Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Aura Redux

Aura photography from a Chinatown crystal shop. Left, just after chemo, right, today. They have you sit in front of a grey screen, and put your hands on metal sensors, and they take a polaroid with a strange steel camera. The left side is what's past, the top is now, the right is what's coming. A dark aura (a see through one) indicates physical depletion; white light is uncertainty. Whatever you believe, it's fun to do, with a pretty picture besides.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

28 grams

I've been thinking lately about weight, and waiting. Waiting for this experience to be over, though by now I know there's not a fixed day. Weight, as in the heavy lightness that now sits on my chest.

Before, my breasts were things to be reckoned with, cajoled into supportive, wired, multihooked bras. When I weighed myself, I always thought, "Well take off ten pounds for the boobs." (They don't count, obviously.)

They were so heavy that I dreaded the way they would look in old age, a hubris I can only laugh at now. But they were so, so heavy. Except in water.

I don't know how to swim...I took a class at the Y once, but didn't completely learn. But what I did experience why the way my chest held me up in deeper water. At home, in the bath, the same thing happened.

Tonight I take a salted bath and note my lack of buoyancy. The saline pouch on the right side of my chest sits comfortably, inertly. Left side just quivers at being exposed to the light and heat.

On my path report, I learn the truth about the weight. Right, 752 grams, left, 780. Just over a pound and half each, nowhere near the five I'd overly generously estimated. They loomed large in my mind, I guess.

But hang on, back to those numbers. Right, 752, left 780. They were mostly symmetrical, so does that 28 gram difference, that one ounce difference, account for...what? The tumors, I suppose. Added up, just ten pennies' worth of death.

Those ones are locked away in a freezer somewhere, and they can't hurt me anymore. (Played on repeat.)

Monday, September 8, 2014

Immune System FTW

Guys. GUYS. Some early results from the trial I'm participating in:

"One of only a few vaccines of its kind in development, GP2 has been shown to be safe and effective for breast cancer patients, reducing recurrence rates by 57%. Further, women with the highest overexpression of HER2 (known as HER2 +3) had no cancer recurrences when they were administered the vaccine after completing trastuzumab (Herceptin), a type of immunotherapy drug known as a monoclonal antibody." (emphasis mine...damn right)

If this is as good as it looks, then it's huge. Fucking huge. Go hug a goddamn scientist.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Mourning Phase

So, let's talk about clothes. I like 'em big, I like 'em shapeless, and most of all, I like 'em to be seriously deficient in CMYK. Here is a picture of my dresser drawer: 

A rainbow of flowy, stretchy, grey things. So the other day, when I saw an infomercial for Suzanne Somers's 3 Way Poncho, I actually thought "the black one's not half bad."

Sometimes I scare myself. 

But what's this all about, really? Is it just about hiding out, and waiting until I'm old enough to buy some Eileen Fisher and call it a day? Or is it some elaborate ritual that I'm instinctively taking part it, thanks to my high school years of devotion to Thomas Hardy?

The color black best represented the Victorian act of mourning because it symbolizes the absence of light and in turn, life. It was an instantly recognizable sign that a loved one had departed this life. It is also said that wearing black for mourning comes from a Roman idea; the mourners could prevent being haunted from the ghost of the deceased by cloaking themselves in black. 

Who is the loved one here? (By the way, "loved one" does not mean just someone you love, it means the dearly departed.) Is it the breast, the body, the old self?

I realize I'm asking lots of questions, and not answering any. Welcome to my brain. More clarity later loves, I swear it.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


Why do I identify so much with the jilted, post bc? (What's the correct term there? bce? abc?)

Also, note to self: stop forestalling joy. Had a chance to buy Karen o tickets but didn't because I wanted to "think about it." Now sold out of course. Isn't this something I was supposed to have learned from this instructive, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger cancer experience? Oy.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

"I'm sure he'll be fine."

Pretty brilliant take on illness and death. And it's English, so shallowness, lies, awkwardness abound.

Sunday, August 17, 2014


A few days ago, I was on the back of a black and white pinto, trotting around an exercise arena. And because I'm me, my eyes welled up with tears as we shuffled across the ring together.

I rode when I was a kid, on and off, for about ten years. I was a complete horse girl. I read every book, watched every movie, and every Christmas and birthday I nourished a small hope that maybe this was the time I'd get my own horse. Like most kids with that same hope, I never did. But I kept up my lessons, through moves and falls. I was a timid rider, anxious even, but I think that spoke to how much I loved them, that I stood up to myself and my fears.

I've never stopped loving them, never stopped gasping when I encounter one unexpectedly.

So aboard this little paint, in an English saddle, I started to feel like perhaps there was a part of me that wasn't gone forever. I spoke to her with my body, the old words coming up with ease. Nothing fancy or advanced at all, but when the owner of the barn told me I was "a good little rider," I flushed with a pride that I rarely feel, smile impossible to hold back.

In those moments, my body was not broken, or fucked up, or wrong.

A few times I had thoughts of, "Should I be using my arms this way?" "Am I hurting myself?" but I quashed them. I didn't care. And though my muscles complained, sometimes bitterly, later, I stand by it.

Blinking back those tears in the arena, I had a distinct feeling of this is it. This is what I need. After all this time, this is what it is. A girl and a horse.

I realized, finally, completely, that the path back to myself is not one I will walk alone.

I'm not unique in this, I realized after obsessive googling. It's not easy to find a barn when you're in the city. Even if I can't make regular lessons happen right now, I'm going to do everything I can. Here are programs for the other horse girls out there, that I'll be looking into as well.

Big Sky Yoga Retreats
My Feet Take Wings -- Breast Cancer Support Program
Riding Beyond
Horse Power for Life

Happy riding, my lovelies.