Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Beagles and Boobies

[This first part was written the night of February 17th]

Fair Warning: this post may ramble a bit. Why I should warn you about this one rather than any of the prior posts, I don't know-- except that today is my birthday (well, for the next 20 minutes or so) and when I got home Chris made me one of my favorite comfort meals (BLT sandwich, potato chips and chardonnay. Do not mock! It's my birthday and I have cancer!) and there may have been more wine, and then we sat out in the jacuzzi for over an hour chatting--which we haven't been able to do for awhile. Not the chatting, we do that all the time. The jacuzzi. See, post-surgery I couldn't go in the jacuzzi (open wound and all that). Just about when I healed enough to go in the spa, the rain started and our jacuzzi sits out on our back patio with a lovely view of the city and mountains, which is, generally, less enjoyable in a downpour. Once chemo starts the spa is off-limits again (apparently these tubs are just giant vats of bacteria...and yet sexy and romantic at the same time). So we enjoyed it while we could. And I'm relaxed and wined-up, and today was a good day. Today was a good day.

I was even motivated enough to start the wig shopping process. Or maybe it's a journey. The wig journey. Or the cranium prosthesis journey. I realized that while the Rancho Cucamonga Doctor had mentioned they had a "wig program," I really didn't know what that meant or what I was supposed to do. Program sounds a little like there will be 12 steps, and stern nurses, and more paperwork. So I called Wilshire Oncology(the Rancho Cucamonga place) and realized right about as they answered the phone that I had no idea what to say. "Hi, I need hair" while accurate, seems somehow not right. And I'm sure the esteemed and important and busy oncologists are not to be bothered with these things so who do I talk to? I blurted out something along the lines of "I was there last week and I'll be having chemo there next week" (which if you think about it, doesn't distinguish me from any other patient they have). So I persevered, "I have some questions and I have no idea who I'm supposed to talk to." Which again, is an accurate statement but wrong. Wrong on their part. Why don't I know who to call? (Let me mention again, I have the email address, office phone and cell phone numbers of the great and good Dr. Karam and can ask any question anytime. I'm pretty sure he can't help me on the hair part, but that's not my point here). I know now--I talk to one of the nurses, so they put me through to her. And her name was--get ready to smile, and I'm not making this up--Hope. I spoke to Hope. Hope was kind and informative and patient with me. So hurrah for that.

The Beverly and Robert Lewis Cancer Center at Pomona Valley Hospital operates the "wig program" and according to Hope, gives cancer patients free wigs. I am sort of wondering if I have to "qualify" for that (like food stamps but with hair? do I get government cheese with it or is it an either/or thing?) but Hope didn't think so. I had to call someone else again to find out what I do to get into the wig program (do I need references? Is there a personal essay involved? Do alumni interview me? So hard to know!). I've left a message and perhaps I'll find out tomorrow.

Then I looked up the two wig places that were recommended to me. One seemed to specializes in treatments for permanent hair loss, and the other turned out to be walking distance from my office--if I weren't so fond of cute, impractical shoes (which for the record, is completely different than Valentine's kitties or teddy bears or leprechauns). I called the one close by and pretty much was sold for all the reasons that matter when one is shopping for hair--there was a dog barking in the background, which for me is liking finding a four-leaf clover with a ladybug on it under a rainbow while riding a unicorn. Only less, you know, freakish. And the woman who answered sounded about 100 years old and kept calling me "honey." As in "No, honey, you don't need an appointment. You just come on in, honey." (And yeah, I thought you might need an appointment. I don't know why I thought this. I don't know the "rules" for hair shopping.) Anyway, I think I've figured out how to get from here to hair. I'm going with LAUREEN PITTMAN tomorrow afternoon--she says she's going to convince me it's time to be a brunette.

[And that's as far as I got before getting really, really sleepy and bored with my own rambling. But now this morning I realize I didn't even explain why Seamus is the photo of the day...besides the fact that he's Seamus. So, now it's the morning of the 18th and I shall explain.]

I felt really relieved to have a plan in place for this. And I couldn't really figure out why I was so flummoxed by the wig thing--it wasn't the hair loss that was getting to me, it was just that somehow I couldn't figure out how one is supposed to go about getting the wig. It was like my own Amazing Race--foreign territory, no map, unfamiliar language. Oddly, I haven't felt that way too much previously. So then I realized after I made the "everything I know about cancer I learned from dogs" joke that it was really true. Much of my experience was in fact similar to Seamus's, with a couple of really important differences. And hair loss was one of them!

I'm generally more assertive (aggressive? don't discuss amongst yourselves) in dealing with other people's problems than I am with my own and certainly I'm all over it when the dogs of my life have had even the slightest issue (except Seamus's separation anxiety...I've been completely unable to deal with that). So, while I'm not at all happy Seamus had cancer, I realize that his "journey" really did, in many ways, prepare me for mine--and when I got to an unfamiliar part, I stumbled. So tonight, I'll tell you all about Seamus's cancer journey. It has to wait, because for now there's a living to be earned and hair to be perused.


  1. Hi Teresa,
    This is from your Dad in his own words.
    'Stop saying you have cancer, you no longer have it,(thank God), or your doctor. Your cancer is past tense. We are positive that you are cured. And since you don't return my phone calls, maybe you will read this comment. Please let me know when we can come out and take you and Chris to dinner for your birthday, and start you on your immune system program.
    Love you Dad'

  2. Wait...my dad thanked God?? I can only assume he means Dr. Karam.

    My cancer may be past tense, but "It's my birthday and I had cancer" is not as persuasive. "I don't have cancer but I'm doing chemotherapy" makes me sound like a freak, and finally, "I don't have cancer but I'd like a wig" is really not going to get me accepted into the wig program!

    And Friday. We can do dinner Friday.

  3. Happy Birthday!!! Sending Reiki to your sweet family. {{{HUGS}}}

    Ice Pony Girl
    Happy Tails Beagle List, the place for all beagle lovers

  4. I vote for red hair. Think either Lucille Ball or Rita Hayworth--either would look great on you.

  5. Oh, that last one was me.

  6. The wigs...I like the style of the red and the color is not bad. I like the style of the ash blonde but I don't like the color. I kind of like the brunette. So I vote for all three of those. The long blondes are just not you...anymore..remember the dolphin shorts....

  7. I remember the dolphin shorts Gary--really not your best look.

    Now, go vote on the actual poll for the wig looks. You must have seen the pictures before I got the whole poll up!

  8. I vote 4 the choppy, ash blond wig - very trendy and cute - and here's the clincher - 30 something... :-) I think Laureen is the perfect wig shopping partner!

    Dad sounds fun. Enjoy. Happy Birthday!


    P.S. Betcha the 'anonymous' Lucille Ball/Rita Hayworth red hair comment was made by Nancy!

  9. The dark and mysterious looks really natural and pretty. The red makes you look like your mommy;) The ash blonde is a nice style but I would like it in the "blonde dream" color........I voted!

  10. Monica--I thought the red made me look like my mother too, but interestingly, my mother says "Not the Red One!!" Funny.

  11. Teresa,

    I love the choppy ash blond look on you.



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