Drumroll please. . .
I've never been able to don a DVF dress sans camisole or tank top underneath. Now, I can be one of those enviable bitches whose wrap dresses stay firmly in place, on top of the tatas!!!!!!!
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Drumroll please. . .
Posted by Stephanie Green at 7:55 PM
The bandages are off! I look normal in a DVF dress for the first time in months. I will post photos later (clothed, sorry pervs), so check back.
We're now off for some lymphedema garments and then hopefully Neiman's, Saks or Cartier. I think I deserve an end-of-treatment gift, no? Aside from my health, which I'm grateful for, blah, blah blah. Retail therapy though--no comparison.
All is well in the chest department! Final-fucking-ly! Whoo hoo boobies, boobies, boobies, boobies in the house.
The best news? They cover the scars! I am scarless. My surgeon clearly rocks the hizzle. I feel very lucky today.
Posted by Stephanie Green at 2:46 PM
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Note to new readers: I did not have a mere cosmetic boob job yesterday. The implants were the final step in my recovery from breast cancer and a double mastectomy back in February. I'm afraid it's a long story, and you'll have to read on if curiosity strikes you.
I'm feeling a little worse today. Pretty damn sore. And my throat is totally fucked from the breathing tube. Sleeping was a real bitch. Half awake, half asleep, more pain lying down than sitting up. Percocet keeps me up, but the pain is pretty severe without the pills.
Why am I typing? I cannot just sit around. The type-a part of me feels the need to whirl around the apartment Tasmanian-Devil style. Even though I'm on the water and have a great balcony, I'm already getting cabin fever. Mom's here but we can't go shopping yet. The goal is to hit Neiman's by Friday. I think I can, I think I can.
I cannot wait to try on strapless and backless frocks! A whole new world of wardrobe possibilities. And no bras. Ever again.
Posted by Stephanie Green at 1:11 PM
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
I'm home. Sore. But the pain is tolerable, with the aid of Percocet, natch. I did well, and even though I'm bandaged, I can tell that the tatas look amazing. Seriously fabulous. I've never, ever had boobs that looked this good.
I'll post a photo shortly.
I want to thank so very much all the people who have reached out to me, encouraged me, complimented me, read my writing and all that good stuff. Through this site, Facebook and everywhere in between. The kindness of strangers is simply unfathomable and has restored my faith in humans.
Being sick is a great way to figure out someone's character. I've found most of my friends to be exceptional. Yet I've noticed selfishness and narcissism in some of my good friends that is incredibly disappointing and often hurtful. There are plenty of people who didn't email/call/text/reach out yesterday to wish me luck. Or today to check in. (And yes, they all knew when the surgery was. You guys all knew.)
One of my very good friends, who'd also neglected to get in touch during the time of my mastectomy, managed to disappoint and shock me further this time.
Posted by Stephanie Green at 4:25 PM
Monday, July 28, 2008
This is the Before photo. This dress will be the lithmus test for the proper placement of the new titties.
Posted by Stephanie Green at 5:43 PM
21 hours and counting.
I want to take the time--in case I die on the table tomorrow--to thank sincerely you guys, my lovely readers. Your encouragement, compliments, notes and comments inject me with the confidence that most writers lack. Your well-wishes, fondness for this blog and my writing means more to me than similar sentiments (about my writing) from people who know me. Natch, family members and friends "love" my blog and effusively praise my abilities, wonder why I don't just publish a book. I tell them to give me the money and I will. But seriously, there is something very profound about having 'fans' who are essentially complete strangers. It is you guys who make me write when I don't feel like it, and tell stories that I don't necessarily think are worth telling. The fact that you gain a few morsels of wisdom, humor, inspiration, what have you, from here fulfills me completely.
I'm up this early because I just had phys therapy. But I was tossing and turning all-night anyway. I'm emotional and discombobulated already. So many different emotions that blur together and make it difficult to pinpoint one concern or trepidation from another.
Last night it occurred to me, for the first time since I told my surgeons I would never have sex again because who the hell would want a single, 32-year-old freak of science. Since then, and since Beau came along shortly after, I haven't given it much thought. My guy friends who know still treat me like a hot commodity. Guys who have no idea still hit on me. That's all well and good. But now I'm wondering if there really are those guys who won't care that I'm damaged goods not only on the emotional front, but on the physical front too.
And what it has me wondering is this: Are guys who will be or are presently interested in me merely seeing me as a novelty? A circus freak? Are they morbidly curious? Do they have a perverse desire to conquest me so they can say they did it with a woman with mutilated breasts? I mean, let's face it, pre-BC, this blog's primary thrust was men and what douches most of them I've dated are. It's hellacious enough dating nowadays, even if you're pretty and polished and intelligent and funny. Did I actually think it would be easier (or even status quo) after this experience? If so, those thoughts obviously occurred to me when I was doped up.
Because today my friends, I'm feeling sorry for myself on that front. I will look whole soon in fabulous clothes. I will fill out my Narciso and Oscar dresses for the wedding. I will look good in my bikinis in Costa Rica. My jeans will showcase my tush, my hair will be glossy, my body back in shape. But underneath, things will never be the same. Ever.
Sadly, right now--well, about a week from now in reality--I will be ready to get back out there again. But I'm fearful of what or who will be 'out there.' Probably the same old schmucks who were out there before. They couldn't handle a girl with opinions, balls, humor, independence and intelligence. How are these men going to take on all that plus the not so pleasant gift that awaits them under my shirt. Talk about baggage.
I know this doesn't give you ladies facing the same thing much hope, but I'm not feeling very hopeful today. It's almost embarrassing that it took me so many months to reach this obvious conclusion, but all it takes is a minute catalyst and then I'm thrown into the mentality that most women have about losing their breasts. I'm still not mourning my former boobs. I'm mourning my future romantic prospects. And the body that I was blessed to have and never appreciated. And now I'm only getting older, wrinklier and more jaded. And more mentally unstable, if that's possible.
And now a look back at my BC journey.
