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Monday, December 31, 2012

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Carrying a Torch

Okay, so you know that Taylor Swift song We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together? (I've never actually heard it, I swear! I've just seen the title.) I'm beginning to think that my hair actually wrote that song about me. I know I'm less than a month out of chemo, but sometimes I get the sinking feeling that my hair is never coming back.

I guess I kind of deserve it, you know? I never paid it much attention. I hardly ever got it cut by a professional. I never blew it dry, didn't buy it any nice products. When my oncologist told me I would lose it, I said, "I don't care." That was probably the last straw.

I scrounged through many iPhoto libraries to find this, the prettiest picture of me and my hair. Don't we look happy together?


I don't want to brag, ya know, but just look at it. All golden and flowing and shit. And here's what I look like now:

Artist's rendering
Basically like a skinned Idaho potato. If you're out there, hair, come home to me. I promise I'll treat you right this time.

If anyone wants me, I'll be in my room...with this song on repeat, 8th grade style.



Songs to snooze to




The Beatles, they get it.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

RTONJ Presents: Traumarama

When I was a preteen, and obsessed with being an actual teen, I spent a lot of time with the high school mags, like Sassy, YM, and of course, Seventeen. One of my favorite parts of Seventeen was the totally true, not at all exaggerated embarassing stories section called Traumarama.

These have gotten a lot racier since the 90s!

I had an experience recently which would have been perfect for Traumarama: Breast Cancer edition. Imagine this is printed opposite an interview with Gwen Stefani, with a tear out sample of CK One stinking up the room.

"I was a little over a week out from surgery, and still lugging around a JP drain. I kept the bulb of it pinned to my surgical bra, so all you could see was a bulge under my shirt. After acupuncture (to help with the symptoms of early menopause) I stopped in to one of my favorite stores. The sale section with crowded, but for some reason, the other shoppers were giving me a wide berth. After a few minutes, I noticed something hitting my leg repeatedly. I finally looked down, and saw my half-full drain dangling for all to see! I quickly shoved the drain into my jeans. I was mortified! Then it turned out my crush was there the whole time! OMGOMGOMG!!!"
- Emily H., 28, Beth Israel

JP drain accidents are the breast cancer equivalent of getting your period while wearing white jeans.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Scars

Today was a landmark day: my first shower since my surgery on Monday. (Um. Sorry about the smell guys.) I have these blasted surgical drains in, which can't get wet for a few days, so I've been scrubbing down with baby wipes. Until now!

In addition to being the first time I bathed, it also means it's the first time I disrobed, and the first time I saw the effects of this latest procedure. I've gotten used to my body not looking the way it should, so the fact that my already malformed left boob now looks like a caved in flan was less upsetting than you might imagine.

While regarding my latest transformation in the mirror, I remembered this thing I read about a few months ago: the Japanese tradition of Kintsugi. I believe the term literally means "gold joinery," but the gist is this: rather than discarding a broken bit of pottery, or fixing it with ugly metal staples, in the 15th century the Japanese began repairing broken things with gold. In effect, making the broken things more valuable and beautiful than their intact counterparts. Here are a couple of examples:



It's an idea I relate a lot to. I like the idea of not hiding the truth about an object, and this treatment reminds me of the drawings I was doing after college. In those drawings, I left in my mistakes, because they were a part of the process. (You can see some here.)

And there's also of course the sappy thing about being better with your cracks and damage than you were before. I was at a support group last night for young women with breast cancer, and as always, the topic of "you'll be so much stronger than before!" came up. I don't doubt that this is true for many people. But isn't it also possible that it's just some crappy stupid thing people say? (I've been guilty of saying it myself.) Like when a birds shits on your head, and someone says "Oh, that's good luck!" Is it really, or is it just that a bird pooped on you, and it sucks, and that's all? Having gone through this before with Matt, I can't really say for sure if it made me stronger. I always feel like it made me a worse person -- more judgmental, less forgiving, even more anxious.

And even if Matt's cancer and now my own do somehow make me a better person, I think perhaps I'd rather still be the pre-cancer Emily. I think I'd rather be the weaker version of me. Just saying.

Monday, December 17, 2012

NSFW


Alright, fine... here's a hint, just a hint, of post op surgical bra cleavage.



