Sunday, August 17, 2014






EditThat time I interviewed myself about that cancer that I have because I like to pretend I’m famous or something.

(Pictured: Me at the Oregon Brewer’s Festival on Sunday, July 27th, enjoying a beer called “The Optimist,” before I launched into a week of dental exams, heart and lung tests, chemo orientations, and an operation to install a central line thing that totally makes me Iron Man, culminating with Kristin’s First Chemo on Friday, August 1st. So I kind of like really needed that beer. I originally posted this to tell everybody on my Facebook this cancer thing, because it’s 2014 and that’s an obviously appropriate use of social media.)






Wait, seriously?
Yes.Are you going to be okay?Almost certainly. There’s over a 95% chance! The type of cancer that I have is very treatable, with excellent rates of full recovery. I can’t emphasize enough that I feel incredibly lucky. What kind?Nodular Sclerosing Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. We caught it early, and I was classified as stage II A at time of diagnosis, meaning that it hadn’t spread all that much, and that the only tip-off was swollen lymph nodes, as opposed to a variety of nasty “B” symptoms that you can read about if you so choose. (But I wouldn’t. Look at some baby animals instead.)Is this related to that neck bump you had that freaked you out and then your doctor convinced you it was probably just Cat Scratch Disease or something because people your age don’t actually get cancer? Yep. Turns out = TOTALLY CANCER.You’re being kind of glib about this.Yeah, well. You had that lump over a year ago. What happened?I felt another, on the other side of my neck, in early June. Since my new PCP had urged me to follow up on it already, I did. The ENT that I visited prodded it for a few moments and told me that we should take it out. I had this whole biopsy where I went all the way to sleep and when I woke up I was talking about how much I love working with kids and also, beer festivals. You get socks to take home with you when you get a surgery. Just so you know. Is your hair going to fall out?Almost certainly. But I’ve already got what I consider to be a lovely wig, purchased and ready for me. My insurance will cover 70% of it and I had my friends and family giving me input every step of the way! Do you need chemo and/or radiation?
I’ve already had my first chemo treatment. It was last Friday afternoon and I have to tell you, it was surprisingly not horrible. DO NOT EVER GET CANCER I MEAN IT. But…if you do…Compass Oncology is there to take care of you. I’ll probably do a fascinating blog post about what it’s like when I do chemo. I put on makeup in my chair and watch “Bones” on Netflix and in general it’s kind of like being on a business class flight. I can get up and find the restroom whenever I want to. They have free wireless. The hope is that I will only need four cycles (2 treatments = 1 cycle) of ABVD chemo. Halfway through, we’ll do a PET scan to see if there are still those evil little Reed-Sternberg cells lurking anywhere in my body. If there aren’t, we’ll do just two more cycles of chemo and then I’m done. If not, we’ll take it from there and talk about radiation at that time. Are you so sick and throwing up all the time right now?Nope! So far I’ve had to take exactly two anti-nausea pills, and I think one time it was because the people on my evening commute were kind of smelling fresh. (And me too, I’m sure. It’s August.)I’m learning that people generally experience one or two “down days” anywhere in the first five days after a treatment. I’m a little tired but mostly fine the first two days after. On days two and three I’m very cranky and feel like I have a flu, without the barf. And then the next day I’m just about fine! A lot of people have about twelve good days each cycle, and only two or three bad ones. That’s ABVD specific, though, and individual results vary. Are you going to lose so much weight and look like The Gentlemen from that creepy episode of “Buffy?”Probably not. Steroids are frequently administered to keep us cancer patients from barfing everything up, and I can already tell you that they bring