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Saturday, April 20, 2013


When you're a cancer patient, people give you stuff. Everyone does it. Doctors, social workers, distant relatives, teachers. Everyone. If diseases could be cured by accumulated detritus, cancer would be defeated easily by an army of gift baskets. Here's a small sample of the cancery things stashed around my apartment:

- Vicodin (you had to know this would be first. I am a House fan after all.)
- Pink things
- Headscarves/Hats
- Antibiotics (I may be hording these a la Doomsday Preppers)
- Chemo-covering make up (ineffective)
- Books (unread)
- Movies (unwatched)
- Button down shirts
- Blankets
- Pamphlets

In spite of, or perhaps because of, this influx of goodies, I've been feeling the urge to purge. Recently, after coming home from a baby shower, I gave away all of my supplies from when I was teaching preschool art classes (paging Dr. Freud...). I guess someone could say something about cancer teaching me to live more simply or be less materialistic. Yeah, but no.

The only thing cancer has taught me is that you should try really hard not to get cancer. Unless you're dying to start a hideous scarf collection. In which case, go for it.

Thursday, April 18, 2013


Ignore the kind of cheesy lyrics (the girl's only 16!) and listen for the wolf howl.

Sunday, April 7, 2013


Everywhere I go, people are talking about the weather. Mostly, some variation on "Where the fuck is the spring??"

There's something very striking to me about the reluctance to appear this spring seems to have. We have stuff in common, I think. I too am reluctant.

I saw my plastic surgeon, and he said my reconstructive surgery, my exchange to real implants, could be as soon as next week. And though I've been waiting since August to get rid of these expanders (AKA turtle shells, AKA pit tits to us infusion rats) it felt sudden.

This season of birth and rebirth, growth and change...I'm not quite ready for it. I'm still hanging around as my crumpled, dried out dead leaf self. Amazing that I didn't turn to dust over winter, but now just in the way of pretty green things.

I haven't been to my little plot in the community garden in a very long time. Before I started chemo, I ripped everything out, figuring I wouldn't have the strength to prepare for winter when it really was time to do it. That was in September.

I'm going to head over there now, just to take a look and see what's survived the winter, and what's coaxed itself out of the ground in spite of me.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


I hate Mark Ronson, so I hate-listen to this song.

Dear Miss Malignancy - answers and non-answers to cancery questions

Now here to answer all your burning cancer etiquette questions is our very own Miss Malignancy!

Dear Miss Malignancy,

My friend is scheduled to have a mastectomy next week. What can I give her to make her feel better?

-- Unsure in Oklahoma

Dear Unsure,

The short answer is valium. Always valium.

J/K of course. (Unless you have access to an Rx pad, in which case we should talk.)

Most people's inclination is to do nothing, and then when they see the friend six months later mumble something about keeping them in their thoughts. Yeah, don't be that guy.

What do decide to do depends a lot on the relationship you have with the person. A card with a nice note is always appreciated, and not just the day after surgery, but in the weeks of recovery that follow.

If you want to do more, there are many ways to go in the fruit basket, wine of the month, cookie bouquet realm. While I normally luurrve getting a basket of treats in the mail, this is actually not such a good time for these types of gifts. I got a few really nice ones, but I could never finish them simply because I barely felt like eating, and I certainly didn't want to ask people over to help me eat them. One of the best gifts I got was a gift card to Fresh Direct, which allowed me to buy cases of Gushers without having to show my face to anyone.

While we're on things to avoid, stop yourself from sending anything that might be considered preachy. Like, no anti-cancer diet books. Probably no books at all, because while recovering from surgery you can focus enough to read, so the stack of lovely books just makes you sad.

Don't visit in the first few days unless you are asked to*, but after that yes, visit visit visit. And make yourself useful. It's likely that no one's vacuumed in like a year, and the dog/child is itching for some fun.

Miss Malignancy

* The exception being, if the person lives alone and has no one reliable to take care of her, then stick your nose in as soon as possible.