TBT: The Cancer Series – Part 4 (the one with the Snowpocalypse)

If you want to read earlier posts from the Cancer Series or learn a bit more about why I’m posting these personal blog posts years later, you can do that here. This particular post takes place just prior to, and shortly following a storm that quickly became known as “The Snowpocalypse.” There was a lot of buzz and concern about the “storm of the century” that was headed our way. It turns out that the buzz was well-deserved. Parts of Northern Illinois were hit by a massive blizzard that dumped over twenty inches of snow in a matter of hours. Rush hour traffic from Chicago quite literally came to a standstill as cars were abandoned on major roadways or drivers spent the night in their vehicles. It was a storm unlikely to be repeated in my lifetime, and it took days for the cities and roadways to recover.

The girls "helping" me prepare to shovel the post-Snowpocalypse driveway.

The girls “helping” me prepare to shovel the post-Snowpocalypse driveway.

As someone going through cancer treatment at the time, the Snowpocalypse added another layer of fear and loss of control to my treatment plan. I continue to remember being afraid that I would have to miss out on one or more days of my radiation schedule and how that might impact my prognosis. After the initial storm, I was desperate to dig an exit route out of our driveway so that I could get to radiation if it resumed the next morning. Our snow blower had broken, and I was outside with the girls while Asher napped and Rich navigated conference calls from home. My leg was really hurting from the radiation and my shovel was barely making a dent in the massive piles, but I had to keep going. I was at it for about an hour when our new neighbor who I hadn’t even formally met and who had no idea of my cancer status, completed his driveway and brought his snowblower over to help me finish up with ours, even though it had started snowing again and was pretty brutal outside. It was an act of kindness that made a real impact for me during a true time of need. You just never know what battle someone else is fighting. Remembering that day has propelled me toward many acts of kindness since. I can only hope to lighten someone else’s load the way that he did for me.

A lot of snow standing between my car and the Cancer Center.

A lot of snow standing between my car and the Cancer Center.

This entry was originally published on Tuesday February 1, 2011 in the heart of The Snowpocalypse.

You might have heard that the Chicagoland area is expecting nine feet of snow within the next day or so. Consequently, you might be wondering how Corrie is going to get to radiation tomorrow (Rich hates when people speak of themselves in the third person, but I think that as it’s meant to be you having a thought about me, he’ll forgive me this time). Anyway, here’s the skinny on that one. Yesterday, when I had my weekly meeting with my doctor I asked her about the impending storm and what I should do come Wednesday in the event that the sky opens up and dumps a ton of snow. She assured me that they’d be there, adding that she might even spend the night at a friend’s home closer to the hospital since she herself lives far away. That said, I live 20 minutes away so I figured that it was worth asking anyway because even though they might be open, it doesn’t mean that I can get there. She said that it’s no big deal, they’d just tack on an extra day at the end of my run. As it turns out, it’s a good thing that I asked.

Driving to the Cancer Center this morning, I had my Grandma B.’s voice very loudly in my head. She would have called me today if she could have because she knows that the weather is bad and that I have treatment tomorrow. She would be very worried about me planning to drive in inclement weather. Frankly, she wouldn’t have liked me going this morning just knowing that bad weather was scheduled to begin six hours later. After she got off the phone with me, she would have called Mom and said the same thing. I miss her. It’s nice knowing that she would have woken up today thinking of me, and wanting to take care of me.

When I arrived at the Cancer Center you’d have thought that they were giving treatment away. The Cancer Center section of the parking garage was totally filled and I had to bring the minivan around to my valet boyfriend to park for me lest I be late. (Did I not mention that I have a valet boyfriend? Well I do. His name is Vlad. At least in my head it is. His name may actually be Jeff or Craig, but I have my doubts. Nevertheless, more on that another time). So, the place was packed and I figured that the predicted weather conditions were prompting people to come in early to receive their treatments. Sure enough, when I was done getting my radiation I asked about tomorrow and the tech said that there was now a 90% chance that they’d be closed, but I should expect an official call later today (no slumber party for Dr. Radiation, I guess).

When I got back to the women’s dressing room Stage 3 Endometrial Cancer (turns out that her name is Helen) and Lady with the Grumpy Attitude were there waiting. I broke the news to them that tomorrow looks like it’s going to be a bust. Lady with the Grumpy Attitude was really disappointed. Apparently tomorrow was supposed to be her last day of radiation. She’s really been looking forward to it. She actually wondered aloud if maybe they’d just let her do today and then be done. Helen and I surmised that Grumpy’s plan would not be well received. I figure that if the medical establishment gets mad at you for not completing a full course of antibiotics, they probably don’t want you flaking out on the end of your cancer treatments. I told Grumpy that we’d throw her a party on Thursday to celebrate her being done.

Grumpy and I kibbitzed a bit (Helen got called back for her turn after me). She told me that the last 10-14 days of radiation are pretty tough and that sleeping gets hard once the skin starts to blister. Hmmm, I’d kind of hoped to avoid the blistery skin thing. It sounds painful. She added that from that point until about two weeks after treatment ends I’ll be pretty tired and uncomfortable (this ain’t Grumpy’s first time at the rodeo. Maybe she’s not so grumpy after all, just really really tired).

I’m not looking forward to the prospect of painful blistery skin that keeps me up at night. I’m not sure how exactly to explain to three young kids that they can’t run or jump into me. Well, I know how to explain it, I just don’t know how to get them to actually remember, and Asher is always dancing/pushing off my lap. That’s sure to spell trouble. I have no idea what one wears in a blizzard when they have to keep fabric from irritating their blistery leg skin. Nine feet of snow is not yoga pants weather I’m afraid. I guess we’ll all know soon enough what those last couple weeks will look like. I’ll be there at the end of the week.

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