special, special cravings. So far I’ve managed to be pretty healthy, but I did wake up at 5am Sunday morning with “BAGEL NOW” burning in my brain. Also steroids do weird things with fat deposits, so yeah, I might be a little heavier and a lot balder. As George Michael Bluth says, “What a fun…sexy time, for you.”I will continue to be alive though, so there’s that. So you probably can’t even go to work during this, right? Because as Louis CK says, children are “buckets of disease.”I’ve been going to work and (mostly) loving it! My oncologist himself said that as long as I take care not to get sick (which, good luck with that, teachers) I can work. I just have to wash my hands a lot and I am already tired out much more easily, so I take a little morning rest, a short nap at lunch, and a little afternoon rest, and I make it through the day pretty well. Anything else fascinating that I should know?YES OH MY GOD I DON’T WANT CHEESE RIGHT NOW. Chemo can throw your taste buds out of whack and suddenly, Saturday morning, I DIDN’T WANT CHEESE. And the thing is that I pretty much always want cheese. Here’s what else I haven’t had or wanted in a week: anything caffeinated or alcoholic. I know. I KNOW.Oh and furthermore, I plan on only being bald for one Halloween in my lifetime, so cast your vote now:Captain Picard or Crazy Britney.Are you just pretending to be all upbeat so people don’t actually get worried and afraid that you’re going to die?…not mostly. I honestly feel pretty good during the day. The friends I’ve been texting and emailing with (a lot lately!) have been amazing. My family is here for me, my boss and co-workers have been incredible, and Matt is—I mean I can’t even. Let us all pause while Kristin breaks out into a Busby Berkely production number about Matt. Jazz hands and flowers falling from the sky. (I love you a lot, Matt. I would not be this okay without you.)I have some very angry and sad moments. Sometimes they last for more than a moment. Sometimes they’re in front of another person and that person has to try to glue me back together. But that’s not all the time. Most of the time, I’m so encouraged by everyone’s good will and good wishes, and I just want to get better as soon as I can so that we don’t have to deal with this anymore and we can all just be normal happy, instead of Happy In Spite Of. What do you think caused this?…cells. Doing things. It’s not hereditary or anything.Are you sure it isn’t all that Diet Coke you drank and also the several plays that you wrote where people die and have cancer?…yeah come to think of it that actually probably was it. You’re being glib again. I know. Is it okay if I want to ask you how you’re doing, or specific things about your diagnosis or your treatment?Absolutely. The more you know, the less scary it is. (Usually.) If so inclined, ask me anything you want. And if I can’t right now, I’ll say “I can’t right now” and not be upset at all.Is it okay if I kind of never want to bring this up?Absolutely. Look, I may have cancer, but the world is still turning and things are happening. BACHELOR IN PARADISE. I still have my priorities straight. And we don’t need to be worried that I won’t spend enough time talking and thinking about cancer. It’s covered. Believe me. I don’t really know where you stand religiously, is it okay if I pray for you? OR: I’m not religious, so I feel uncomfortable saying I’ll pray for you.People telling me they’re praying for me makes me feel loved and encouraged. People telling me they’re rooting for me makes me feel loved and encouraged. What can I do for you?If our only form of contact is Facebook? Post stuff I like to my wall, if you happen to think of it. There  is not a medical condition that I could physically have that would take away my appreciation of: pictures of animals; Full House quotes; anything Doctor Who related; basically anything pop culture related. OOH. Tell me what shows to watch during chemo because it isn’t that painful but it is hella boring. So that’s it for now. I’ll probably be updating the blog as I muddle through this thing. And if you got this far (don’t blame anyone who didn’t, I was never succinct) thanks for reading. 
Edit

