Everything that has happened in the weeks following Spring Training have been such a roller coaster of highs and lows, which is eerily how I describe chemo in general.
Coming off Spring Training and the incredible experience I had getting my head signed (read about it here) was a whirlwind of excitement. Local news stations wanted to interview me, I got to be on the sports radio station XTRA 1360, and I recorded what is probably the closest I’ll ever get to a Podcast with the radio show Scott & BR. I was fielding phone calls with reporters for various stories and making contact with fun, potential opportunities to keep the momentum of Chemo_graph going. That week of chemo was rough but it was easier to stay focused on the good days ahead because I was having so much fun with my passion for raising cancer awareness. (If you are interested in reading or listening to any of these you can find all the links here.)
Fast forward just a few days and the COVID-19 scare became more than just a warning but a harsh, frightening reality. Many people went from being excited for me to concerned with my public appearances. I stopped going to the gym. I self-quarantined. Jesse stopped taking the coaster to work and showered every time he entered our apartment.
I had a pity party. A big, selfish, egocentric one.
My gym had to close. Baseball season was cancelled until further notice. My Wig/Beanie party I hadn’t even been able to invite everyone too wasn’t going to happen. My best friend Shannon wasn’t able to safely fly down from Chico to be here for my next chemo round. Alyssa wasn’t going to be able to come either because no one is allowed while I get my chemo this round except me (how lonely does that sound). No more visits with friends, no going out and being social on the “good week” during chemo when I felt like myself and my mouth didn’t taste like metal-burned-poop (thanks for that one chemo). And it really hurt when I realized the last time I was with my family was really going to be the last time for a long time.
I had my family Chemo_graph my head for all the reasons you can think of.
Unconditional love. Support only a family can give. Appreciation for everything they’ve done to get me through this terrible time.
My mom quickly took the lead and signed with a flourish, “Harriet AKA Mom.” My dad was next and we couldn’t stop laughing as he used one hand directly in front of my face to stabilize my bald head as he wrote his name and our saying to each other, “Dad, Love You More.” My sister hesitated to write her “not cool looking” signature so I told her to draw one of her famous heart-people drawings that have been ever-present on our birthday cards from her for as long as I can remember. She gave it a mask as was fitting for the current time.
My 9-year old nephew went last. At first he was very hesitant to sign. He was hesitant of the whole thing really. When I first shaved half my head he told me looking at it made his stomach hurt. As someone whose emotions always travel down to my own belly I knew exactly what he meant. It gives me a funny feeling when I see my reflection in a store window or in a mirror I pass by. Losing my hair made my heart and my brain and my stomach hurt. I told him he could draw whatever he wanted because it was my head, my cast, and I wanted him to. He knew exactly what anyone would need on the back of their head: two eyes to see what’s coming up behind you.
After my self-admitted pity party, I realized while these things all seem important now many people had it worse than me. Two friends postponed their weddings and two other friends are worrying about doing the same. Birthdays will go uncelebrated. Businesses I love will close and employees I knew personally or just appreciate as a customer are in financial hardship. And worst of all, people are sick and people are dying.
So I am choosing to set my pity party hat aside and instead focus all my positivity on everyone around me because we are in this together.
Hey, Chemo! It’s just you and me tomorrow. It’s my second to last round, that’s right, I’m halfway done with you.
And don’t try any funny business because I’ve got my 4 eyes on you.