In the world of film and television production, there is a special name for the last shot of the day. This magic moment is called The Martini. Everyone looks forward to it, waiting anxiously until a crew member finally shouts “The martini is up!” and everyone steps up their game to make the last shot perfect so they can go home.
We’ve been referring to my last treatment as The Martini for awhile. Peter, my boyfriend who makes his living behind the camera, was the one who coined it’s use in my situation and it seemed very fitting. We were finally going to be done with this! It was time to step up, take my final bow and say “that’s a wrap!” No more nausea, no more aches and sleepless nights, no more peeling feet and sore heels. I just had to get through one more “shot”. But as fate would have it, my martini turned into quite the dramatic final scene.
I bounded into the treatment room with so much energy I was practically levitating. I greeted each nurse with a fervent smile and a chipper “Hello!” which was code for “You’ve been great but I never want to see you again!”. I chatted excitedly with them, barely minding the horrible prick of the I.V. I had both my mom and Peter with me this time, a first, since his work schedule had kept him from coming to the previous treatments. We were all wearing the shirts he made us for Christmas, emblazoned with a smiley face sporting a crossed out left eye. He designed them as a humorous nod to my doomed left breast, that even though it’s marked for demolition, it won’t disrupt my happiness. It’s become my trademark symbol throughout all this and it makes me happy during the times I should be crumbling. It was a hilarious sight, seeing all of us in our matching shirts. So much so that it made me believe this could actually be a twisted kind of fun!
I handled my pre-meds like a champ, probably subconsciously trying to impress Peter with how hardcore I was. “Look how calmly and nonchalantly I can handle poison coursing through my veins,” my body language implied. And then the chemo started it’s drip. It was not two minutes later that my face turned bright red, my chest tightened and my throat closed up. If you ever want to make a mother shout and 7 nurses swarm, I could give you some tips. They stopped the drip and gave me more pre-meds as I sulked, embarrassed that my carefree facade was shattered. Even when you think you’ve got it handled with 5 treatments under your belt, cancer quickly reminds you that you are not in charge of this. Not yet at least.
Fortunately, once the reaction was under control, the rest of the treatment was uneventful. We met up with my dad after work (wearing his smiley shirt of course!) at our favorite healthy spot, True Food. I ordered my usual green veggie juice and four martini glasses. It was time for a toast. “To chemo! The shittiest thing I ever put my body through. I can only hope my cancer hates you as much as I do. And to you, cancer, I hope you didn’t have plans to stick around. Your performance has been life-altering. I laughed, I cried, it was worse than Cats. But the martini is up and this is your last closeup.”