Saturday, February 25, 2006


Ever since my hair grew back from the chemo baldness, it's soft and dark, a newness not yet turned coarse by sun and wind and life. I often run my fingers through it and ponder how the barren landscape of my scalp has so quickly been cloaked by hair again. Hair must be nothing but a common weed to grow so unabashedly. Like gardeners battling bindweed, we pluck it from our eyebrows, from the earlobes of our 52 year old spouses, from our upper lips and chins. There is something obscenely old about a hair sprouting from body parts that never saw hair before. But I am thankful for it. There is something even more obscene about looking at yourself in a mirror and not finding one hair on your naked body. You don't know how much you love your hair until it's not there. The picture of Jacob and I was taken in August just a couple of weeks after my last chemo treatment.

The bright side. My daughter put water based tattoos of roses on my scalp. I never had to shave my armpits or legs or worry about errant hairs while in a swimsuit. I pretended to be a Trill. I wore scarves and hats and got ready to go anywhere in under 10 minutes. People stopped me in Park City when it was only a quarter inch long all over and complemented my fashion sense and radical hairdo. I really can't decide if life is better with it or without. Hair.

This second picture was taken towards the end of October 2005. Only about 8 weeks after the bald me. And I even have eyebrows and eyelashes again. The human body is amazingly resilient. And I did too look like Uncle Fester.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Today is February 8, 2006. A Wednesday. I am recovered from last November's hernia repair surgery. I can do all my normal ab exercises, yoga...everything. Yet I have a nagging worry in the back of my mind. I hate not knowing whether it's founded in reality or I'm just being a hypochondriac. My body doesn't feel like the me I know. I've gained 40 pounds since the onset of cancer a year ago. Everyone else I know seems to lose weight with I gained. I continued my workouts the entire time I was going through chemo, my eating habits haven't changed. Maybe that's the problem. Maybe I have to finally get much more strict with myself.

Yet I have these episodes of heartburn, of urping surprise mini-vomit into the back of my throat. At times I feel bloated and gassy. Is this because of my added weight, or is the cancer returning? My doctor tells me these are things to report. But in January I had two different doctor visits, bloodwork, an internal pelvic exam, and they tell me all is well. My CA-125 levels are at 20 and have been stable since last August. If I try to speak of this to anyone (family, friends) they tell me I need to be positive and not dwell on the statistics of ovarian cancer recurrence rates. I think it bothers them to talk about it.

Two nights ago I told DH that I thought it was important that we redo our roof (has a leak), take care of big projects and pay off all debt as fast as possible--while I am still employed and we have two incomes. He did not like the conversation I could tell, but he listened. Then he asked me if I was worried I was dying. I said "not worried, really, but the reality of the prospects have to be faced. There's more than a 60% chance I won't be here in five years." This is not a thing anyone likes to talk about. Mom is going about normal life, goes to work, works in the garden, teaches exercise class, does everything she always all is well. I hope so, but still, I wonder at times.

Spring is fast approaching. It's been a very mild winter. DH golfed on December 23rd. That is really weird for Utah. There is no snow covering the chaos of decaying plant matter from last season. I keep telling myself it's good for my perennials, that it's good for reseeding, that it's good for the birds. It certainly isn't tidy looking though, and all my neighbors have these sterile, clean looking winter yards with frost defining every trimmed grass blade. Mine is a riot of stem, curled brown leaf and seed. I find beauty in that too. The picture is of star zinna seed heads cozying up to a red sandstone in my front garden. The saying on the stone "Don't tell your God how big your storms are, tell your storms how big your God is."