The discovery of the lump. The diagnosis. I'm never going to have sex again, Doctor. A mini recap. A mini hair breakdown. The requisite inappropriate romance with the hip hop loser. The Bye-Bye Boobie Bash. Disturbing the peace. Post-op pics. Another early sign that Beau would turn out to be a complete tard. The first tears. The mom-klonopin episode. Please do not look if you are medically squeamish or do not wish to see the mutilation at these naked photos of the tennis balls.
Tomas Loewy's pre-surgery boob portraits
Posted by Stephanie Green at 9:31 AM
Friday, July 25, 2008
Let's talk about silly, unimportant things today shall we? Like my new obsession with the phrase "bitch tits," which Chelsea Handler calls her dad. Bitch tits are just a more satisfying label for man boobs. Bitch tits is so much more fun. Guys can get BC too in their bitch tits. Weird, huh? It's not that uncommon either.
My colleague at Heeb magazine introduced me to the new, hipster phrase "slam pig." I don't find that one quite as satisfying as my other favorite, "hot mess." Sorry B.A. You'll have to come up with a new one to impress me.
I am *so* beyond excited that this is my LAST WEEKEND with the tennis balls!!!!!!! I get real-fake boobies Tuesday! They changed my surgery time to 7:30 a.m., so now it's less than 90 hours away. (I think. I suck at rudimentary math. I'm a creative type you know.)
Nora, Plastic Surgeon's secretary called me yesterday as I was leaving lymph therapy.
"We've moved up your surgery time from 2 p.m. to 7:30 a.m."
"Yay, I don't have to go so long without drinking or eating."
"Yes, so be there at 7:30."
"So when is Doc getting back in town?"
"Not till Monday, why?"
"Oh damn, I wanted to sneak in some Botox. But I suppose I can wait."
She laughs. Why do these people think Botox and Breast Cancer don't go well together? I mean, you may as well kill two birds. He did it one time while my tennis balls were being inflated.
"I'll bet this is a first for you Doc, Botox and inflation at the same time."
He rolled his eyes and deadpanned, "Are you kidding me? This is South Florida."
Oh how I love the So Fla Jews and their stretched, plastic faces.
I left the lymph bandages on for 12 hours. After going to the gym and sweating in them, they itched like a motherfucker. So I rationalized that 12 hours at a time should suffice. And it was incredible; after I removed them, my left hand was 95% normal looking! And it still looks good today. Finally, good medical news!
Posted by Stephanie Green at 1:32 PM
Thursday, July 24, 2008
This is the prize at the end of the lymphedema rainbow. Nice, huh? I had my phys therapy this a.m.; I woke up on time. These bandages, which run from the tips of my fingers to the top of my arm, are the first step of treatment. Soon they will be replaced by compression garments. I'm supposed to wear this thing as much as I can, but it will probably wear out by Saturday. Thankfully, because Saturday we'll be having a Ta-Ta to the Tennis Ball Titties night out.
Fuck me. And fuck lymphedema. These bandages are very uncomfortable and seem to be deferring pain to my back, behind the left tit. I have a feeling I'm going to rip this thing off in a fit of rage later on today. I have to go to the gym, drive, walk around, eat, type, shower--the whole nine with this mummified arm.
"Tell everyone you got attacked by a shark," Phys Therapist said.
"Can I take it off before it wears out?"
"Yes, if your fingers turn blue."
"How blue? I'm really paranoid about stuff like this. My fingers are tingling already. Is that normal?"
"Yes tingling is normal. Bluer than they are right now. "
They were already a little purplish.
"Okay, so blue, blue, like your scrubs?"
"Yes, but you'll know. You'll have intense pain."
Happy, happy, joy, joy. Good god I am getting sick of this shit. Really, really, really sick of it. You assume that after the really annoying stuff like, you know, the chemo, the mastectomy, the expanders, the hair loss, the bloating, the nausea, the fatigue, blah, blah blah, that things will lighten up. But nooo, there's more! You get an encore composed of physical therapy, more nausea, colds, sweats, pain from your port moving around, dry mouth and more. AND you have to start shaving again. (God is definitely not a woman, people.)
Seriously though, this lymphedema seems like it's going to be a real bitch. There's no "cure." And there's no way to predict how long it will last or whether it will go away for good one day. My therapist is very well-respected and well-known down here. And, from what she tells me, it's a chronic condition that you can maintain and keep at bay by avoiding certain things. One of those things? Steam rooms. I heart steam rooms. I'm a spa whore. There are few things I like more than a eucalyptus-scented steam room. Especially since I'm retaining so much water now. Whenever I make it to Equinox, I use the steam room. Often, I bring my own eucalyptus spray bottle with me in case they didn't disperse enough. (Eucalyptus is a great, natural way to repel fleas and tics, so I mix it with water and spray it on Wally before walks.)
Now, I'm advised to never use steam rooms.
"Never?" I said, almost tearing up. "Never??" Even in September when I'm at the Four Seasons in Costa Rica or Canyon Ranch in Vegas? Seriously?
"Well, I'll put it to you like this. People who have high cholesterol aren't supposed to eat certain foods. And if they do it's at their own risk. So, an occasional steam might not hurt, but you just never know. You're taking a chance."
Fuck it. Bring on the cholesterol-filled omelette with a side of greasy fries and Ben & Jerry's for dessert. Beauty is pain. Never has there been a truer statement when it comes to breast cancer.
Posted by Stephanie Green at 11:11 AM
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
It's hotter than a nut sack on fire outside. Seriously. I'm thinking of several things today. Occasionally I have thoughts. Usually, when I think of a line or a story that I plan to write, I jot it down in a notebook, or I make my brain remember it by repeating it over and over and over.
