Thursday, February 23, 2006

Lucky and Aggressive

I feel sort of hungover today, and it isn't particularly from the two glasses of wine I had last night. Yesterday was an emotional day. First the news from the doctor, then hours of contacting people--—family, Clarion West, University of Wisconsin at Madison, speaking dates and workshop dates. There is no appropriate way to title an email saying you can't meet your obligation because of a scary sounding disease. This is why I started my blog in the first place, so I wouldn't have to tell people over and over.

Waking up this morning to twenty-eight well-wishes, now that was really great. Thanks everyone. I mean, I'm a writer. Now only am a buoyed by everyone's good thoughts, but hell, I got twenty-eight comments on my blog! My sister has already suggested (tongue in cheek) that I relapsed so I'd have something to write about in the blog.

Monday Bob is taking the day off and taking me on a round of tests--—heart and lungs--and then a meeting with the surgeon who will perform the biopsy. The enlarged lymph nodes are high in the center of my chest, below the thymus gland. They're a bit of a pain to get to. So I'll carry my CT Scans and we'll sit while he reviews the scans, and as Doctor Schnur said, looks at me to confirm that I'm healthy. I really respect that. There are a thousand things that a doctor can assess in an instant that never show up in a CT scan.

I got to see my PET Scans. They're very interesting. I can see the cluster of diseased nodes. And my liver, faint as a cloud. It's a strange way to look at a human body. The way a PET scan works is they injected me with radioactive glucose and then after thirty to forty minutes, they scan to see where the glucose is concentrated. Malignancies metabolize really fast, so the glucose concentrates there. They show up black on a pale gray photo.

I surely do want and plan to survive this and live for many many years after, but this time around, I thinking that I will concentrate much more on the here and now. One of the questions I asked my doctor was if the high dose chemo doesn't in the end cure me, will it give me time to do things like travel? And he said definitely.

This wasn't a question I would even have thought to address the last time around.

I'm not a believer in the power of positive thinking or the effect of my thoughts on my malignancy. But I am a big believer in the effect of my thoughts on the moment in which I am living. I had some miserable days when I first heard that there was something on the CAT scan, and I just don't want to do those kind of days. That said, I told my doctor that I felt we needed to be lucky and aggressive. Lucky because, well, so much is beyond anyone's control. Aggressive because that is what is in our control, and the best strategy for long term.

That's my medical motto these days. Lucky and aggressive.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maureen, I wish you all the luck in the world. I sure hope you will be writing away in your pumpkin colored office for many years!

February 23, 2006 3:00 PM  
Blogger David Moles said...

Hey, does this mean you’re not going to be in New Mexico? I thought I meant it when I said “fuck cancer” before, but I had no idea.

February 23, 2006 3:15 PM  
Anonymous ben peek said...

hi, maureen. just dropping by to leave some more positive wishes and thoughts for you. can't get enough of that positive stuff.

February 23, 2006 5:05 PM  
Blogger Maureen McHugh said...

David, no New Mexico for me this year. It will be the first Rio Hondo I've ever missed.

February 23, 2006 5:07 PM  
Blogger Justine Larbalestier said...

Lucky and Aggressive: the Maureen McHugh Story. So now you have a title for your autobiography that you're going to write many, many, many years from now.

February 23, 2006 6:39 PM  
Anonymous Marjorie Farrell said...

Oh, Maureen. You're in our special thoughts.


Marjorie & Walt

February 23, 2006 7:39 PM  
Blogger Darby said...


You're in my thoughts and prayers. All the best.


February 23, 2006 9:01 PM  
Blogger Autumn said...

We're all rooting for you. I'm glad all the good wishes help! I wasn't sure at first whether I should link it over to the beekeepers who blog, but I'm glad I let them all know. You have fans, and ones who are hoping you'll keep up the good work.

Personally, I think you're an amazing woman. I'm sorry your health has to take so much from you.

February 23, 2006 10:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lucky, aggressive, and CURED. This stem cell thing is gonna work. Having a magic jacket doesn't hurt either.

Madeleine Reardon Dimond

February 23, 2006 10:25 PM  
Blogger Gregory Feeley said...

I like "Lucky and Aggressive," but you realize that now Leslie What is going to send you a Jean-Claude Van Damme button.

February 24, 2006 9:14 AM  
Anonymous carolyn said...

Lots of "lucky and aggressive" wishes coming at you. Mothers & Other Monsters is breathtakingly beautiful. And if you need some music for your ipod, let me know, I'd be happy to oblige.

February 24, 2006 11:27 AM  
Blogger Maureen McHugh said...

I never thought of Jean-Claude Van Damme as "lucky" but I guess he is. Is that better than a Chuck Norris button?

February 24, 2006 1:21 PM  
Anonymous Bob said...

While searching online for a quicker, more efficient way to bake muffins, Chuck Norris encountered the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button on Google. Taking this as a snide remark, Chuck Norris proceeded to destroy the search engine and fourteen orphanages for good measure. Chuck Norris is the only known man to have roundhouse kicked a search engine.

February 24, 2006 3:24 PM  
Anonymous Steve Leigh said...

Maureen -- here's my best wishes to the Lucky and Aggressive Lady. I'm sorry to hear the news, but I also know that you've the right attitude to kick this. We're sending all the positive energy we have northward to you!

February 25, 2006 9:03 AM  
Blogger Madeleine Robins said...

When I started typing, "Lucky and Aggressive" came out as "Lucy and Aggressive," which is a whole other story--or maybe a very bad B road movie.

As mottoes go, I think yours is exemplary. I think the damned cancer should listen, heed, and run away.

February 25, 2006 6:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad I checked in here. I don't have a Van Damm button. I do have a life-size cardboard cutout. Give me time to find a box, or send him to you in installments,


Leslie W

February 28, 2006 12:30 PM  
Anonymous queenviolet said...


I'm so bummed to hear about your test results. I know how frustrating this kind of medical stuff can be. My thoughts and prayers are with you.


February 28, 2006 10:13 PM  
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