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[cancer] On the significance of shirts - Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2011-09-08 05:19
Subject: [cancer] On the significance of shirts
Security: Public
Tags:cancer, conventions, health, personal

Tomorrow is my sixth chemotherapy session in this series of twelve. Second in the subseries of eight I’m now embarked on. All of this stretches forward until December, every other week.

So today I have to pop over to the oncology unit, my home away from home, to have the Huber needle implanted in my chest port and to have bloodwork done in order to verify that I am sufficiently healthy to sustain tomorrow’s chemotherapy regimen. There’s no particular reason to think I won’t be, especially since I’m now hitting the Neulasta, but they have to check.

Because of the logistics of accessing the port — it’s just below my right clavicle — I have taken to wearing one of my aloha shirts whenever that is needed. My normal attire at home is a t-shirt and shorts, and with a t-shirt I have to strip to the waist to be accessed. So now I go in colorful and a bit strange, unbutton a bit of decolletage, and let them go to town on my chest.

Kind of like a hot date, but with needles and blood.

There’s a bit of weirdness to this, though, that’s specific to me. I only started wearing aloha shirts back around 2001 or 2002, to go to SF conventions. I didn’t have any particular reason for it at the time, and I’d never been an aloha shirt wearer prior to that, but we all know how that’s turned out since. Still, I have a closet with three dozen or so aloha shirts in it that are my writer suits. Jay-in-an-aloha-shirt is Jay going to a convention or conference or workshop or something. Occasionally I wear one on a date or to a party, but really, even then it’s because I’m going in my writer identity.

Now the aloha shirts have become part of my cancer identity. They’re cheerful and fun, and I’m usually the most brightly dressed person in the infusion center. But it’s also added a more sobering dimension to a look I’ve carried joyfully for years. That untempered joy, now lost, is another item on the endless list of things cancer has robbed my life of.

Hibiscus, needles and pain. Maybe I’ll use that as a title some day.

Originally published at jlake.com. You can comment here or there.

Post A Comment | 13 Comments | | Link






seventorches
User: seventorches
Date: 2011-09-08 12:37 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I hesitate to suggest this, but maybe you could obtain some non-aloha shirts for the purpose? Or designate a Chemo-Day Shirt?
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fledgist
User: fledgist
Date: 2011-09-08 13:46 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
For some reason, the thought came to my mind that in Jamaican Creole the name for the hibiscus is 'shoe-black' because the flower is used by peasants to polish shoes.
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Kari Sperring
User: la_marquise_de_
Date: 2011-09-08 13:46 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Clothes carry huge significance. I had to give away most of the clothes I'd worn as work-wear when I broke-down, because wearing them put me back in that place. I'd kept a fairly good barrier between the work clothes and the home/con/me clothes, but there were overlaps and I lost some things I'd really loved. Recently, I gave away a much-loved piece of jewellery, because it had been the piece I wore to interviews. It went to a good home. I hadn't worn it for 10 years because it made me feel so... wrong? bad? something like that.
I hope you can hang on to your love for your Aloha shirts, and that their brightness and cheerfulness help you during the chemo.
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Deborah Biancotti
User: deborahb
Date: 2011-09-08 13:57 (UTC)
Subject: Much love for the alohas
Maybe you took to wearing your aloha shirts not only because of their pragmatic value, but also because they are your superhero identity, & you figured you needed that for the cancer stuff.

You know, like changing into your cape in a phone box. Except using aloha shirts and ... er... wherever it is you get changed.
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Twilight: Scarlet Witch
User: twilight2000
Date: 2011-09-08 14:03 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Scarlet Witch
And one hopes you can re-re-frame them as the shirts that helped you get through all this - I like what deborahb said about your Super Hero Shirts :>
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User: xjenavivex
Date: 2011-09-08 15:04 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Brandon had "retired" several shirts that have gone to the doctor after bad visits. One has been reinstated after the diagnosis visit. I do understand.

I get that it adds an unwelcome deminsion to the identity the shirts help convey or express, but is it possible that beyond the utility and mirth to others the shirts offer, could they be fortifying you during the sessions because of the identity link?
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W. Lotus: Peaceful
User: wlotus
Date: 2011-09-08 17:29 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Peaceful
Perhaps a shopping trip for some shirts just for chemo is in order...shirts you can gleefully BURN once you are all cleared.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-09-08 18:07 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I want to burn my chair, too, truth be told.
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cathshaffer
User: cathshaffer
Date: 2011-09-08 18:04 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I've met aloha jay. I think I'd like to know t-shirt jay.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-09-08 18:06 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
He's a rather different version of me. A lot calmer and quieter, for one thing. Some of my local friends prefer t-shirt Jay to aloha Jay, in truth.
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That Which Fights Entropy: harlequin
User: amberite
Date: 2011-09-09 07:00 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:harlequin
I wish to expand upon the second part of [Unknown LJ tag]' remark and suggest shirts in outrageous print fabrics pertaining to cancer, hospitals, chemo, etc. It would take someone with a sewing machine and a site like spoonflower... Actually, now that I think of it, there may already be stuff up there:

Holy crap someone has done a DNA pattern in brightly colored orchids! It's as if they'd anticipated this exact demand. (There are also a number of more straightforward DNA prints. that you can find with a keyword search.) Or how about syringes and flowers?

Let's see: a search for "cancer" mostly turns up pink ribbons and some crustaceans, but since you're already using the astrological cancer symbol as a marker, you might be interested in this brightly colored paisley-esque print, although I am not sure if it meets your loudness needs.

...Somehow, this reminds me of the time I threw a birthday party for a friend's schizophrenia diagnosis, complete with a "pin the neurotransmitter on the synapse" game.

(And while I was there I just had to bookmark their science themed fabric page, which really makes me want to buy fabric, especially because of the lovely Doctor Who prints. But I have a sewing machine and I haven't touched the darn thing since I got it, so I am firmly determined not to buy any more fabric until I actually do some sewing. Anyway, if you decided to go the other way and re-define your shirt collection for public non-cancer-related events, you could probably do it in the first three pages of the science collection, because that there is the shiznit.)
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-09-09 14:57 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Ooh, cool!
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-09-12 18:24 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Those are some awesome fabrics. Too bad I don't have my tailoring connection any more.
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