Thursday, December 29, 2016

Unexpected Side Effects: Four Tips for Breast Cancerians

(1) Chemotherapy curls your hair! After you lose it, that is, and after it starts to grow back as hard little stubbles that hurt when you lie down. One day you realize your hair's gotten soft again. Then comes the moth-eaten nun look, or the determined dyke or the Roman-emperor do. Then comes the curls. Or the cowlicks. Remember Tintin's big old cowlick? Lots of those, plus tight little curls.

(2) You start watching Grey's Anatomy. There's an episode somewhere in the fifth season that saved an Israeli woman's life. She'd found a lump while breast-feeding and her doctor said it was just a clogged milk duct. A character on Grey's Anatomy was told the same thing, had second thoughts, and got a second opinion. The Israeli woman got her own second opinion after watching that episode. TV saved her life. Besides, the spectacle of interns kissing attending surgeons in stairwells, anesthesiologists dozing off on duty while drunk, nutcases getting shot on purpose as performance art, is all so distracting that I hardly think about my own cancer. When I do, I'm more clearheaded about what to do next.

(3) You make a will. And it's about time, Sweetie.

(4) You learn to take one thing at a time. When you panic, as I did the other day upon learning that I had to have another surgery, you tend to do many things at a time, or to think frantically about doing many things. Now's the time to slow down, make a list, and focus on the first thing before moving nervously to the second.

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