the perks of cancer, part I

i’ve been kinda thoughtful and morose lately, and have decided that what i need right now is a good dose of humor to cheer myself up!  (and perhaps you, too, if my sullenness has gone viral.)

so, today, i bring you the first installment in a new series that will henceforth be known as the perks of cancer. additions to this series will be trotted out when there is a need for dispelling thunderstorms and fires and locusts (i haven’t written about locusts, yet? oh, that’s right. it was bed bugs…) and any other pestilence that rears its ugly head. if you’re a fellow cancer fighter/survivor, please contribute your favorite cancer perk(s) via the comments section (or email them to me), since i’ll undoubtedly run out of perks of my own sooner rather than later. (there aren’t that many. let’s be honest.)

without further ado, let’s begin. perk numero uno. free parking.

now, i don’t know if the DMV hands out disabled placards like consolation prizes to all those lucky enough to emerge from their doctor’s office with a diagnosis of cancer, or if i’m just extra special lucky because i have brain cancer. more precisely, a tumor located in the motor cortex of my brain, which has impaired my ability to walk. either way, this might be my most utilized (and appreciated) perk to date. and if you’re a cancer fighter/survivor who doesn’t have access to this VIPerk, then i’m sorry for you. because at the end of a long day, when i’m all curled up in bed and about to cry myself to sleep, sometimes i just clutch that blue plastic placard and, well, i cry myself to sleep anyway.

but i digress. after leaving the neurologist’s office in pasadena where i was first diagnosed back in october, i marched (read: drove) straight (it was actually pretty wiggly, being that it was the 110) to…no not UCLA neuro-oncology, that was later in the day. that’s right, the D-M-effing-V. that’s because my neurologist oh-so-obligingly delivered the news that i had a brain tumor, and followed it up with my consolation prize, a letter for the DMV explaining that i’ll be disabled in perpetuity. or permanently. or something like that.

so, now, in return for my trouble, i get free or reduced-price parking everywhere and unlimited access to front-row disabled parking spots! now, this might not mean a whole lot to those of you who don’t live in LA, but let me tell you, this is, like, the perk of all perks in a city where parking is a hot (and expensive) commodity. this perk applies at such varied locales as metered street parking, the beach, the hollywood bowl and trader joes. (at the one on westwood and national, nine times out of 10, i get a spot less than 30 feet from the door. no fighting, no waiting. just calmly drive up and pull in.) oh, and that endless and frustrating search for quarters (and — don’t deny it — dimes and even nickels, if you’re desperate)? over. just hang that bad boy up on the rearview mirror, and you can forget about extracting your hand from your pocket (or wallet) with nothing to show but lint and crumbs under your fingernails.

AND…if you really feel like getting the bang for your limp, take a leisurely drive up the 405 freeway (oops. blundered into an oxymoron. correction: take a grueling drive up the 405) to the sherman oaks galleria, where they will…wait for it…VALET your car for freeeee. (is it weird that i just heard larry miller in my head saying, “sit n sleep will beat anyone’s price or your mattress is freeeee”?) nevermind the fact that there’s really no reason whatsoever to go to a mall in the valley when you live next to two perfectly good ones in west los angeles. the point is, the perk exists.

and, by golly, i’m going to squeeze every last bit of juice out of this perk if it’s the last thing i do.