On a recent Monday morning, a young woman called into the Elvis Duran and the Morning Show and thanked the host for bettering her life. She was a survivor, and the radio show had become a ritualistic source of comfort for her. She claimed that Elvis had “cured her cancer.” In its typical jocular fashion, the cast speculated whether they could, in fact, cure cancer. The next caller said that she’d listened to the show on the drive to each of her chemotherapy appointments, and the third caller said she was headed to an infusion appointment that very moment.
Teary eyed, I realized I could have been their next caller. Since returning to work after the induction and consolidation phases of my treatment regimen for AML (I’m currently in the maintenance phase.), I’ve listened to the program every day during my morning commute. Before diagnosis, I never stopped on 100.3 during my scan of the radio channels. Now, from 7:45am to 7:53am, I’m a captive audience. Why? Because Elvis is curing my cancer, or rather, during those eight minutes, he cures my mind of thinking about cancer.
For anyone unfamiliar with Elvis Duran’s broadly-syndicated radio show: think Seinfeld humor infused with pop culture references. The cast can debate, in a hilarious fashion, a topic as mundane as the reusability of plastic take-out food containers. During one of my morning drives, they brainstormed ideas for a tattoo for Elvis. The winner: A tramp stamp of a radio mic with the cord, tied in a Celtic knot, trailing downward. Elvis, Danielle, Froggy, Greg T, Skeery, and the others do particular justice to all relationship-related issues.
These eight minutes of my day are so enjoyable because the irrelevant topics provide an escape from the relevant anxieties that buzz in the back of my mind, but also because a side effect of cancer is a greater appreciation for the little, or mundane things. Laughter may not be as effective at killing tumor cells as Daunorubicin, but it is the best medicine for reducing stress. The morning of SupidCancer’s OMG2012/East summit (great event, btw), I listened to Elvis on my way to the conference. The cast’s discussion on why certain cultures excel at ping pong prevented me from stressing about the traffic jam in which I sat and from dwelling on the fact that if I weren’t a survivor, I wouldn’t need the fantastic support system that StupidCancer provides.
I didn’t call into the show that Monday morning, but I did write an email to Elvis himself- my first fan mail ever. I’m not the type who’s impressed by celebrities. If I passed Tom Cruise on the sidewalk, I wouldn’t even pause (Bad example, but you get my point.). I told Elvis that I’m obsessed with him. Now, if he passes me on the sidewalk, he’ll probably cross to the other side of the street. What I meant by “obsessed” is that I’m fixated on getting past my fears and on with my life, and I’m appreciative of the eight minutes a day he gives me when I never think about cancer. And the pick-up he provides extends beyond when I turn off the radio.
What’s your eight minutes of Elvis?
Shelley Nolden is a mother, a wife, a financial analyst, and a writer. In March 2011, an obstetrician informed her husband and her that their five-month-old unborn baby girl had no heartbeat. A week later, Shelley was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), subtype 3 (APL). Shelley is currently in remission and receiving treatments to maintain that status. Like the rest of the Cancer Club, Shelley is trying to adjust to her new reality while keeping a positive mindset. Read more at www.shelleynolden.blogspot.com.