So, let's talk about Oprah, shall we? Her name on this blog will be Crotchrot henceforth. I have a long-lasting hatred of Crotchrot and everything associated with Crotchrot. I know most of you probably worship Crotchrot. And it is still a free country--I think--so we can agree to disagree on the subject of Crotchrot. My problem with Crotchrot is that she has the biggest messiah complex of any celebrity out there. Face it, the woman thinks she is Jesus reincarnated. Or maybe she thinks she's a direct descendant of Jesus. That's entirely possible as well. This woman needs serious therapy. Or waterboarding. Crotchrot needs to get a real shrink, not Doctor Phil Guffaw. (Someone needs to shoot that motherfucker too. Or run him over with a tractor.) I have watched maybe one episode of "Oprah" in the past seven or so years. And it was the Sex and the City gals promoting the movie, so I had to watch. Crotchrot seems to evoke in her fans some sort of hallucinogenic, brainwashed mentality. Okay, why? I really, truly want to know what the hell people see in Crotchrot. Do you think she's smart? She's not. She gets swept up by these dime store, borderline retarded authors like Eckhart Tolle. Don't get me started on that douche. Anyone who's been therapized could've written those asinine books. (No offense to my new-agey friends who read him though.)
Crotchrot "reads" a book by some jokester and takes it as gospel. Then she espouses it on her "Book Club"--gimme a break, when the fuck does Crotchrot have time to read? I'd bet 100 million dollars that she makes her interns read books and then has them compile the list. I'm waiting for the show where Crotchrot brings out her own stone tablets and proceeds to edit the Ten Commandments. So, a very profound thought occurred to me while I was showering last night. (I actually have to shower regularly now because I have hair again.)
Here it is: If Crotchrot decided to use her power for evil, she would be our generation's Hitler. Think about it, if Crotchrot started her own political party, her acolytes would follow her to the gas chamber if she told them that's where her fucking book club was meeting. If Karl Marx were alive today, he would proclaim that "Oprah is the opiate of the masses." I'm certain of it. And though I've never read anything by Jonathan Franzen, he is my hero for refusing to be in Crotchrot's book club. Go muff diving with Gail and just shut the fuck up already, Crotchrot. Thus, another unlikely hero emerged yesterday. Kid Rock proclaimed: "My real-life villain... Oprah Winfrey, she rubs me up the wrong way. I just don't believe her. Maybe it's because I'm not one of the 150 million brainwashed women who heed her every word." Hells yeah. (Let's ignore the fact that he said "rubs me up" instead of "rubs me." They don't have very good schools in trailer parks so we can't blame him.)
I have another major dilemma today. And it's a doozy. You guys know I am not a morning person. Early rising up for me means 11 a.m.. Typically I go to bed around 2 or 3 a.m. and sleep for at least nine hours. However, tomorrow I have a physical therapy appointment for my lymphedema arm at 8 a.m. This means I have to be asleep by 11 p.m. at the latest to squeeze in my requisite eight hours of sleep. I got up at 12 p.m. today. So I'll have been awake for only 11 hours today. That's pretty pathetic. But I've managed to cram a lot into today. When I know I have to wake up early though, I toss and turn all night telling myself to go to sleep cause I have to get up soon. Natch, that results in me looking at the clock every hour, and yelling at myself to "go to sleep already you dumb bitch you have to be up at 7 a.m.!" So I'll pop four Xanax tonight, I think. (Spare me the lecture, Dad, they're only .5 mg each. And I have Cancer so I can take all the drugs I like. Ha ha.) Which means I'll have to take the pills at 10 p.m. I ate dinner last night at 10 p.m. people. I'm very worried about this.
And finally, on a completely unrelated note, does anyone know the shortcut for an em dash on a PC? I'm lost. I'll post some photos of my sprouting hair later, probably at 3 a.m. when I'm not sleeping.
Posted by Stephanie Green at 5:17 PM
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
A few thoughts on men. As far as I can tell, this whole BC BS has become something of a screening process better than any other one I can imagine. Most women in my situation have extreme feelings about losing their breasts. As you habitual readers know, I really didn't. Sure, in the very beginning, a few weeks after diagnosis, I did say typical things, like "They're not lopping off my breasts! Fuck 'em."
As the stats swam in my head though, I knew I had to do it. When I was vetting doctors, my standard question about my options--lumpectomy vs. mastectomy--was "If I were your daughter, what would you tell her to do?" That question almost always gets doctors--esp MOTs--to reveal their opinions. Good doctors won't say to you, "You need to lop off your breasts if you want to live." So when they told me my options, after they did their spiel, I asked the question. When Larry Norton said, "Having a mastectomy is your safest option," I knew that that was the final word. In my book at least.
I think it only took me a couple of weeks to get used to the idea of losing the tatas. Because, I never liked my tits. Period. If I could start over and kick cancer's ass by getting new boobs, well, that was killing two birds in my mind. I know I'm kind of in the minority here, in that most women seem to think that their boobs are what make them a woman. I suppose I can understand that, but sometimes I can't. And having gone through it, I feel even better about my decision. I'm totally looking forward to the big tata swap a week from today. I cannot wait to have perky, mushy, perfect breasts that require no bra. Cannot. Fucking. Wait.
Oh, I've digressed. The guy thing. Here's what I've noticed and what I will share with you cause I know a few of my readers are BRCA+ and face some tough decisions regarding whether to have prophylactic mastectomies. They have reservations about what it will do to their love life, breast feeding etc. Don't ask me about the breast feeding thing cause I don't give two shits about that. But what I've found with guys and this process is this: The good ones don't care. Period. In fact, the good ones seem to be impressed by my "strength." They tell me I kick ass, or am a rockstar or what have you. Ladies, if they can't handle what you must do for your health, fuck 'em. One out of eight women get BC. That means that one out of eight guys have had a woman in their family who's had BC. And more often than not, these men have an immense respect for women such as myself who don't let their lack of real boobage affect their personal life. In fact, if you really think about, women with implants don't have their real boobs either. They have scars, too. And we all know that implants certainly don't scare men away.
I'm probably also an exception regarding my attitude about being single. Sure, I'd like to have someone aside from Wally to come home to. But I also value my alone time a lot. Not having to answer to anyone. Not having to move clear across the country because of a job my hubby has to take. And I don't care if I never have children. (I can tell you I will never push something out of my v-jay-jay. Once I remove the ovaries, I have a legitimate excuse to pay a surrogate if I so choose. I've always wanted to pay a surrogate anyway.) Don't get me wrong, if a child was thrown into my lap I wouldn't throw it off the balcony or anything, but would I get up in the middle of the night to feed the little nugget? Hell no. That's what nannies are for. That's their job, people.
Okay, so where am I going with all this? I just think that now that I've been through this, I'm not going to have to deal with the whole bullshit first-date-screening process. If I'm set up, the fixer-upper will have to let the dude know what the deal is with me. If he can't handle it, fuck him. If he can handle it, and actually respects me for what I've dealt with this year, I think that's a pretty good indicator that he's probably a decent guy, no?
On the superficial front, I can tell you that my chest is looking good. The vertical scars are looking good. They're actually hardly visible close-up and from far away, I imagine they're barely discernible. The horizontal scars are under my 'boobs' due to the fact that I had expanders. (I think that's the reason.) If you're hefty and a candidate for the ass-fat titties or the stomach fat titties, I think you have that horizontal scar on the boobs, which does look pretty scary. You have much more scarring with the FLAP (ass-fat) procedure. And if all goes well during my tata swap, the real fake boobs will end just at or below the horizontal scar. Meaning, when all is said and done and I've done some laser whatever (if needed) my tatas will look pretty normal.
Is that not a fair price to pay for, well, your own life? I think so. I don't know if that really helps anyone in their decision making process, but this might. When you go for a consult with an onco, ask he or she for the statistics of BRCA+ women who don't have a double mast. If you cut one off, chances are it'll come back in the other one. Not to mention the fact that your tits will be ugly and lopsided and just plain weird looking.
The scary stats: According to my notes from Larry Norton, if I were to have elected just to have a lumpectomy with no chemo, I'd face a 60% chance of recurrence. With a lumpectomy and radiation? A 20% chance of recurrence.
With what I did: an 8% chance of recurrence. That 8% means I have better odds than the entire population of women. Not to brag or anything. Anyway, those are my thoughts for today. My friend just gave me some awesome dark chocolate hearts that just happen to be cooked with medicinal marijuana from Berkeley. Ah, I love food. Especially when it's laced.
I was just now interrupted by a neighbor knocking at my door. She needs a corkscrew cause she was trying to open a bottle of vino with one of those old-school openers that I don't know how to use or why people still use them. So I let her in and she opened the bottle.
"Thank you so much! Would you like a glass?"
"Oh, no thanks. I've got to go to the gym. But I like the idea!"
If anyone wonders why people like Fla., that should be a sufficient answer. Work ends at 4 p.m., and then you're off to pick up your chocolate hearts or open a bottle of wine. It's a tough life down here, lemme tell you.
Posted by Stephanie Green at 4:35 PM
Monday, July 21, 2008
I always get confused--when you have green snot, are you supposed to use antibiotics or is it vice-versa. Obv. I'm not feeling well. I cannot let this postpone my surgery next Tuesday, so I'm resting up as much as I can.
So, I'm going to bake the only thing I know how to bake. And my friend gets has chocolates for me that come from Berkeley and contain medicinal mari-j-uana. Yum. Hey, if I have to sit around and write/watch TV, why not make it fun? My throat hurts so much I can't talk.
Ironic that I go through four months of chemo without a compromised immune system. But over July 4th all the rents' friends had a sore throat thing. Despite my obsessive Purell-ing and Wet-Wiping I managed to catch it. Grr.
I had my phys therapy lymphedema orientation today. Next session she'll wrap my arm and hand. I'm supposed to wear the compression sleeves--which I will get as soon as I talk to insurance--pretty much all the time. I mean, I'll take the fuckers off when I dress up and go out, but I don't mind wearing them around during the day. It sounds perverse--well, it is perverse--but I like having tangible indicators of my illness so that other people know I'm not completely healthy. That's sick, right? Maybe it's because I'm soo tired of having to tell people I am sick because I look "so normal and healthy." The compression garments combined with my shaved head should do it though. Having people ask, "What the hell are those things?" at least gives me a natural opening to 'splain my situation.
Any homespun cold/sore throat remedies are appreciated. Except hot tea recs, that doesn't do it for me. Toodles.
Posted by Stephanie Green at 2:22 PM
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Another Dishalicious TV recommendation, since you guys seem to listen to my recs for some reason. The sheer genius of Gene Simmons is evident in Gene Simmons Family Jewels. This dude is not only brilliant, but his family life is pretty typical Jew-style crazy. Kids get embarrassed by dad's dancing and makeup wearing. Mom and dad get matching facelifts. Kids rebel. Kookiness ensues. It will make all of you feel pretty normal.
One of my favorite quotes, uttered by Gene when he was forced into doing a water sport: "I'm a Jeeeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwww! Jews weren't meant to be in the water!"
There's a marathon running on A&E right now and a new ep tonight at 9 p.m. Trust me, you'll dig this. I think.
Posted by Stephanie Green at 7:38 PM
Q: How do you know you're officially a dumb ass?
A: You lock yourself out of your apartment and lose your ATM card in the span of 24 hours.
I'm convinced my ex-boss--the psychotic, social-climbing, nouveau riche one that set up a magazine to be the front for an alleged drug smuggling operation--put a hex on me.
I ran into Luna as I was leaving Mamma Mia. One minute I was checking out a stranger's Chanel bag, the next minute she turned around and I saw her mangy mug. She didn't see me. Shortly after that I realized I didn't have my house keys. The gays dropped me off, I had the doorman call a locksmith and $170 later, I had a new lock with two new keys. I finally have a spare in my car now. The next morning, I went to the ATM to get a statement so I could balance my checkbook. I believe I left my ATM card in the Wachovia machine. I wrote a check at the supermarket for the first time in my life.
I'm having a hard time seeing the silver lining in this weekend, and I have a fucking raging sore throat. But here are two good things that did come out of Friday night. I had a smile on my face for the duration of Mamma Mia and Luna looked like she'd gained weight. An hour before the gays picked me up, I got up on my stepladder to get to my belt shelf. One of the few items in my wardrobe that still fits me well is a pleated Burberry jean skirt that came with a denim belt. I didn't find the denim belt and wore the skirt without it. (There are button closures as well.) When Durrett dropped me off, he said he had something for me in his trunk. It was the belt. I have no memory of leaving the belt with him, but there it was. Burberry belt versus this weekend? Okay, the weekend's shitstorm still beats that, but it wasn't a total bust.
I have a loose plan regarding my book. I wrote six pages today, which isn't bad for me, though I usually like to get 10. The book will somehow incorporate the blog, but what I write for the book is altogether separate material. What I'm thinking about doing, since every manuscript benefits from multiple 'readers,' is excerpting parts of that here. You guys can be my 'readers.' (I know you will most likely accept this assignment, Donna!) Hopefully lots of you will be up for it. I think that by having virtual strangers reading for me, I will get more unbiased opinions than I would from friends and family. So that's my plan.
Ooh boy, Wally just farted something fierce. It's funny how dogs, like humans, leave the scene when they fart.
My first phys therapy session for the loverly lymphedema is tomorrow a.m. I'm hoping they give me some funky thing to wear on the bad arm, so I don't have to walk around holding one arm up like the crazy person I am.
Posted by Stephanie Green at 6:05 PM
Friday, July 18, 2008
Since I'm such an unabashed TV and movie watcher, I think Fridays are always good for a little fluff. That's why I'm beyond psyched to see Mamma Mia tonight with two of my best gays. The music, which I'm listening to now, is so fun. The cast is fabulous--Colin Firth and Pierce Brosnan (yum) Meryl Streep, Christine Baranski and Stellan Skarsgard. The whole shebang just looks like loads of fun. Have I mentioned how much I love musical movies? Also, I looked up the filming locations for the flick, as the scenes in the movie conjure up images of fabulous Greek isles. But often, as in the "Mexico" scene in Sex and the City, (filmed in Malibu) L.A. locays can play mind tricks on you.
But indeed, this movie was shot entirely on location in Greece and the studio was in the UK. Natch, I know I'll come out of the movie with a huge itch to go to Greece; I've never been. Secondly, I don't know if I've talked about the brilliant Thursday night Bravo show, Kathy Griffin My Life on the D-List. If you like in-your-face, suck-it comedy (which obv you do if you read this blog) you must see this show. This season Kathy's dating Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak, who has got to be the coolest billionaire-dork in the world. The guy doesn't know who any celebrity in the world is, and it's just plain adorable. He wears knee socks, gym shorts, tucked in tee-shirts and a backpack. He's just too cute for words and even went to the gay Bear conference with Kathy, where he had no qualms about being labeled the "billionaire bear." The two of them are priceless together. Literally priceless I suppose.
An added bonus is that Kathy's always taking on Oprah. In her quest to become the "red-headed Oprah," on last night's episode she opened the Kathy Griffin Leadership Academy, close to where she vacations in Mexico. And in another ep, she gets "re-banned" from The View, because in one of her stand-up routines, she quoted Barbara Wawa as saying, in response to Kathy mentioning K-Y Jelly: "really, I prefer Astroglide."
On the non-couch potato front, thanks to all you readers who've come forward to talk to me about BC. I always read your emails and appreciate every single one of them. And I'm especially grateful that some of you have actually been inspired to do something after reading whatever dreck I've written. Big, huge shout-outs to my readers who've taken the BRCA test and are brave enough to face that reality. Although I didn't do what I needed to do as a prophylactic measure, I'm always available to answer questions in the best way I know how.
Have I mentioned how my vertical scars are now barely discernible? And I'm keeping alive the hope that my new tatas will be just naturally saggy enough to cover the horizontal scars, which are--because of my tumor location, just on the underside of my left breast--right below the tennis balls.
On another note, I spoke to Wig Guru yesterday. I can go up to NYC as soon as next week for him to put combs in where the sticky tape now goes. So I'm planning on going mid-August for about five days. Last time I was in the city was a week after the first chemo. And though I managed to go out a little, I was not feeling good at all. I did not buy one article of clothing. Not one, people. I'm trying to decide what my post-Cancer (hopefully) treat will be. A handbag, natch, cause they last forever. And I'd like it to be a classic. I find Louis and Chanel stand the test of time best, quality and style wise. My friends are raving about the Louis Neverfull. Reasonably priced, timeless and big enough to fit all my crap. Chanel prices have gone through the roof. The one I bought myself as a 30th bday gift, just over 2 years ago, has nearly doubled in price. Give me a break already. These $2,000 handbags are just sickening to those of us who remember them being 1/2 or 2/3 the price years ago. (Another reason to never get rid of your designer bags girls. They can always be refurbished!)
This time, I'm ready for NYC. I've got my shopping shoes on and cannot wait to see all my great friends up there. So, Aug. is NY and Sept. is Costa Rica and then Vegas a day after I return. (I'll finally have my Oscar de la Renta and Narciso Rodriguez coming-outs the weekend of the wedding, which is shaping up to be the PB meets Vegas event of the season. (I think the head count is now upwards of 400.) Michael is marrying the daughter of the head coach of the UNLV basketball team, which is apparently a top-notch college team. I couldn't even tell you if it's basketball season or not, obv. (But I can't wait to see what all the ladies-who-lunch are wearing.) I'm truly amazed and thankful that these past six months have just whizzed by. Time flies when you're not having fun too.
Finally, I'm thinking of having Ralf cut the wig to an always-stylish Anna Wintour bob. Thoughts?
A belated birthday to Sprinkles, who is now only one year away from the big 3-0. I'm hoping for another fab family vacay next summer to celebrate his 30th. Though I'm sure it'll be in a third-world destination as opposed to Bermuda.
Posted by Stephanie Green at 12:24 PM
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Someone please stop me. I am reading about BC when I'm supposed to be a.) taking a doctor-prescribed day of brainlessness and b.) booking flights to Vegas and Chicago.
Does the fact that my therapist ordered me to take a day of rest from my own brain mean that I'm finally officially crazy? I think it does.
I think my new blog heading will read: "Doctor-Approved Crazy Bitch."
Non sequitur of the day: Can someone please tell me the secret to slicing a mango?
Posted by Stephanie Green at 8:43 PM
I am aware my self-pity is useless as many friends and fam have pointed out. However, Cali shrink did give me permission to "be sad." Seriously. She asked me to clear my mind and be vapid for a day. No reading, no planning, no Sidekick, no emailing. Okay, so far I've stuck to the no reading part of that command. Except I've been reading online. And the only reason I haven't broken all the other rules is that I woke up at 4 p.m. That's right people. In bed at 3 a.m., up at 4 p.m. Here's the really amazing part of this marathon of sleep: Wally held his bladder and bowels for 17 hours. That's a record-breaker! Go Wally! He's 12 years old (84 human yrs)! I bet Hugh Hefner can't do that.
Seriously though, shrink said the following: It's time for me to seek out other women in my situation. That's where you guys come in. I'm seeking out fellow breast cancer biatches. BRCA-positive women, women with BRCA+ family members. Women who have a BC history in their families but do not know their BRCA status. And those of you who perhaps are thinking of getting BRCA tested and are looking for some answers or opinions. So you readers who qualify or know people who fall into one of these groups, please get in touch or encourage people you know to get in touch.
As many of you have pointed out, 10% odds of cancer is what the general population faces as well. Now I'm in step with the general population's risk factor, the only difference being that I've already taken drastic measures. My family and therapist do agree that I should be looking into prophylactic measures as well. BRCA+ women have an elevated risk for Ovarian Cancer as well. As you may or may not know--I didn't know--Ovarian Cancer is a silent killer. There are no early detection devices that have been perfected. The CA 125 blood test is one option, as are trans-vaginal ultrasounds. But for women like me, an oophorectomy is the "safest" option. I have few qualms about removing my ovaries.
I've never felt a strong desire for kids. Never. There's no husband, boyfriend or even potential dates on my radar. I'm not going to have a baby on my own. In fact, even if I did have a baby, I've always wanted a surrogate to carry for me. People thought I was crazy for saying that--I've been saying that for years--but now it would be the only option if I had the oophorectomy. Suck it, breeders. For me it's a win-win. Freeze your eggs, you say, right? Here's the thing doc Schwartz (the onco) said: I would need to have the eggs fertilized before freezing them to have the most success. I did not know that. Gay boyfriend is taken. Scratch that option. What does all this mean? I'm in the clear, people. I now have a legitimate excuse not to procreate. Nobody can say I don't find those platinum linings.
I'm certainly not belittling or trying to take anything away from women who do want children. In your case, the oophorectomy option is an excruciating decision. (Jessica Q. details this option in Pretty as well.) Children are great--once they get past that weird, squishy, newborn phase. Kobi really started to tug my heartstrings when he got past that six-month-mark, when I was no longer afraid I'd kill him by holding him. Now that he's talking--and thinks me saying, 'Boobie, boobie, boobie, boobie, boobie, boobie, boobie, boobie, boobie, boobie, boobie!' is funnier than Seinfeld--he's even more adorable.
Anyway, my next Cancer Project is to look into an early oophorectomy and talk to both doctors and women who are facing similar situations. Like I said, early menopause and no babies versus potential ovarian cancer? It's a no-brainer for me, but I'll still do the research. This subject and the research will also make for good book material. (There's that silver lining again.)
Ah, well, I guess I broke shrink's main rule for today: I'm thinking. I told Dr. L that my day of vapidity would entail a drink and lounging by the pool at the Ritz. Sleeping 11 hours is just as refreshing and much cheaper.
Ladies, please get in touch.
I'm also tickled--these dated words slip into my lexicon thanks to Dr. L., who uses such expressions as 'the bee's knees' and 'slick'--to be on a reading jag of books authored by people I know from the blogosphere. It makes me feel like a real writer. (Two degrees and 12+ years of experience and this makes me feel like a real writer? I'm sure my parents now want to dispute the charges of NYU grad school.)
First up is No Man's Land by my former coworker Ruth Fowler. And next up is Laura Zigman's new book, Piece of Work. Zigman, when I get some money for a real web site, I'm totally snagging your web designer. How cool is her site? A very Bond-esque feel.
That's all for now. I'm continuing my day of vapidity. I'm going to watch a rerun of Ellen. Christina Aguilera's post-baby breasts are ginormous! My god, one of them is bigger than one of my butt cheeks (on a skinny day). They are like a Godzilla-scale handful. My standard go-to vapidity refuge, Neiman Marcus Last Call, is too far. And too pricey.
But tonight, tonight, it's PROJECT RUNWAY's season premiere! I can hardly contain my excitement! One day you're in the next day you're OUT!
Posted by Stephanie Green at 4:53 PM
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
I don't think I've said so, but I've become more paranoid and anxious about the BC since chemo has ended. And the onco today kind of validated what I've been fearing.
So here's the deal. Despite me having had a mastectomy, lumpectomy, lymph node removal and all the other BS, the chances of recurrence are not as low as I'd thought or hoped. The majority of women who do have a recurrence, do so within 2 years after treatment. If I'd just had the lumpectomy and no chemo, the rate of recurrence would be between 30 and 35 percent. With everything I've had done, the chance is only cut down to between 10 and 15 percent. I was under the impression it was more like under 5 percent. Ten to 15 percent is enough to make this neurotic Jew extremely paranoid for the next two years. And, here's the really awful part. There's always a chance that the chemo didn't knock everything out.
According to Dr. Schwartz, microscopic cells, which were found in one of my nodes, translates to 1 million cells. Not so 'microscopic.' What this means is: Cells below that 1 million mark are barely discernible. And even though I will be blood tested every three months, there's that 10 to 15 percent chance that there will be remaining, almost undetectable, abnormal cells floating around still.
"What can I do aside from the 3 month checkups?"
"If you start to feel symptoms, then we nip it in the bud."
"But I had no symptoms to begin with aside from the lump, what the hell do I look for?"
"Shortness of breath, lumps in other places."
Fucking fabulous, right??
"What would the treatment be in the event of recurrence?"
Apparently, there are scads of new treatment cocktails emerging that have proven to be very promising and don't require chemo or radiation. One of these is called Tykerb. He thinks, in fact, that the research is now so spectacular on BRCA+ cancer that he thinks in 2 years BC treatment may change drastically.
What all this translates to for you Members of the Tribe who have a family history of the big C, is the importance of being proactive. Take Jessica Queller who wrote Pretty is What Changes. She took the BRCA test after watching her mother, Stephanie, fight BC and die of Ovarian Ca. Jessica was BRCA+ and chose to have a preventive mastectomy. Thus, her chances of developing BC have been shaved down to (I believe) around 3 percent.
I cannot tell you at-risk ladies how lucky we are to have the BRCA tests readily available. I implore you ladies to research your family history--grandmothers, mothers, aunts, sisters. If they've had it. If they are BRCA+, they may not know it because the test only became popular a few years ago. IF your women are BRCA+ you've got roughly a 50 percent chance of having the gene. Non Jews, you still have a 1 in 8 chance of developing breast CA in your lifetime. Non-Jewish women can be carriers of the BRCA gene as well. Go get the test people. It can be covered by ins., but even without insurance, it's not prohibitively costly. And, hello, it could save your life!!!
Posted by Stephanie Green at 12:37 PM
Monday, July 14, 2008
I'm happy to report that I got a book deal. Kidding. Maybe one day I'll be able to write that. But for now it's the little things that make me happy. Like the fact that I seem to be peeing with some regularity now. Finally. Meaning, the fluid retention is abating somewhat. I'm not all the way there by any means, but I feel more normal every day. I'm going to try to take a photo of my head later to show you what the 'do is doing. Acupuncturist says the lymphedema is probably not as bad as it should be because he works on my spleen a lot, which apparently has a lot to do with lymphatic drainage. I'm actually looking fwd to physical therapy, as lymphatic massage is quite relaxing. I got one in Positano at our hotel and afterwards felt like I'd taken two Valium. Ahh, the good old days of Valium. Docs are quite reluctant to prescribe it nowadays.
I'm back in South Beach with Wally. And even though last week in Jax was supposed to be a relaxing one, I'm much more relaxed here where I don't have to answer to anyone. The 'rents are great, but all up in my bizness as usual. It's what the Jews do. It's genetic, just like the BRCA gene.
On that note, mom refuses to get BRCA tested and hasn't even had a mammogram in a few years. She's approaching her 60th bday too. Maybe now that I've outed her she'll go to the fucking doctor. God, I am so looking forward to normal boobage that I feel like I should have a coming-out ball in one of the fabulous dresses that hang in my closet with the tags still on cause the tennis balls are not sartorially situated. This fashionista is eagerly awaiting getting back into normal tops and dresses. I think my recent lack of socializing has a lot to do with the fact that I feel so like a freak show in most of my clothes.
I've got my Herceptin shot tomorrow, which is another long day at the hospital. The very green nurse I got last time was a messy injector: I was bruised for weeks and my port has been a little sore. I'm demanding (in a polite way of course) the charge nurse tomorrow.
And, this is one staunch Democrat who thinks that the controversial New Yorker cover is quite amusing. I mean, come on, you know a lot of us are thinking a long such lines re. Obama and the Muslim thing. It can't be helped. After 9-11, Muslims have a major image problem to overcome. I'm completely underwhelmed by Obama and there's something about him that's a little unsettling, though I can't quite put my finger on it. And if he elects Oprah as a VP, I'll vote Republican. Yes, I loathe Oprah. Shoot me. The woman is the biggest megalomaniac in the free world and has such a huge God complex it makes me sick. Oprah is not Jesus reincarnated for shit's sake; she's a freaking talk show host!
And though she does give a lot to charities, she's no Bill Gates or Warren Buffett and, frankly, she should be.
Tomorrow I'm going to share with you the tres interesting way of eating my acupuncturist, who is also a nutritionist, shared with me. It will totally change the way you eat. A hint: Lowfat and Fat-Free foods are just bad for your bod and your metabolism. But before you run out and get a pint of Chubby Hubby, read tomorrow and I'll explain.
Posted by Stephanie Green at 8:09 PM
Friday, July 11, 2008
My mom is wandering around the house looking for her book, Jessica Queller's Pretty Is What Changes--which you must read, please. This book, for anyone who's been touched by cancer, will most likely astound you, as it did me. I am a virgin when it comes to cancer books. And I'm not sure how many more I'll want to read. Because this one so directly mirrors and illuminates what I've recently gone through. Jessica is a pretty, nice, well-educated, funny, smart, Jewish television writer. Her family is mildly eccentric in the same way that many Jewish families are and her mother and grandmother were major fashion plates. Her dad is an attorney. She has the BRCA gene. Naturally this book hits very close to home for me and my family. Mom is now reading it at rapid speed. Brother will probably read it, while dad remains oblivious as per usual. He's got very odd reading habits.
It's a book that could literally save your life, a friend or family member's life. I especially want my girlfriends with family histories to get tested (you ladies know who you are), but it's obviously an intense issue. This book manages to be a funny, touching personal memoir that's also very informative. Sure, I had statistics thrown at me left and right, but I glossed over them. When I read Jessica writing about them, I began listening again. And, I'll be honest with you, the stats are really. Fucking. Scary. If you are BRCA positive, you have an 87% chance of developing breast cancer. BRCA negative women--meaning everyone else--still have a 1 in 10 chance of developing breast cancer. Think about that. One out of every 10 of your female friends will get breast cancer. Likely more than that if most of your girls are Jewish. Read Jessica's book for all the deets; my mom is reading it in bed right now so I can't get to it. This genetic testing stuff is really just too crazy for words.
But I'm tired. And my hair is growing back very strangely. Wah.
Posted by Stephanie Green at 11:32 PM
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
He changed my surgery date. Less than two weeks before it was scheduled. Basically, they messed up on the calendar, not realizing that his schmancy surgery with a bunch of European doctors was the same week. So, he's telling me that an out-of-state groundbreaking surgery with a team of international specialists takes precedence over my tata swap? That's what I'm up against? Okay, fine. If they were American doctors I would've put my foot down. But, Europeans are another story. I suppose these American breastesses can wait 13 days. But these deformed, stretched to capacity tennis ball balloons are not happy indeed. This puts off my post-surgery Neiman's retail therapy plan as well.
He apologized profusely; I said, "It's okay. Just throw in some Botox and we'll call it even."
"I'm just kidding." (I'm not kidding. I'll remind him as I'm being wheeled into the OR.)
Seriously though, now Brother must change both his airline ticket and his work schedule, mom must rejigger her work schedule, and poor dad rearranged court dates and other impt things and now must reconfigure everything.
I think all that probably equals the price of some Botox. As it turns out, I'm fine with this new schedule. It gives me more time to get my sorry-ass body into fighting shape. Aside from my jeans being happy about this proposition, it's actually an important factor. The better my physical condition is--as it was pre-chemo--the more realistic I can be about the size of my implants. Meaning, this extra 7-10 lbs I'm lugging around must go so that I can see how the implants will look relative to my size. When I get back to my normal size, I may reckon that a slightly smaller CC implant will be more proportionate to my body type.
Anyway, I'm still languishing in Jax with the doggies and the yard and the old friends. My car is in the shop for it's annual physical, and I got a really nifty loaner, a spanking new C300. I hate my car, but this model is so sweet I'm wondering what would happen if I just got on I-95 with it and never looked back. It might be worth driving a car with "Brumos Motor Cars" splashed across the rear window if it meant a brand-new benz. This rationale is naturally in direct conflict with my recent musings that I want to trade in my gas-guzzling German ride for a lower-priced, Japanese car since I hardly drive. I never claimed not to be a hypocrite. But this whole $65-to-fill-my-tank thing makes me sick. It literally turns my stomach. Everytime I fill up, I am filled with disgust thinking, 'Great, another $65 for the terrorists and Bush. Whopee. Fuck those bastards!!!!!!!' Talk about road rage. And FUUUUUUUUCK you Bush. I hope you trip on your way off the podium when you relinquish your throne to a liberal.
Posted by Stephanie Green at 11:57 AM
Monday, July 07, 2008
I'm wondering what happens after cancer. It was almost easier to battle breast cancer than to think about 'the future.' What I mean by that is--chemo, the surgeries, the follow-ups, the doctors' visits, the hospital stays, etc. were essentially my full-time job.
Though I've continued to write my columns and other articles, I'm now pondering exactly how I can consolidate my past six-month cancer trip into an actual body of work. I have the footage, the writing material and an artistic vision, but the question is: What makes my story different than all the other cancer books, shows and documentaries? (Perhaps your opinions may help me here.)
Is it my humor? The fact that I've been so open about it to the point that I've shown you both photos of my mutilated tatas and a shot of me and my pink pee pee? Maybe it's the odd phenomenon that I didn't have more than the slightest emotional hiccup over losing my breasts? (I think I lost them in a Bergdorf's dressing room.) My luck in terms of my support system and medical assistance? Or, ladies, is it my MO of dressing for chemo as if I were having a ladies' lunch?
As the person who's living the story, I'm too close to it to mine the gems, which is a common experience for writers. I'd like your input nonetheless.
I'm still chilling at the parents and cancelled my trip to Chicago for tomorrow. It's just too much right now, this close to the July 16th surgery. For 30+ years the 4th has been our version of a family reunion. It started as a fraternity reunion for my dad and his college buddies and blossomed into three decades of partying it up on a beach somewhere each July 4th weekend. The result is a delightfully tight-knit group of parents and children who look forward to a tradition that most people don't have the pleasure of experiencing.
Basically, it's a big, Jewish boozefest with all the essential accouterments. First it was my parents and their friends partying when they were my age while my generation was still in strollers. But it's more fun now that two generations of all the families get sloshed together. And the adults --senior citizens now--drink us under the table and end up four sheets to the wind dancing around with washcloths on their head. This year, mom forgot to eat before downing some Grey Goose, so the entertainment portion of Friday night was provided by her. The supporting cast member award has to go to the other Nancy, whose exact comments will be kept in the vault per her request. And no, you cannot have my shoes along with my bras, Nance. As if.
Jew Crew holiday get-togethers, in my experience, usually translate to too much liquor, too much food and lots of bitching about Bush. Good times.
Posted by Stephanie Green at 3:10 PM
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
The shrink is back, the shrink is back! After a month in Europe--being a 90210 shrink has its benefits--she's listening again.
I marveled at how cathartic it was talking to her after so long. When you're in therapy for a while--like 12 years--you often get desensitized to the process. I guess absence makes the brain grow fonder too.
I realized today that I actually got cancer at 31, not 32 years old. I found the lump sometime in August, perhaps even July. My birthday is in September. Yes, I waited to see a doctor when I found a lump. It started out very small, so I waited to see if it would go away. It got bigger, but not out-of-control big. The nagging in my brain began during Breast Cancer Awareness month when we're inundated with commercials and PSAs about BC. I went to the doctor in November. I don't torture myself over the procrastination. The protocol would have been the same regardless. The only thing I would have saved is time--I could have an inch of hair already if I'd gone to the doctor in September.
Now that I'm done with the hard stuff I finally feel free enough to begin reading about BC. Meaning books and memoirs by people about the whole BC experience. I'm pretty selective and there are just SO many of these books out there, but I struck gold the first time with Pretty is What Changes by Jessica Queller. After her mother died from ovarian cancer after she'd beaten breast cancer, Queller tested herself for the BRCA gene, was positive and had a prophylactic mastectomy. What caught my eye about this book amongst the dozens I've been given was that Queller is a writer/producer on Gossip Girl. OMG. The book's really good though, and for any of you with a history of cancer in your family, it's a must read.
On the lymphedema front, my awesome, lovely, kind cardiologist I saw today wouldn't let my surgeon off the phone until he agreed to see me before I leave for July 4th. Thank God for doctors who are family friends. It makes such a difference. Cardiologist says it isn't bad, but that I should get into therapy asap so it doesn't get worse. In the interim, I'm supposed to elevate, squeeze one of those rubber ball things and avoid salt.
If the doctor wants me to start therapy before my tata swap on the 16th. I'll have to cancel a coupla trips, but nothing is coming between me and my new tatas!
Posted by Stephanie Green at 9:13 PM