Radio silence. I must apologize for it. I have no excuse except for this has been incredibly difficult. And every day I just simply woke up and faced what came next. Just the very next thing. Strapped down by the head and neck to a table and receive radiation. Every three weeks a huge dose of chemo, which would put me in the hospital twice, because I couldn’t stop the vomiting and the infections. The mouth sores. The swelling. Ah, so much swelling. The weight loss, which I would have never ever considered a problem, until now. No tastebuds. That’s right—I can’t taste anything. I keep waiting for those perfect little balls of love that should coat the half of the tongue that remains to come back! No appetite even if I had the buds to enjoy it.
I should say that I am incredibly lucky in that my swallow function is good. Some people don’t have this and I am lucky that I have a pretty intact swallow mechanism, which is great. We need good news. Particularly because I thought I would be recovering this month and the next. Getting better and stronger and looking forward to when a Snapple will taste like a sweet tea and not salt water. But about a week ago, I noticed a lump under my chin. On the left side. Not the side of the swelling and original cancer. It’s hard and as I pointed it out to each doctor, I watched them all become contemplative and say, “You are right to be concerned. Let’s get a scan and see what it is.”
The scan is this afternoon. In about an hour actually and I’m terrified. I mean, was this thing growing while I was getting blasted with all guns blazing of the chemo/radiation arsenal? Apparently. The only thing I can hope for is a saliva gland is clogged—which sounds delightful in itself, but I really want to get better. I was really hoping…
There it goes again. Every time I have this thought—this thought of no more time—something reaches within my chest and plucks a flat steel string and a discordant note reverberates uncomfortably in my chest. This is fear I have never known. The last time I really thought I was going to die I was bleeding to death and broken in pieces in the back of an ambulance when that drunk driver ran me over and with all the pain, death didn’t seem so bad. The prospect feels just awful now, sitting here, typing this to you all. I keep trying to be positive, but after this past year—little more than a year—after I lost Jen—this all feels too real and too possible. My own beautiful mother died at 53. I never saw myself as an old woman, but I feel a little too…I’ll stop now. I just have been alone a little too much lately. Unfortunately I got all the people on the east coast to visit me during and right after the surgery, which I thought was gonna be the toughest part.
And it was wonderful...that month and a half. All those people I love. The people I’d give a kidney or liver lobe for...all came to visit me in their turn. Jimmy with his lovely, Vanessa. Thomas. Kim. And David. They all came and held my hand. Washed dishes. Bought groceries. Crushed medications. All came from parts east to the land of sun—although it was pretty cold and in some cases rainy while they were here. And it was...wonderful. I had moments of distraction. Week after week of laughter and love. Then at the end of each visit, I’d stand and watch them climb into an Uber or watch their heads disappear inch by inch as they made their way down my stairs and out of the building and out of L.A.
But I screwed up. I was so intemperate with my scheduling—I wanted everyone to visit NOW—so that when I faced radiation and chemo (arguably the hardest part of treatment) I was alone. Bad move Monty. So if you can visit L.A., I’d love to see you. I am just now ready to see more people after the treatments, so I really want to see your face…when we can schedule it.
Really quickly before I go, I want to say thank you to all of you who have written something here or continue to send me cards and letters. Lori Hamilton—not only sent me a beautiful bouquet of roses but continues to send me a card everyday. Every single day. Thank you Lori. They are a highlight. And the letters I have gotten from Marcia Flo—I love getting them and finding out what you and Dave are doing. And all the beautiful words you all have sent. A couple of weeks ago, a ton of you wrote on this page and by the time I got to Wade Tilton’s message I was full on crying like a baby. Thank you—all of you.
And thank you for those of you who continue to help with financial support. I am a bit worried about the coming months. I thought I would be getting better and it is taking longer and I’m not sure what tomorrow will bring, but thank you for doing all you can to get me closer to my goal. Unfortunately I need more cash, but for all you have done and continue to do, I can never thank you enough. You are literally and metaphorically sustaining me. Now is time to go and get that terrifying MRI--I will try not to read too much into the tech's expression. Love to you all, Monty :)