Monday, April 20, 2009

4/20 is the new 1/1

Did ya'll really think I'd let 4/20 go by without notice? Ahhh. 4/20—what a fabulous date. Maybe sometime in the near future we'll actually be able to celebrate this date in a legal fashion, no?

Well, whatever. I so wish I could share with you all the ultimate Pineapple Express episode I had last week with my, er, pharmacist. (Green Crack was the varietal if you must know.) But it's a little too illegal, so I think I have to save that one for the book. What can I say? It's another absolutely beautiful day in Miami and I have no complaints. I'm on a strict work schedule per L.A. shrink; the same work sched that she imposed on one of her uber-big wig clients who also went through cancer last year.

Therapists strictly abide by the confidentiality clause, however, that doesn't mean they can't share other patients' experiences with you. The patients just remain anon. Dr. L has been based in Beverly Hills for 30+ years and treats many of Hollywood's most influential people. (If I told you who I've seen in the elevators I'd have to kill you.) Anyway, last week I was despondent.

My first words to her were, "I think I need to be sent away. Go to rehab somewhere in Costa Rica. Lots of my friends are doing it."

It's the easy way out and natch, she wasn't having it. The crux of my issue is: How do you get back to a normal, working life after Cancer has been your full-time job for a year+?

I'd asked her this many times and she'd told me how many times. But I'm one stubborn old horse; one that needs concrete lists, deadlines and schedules. These are hard to impose on yourself, especially when you live on South Beach where it seems nobody works. The water beckons you, the pool is always there, the beach is blocks away, as are your work-from-home friends.

Long and short of therapy session: "Do your other cancer patients feel the same way? Did they have issues with how to pick up their lives after?"

She told me again about her most stunning example of both perseverence and despondence with regards to pulling oneself out of the black hole of post-Cancerness. This big-time patient of hers, "so big you have no idea. Custom made suits, alligator shoes, Adonis looks—this man is made of cashmere."

He lost his looks, his hair, brows, lashes, everything. He gained 20 pounds. His Italian bespoke suits didn't fit. His alligator shoes sat dormant because of his swelling. Hollywood is a town about appearances. This man lost his professional life and didn't know how to crawl back up. He had an A-list support system. God only knows the bold-faced names who showed up to his chemo treatments. One of them was Dr. L herself. She put him on a strict schedule; with to-do lists every day. For a year, she spent chemo days in the hospital with him. ($2,000+ days accdg to my calculations.) Holding his hand while he checked off the items on his lists. She gave him homework. She's given me homework for years. Often I excell; sometimes I slack. I'd give myself a B+ in the homework assignments I've completed in the 10 years—holy fuck, 10 years—I've been her patient.

"So, it worked for this studio head?"

"Wait a second now, I never said he was a studio head!"

"I know, that's just an archetype I'm picturing." Studio heads typically are at the top of Hollywood's pecking order.

"Yes, okay, an archetype."

"So this guy? Did it work?"

"Yes, he's back. In fact, just the other day he got a check for $500,000."

"Okay, I want that plan."

So she gave me the best homework ever and now I have structure to my days and will bang out my proposal in the next month or so. I've found an intern. How fantastic is that? Now I don't have to watch the videos myself. And I've gotten my Filofax 2007-2008 notes in order. Which brings me to this time last year. Now you'll see why this week has indeed been blessed for me.

April 21st was the 4th and last chemo cocktail of Adriamycin and Cytoxan. This cocktail was the most potent of my four-month chemo regime. The following four Taxol treats would be easier. You guys know that chemo wasn't all that bad for me—until April 21st. Brother—unfort for him—was in town. That night, I hit the wall. I tried ginger ale, fresh ginger tea, Zofran, Emend, weed, etc. and nothing rid my body of the nauseau. I barely left the house for more than a week. Michael had to take a cab to the airport. It was awful. Really, really awful. (Not to mention that was the week I realized I had rats. And the week a rat crawled into my fucking apartment. I was so drugged up that I just threw my remote at him and chased him out.) My Filofax calendar for that week is empty, meaning I did nothing. (Thank God for this blog—thank God I had the good sense to write so much during treatment.) I, for the first time in my Cancer journey, lay on my couch most days and nights. Was forced to. I could barely walk Wally. I remember my big outing after these cabin-fever days was a walk to Walgreen's, where the A/C was off and I was sweating like a pig in line.

Cut to a year later. Whereas last year I was literally crawling around my apartment, cut off at the knees by the AC chemo, this year here I am. Writing this in my clean, rodent-free, cheap-because-it's in foreclosure apartment, in a sundress, with a Jewfro. This week instead of being couch-bound, I lived the life I'd always lived pre-cancer or no cancer. Wednesday I had dinner at Bal Harbour with Joni, Thursday Channing and I went to ESPA for a spa girls' night. Friday was cocktails at Smith and Wollensky, Saturday was the park with Wally and a pool party with the gays. Whereas last year walking Wally was a chore. Saturday it was an hour of joy with him at the gorgeous new South Pointe Park.

This time last year, this was me:

And here I am now:

Alls I have to say is thank God for Pucci scarves. And yes, I still wear the wig at night. Shut up.

Whenever I think I haven't accomplished anything in my life, I suppose I can just look at those awful photos of me with my bald head, which seemed so normal at the time. I am so grateful. I have nothing substantial to complain about. I am one of the lucky ones. I truly am. Okay, I'm getting all verklempt. There's no crying in fashion.

Happy 4/20. Light up a fattie in my honor and in honor of all of us Cancer patients and survivors. Legalize it! Enjoy nature's bounty! Life's way too short.