I. I’m not your average 26 year old
I’ve always lived my life in the fast lane. If the pedal isn’t to the medal, I am one unhappy camper. I am fully aware that at the age of 26 I’ve accomplished more than some will in their entire lifetime. I’ve lived in both Ireland and Italy and traveled the world extensively (France, Spain, Switzerland, Netherlands, Belgium, U.K., Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Croatia, you get the picture). I started my MBA at 24 and true to nature I made sure that I was in an accelerated one year program. After my MBA, I fought long and hard to switch my career industries from legal to business consulting. I didn’t jump at the first offer that came across my plate (or second or third for that matter). I’m a fighter and I will hold out to get what I’m after. I’m not climbing my way to the top, I am sprinting full force with my entire heart and soul.
For me, everything is in acceleration. That’s why I am doing lymphoma now, not waiting for those 70s or 80s to eventually roll around. This week I was officially diagnosed with Large, T-cell Lymphoma. I’m still not really sure what that means, but the name sounds fancy and exciting.
You only get one chance to respond to the words “You have cancer”. With the help of some classy friends, I chose “Fuck cancer”. To which my doctor responded, yes fuck cancer.
As most of you know, I am super independent and insist on doing everything on my own. Yesterday as my doctor was screwing a huge needle into my back bone for a bone marrow biopsy, I threw that crap to the wind. I am absolutely positive that the only thing that got me through ripping bone from my back was a best friend with a huge super hero complex blasting Indiana Jones theme music from his iPhone. We won’t mention the part where he continuously invaded my doctor’s “sterile” space or played nurse helping her inject anesthesia.
My point being, I need all of my friends and family. I need my selfless friends, the ones who already offered to donate their bones upon hearing that I had a bone marrow biopsy. (That’s the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard, but please keep your bones right where they are!) I need my nerdy friends to take notes and remind me what the doctor says when I zone the horror out. I need my racy friends, who promised to buy me as many weekend blue and purple wigs as I want. I need my athletic friends, who already offered to run a race and raise money in my honor. I need my sugar momma friends, who buy me three different Italian dinners just to make sure one of them is to my liking. I need my international friends, who send me notes and pictures to keep my spirits up. I need my super hero friends, who arrange a pirate cancer party on a boat to raise money for lymphoma to which you are all invited. Most of all, I need my best friends, who hold my hand and make me laugh through the scariest procedures and sacrifice sleep to check to see if I am still alive at night.
This leads nicely into why I decided to start my little morbidly humorous blog. I can’t do this alone. I cherish your notes, texts, emails and calls. They are going to power my fight. At the same time, my energy levels won’t allow me to respond efficiently. This is going to be my official update channel to you. Ready?
I start my first chemo treatment next Saturday, the 20th. I trust my life to a Doctor Charita Ujjani at Georgetown’s Lombardi cancer center. http://www.georgetownuniversityhospital.org/body_fw.cfm?id=8&action=detail&ref=3689 She’s young, motivated, tells bad jokes, specializes in lymphoma (treated too many lymphoma patients to count), did her rounds at UPenn and wants to come to my pirate boat cancer party. Plus, she puts up with all my bullshit and friends’ crude jokes. Plain and simple, I like her. This is the most important factor because even after remission, I must see her every three months for the rest of my life.
The outcomes initially look fantastic. Charita tells me 90% of patients make it to remission and 70% are still in remission five years out. I’ve been making a lot of jokes, but in all honesty that last figure scares me. Remission happens with lymphoma, so I’ve got to keep my mind in the right place always. Here is how I do that, no I am sorry looks or treating me like a cancer patient. Cancer is not who I am. I am an ambitious, young professional sprinting full force to the top. I am going to stick to my normal lifestyle as much as possible, including working full time. I will never let go of the career that I love or my dreams of giving back to society by building my own business (and let’s not forget my house in Cinque Terre). I’m still the same Lisa and I need you all to treat me as such!
I promise to continuously update my blog as new information becomes relevant or as ridiculous events occur, such as going to my favorite local spot immediately after diagnosis demanding whiskey and eggs benedict to a horrified waitress.
If you want to send me encouragement my new address is 1714 Troy Street, Apt. 803, Arlington, VA. I swore that I’d never move from the District, but an amazing person to whom I will be forever indebted has let me set up camp to hold the line.
For now, I’ll leave you with the proverb, “The candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long.” Well to that I refrain back to my initial response to cancer, fuck that.