Friday, October 30, 2009

Random Thoughts by Stephanie Green

It didn't occur to me that Jack Handy's "Random Thoughts" on SNL were really just odes to 420, most likely written at or after 4:20 p.m.

I often think of doing a random thoughts post, and since I'm presently ensconced alone in a soft bed at the Ritz in Naples with nothing but time on my hands, here goes.

My Vaseline-sealed rose-colored aureolas are looking mighty fine. The marks the paper tape has left all over my boobies are not.

Ever feel like when you watch TV the voices don't match the actors' mouths?

I wish they'd cancel Law & Order just so I'd stop watching it.

I don't like being topless. It's cold, and I have to look at my fat rolls when I'm sitting.

Today I've eaten two bites of a Publix veggie wrap that sucked ass (hence the two bites), a bag of Soy Chips, a banana, a split of champers and four of these amazing biscotti balls from the restaurant.

I like the *idea* of traveling alone, but then I quickly realize I don't like myself that much as a travel companion.

I'm staring at a coral reef replete with shells, sea life and sand—composed entirely of chocolate and sugar. Standard yet stunning touch for VIPs.

I'm usually a 'VIP guest' merely for being a writer. We don't get paid a lot, but we get treated like godesses. Natch, I love every minute of it. So do my friends who travel with me.

The beachfront restaurant here closes early because of the Sea Turtles. Must investigate that tomorrow.

I'm going to lay out in the sun and get a sick tan while I'm here despite the fact that I'm on Chemo pills that advise against it. Fuck you, Cancer.

My god why am I still watching Law & Order?

Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a fucking bad ass. Did you know she's a Dreyfus, Dreyfus? Like the banking family . . .

I'm reading Carol Alt's roman a clef—thanks a lot, Mackenzie!

FranBrand? Seriously? Oy.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tattoos Round Two

People wonder why I love Dr. Rosenbaum so much? His office # doesn't hurt!

Disclaimer: This is a full-frontal post, as my nips were tattooed for the second time yesterday and journalistic (e.g. not so pretty) photos are below.

I woke up back in fighting mode yesterday as opposed to surrender/give-up mode. I took the weekend to be alone, which I needed after a few weeks of constant attention and overpopulation in my little world. I've also booked myself for this weekend at the Ritz-Carlton in Naples—only an hour-and-a-half drive from here, it's an easy getaway. I'm heading there solo as well, I love traveling by myself, catching up on reading and writing etc.

I think my mind just got sick of one emotion—grief—and decided it was time for me to harness my anger into something constructive like kicking some Cancer ass (hopefully). Some really fabulous things have been happening lately too. I have my little literary guardian angels doing some leg work for me regarding Cancer Is the New Black.

I also learned today that Heeb scored me a reading of Sex, Drugs & Gefilte Fish at Books & Books, which is basically The Strand of Miami. (Date TBD.) In fact, they recently renovated and have an entire Assouline room, not bad for the South! I went in to grab a gift for one of my angels and was pleasantly surprised to see a fat stash of the Heeb book. So rather unexpectedly, I stumbled into the Requisite First Time Author Experience—seeing your book in a bookstore. Pretty cool. I'm slowly accepting the fact that though I have nary a dime to show for it, maybe I'm (kinda sorta) successful after a mere 14 years in this biz.

I have a rescheduled session with Dr. Laura in a few, since I slept through the last one, though I shouldn't have popped 1/2 a Klon cause she can totally tell when I'm medicated. Boys, you may want to stop reading at this point.

Oh, the point of the post: I had my second nipple tattooing yesterday. Esther Steinberg, the permanent makeup artiste, was SO thrilled with how the nips looked from the first session. She wants to put me—er, the boobs—on her Web site to show off. So now I'm a model too. Hemley came with again, and our off-the-wall session served as our farewell before he moves to L.A. for love:)

Hems and I hamming it up in the waiting.



She's just beginning to fill in the color here, so what you see is how they looked before, after the first tatting.

Filling in the color and making the aureolas a little bigger, to conform with the graft Rosenbaum did.


More of the same. One week of Vaseline—did you know that Vaseline seals up wounds?—and bandages under clothes. When I'm alone at home, I just walk around topless slathered in Vaseline, which is how I'm typing at the moment. Trust me, it ain't sexy in the least.

I don't have time to edit or spell check. So, ta.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunday Bitchfest

Even though the song is about a woman, Tom Petty pretty much nailed life with one line: "The waiting is the hardest part." In my case waiting till Nov. 5th to get the results on whether the chemo is working or I'm dying.

I'm going to go from bad to good right now, in an effort to cheer myself up, so to speak. If I were "cheery," I'd send myself straight to Bellevue. I've been oversleeping—which to me means like 12 p.m. and after—that's what I do when I'm depressed. So much so that I fucking slept through my phoner with Dr. Laura on Friday; that extra hour of sleep cost me $210. (And that's a grandfathered rate.)