That time I interviewed myself about that cancer that I have because I like to pretend I’m famous or something.

(Pictured: Me at the Oregon Brewer’s Festival on Sunday, July 27th, enjoying a beer called “The Optimist,” before I launched into a week of dental exams, heart and lung tests, chemo orientations, and an operation to install a central line thing that totally makes me Iron Man, culminating with Kristin’s First Chemo on Friday, August 1st. So I kind of like really needed that beer. I originally posted this to tell everybody on my Facebook this cancer thing, because it’s 2014 and that’s an obviously appropriate use of social media.)

Wait, seriously?


Yes.

Are you going to be okay?

Almost certainly. There’s over a 95% chance! The type of cancer that I have is very treatable, with excellent rates of full recovery. I can’t emphasize enough that I feel incredibly lucky.

What kind?

Nodular Sclerosing Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. We caught it early, and I was classified as stage II A at time of diagnosis, meaning that it hadn’t spread all that much, and that the only tip-off was swollen lymph nodes, as opposed to a variety of nasty “B” symptoms that you can read about if you so choose. (But I wouldn’t. Look at some baby animals instead.)

Is this related to that neck bump you had that freaked you out and then your doctor convinced you it was probably just Cat Scratch Disease or something because people your age don’t actually get cancer?

Yep. Turns out = TOTALLY CANCER.

You’re being kind of glib about this.

Yeah, well.

You had that lump over a year ago. What happened?

I felt another, on the other side of my neck, in early June. Since my new PCP had urged me to follow up on it already, I did. The ENT that I visited prodded it for a few moments and told me that we should take it out. I had this whole biopsy where I went all the way to sleep and when I woke up I was talking about how much I love working with kids and also, beer festivals.

You get socks to take home with you when you get a surgery. Just so you know.

Is your hair going to fall out?

Almost certainly. But I’ve already got what I consider to be a lovely wig, purchased and ready for me. My insurance will cover 70% of it and I had my friends and family giving me input every step of the way!

Do you need chemo and/or radiation?


I’ve already had my first chemo treatment. It was last Friday afternoon and I have to tell you, it was surprisingly not horrible. DO NOT EVER GET CANCER I MEAN IT. But…if you do…Compass Oncology is there to take care of you. I’ll probably do a fascinating blog post about what it’s like when I do chemo. I put on makeup in my chair and watch “Bones” on Netflix and in general it’s kind of like being on a business class flight. I can get up and find the restroom whenever I want to. They have free wireless.

The hope is that I will only need four cycles (2 treatments = 1 cycle) of ABVD chemo. Halfway through, we’ll do a PET scan to see if there are still those evil little Reed-Sternberg cells lurking anywhere in my body. If there aren’t, we’ll do just two more cycles of chemo and then I’m done. If not, we’ll take it from there and talk about radiation at that time.

Are you so sick and throwing up all the time right now?

Nope! So far I’ve had to take exactly two anti-nausea pills, and I think one time it was because the people on my evening commute were kind of smelling fresh. (And me too, I’m sure. It’s August.)
I’m learning that people generally experience one or two “down days” anywhere in the first five days after a treatment. I’m a little tired but mostly fine the first two days after. On days two and three I’m very cranky and feel like I have a flu, without the barf. And then the next day I’m just about fine! A lot of people have about twelve good days each cycle, and only two or three bad ones. That’s ABVD specific, though, and individual results vary.

Are you going to lose so much weight and look like The Gentlemen from that creepy episode of “Buffy?”

Probably not. Steroids are frequently administered to keep us cancer patients from barfing everything up, and I can already tell you that they bring special, special cravings. So far I’ve managed to be pretty healthy, but I did wake up at 5am Sunday morning with “BAGEL NOW” burning in my brain. Also steroids do weird things with fat deposits, so yeah, I might be a little heavier and a lot balder.

As George Michael Bluth says, “What a fun…sexy time, for you.”

I will continue to be alive though, so there’s that.

So you probably can’t even go to work during this, right? Because as Louis CK says, children are “buckets of disease.”

I’ve been going to work and (mostly) loving it! My oncologist himself said that as long as I take care not to get sick (which, good luck with that, teachers) I can work. I just have to wash my hands a lot and I am already tired out much more easily, so I take a little morning rest, a short nap at lunch, and a little afternoon rest, and I make it through the day pretty well.

Anything else fascinating that I should know?

YES OH MY GOD I DON’T WANT CHEESE RIGHT NOW. Chemo can throw your taste buds out of whack and suddenly, Saturday morning, I DIDN’T WANT CHEESE. And the thing is that I pretty much always want cheese. Here’s what else I haven’t had or wanted in a week: anything caffeinated or alcoholic.

