10/03/2012 12:40 pm ET Updated Dec 03, 2012

Chemo Letters to Oprah

MONDAY - Day 1

Imagine you're a fancy, well-to-do person -- say, OPRAH -- about to set sail on your yacht for a two-week-long cruise. Helga (you obviously have a handmaiden named Helga) packs your bag gets everything you might need and its like done. Let's cruise.

Only then you get on your yacht and you find all you have is bad food and hand sanitizer, and the weather sucks and Helga's packing also sucks. You fire Helga.

You have a lonely, nauseating bad weather day and nothing to wear. You'll also have an idea of what chemotherapy is like.

Are you with me? It's my first week of chemo and they must put metaphors in with the bleomycin because POETRY.

Anyway, back to Oprah. We're talking about her now, because a) she inspired my metaphor (AND MY LIFE AND SENSE OF SELF) and b) because sometimes I ask myself, what does it all mean? I mean, really? And then... I ASK OPRAH. As we all know -- the best beacon in the night for uncertainty in life is A LETTER TO OPRAH.

I'm kinda serious there.

Serious as cancer!

Hahahahahaaaa, ahhhhh ---> *crying*

Join me in this epistolary moment.

Dear Oprah,

How are you? Hope you are well! How's Stedman? The puppies? The favorite things?

I'm doing all right, you know, living my best life. Well, as best as I can in chemotherapy.

Today is my first day. It's no book club!


H. Alan

p.s. what does it all mean?


The most aggravating thing about starting chemotherapy is the reflection process. There is nothing I could have done in my past 30 years to have prevented this from happening. I have cancer after quitting smoking AND losing 100 lbs. So I'm reflecting on what exactly?

Nothing could have stopped the cancer (insert dramatic hand gesture). Not even some extremely healthy life choices. Have you ever lost 100 lbs? IT'S A VERY HEALTHY THING TO DO.

Oh, and check this out. The future? There might be leukemia (a potential result of chemotherapy) in it! I mean getting cancer from curing cancer? What the hell is that shit?

My situation TERRIFIES the healthiest of my friends.

Dear Oprah,

How am I supposed to live my best life knowing that something potentially could come and wipe me out even when I do everything to stop that from happening?

Feel free to consult Gayle on this one.

And where is my spirit and how do I find it?

H. Alan


It it's difficult for me to just be who I am right now. I set goals for myself, simple goals. Get home from chemo. Walk around the block. But then it's too much to lift my head because of the dizziness. Remember how easy it is to lift your head? No you don't -- because it has NEVER BEEN HARD. Well it turns out, given the right cocktail of chemo, using your neck is actually something that has a difficulty level. The person that I am can't lift their own head?!

I'm wondering -- can I maintain my independence when I can't even lift my head? How am I even writing this?

Dear Oprah,

Can I have a car? I think my spirit may not be in walking distance.


H. Alan


So this nurse told me -- "Having cancer does not define you, it's merely a PART... of who you are."

Eh, I don't know! She's telling me that sitting in a chair for six hours a day, five days a week, getting pumped full of life-saving poison is JUST a PART of me? I get where she's going and I know that it's PC of her, but I did the fuzzy math in my #chemobrain and I'm feeling 100% Cancerously Poisonous™. The part of me that memorized every single Best Picture Academy Award since the beginning of the awards? THAT PART HAS CANCER, TOO.






p.s. it's Friday now, just seeing this. Sorry I was kind of dizzy and I fell on the keyboard.

Hahahahaah --> *crying*

FRIDAY - Day 5

I've created a "bad girls club" -- patients and nurses that have nothing nice to say all get invited to sit by me.

Dear Oprah,

Remember when you and Gayle took that road trip and you got annoyed that she had to sing along to every song in the car?

Well that's the same reaction I have to perky nurses who tell me how "brave" I am or how well I look. I'm at a cancer center, not Target, how's about we lower the excitement level.

Cancer has no airbags,

H. Alan


I seriously wondered if I could call in sick to chemo next week. But I'm in chemo because I'm sick, so... CANCER INCEPTION.

Dear Oprah,

Remember when the beef industry came after you because you were just being honest about not liking beef? And then you had to uproot to Texas, only to be subjected to the pressures of the people around you (THE BEEF PEOPLE)? I, too, am just trying to be normal -- but I am surrounded by beef people.

How can I find my spirit when I don't know where to look? Have you gone over that? I don't have a show (*hint) that I can use to help me get through this.

Please tell me my spirit isn't beef,

H. Alan

p.s. Can you send me some UGG boots?

SUNDAY - Day 7

One week down and I know it's going to get worse. I'm over the fear of the unknown though. I'm actually pretty grateful for that. I've seen what chemo does to my mind/body. It's not the best feeling. It's no longer unknown.

Still, I am also pretty sure I had an "ah ha" moment from this past week when my friend called me for directions to the airport. While I'm all, "take a right on Wilshire"... I broke down in tears. This is emotional (the cancer, not the airport), and even a simple conversation with somebody I love leaves me truly sad.

It's that sadness that's opening me up to honesty ("ah ha!"). I don't know what this experience means, but I know it means something. And it's the mystery of that "something" that is my driving force right now. Oh man, Oprah's gonna LOVE THIS!

Dear Oprah,

This "Super Soul Sunday" on OWN is extra special for me right now, because I made it through week one of chemotherapy! It wasn't easy (just like that interview with Tom Cruise bouncing off the couch, am I right?!), but like you, I got through it, reputation intact.

I cried to my good friend over a phone call about directions to the airport... but I think my soul grew in the process? Hello!

Ah ha,

H. Alan

p.s. My cancer center just happens to be down the street from the OWN headquarters on Wilshire, not that I planned it that way or anything. Food for thought. Ponder it over some raw almonds and cheese wedges.

Edited by Lori White and Bryan Wilson.