Gotta keep on keepin' on.......

Cancer again...that's 3 times in 2 years. This time it’s not breast cancer, but a new one called squamous cell carcinoma. New cancer, same old fighting spirit! My blog is still named for one of many songs that kept me going the first time around. Driving home from an upsetting appointment, I turned on the radio just as this line from Steve Miller Band's Jet Airliner was playing: "I've got to keep on keepin' on"....so I did just that. And I'll do it again.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

What's in a name?

The other day, not long after Get Over It Day, I decided I needed to be really upbeat about my radiation treatment. If I can pretend everything is great and treatment is a breeze, then maybe I'll make myself believe it. It couldn't hurt to try, right?

To start, I gave my treatment a name. Actually, I gave the radiation machine a name. It is this big huge box with a long thick curved arm (like a phone) attached to the front. Sticking straight out, perpendicular to the box, is the bench that I lie down on for treatment. The "phone" rotates around the bench, and the radiation comes out from the "earpiece" at the top of the "phone".

When I first started my radiation treatments, I hardly glanced at the machine. I hated the whole process, and I was so uncomfortable (not to mention chilly! those gowns are thin!) that I just walked in, grunted hello to the technicians, hopped up on the bench, waited for it to end, then left. Never looked at the machine. I couldn't even tell you what color it was.

Now that I am trying to have a better attitude, I've been taking the time to get to know the machine. I take a look at it every day and try to notice something new. The other day I saw that it had a label on it that said "Varian". I guess it's the brand or manufacturer. I asked the technician if they have a name for their machine and she chuckled and said no, they don't really call it anything.

So all during that treatment, I was thinking that I needed a good name for this machine. Varian is kind of blah. Vince was close. So was Vance. Or Marian, that rhymes with Varian.... Marian is my aunt's name, and I reasoned that perhaps a radiation machine needs a more maternal name so it doesn't seem so harsh. But then again, I thought, I LIKE my Aunt Marian. Why would I name a machine I DON'T like after her? No, I needed a different name.....think think think.....this was my thought process while I was on the table, it really was. But then the technician came back into the room and I got distracted and started thinking about other things, like "Oooh gross, I just realized she has to look at my armpit, which I haven't been able to shave since February!" (my armpit is still numb from surgery, and I'm afraid to use a razor until I have feeling back. I considered using John's electric shaver when he wasn't looking, but thought maybe he wouldn't appreciate it.) So anyway, my mind wandered and didn't come back to the name thing until the drive home.

I finally decided that Suzy Sunshine would be a great name for the machine. I don't know why, but that's what came to me, it sounded nice and upbeat, so that's what I call it. Kind of like when I told the girls that I was going to get my "strong medicine" when I went to chemo. And like the time before I started chemo, to prepare them for the possibility that it might make me vomit (which it didn't, fortunately), I taught the girls many many different ways to say someone threw up (toss cookies, lose your lunch, blow chunks, yak, puke, kiss the porcelein god). Euphemisms are great. I really need them. Sure, maybe they help me avoid reality, but they certainly help lighten things up.

So every weekday morning I tell the girls, "Good-bye! I'm off to see Suzy Sunshine!" I'm very cheery about it. We laugh and off I go. It's funny how a little name change can make a difference.

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