What I Wore To Chemo Today

My treasured friend Susan of 17 years came all the way from America to visit with me today. That visit happened to coincide with my first of four doses of Taxol (see my last post, Countdown, for details on that). Thus, our visit was conducted in the chemo treatment suite in white leather chairs. Susan is the director of the most prestigious public interest fellowships in the law, “a legal Peace Corps” as described by The Los Angeles Times.

Back in the days of good posture and (naturally) perky boobs (see Boob Retrospective — don’t you want to read it just for the title?), I was Susan’s legal assistant at the New York law firm that established the fellowships. We bonded immediately. She has too many qualities to list in the time I have before the fatigue hits me so just trust me on my compact description — she is HIGH QUALITY in every respect. But I do have to mention some specifics: she is both a philanthropist and a fashionista, has a wicked sense of humour, is not afraid to say “fuck,” is a hot ticket, is highly intelligent and has a true gift for friendship. And that just scratches the surface.

Anyhow, years ago, after I had left the firm and was a One L at Harvard Law School, Susan came to speak to the students about the fellowships. A Two L aspiring fellow had called her with some questions on the application process and Susan had told her to come to the talk and meet me (a built-in resource, having been through the process as Susan’s right-hand gal) so that I could help her and any other public interest students so-inclined.

Susan is very fashionable, but always very tasteful, and she had kindly bestowed upon me a number of designer suits that she no longer needed. She figured I would be wearing one at the meeting to please her and make a good impression on the students. Pale blue Armani, perhaps? Crimson Feraud?

Of course when she showed up I was sitting on the floor in a cheetah print mini dress I got at the ten-dollar store and knee-high boots. Oops.

So last night when I thought about seeing Susan after quite a long stretch of not having seen her, I realised that an appropriate ensemble was in order. I mean I didn’t want to embarrass her again and make her feel uncomfortable in the chemo suite, for Christ’s sake. She flew across an ocean. And to top it off I am bald now, which doesn’t help one’s appearance.

This morning I scoured my closet, keeping in mind that I had to allow decent access to my port site near my left axilla for blood draws and administration of chemo. I selected and then rejected several choices as inappropriate, but finally settled on the perfect kit (look it up, Americans, it’s Breeteesh). At this point of course I was late. So pathetic to be late to one’s own chemo. And to top it off the nifty phone apps I downloaded in order to get a taxi to show up at my door refused to work and the cabs and car services were all popping up with “unavailable in your area” messages. Unacceptable. And there was no “FU I have cancer come anyway” button.

At that point I had no choice and gulped down the rest of my flat white (like a latte but better), wiped the cinnamon from the corners of my mouth with the back of my hand, and dashed out the door to get to the tube. It was raining again and so I put on my silver wellies so I wouldn’t soil my outfit. I had not planned to be sloshing about — thought I’d be cabbing it door to door.  Grrr.

I dashed into the tube, which of course crawwwwwled along. Blasted Northern Line. When I finally reached my stop I catapulted myself onto the platform, ran (yes ran) up two escalators and flung myself outdoors to hail a taxi. I was still a good 15-minute walk from treatment. Luckily I found a cabbie right away. He dropped me off in front of the clinic (most people know it’s a cancer place) and then refused to make me pay for the fare. It was lovely, really, and I was touched if not a little surprised. I mean people get dropped off there all the time and I am sure they usually have to pay. It must have been the combination of my elegant attire and — oh — the fact that he knew I was a cancer patient.

So, I was about ten minutes late. Not fatal. But I was concerned about getting a good seat under the skylight. I practically jumped down the stair case and was scolded by a lady not to rush (good point — headline: “she makes it through four chemos only to hurl herself down a flight of stairs at chemo and end up a quadriplegic”).

The staff ushered me to a nice, sunny pod. I yanked off my wellies, hung my coat up and waited for my friend. I hoped that she would like my outfit. I did not want to let her down. Again.

A blond breath of fresh air in a red and gold silk scarf, persimmon sweater and chocolate trousers breezed through the door. Susan had arrived. She saw me. She smiled.

What? You were expecting Rene Lezard? Please, people.

Nothing says “cancer, kiss my ass,” like matching leopard print tops and tails.

We killed it today, Susan and I. Easiest bloody chemo I ever did.

Yippee ki-yay, motherfucker.