Surgery at High Noon

Last week I was like:



Now I'm like:






Minus the hair twirling, natch.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Back to Zero

Robert Rauschenberg, White Painting, 1951

In my yoga class on Sunday night, the teacher talked about the mathematical concept of zero. Ancient Indians were one of the first civilizations to conceive of zero...you know, as a thing. She talked about zero for a few minutes, and the strangeness of the concept of nothing, and how you can name something that by its very nature is unnameable because it doesn't exist. Then she said something like, "Before you go anywhere, you have to start with zero." As is becoming the norm in yoga, I cried.

The topic hit me in a couple of very intense, personal ways. The first, which was evident immediately, was the idea of zero or nothing being part of an experience, or part of a journey. (I really hate the word journey in this context, please forgive me for using it.) I realized I spend a lot of time feeling upset and freaked out about the things I would be doing if not for this pesky disease. I feel lazy, I feel afraid I won't ever accomplish anything, that this has knocked me off course forever. My plastic surgeon is always telling me to work less, and how weird it is that he has to say that, and why don't I just enjoy taking a break? I guess I've always subscribed to that adage about sharks, and how they have to keep moving forward or they die.



When cancer silenced the steady, productive thrum of my life, I felt terrified about what that meant. Now, I'm going to try to be comfortable at zero (for the time being).

Zero is interesting also in thinking about this disease more generally. They don't use the term "in remission" with breast cancer. They say "no evidence of disease." I get it, you can't prove a negative, but I really fucking hate the way that's phrased. I'm someone who thrives on evidence, on litmus tests, on "is it or isn't it" type situations. The goal of this treatment is to kill every speck of disease inside me...but there's no way to prove it. The very fact of the absence of disease makes my status unknowable for certain. It's another version of zero I will have to embrace...or at least stare awkwardly at from across the room.

Throughout our class on Sunday night, the teacher had us practice pranayama, a breathing technique which roughly translates to the suspension of breath. After completing an exhalation, you wait a bit before inhaling again. Not so much that it makes you uncomfortable, just so that you are aware of your breath as deliberate, and not automatic. At first, it was a strange feeling, but by the end of the class, there had been a few moments when I got very comfortable in between breaths. I was in the nothing space. And it was okay.

Friday, December 7, 2012

CHEMO JAMZ




The last edition of CHEMO JAMZ. No original Dylan on Youtube, so make your selection: 60's cheesy prettiness, or sad 90's Jeff Buckley.

Stay tuned for new songs for a new phase.

La Fin du Taxol

On the last day of Taxol, a photo essay of chemo detritus.

 First day.

 Old school ID.

PM pills.

 
 Track mark constellation.

 The juice.

 Where the action's at.

Today.

Number of Taxol doses: 12
Number of needle sticks: 25
Nurses, in order of frequency: Cordelia, Fabianca, Kate, Lauren, Anne
Veins blown: 1
Liters of water drunk: =/< 252
Number of books read: 0

Monday, December 3, 2012

Went to 11



Back in September, when I was just starting chemo, I stopped into a Duane Reade to buy water. (I've done chemo without a port, so I've been working hard to keep my veins plump and ready to receive weekly IV drugs. I normally hardly ever drink bottled water, but the bottles help me keep track of how much I drink. In addition, the chemo gives everything, including most water, a really gross metallic taste. So I've developed an $8/day Evian habit. But anyway.)

I was buying three 1.5 liter bottles of Evian, my water for the day. The woman at the checkout said to another woman, "I need to start drinking this much water every day." The other woman said, "They say if you can do something for a month, you can do it forever."

Which is kind of a weird thing to say.

But actually it's halfway true. A couple of years ago a study that said it takes 66 days to make any particular activity into a habit.

Friday was Taxol #11. Sometime in the last few weeks, I stopped getting nervous the night before chemo. I got lax with my water intake. Side effects that were so distressing last month are now just part of life. I learned to schedule around them. I became cancer girl, so I got used to chemo.

With the penultimate dose of Taxol under my belt, and the final one at the end of this week, I am wondering where things go from here. (I will be officially done with chemo -- however, I will still visit the chemo center every three weeks for the next year, to get my IV infusion of Herceptin.)

It's hard to picture there ever being a time when I don't feel like cancer girl. I'm so used to being bald that I can't see myself as someone who has hair, for instance.

I know I can't go back to who I was before this happened. I'll always have numerous scars to remind me. But when my treatments are finished, I look forward to meeting my new new self, and getting into the habit of being her.

Number of needle sticks: 2
Number of veins blown: 1
Annoying-ness factor of on-call intern I spoke to on the phone about said vein: 7/10

Mondays

Mondays after chemo are not fun. But this guy helps me through.

