Letters to Various People Whom I’ve Encountered on my Cancer Journey

14 Dec


Dear hospital architects,

The floors in the neurosurgery ward should be flat.  Flatter than a pancake.  Flat as in no metal seams in doorways.  No grooves or ridges or depressions in doorways.  Rattling operated brains in transport is not such a great thing.


One of the rattled brains in transport.

Dear fellow patients,

A word of warning: do not, I repeat, do not have an endoscopy, an MRI and a CAT scan all in the same day.  It will make you feel like a medical experiment gone wrong.


A patient who made the mistake of letting the doctors shoot her up with too many chemicals in a 24-hour period.

Dear people in the two-door black Jeep parked next to us at Chili’s,

I’m sorry I threw up all over the pavement right at the driver’s door.  I promise I didn’t have anything alcoholic to drink.  And I didn’t deliberately make the puddle that big, either — the wind kept blowing the vomit sideways out of my mouth.  And I apologize for the brilliant neon orange color — I ate corn soup and drank a Shirley Temple.

And don’t worry — I didn’t eat anything bad.  I just coughed really hard and sucked a bunch of air into my stomach.  No food poisoning.


The girl in the white Camry whose mom told her to hurry up and finish vomiting so we could get out of the parking lot before you came out of the restaurant.

Dear ladies on chemo,

One of the things about not having hair is that everything about your face stands out more.  This is why you should tone down your makeup.  I wear a subtle eye shadow, eyeliner and lip gloss only.  Everybody loves it.  Nobody realizes I have on that little makeup.

Also, beware of the sun.  As soon as my cheeks got their first taste of sun for the season, I looked like a freckle monster.


One who’s been there, done that.

Dear Mom,

You’re making me feel a little like a water buffalo getting pecked on by a secretary bird.

Scratching and pecking me to get rid of the radiation-burned skin on top of my head is not at the top of my priority list.


Your Spice

Dear ladies on chemo (again),

Please allow me to remind all of you out there how important it is to always wear a bra in public, no matter how far you’ve decided to let yourself go.  This may require owning more than one bra, just in case one happens to be in the wash.


The braless girl who ran into her rabbi in the tram on the way to the health insurance office.

Dear new neighbors,

I promise that I’m not a flea-ridden ape masquerading as a Richard Simmons wannabe. Even though that’s what I look like after Gamma knife, and I know you can see me through the front window.

Dear ER medics,

I don’t know if it’s my magnetic personality or what, but y’all just can’t seem to resist ripping my clothes off!  I really liked that skirt, you know – it was the only one that fit me, and I imported it from Switzerland.  It had an elastic waist — next time can’t you just pull it straight down like you pulled off my underwear?


One who is rather partial to her clothes.


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