I know. I KNOW.

Oh and furthermore, I plan on only being bald for one Halloween in my lifetime, so cast your vote now:

Captain Picard or Crazy Britney.

Are you just pretending to be all upbeat so people don’t actually get worried and afraid that you’re going to die?

…not mostly. I honestly feel pretty good during the day. The friends I’ve been texting and emailing with (a lot lately!) have been amazing. My family is here for me, my boss and co-workers have been incredible, and Matt is—I mean I can’t even. Let us all pause while Kristin breaks out into a Busby Berkely production number about Matt. Jazz hands and flowers falling from the sky.

(I love you a lot, Matt. I would not be this okay without you.)

I have some very angry and sad moments. Sometimes they last for more than a moment. Sometimes they’re in front of another person and that person has to try to glue me back together. But that’s not all the time. Most of the time, I’m so encouraged by everyone’s good will and good wishes, and I just want to get better as soon as I can so that we don’t have to deal with this anymore and we can all just be normal happy, instead of Happy In Spite Of.

What do you think caused this?

…cells. Doing things. It’s not hereditary or anything.

Are you sure it isn’t all that Diet Coke you drank and also the several plays that you wrote where people die and have cancer?

…yeah come to think of it that actually probably was it.

You’re being glib again.

I know.

Is it okay if I want to ask you how you’re doing, or specific things about your diagnosis or your treatment?

Absolutely. The more you know, the less scary it is. (Usually.) If so inclined, ask me anything you want. And if I can’t right now, I’ll say “I can’t right now” and not be upset at all.

Is it okay if I kind of never want to bring this up?

Absolutely. Look, I may have cancer, but the world is still turning and things are happening. BACHELOR IN PARADISE. I still have my priorities straight. And we don’t need to be worried that I won’t spend enough time talking and thinking about cancer. It’s covered. Believe me.

I don’t really know where you stand religiously, is it okay if I pray for you? OR: I’m not religious, so I feel uncomfortable saying I’ll pray for you.

People telling me they’re praying for me makes me feel loved and encouraged. People telling me they’re rooting for me makes me feel loved and encouraged.

What can I do for you?

If our only form of contact is Facebook? Post stuff I like to my wall, if you happen to think of it. There  is not a medical condition that I could physically have that would take away my appreciation of: pictures of animals; Full House quotes; anything Doctor Who related; basically anything pop culture related. OOH. Tell me what shows to watch during chemo because it isn’t that painful but it is hella boring.

So that’s it for now. I’ll probably be updating the blog as I muddle through this thing. And if you got this far (don’t blame anyone who didn’t, I was never succinct) thanks for reading. 