Staying in bed all morning is a big sacrifice, but he does it just for me.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Science Alert!

So today some science people said something I, and every other cancer patient in history, already knew: chemo messes with your brain zone.

Since starting chemo I've had SO. MUCH. TROUBLE. with things like word retrieval, short term memory, and ability to focus...


...but who cares, this is sparkly!

It's made it difficult to work, and kind of impossible to finish my book, which is completely infuriating. Basically I get mad and start to smash things but instead watch an episode of Dr. Phil. (For some reason when I typed that I wanted to write "Dr. Phil: Medicine Woman.")

So anyway, now they're all like, hey guys, this shit is REAL, and we're all like,


But seriously folks...it's kind of terrifying, the possibility that chemo is damaging my brain forever. Hopefully, the symptoms I'm experiencing will fade in the coming weeks and months. Matt suffered from chemo brain big time, and it did go away. (I think...? Sometimes it's hard to tell with him :-/ ) In the hierarchy of scary long term effects from chemo, this is number one, followed by hair never growing back (very rare, but fuck!), no period ever again, then heart damage (perhaps I should be more worried about this one).

Oh well, back to my regularly scheduled activity.



CHEMO JAMZ


Just replace "cocaine" with "chemo."

Monday, November 26, 2012

Chemo Door Buster Savings!

Clamoring for chemo

I prepared for a week beforehand: getting ultra hydrated, working out my IV arm with the grip squeeze-y thing-y, and taking countless vitamins.

They say for success on Black Friday, you need a plan. Do your research, and choose what you will get in advance. Don't give in to impulse buys. Stay focused.

I arrived early, de rigueur for Black Friday. There was a bit of a line, but not too bad. Mostly older ladies with pale cheeks and tell tale hats. I could take any of them down if need be.

I repeated a mantra: "Just get in, give the blood, get the drugs, and get the fuck out. Try not to get trampled."

I did not succumb to tempting offers of Adriamycin and Cytoxin, or Carboplatin and Taxotere. No one even slipped me a complementary Ativan. No problem though. I was focused.

The day wasn't without hiccups, of course. My veins were shy, despite my prepping, and it took a few tries to find them. They were sold out of size small rubber gloves in my area. Someone eating chicken soup stunk up the whole place. The nurse told me my nails are starting to fall out.

I won't know how successful my day was until I get the bill in a couple of weeks. The average cost is around $8,100. But I used my Frequent Visitor card...and isn't the tenth time usually free?


Number of needle sticks: 2
Number of drugs taken: 4
Number of minutes spent: 165

Monday, November 19, 2012

What is Real?


Today came on the heels of a rough few days. On Friday, I went to bed at 7:30 and didn't emerge until 4p on Saturday. I just felt like hiding. 

To continue the theme, I spent today puttering. I drank tea, watched Ricki Lake (she's back, people), and ate cheese. I squeezed in between Pancho and Toastie and tried to become one with the couch. (Inanimate objects have it made.)

I thought about ridiculous things, like the blue fairy from Pinocchio, the one who makes him a real boy. I spent a good chunk of the afternoon researching her.

I started feeling stiff, so I took a turn around the apartment for some exercise. There was a piece of paper on the floor, folded up, which I had been ignoring. I picked it up, unfolded it, and began to cry.

This is what it said:

   "What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"
   "Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."
   "Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
   "Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
   "Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"
   "It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."
   "I suppose you are real?" said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the  Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.
   "The Boy's Uncle made me Real," he said. "That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always."

This text, a section from The Velveteen Rabbit, was read by my beautiful sister Penelope at my and Matt's wedding in 2010. This paper is the print-out I gave her to read from. I have no idea how it wound up in the middle of the floor two years later, but as someone who's hair has been rubbed off, and who's joints feel loose, I'm so glad it did.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Number 9

Taxol #9 on Friday made me think of Revolution 9, which always makes me think of this:

 
 

Arrived home from chemo to vomit (of unknown origin) on the floor. That about sums it up.

Number of needle sticks: 3
Number of my fingernails that look gross: 5
Times the smell emanating from Subway made me want to puke: 1

Ambien Thoughts, or things that pop into my head when sleeping pills are pulling me into the abyss.

"Rainbow sprinkles as potting soil. Possible?"

