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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Scribble scrabble




So. A lot converged this week: Radiation oncologist follow up; medical oncologist follow up; surgery (fat grafting) to restart reconstruction.

Also the first time all these doctors had seen my new tattoo. It's Cassiopeia, and the first star, caph, is one of my radiation tattoos.

Rad onc went nuts over it. "I've treated over 1,500 women for breast cancer and never seen anyone do this." He loved it. He dragged in a bunch of techs to take a look too.

Med onc said, "What's with the magic marker?" in her perfect NYC accent. (Imagine Nicky from OITNB as an oncologist instead of an inmate. That's basically my doctor.)

Plastic surgeon said it was very pretty, while drawing on me with actual magic marker. (See above.)

More on the surgery soon, loves.


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Gifts

 Thank you, whoever you are, for the following:

- the woman at the crystal shop who, wrapping up the calcite and garnet, told each of the stones to take care of me.

- the swirl of warm electricity that moved around my head at the end of my massage.

- this cloud, who's changing shape made me have this thought: "If it's all just a story, then why not make it spectacular?"


Surgery tomorrow. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

More Required Reading

A short one for you.


Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life. 


-- Derek Walcott 


The time will come, dears. Someday.

Monday, June 16, 2014

After the lights

Tonight, after the lights are out, we talk about death and the things that have changed us. How we are no longer people who use the phrase "if I die." There are certain things, illusions perhaps, that have been snuffed.

Hard weekend, bad news about friends. The price treatment demands is high, and there should be some guarantee, but there isn't one. This makes me want to bang my fist on an oak table somewhere, crumpled papers in my hand. "Give us what you promised."

On Friday, my therapist (who was just finishing her own treatment when I became her patient four years ago) said to me: "We never talked about what would happen, how you would feel, if I had a recurrence."

(The answer: sad, mad.)

The scent of the blooming jasmine on my nightstand permeated the room while I imagined those snuffed out things, dissolving in a cloud of fairy dust, perhaps forever. The fallacy of immortality: poof! The belief in something after: pop! The possibility of destiny, of not being alone, of anything but cold randomness, gone, all gone.

I am saying this while his voice gets softer around the edges. He is nearly asleep.

Saturday we went to see The Fault in Our Stars, just after reading an obituary for a nineteen year old boy. Melanoma.

Gone, all gone.

In the dark we talk about after. It scares him, he says. "But it's just nothing. Just like being asleep," I said. "Like before being born," he said.

After he's sleeping so deeply his leg is twitching every now and again, I look up hairstyles in my phone. Because if it's all a nothing I might as well watch a tutorial on finger waves, I guess.

Tomorrow, off for a blood draw, EKG. Getting cleared for surgery. I'm giving recon another try. It shouldn't be called "reconstruction." It's simply construction, or maybe even deconstruction.

We learned about deconstruction in 11th grade, and I've been intimidated by it ever since. We used it while reading Dubliners.

"His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead."

The cottonwood seeds are ending for the season. I only just learned what they're called.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The nipple artist

A couple weeks ago the Times posted this story about Vinnie Myer, the king of 3D nipple tattoos. They call him The Nipple Artist.

Now that I'm officially restarting reconstruction (first fat graft surgery scheduled for the end of the month. Yay?) I'm looking forward to a point way off in the future when I will get my new nipples. My skin is likely too fried from radiation to do the "skin origami" to make a little protrusion, so I'll be tromp l'oeil-ing it.

Which made me think about The Nipple Artist, art history in general, and all the nipples that have been painted, mostly by men, over the centuries. AND THEN I thought, which artist, alive or dead, would I want to paint my nipples? Totally reasonable question, I know.

While I sort it out myself (Botticelli -- no. Rubens -- no. Michelangelo -- HELL no,  have you looked at his paintings of women?) do you have any ideas, dear reader?

This may seem completely ridiculous -- why bother with fake nipples? For one thing, I have realized after looking at hundreds of reconstruction photos, that the nipples might be of the eyes of the torso. Or maybe not the eyes, but possibly the eyebrows.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Genie, please

I wish this never happened. I wish this never happened. I wish this never happened. I wish this never happened. I WISH THIS NEVER HAPPENED. I wish this never happened. I wish this never happened I wish this never ever happened I wish this never happened I wish this never happened I wish this never happened never fucking happened I wish this never happened I wish this never happened I think I want this never to have happened I wish with all three wishes that this never happened. I wish this never happened.

Cancer is not a blessing. Not a fucking blessing.

It is a motherfucking piece of shit rat bastard piece of rat shit with opossum vomit on top. It's a cake made of chemicals. Shit fuck mother fuck ass bollocks bloody bitch.

And balls.

Reconstruct-songs


Monday, June 9, 2014

Fuck positivity


When this fucker is telling a cancer patient to stay positive (episode 8 ya'll), you know it's bad. A searing indictment of the Positivity Industrial Complex. Just sayin'.

Friday, June 6, 2014

More required reading



Prescribed to me by Mr. Mark Doty himself.

"Tidal -- this is the nature of our partnership -- high tide, low tide -- minus and full, always tied to the Moon. Here, Now...

The hand is a wave upon the body called a caress."

After I read those words this morning, I remembered to be grateful that I am able to read again.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

On surviving


It's National Cancer Survivors Day, and I feel weird about it. I feel weird about the words.

The word survivor, and implicit glorification of those given the title, is difficult for me. Surviving conjures up ideas of triumph, winning. A winner necessitates a loser. So what does that make of those who don't survive -- the 40,000 women who die of breast cancer annually in the US. Have they lost? Surviving doesn't feel so good when it's turned into a winner/loser dichotomy.

It's also false. Me living doesn't actually depend on another person dying. And me living doesn't mean I've earned it, won it. It doesn't mean I deserve it more than anyone else.

There's also the thing about the battle, the fight. Someone survives their fight with cancer, or loses a long battle.

It never felt like that to me. I wasn't fighting. I wanted to stay alive more than anything else in world, but I was being obedient, listening to the advice of my doctors. Taking the prescribed things, submitting to scalpels and needles, making my way slowly and stiffly forward. Because there was nothing else to do. Time marches on, and the living go with it.

Sometimes I wonder What would fighting have looked like? What does it mean to me? I instantly imagine a Komen-ified version of Xena Warrior Princess. A one breasted fuchsia-haired amazon, pink crystal sword slicing through malignancies.

We are all of us and none of us survivors. Surviving is temporary. Because life is.

That old line about how no one makes it out of life alive runs through my head on an almost daily basis.

"This is temporary," was a mantra that got me through the pain, the sadness. Through the hardest no hair days and the longest sleepless nights. May they be my words for life, in good times and bad.

To any who have walked this same road, and those who will the future, I stand with you because we existed somewhere out there together. Maybe we hitched the same stretch of highway, maybe we both squatted in the same bushes. Maybe you left a cairn for me, or I for you. Maybe we both clasped at the same stars, and were bitten by the same snake.

May I be able to be able both to treasure, and to endure.