The Xeloda side effects—bone and joint pain and stiffness—subsided about 30 percent this week. In yesterday's Ashtanga class, my instructor said my 'flow' looked a lot better. Chad and I figured that the reason the pain was centralized in the sternum, neck, back and shoulders is that the oral chemo (Xeloda) finds the Cancerous areas and goes right there. For, my sternum area and neck and clavicle are really swollen. Like, I can barely see my clavicle bone and I'm a size two (finally, again), who's clavicle is usually jutting out.

Went to Chad Friday who said that the node—fuck you node!—felt about the same. Which to alarmist me translates to: Omigod it's not working, oh shit what if it's not working how am I going to get through Nov. 5th. Fuck I can't believe this isn't working, then again why should it work the last regiment didn't fucking work.

Then what's left of my rational side—aided by Klonopin, natch—thinks: Calm down you motherfucker. You're making this psychosomatically worse and given what Chad told you about the Oriental medicinal philosophy about disease recurrence, you need to check yourself on these thoughts.

So the 'rational' side of my brain is trying to tell the other part to recognize that the fact that the node hasn't grown is perhaps an indication that it is working. I need to get away; I'm looking into going to Naples for the weekend. Haven't been there in years, hear the Ritz is nice and it's a short drive. It's either that or Restylane, which I'm in desperate need of at the moment. My skin seems to be really hating the chemo. Which ever works out to be cheaper—two nights at the Ritz or Restylane.

I have my second nipple tattooing tomorrow, but don't expect any photos as I'm going alone.

Okay here's the bad stuff, in no particular order:

• The Cancer has made New York living seem like an impossibility in 2009, which means moving back home. To Jacksonville. With the parents. At 34. With nary a thing to do in the town. Nothing to do and too much time on my hands is always a bad thing for me.

• I am scared to make plans. Because just when I decided to leave this fucking place, the Cancer decided to put the kaibosh on that plan. This fact—that my only plan is once again giving up and moving in with my parents—makes me want to rip my eyeballs out when people (who mean no harm) ask me, 'So what about New York?' What about it? I don't fucking know. These non New-Yorkers don't realize that moving to New York is not exactly simple. When New York? I don't fucking fuckity fuck know, okay? At this point, it's looking like New York, New York only if I magically get a job or a book deal or something really un-bloody-likely like that. I'm going up in December for a visit and another Jap straightening session.

• I'm having extreme difficulty being around outwardly shiny happy people right now. I've begun to realize that when people call Los Angelenos and South Beach people 'fake,' what they really mean is fake-happy. Like smiling all the time happy. When I go out with my NYC girls, we have a blast, but we bitch. There's always something fucked-up happening to one or more of us; that's life. And it's interesting and keeps you on your toes and is infused with a sense of urgency and greatness because you're in the center of the universe together. Not here. Bad shit happens here but somehow people still smile because, why? The ocean? The drugs?

• I'm going to get a lot of flack for this, and to my wonderfully supportive friends whom I'm speaking of I mean absolutely no harm. I envy your happiness and am pleased that your lives are sunshine and roses. Well, mine's not. And you readers know better than anyone that faking it is pretty hard for me. So jesus, is it hard for me to be around shiny happies now. At dinner the other night with like eight or so of us, I found the girls literally going around the table and updating everyone on their lives. Like, normal people stuff. Babies and boyfriends and sex and all that stuff that makes life fun. And then they arrived at me. The Cancer patient. I can imagine them thinking, 'Oh, whoopsie, maybe going around the table announcing how great our lives are is not the best thing to do when you have a Cancer friend sitting at the end of the table.'

So what was my update? I had to wrack my brain for something decent. "Well, my first book came out. So I guess that's kind of cool."

Oohs and ahhs all around like the great supportive friends they are, however it was all I could do not to run out of that dinner, take a cab home, and bawl to the point of needing sedation. (Serious sedation—Seroquel. Google it. It's an anti-psychotic. I'm no James Frey. I'm the real fucking thing. Goody.)

This feat is very "eh" to me. The Heeb magazine storytelling collection Sex, Drugs & Gefilte Fish (Hachette, I believe, I'm too lazy to get up and check) is now available. I'd been directing people to the Amazon Canada site since it seems to have launched there already when it officially releases in the States tomorrow. I've got one essay in the book. And the book looks good—though it's in paperback—but having it in my hands cheers me little. Mom bought several copies and mailed me one—paying for my own book? Don't think so. I admired the cover, magically opened straight to a page of my essay by sheer coincidence. Read my bio at the back and then stashed it with all my other coffee-table books. Let me ask you other authors and writers—should I be over-the-moon about this? Or is being in a book such as this just as lukewarm a career move as it feels? I'm sure it's a great book. It's just not my book. My friends in the industry tell me this will be a good resume-builder, but I don't exactly know how to work "Sex, Drugs & Gefilte Fish" into a proposal about a Cancer memoir.

