Sunday, March 29, 2009

One of life's little victories, gone

Ah, I recall fondly the day that I finished radiation treatment, which I recall as being full of triumph, glory, a testament to the human will, etc. But now, when I went downtown to see my oncologist on Friday, I realized this: I got cancer at just the right time. Because you see, if I were diagnosed now, that glory and sense of victory would be gone.

The reason for my happiness was the fact that for those 6 weeks straight that I was schlepping downtown for radiation treatment, I somehow, someway, managed to always find street parking. Yep, every day. Oh sure, sometimes I had to circle around the block a few times, and a few times it looked rather dicey, but I always prevailed and found a spot, and could then walk into radiation treatment with a jaunt in my step. No matter how cold, dark, and soggy the radiation tube, no matter how loud the horrible Huey Lewis and the News music they played.......I had the memory of my parking prowess to keep me going and give me strength on even the darkest of days.

But, no more. When I pulled off the inner Drive onto the street where I usually park, I was greeted by a vast acreage of empty spots, with a few lone tumbleweeds kicking around. Clearly I’m not the only one who thinks it’s ridiculous to suddenly have to pay ridiculous prices to park on the street by the HOSPITAL. Which begs the question – if meters are meant to increase turnover of parking spots in congested business areas, what’s the rationale for having them in a hospital district? Without them, would people think “oh, I’ve got a good parking spot, I’ll just see if they have any extra tests they can run, since I have all the time in the world”? No, I don’t think so.

Anyway, I of course park in the garage, with the only indignity being that I had to park on the Barbra Streisand floor. And you know how each floor plays music to help you remember where you parked? Seriously people.....”Memory”? In a hospital garage? “Life was beautiful then, I remember the time I knew what happiness was”?? Yeah, thanks. Very uplifting.

So I go to see Dr. Von Roenn, and I start telling her about my Theory of Fativity, that in the absence of estrogen (which is what FatSurly suppresses), the fat cells which normally cozy up with estrogen get all pissed off, and start multiplying willy-nilly, growing bigger, gathering any errant fat cells around, etc., all as they gird for battle to go out and figure out what the hell someone has done with their little estrogen buddies. Kind of like preparing for a siege, or a quest, though without the wandering minstrels.

As I’m talking, I see something that I’ve never noticed before, that Dr. VR goes into these fugue states or something, where her eyes glaze over and she develops a weird tic in her eye. Gee, I hope it’s nothing serious - she really should get that looked at.

While I sense that Dr. VR thinks I sit around and eat bonbons all day, she does send me off for a thyroid test, and also asks me if I want to partake in a study where they’ll draw some blood and use it for research to determine if there are particular cells or markers or genes that cause cancer. I of course am all about the studies, so I leap at the chance – and my feelings are borne out later as I’m waiting for the blood draw and idly reading the consent form, which notes that we won’t be paid for this, but will be doing this “for the lasting benefit of mankind.” Hmm, I like that.

And here I’d like to add a note to anyone who may be trying to research Tamoxifen and weight gain and stumbles on this blog: We are NOT crazy. Really. This is what I think the problem is:

1) Tamoxifen works by limiting the amount of estrogen your body produces. So basically it mimics a state of menopause.
2) One common issue women have with menopause is weight gain. Most sites about menopause explain it thusly: “During female menopause, your estrogen levels decline rapidly, causing your body to stop ovulating. However, estrogen also plays a big role in menopausal weight gain. As your ovaries produce less estrogen, your body looks for other places to get needed estrogen from. Fat cells in your body can produce estrogen, so your body works harder to convert calories into fat to increase estrogen levels.”
3) So basically your body turns into a fat-creating machine.

This makes sense to me, and helps explain what’s going on. The problem is – what the hell do you do about it? Fat is fat, and it looks the same whether or not you’re eating copious amounts of Cheez Doodles to get there. Though I am happy to report progress of a sort: yesterday I had 2 cups of coffee with skim milk, some pickles, about half a cup of cottage cheese, and lo and behold, I did NOT gain weight! Yay me!

In the meantime, while I’m trying to figure this out, I think I’ll have a shirt made up for the times I dare to venture out in public that’ll say the following: “Yes, I’m fat. It’s the cancer drugs. Bite me.”

I think that kind of says it all. Not that I’m bitter or anything.


D said...

I'm gonna blame my recent weight gain on Tamoxifen. Hope that's ok.

Ruth said...

OMG I love your blog, too. :)

Anonymous said...

You were mistaken on the words to the Barbra Streisand song. Here are the real words.

"The Way They Were"
by Barbra Streisand


On each side of my chest,

Pretty double-sided mammaries,

Oh the way they were

Scattered pieces,

Of the tissue taken out,

Are now stored in different path labs,

Oh the way they were

Can it be that bras were all so simple then?

Or has time replaced my lingerie?

If we had the chance to do it all again

Tell me, would we? could we?

Mammaries, may be beautiful and yet

What's too painful to re-construct

We simply choose to forget

So it's survival,

We will remember

Whenever we remember...

The way they were...

The way they were...