Tag Archives: COVID-19 vaccine

Joy joy joy joy joy

It’s amazing what ecstasy a simple vaccine can bring.

After a year of hiding in my cave I am now able to visualize that moment when I can carefully climb back out again. In fact I have the exact date circled in my calendar. March 20th, two weeks after my second shot. At that point my anxiety can go down so many notches and better yet, I shall be able to spend time in the company of a select few (those who are also two weeks or more out from their second vaccination). People!

After such extreme deprivation (remember, I am an extrovert), this feels like an utter banquet. A wealth, if you will.

Yesterday someone complimented me (via zoom meeting) on my hair cut. Later I realized that if I had been clever, I would have responded that it was not a hair cut, it was a hair grow. Same with my eyebrows. They delight me. I simply cannot stop touching them. And two days ago, one of my eyelashes bumped into the rim of a water glass.

I was alopecic (hairless) for one straight year this time. Got old, it did. Of course my newly boosted self esteem (I like hair) is challenged by the pustular acne and eczema that are secondary to treatment with binimetinib. I never go halfway when it comes to side effects. Fortunately, my team takes these every bit as seriously as I do, and has worked with me to find solutions. As long as insurance doesn’t keep me from filling my prescription for minocycline again, I should be able to get this under control.

Soon I shall be almost as pretty as I once was. That’s a joke. Ode to my brother in law Greg, who will say to my sister Bink, ‘You’re as pretty as you’ll ever be.’ Also a joke. Which reminds me of how my father Ollie once told me that peak intelligence was reached around age eleven. This was erroneous but I was highly anxious. And twelve. So of course I worried.

Anyway, I digress. Happily. After a trying year my life feels a comparative splendor. And about that trying year. I have been doing a lot of middle of the night thinking (insomnia), and recently I was pondering the concept of practice. Both in the Buddhist sense but also totally pragmatic (which Buddhism, after all, really is). Repetition is the essence of practice. If you do something again and again (good and bad habits), it shall manifest.

This past year represented a lot of hard work–emotionally. At times it sucked but, as my son August’s colleague so pithily implored him–’embrace the suck.’ August does. I have. And we’ve both grown.

Now it’s time to bloom.


It shouldn’t be this hard but sometimes it absolutely fucking is.

So I made a real pest of myself. On Facebook and Twitter both. I also contacted all the members of my medical team. Multiple times. Same for Pfizer, who is co-sponsor of my current trial (and sole sponsor of two previous trials).

It was my contention, and it still is, that both the institution where I get my care (MGH) and the sponsor of my trial should have my back. Solidly. First, from a strictly humanitarian ‘we’ve grown awfully fond of you Linnea’ perspective. But secondly, I represent a significant investment.

In time, tissue, data, money. Currently enrolled in my sixth (SIXTH) phase I (FIRST IN HUMAN) trial, I’m like the fast horse that just can’t stop running.

It makes an awful lot of sense to try to keep me in the race.

Sigh. Like the royals, as an advocate, me is no longer singular. It is we. You, me, each of us. In one way or another, we are all a valuable commodity.

And, as I pointed out to my contact at Pfizer, you are the maker of one of the primary vaccines. There are no contraindications to my getting said shot. But if I get the virus? We’re both fucked.

Sometimes when you’re in need of love, it just doesn’t matter how you get it or who you get it from.

Friend of one of my closest friends. My friend heard there was a clinic for 75 and over where no-shows were a distinct possibility. She got my name on a will call list. The night of the clinic (in a town not too distant from mine) I got there an hour before closing. Fifteen minutes after the shop closed up I was still there. The parking lot attendant came over and knocked on my window. ‘I know’, I said. ‘It’s not happening. I’m getting ready to go.’ But no, wait, she said. Asked my name. Called up to the gymnasium of the school where the vaccinations were taking place. Confirmed I was on the list. Then she turned and said she would need to knock on some more windows–to make sure those with appointments hadn’t missed them. I waited ten more minutes. The attendant came back and told me to pull forward and to wait a little while longer. Five minutes later she was back at my window. When I rolled it down she said ‘It’s your lucky day.’

I could have kissed her. But of course, not really. Not anymore. Not yet.

I drove to another parking lot and walked inside the school. I was giddy. And then horrified to discover I didn’t have my MASSHealth card with me. I filled out the paper work anyway and when I was called forward, figured this was it. I’d screwed up. But no, it was fine. In the gymnasium I went. When I told the nurse who would be giving me my shot that I had advanced lung cancer she said it was an honor–being the one to vaccinate me. I got choked up.

As it would turn out, I would be one of the last people to leave the gymnasium. I passed a fireman on the way out and said ‘Hey, we’re closing the joint down.’

Last night I had so much adrenalin and was so frigging grateful that I barely slept. Odd, as it was the first time in a long time that I’ve felt safe.

It really shouldn’t be this difficult. Those of us with lung cancer are a seeming priority, when it comes to vulnerability to and devastation from a disease like COVID. However, I guess we didn’t make the cut when it came to likelihood of transmission. Obviously they don’t know me well 😉 (Super connector! Super spreader!).

So yes. I got lucky. And I wish I could wave my magic wand and get each and everyone of you a vaccine today. In the meantime, my advice is this. Continue to lobby the powers that be. Employ reason and guilt. Try to get on some waitlists and if you do, show up early and stay late. And, if for any reason you (healthy or not) luck into an opportunity don’t hesitate. Get that vaccine. This isn’t the moment for gallantry. We ALL need to get vaccinated, sooner or later. If you’re given that shot at a shot and you don’t take it, you’re potentially part of the problem.

Don’t be. A problem. Get your fucking shot the minute you are able.

A year from now? Massive group hug.

My place.



There is an article in today’s Boston globe that I can’t provide a link to as it’s paywalled (yes, I understand they are in the business of selling news, but I hate paywalls).

Anyway, my friend Melinda was kind enough to photograph the entire article for me.

The paragraph that caught Melinda’s attention was the following:

One sign that the Baker administration is trying to speed the process came in an e-mail to hospitals Wednesday immediately granting them permission to vaccinate all their workers, including those working remotely or in back offices. It also said hospitals could use existing vaccines on “selected high-risk patients.” ‘

Well heck. If MGH can vaccinate those employees working remotely or in back offices, then they can probably vaccinate high risk patients while they’re at it. And it doesn’t take a stretch of imagination to picture those with thoracic cancers as being not just in the high, but in the extraordinarily high risk category. COVID attacks the lungs and those of us with thoracic cancers have lungs that are already compromised.

Worse still, many of us do not have the option of receiving our treatment remotely. Nope. I am certain I spend more time at the main campus or one of MGH’s satellites than many of their employees–clearly a risky environment for one who is immunocompromised. Plus, as a participant in a clinical trial, aren’t I a medical worker of a sort? I’m certainly on the front line of cancer discovery. According to the protocol, I am also a volunteer. My guess is that other hospital volunteers are offered the vaccine.

So. Just a little food for thought. From a person who is sometimes invited to sit at the table, (and more and more frequently, the one with the grown-ups at it) but who is also accustomed to being served last.