I Wanna Be Where the People Are
My name is Kim, and I am 26 years old. I live in Texas with my husband and our two fur-babies (dogs). I was diagnosed with Stage II Hodgkin's lymphoma in December 2017.
Since chemo for Hodgkin's lymphoma, like many other chemo regimens, affects white blood cell counts, my immune system was heavily compromised during treatments. It didn't help that flu season in early 2018 was horrible, and a particularly strong strain of the flu was going around. I had Neupogen injections after the second round of chemo, but my oncologist was hesitant to do another round of Neupogen shots.
At first, I was asked to wear a medical mask and avoid things like football games, concerts, etc. Eventually, I was told to go only to work, home, and my oncologist's office, along with the mask. However, as my white blood cell counts continued to drop and stayed almost non-existent, my oncologist eventually decided I could no longer go to work or leave my house until treatment was complete. The final few weeks of my treatment were spent working from home and under "house arrest" as I called it. It was also recommended that I not have visitors. As much as I love my husband, I got a little stir crazy.
We watched movies, played board games, and I read a lot, but I'm just not someone who enjoys staying cooped up for days at a time. My husband entertained me as much as he could, but occasionally he wanted to put on his gaming headset and play Call of Duty. One day I was feeling particularly blasé, but he wanted to play Call of Duty. I told him it was fine, but I quickly got bored. From the couch, I started tossing little pieces of paper at him and messing with him to get his attention, but I soon ran out of things I felt like doing.
Frustrated, I finally went to YouTube, plugged in the loudest speaker we own, and started playing "Part of Your World" from "The Little Mermaid." At the part where she sings "I wanna be where the people are," I cranked the volume up and sang along as loud as I could. It quickly got my husband's attention, even through his headset, and he burst out laughing when he realized what I was doing. I had to laugh at myself too at that point. We spent the afternoon watching Disney movies together until I felt sick and had to lie down again.
Eventually, chemo and radiation were successful and my white blood cell counts went back on the rise. To be safe and avoid the flu, my oncologist recommended I go only to work and home first, then I could go to the grocery store after the next round of blood work. When I got the all-clear to resume normal activities, I can confidently say I was the happiest person at WalMart that day. I kept saying things like "Isn't this awesome? I'm alive... and I'm at WalMart... like a normal person! I can't believe they let me be around people again!"
Needless to say, I drew some strange looks that day, but I was SO happy and thankful to be cancer-free, I can honestly say I didn't (and still don't) care what anyone else thought!
Another running joke I had during treatment would come up when someone would tell me things like, "Don't eat bananas. I heard they're radioactive" or "You really shouldn't eat/drink/say/do _______." I would always say "What's the worst that can happen? It'll give me cancer?" and I'd sometimes pull off my wig to emphasize the point.
Naturally, some people close to me were offended by my sense of humor in the face of something as scary as cancer. But I think it's important, and even healthy, to find humor in difficult times if it's something YOU feel comfortable with. Coping with cancer through humor shows that you're processing the diagnosis and working through it, at least according to the therapist I had during treatment.