Thursday, December 6, 2012


It's my cancer-versary! Exactly one year ago today I was first diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia. Last year, I was so sure I would not live to see my twenty-sixth birthday, and here I am looking forward to my twenty-seventh.

To celebrate this milestone, I'm looking back on all the things I've learned (good and not so good) in the past year.

1. Receiving TREATMENT for cancer often sucks worse than merely HAVING cancer.

I swear, chemotherapy was created to kill you and your cells faster than cancer. It's liking sending in a dragon to chase off the ogre terrorizing the villagers.

2. Prednisone (a.k.a ROIDS) are The Worst Ever.

Only those who have had to take prednisone truly understands just how much Prednisone sucks. And we can safely add (2a. perhaps) Roid-rage is a very real thing.

3. Walking keeps you regular.

More often than not, a good walk is more effective than a hefty laxative.

4. Nurses are luminous archangels sent from Heaven to scare away evil chemo minions. Seriously.

To this day, I never had a single nurse anywhere that wasn't completely devoted to my care. Plus, they always have all the happy medicine.

5. No matter how many times I try to explain it to my friends and family, I will never know how a stem cell transplant works. To this day, it doesn't seem like it should be possible at all.

It's an immune system transplant. It makes as much sense to me as a brain transplant - it shouldn't work, but it does! (Check out my posts on my transplant here.)

6. Sadly, the excuse "But I have cancer" stops working eventually.

I've had to relearn how to cook and clean up after myself. Sigh...

Now it's like:

7. There is a difference between HAVING menopausal symptoms and actually GOING THROUGH menopause.

Either way, you still get hot flashes.

8. I will likely get secondary cancer (cancer that comes from cancer treatment, like radiation) in my lifetime.

Totally lame.

9. Time is a fickle thing.

One year can simultaneously feel like twenty years and one month.

10. You can be twenty-five twice.

Cancer stole my twenty-fifth year, so I'm going to redo twenty-five years. It's also easier number to remember than... 26? I forget...

11. Chemo brain is very real.  

It doesn't go away as fast as some chemo symptoms. I can't even count the times I've gotten up to go to the bathroom, and ended up in the living room only to realize three hours later that I really really have to pee.

12. Cancer would have broken me if I hadn't reached out to people going through the same thing.

I love all my friends I met through the LLS website and forums.

13. Gluing googly eyes to everything is always hilarious.

14. Toilet paper ain't got nothin on wet wipes.

I don't think I'll ever go back to two-ply...
15. "Neutropenia" is not a color, it is a condition.

I've learned a whole new vocabulary after a year of cancer treatment, and most of it involves numbers.

16. Getting into remission was only the beginning of my cancer journey. 

Cancer will follow me for the rest of my life, in the form of pills, doctors appointments, lifelong effects of chemo and radiation, and the fear of recurrence.

17. My parents are awesome and are superheroes.

18. Yoga is the best for recovery and helps you cope with chemo side effects.

But damn is it hard.

19. A cat purring on your face is the best medicine.   

Damn, I love my kitty.

Here's to many more cancer-versaries and twenty-fifth birthdays!


  1. I've been wanting to meet you... friend of Jess'. You are an inspiration for me, just as we are probably inspiration for others. Love your cartoons, I can only relate to a few, but those few I'm sure we could talk for hours on. Hope all is well in your world. I hate saying it, but there are no other words for it... "FUCK CANCER".

  2. Even in Bear's most tender and loving moments - she still looks like she is trying to kill you. Maybe it's third person bias :)