Now I can't really think of any good things happening—except for Laura Zigman and Mackenzie and the Wiccan goddess, all of whom really rocked it out for me these past couple of weeks and gave me some stuff to look forward to. Love you guys. And simply cannot wait for my Wiccan candle, with magic spell and mantra attached to arrive. More on that later.

Buy the book, don't buy the book. What does it matter? Otherwise, you can read my essay for free here. It's pretty much word for word. Save the money and buy yourself a good bagel and schmear. Actually, buy Laura's books—I've actually read and highly recommend those. Chances are I'm not even going to read the book I'm in.

God, I'm really hitting a self-loathing Zenith. Another milestone!

Thank god for Curb.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Final Word on Early Screening

Go doctor, go doctor. That BCA article in Vogue by Elizabeth Weil that so pissed me off because it purported that early screening was not only unnecessary but can do us harm? That IDIOTIC head of the American Cancer Society who just came out questioning the benefits of early testing?

My doctah at Sloan, Larry Norton, once again smacked those bitches down last night on ABC's World News Tonight. Mel alerted me to his appearance. Watch it here on ABC.

Loves my Doctah Norton!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009



Although I stay away from the pervasive PINK-ness of this month—this site is totally cool. Boobicon. Make your own nifty photo badge like moi.

Some good things have happened this week, natch I can't discuss. But my spirits are a little lifted. Still obsessively feeling the node though. Who knows of cool pill-cases? Cause fuck it all to hell, I keep fretting over whether I've taken the right pills at the right time.

On another note, directed at my powerful-yet-anonymous readers—I can track your domain names, sillies—I'm compiling a list of agents that would be a good fit for Cancer Is the New Black. If people have suggestions and/or you're an editor or agent, holla. Facebook is best.

Meanwhile, don't forget to buy the Heeb magazine book Sex, Drugs and Gefilte Fish. Though I haven't bought it yet—seems weird that I should pay for my own book—it comes highly recommended by Mom and Dad. Dad probably went straight to the Sex part and not my essay; Mom probably went straight to my essay and then Drugs, maybe? I don't know, do they have a red wine or Grey Goose straight up chapter? I've sold about 100 copies so far via the Yenta Network. Help a sister out so I can prove that this bitch can move books!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

If I Had a Fan, It'd Be Doo-Doo Brown

I've been mired in a vortex of self-pity, depression, anxiety and just a little bit of anger. Fear that this cocktail won't work. Not totally irrational because, hellooo, I did everything and more first go-round and was "in remission" for, let's see, 18 months. (Remission begins after the most major surgery. In my case, the mastectomy was Feb. 15, 2007.)

Can you imagine if I hadn't had the mastectomy or chemo? I'd be fucking dead. Dead. Literally. How many people have to stare death in the face not one, but two times—or three times if you count my near-death accident on I-95 in May of this year.

Which brings me to Sunday. I've had a pretty unlucky October. Aside from the PET scan coming up clean—thank you thank you thank you whom/whatever is out there—it's been just shitty. I think the Walgreen's on 6th and Jefferson is like the Bermuda Triangle of karmic wrong-ness for me. This is the Walgreen's where beg-for-money-yet-luscious-weaved Scary Tranny hangs out. And where I go nearly every day for my Snapples.

Now, I'm avoiding that place like the Swine Flu. The week they found my enlarged lymph nodes, I backed into this gargantuan SUV in that parking lot. So, I'd chilled all weekend—malaise, pain, exhaustion—but still managed to get to the gym all seven days. Sunday, went to Walgreen's for pre-gym Snapple. As I'm walking out to my car—I kid you not—there's a cop car facing me and I hear from its megaphone:

"Stephanie Green, you've got a little problem." W.T.F. I was already in such a resigned, defeated, deflated state of mind that I just sighed and walked over to his car. I knew my driver's license had been suspended because I forgot to pay the ticket for the near-death collision. (Escaping death costs you about $180 in Palm Beach County. You can't really buy anything big on Worth Ave. for that amount, so it could be worse.)

The cop actually radios for backup. Let me explain to you where this Walgreen's is. The street I live on is perpendicular to 6th street, which becomes a little sketchy as you head East. Walgreen's is around the corner from where Ben and Laura live and near one of the most notorious drug-dealing and crime-infested areas on the beach. Crack deals, robberies, crazy homeless shamans with feces all over their togas and shit. The sight of blue lights is an almost every day experience; we often watch the action from B & L's window. My point is that the Pigs have a lot to worry about in this hood. But no. Instead of patrolling the nabe, this cop is PARKED IN THE WALGREEN'S LOT RANDOMLY RUNNING LICENSE PLATES. Bing! I win.

