Some things you can take with you

Everyone knows the cliche, ?You can?t take it with you.? Well, I beg to differ. I was on call a couple of weekends back, and since we did a procedure on Friday afternoon, it required a Saturday morning follow-up with the patient at the hospital.

I arose early to shower and dress. Being a Satur?day, the dress code is more relaxed. I certainly would never wear sweats or shorts to see a patient, but I was happy to exchange my standard scrub attire for my dark denim jeans and smart blouse, which I accented with my sparkly belt. I finished the ?look” with a light washed cropped jean jacket.

The visit was pretty routine since everything was as it should be, post-operatively. I felt quite liberated as I slid behind the wheel of my car in the hospital parking garage. The temperature was mild and the sun was shining. The day was full of spring and promise!

I donned my favorite pair of sunglasses, my coveted Oakley?s, that I had purchased five years back. Prior to buying them, I had never indulged in a costly pair of sunglasses, usually opting for a $5 pair from Wal-Mart. I always figured the odds of them ending up at the bottom of Table Rock Lake were relatively high, or a kid might break them, or I might sit on them and break them myself.

So why lay down much cash for the inevitable destiny?

But that first year after I had cancer I wanted those sunglasses so badly. My husband took me to the eyeglass store, and the moment they were removed from the locked cabinet and I placed them on the bridge of my prominent nose and admired my reflection, I knew I had to have them no matter the price. They looked good on me and I felt good in them.

I even think I would like to be buried with them when the time comes. No, I know I want to be buried with them! They are just ?me.?

To soak up the beautiful day, I opened my sunroof and cranked up the radio for the 20-minute drive home. I have been feeling very well these days, the past six months especially. I have been working with a trainer to strengthen my body, which had been so weakened from the travesty that is anal cancer treatment coupled with the repeat onslaught of secondary treatment of my lung recurrence just about 20 months ago. All the chemotherapy and radiation over the past half decade had really softened me.

While pausing at a red light, I realized how much stronger my body felt and it was being reflected in how I look as well. I glanced down at my rather new blue jeans and recalled a time not that long ago when I thought buying clothing for me was just a waste of money. I figured I was going to die anyway from this wretched cancer, so why toss money away on pants, shoes, jewelry or even underwear?

It practically took an act of God for my husband to convince me to buy new cross trainers when mine had a hole in them! I always rationalized that I should wait for one more scan, the next round of tests, or the next set of labs, because if my cancer was back I wasn?t spending a dime. Wasteful, I say!

I chuckled out loud, thinking how silly I had been. I realized in that moment that indulging in new personal items wasn?t frivolous or wasteful. I have Stage IV cancer. So what? New clothes feel so nice and fit so much better. When I slip on those Oakley?s, I feel unstoppable and if I die, well, I die.

The way I see it, it?s like throwing the money in a hole in the ground because I am taking them with me when I go. The jeans, the cross trainers and those wonderful Oakley shades.

Who says you can?t take it with you?

Michelle Longabaugh has written a book about her journey with Stage 4 cancer titled, ?If You?re Not Laughing, You?re Dying.?