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Fog

from Hedgehog in the Fog

While volunteering to the help the victims of Sandy this week, I got put in charge of expediting food deliveries, normally something I would be great at. I'm bossy, can be loud if necessary, and think well on my feet. But I made mistakes, duplicated some orders, forgot what I asked people to do. Volunteers came up to me saying, "I just talked to you..." and I would have no memory of them. The look on their faces, of bewilderment or frustration reminded me of my grandma and her slow decline into dementia.

I feel old now, creaky and slow. Hammering home that feeling is the fact that my ten year high school reunion is coming up in a few weeks. I'm not going. I would never have gone anyway, but still somehow I'm sad that I won't get to redeem myself Romy and Michelle style.


The only way I would ever be seen at that event is as cancer girl. One step above the kids that died in freak accidents. People would murmur sympathy, and back away slowly. Tragedy could be catching.

I imagine a version of myself in an alternate universe in which none of this shit happened. My Fulbright application would have been freshly turned in, thesis/novel draft nearing completion. Working for Fordham again, maybe auditing a class. Writing lots, maybe even making artwork, being in the studio tour. Drinking cocktails. Cooking. Reading books. Gardening.

I imagine myself other self, my evil (or good) twin, showing up at the reunion in a sexy yet understated black dress. Maybe I even already have an agent for my book. Matt is looking handsome, and has big story that's just come out in the paper. And I make a splash. I make high school my bitch, vindicating, erasing all the pain of those years with one night's success. And true to film the night culminates in something spectacular in a small way, like an amazing karaoke performance, after which I drop the mic on the stage and yell "Lemon OUT!" and stalk away. And I never think of high school or this night again because it is just that complete.

As my other self, I win one for the weirdos.

The escape, though momentarily delicious, is incomplete. Even in my head, I can't picture myself as anything but bald.

Chemo number: 8/12
Number of needle sticks: 2
Number of stares I got sitting in the chair: at least 4

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Monday, November 5, 2012

Recovery

Chemo moved to Saturday, and uptown where there was power. Spent today, Monday, packing bags of relief supplies for victims of Sandy in Jersey City for Jersey City Sandy Recovery. 


The need is great and constant. I'm in awe of the generosity of the donors, and the beautiful energy of the volunteers. Much of what they do is back breaking work, and many are victims of the storm themselves, returning home to no light and no heat. If you can give a half an hour of time, or a loaf of bread, or a blanket, please do, and know that it's appreciated.

We were without power and heat for three nights. That's all. When I say it now, it seems like nothing, but in the middle of it I was really freaking out. The day after it came back I cried, inexplicably, all day.

Chemo number: 7/12
Number of needle sticks: 1
Red blood cell count: 3.85

Monday, October 29, 2012

Frankenstorm meets Frankenboobs


All this talk about the Frankenstorm, which is made up of a hurricane, a noreaster and a pack of lemmings, has got me thinking about the odd, piecemeal bits of flesh I've got attached to my chest: the Frankenboobs.

I know, I know, Frankenboob's Monster is the correct way to say it. But give me a break, I've got cancer.

Reconstruction after a mastectomy is something I didn't know anything about, because, well why would I? And when I was in the throws of the first days of diagnosis and surgery, it was kind of the last thing on my mind. When I visited the plastic surgeon, it was the day after I had been diagnosed. He basically said he'd take care of me, I'd be okay. And I said yes, whatever you say sir, I don't really care about this right now. You know, cause I was afraid I might die.

I woke from my bilateral mastectomy wrapped like a mummy, and pumped full of Dilaudid. My breasts were gone, and tucked under skin and muscle were tissue expanders -- balloon-like devices that would gradually stretch my body to accommodate implants at some point in the future.

Over a period of weeks, I made frequent trips to the plastic surgeon, during which he would magically inflate the expanders to stretch out the muscle and skin where my breasts used to be. And by magically, I mean that he would take a magnet to locate the inflation valve under my skin, and then inject saline into the tissue expander. I didn't watch the actual injection, but could feel the saline flowing in, and when I opened my eyes, I could see the newly inflated lump of pretend breast.

In addition to the expanders, I also drains sewn into my skin, designed to suck swelling fluid out of the body over time. I had mine in for three weeks after surgery. My body had crossed into science fiction territory.

Once the boobs are inflated to the right size, then you have what's called an exchange surgery, where the expanders and switched for permanent implants. The afterward, there are additional surgeries for things like nipple reconstruction (my plastic surgeon referred to the technique he uses as "like origami with the skin." I guess I should challenge him to paper crane folding contest to make sure he's up for it.)

