Friday, 10 June 2011

Becoming Superhuman

"Auntie Ashlyn, what's wrong with your hair?", my nephew said to me yesterday.

"Do you mean, why did I cut it short and sorta look like your dad now?"

"YEAH!!! Why'd you do that??"

"Because I'm going to lose it all anyways buddy."


"Because that's how I'm going to become superhuman."

"Hey! I'm superhuman!! I'm getting my hair cut tomorrow and Auntie Jeannie's gonna give me chocolate!!"

Sounds like a plan my sweet nephew. Somebody better be waiting for me with chocolate when my hair falls out.

Well it looks like I won't have to wait too long for that chocolate... Since writing the above, it has started.

I was warming up Lyla's last bottle before bed and doing a little cleaning in the kitchen when I glanced down and noticed it. All over the kitchen floor were strands of my hair. It was strange at first because I'm used to seeing my really long hair all over the place. But this was my new short hair. I started looking around the apartment and it was everywhere. My hand bolted to my head and came back with 7 or 8 strands sticking in between my fingers. Then I did it again. And again. More and more hair each time. I couldn't help myself and started to cry.

BUT, the universe clearly didn't want me to be sad because I swear before the first tear hit my cheek Lapierre scored! GO CANUCKS GO!!! Even Lyla picked up on the excitement and started her weird little baby dancing. No one could ever cry watching Lyla's dance moves. No one. Meltdown successfully averted.

Back to the point... I saw my nephew yesterday because my savior of a sister-in-law was babysitting Lyla, yet again, for another "teaching session" at the Cancer Agency. The class: Stabbing Oneself With A Needle 101. Like a number of my 100 level courses, I should have skipped it. Here's how it went:

Nurse: "Ahhhhh, we don't actually have any of the needles you're going to be using here because they aren't government funded."

Me: "Uh ok, then what should we do here?"

Nurse: "Well I have this other practice needle with saline that's similar but I don't want to open it because it's our last one."

Me: "Alrighty then, what should we do here?"

Nurse: "Well when you open the box for your syringe at home there will be some written instructions.Read those."

Dear Cancer,
What a waste of my time. I can't believe I drove into Vancouver for this.You owe me $4.50 for the parking meter.
Love, Ash.

Now I should mention that this experience was not the norm. Everyone at the BCCA, including that nurse, has been kind, compassionate and has given me all the time and attention I've needed. And I did get a pretty good laugh out of the experience. You see, the reason you need a teaching session to poke yourself with these needles is because there's an odd plastic mechanism around the needle that you have to engage properly so you don't accidentally poke yourself a second time. Just let that sink in for a second. If necessity is the mother of all invention, just how many people were running around jamming their needles into themselves a second time before the drug companies had to create this mechanism?? Who were these people?? They owe me $4.50.

Onto the positive part of this story. I have good news! I had my first check up today since starting chemo and it's already working. The 3cm node under my arm has shrunk to the point where we can't even feel it. That 11cm spread is now down to 9.5cm. My CT results are back and all's clear. And see ya later pain killers, I don't need you anymore. I can lift my left arm above my head again. That may not sound like a big deal, but I like to sleep with both arms above my head and now I can. That needle I have to inject myself with? It's full of some magic drug and causes me to produce extra white blood cells so I stay superhuman healthy. It worked too! My white cell count was excellent and I've got the green light from my doc to go to my friend's party tomorrow night. Happy Birthday JB!!

So regardless of the hair situation, things are looking up. It's not as though I didn't know it would happen. And if that's the price I pay to make my body superhuman and kick some cancer ass then so be it. By my count the score is: Ashlyn = 1, Cancer = 0. Just like tonight's game, the better team won :)

Much love,


  1. Great to hear about the successful chemo so far, Ashlyn. Like the Canucks, you bounce back and win at what matters!

  2. I love you. Your strength and positive outlook on everything really is inspiring, Ash. Keep it up and kick some cancer ass!

  3. Ashlyn! Beth passed the link on to me and I just wanted to let you know that I'm sending major positive thoughts your way. I have no doubt that you're going to kick this thing's ass and I'm so glad that you're already seeing results. Your blog is beautiful and you are a fantastic writer - seriously.
    HUGE hugs to both you and Cory, and hopefully we'll get to see you soon.

    p.s. it's making me sign with my google account, so in case it's not clear... it's Mara :)