Wednesday, November 5, 2008


My original treatment plans have changed and I will actually be heading home to Chicago this coming Monday, Nov 10 for the duration of treatment, both the rest of chemotherapy and the stem cell transplant. This new plan is primarily the result of my insurance company’s requirement that the round of chemo proceeding the transplant occur in the same location as the transplant itself, and since the doctor isn’t sure if I will need one or two more rounds, they wanted to be on the safe side and do the rest of treatment in one place. I went to Chicago last Thursday to meet the doctor and team that I’ll be seeing at Northwestern University Hospital downtown, and got a very good sense of their excellent program and facilities.

I’m incredibly sad to be leaving Washington for these months, but relieved, euphoric, and excited about returning to work with the Obama administration and Democratic majority to follow through on all this change and hope business. I want to take this opportunity to congratulate everyone on the outcome of this historic election, and thank all my friends who have been working full-time on this campaign – Jenny, Becca, Matt, Erin, Gwen, Julia, Josh, and to the many more of you canvassed, made calls, donated your time and money – you have secured a better future for the whole world and should be incredibly proud of your hard work! And I thank those of you who read my initial email and took the time to call your friends in swing states, and forward my thoughts to others. Evidently, the emails made it pretty far, because just before going into the hospital for my first round of chemo, I received an extraordinarily kind letter from Senator (and now President-Elect!) Obama himself, thanking me for my efforts on behalf of the campaign and wishing me luck with treatment. Needless to say, this meant the world to me. I will scan and post the letter shortly.

Leaving Washington is going to be very difficult. The ability to stay in DC two years ago, the first time I went through treatment, allowed me to maintain some semblance of a normal life. It felt good to deny the cancer the right to subsume all my hours, thoughts and energy by continuing to work and play even in a diminished capacity. In some ways, going home to Chicago, taking a leave of absence from my job and my volunteer work, and leaving my friends, feels a little like giving over the reins of control.

Despite being sad to leave here, there are many things to look forward to in Chicago. I am grateful for the opportunity to spend a lot of quality time with my whole family, and lots of friends I don’t get to see as often as I’d like. I think it will be helpful to focus more fully on treatment and recovery without trying to integrate it into my life as one more commitment to juggle. I am looking forward to making my way through a long list of books I have been looking forward to reading. And, honestly, I’m looking forward to having the amenities of my parent’s wonderful home at my disposal because as tough as I like to think I am, I can’t deny that my mom’s car is an easier way of getting around than the public bus, and a washer and dryer off the kitchen is more convenient than a coin-operated laundry in the basement of my apartment building.

I’ll be leaving for Chicago on November 10, in chemo at Northwestern from November 11– 13.


Sammie said...

Yup the washer and dryer thing -- clearly tips the balance. Know that you are doing the right thing by doing this at home, however much we'll miss you.

Kate said...

If you're giving the reins of control over to anyone, be it to God. This isn't something you can control -- but it something that you can & will fight. And, obviously, are fighting already. Yesterday showed how much hope there is in this country & this world & even just amongst our friends -- there is so much hope to go around. Certainly enough to get you through this, right? I'll be praying for you every step of the way &, like many others, will anxiously await your happy, healthy return.

Good luck, Elissa. <3 Love you.

Jessica Braunfeld Turnof said...

Thanks for the most recent update and ENJOY your time back in Chicago - I'm sure your family and friends will be thrilled to have you home. I know it's a difficult transition, but you are doing the right thing and, if I know your DC crew well enough, I imagine they'll find ways of having their presence felt in Chi-town very soon.

Love ya, dahlin... Feel well and keep smiling!
Tootles, Jessica