Let’s do this. Last time I updated this particular blog, it was early February, and I’d just gotten back from San Diego, where I’d been to the world premiere of my play, “Dark Matter.” Like most of my plays, I sum it up by saying “It is darkly comedic.” Everyone else sums it up by saying “Seriously like everyone in it dies.” In this particular play, there is some Cancer. Also, some Astronauts. Exploration of what it means to be Fearless. And Coming to Terms with One’s Own Mortality.  It was the play I’d been trying to write for the past ten years, and it finally came true, and it was a beautiful production, and I couldn’t have been more thrilled. That’s the poster up there that I’m posing with. Don’t I look excited, and not at all like I have cancer?!Yeah. About that. Nearly a year and a half ago, I felt a bump on the left side of my neck. I was told by my doctors to watch and wait, because I was thirty years old at the time and thirty-year-olds aren’t likely to have cancer. In the next year and a half, all kinds of wonderful things happened. I got a new job, teaching music at a preschool, and in completing “Dark Matter,” I told the story I’d been trying to tell ever since I was still in grad school. I did wonder about that persistent bump on my neck, but since there were so many things it could be, and since “Calm the hell down, people your age don’t get cancer” is a pretty typical response, I didn’t do much about it. (Doing much about it = EXPENSIVE, as it turns out.)I’ll summarize the rest in a joyful, breezy timeline:June 2014 - feel another lump, on the other side of neck. Freak out. Call PCP. Schedule appointment with ENT. Meet with ENT. Get told that the one lump in particular has been there awhile, and it would be wise to take it out and look at it. July 15 — Have biopsy on original lump. Wake up in recovery room sharing, in a sing-song voice, how much I love working with children and also going to beer festivals. July 18 — Get call that neck lump is Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Become hysterical. Start scheduling many, many appointments. July 20 — Calm down somewhat, enough to go berry picking and enjoy a honey-lavander milkshake while seated next to a goat at a berry farm in Porltand, Oregon. 
July 23 — Meet my oncologist for the first time. Sit, astounded, to learn that while I will need chemotherapy, continuing to work with children during treatment shouldn’t be fatal. 
July 25 — Have PET scan and learn that my diagnosis is Nodular Sclerosing Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Stage II A. This means that it hasn’t spread all that much and I’m fortunately without all of those gross B symptoms. (Night sweats, itching, etc.)
Week leading up to August 1st—SO MANY TESTS. And a “Welcome to Cancer” sort of orientation thing. I mean it was a “What to Expect at Chemo” class, but I think “Welcome to Cancer” sounds jaunty. August 1st — 1st Chemo. 
August 13th — the hair, it’s shedding. August 14th — The Great Shearing. 
Also August 14th — 2nd Chemo. Because I like to stay busy. That’s where we are, currently three days after my second chemo. I find that I get kind of flu-like for two days, about two days after each treatment. Also, the smell of my wig apparently nauseates me during this time. FUN. This isn’t the best summary I could have done, because I’ve already spent way too much time on the couch this morning and I’m getting antsy, but I wanted to kick-start this cancer-blog-venture, already, because I just want one place to share All the Things. So, hi, people who know me and want to know how my cancer is going, and also people who don’t know me and might want to know how my cancer is going. For now, it’s going fine. The hope is that I’ll only need about four cycles of chemo (ABVD) and hopefully no radiation. For those keeping score, that’s two down, (maybe) only six to go. We shall see…

Let’s do this. 

Last time I updated this particular blog, it was early February, and I’d just gotten back from San Diego, where I’d been to the world premiere of my play, “Dark Matter.” Like most of my plays, I sum it up by saying “It is darkly comedic.” Everyone else sums it up by saying “Seriously like everyone in it dies.” In this particular play, there is some Cancer. Also, some Astronauts. Exploration of what it means to be Fearless. And Coming to Terms with One’s Own Mortality.  It was the play I’d been trying to write for the past ten years, and it finally came true, and it was a beautiful production, and I couldn’t have been more thrilled. That’s the poster up there that I’m posing with. Don’t I look excited, and not at all like I have cancer?!

Yeah. About that. 

Nearly a year and a half ago, I felt a bump on the left side of my neck. I was told by my doctors to watch and wait, because I was thirty years old at the time and thirty-year-olds aren’t likely to have cancer. In the next year and a half, all kinds of wonderful things happened. I got a new job, teaching music at a preschool, and in completing “Dark Matter,” I told the story I’d been trying to tell ever since I was still in grad school. 
I did wonder about that persistent bump on my neck, but since there were so many things it could be, and since “Calm the hell down, people your age don’t get cancer” is a pretty typical response, I didn’t do much about it. 

(Doing much about it = EXPENSIVE, as it turns out.)

I’ll summarize the rest in a joyful, breezy timeline:

June 2014 - feel another lump, on the other side of neck. Freak out. Call PCP. Schedule appointment with ENT. Meet with ENT. Get told that the one lump in particular has been there awhile, and it would be wise to take it out and look at it. 

July 15 — Have biopsy on original lump. Wake up in recovery room sharing, in a sing-song voice, how much I love working with children and also going to beer festivals. 

July 18 — Get call that neck lump is Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Become hysterical. Start scheduling many, many appointments. 

