Springtime!

I’m not reliable when it comes to updating my blog. I received a comment last night on one of my posts, which made me come back and notice that I had a blog in the first place. Aren’t blogs soooo 2008? Anyhoo, here’s an update of what’s been going on:

1) I’m still in school. Wanna fight about it?
2) Summer is almost here, and I am thrilled. I’m not going anywhere this year – I’m doing a very in-depth chem course on campus. In-state tuition is something I’d like to take advantage of.
3) No, I’m still not a resident of Oregon, despite living here since 2004, not going to school for 1 1/2 years, and doing everything a resident does: pay income tax, property tax, own a car, vote, participate in outside of school type things… grrr.
4) I still haven’t had a relapse. Whoooo for that! I have maintenance drugs and check-ups every six months now, and that makes me feel good.
5) My hair is almost to my shoulders. For someone who was bald for 2+ years, I’m happy to have long hair again. It’s getting there!
6) My brother graduated from the French Culinary Institute and is now a badass fancy cook at a place called Lyfe, in Palo Alto, CA. They work him to the bone, but he’s getting good experience.
7) I fell down a volcano at field camp last summer. Yeah, only I could fall down a cinder cone. It was slippery and I was trying to get downhill like all the other people. Unfortunately it didn’t go quite as planned.
8) I’ve been doing well with the violin and now play with Pro Musica, a string orchestra in Corvallis, OR. I also play Violin II for the Willamette Valley Symphony (where I played oboe before I switched due to inter-section BS politics). My new teacher challenges me at a higher level than I though I could achieve, and I’ve improved dramatically over the last year or so.
— Recently, I hurt my elbow from over-use, so I’m taking a week to two week break to let it heal. I was an idiot to rush back into playing sousaphone after my shoulder surgery, so I’ve learned my lesson. It just took…11 years. I never said I learned quickly. (Actually, I typically learn very quickly, but I like to ignore past experiences as flukes, and just wing it.)
9) I’ve started to edit other peoples’ stories again (for experience!) on FictionPress.com and FanFiction.net. I recommend Fiction Press if you want to read unique stories by regular people. FanFiction.net is the powerhouse of fan fiction archives. They have everything! Want some smutty Dumbledore-on-Hagrid action? They have it. Twincest? Yep. Weird Naruto / Pride and Prejudice cross fiction? Uh huh. It’s a bad habit. (note: not all stories on FF are sexual and weird – many are VERY long tales of love, action, horror, misunderstandings, and mystery using pre-established characters and worlds. FanFiction is a fun way to dip your toe into writing without having to invent your own settings and characters.)
10) I just wanted a round number for my list. Oh! I got a new cat! His name is Stupid, and he’s a Siamese-mix. We used to take care of him when he was a kitten, then my neighbor moved to Washington and couldn’t take him with her. So we acquired him, and I love him to death.

That’s about it. Back to work! 😀

Scholarly Frustrations

Cancer is a real party-killer. Here I am, in the prime of my life, trying to enjoy myself at college and *graduate* in the next twenty years. But, despite what I try to do and accomplish, chemo and/or side-effects ruin my day. I have a midterm on Thursday, and I was too sick to go to class last week (thanks a bunch, chemo). We didn’t have class on Tuesday because our professors were at a conference in Portland, and then we’re expected to show up on Thursday morning, ready for a midterm!? Are you f-ing kidding me? If it were mapping or hydrology, I’d be fine. But it’s that stupid mineralogy class that is going to end up killing me in the end.

I really can’t afford to get shitty grades. Because I was so sick before they discovered it was cancer (DAMMIT I hate cancer so much), I missed week after week of school for one reason or another. I think my GPA dropped well below a 3.0, and now I’m doing all I can to stay afloat. Of course, it doesn’t help that I’m a physicist and incredibly lazy. Those two things do not go hand-in-hand.

I try to register for classes and keep on top of it, like what I was going to do with this quarter, but I just can’t. I was so upset tonight that it kept me from really sleeping that much. I’m having to teach four classes this week because one of the other TAs is gone (looking at a grad school for his PhD, since OSU isn’t good enough for that apparently), so I had to pick up the slack. I found out that I have to proctor an exam tomorrow night too, so there goes four hours of studying.

I’m not going to make it. I really don’t know what to do, and in order to keep my head above water and get me going to classes again, I stopped my low-dose chemo on my own. (PLEASE don’t yell at me, I’ve already been yelled at, thanks. I know what a retard I am, I get it.) But, at least I can function for the time being. It really isn’t doing much good for me, but dammit if I’m going to take another whole year off. Fuck that noise.

There really is nothing good to report. I finally got to sleep around 4:15 this morning, and then a thunderstorm woke me up not more than 20 minutes later. So, I’ve been up ever since. This is just NOT my day. I’m tempted to email my professor in mineralogy and tell him I just can’t take the exam on Thursday because I’m so behind. But then I’ll even be more behind. What’s a girl to do?!

