Push It

So I’ve just returned from a college reunion. Or rather, a college-within-a-college reunion. Many, many years ago, in a galaxy far, far away––in western Massachusetts––the University of Massachusetts set up something called Project 10 and I signed up for it. Naturally, it changed the course of my life, as these things do. It changed the course of many lives, and there have been a few reunions in the past, though none I was ever able to attend until now.

The brilliant and beautiful K, my roommate from that time, suggested that, if my health permitted, we road-trip from her place in Virginia. My health did (and does) permit even if I am not yet up to a lot of heavy lifting or long distance walking, and this sounded good to me. Besides, she works as a public defender so if it all went pear-shaped, I figured I was in good hands. And the timing was good––it was something like two months since my final round of chemo, with no recurrence of anaemia.

The seven-or-so-hour drive north was really pleasant, not at all gruelling. Of course, I wasn’t driving. K managed to miss that portion of my life during which I had a driver’s license. But lawyers and writers are people used to doing things for seven straight hours or longer. Plus as old hippies, we embody Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. The pleasures of a long car ride can’t be over-estimated. K and I once drove all over the Massachusetts coast looking for a beach that met our exacting standards. We followed signs to a place called Sippiewissit and discovered to our amusement that it was not a Lake Winnipesaukee kind of place but a trailer park. Didn’t matter––the journey was the destination. (The drive back took almost twelve hours, with lousy weather and long delays due to construction.)

The reunion was a fascinating experience. We watched the famous 1971 Mayday in Washington DC video, which I had seen only parts of. I was there and got my head split open when a cop whacked me with a billyclub, although I failed to get arrested. This still rates as the scariest experience of my life. Yeah, scarier than cancer. Maybe I’ll talk about why in another entry.

I didn’t overdo. I couldn’t have if I’d wanted to––I don’t have enough energy. But I did push myself; it was time. At some point in physical recovery, you have to do that. Exactly when is hard to say because everybody is different and one size does not fit all. But you start by pushing a little bit, and after a while, a little more, until eventually, you have periods when you’re functioning at a pre-illness level or close to it.

How you can tell it’s time to push yourself hard to say. It’s all in how you feel, physically, psychologically, emotionally, or all of the above. I felt physically ready. Then I looked in the mirror and saw that my eyebrows were coming back. By the end of the trip, they were almost all filled in again.

My head hair has gone from fuzz to real hair, and it’s not all white. There’s a fair amount of brown. I’ve heard it may come in curly at first. Some of the longer sections look like they might be coming in that way but really, it’s still too short to tell. Nonetheless, I can feel that it’s a little bit thicker all the time and even my husband, who sees me all the time, says he can tell the difference from day to day. Hair growth is a sign of life.

Last December, my oncologist told me I might have about two years, which leaves me with a little less than a year and a half of her original estimate. That means every day after the end of December 2016 will be a gift.

I’ve decided I can recover from cancer, even if I can’t be cured.

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9 thoughts on “Push It

  1. Glad you had a good time. It’s always nice to catch up with old friends. You’ll have to tell the story of getting knocked on the head. (I’ve had my own run-ins with the police when I was a punk back at the end of the 70s. Nothing I’d done wrong, it was just that punks were always getting stopped and searched.)

    My hair’s about 1.5 inches long now and it’s come back with a lot more grey and a definite curl! Feels funny having curls. Over the years, I’ve tried curling it, but the curls always fell out! Will be interesting to see if these ones drop out when it gets longer.

  2. I estimate my hair is mostly about 2 cm at this point, except in spots around my ears where it’s slightly longer. It looks a little bit thicker every day but I foresee wrapping my head in scarves until next January at the earliest. Cancer comes and goes but my vanity never dies. 😉

    • Lol. I don’t mind having short hair, but I hate the grey. Got a couple of boxes of dye. One in pillarbox red, the other in purple. Think I’ll go red first!

    • Right back atcha! In between, I’m a guest at a conference in Spain, so I’m in training now.

  3. I want to hear more about being back on campus. I got to spend almost 2
    months there last fall when I played Shylock and I did not want to leave.

    • I hadn’t been back on campus since I left in 1973, and I only spent three days there. We were in Southwest, and I only went between the dorm where we were staying and the dining commons, and even walking that short distance is still difficult for me. I had to stop and rest my back at least once each way, so I didn’t stroll around the campus to see what had changed and what hadn’t. Although afterwards, K and I drove out to Puffton Village and took photos of our old off-campus digs.

      The dining commons was air-conditioned; the dorm wasn’t, and although the weather was actually quite cool, the dorm was stifling. We spent a lot of time outside in the courtyard or, if it was raining, under the overhang.

      Maybe the English Department could invite me back as a guest writer someday. I was never *in* the English Department at UMass but I think you’ll agree I’m wrong for Shylock. 😉 You, on the other hand, must have slayed them every night. I’d have paid good money to see that. Hell, I’d have paid naughty money or downright evil money!

      Dammit, now look what you’ve done. You’ve made me miss you. Again.

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