Monday, January 23, 2006

Meet my new roomie

I've wanted to start a humorous blog for a long time. What finally motivated me to do it was being diagnosed with cancer in November 2005.

This, I realize, is not the best way to start a humor blog. What’s funny about cancer? Well, nothing. One day last December, however, while I was anxiously hanging around a computer lounge at the Mayo Clinic, wondering if anything would ever seem funny again, I got an e-mail from a college friend of mine who has had two heart transplants in the past few years. He told me to find humor wherever I possibly could; it would save me.

This man has had two heart transplants and still seems relatively chipper, so I believe him.

I’m lucky: I’m still mostly healthy and don’t need treatment yet. I have a rare form of blood cancer called multiple myeloma. This disease mostly strikes older people. Thirty-year-olds do not get this. Apparently, my body doesn’t know I’m not a senior citizen. Attention, body: Just because I like to listen to Frank Sinatra and laugh out loud at reruns of The Golden Girls does not make me old.

Lame, yes. Old, no.

The myeloma was discovered by accident during a routine blood test at my annual physical. Since the diagnosis, I’ve made two trips to the Mayo Clinic, which is the Mall of America of doctor’s offices. On our last visit, my husband and I were thrilled to discover a corridor containing a Quizno’s Subs and a Caribou Coffee. Want an iced chai to go with your bone-marrow biopsy? That’s convenience.

My doctor at Mayo determined that I have a form of the disease called “smoldering” myeloma, which means that, for now at least, the cancer is hanging around doing nothing. It’s caused the protein level in my blood to rise and certain cells in my bone marrow to multiply, but otherwise it’s lurking quietly; it’s not affecting my organs; it’s not affecting my bones. I’d never know it was there. Doctors want to check on me every few months to make sure the cancer doesn’t suddenly decide to get off the couch and do something productive with its life.

Let’s all pray the cancer was a philosophy major at college.

How long will I smolder? It could be a year; it could be 10 years. There’s really no way to know. A friend of mine pointed out that a diagnosis of smoldering myeloma does sound awfully, well, sexy.

“’Don’t mind me,’ Karen said, leaning against the veranda as steam drifted from her bodice. ‘My myeloma is smoldering.’”

So, yes, I have cancer, but I’m not exactly “fighting” cancer, as are so many other people who are much, much braver than I am. At most, I’m trying to peacefully co-exist with cancer, to come to an understanding with cancer, to not tick cancer off. The cancer and I are like a pair of mismatched roommates who are trying to work out our wacky differences and live in harmony. The cancer and I are singing The Odd Couple theme song.

Da dada da da da, da dada dada daaaaaaaaaa da.

Some day, however, when the cancer starts holding late-night parties, leaving its underwear hanging on the doorknob, and drinking directly from the milk carton, I will evict it. I’ll hurl its boxes of books and Pink Floyd CDs onto the lawn and promptly change the locks. I’ll never speak to the cancer again, no matter how many apologetic messages it leaves on my machine.

For now, though, I am continuing on: living, hoping, and even laughing, just a little bit.

3 comments:

DavidE said...

I was wondering if you were Felix or Oscar - you answered that with the comment about the milk carton! Never understood why that grossed out my late mother? My wife's not real happy when she catches me either!!

I love your approach - a link will be established from mine to yours!!!!

Emilee said...

Karen,
How great it is to see you haven't lost your spirit! And how awesome it is to have opportunity to read your wonderful writing again. I will check in often

Koenig rugrats said...

Stumbled across your blog. Love your writing. :)