Thursday, February 5, 2009

Pink to the Rescue

Okay, so I see (or hear) my description of the meeting with Dr. Glaspy concerned some of you as well. Thank you for your comments, emails and calls. But, um, no. I'm still not dying. But yeah, who knew cancer could be life threatening?! I'm doing the chemo and my odds are good. (I'm actually a pretty good gambler).

There are a lot of things that are quite strange about CANCER. Like the fact that there are so many different kinds (jeez, no wonder they haven't found a cure for it!). And then there's the part where when you actually have cancer--and by that I mean the clearly identifiable little bastard known as "the lump"--you feel just fine. It's only after they start treating you for it and excising it, exorcising it, zapping it, and radiating it into outer space that you actually begin to feel sick. Or bad. Or worried. a patient. With health issues.

Today, I felt like a patient. Which is perhaps a delayed reaction, but I rather liked the world I was living in (and will now be returning to) where I was spending time at UCLA but was not a patient (in my mind anyway!). I felt like a patient today because I worked and no matter how hard I tried to just be a lawyer, the looming health care issues kept knocking on my door saying "Excuse me, if I could just have a minute of your time..."

My assistant heard from a client yesterday who asked if I had cancer--because she overheard someone talking about it in a restaurant!! Right. I have a blog that anyone (with you know, electricity and a computer), anywhere, anytime could read. So it's not like it's a secret. But I'm pretty good at compartmentalizing my life and I had this crazy idea that my clients and perhaps my referral sources maybe shouldn't know. In the way that children should not have health issues (or die--but that's not happening!!) before parents, attorneys should not have health issues (or die--but that's not happening!!) before their clients. I told clients on a "need to know" or "they will be totally fine with the news" basis. Okay, and now it's on a "daily specials" list somewhere. Time to re-think my approach!

Then I went to lunch with a banker who I have met perhaps twice. There seemed to be some synergy (did I really just use that word??) in our client base and opportunities to work together and I realized as we discussed a few things...ummm....I may need to mention that "you won't really see me at quite so many events and uh, if you do I'll be bald. And fat. er. And lunches or introductions might be difficult coming in the next few months." So at the end of lunch I just went ahead and told him. He did a spectacular job of not immediately glancing at my breasts! And was remarkably kind (although I'm sure he's thankful I waited until after he ate and even at that he's thinking it's the oddest lunch he's had in awhile!).

By the time I got back to the office I was exhausted (not from the lunch so much as from waking up at 5a.m and not being able to get back to sleep). But then another "survivor" stopped by and really cheered me up. Because a) she had also consulted with Dr. Glaspy (the oncologist I talked to at UCLA) and found him to be "the best", b) she had lost 20 lbs in her chemotherapy and c) she had really cute hair!! Both the "cranium prosthesis" and the few inches of growth of curly hair she was growing back (she was done with chemo in July). Truly inspiring.

But then I went to work and had to return the phone calls (yes, plural; I cringe) of a client who got angry that I was "never in" and took it out on my poor (and did I mention pregnant?) assistant yesterday. Michelle is not, blessedly, in the habit of handing out personal information about me and this client had the misfortune to call twice when I was out for surgery and then yesterday when I was at UCLA!! So I had to fess up. And um, yeah, it works to say "I'm so sorry I couldn't return your call earlier. I have BREAST CANCER and was busy getting a lumpectomy." It works. But it's awkward at best. And I don't really want my clients working around my schedule or feeling like I won't be able to take care of them. He saw me not too much before surgery and I'm sure I looked perfectly healthy to him.So yeah, weird. Cancer is weird.

Next up was the ever-so-gentle reminder from Chris that I still needed to call the 2nd opinion doctor in Rancho Cucamonga. I called. They sent about a 1/2" of paperwork to fill out, plus I faxed all my "reports" over to them and....I may have an appointment in about 2 weeks. Yikes. Here we go again with the Inland Empire "not enough doctors" health care problem. And I deal with paperwork all day long, normally. I find I can't even look at that stack of paperwork I need to fill out, just so I can sit around waiting for an appointment 2 weeks from now. How many times do I have to fill out forms about my and my family members' history of heart attacks, cancer, psoriasis, menopause, tonsillitis, skin rash, anemia, shoe size, stroke, common cold, and favorite colors?? Maybe I'll deal with it tomorrow. (Next up: I'll make a dress out of the curtains!!)

I finished as much work as I could, closed up shop and walked out into the freezing sleet and wind. Alright, rain. And wind. And below 70 degrees, so I was instantly miserable. By the time I got to the car (which was like, 100 ft from my office door) I had worked up quite a little pity party.

I put in my anthem CD. Pink. Not just because of the color pink--I promise you that's a coincidence. I have no taste in music whatsoever. None. I'm tone deaf and grew up hearing nothing but my dad's constant Elvis music and my siblings head-banger noise then known as some-form-of-rock that I'm way too uncool to even know the name of (I just know it was ear-splittingly loud; and I was trying to read). So other than Jimmy Buffett I rarely like an artist enough to actually buy their music. But I like Pink. Chris gave me the Pink "Funhouse" CD as a stocking stuffer when we tried to pretend it was Christmas. I have found she has great "angry" music that eventually makes me smile if not laugh outright. And I like her strength. Pre-surgery the lines I had in my head were "Just a crack in the crystal ball. And I'm not afraid at all. No, I'm not afraid at all." (Repeat. Um, repeatedly. As necessary.)

Most of the CD is songs she wrote while going through a divorce. So she says. To wit: "This used to be a funhouse. But now it's full of evil clowns." But I ask you, how is that not about my right breast??

So today, Pink gets the "photo op" in this blog post. Because she made me laugh, because she cheered me up before I'd even gotten a half mile away from my office and because I think I can totally rock that hairstyle about 3 months after chemo.


  1. Hello Teresa and Chris, just wanted you to know that I not only read but I care... And to relate that after my mom's chemo she wore a short blond wig that she gave me eventually to take home to northern california to a friend who worked with a charity that distributed free used wigs to others on chemo. I was faced with trying to choose the most dignified manner to transport it through airport security. It ended up in my carry-on suitcase, with me busily rehearsing my lame explanation for the wavy blond thing in my possession, and a little trickle of sweat running down the side of my face....
    But in the end, luckily no one searched and I boarded with my dignity intact.
    Love you guys, and thinking of you. John G.

  2. Theresa, Judy Teunissen here from THe Arlinton Business Partnership.
    I have been keeping up with you through this blog and it is amazing to listen to your strength.
    I have attached some info on the Pomona Valley Hospital Cancer Center. I went there with my sister during her cancer treatment and they were amazing there! It might be worth you checking into. We opted for them because of their knowledge, caring attitude and humor (and it was not LA)

    1910 Royalty Drive, Pomona, CA 91767

    Primary #: (909) 865-9555


    Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center
    1798 North Garey Avenue
    Pomona, CA 91767
    (909) 865-9858

  3. John--did you just make this all about you? You did!! Thanks for that. ;-) and now I know to keep "portability" in mind when selecting my cranium prosthesis. I would not have considered that before.

    Judy- Thanks! You are the second person to recommend Pomona. I may have to check that out. Nice to hear from you too!


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