So I'm standing there with my Walgreen's shit and he's pulling up all the stuff and telling me my license is suspended in both Miami and Dade. (I didn't know about Dade.) I didn't pull the Cancer card on purpose. I mean, I'd been bawling off and on all weekend. Everywhere. In public, private, you name it. Why should the Walgreen's parking lot be any different? I started crying.

"Look," deep, sobbing gulp, "I know I should've taken care of this but I've," gulp, "been rediagnosed," gulp, sob, "with Cancer this month. And I just haven't been able to take care of this."

The cop, youngish, not bad looking but kinda red-necky, softened.

"Look, I'm not going to take you to jail." I knew that. I have good luck with cops while Brother has exceedingly bad luck. Once I lose my looks—which I'm expecting to commence in the next year—I suppose I'll have to become a law-abiding citizen.

I just had to take another half a Klonopin, as I felt the rapid pulse that precipitates a lovely anxiety attack. (I'm up to 13 pills a day including Lamictal and Pristiq, but not including however many Benzos I pop. Small dosages that get me through the days and help me sleep at night.]

So back to Walgreen's. The officer walks me over to my car, where I'm pretty much just sitting and crying, and tells me to call a place called The Ticket Clinic, where I can hire people to take care of this for me.

"Okay, but my license . . . how do I, uh, get home since, you know, it's suspended?"

"I'm going to pull out while your still parked and as far as I know you were sitting here parked when I left."

Cool. Only mildly shaken up, I proceed to the gym. I'm *so* used to things like this that they barely phase me. Moreover, I'm in severe self-destructive mode right now. I don't have much fight left in me; had I been taken to jail, I wouldn't have resisted. I didn't even call dad, attorney extraordinaire. I just don't care.

The shit just keeps hitting the fan, but I'm half-heartedly weathering it, hoping that all this bad luck will lead to something good. Pessimistic optimist? If 'sigh' were an adjective, that would aptly describe my state of mind.

I'm terrified. I'm guilty. I'm in pain—the joints and bones from Xeloda. And I'm unsure of the future, which is a very scary prop for a type-A like me. I'm fearful of making plans because as soon as I decided to leave Miami—I even gave notice I was leaving to the condo's attys—and head back up to New York, I had the recurrence.

The scariest part? Well, every day until Nov. 5th when I go for my check up. Because this time, I can physically gague whether the cocktail is working by feeling the leader of the enlarged nodes on my neck. I'm trying not to obsessively feel, but I still touch it a few times a day at least. Went to Chad (acupuncturist) yesterday for a tune up and pain relief, and he said he thought it was the same maybe even a little smaller. It's all I can do to not get out the tape measure like a complete fucking psycho to see if it's below 1.8 cm.

In short, I have to admit, I'm really, really scared. Depressed about everything, though mostly the fact that no matter what happens I cannot edit my manuscript, and just so resigned to life as a Cancer Patient.

Even more frightening is the prospect of having to remove my ovaries while I've still got Cancer. Shit, I'd take 'em out tomorrow if I could, but Doc Schwartz won't let me. I feel like gutting my own body and my brain. I feel like giving up and moving back into my parents' house indefinitely. I feel like I did at 28, when American Media sued me for writing Dishalicious and there was no light at the end of the tunnel. (Remember, before I went and got myself Cancer, I was that girl who wrote that roman a clef that was allegedly about Bonnie Fuller and working at Star magazine.) After two years of agenting and legal battles—which I won, totally screwed AMI—I actually burned the manuscript in my kitchen sink on the Upper East Side.

Hence, my hesitation about getting Cancer Is the New Black out to agents—potential, profound failure on top of Cancer. Can't do it alone this time. I decided to try to hire a trusted writer and friend to read the manu and edit it, which Dr. Laura thought was a good idea. If this writer has time to do it, then I'm golden. I just am too close to the work, and now, more than ever, do not feel like reading about the past two years.

Truth is, right now, I'd rather be someone else. And somewhere else. Which is why I'm seriously thinking of booking a plane ticket somewhere next week. I'd like L.A. but biz class tix just so pricey out there. But a face-to-face with Dr. Laura and seeing all my West Coast friends would be a nice break.

Oh, well, ta, I'm off to the gym. I'm reading one of the Gossip Girl books on the eliptical—such a great break from my own brain.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Live Strong? Duh.

With regards to me and my current Cancer situ, the most overused word being lobbed at me is strong. It's not a bad word, don't get me wrong. It's just one of those words people use in times of crises. There are pat phrases people employ—myself included—in tragic times. I mean, what are people going to say?

But the one I get almost daily is: "God, you're so strong. How can you be so strong?" It's not a choice I made. It's a character trait, in my opinion. Weak people don't last. They certainly don't succeed or educate or entertain or write stuff that seems to make their readers think they're strong. I've been thinking about this word because writers think about words. Words aren't throwaways to us. Words are our building blocks. Words are our weapons. But I want to examine this word, for my own edification really.

