Thursday, July 2, 2009

To Whom It May Concern

If I have made radiation treatments seem terrifying to any of you I am sorry. I have been telling you about my friend's discovery that she has cancer and her reactions to the reality that she cannot treat this with "alternative modalities." She is a life long proponent and practitioner of naturopathy and homeopathy and Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture and magic water, and I have grown impatient, afraid, furious, and terrified that she would not act soon enough to avert her own premature death. It took coughing up a lot of blood to get her in the hospital. It frightened her youngest son who was the one to call the ambulance. My fear has never been that the medical professionals at Huntsman Cancer Institute would be unable to treat her cancer, but my fear was that she would fight them so hard that there would be no radiation, no chemo, no time to save her life. I did not doubt for a second that she could be saved. I feared she would refuse to be saved or wait too long. I feared she had more "faith" in the "alternative modalities" and no faith at all in western medicine. She has hated all but one of the doctor's she's seen so far. The only doctor she's liked was the doctor from India who treated her at St Marks Hospital where they took her when her lungs started hemorrhaging. I am grateful to that one doctor for earning her trust, for making her entertain the notion that western medicine might just work. It is not western medicine, nor radiation or chemotherapy that scares me. It is my friend's belief in "alternative modalities" and her revulsion toward western medicine that scares me. It is like "faith healing" at the expense of medical care, this acceptance of one approach at the expense of the more traditional that scares me. I have no faith "alternative modalities". I believe in science. I am sitting here typing because of science. I'm taking bipolar drugs, drugs to treat my heart arrhythmia, blood thinners to keep me from having to face the future that claimed every member of my mother's family--the slow crawl toward dementia and a nursing home. There is no one to take care of me. And with any luck there will be no need.

My therapist called me while I was gone this afternoon. I need help. I know that. I am on shaky ground, but I keep doing the things that keep me semi-sane. I have not skipped my meds yet. I'm not the one with cancer, but the one with cancer's reaction to her treatment is cause for worry for me. And worry isn't going away real soon. I'm venting on the blog. I've been a recluse for years and now I'm going out every day on one errand or another. It's probably good for me, but I'm hating driving in traffic and having to be nice where ever I go. However the biting my tongue is starting to take its toll on my personality. And apparently my running blog about this situation is starting to piss people off. Let me make this clear. This is me writing about the things that I care about or that interest or concern me. So in that sense, it is all about me. I'm sorry if that's offensive. I am many things, but saintly I am not! I can be a right vicious asshole as we all know. Ask Cal.


Steve said...

it is not pissing me off. i just wish i had been as brave to post what i was feeling while loved ones were going through the same thing.

There's not a lot you could really say to keep me from reading and thinking and sending good thoughts to you and your friend. (Other than Steve's an A-Hole but I'd probably still come back!)

Bottling up things while people you love are going through bad times = not good.

Please keep writing about this. It is very imoprtant to you and a lot of other folks

Utah Savage said...

Thank you Steve, that's very kind of you. And as we all know Steve, you are NOT an A-hole.

La Belette Rouge said...

This is your blog and you can say what you want here. This is not a blog about cancer and you do not, in my mind, need to be a reliable and scientific resource on cancer treatment. I want you to say what you want. I want to hear your voice no matter your mood or method. Vent, scream, rage and/or even be an asshole( I have never seen that here).

As you know, since coming to your blog and getting to know you, I really care about you---I say that to say that I sincerely hope that your caring for your friend does not stop you from taking the best care of yourself.

Hugs to you, lovely Utah.xoxo

Utah Savage said...

LBR, as you probably know all to well, nothing makes us motherless children cry like a few words of kindness.

jazzolog said...

My diagnosis of prostate cancer a few years ago led to surgery...but he missed a speck, and so radiation loomed. Like most, my oncologist was a morose fellow with very little sense of humor. Sense of tumor, yes.

Before I committed to the lengthy procedure, he outlined in detail what the side effects would be and could be. Not a pretty sight---any of it. Because I have insurance, no mention ever was made of what it cost. I can't imagine, and I'm ashamed to say I don't want to know. It's a price tag on one's life...and most of the fellow radiation patients I met during the ordeal wondered too, "My god, is my life worth this much?" It gets deep in the waiting room.