July 20 — Calm down somewhat, enough to go berry picking and enjoy a honey-lavander milkshake while seated next to a goat at a berry farm in Porltand, Oregon. 

July 23 — Meet my oncologist for the first time. Sit, astounded, to learn that while I will need chemotherapy, continuing to work with children during treatment shouldn’t be fatal. 

July 25 — Have PET scan and learn that my diagnosis is Nodular Sclerosing Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Stage II A. This means that it hasn’t spread all that much and I’m fortunately without all of those gross B symptoms. (Night sweats, itching, etc.)

Week leading up to August 1st—SO MANY TESTS. And a “Welcome to Cancer” sort of orientation thing. I mean it was a “What to Expect at Chemo” class, but I think “Welcome to Cancer” sounds jaunty. 

August 1st — 1st Chemo. 

August 13th — the hair, it’s shedding. 

August 14th — The Great Shearing. 

Also August 14th — 2nd Chemo. Because I like to stay busy. 

That’s where we are, currently three days after my second chemo. I find that I get kind of flu-like for two days, about two days after each treatment. Also, the smell of my wig apparently nauseates me during this time. FUN. 

This isn’t the best summary I could have done, because I’ve already spent way too much time on the couch this morning and I’m getting antsy, but I wanted to kick-start this cancer-blog-venture, already, because I just want one place to share All the Things. So, hi, people who know me and want to know how my cancer is going, and also people who don’t know me and might want to know how my cancer is going. 

For now, it’s going fine. The hope is that I’ll only need about four cycles of chemo (ABVD) and hopefully no radiation. For those keeping score, that’s two down, (maybe) only six to go. We shall see…

Monday, February 3, 2014
That time I got to ride the spacecraft that was featured in my play, and it was the greatest and best thing ever. And I looked like I was about to burst into “Defying Gravity.”Doctor Bassett switched the lights onto the show setting, and the whole cast, my guy, my sister, and my parents, got to sit there and watch me be Actually the Biggest Dork in Existence. It was awesome.

That time I got to ride the spacecraft that was featured in my play, and it was the greatest and best thing ever. And I looked like I was about to burst into “Defying Gravity.”

Doctor Bassett switched the lights onto the show setting, and the whole cast, my guy, my sister, and my parents, got to sit there and watch me be Actually the Biggest Dork in Existence.

It was awesome.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I never update this thing, which is unfortunate, since I have a link to it on my author page on Samuel French and everything.

Oh hai author page.

Moving on—and it turns out I am, because my newest play, my third at Salomon Theatre, the thing that was supposed to be my thesis which would have been way back in 2008, the thing it’s taken me—actually almost ten years to write—is HERE. Meaning onstage, opening night, as I’m typing this.

I’m supposed to be touching up my roots, cleaning my room, and looking over my lesson plans, but what I’ve opted to do instead is drink some champagne (fine—FINE—it’s sparkling wine, and it was kind of cheap, because I had to go to Walgreen’s on the way home, because my cat ate my headphones again, and I’m just keeping it real, and what?)—and stalk the Facebook pages of the cast to see what’s happening.

A play is what’s happening. And I did get two degrees in theatre and then kind of have a meltdown and decide I’d never write again there, for a while. So this is big.

It’s all happening…

Monday, January 6, 2014
herefortherightreasons:

This season on “The Bachelor.”

herefortherightreasons:

This season on “The Bachelor.”

Friday, December 13, 2013
Diversity. 
As of January 2014, my trilogy will be complete…

Diversity. 

As of January 2014, my trilogy will be complete…

Saturday, November 2, 2013
Sunday, October 27, 2013

herefortherightreasons:

Y’all.

The spirit animal, the patron saint, the mascot of this blog, is writing a book.

(Titles awarded as of…right now.)

Baller.

image


Friday, October 25, 2013
When I peek at the kids’ faces as I’m reading them “The BFG” for the first time. 

When I peek at the kids’ faces as I’m reading them “The BFG” for the first time.