Fast Trains (Heinous Little Cells pt. 3)
Updated: Dec 4, 2020
This piece originally appeared on Medium in 2019.
On to session #4. Image: Shutterstock
I wasn’t able to be at chemo session #2. But I did get the picture below, which kind of sums the whole thing up. Stacy remains remarkably cool headed, despite the emotional and physical effects of chemo.
What do we say? Fuck you, cancer.
And she’s even more cool-headed now. Because she has lost her hair.
Started session 2 with a full head of hair. A quick swipe of product later that day resulted in this.
By session 3, this was the state of things. A bald head, a crown fit for a queen and a tired spirit that remains undeterred to keep the fuck going.
On Thursday night, Stacy and I sat outside and talked, despite the weather, which her mother said was “scuzzy” (and she was right). I hadn’t heard the word scuzzy since leaving Long Island a very long time ago and have used it as much as possible ever since. It was rainy and buggy and moist. But, as we talked, Stacy said something that really sums up what she must be feeling right now: She said she felt as if she were standing on a train platform and trains were coming super fast in every direction, and she wasn’t quite sure how to handle it. I loved that visual metaphor. Between her own emotions and their ups and downs, the well-wishes and communication with others and all of the information she needed to take in from her doctors, she often is left not quite knowing what to do and how to feel. Selfishly, I was a bit reassured by this, because not knowing what to do or how to feel or what to say feels pretty much like my MO these days. All I know is that I can keep showing up and hope that’s the right thing to do.
Bravery is coming as you are.
Also on Thursday night, Stacy and I went out to dinner. She said it was the first time she had gone out without wearing her baseball hat the whole time. I was watching. No one stared at her. I didn’t see any withering looks or quick looks at the ceiling. That was good news. I was prepared to yell SHE HAS CANCER at anyone. Because of that whole I can’t keep my big mouth shut thing I have.
Friday was chemo day. It was uneventful and quick. The nurse was lovely and chemo buddy for session #2 Rich was there. We had take out from a local diner and I got a souvlaki. It was potent. So much so that later, Stacy asked if her mother was cooking Greek food and I had to ‘fess up that, no, it was in fact, my breath. 😂
Later, when the weather wasn’t quite as scuzzy, we went to the beach because Stacy said she needed to walk. It was glorious. We picked up some rocks, cleaned up some trash and watched the waves crash. We both admitted to our frustration at not being able to get the perfect shot of the gorgeous crests that were on display.
🌊 Mother Nature is glorious. So stop leaving your trash on the beach, people. 🌊
Saturday, we were invited on a boat. Here’s where things get tricky: I promised myself that throughout this process, I would not offer advice, criticize, complain or counsel on what I Think Is Best. If you know me, you may know that’s not easy for me. But, this is Stacy’s journey. I am just here to offer help when needed, whether it’s emotional or physical. I am not here to proselytize. Stacy wants to go on the boat, we are going on the boat. Did I check to try and ensure she was up to it 1000 times? Yes. (Sorry, Stac.) Did I check and double check she had everything she might need? Yes. (You know you’re glad I brought 70 sunscreen.) It was a glorious day. Spent time with another old friend and made some new ones. Got bumped around, listened to great music, had great food and peed in a bathroom smaller than my bathroom vanity. GLORIOUS. So thankful to have been able to share that day with those fine folks. Also, you know you are a grown up when your bar for being an adult is whether or not you were a dumbass and let yourself get a sunburn. The answer for this crew is NO. Sunburn-free all around.
Choppy. WIndy. Salty. PERFECT.
As I go through this process with my friend, I find myself examining my own life more than I ever have. It’s helped me reset my priorities. When I am there, I do not work. I make myself shut everything other than what’s right in front of me down. It makes me sad that it takes this for me to be able to do that. But even if it’s definitely not Stacy’s year, I want to be there to witness it. And I want to show up.
Actually, I don’t just want to. I need to. Because that’s what you do for people you love.
This picture was taken very quickly. Because there were children in line.
And we are responsible women. 😂
The book Stacy is holding is called “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone” by Lori Gottlieb. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to live more than an unexamined life. Special thanks to the person who recommended it to me. She shall remain nameless, but she knows who she is. ❤️