cookies for the rads crew, I then set about getting a cake.

Me: Well, my first question has been answered – I see you have stock sheet cakes that you’ll write on right away.
Girl 1: Yes, we have chocolate or yellow cakes.
Me: Great. Now, umm, is there, say, a limit as to what you’ll write on the cakes? Like, certain things you won’t write?
Girl 1, giggling: Umm, well, I don’t know, we don’t really write curse words and so on....but what do you need?
Me: Well, I’d like a cake that says (whisper whisper).
Girl 2: Oh, THAT we can write.

We all start whispering now.

Girl 1: When did you want to pick it up?
Me: I’ll pick it up tonight, before I go to meet my friends.
Girl 1: Okay, no problem. I’ll just wait until you come in to decorate it.
Me: Sounds good. Thanks!!

We smile at each other conspiratorially.

I then go to rads, and am greeted like a rock star. Hugs all around, well wishes, thanks from everyone, etc.

Nurse 1: Tasha, you’re the best – thanks!
Nurse 3: Oh, thanks so much, you’re so sweet!

Oh sure, some would say that the thanks were for the huge, beautifully decorated cookies....but I know better. I’m sure it was the mix tape. Huey Lewis, rock on!

I spent my usual weekly minute with my radiation oncologist – and kind of figured out why my surgeon wanted me to see a different rads oncologist, who I didn’t see because he was booked. You see, you make friends in the radiation treatment waiting room, because you’re there every fricking day at the same time for at least 6 weeks. So I got to know Mary, a funny, smartmouthy woman who had her appointment a bit after me. We had the same rads oncologist, and when I saw Mary on my last day, she told me that when she saw Dr. C. the week before, she asked the doc about her prognosis, i.e. did she have 5 years? No answer from Dr. C. 2 years? No answer. A year? Six MONTHS?? No answer. So Mary brought reinforcements in the form of her husband for the weekly meeting – a man who looks like a pugilist, I might add – and at that point I was thankful that I never had the chatty kind of relationship with Dr. C. that Mary did, because otherwise she might have freaked me out just as much. Or not, since I plan on asking similar questions of my regular oncologist when I see her on Friday – but I’m assuming I’ll get intelligent answers, not silence. Otherwise they’ll see just how irate their cancer patients can be, yes sirree.

Anyway. After fielding the celebratory telegrams, good wishes from the Queen, the ticker tape, the champagne toasts, the red carpet, etc., I mosey out of there and head home, with my record of having found street parking downtown for 6 whole weeks intact. (Note to self: mark this as second of life’s greatest accomplishments.)

That evening I got to the German Bakery that Will Not Be Named (GEBAWINBEN), and as soon as I walk in, Girl 1 gives me a knowing glance and a smile. We head over to the cake section and continue our earlier conversation, still sotto voice.

Girl 1: What color frosting do you want for the writing?
Me: Hmm, I don’t know, something festive.
Girl 1: We have green, blue, yellow, red....
Me: How about red?
Girl 1: And do you want the writing in cursive or block letters?
Me: How about cursive? That’ll just make it look all the more elegant.

I head over to the Village Tap, where we all gather in the beer garden in back, which they open up and heat just for us, probably recognizing that it’s better to isolate the crazies as much as possible. Happily, YCBG Matt makes a surprise appearance. Life is good.

And after food and beverages, I bring out the cake, and preface it by noting the enormity of this feat: that I got a stalwart, 100-year-old, very much old school, straightlaced German bakery in the heart of yuppieville to decorate my cake thusly:

I'm sure this is what they mean when they talk about the power of cancer to transform lives. Because I think all of us, me and the girls at GEBAWINBEN, emerged happier for our shared experience. How could one not?


Anonymous said...

i heart your cake. yay for being done with radiation!

Jen said...

Tasha.... that cake is awesome... i wish now I had dragged myself in to see it in person... we got the call monday (which happened to also be dad's 70th birthday) that his CAT scan came back with two suspicious spots on his small intestine. I am hoping that somehow these spots are jelly-doughnut fingerprint smudges. That cake would have about summed up the day nicely for both of us....

Congratulations on a nice finish, my dear!


tribabe said...

Yeah! Fuck cancer!