As the fiery rash burns its way across my face, I consider the torment I was spared in my oh-so-fragile youth. I'm covered in Ivarest, which is actually poison ivy medicine, but it works. It's benadryl and calamine combined, and dries to a pasty translucent film which is not exactly tone-neutral on my little asian face. It's soothing if unattractive, and I might actually say to hell with it and go out into the world this way. But I skipped a social function today—I'm not comfortable just yet.
I found that my regimen is in clinical trials at UC Davis. They started in Nov 2006 so I'm hoping preliminary data has made its way to the Southwest Oncology Group, to which most oncologists around here have some connection. This gives me slight comfort. I got a second opinion at Davis, and those folks are much more optimistic than at Kaiser. In fact, the expert at UCSF (the 3rd opinion) was also very optimistic about me…but maybe he was giving me my $850 worth. They seemed to think I'd make it to the next lung cancer breakthrough, but then, the pipeline these days seems to be steadily rolling out new stuff. So, guarded optimism. Will I live to a ripe old age? Probably not.
It's ok. Strangely enough, we're entertaining new directions, completely opposed to the tact we planned to follow. We're talking of settling down, staying put…is this going to spoil my idea of traveling, or will this bring "new life", so to speak, to my idea of hanging on? It's intriguing, if not surprising. The nomad in me rejects the idea, but the nester longs to be surrounded by books and remnants that weren't unpacked on this move. I miss the stimulation of my stuff, reminders of a previous life that drove what I thought my future life would be. But the present is all I have, so I need to enjoy these things now, even if they drive Mike crazy. And if I can't travel, then I might as well plant the garden I've always dreamed of, read myself into oblivion, maybe throw a few pots, paint some pictures, whatever.
I look out at the kite surfers each day on my walk and think, if I go into remission, I'm taking that up! Along with all the other things, like traveling to extreme places to finally do—all those things…go back to school, volunteer somewhere, give back.
Anyway, Mike is not an intrepid traveler. He loves the comforts of home and activities that end with snuggling on the couch at day's end with a bowl of ice cream and good tv. I guess I wouldn't be as sad to leave this world if I didn't love joining him in this activity each evening.
It's funny how being able to breathe changes one's outlook on life.