I know other young adults with cancer and trying to go to school at the same time have had my problems. But I really don’t know what to do at this point! Should I just take an incomplete, and then wing it for the rest of the quarter? I’ll be damned if I’m held back for another year.

Livestrong Documentary: Livestrong at School

Well, T-1 day until the documentary filming.  For those of you who don’t know, I was asked to participate in a documentary for the Livestrong Foundation (Lance Armstrong’s foundation for Cancer Research, Support, and Awareness).  Well, I’ve been on and off about participating for a few weeks.  At first, when they said they wanted a “day in the life” of someone with cancer, I thought, “Hell no.”  A part of me still thinks that, tbh, but I’m warming to the idea of helping out.  I can’t really say no, now can I? Not when they’re HERE and will be filming me tomorrow.

I guess I’m supposed to talk about the stigma a college student receives when she has cancer.  Well, in a nutshell, I felt very isolated.  My friends stopped coming by, stopped calling.  Some got angry at me because I wasn’t well enough to go out and have fun with them.  I lost one best friend because he wasn’t willing to understand that I couldn’t go out and see him while he was visiting.  He gave up on me.  So, for me, cancer showed me who my true friends were, and what mortality really feels like.  I wrote letters to my family and closest friends, saying goodbye in case I died.  When I knew I didn’t need those letters anymore, I threw them out and opted to look towards the future.  No, I’m not a driven student – I’m still as lazy as can be when it comes to doing work – but I do know what’s important in life.  My faith is important to me; never have I experienced something so scary, but so beautiful at the same time.  No, cancer isn’t beautiful, but it’s cleansing, like a phoenix being reborn.  You remake your life by keeping the things that mean a lot to you, and purging the activity and friends that you no longer have any need for.

So, my day starts tomorrow at 8 am, when the film crew from Alpheus Media will be coming by to film me driving to OSU, and getting coffee. I’ll be going to classes, and then mass at noon.  They’ll film me talking to Fr. Lucas and Sue, and hanging out with my friends at 5 pm at McMenamins (woo!).  They’ll film Post Fragua, and my talk about the Apostolate.  Then that’s it 🙂  It’s less painful than I thought it would be.

I’ve got to run to class, or I’ll be late. If anyone has any comments about Alpheus Media’s documentaries, please leave some below.  If you get a chance, you should watch a few. Fr. Lucas fell in love with them, and after I watched one, I can see why. Ok! Have a good afternoon. *waves*

My poor parents

I never stopped to realise what cancer would do to my parents.  I’ve always thought about treatments, how to take the least amount of drugs as possible (it’s easy if you put up with pain and nausea!), be on time for appts, pay medical bills on time, try to feel better, keep the fridge stocked, etc.  I was on my way to chemo on Monday morning, talking to mum on the phone, when I realised how horrible it must be for them.  “Well, don’t you have any news?” she asked me irritably.  “Mum, I’ll let you know how things are going when I hear news. No news is good news,” I answered.

They pester me about taking oral chemo and steroids on time. (Guilty! I don’t always do that.)  They ask what the doctors say. (I keep my parents purposefully out of the loop with my oncologist so I can decide what and when to tell them good or bad news – they have other things to worry about at the moment.)  They ask how I’m feeling *all* the time, and I say I’m fine.  (Fine is a four-letter word in cancerland, akin to another f-word we know, and 99% of the time it’s a lie. I’m never fine.)  They act like parents, and I never understood that until now.  They love me and worry about me, all the time (much to my chagrin), and even though I’m almost a quarter-century old, they still see me as their baby girl.

But, I’m an adult, and stubborn, and as much as I love them, I just don’t want their help.  “We’ll come up and take care of you,” Mum threatens on a regular basis.  “Like f*ck you will! Over my dead body!”  Dad started to ask me what my oncologist’s name was again so he could call and see for himself.  I told him that my doctor wouldn’t tell him anything anyways – I gave him specific instructions to talk to no one unless it was another medical professional dealing with my health in the immediate vicinity (to cover the “tell the parents nothing” clause).  Do I seem paranoid?  

I don’t know how they put up with me, to be honest.  I don’t tell them things (on purpose!), and make it seem like I’m doing much better than I am so they don’t worry.  I tell them it’s easy, piece of cake, and I’ll be over it soon.  They’re impatient and want to know why the cancer isn’t in remission yet – I told them it takes time, and when my body is ready, then I’ll be in remission.  I try to be patient, but I usually fail.  Do I make any sense?

There aren’t any other college students at OSU going through this right now, and if they were, they’d probably have their parents nearby since they live in-state.  But, I decided to stay here, while my parents are in California.  And, you know what?  I’m happy this way.  If they were here, or I were at home, I’d kill myself.  I wouldn’t even need the cancer to do that for me *snorts*.