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    Frumpy Mom: What my psychiatrist said about my kind of cancer
    • October 25, 2023

    So I went to see my psychiatrist the other day. This is true, I really did, and I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Oh, thank heavens, she’s finally getting some help.”

    And it’s true that I have issues that could be delved into at great depth, but I actually go see a shrink to get drugs. There are certain medications I take that only a headshrinker can prescribe.

    No, I’m not going to list them for you. Boundaries, people. Boundaries.

    This particular shrink actually specializes in treating people with cancer. Since I actually have cancer, this seemed like a match made in heaven, right?

    Indeed, it has proven to be.

    It’s a relief to see a doctor who gets the whole “having cancer” thing, so you don’t have to spend all day explaining why you can’t remember how to count to five or climb two flights of stairs when his elevator is out.

    The reason I’m bringing this up now is to share with you something interesting he told me. Well, it’s interesting to me. You might want to go turn on the football game.

    As some of you know, I have a particularly mean, nasty, aggressive disease – it’s the Jeffrey Dahmer of cancers – that kills nearly everyone quickly. In fact, it’s three cancers all rolled up into one.

    Go big or go home, as my friends like to say.

    Despite this, I’ve managed to stay alive for nearly five years now and have no intention of going to the big cocktail bar in the sky for a long, long time.

    I was telling this to the psychiatrist last week, and he said he had something to show me. He turned his computer around and showed me a chart of cancer survival rates.

    Apparently, people with aggressive cancers like mine tend to die off quite quickly during the first five years. The chart he showed me demonstrated the loooong, precipitous drop in survival.

    But here’s the interesting thing: People who hang in there and make it past the first five years finally catch a break. That sharp drop levels off, and those survivors can expect to live at least another eight to 11 years.

    What does this mean to you? It means you’re stuck with me for quite some time to come. Sorry about that. You might want to send a sympathy card – to my boss.

    When I was first diagnosed with this mean, nasty, ugly cancer (as Arlo Guthrie might say), I went to bed for quite a while, scrunched into a fetal position and metaphorically sucking my thumb. I really couldn’t wrap my head around my death sentence.

    My friends were horror-stricken for me and sent me cards saying things like, “You can do this!” Their attitude actually made me angry, and I would mentally shout at them, “No, I can’t, beaches. Leave me the bleep alone. I’m going to die. Roll with it.”

    In those early days, I had doctors who seemed uninterested in trying very hard to save me, as if they had already written me off as a hopeless case. When I read up on the statistics, I couldn’t help but agree with them.

    I made out my will, bought a cemetery plot and started planning my funeral. No way I was leaving that job to someone else.

    The doctors gave me chemotherapy that made me sick as a dog, which was the only thing it did because it had no effect on my cancer, which scoffs at such treatments.

    And I discovered that I had to keep traveling for the sake of my mental health, even though it was hard. I brought my young adult son, Cheetah Boy, along to haul my suitcase, and we went places, even though I was sometimes too sick to do much but look out the window. It was still better than sitting in my recliner at home.

    I was on San Cristobal Island in the Galapagos when my attitude changed, and I can’t explain why. Every day, the kids would go off snorkeling or swimming with sharks, while I would stagger down to the marina near our guesthouse and sit on a bench, watching the colony of sea lions that lived there. I always brought a book to read, but the sea lions were so hilarious I would just watch them all day long.

    One day, as a blue-footed booby walked past me, I had an epiphany. I decided I wasn’t going to die, at least not without a fight. When I got home, I began relentlessly reading and reading to figure out how to cure my cancer. It kept growing, but I kept beating it back, with conventional treatments and other stuff, like acupuncture, reiki and meditation.

    Despite my new resolve, I kept planning my funeral anyway, because I really like to throw parties. I decided it would be the biggest and best party I’d ever given, even though I wouldn’t be there to see it.

    And then I talked to a minister who warned me that I could only have 10 people at my service, due to COVID. And that was that. If I couldn’t have the funeral I wanted, I wasn’t going.

    And I didn’t. And I haven’t. So, yes, you’re stuck with me for quite some time to come. Sorry about that.

    Related links

    Frumpy Mom: I’m still here and not giving in 4 years after my cancer diagnosis
    Frumpy Middle-aged Mom: I may have cancer, but you’re not getting rid of me
    Frumpy Middle-aged Mom: Cancer isn’t as much fun as you might think it would be
    Frumpy Middle-aged Mom: I’m back and I’m buying too much at Costco
    Frumpy Middle-aged Mom: So here’s what happened in the Galapagos


    ​ Orange County Register