On June 28, 2001, I began chemo for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and on that day I had a vision. Not from God, but more of a drug-induced vision. To be more specific, it was an Ativan enhanced divination. I thought, “We should throw a party. It’ll be like ‘Canal Days’ and we’ll call it ‘Cancer Days.’ We’ll have games like bowling with Pepto Bismal bottles.” To be honest, it was all me, but the Ativan kind of compelled me to share it with my husband and a nurse. After I divulged my vision, I promptly passed out. When I woke up, I assured my husband that I was serious.
So every year, during the last weekend in June, we throw a party. We invite all of our friends and family over and have a big party to celebrate another year we can all get together. In 15 years, only once has the party ended before midnight. We have a blast. Although, we have not done bowling with Pepto Bismal bottles.
When I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s, I worried about how the older kids in the family would react to the obvious physical effects of my treatment. My youngest daughter and my niece were just four & five months old so they weren’t my main concerns. The others were old enough to know that something bad was happening—my nieces were 13, 12, & 3 and my oldest was 5. To make it less scary for them, I let the girls finger paint on my bald head.
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, one of my earliest thoughts was, “Man, I am so going to make my party kick ass this year!” With my final full chemo being on June 3rd, I was thrilled that I didn’t have to change the date of the party. In fact, when we were discussing dates for my mastectomy with my surgical oncologist, I said I couldn’t do the last week of June because of my party. When my husband said we’d do what we have to do—our motto for having to do shitty stuff—I got a slightly hysterical note in my voice and said, “Oh, we’re doing my fucking party!” Thankfully, we couldn’t do that date anyway, so I didn’t have to lose my shit in front of my husband and doctor.
Cancer had shit on me twice. I’d more than earned a night of joy. I was latching onto that party HARD when it suddenly dawned on me I could do the finger painting again. I had another chance to make it less scary for all of us. So that’s what we did.