But I have to say the procedure was precise, compassionate, and astonishing. It's like NASA putting a rocket into orbit. There's this little teeny window of opportunity, and if we can't see the cancer exactly we shoot for where we think it might be. I'm not a gambler but I think it must be like Las Vegas. So far I seem to be a jackpot winner, but I had to lose some function---and that's been tougher than I expected. Well, it's pretty damned hard to predict loss of function. But it makes an Elder outta ya.

Sherry said...

you aren't pissing me off, nor have you scared me about radiation. i've known tons of people that have had to have them.

i understand where you are coming from so just keep on writing. o.k?

themom said...

We are all in agreement that we haven't been pissed off. I'm sure you realize who might easily be offended and those that will stand right beside you.

I'm amazed that you can handle it all so well. You know your own problems that need to be addressed, so please don't disregard those issues either.

My choice words for your detractors will remain with me - until they cross a line. Should you be attacked - I may just have to get on a plane and head to Mormon country!!

Rest and please take care of yourself also. We love you!

giggles said...

I ditto everyone here. I can't imagine why someone would be pissed off at YOUR blog....? Seems like being pissed would be THEIR problem!!

PENolan said...

Girl - I am happy to say that I don't know nothing about Cancer treatment and chemo, but I want you to know unequivocally that if I found myself in a situation where I had to find out fast . . . I would NOT turn to your personal blog for objective, factual information on the procedure in order to make a life or death decision.

I would turn to your blog for a genuine, heart felt, REALITY based account of the emotional repercussions amd fall out a cancer diagnosis can have on individuals who are going through the experience.

You have not been put on this earth to provide once and future patients with a chemo informercial.

Trust me, you've said a lot scarier shit on other topics - like old poops in pony tails and your own dang character - than anything you said about chemo.

You've got enough problems without people making you feel guilty for telling your own truth in your own space. Especially when your observations have provided them with a forum to share their own views and experience. You are, in fact, providing them with a service and they have the nerve to chastise you.

You keep telling it like you see it, sister.

Gail said...

Hi Utah-

I felt awful when I read that comment to you about YOUR blog and what YOU feel about your current situation with your dear, dear, friend and how SHE is reacting to her treatments. I was actually afraid to write anything because I didn't want that person to come after me. Imagine that? I am Sorry I was a coward.
So now I am "stepping up"! I have followed every word you have written about a very desperate time for you and for Z. As you know it is so very close to my recent similar experience with my brother-in-law - a man whom I Loved for over 45 years. So please, just write and process and use YOUR blog however you need and worry not.

Love to you

Anonymous said...

My Dear, You don't owe anyone anything. This is your forum. If people don't like what they're reading here, they can go read fucking Dooce. Fo.Shiz.

Oh, and I might have accidentally been mean to that commenter. Oops.

Paul C said...


You are and have been a wonderful friend to this woman.

Your blog is your blog.

And you you have discussed this whole thing with tact and tenderness.


Tengrain said...

Utah -

I continue to keep you and Z in my prayers (such as they are).

As a believer in Science, I'm with you and your concerns at about 110%.

My mother, who had a life-long fear of doctors was not diagnosed in time to have the chemo or radiation help her (and what should have been a very treatable cancer had she gone to the doctor in time), and she bemoaned that to all of us in her final six weeks.

I wish she had had a friend like you.

Regards (and hugs),


Utah Savage said...

Thank you all for the kindness and support. Your good wishes for Z mean a lot to me. If good thoughts help anyone, then she should be getting better any day now.

jadedj said...

I am a bit late with this comment, but I am in agreement with everyone here. I would are not responsible for others opinions. I for one come here to learn about you, and I like what I find. If someone has a problem with your subject matter, or opinion, well it's much like a t.v. remote...change the damned channel.

Fran said...

Honey child-- it's your blog & you can write about whatever the hell you damned well please.

I consider it cheap therapy, myself.

It is a creative outlet.

anita said...
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Non Je Ne Regrette Rien said...

fuck off assholes, if you can't understand. we bloggers don't exist for your benefit. particularly diarists. we are documenting our journey as we see fit.

Utah, keep it coming.

anita said...
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