I don't consider myself a particularly superstitious person, but the fact of the matter is, I've been entertaining some unusual superstitions in the last year, and today I need to tell you about one in particular.
Back when the shit first hit the fan, health-wise, I received some very nice gifts. One such gift was an extra large container of Philosophy body wash. Scent: "Strawberry Milkshake." I vividly remember first using it in my post-op days and thinking things like, "Wow, I am too skinny," and "Holy crap, I've been using this stuff for two weeks now, and I still haven't even made a dent in this bottle," and, "This is pleasant-smelling, and while it maybe wouldn't have been my FIRST scent choice, I like it. I wonder, though, if I will be able to get through this entire bottle. This is a LOT of strawberry body wash."
Still, I persisted. Months passed, and I SWEAR to you, I emptied MAYBE a half-inch. Reams of pearly pink soap remained, glistening.
I endured 9 months of chemo. I started getting better. But still, it was chemo, so it was not a good time overall. I continued using the soap.
Then somehow, probably in an early morning haze, I subconsciously made this connection between the remaining amount of strawberry soap, and the total time it would take to rid my body of cancer completely.
Completely rational and scientific, I realize.
I didn't totally buy in to this logic at first, but as I starting doing the math (and you know writers are good at math), I realized, "Y'know, if this thing IS going to go away, it will probably take EXACTLY that long." (As I pointed through the steam at the bounteous, half-empty bottle).
A superstition was born.
Around Christmas last year, with about 1/4 of the damned bottle left, they noticed the regrowing tumor in my liver. We burned that one out. Then, as the bottle started looking close to something I could conceivably finish, they discovered the regrowing tumor in my lung.
The clever reader might now say, "AHA, your logic is failing, Shelly. The bottle of body wash is almost empty, and things are getting WORSE." I'll admit, I started to wonder myself.
But then the damndest thing happened. The beauty supply company, Sephora, sent me a birthday card in March, redeemable for a gift in-store. The gift could be anything: Lip gloss. Lotion. Who knows. I never remember to use it. At the very end of my birthday month, I happened to be in a mall, and I happened to pass a Sephora store, and I happened to remember my "free birthday gift" card. So I cashed it in, and of all things, the free gift turned out to be a large bottle of Philosophy body wash, and the scent was called, of all things, "Happy Birthday, Beautiful". It smelled like vanilla yumminess, a scent I definitely would have chosen.
I wanted to use it right away, but first I had to finish what I started with the strawberry bottle. I HAD to ride it out. I suspected I would receive one final health-related "F-You" before it ran out, too.
Sure enough, with just a few squeezes left, the whole pneumothorax debacle ensued. As much as I loathed that experience, it seemed to jive in my head with my idea that my troubles were almost done. One last, shitty hospital stay, then I could move on. And I could soon switch to the new, yummy, GOOD LUCK bottle, the one bearing the message, "Happy birthday, beautiful."
If anyone is still reading this ridiculous line of thought, I just want to let you know two things: 1) You must truly like me, because I might not have read this far if I were you. This post is not unlike listening to a friend painfully recount last night's "amazing, but so weird!" dream. So, thanks. I love you, too. And, 2) Some good news. Tomorrow's shower will be the final shower I ever take with the strawberry body wash. There is just a TINY speck left, and then it will really and truly be ALL GONE. AND, my health is getting back to normal. I'm about to have my final CyberKnife, in two weeks. And! After an unseasonably wet and cold spring, the summer sun has FINALLY shown up in Seattle, just this week. I am practically delirious over it.
I have this strangely awesome feeling that my luck is all going to change.
But I prefer to think of it more as "Happy *$-ing birthday, at long last, ShellBell."