So I’m guessing everyone has a guilty pleasure in life, whether it is a pint of Ben and Jerry’s and a romantic comedy when you can steal a few solitary hours on the couch alone, a trashy read like Grey, or some tv show you are just slightly ashamed to admit publicly that you watch. Well I have lots of guilty pleasures, but top on my list are slightly shameful tv shows and more importantly shows based on the telenovela. The telenovela originated in Spain and was essentially a limited soap opera that still had all the drama and romance. In recent years it appears to me that ABC Family, Lifetime, and even some Prime Time networks have adopted shows based on Latin American telenovelas and as far as guilty pleasures go, I love them. Who wouldn’t love a story about a Virgin who accidentally becomes artificially inseminated at a routine appointment by an old suitor who she then falls head over heels in love with, or how can you not become enthralled by the murder mystery surrounding a group of very attractive Devious Maids, and my personal favorite (because it is very relatable on a personal level) the story of a thirty something year old professional “Chasing Life” after being diagnosed with cancer in her prime? So weekly I am sucked into the telenovelas on tv and I started thinking about life in general and how much more interesting our stories could be if we told them in the medium of a telenovela.
My summer started off much like any other, on the heels of a seriously stressful school year. And you’ll have those years, luckily they usually don’t occur consecutively. Good thing too, because teachers across the globe would need to immediately check into a resort once the year ended and ask for an endless supply of umbrella drinks until September, if that were the case. Unfortunately, most teachers just can’t afford that luxury unless of course you were lucky enough to marry dirty filthy rich and in which case you probably would have abandoned classroom teaching for a volunteer position that allows lunching with the ladies and once again umbrella drinks. That however is not my story. I kicked off the start of summer trying to work my schedule around my clinical trial appointments for my very stubborn, just won’t leave me the hell alone, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Of course I feel as though I should remind people that I am frequently told by many that I have the ‘Mercedes’ of cancers and am so very lucky to have gotten the “good kind”. Of course I have to vehemently disagree, since my particular brand of Hodgkins has managed to evade standard regiments like ABVD, salvage high dose chemo like ICE, experimental chemo like Brentuximab (which was just approved yesterday by the FDA for refractory patients like myself – It does have a success rate for some), and radiation. So I think at this point, I can say that my ‘Mercedes’ turned out to be a lemon. But such is life.
My cancer keeps me running both literally and metaphorically. I am always running to Doctor’s appointments (Sorry to say there are no steamy stories about the healthcare professionals I have encountered thus far, unless you count the few times that I went out with some of my nurses and enjoyed a Margarita flight – daring, I know.) and always running to something, whether it be a lunch with friends, a late night theater date, a puppy play date, a shopping excursion, errands, work planning meetings etc. Since being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s nearly a year and half ago this September, I take every chance I can get to anything and everything. It would appear that No is not in my vocabulary when it comes to an offering of any social engagement. It keeps my planner packed and my wallet empty but makes me happy. I look at life now as though tomorrow isn’t guaranteed to any of us, so enjoy today and maximize it. Poor Josh thinks I’m crazy, because while he fits in those few extra hours of sleep, I’ve already tackled half of my to do list so I don’t have to miss out on anything. Having cancer forces you to recognize that you may not have as long as you thought and knowing that gives you a chance to really make the most of it. And I like to think that I do, now. So while I may run around like a lunatic, at the end of the day when my head hits the pillow I know I took advantage of my day.
July was great, I like to think of July as vacation Month. It’s like the Saturday of weekends during the school year. I was able to vacation at the Lake, where Steph and I spent 10 days living the life of luxury doing little more than crossword puzzles, reading, lying on the beach, shopping, and watching movies. It may not sound telenovela exciting but it is relaxing at it’s best – a rarity for us. I enjoyed Boston adventures with my parents and other friends who pick up a shift on my every other Monday tour. And I went to Cape Cod for the first time to become more acquainted with the boyfriend’s family. And just because this couldn’t be less in telenovela fashion, Josh’s ninety two year old grandmother (who is a spitfire) actually set him up to sleep on the floor during our stay the night that the two twin bed room was already occupied. It was a perfect weekend.
That brings me to August and it has truly been a crazy month. Suddenly I wake up in bed everyday next to a handsome man, who actually lives here and cohabitates with me and hasn’t totally figured out that I’m nuts yet. I need to give him credit because he took me on knowing I had cancer and “99” other issues that had nothing to do with cancer. For a year, he drove across the state on weekends to be with me, because when I ended things between us twelve years earlier in college he considered me the “one that got away” and he was having no part of that this time. And this time, he gave up his job, apartment and life in Boston to move here to be with me. He has borne witness to my rare but occasional melt downs and says all the right things, and more recently he has been able to put with my Prednisone personality which is irritable and snarkier than usual, if that’s possible. Not to mention the poor guy has to wake up to my prednisone puffiness, which makes me look like the nutty professor. It looks as though I gained thirty pounds in just my face and the buffalo hump is returning, I am one hot mess. But at least it’s temporary. Although, if I really wanted to be on a telenovela at this juncture the producers would probably pass. Luckily, Josh pretends not to notice or care about my ‘hump’ and takes it all in stride. I definitely got myself a good guy.
As of yesterday, I get to stay the course with my Prednisone prescription because my pneumonitis requires it and plus you have to taper anyway. I have been told if you don’t taper steroids, the effects are similar to withdrawals and well I’d rather be the nutty professor than a character from Trainspotting. As of now, my treatment is still delayed but may resume in two weeks. The goal is remission and then well who knows. Those decisions all come in time. What I do know now is that I have two weeks left of summer before September, where I have travel plans every weekend (weddings, birthday, Boston) and I intend to keep ‘running’. So after writing this I realize, my life is a terrible telenovela. It has absolutely no scandal or dramatic flare. I guess I’ll have to stick to my guilty pleasure of watching them and be thankful I’m not really living in one.