99 unexpected things cancer is giving me

1. All three of my kids cooking dinner, together in our small kitchen, without harming each other.

2. Trying out a pixie cut for the first time since Grade 2.

3. Trying out a faux-hawk for the first time ever.

4. The trust of giving over my hair to Graydon’s razor.

5. Meeting the amazing staff at Continental Hair: Michael, Elfi, MiMi, and more.

6. The increased sense of responsibility of my 13-year-old Luka, as seen by the fact that I have had a cool mist humidifier in my room for three weeks now, and last night was the first time I have had to fill it. He has done it every single night. 🙂

7. Teaching Tessa how to crochet, and seeing her make her own head wrap in less than a day, then a wrist wrap for me, a scarf for Clover, 20-plus roses for a scarf for herself, a thick scarf for her boyfriend, Myk, and one for her grandfather, all in her first week of being a crochet fan addict.

8. Being able to say no thanks to helpings of ANY FOOD. Everything tastes like vaseline, and that’s on a good day.

9. Fast showers! Cheap showers! No hair on my head to wet, shampoo, rinse, shampoo a second time, rinse a second time, work in conditioner, let conditioner set, rinse a third time, cold rinse (fourth time); no shaving of legs, underarms. And since I’m on short-term leave, I really have no work thoughts or editing problems to work through, so these are the shortest showers I have had in my adult  (or even teen) life.

10. Sitting at a bowling alley on a Friday afternoon, watching Luka and two of his friends goofing playing in one lane, and watching Graydon bowl over two lanes next to them, recording his score for his newly joined house league. It’s 3:45, and I’m doing that thing I rarely did until now—relaxing (mind you, if I could delete the crashing pins and cracking ball noises, relaxing would be easier!).

11. I got prayed on in the checkout line at Target. The day before my mastectomy Tessa and I ran out, on the recommendation of a friend who had been through breast surgery, to get more pillows to support my arms during recovery. We struck up a conversation with the women behind us in the line, and I blabbed that I was having surgery the next day, she shared she was a surgical nurse, we got very chatty, and then she asked, “Would you mind if I prayed for you?” I said no, in fact, please pray for me, I have family and friends who have added me to their prayers. But she lifted up her arms, put her hands right on me and started praying on me, a fervent, Bible belt type of beautiful, threatening and lifting up to the Lord kind of prayer. The checkout girl was speechless, people in the other lines were all looking (it wasn’t a church whisper she was speaking in), and Tessa’s eyes were huge. When the woman finished, we all said amen, and she looked me straight in the eye and said, “You will be fine. You will beat it.” I felt pretty invincible for the rest of the day.

12. The pure, unadulterated joy I experienced when watching all eight seasons of House M.D. Netflix has become my go-to hobby, pastime, babysitter, amphetamine, sleeping pill, best friend, you name it. Eight seasons of House M.D. had 176 episodes, which is approximately 7,920 minutes, or 132 hours. After almost every episode I also read a review and medical analysis written by Dr. Scott over at Polite Dissent—we agree that House was the best medical series EVER. If I hadn’t had cancer and been sentenced to the life of a hermit, I would never have had the chance to watch it.

I’m on a roll. Since I count each series as its own unexpected gift, here are more:

13. Luther, from the BBC, a psychological police/crime drama, starring the gorgeous Idris Elba. Three seasons; 14 episodes.

14. Fringe, a sci-fi, parallel universe, time-jumping, paranormal series that fills a bit of the void left by X-Files. Lead is female (Anna Torv! yay!) as FBI agent, with Joshua Jackson as her right-hand man and John Noble as an LSD-dropping scientist. Five seasons; 100 episodes.

15. House of Cards, political thrills drama starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright that got 13 Emmy nominations. Netflix original. Two seasons and a third in the works; 26 episodes.

16. Boss, super-dark political drama starring Kelsey Grammar as the mayor of Chicago as dementia with Lewy bodies begins to take over his body and his life. Only two seasons, which is a crying shame; 18 episodes.

17. Orange is the New Black, everybody knows this one. I’m halfway through the second season; 18 episodes so far.

18. The Fall, British detective drama (BBC) with lots of murders and fabulous accents, starring Agent Scully Gillian Anderson. Only one season thus far, but a second season is in the works; five episodes.