So, Merriam-Webster:

Strong:
1
: having or marked by great physical power.

Not at the moment—the Xeloda is causing my bones, joints and muscles to ache intensly. I was one of the slackers in yoga this week. My Ashtanga teacher yesterday: "Are you okay? I noticed that you seem to be having trouble even doing chaturanga, and I know you're strong, what's going on?"

2 : having moral or intellectual power. I won't take issue with this one. Morality is one of the character traits each and every person I take into my life must possess. And, yes, I'm smart. I have never had any insecurity in the intelligence department. I do have some dumb friends though; they can't help it.

3 : having great resources (as of wealth or talent)
Very interesting that this falls under the "strong" word, no? I always thought of this as luck. But if it's strength, I'll take it. I suppose it takes strength to ask for help from those resources you have, and I did ask for help. Plenty of it. That's how I got my doctors, wig, care, private hospital rooms, drugs etc.

4
: of a specified number
Uh, okay, I have an army of 420. Actually, I have an army of Heebs and token MOTs from here to Cali to New York.

5 a : striking or superior of its kind
Strong willed? Strong character?

b
: effective or efficient especially in a specified direction
I'm trying to work on this one re my book. I'm trying, but if I have one area of "strong" weakness, it's this one.

Everyone—even fellow Breast Cancer-ers—asks me how I stay so strong. I can't answer them because that's like asking me how my eyes stay brown or how old I am. I am who I am. Strength isn't a choice, I was born strong. Only the strong survive right?

This doesn't mean strong people are strong all the time. I'm okay being wheeled into a PET scan or surgery, but I cry like a baby at really bad romantic comedies and when I'm alone at night, watching TV with Wally and eating take-out or thrown-together salads. I cry. I feel sorry for myself. Not really for the Cancer, but because the Cancer has made even slimmer the possibilities of leading a happy life. I wasn't optimistic about men before Cancer and now? Well, you don't get the big white wedding or Mr. Right or the Oscar dress and four carats when you're 34, single, living with Cancer, likely for life. Moreover ladies, let's face it, boys our age don't want strong women. They're scared of us. Strong women like me? We eviscerate boys our age because most of them are weak. (Can you imagine a man having his balls and dick chopped off and remaining strong and manly? I don't fucking think so.)

Here's what I think—single people have to be strong. We don't have husbands or wives or lovers to fold into. We don't have someone waiting for us at home to carry us to bed or run errands for us. We don't have help. We don't have an 'other-half' to share responsibility. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I've heard the stories—"marriage is hard!" Whatever. Try being single. At least you have someone to help you do dishes and walk the dog. We are strong by default. Trust me, it would be nice not to have to be strong once in a while. It'd be nice to be able to cry on a lover's shoulder instead of in Wally's snuff. (Though nothing smells better than doggy snuff.)

I'm strong because I was born strong. I come from strong stock. I have strong resources. Strong family, strong friends, strong doctors, advisors, connections and therefore I am strong. I am strong thanks not only to myself but to the hordes of strong people I'm surrounded by—my parents, their friends, relatives and my best friend. Can you imagine how hard it is for a mother to watch her daughter go through this? A brother who lives thousands of miles away? A father who knows that this killer gene his daughter has was passed on from him? A best friend who for the first time in our lives is not just a car ride away? They keep me strong, but it's also okay for them to cry around me and vice-versa.

When I was rediagnosed, I wasn't strong. I collapsed emotionally and folded into myself. I weeped openly despite three Klonopins. It's okay not to be strong when you're watching your mom, her best friend and even your doctor go into shock.

But bad news, bad luck, shitty fucking circumstances—they don't make you strong or weak. They make you shore up your reserves unconsciously. I don't know how to be weak. Sometimes I try—crawl in bed and crawl with Wally. Then I get bored and go to the gym. Even though I can't even do fucking chaturanga without pain.

These are just a few of the people over the years who've made me who I am—strong and lucky.






Below is dad's mother Lilian, who I got the BRCA gene from. She died of Ovarian Ca when I was very young.


























Thursday, October 15, 2009

I woke up with a blank mind and unfortunately, Wally shit in the kitchen. I don't have too much on my mind at the moment aside from Cancer and career, my twinset Achilles. Started the Tykerb last night. So now it's 11 Cancer pills a day. Five (!) Tykerb in the a.m. on an empty tummy; three Xeloda twice a day with food. Adding in my mental health meds, that's a lucky 13 pills a day! So far, so good on the side-effects.

I must say that the frightening thing about this 'cocktail' is that I myself will know whether it's working by feeling the protruding node on my neck. If it's working, the node will shrink. If it's not, it won't. As you can imagine I'm practically sitting on my hands to prevent me from feeling the fucker several times a day. I've also stopped wearing my every day necklaces—they get in the way when I do decide to obsessively feel the lump. I'm also trying to avoid carrying heavy bags on the right side. So I need a new light-weight, black, every day bag. Until this shrinks at least.

