Thursday, February 24, 2011

I Am Not the Cowardly Lion

Quick update for family and friends: Still alive.  Still feeling more or less fine, just very tired and a little sore from radiation.  Oh, and whoever's rocking the boat, STOP IT so that I can get rid of the seasickness.  Thank you.

Now: today's thoughts.  I am officially past the halfway point in the first of 3 treatment phases.  16 out of 28 days of radiation therapy are done, and after my chemo pump is disconnected tomorrow, I will have only two more Monday hookups, after which my friend Eleanor (the kids' name for my constant companion) will be retired.  While I appreciate what she's done for me, I will bid her a fond farewell.

It's been interesting to me to talk to some other patients this week.  A few of us are feeling a bit sheepish about comments from people who tell us how brave we are.  I mean, yes, this is scary stuff and all, but the patients have the easy part - all we have to do is show up.  I don't feel particularly courageous right now.  Courage is what we're seeing in Egypt and Bahrain and Libya and Wisconsin (there's a strange list for you, eh?).  Courage is a mother in Haiti who holds her baby while doctors amputate a limb without anesthesia.  Courage is a woman from the Congo  who shares stories of the horror she has survived and then moves forward with her life.  Courage is a family in New Orleans leaving everything they have behind to get out of the way of Hurricane Katrina.  In comparison to all that, I'm doing pretty ordinary stuff.  And I don't have a choice.   So please, no medals for courage for me from the Wizard of Oz.  The only "brave" choice that I have made here is to maintain my determination in the face of bad news, but all of you have made that very easy for me.

And to further convince you that this experience is not all bad, here's the view I have every Monday morning while I wait for my chemo hookup.  The infusion unit is on the 8th floor of the Yawkey building at MGH, and faces the Charles river, looking out towards Cambridge.  I'm looking forward to the transformation of this scene as spring arrives.

Boston is a lovely place.  Another one of the unexpected gifts of this experience is the fact that I get to spend so much time in the city, something I haven't done enough in the past few years.  Some mornings, when I arrive early or have time to wait for a train, I walk around Beacon Hill for a while.  It's not a bad way to spend 30 minutes of your life.

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