Communique 9-30-2020 "Love, Phabio"
By Philip Drucker
Good news everybody! I was just informed I will not be losing my hair during this round of chemo. At the beginning there was a 90% chance I would, but at this stage of treatment with my hair all but intact, there is little to no possibility of any significant hair loss. It would appear, to quote my physician, I have “strong hair follicles.” I rate that assessment of my basic genetic make-up right up there with good gums and teeth, a strong, steady heartbeat and an excellent example of superior breeding stock. I made the last one up. But I do have above-average hair follicles and that I believe must stand for something.
When I first started treatment, you know, when I thought my hair was going to fall out, I decided it would be a waste of time to cut my hair. So, I made up a fake story about going on a Covid-19 inspired no haircut till the pandemic is over protest that, well, I have to admit has gotten somewhat out of hand. Long in the front, down past my ears on the side and starting to tickle my shoulder blades in the back.
As I am a long time short hair kind of guy, I have thought about cutting it, or even shaving it off and blaming it on the chemo many a time, but as everyone around me keeps saying I look good with long locks of any number of shades of white and gray, I keep letting it grow. I’m waiting for someone to say, “hey shabby tabby, your hair is too long and it’s time for a cut.” I’m strangely comfortable with this hair style by public opinion approach.
However, I should warn that any suggestion or even allusion to dying my hair to hide the gray will be summarily dismissed. I first began going gray when I was in my early 20s. I noticed a streak of grey, not unlike a skunk stripe, starting at the end of what was then my bangs and ending in a swirly spot near the back of my head approximately where if I had one, my bald spot would most likely be. Love me, love my gray hair. That’s what I always say, and I wholly recommend you do too.
Speaking of which, I’ve never been a fan of artificial enhancements of the improved bodily image type. Mind you, I am not opposed to the use of reasonable make-up and cosmetics in context of everyday life. But Botox enhanced or “pumped-up” “fish lips” are not “plump” they are fishy as in big mouth bass territory in appearance and fraught with a bevy of questions regarding ulterior motives.
Is it just me or is anyone else immediately suspicious, if not down right scared of purposefully obvious, overt to the casual viewer over-compensations (meaning too big for the rest of the frame) augmentations of the mammary glands, phenomena I often refer to as the “exploding plastic inevitable” with all attributions to Andy Warhol, Nico, and the Velvet Underground gratefully acknowledged. If fact, I’m going to go home and listen to the album with the silk- screened banana on the front cover while drinking peach flavored iced tea. Makes perfectly good sense to me.
Just got handed my latest graphic marker chart and lo and behold! My cancer mass is at a new all-time low of 13.3%. That being down from the abnormal and dangerously high watermark of 49.0%. This is what is known in my circles as very, very good news indeed. Plus, my lymphocytes are slowly going back up (immune system stuff) and, my next PET scan will be rescheduled accordingly to a later date TBD. Another, very, very good sign. And, I have great hair. Does it get any better? I think not.
Recently, I have been getting a number of inquiries into why I am so willing to share my experiences, including actual charts and information relating directly to my cancer treatments and associated side effects, good, bad and occasionally ugly. It is not that I didn’t think seriously about writing a blog directly from the chemo lounge at times while my overall judgement and ability to stay focused is compromised and getting worse by the minute. When my face is radiating sweat and my eyes starting to involuntarily open and shut. When my fingers start to shake, turning numb and eventually unresponsive to the point I can no longer type a complete sentence “the first time”. Yes, I thought long and hard, indeed I did.
But what is the price of a little potential embarrassment due to a lack of or what might be described as incredibly poor judgment compared to the possibility of the good that could come about if another person who suspects they may have cancer, decides to go for that long overdue, but hopefully not too late physical examination and if necessary, begin what is in many instances (including mine) life-saving treatments.
Or a caregiver, perhaps for a loved one, who wants to know what is “normal” under the circumstances and lastly, for anyone and everyone in and/or around the Wonderful World of Oncology that they are not alone. That, if this is you I’m describing are never alone. Your community will be here for you. Our thoughts and prayers, healing white light, empathy and energy are here for you. Just as several angels were and continue to be there for me. Now that I am thinking about it, how could I in good conscience do anything less?
And so, as the sweat begins to pour down from my forehead, through my eyes and is absorbed into my Covid-19 mask, I know I am near the end of today’s infusion session. I’ll be leaving shortly armed with my big black fanny pack filled with take-out chemo to go firmly strapped around my waist and pumping the best of cancer cocktails directly into my heart for special delivery to wherever my life saving poison of mercy needs to be. To make me better. Usually, that’s all I need to keep going. And, you? Well, you can too. All for now. It’s time to go home.