Friday, May 28, 2010

Hello, from Shelliqua

Perhaps I should invent an alter-ego or nom de plume to use when writing a post while deep in the throes of chemotherapy drugs. Because Lord knows Shelly Baker Butler doesn't want credit for these posts. Writing under the influence of drugs, for some, was the very point of it: (Coleridge, Burroughs, Poe, Kerouac, etc....), but for me, I want to feel normal again. Ah well, just gotta wait a few days.

What would a good pen-name be?

Not Shelly--

Sheila Butter?
Shirley Bacon?
Shelly Seacrest?
Admiral Von Schellgenstein?

I'm accepting suggestions.

Anyway, moving on-
I spent the day getting loaded up with chemo. Today was chemo #11. Some people ask me how it feels to be on chemo, and I can't answer for all types of chemo because they all have different side effects. But I think I'm getting close to it when I say that it feels like I just drank two bottles of Windex. Or, it's what you'd get if you took a nasty flu and a major hangover, and you forced them to have a baby: that could be chemo.

My first appt was at 8:20 a.m., and I got home around 5. i'm tired. I have looong chemo sessions. longer than most people. Some people are in and out in 30 minutes. Apparently it depends on the type of cancer you have, and the stage. I asked my doc today if the treatment they were giving me was on the heavier side of what is available, and he chortled and said, "HOO-OOH YES." So, I'm getting the hard stuff, apparently. If i can handle this, i can handle anything. Plus, it's working.

Now, though, I'm home, and for two days I'm still mainlining a pack of the drug flourouracil, commonly called "5 F-U", which has to be the best chemo drug name ever (Think of it: not just one 'F-U', but FIVE!). My nurse calls this drug the "2-day kill', because it keeps on releasing poison over time, which will continue to hit the cancer in every stage of its pathetic lifecycle. (eating, cell division, resting, and whatever else cancer cells do in their spare time.)

(Now wouldn't THAT be a fun book to write, written from the point of view of a cancer cell in his "spare time" between mitosis and feeding. wonder what he thinks about. wonder if he has any friends in there. Doubt it. )

So here I am. Nestled in our new bed (well, it's a new mattress... I found that after my brutal surgery in December I was able to make all kinds of demands on Neil, including a super-soft new mattress. Normally Neil is not a "let's get more new stuff!" guy, he doesn't like to buy lots of new things because the act of having lots of STUFF just doesn't make him any happier. Simplify, simplify. Which explains his 6-teeshirt wardrobe. Love that guy.) (*That being said, THIS GIRL _does_ need some new clothes, and soon.*)

Our bedroom looks out over the lake. It's a slightly overcast day here in Seattle (out-of-towners, insert your clever weather joke here), and the lake is pretty glassy. Neil is downstairs wrangling the kids so i can have some time to relax.

I guess this is all my way of saying, "If this is as bad as it gets, me loaded to the gills with medicines marked all over with huge 'BIOHAZARD' symbols, laying here, feeling a little barfy, but not too bad, if this is as bad as it gets, and I'm getting better, I'LL TAKE IT ANY DAY."

Let me brag a little now.

My nurse today looked at my blood counts. She said they were excellent. Then she looked at how many rounds of chemo i'd gone through, and she actually gasped when she saw this was #11. She said, "but these counts are so must be getting (forget the name) shots to help increase your white blood count every week, right?" And I said, "No, i've never gotten one of those. " And she just looked at me and said, "Well. All I can say is you are ONE VERY HEALTHY PERSON."

And that made me smile harder than anything all day.

-Shirley Bacon, out

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Yesterday in Seattle, I caught two interesting perspectives about life, both tacked onto the backs of motor vehicles.

