Yesterday I started Cycle 6 of chemo. This is the last one (I hope) until transplant in January – not sure about that – I will have to do some maintenance but hopefully the last one with needles on a regular basis (twice per week) at Mt. Sinai.
Yesterday Cancer became routine. What do I mean by that? Here was my day:
5:30 AM – Woke Up, 2 coffees, 3 pills, online, check sales (not up yet), finish T&E, send emails following up on sales and appointments for the week.
6:30 AM – Glass of OJ, still waiting for sales to come up, finishing up thank you notes/emails, organizing my bag
7:30 AM – Looking at sales – month is good, maybe not great yet – grinding it out, filling the pipeline, preparing for a conference call
8:30 AM – Oh Shit! Have to get in the shower
9:15 AM – Leave for Mt. Sinai Cycle 6
9:45 AM – Stop at Neiman Marcus – bought 4 pairs of shorts last week, wrong size, have to return. Done.
9:55 AM – Whole Foods – Organic snacks for Chemo (avoid the free turkey wrap at Mt. Sinai)
10:45 AM Arrive at Mt. Sinai, Park in the discount Cancer lot (only $10)
10:55 AM Stop at Duane Reade on corner (every single time – superstition) for a big bottle of Aquafina Water (keeps me hydrated)
11:00 AM Dial in to conference call with our CEO and a Financial Advisor as I walk into Ruttenberg Treatment Center (make sure to mute!)
11:05 AM Check in – get my bracelet – sit in lobby and wait ….
11:15 AM Get called for blood work up (still on conference call)
11:20 AM – Weight (gaining way too much), Blood Pressure (normal), Pulse (normal), Temperature (normal)
11:23 AM – Blood drawn (results later)
11:25 AM – Wait in back waiting room
11:40 AM – Get to private treatment room, put lap top up, begin working, (still on conference call), get hooked up to IV for hydration, take my Dex (steroid) pills.
11:50 AM – Have to go to the bathroom. Wheel my IV down the hall into bathroom and wouldn’t you know it – call ends while I am in it. So holding my breath that the automatic flusher doesn’t go off I close the call by thanking Rod (our CEO – who was OUTSTANDING BY THE WAY) and my advisor for taking the time. Asked the advisor if he was all set for his presentation Monday (trial close) and if he needed more material (one of everything client approved – a good sign indeed) – THEN hung up and flushed.
12:00 PM – Cytoxan in 50 minutes/60 minutes drip. Answered and dialed the phone – did my work
12:50 PM – Carfilzomib in (30 minute drip – used to be only 10 minutes now 30 – SUCKS)
1:15 PM – Temperature (normal), Blood Pressure (normal), Pulse (normal) – see you again tomorrow Ruttenberg Cancer Center
1:30 PM – Get my car from the Cancer lot and drive home
3:15 PM – Traffic on FDR, running late. Stopped at Westfield Seafood and picked up 6 beautiful salmon filets for the grill tonight
3:45 PM My next two hours – Brushed the salmon with Honey Soy Glaze (Homemade) and put in refrigerator. Opened Lemon Chicken (the only marinade I don’t do homemade because Wegman’s is so darn good.) Danced to “Some Nights” by fun. about 100 times with Ava. Used the gas blower to blow the leaves off the pool deck – (not smart for the guy with Myeloma to use a gas blower by the way), Changed into my Mr. Happy t-shirt for the night, made myself a cocktail of water and pomogranite juice.
6:30 PM – Friends arrive. What a beautiful night with beautiful friends. Adults and kids. We never get to spend one on one time (or is it two on two time) with Joe and Mimi. We are usually only in large groups. There is something relaxing about being in the moment with great friends and great people. Relaxed conversation, kids getting along and learning things about them that you never knew.
When I first got sick, Joe Verga came to my house and made me meatballs – some crazy good meatballs! I was glad to return the favor (flavor) with my grilling skills. I was glad to see the dynamic between their kids and ours. I was glad to live in the moment of friendship with two beautiful families. After everyone left, I mentioned to Helene what a great night that was. Don’t get me wrong – I love having the raves at our house with 5 families and kids and grilling a huge meal and booze flowing – that’s why we bought this house. But there is something to be said about a relaxing evening with meaningful friends, great food, great wine (although I did not partake – blood drawn again tomorrow) and perfect children – and Mimi’s mom too!
Cancer is the new normal. Cancer is part of my weekly routine. It doesn’t bother me (I don’t let it) and it doesn’t mess with me (mind over matter)
I was leaving treatment yesterday and walking toward the elevator. I had said goodbye to my nurse for the day Bernadette, Walked by Rosario, Naomi and Patrick and said goodbye to them. Passing the check in desk toward the exit I said good bye to Michael. I got on the elevator and the guy on it with me said “Wow, you know everyone here! Do you work here?”
“No.” I said.
“Why are you here?” he asked.
“Cancer.” That was it.
He was stunned. “You don’t look like it, I mean, you look great, you don’t look sick.”
“I feel great, ” I told him. “Mind over matter. My doc tells me if the medicine works I am going to live – and the medicine is working.”
“How often do you come here?” he asked.
“I am here twice a week. The nurses, check in people, car parkers – everyone is as nice as can be. Outside of the Cancer – Its a great day for me.”
“I run the food service here.” he said. “I couldn’t agree with you more about the people.” and then he added … “You’ve got a great attitude. I wish you all the best.”
“I’ve got not choice.” I told him, “This is now who I am. We are all dancing through the rain and this raindrop hit ME. I will win. It is who I am.”
Cancer is now the new normal in my life. It will always be there until a cure is found. It will always be there – even when I am in remission – it lurks waiting to come back. Even now as my M-Spike is ZERO, traces of cells still lurk in the body waiting to multiply and activate. Cancer is my routine. And as a routine goes – if I can take care of what I need to take care of – and still share all of the special times ahead with my family and my friends – it ain’t that bad a routine to have.
And isn’t that really the SILVER LINING in all of this. To be sick but to know that with the right attitude you can manage your life in a way that is meaningful and not miss the moments and milestones that matter most.
Even with Cancer, I don’t think I would trade places with anyone else.
Going back today for Cycle 6 day 2. It is a wonderful day to fight cancer AGAIN. #bradstrong.