Some—well, most of you—probably are unaware that, yes, I do have some regular freelance gigs. I've been writing the Miami fashion, beauty, events and luxury goods pieces for Juli B practically since Juli started it, and have been impressed by their growth. Especially since they've become affiliated with a global corporation but have retained editorial control. Meaning, the writing style hasn't changed. And contributors like me still get to be creative. (This month's fashion + beauty picks.)

Sometimes it's difficult for me to select my fashion picks, as I'm not a trendy shopper, which you know, but as a fashion writer It's my job to keep on top of the trends. One of which this season is the motorcycle jacket, which I'm completely on board with if it's done the right way.

I was perusing the usual sites—Bergdorf, Neiman's, Barneys etc. when I found the Holy Grail of biker jackets.

I'm completely, utterly obsessed with this one from Alexander McQueen:


Ob-fucking-sessed.

Luckily, at nearly $6,000, it's not an obsession I can even entertain the idea of indulging in. But behold the goodness of this work of art by looking at all the photos at Bergdorf. And if you want to receive my two monthly columns directly from Juli B to your inbox—plus editions in other cities—sign up here.

Aside from this blog, Juli is the only place where I can really exercise my high-fashion muscles. When I'm not shopping with mom, that is.

On a nipple note, I've got the second tattooing of the color Oct. 26. So even though my insides are still a mess, I'll be whole on the outside. A whole helluva lot of good that's doing me though. The men aren't exactly lining up and I almost feel sorry for my mom and her yenta friends who actually still hold out hopes—and vocalize them quite fucking frequently—that I'm going to meet a man and marry.

No pity party here people, just my usual, fact-based realism: A 34 y/o single woman with Breast Cancer—probably lifelong—, bad genes and an inability and lack of desire to procreate. (Did I mention that now that this fucking Cancer's recurred that removing my ovaries is even more time-sensitive?) Like, I could potentially have the surgery next year as a 35th birthday present to myself. Imagine the retail therapy that would entail! Yippeeee!

Okay, so it's October 15th. Which of my readers aside from Kim (and I believe Donna) has scheduled their mammograms?

PS Get this shit—I just called my hospital to ask if there was any sort of "free mammogram" day; there's not. But there is a SPA DAY for all of us CPs treated at Sinai! Woot woot.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Heeb book

Finally, I'm a legitimately published author! Buy it—or don't, I've already earned my $50!—on Amazon.

Sex, Drugs & Gefilte Fish, a Heeb magazine compilation. There are scores of stories by better-known authors, but what beats My Chemical Romance with Cancer?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Of Bidets and (Bull)Shit

Looks like we're back to square one on this blog, huh? No-holds-barred Cancer talk. I didn't necessarily want to be back here, but if this is my life right now, this is what you get.

Xeloda—oral chemo that I started on Saturday. Six pills a day—three in a.m., three in p.m., with food. Major side-effect dia-ree-ree.

"Oh, that's fine," I told Schwartz. "Frankly, I could do with a little help in that department." Oh, real smart Stephanie—the woman who believes in even the tiniest of jinxy statements.

So I didn't re-up my stash of Miralax and began the Xeloda.

Now—Jesus, I can't believe I'm talking about my BMs for the world to read, but fuck it—it's AWARENESS month, right? So, I'll make you aware of the fact that this germaphobe hasn't taken a dump in a public restroom in more than a decade. Yep. And if I've absolutely had to, well, thankfully I've got killer quads. Moreover, I've not sat on a public toilet seat even with covers in probably fifteen years. Therefore, I get my squats in each day.

But now, I'm going to have to become the George Costanza of Miami Beach. Remember this Seinfeld exchange?

"JERRY: Anywhere in the city?

GEORGE: Anywhere in the city - I'll tell you the best public toilet.

JERRY: Okay.. Fifty-fourth and Sixth?

GEORGE: Sperry Rand Building. 14th floor, Morgan Apparel. Mention my name - she'll give you the key.

JERRY: Alright.. Sixty-fifth and Tenth.

GEORGE: (Scoffs) ARe you kidding? Lincoln Center. Alice Tully Hall, the Met. Magnificent facilities."

So far, I've avoided the use of public facilities. I've kept my days close to home—gym, Whole Foods etc. However, there's the bidet issue. Most luxury apts in Miami have bidets. Including mine. Which stores magazines.

You see, I have some deep-rooted psychological issues with bidets. Roxy, mom's long-deceased, good-for-nothing-but-jewelry-and-fashion mother, had a bidet in her bathroom. Brother and I simply didn't get it. (She died when I was only 17 and Bro was 13.)