I'm still at the expander stage, (and found out last week that my exchange surgery won't be able to be completed before I do radiation, so I will remain at this stage or the next several months) so my body has taken on a decidedly cubist appearance. The right side isn't too bad, it's basically the proper shape, though the balloon part of the tissue expander has some weird folds that make pokey sharp angles under my skin. It's kind of an octagon. The left breast, the bitchy, cancer-y one, is more of, I don't know, a rhombus or something. Sometimes I call it "the squished hamburger."

To complete the Frankenboobs, it will take at least two more surgeries, possibly more. When they are done, they will be made of plastic, silicone, tattoo ink, fat, and possibly skin from another part of my body.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Let's blow this prescription drug stand

This is how I leave the chemo ward every week:


I should get a Snape wig to terrify children.

Halftime in the Chemo Ward

Today was Taxol #6 -- the halfway point for this drug. (I'll continue my other drug, Herceptin, for a year.) As usual, I went through my list of side effects with the nurse.

"I almost forgot -- I've been feeling extremes of temperature. Really hot, then really cold."

"That," she said."Is your body going into menopause."

Uhh.


"Have they talked to you about that?"

"Not much," I admitted.

So we talked about it. I knew that it was possible my period would stop (temporarily), but I guess I wasn't really thinking about it right. I was imagining just a really long time between periods, like that three month long birth control injection, which I was pretty okay with. Na-uh. It is full blown menopause, guys! Hot flashes, mood swings ::whispers:: vaginal dryness.

Who said that? Maybe Mabel:


Apparently another symptom of menopause is you have to live in a fun house mirror. 

Needle sticks: 2
Recorded heights: 72 inches (??), 68 inches, 68 inches again in case I my body lied by growing really fast.
Pumpkin muffins eaten: only 1, but it was heavenly.

CHEMO JAMZ


I'm a 90's bitch.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Monday, October 22, 2012

Whisker Therapy

After chemo this week, I decided to take part in an experimental new treatment: Whisker Therapy. The goal is to make you say "Squee!" so hard that any and all cancer cells commit cellular suicide.

Butseriouslyfolks...this weekend I went with my family to Meet the Breeds at the Javits Center.

And oh, I met some fuckin' breeds.

Here I am with a Newfoundland boy who was given up by his owner to a Newf rescue. Luckily he has found a very nice forever home, but I did consider tucking him into my purse and sneaking out. It would have worked.

AHHHHHHHH! The squeezability.

It was a great day. There's just something about the way animals look at you that makes you feel okay. They don't see you as your gender or race, your clothes, or any of the other things we humans take note of. They just see a friend, or in the case of certain cats (cough cough Lydia) someone to disdain...but to disdain equally to all others. Animals don't see you as a sick or a healthy person. Or maybe they do, but they don't let you know it. For the first time since I lost my hair, and really, since my diagnosis, I forgot that I have cancer.

The bond I have with my pets has been instrumental for me getting through this cancer nonsense. I mean, just look at this pair of bread loaves:

Total professionals.
This experience made me look into again getting Pancho to be a certified therapy dog. He just doesn't have the temperament, unfortunately. He's a little too nervous. He gets that from me.

Chemo number: 5/12
Number of needle sticks: 2
Neutrophil count: 1.9

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Ambien Thoughts




Subtitle: Things that pop into my head when sleeping pills are pulling me into the abyss.

Last night, I wondered: does Joe Biden know that Toastie is sick? If so, does Obama know too?

Monday, October 15, 2012

On this day in history...

Sometime in the last fall, in a fit of weird nostalgia, I signed up to get emailed every day with a reminder of what I posted on Facebook one year earlier.

So I get a lot of emails with status updates about finishing papers, photos of my dog, and nonsequiters about TV. There is something so sad, so far away seeming about my life just one year ago. Like, "look at that stupid girl, she's got no fucking clue."

I got one of these emails this morning, after a very rough night.

It did not have a status update that said "I shouldn't have gotten out of bed today."

There was no comment about the qualities my shaved head shares with Velcro.

Not a picture of my little cat, who we sped to the veterinary emergency room after midnight, thinking we might lose her on the way.

There was no running count of how many times and in how many doctors' offices I heard the word "oncology."

Instead, in the email there was this picture of my sister and me, and a status update about artisanal chocolates.



That was last year.

