I was on tenterhooks the whole week. Would my body work for me? Would it give me what I wanted – a week home in London? I had my chemo on Friday. By the next Friday, my white blood cell count had to be good enough to get on that airplane. On Thursday morning, I was back at the hospital for the blood test. I waited at least an hour and a half for the results and then the nurse came out and four fabulous words came out of her mouth: “You’re going to London!”
Let the packing begin. Remember back to May 22 – the day I headed to Philly to start this adventure. Four suitcases filled with swimsuits, linen and Louboutins came with me. Now it’s October and winter is coming. (All you geeks out there will know my GOT reference!) Delicate strappy sandals are now to be replaced by suede and leather.
A few friends advised me to wear a surgical mask on the plane…you know, the ones that look so dorky, scary and stupid at the same time. The nurse said that it really doesn’t help you from contracting something, just prevents you from spreading something.
So on that Friday night, I boarded British Airways Flight 66 to London, Heathrow. Of course, the first thing that welcomed me on-board was someone coughing up a lung next to me. I just kept thinking positive thoughts and burrowing my head into the pillow and blanket.
Touched down on a sunny warm London morning – “the nicest day we’ve ‘ad for ages” said the minicab driver. Off he sped us to my little house in London. (Mom came too as it was a work trip technically and I needed her for my extra luggage allowance!) Opened the door to piles of mail and went right to bed under my clean crisp covers in my chilly bedroom… taking my requisite three-hour-upon-arrival nap. Woke at noon and was ready to unpack by 1pm.
A cocktail party was already planned for that night with all my good friends except one who had a bad cold and was afraid she might give it to me. My boy arrived at the door with gorgeous flowers and loads of kisses. He wouldn’t be out of my sight the whole time I was in London. Only the heat didn’t work so the emergency plumber was called and he came right away and replaced a tiny something or other and we were back in action. Off to drinks and the week began. I won’t go into all the details but it was nonstop until Milan. Then back to London for a day and a half. Packed up the jeans, boots and three more pairs of Louboutins. Don’t need to tell you how hard it was to get on that airplane home and back into Chemo #10 on the next Monday.
As much as I was jet-lagged and irritable that I had to be back in the chair, I had the most wonderful nurse. She said she had seen me here before so knew I had been getting chemo for a while. She asked me what number and then said, “Ah yes, you are getting the insurance policy!” I liked that. It made me remember why I was there. The sad thing was that my one FABULOUS vein is probably not going to last for two more sessions after this one…but the nurse told me not to worry. She was sure I would get through without a PICC!
Then she complimented me on my purple shoes!
Most of you don’t know that I work for Breast Health International (www.breasthealthinternational.com). We were in Milan because one of our sponsors was having a press conference to launch a fundraising collaboration we are doing for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. While pitching the story to Vanity Fair Italia, the Head of PR for the brand told VF about Chemo In Louboutins. They were wild about the whole blog shoe cancer story and I was interviewed by the Fashion Director.
Check it out above…The wonderful journalist who interviewed me told me that vanityfair.it had the most hits it had ever had the weekend of my story: http://www.vanityfair.it/news/societ%C3%A0/2012/09/28/blog-susan-schwartz
At the same time, Oncolink, the largest cancer website, also printed an excerpt of my blog. Read it if you have a chance: http://penn-medicine-focus-on-cancer.blogspot.com/
Although this was exciting and all, cus it was, I am not trying to blow my own horn here. It’s really funny to me that people are interested in this blog and call me strong and inspirational. I don’t feel strong and inspirational. I get dressed up for chemo and write about it in a blog adorned by amateur, kind of out of focus iPhone photos that my Mom takes of me. I am no model as my size 10 jeans are becoming smaller and smaller and don’t feel great even in my fabulous RALF (see the blog about wigs!). I am just doing what anyone would do – getting though it.
What I hope that I can be proud of is that this blog and any press it may be getting is helping someone somewhere who is going through something similar.
1. A DIRTY MARTINI
Vodka seems to be the only alcohol that doesn’t burn up my esophagus. Yes, another side effect of the chemo…spice, alcohol and random stuff irritate your esophagus so keep it simple and order straight vodka,
2. A WEEK’S VACATION
It seemed like ages between this chemo session and the last – so nice to get away and be somewhere complete different. I highly recommend it.
Apples are in season now and there are 1000 varieties at MANOFF’s – it’s my goal to try everyone.