We dubbed it "the tushy cleaner," and were loathe to imagine our Roxy, with her flaming read hair, stillettos, diamonds and stiff Upper East Side demeanor, on the tushy cleaner. So when I moved into my first apartment in Miami and noticed the bidet, I most likely had a visceral, subconscious reaction along the lines of: "Oh, a tushy cleaner. Okay." Roxy! And promptly put my bathroom reading materials in the bowl.

Same thing in this apartment, but not necessarily something I gave a shit (no pun) about. I have a hand-held shower head in the shower and the Whirlpool, and I'm not a baby, so I think I have that hole covered. Then, one of the first times Mr. and Mrs. X came over, they reacted towards the bidet as I react when I go into Bergdorf's.

"Oh my God, you have a bidet! Oh, Mr. X, I miss our bidet." I think they were drooling over my bidet for a good five minutes.

"Ugh, the tushy cleaner? Take it. Fucking gross."

Cut to yesterday. I was on the crapper more than usual.

Texted Mrs. X: "Looks like I may have to start using the tushy cleaner."

"You will love."

"Doubtful."

So I turned it on for the first time, and, for the first time realized that it's just a normal faucet.

"I don't get it," I texted the tushy cleaner expert, "Roxy's had a spout that just shot up from the bowl." Which, kind of is what you want it to do, no?

Here are the instructions I receive: "Push your booty back; It will go in the right direction."

I ran into the bathroom and piled the Vanity Fairs and Vogues back into that motherfucker. (PS, check out Oribe's 'do on Penelope Cruz on this month's VF cover. I have the same bangs as my girl crush!)

I'm waiting on the Tykerb, which has to be shipped directly from a "specialty pharmacy" called Caremark. Was on the phone with the insurance gal at the onco's office for an hour-plus yesterday trying to secure this drug, which the FDA is apparently regulating strictly. Only 15 "specialty pharms" in the U.S. can sell this shit.

What's the only thing up my ass right now? The fact that Humana is only covering 25 percent of the oral meds—my out of pocket cost will be $1,800 a month. Yep. Two months and I could've nearly bought a Birkin. Chemo—100 percent covered in hospital. Twenty-five percent out of hospital. I'm sick over these numbers. Sick. That's more than my (foreclosure-reduced) rent per month.

You can put a price on life these days when you're sick. And if you can't pay the costs for your own life—guess what? You lose it. You die.

Someone, tell me how the Obama Care plan will help these costs, for people like me and other less fortunate people. Yes, I can pay the fucking money okay? Regardless, that doesn't make it right. I swear, if this fucking Cancer doesn't go away, I'm going to cause the 'rents to be knocked down to a lower tax bracket. That, I will not accept. Chemo but no Bergdorf's for mom? Unacceptable. Cancer-free but traveling in steerage? I don't fucking think so.

Which brings me to this: My readership is approaching 100,000 people. I mean, if this were a book that sold 100,000 copies, that's a fairly respectable number, no?

And the more I think about it, the more inclined I am to just pitch my memoir as is—a compilation of my blog over the past couple of years, with less narrative woven in than I would've hoped. Because now if I ever make some real money via writing, it's going straight back into mom and dads' pockets.

Oh, but I'm a legitimately published author this month, via Heeb mag's Sex, Drugs and Gefilte Fish. Member? That's the one I got paid $50 for. Yeah.

That's all for now. I've got to straighten out the meds and I haven't showered since Sunday. I'm one hot Cancer patient right now. And I'm seriously, seriously upset about the cost of these meds. They *may* save my life, but they *will* make my quality of life suffer.

Yes, this is Cancer from the perspective of one of the lucky ones—I get it. I can only offer you my own experiences. I don't pretend to know anything about how less-fortunate people can deal with Cancer. I welcome comments and stories. I mourn the people who've died because money comes before health in this country. But don't think that just because you're blessed with financial resources that Cancer costs don't effect you. No matter how much money you have, $1,800/mo for two meds is a lot of fucking money.

This post has depressed me. I can't believe I'm back here. I can't believe that with an eight percent chance of recurrence, I fell into that eight-fucking-percent less than six months after stopping Herceptin. If happiness could be bought even for a day, I'd take that $1,800 and buy it. Cause I'm not happy. Not happy at all. In fact right now instead of working on two assignments I have due, going to the pharmacy, the gym, acupuncture etc., I want to lay in bed with Wally and cry. And let me tell you, PMS on top of Chemo side-effects? Not a walk in the park.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Obama, Your Mama

I knew there was a reason Obama rubbed me the wrong way from the beginning.

I've been a blindly Democratic voter my whole life simply by virtue of the way I was raised and because I'm a Jew. However, now I'm a Cancer patient. A Cancer patient ignorant about the whole Obama socialized health care issue because, well, I have good insurance, and let's face it people, I've got way too many issues to be vigilant about at the moment.

