Saturday, April 18, 2009

The circus

Yes, I know, it's 5:00 a.m on a Saturday morning. Pay no mind. The muse hit me this morning with some light stomach cramping and dry eyes, so I felt moved to the keyboard.

I haven't written in awhile because I haven't felt like it. Truth be told, I've been kind of angry about this whole big process. Let me give you a little background.

Wednesday morning, I wake up, as nervous as a kindergartner on her first day of school, pack my bag, and head to the hospital. Seth is with me, thank goodness, and we head into the doctor's office. They reiterate all the side effects, and add a few more for good measure, and ask me if I have any questions. Well here's one: "Do I have to do this? I mean, seriously guys," I laugh "can you just give me a pill or something and we can just forget about this whole messy cancer thing?" I didn't say that, obviously, but that question, along with many others swam through my head. I headed back into the big, open room filled with navy blue leather lazy boys for your ultimate comfort and they told me to pick any chair. At least they could have assigned me a seat, don't I have enough on my mind?

All bitterness aside, the nurses and doctors are amazing. My nurse was a few years older than me, so I think she took a liking to me right away ( I think everyone takes a liking to me right away, and I have been wrong before). She gives me the whole rundown of the blood work before every chemo, the different drugs that will be administered, and all the emergency contact numbers in case of any severe side effects, like bleeding internally or me turning into a glowing, green alien. I smile politely and say, "ok, great, so I'll call you at this number if any of those things happen?" One final test of my white blood cell count and off we go.

I pop on my earbuds and go to town on my imagery cd. I'm trying so hard to keep my eyes closed not staring at all of the sick people around me. It takes everything in my power not to start crying or screaming or laughing, but I focus on the calm soothing voice and persevere. I feel absolutely nothing but nerves for the next hour and a half. I did have to go to the bathroom more than usual, and my urine was bright pink, but other than that, I was fine.

Here's where the circus metaphor comes in to play (thanks for being patient). Since January, I've been preparing for chemotherapy. Of course, I had tests and surgeries and shots and enough doctors appointments to get a medal, but this was it. This was the big bad monster everybody talks about and writes about. Actually, it's not a monster at all. It's a tight rope, and I am the incredible Erica Unger, taking her first step onto the rope, thousands of feet above the ground. Before I step, I turn around and see Seth, my Mom, Dad, Danielle, Robyn, and all the other wonderful faces who have supported me so fiercely the last three months. I smile bravely, tell them not to worry, that I'm going to be fine. I might even give a little motivational speech before I take my first step. Maybe I have on a hot pink cape with aqua blue tights and an aqua blue leotard, which I look fabulous in with no spankz. I haven't given this any thought, obviously.

Then I take my first step. I turn around hesitantly to see if they're still there. Yep, ok, they can still reach me if I fall. I take another step. This is where it gets scary. I'm out here on my own. I know they are behind me, but every step I take, I have to focus on the other side and take it, alone. The tight rope isn't long, but that doesn't make the fall any less scary. I can feel other forces, God, energy, my grandparents, all around me holding me up, giving me strength so I'm lightweight and I know that the family behind me, will be there on the other side. It's this middle part that gets kind of hairy. A six month long tight rope act is going to require a lot of patience, but I'm grateful it's only six months and not a lifetime.

The side effects are totally manageable. If you are interested, its mostly digestive problems and fatigue, no nausea, which I am so thankful for. I've surround myself not only with family and friends, but a spectacular support team filled with doctors, nurses, acupuncturists, Reiki therapists, nutritionists, and a wonderful counselor, to name a few. Ultimately, and thankfully, this is my journey. I've started a self-discovery process that isn't always going to be pretty, but I'm trying to always make true. In true theatrical form, I've used a circus analogy, but when it comes down to it, its just me and my body, and of course my wonderful support team, to catch me if I fall.


  1. Hey Erica, I can see you there through the tightrope and glitter of circus life. I'll keep you in my thoughts and prayers. Stay Cool


  2. Cheering you on, sweetheart!! You're in my thoughts and prayers as well.

  3. Glad for the update, keep up the good fight!

  4. You have a wonderful support system out there and I just wanted you to know that I'm joining the crowd to cheer you on. Godspeed girl. xo.

  5. Just like everyone has said already, we are all cheering you on to be the fighter we all know you are!

  6. Just think of yourself as "Erica the Cancer Slayer Extraodinaire" while you are up on that tight rope. Not only can you do this, but you will do it while all making us pee our pants with laughter! God bless you for having such a wonderful sense of humor about the chemo monster!

  7. Keep fabulous, Darling!

  8. This is my favorite post to date. I read it with tears in my eyes. Proud of you girl. Proud to be your friend. xoxo