19. The Killing, very dark, crime drama, based on the original Danish production, features intricate weaving of plots and personalities. Best lead actors of any show. Three seasons, and eagerly anticipating season four, available August 1 (or 5, I can’t remember); 36 episodes.

20. Damages, legal drama with huge arcs, adore Glenn Close and Rose Byrne. Five seasons, 59 episodes.

21. Canterbury’s Law, courtroom drama starring Julianna Margulies, whom I would watch acting in just about anything. It was a warm-up to watching The Good Wife, see below. One season; just six episodes.

22. The Good Wife, courtroom, legal and political drama starring Julianna Margulies, Matt Czuchry and Christopher Noth (whom I have adored since the first-ever Law and Order in 1990). Four seasons; 113 episodes

23. Shameless, Brit comedy import about a drunk dad and his eight kids and how they basically bring each other up. Four seasons; 33 episodes.

24. Dexter, super bloody, murder-an-episode set in Florida with C. Michael Hall playing a psychopathic forensics tech who kills the criminals he feels have eluded their true punishments for bad deeds. Sometimes too predictable. Seven seasons; I’ve watched 36 so far.

25. The Guardian, legal drama and social work meet as Simon Baker (swoon!), corporate lawyer who likes coke way too much, is forced to rack up 1,500 hours of community service as an ad litem. Three seasons; 67 episodes.

26. Lie to Me, behavioural psychology meets crime drama starring Tim Roth and Kelli Williams. Three seasons; 48 episodes.

27. Homeland, American political drama, starring Claire Danes, the CIA, the Marines, Al Qaeda. Two seasons; 24 episodes.

28. Numbers, a crime-solving pair of brothers who rely on mathematics to solve EVERY case! I make my son watch this one to show him the pure beauty of math. He got 100% in a summer school math test = TV is good for your grades. Six seasons; 119 episodes.

29. United States of Tara, a comedy/drama about a mum with dissociative identity disorder (Toni Collette), her husband (John Corbett) and their family. I don’t know anyone with this disorder, so I can’t vouch for how on the mark it was with the psychiatry, but I could have watched another season or two. Three seasons; 36 episodes.

30. And I am watching Wallander, starring Sir Kenneth Branagh, a fabulous BBC Scotland project that is adapted from Swedish novels, and filmed in Sweden, Three seasons; I’m on the last of 12 episodes, and an episode is an hour and a half long—lots of time for character development.

So you know I have to do what I’m going to do now. Add them all up.

31. 946 episodes. Roughly 135 episodes a month, which is four and a half episodes a day. And I cook and clean and do laundry and sweep and fold clothes while Netflix streams on, keeping the little voices in my head how I like them—overpowered.

32. Excellent advice from other women who have gone through this crap too: this is a great example. I told Laura I would put her advice in my “Look here when wondering why” file:

Responses to “Day Ten….#31daysoflove”

  1. itsbecauseisaidsoOctober 11, 2014 at 12:43 am #

     Laura, I absolutely love your double-barrelled theme for this month that I was dreading ever since last October when I discovered my lumps. Paying tribute to pink sistas AND documenting your pinking of the wardrobe—it’s great. God, I hope I can get this positive at some point! Thank you again.
    • Laura Renegar October 13, 2014 at 2:37 pm #

       You CAN and you WILL! You just have to focus on the positive things and thank God for the silver linings and lessons along the way. In looking back, as dreadful as all of my stuff was at the time, seeing my grand daughter born on Saturday made everything in my life crystal clear. This is why I fought my brains out…and continue to move forward and raise awareness and funds. I want them to figure out something so Haley doesn’t have to deal with crap – EVER!
      REPLYitsbecauseisaidso October 16, 2014 at 12:28 am #
 Excellent point! I’ll put that in my “Look here when wondering why” file!
 33. Thanks to my bilateral partial mastectomy, I can paint my toenails like a real woman, not a contortionist.

One Response

  1. […] a post about breast cancer. I knew as soon as I read what I think of as her manifesto, “99 unexpected things that cancer is giving me,” that I had found something […]

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