The first was found on the license plate of a Harley. It was the rider who initially caught my eye. He was a young-ish guy, early 40s?, all in black leather of course (chaps, even), but what really struck me was this guy's expression. We were sitting at a stoplight, and this guy was wearing the biggest shit-eating grin his leathery face could muster. He was lost in his thoughts, alone, no other cars around except me. He looked like he was having THE TIME OF HIS LIFE. There was clearly no other place he'd rather be than out on the open roads in the sunshine. (We were in a slightly rural area.) I still remember his face: big straight white teeth, tanned skin, high cheekbones, deep laugh lines around his mouth, Ray-Bans. I think I could pick him out of a police lineup, I remember it so well.

As he pulled away, leaving my sleek silver Subaru Impreza in his dust, I glimpsed his license plate. It read, "Lifrox". Life rocks. And for some reason, this dude's great passion for life suddenly yanked me out of my mid-day slump, and I, too, felt like, "HELL YEAH! LIFE ROCKS!" I wanted to catch up with him so I could look over at him and give him the thumbs-up sign, or some cooler, more-Harley version of the same sentiment. Unfortunately I'm not that cool.

I then did something rather dorky that I'll share only with you (because this is such a private and intimate forum), I blasted the radio and started belting out the lyrics to the song on radio (it happened to be "Santeria" by Sublime). I was practically screaming. Happily.

It's amazing how you have all that zest for life inside of you, and it could be released at any time, with the right stimulus. That your day could go from zero to 100 without warning. To go from bored to thrilled by the time the light turns green. Inspiration is everywhere. It For me, that day, it was a stranger on a Harley, happy to be doing his own thing.

I mentioned that I saw two life perspectives yesterday. The other one was plastered to the back of an old white pick-up. It read, "Ditch the bitch. Go hunting."


Hey, as long as you're happy.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Wide Load

Hi all. So last week when I went into chemo, they weighed me, as they always do. Each time I go in, I gain a few pounds, and then I turn to Neil (or Laura, if she's with me that day) and start doing this dorky little spastic clap, because it has been my goal for many months to gain weight.

Well, mission accomplished, friends.

Last week I was up to 154. This is my old fightin' weight. My pre-cancer, pre-baby/ post-baby-fat -days weight. And this is up from my ghastly 129 lbs., in December.

(Side note: it might SEEM like it'd be neato to lose a ton of weight and to see what it's like to be crazy skinny, even just for anecdotal purposes, but the truth is, when you can't keep weight on due to serious medical issues, there's nothing interesting about it. It's actually terrifying.) (In fact, I even had to buy new pants, and I was a disgusting size FOUR, with a 34-inch inseam. Why would they even MAKE pants of those dimensions? Who fits that size? YOU FREAK!) (For the record, those trousers are now gathering dust in the back of my closet. And they could be yours for just $9.99!) (RIP.)

So then I go into my doctor's office and he tells me that since I've gained so much, IT MIGHT BE TIME TO UP MY CHEMO DOSAGE.


"More poison, Shelly?"
"Yes, please. Pile it high and deep."

He reviewed all my blood counts, etc., and happily, didn't raise my dosage last week. THANK YOU JESUS. But I'm going back in on Thursday for some more. I believe this will be Round 12. And I've been eating a lot of Skittles this week. And ice cream. So. We'll see.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Almost 2 weeks since I posted!

For some reason, since my last post, I've felt uninspired to write anything. I wonder why? I think the "C" topic has started to lose its luster for me. It's been 6 or so months since my diagnosis, and maybe that's how long it takes to exhaust the topic in one's mind. To talk it to death. Or, maybe I just feel like it might not have as strong a hold on me anymore (since I appear to be getting better!) (Cross fingers.)

Anyway, I will continue to write, but I expect I won't focus so heavily on that dreary "C" topic so much. "Hurray!", you must all be thinking, "This was becoming a real DRAG. This blog was the low point of my day! A vicarious cancer experience through Shelly! Who needs it?"

So: ONWARD AND UPWARD! Next posting will probably be called something like, "Spring Fever: The latest disease I've caught!", and I'll regale you all with stories of my newly planted veggies. And I'll throw one little cancer fact in there, just for good measure.

Stay tuned!