Getting this reminder of my old life sometimes feels like self flagellation. But other times it's something to strive for, to return to, or find anew.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

It's Britney, Bitch



And by Britney, of course, I mean this:


Had a head shaving party for one yesterday. I started with a regular razor, and an hour and three razor blades later it still wasn't all off. I had to leave for chemo with a very strange looking head. It was covered, but still. You never know when an ill timed gust of wind feels might blow off your scarf.

The chemo nurse suggested I try an electric razor, which was totally brilliant. Matt has one, so when I got home I went to work on the rest of the fuzz.

Now it's all gone, and I feel...okay. It was actually a lot more upsetting to have hair falling out all over the place. Now it's just all gone, because I got rid of it. Pancho has regained his title for number one shedder in the house.

Chemo was uneventful. No more weird lung thing. Got some work done, got some sleeping done, came home and ate Indian food. Not too bad.

Number of needle sticks: 2
Minutes in traffic: 50
Number of people who felt my fake boobs: 4

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

CHEMO JAMZ


Didn't your mother tell you not to stare?

Day one of wearing a headscarf.

So much of this shit reminds me of being 12 or 14 or some horrible age when I couldn't look anyone in the eye and my body was a traitor and I was invisible yet exposed all the time. No one saw me, but everyone saw me. I felt like I became these changes...the too big boobs, the greasy hair, the zits. Now it's the lopsided boobs, the lack of hair, and cruelly, still the zits. (Thanks steroids!) These changes has given me this other-ness, that others can't see past. I'm cancer girl now, and that's all.

That's how I felt then, in middle school, looking at the floor when I walked through the halls. Now of course I know that that wasn't true, that no one was looking at me and judging me, at least not more than they were judging themselves. But now I'm not sure.



It's the time of the week when the chemo side effects mess with my taste buds. Dessert is the only category of food that doesn't taste like metal. So cookies for dinner? Under consideration.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

CHEMO JAMZ


Buzz buzz


CHEMO JAMZ


Friday, Friday, FRIDAY! It's chemo, chemo, CHEMO



The wackness.

Today was my third chemo session. These guys just keep getting more and more eventful. This time I had down weird pain in my lungs, and my heart was beating like, whatthefuck! whatthefuck! So I was there all day, had a million tests, and possibly it's just anxiety. Hrrmph. It's a little embarrassing.

Embarrassing because I think my anxiety in this moment is caused by the fact that my hair started falling out last night. It's not in big clumps, and you couldn't tell it by looking at me, but it has started. Going for a buzz cut tomorrow. Hoping to rock a GI Jane look for at least a week before the chrome-domia fully sets in.

I feel stupid being so upset and afraid about my hair. Until now, no one has been able to tell I'm sick if I didn't tell them (with a couple exceptions right after surgery, when I looked like a Gashlycrumb Tiny).
Also me.


It's not even so much about having no hair. Being bald means that now everyone will know something is wrong with me. It means I'm officially a sick person. My friend Ben Kingsley said it best:


I bid thee goodnight.

Number of needle pokes: 3
Number of hours spent: 5.5
Number of hairs lost: Unknown

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

On Banality and Triscuits

Typical Triscuit enthusiast
Something weird about having cancer, or really living through anything that sucks: you don't spend all your time freaking out about it. You might think that as a 28 year old with cancer, you'd spend all your time doing this:


But you don't. You get on with it. You go to work and school, the store, and the bar. And yeah you obsesses about shit and read too much on the internet and everything, but you adapt to the new normal amazingly quickly. So quickly that your new situation becomes really boring really fast.

It's boring because you can't think about much else -- but not like you're thinking about dying all the time, more like you're thinking about stupid, very specific details, like your red blood cell count or the amount of ginger tea in your kitchen cabinet or the location of your emergency hair loss hat.

Or the fact that because of your new taste buds, the only snack you now like is Triscuits.

Triscuits.The most boring fucking snack.


Monday, October 1, 2012

It starts


They call it "Pinktober."

In case you've missed any of the lead up, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, the time when breast cancer's pink awareness ribbon really gets to shine. Stop into almost any store, and you'll be able to load up on beribboned chips, maxi pads, envelopes, you name it. You should definitely buy these things, cause you know, it means you're aware and stuff. (Seriously, though, try not to fall for the pinkwashing.)

Sometimes I have a real hatred for the pink ribbon. Like when Teresa Guidice wears a rhinestone encrusted baseball cap proclaiming her awareness-ness. Ugh. Makes me feel like this: