Thursday, November 13, 2008

Laura's Brant

I may have posted something about this before, but I can't recall and I'm too lazy and frazzled to do a blog search. So bear with me.

I've met some really amazing people through this blog and Facebook. One of those bitches is author Laura Zigman, a fellow BC chick. Laura wrote the book Animal Husbandry—as well as scads of others you can buy from her blog—which was turned into the movie Someone Like You with Ashley Judd and Greg Kinnear. Before I knew Laura, whenever that movie came on TV I'd watch it even though I'd seen it a million times before, like Pretty Woman, When Harry Met Sally, etc. Classic chick flick.

Anyway, Laura's moved over to Blogspot and her blog is simply hilarious. If you guys like my sense of humor, you'll probably read one of her posts and leave me for her. (I know, it's not me, it's you.) She cleverly coined the term brant:

brant (brant) v.i. - to simultaneously brag and rant.

brant (brant) n. - a shared on-line journal where people can post brags and rants about themselves and their personal experiences, opinions, observations, and feelings.

branted, brant-ing, brants intr.v. To write entries in, add material to, or maintain a (we)brant.

And I didn't even know this until I Googled her a couple weeks ago, but Laura is actually credited with creating the Chick Lit genre with Animal Husbandry. Credited by the Washington Post nonetheless. Helloooooo. For those of you who've been living in a cave without bookstores, Chick Lit has become a staple of the publishing world, encompassing books like Devil Wears Prada, Nanny Diaries, Bridget Jones Diary and pretty much all those girly-looking books you see in B&N.

I'm reading Animal Husbandry right now and it's delish. One of those page-turners that will make you laugh (and perhaps cry, but I haven't gotten to that point yet) and want to go to the beach/gym/toilet or wherever you do most of your reading.

But unlike most of today's Chick Lit, which has become a dubious label in the publishing world, Laura's book is scathingly funny, sharp, intelligent, unusal, interesting and the storyline is multifaceted. So check out her blog and the Wash Post story. And buy her books if you're looking for some good times.

I’m always thrown when people as what my 'prognosis' is. ‘Prognosis’ is a wholly alien word to me after a year of Cancer. Maybe I heard that word once or twice from someone in the medical field, but certainly not often. If that creepy word was thrown around the chemo ward, the OR, the surgeons’ offices or by my friends and family, surely I would not have such a visceral reaction to it. Despite chemo brain, I can still remember the oft-bandied words: cytoxin, taxol, herceptin, filling, expanders, tissue, lymphedema, hair loss, dry mouth, early menopause, ovaries, children, nipples, Botox, washers, recovery time, sponge bath, non-stick dressing, compression garments, the list goes on. But does not include ‘prognosis.’ I think perhaps I did hear that word from the first oncologist—a doom and gloom type—whom I later fired for Dr. Schwartz. That bitch’s first phrase to me was: “This is not a death sentence.”

No shit, bitch. She was a real schmuck though—grave, harried, and seemingly a little unstable. Definitely not someone I’d want to have dinner with. Anyway, what’s my prognosis? Well, what’s yours? Do you anticipate getting hit by a car or falling off your moped tomorrow? That’s about as much consideration as I give death.

Maybe some cancer patients ask what their prognosis is. And I can totally get that. Maybe it’s the anal, control-freak journo in me that asks specific questions and wants numbers. Just give me the stats. Give me the stats that you’ve worked up specially for me; entered my numbers into a program to yield my own odds.

Sure, I was waiting with a fair amount of anxiety when Dr. Schwartz was working up said numbers. And I was quite obviously relieved when he came back with a not-so-scary number of eight percent chance of recurrence. I leveled the playing field with the prophylactic mastectomy and chemo. (Remember that my cancer was officially gone after that initial lumpectomy. I elected to have the bilat mastectomy and chemo because of my positive BRCA1 status.) Granted I had to do a lot to put me in equal standing with the general population—one in eight women get BC, bitches, so get yourself checked. And that took some getting used to, as I was previously accustomed to being one step ahead of everything in life. I could’ve become just a number. I could’ve gone through this whole thing with only my closest family members and friends the wiser. But why? I mean, I really don’t understand the stigma that so many people attach to Cancer. This is not the 1950s people. Cancer is not a death sentence for fuck’s sake. For a lot of us, it’s a sentence to live. A mandate to live, really live. Balls-out, guns-blazing living. Like taking that trip that you’ve always wanted to, partying like a rock star, living out loud. Because you know that if you do actually die from this thing, then you may as well have lived before.

You want my theory on why death rates for cancer are so high? It’s simple and I don’t think I’m way off base here. Poor people. Poor people—homeless people, welfare people, senior citizens, those with pre-existing conds who simply cannot get coverage—cannot afford the life-saving health care that I and other fortunate people are blessed with. Poor people get cancer. Lots of these people die from lack of good health care. Period. Why are the death rates so high? Because our health care system is a mess, people. A not-even-hot mess. If you’re diagnosed with Cancer, and you have good insurance, be grafeful.

L.A. therapist asked me yesterday if I was grateful.
Now that’s a word I can get down with; a word I utter almost every day. But my first thought was:

“What like grateful to God or whatever that I’m alive? Not really. I’m not grateful to God or whatever is out there.”

“Well, are you grateful to anyone?”

“Yes, I am grateful that I am who I am. That I was able to get the best doctors. That I couldn’t have a better network of support. I’m grateful to modern and Eastern medicine. I’m grateful that my family is in a position to provide me with the best of the best in care. I’m grateful that I’m strong enough to not only weather this fucking thing, but to be strong for my friends and family. And to be funny. And myself.”

“That’s what I was looking for. That you finally give yourself credit for being a strong woman who cannot only handle cancer but who can come out of it with grace and humor and beauty. . . .” and blah blah psychobabble blah.

“Well, all it took was Cancer and 12 years of therapy.” (Yes, 12. I am gunning for Woody’s position as the most therapized neurotic Jew ever.

Know what else I’m grateful for? My perfect, fantastic tatas courtesy of Dr. Gary Rosenbaum. And the fact that I have no visible scars and am sitting here in my bikini at the pool typing this, scar free to the naked eyes around me. Except, oops, I just looked down and my paper-tape covering the area where my nipples were made from is poking out. But I can just rip that shit off whenever I want.