However, after that OB's comment about my bro's good friend Michelle Haimoff's post about me, and me posting it on Facebook like mad, I think I've just become Republican. My shrink, Dr. Ilan Melnick—shrink and friend, that is—just called me on my cell after reading the rant and explained, in plain English, the premise of Obama Care from a specialized doctor's perspective. My primary care physician is a cardiologist and family friend. He is my GP. You couldn't pay me to go to some old internist that is merely in my network and neighborhood. Thank God for that.

I'm very, very, very angry, people. SO angry that my malignant lymph node seems to be throbbing. So angry that I forwent yoga to rant for the past two hours.

Below I'm posting an email that Dr. Daryl Eber, Dana's brother and my bestest straight guy friend, sent me. Daryl is the expert, has done the research and is one of the biggest brainiacs I know. So, may I present: "My Thoughts on Health Care" by Dr. Daryl Eber.

Many people have asked for my thoughts on health care reform. So, here is a quick synopsis of one issue I feel strongly about. No surprise, I am disgusted that the issue of tort reform has not been more widely addressed.


Summary
of my rant:
1. Defensive Medicine is the practice of diagnostic or therapeutic measures conducted primarily not to ensure the health of the patient, but as a safeguard against possible malpractice liability.1
2. Tort Reform refers to proposed changes in the civil justice system that would reduce tort litigation and/or damages. 2
3. Defensive Medicine costs nationally are estimated to be $65 BILLION to $200 BILLION per year. 3
4. The cost of Mr. Obama's Health Care overhaul is estimated to be around $100 BILLION per year. 3
5. The stranglehold the legal industry has over the Democratic party as they were their top single contributor in the 2008 cycle with over $47 MILLION donated.3
6. Widespread dissatisfaction of physicians regarding tort reform. Over 10,000 Physicians signed a tort reform petition that was hand-delivered to EVERY Senator on Capitol Hill and rumored to have been delivered to Mr. Obama in the oval office.4


My thoughts on tort teform
:
Last Wednesday Mr. Obama told Congress and the American people, "I will not stand by while the special interests use the same old tactics to keep things exactly the way they are." He is in fact doing this with the trial lawyer lobby. The issue of tort reform, or legislation that would change the civil justice system to reduce unnecessary lawsuits and exorbitant monetary damages, clears the fog of partisan war. This is the best example demonstrating Mr. Obama's hypocrisy of "Change."

There are a handful of powerful trial lawyers and powerful politicians who have been very successful blocking tort reform amendments to the health care bill (H.R. 3200). Who was the largest contributor to the Democratic party in 2008? You guessed it, the legal industry with a whopping $47 MILLION donated in 2008 alone. Here's a charming quote from Howard Dean, "Here's why tort reform is not in the bill, when you go to pass a really enormous bill like that the more stuff you put in it the more enemies you make. And the reason that tort reform is not on the bill is because the people who wrote it did not want to take on the trial lawyers in addition to everyone else." During development of H.R. 3200, there were 11 amendments regarding tort reform. Democrats, on a party line vote, killed all of them. Senator Whitehouse (Rhode Island) came out in strong defense of the trial lobby to the various committee members in the House. Since 2005 this Senator has personally received $900,000 from the trial lobby, with some large donations coming from national tort powerhouses like Baron & Budd and Motley Rice.3 Senator Durbin (Illinois), $3.6 million in lawyer contributions, crushed Senator Baucaus' (Senate Finance Chair and leader of the Health Care Reform on Capitol Hill) attempts to include the Enzi-Baucus proposal for tort reform.3 It's comforting to know that the trial lawyers are the largest contributors to the Democratic party and most of the politicians who wrote H.R. 3200 are lawyers in the pockets of other lawyers.

I can hear you now, we appreciate your concern but Mr. Obama addressed some tort reform in his speech. Let's try to understand why he touched on this topic, only the second time publicly. The first time was at the annual AMA meeting in Chicago where he told thousands of physicians, "The only tort reform you'll see are more guidelines." You have to respect his courage for saying that in front of a room full of physicians, but don't forget he has a Secret Service detail. [LOL] Physicians were up in arms and have been loudly voicing their opinions ever since. Over 10,000 physicians signed the Sermo tort reform appeal which was hand delivered to EVERY Senator on Capitol Hill, and rumored to have been delivered to the Mr. Obama in the Oval Office.4 This is why you heard Mr. Obama say, "I have talked to enough doctors to know that defensive medicine MAY be contributing to unnecessary costs." Mr. Obama says this is no "Silver Bullet," but his plan is estimated to cost $100 BILLION per year and current estimates of defensive medicine are around $65 to $200 BILLION per year.3 I don't understand, "they may be contributing to unnecessary costs?" I'm no mathematician, but if you cut the costs of defensive medicine in half, it sure seems like a silver bullet. Tort reform is widely popular among voters with polls showing 70% to 80% of Americans believe there is excess litigation.3 Whether you are a Republican or Democrat, doesn't this meet the definition of a consensus? I believe these facts contribute to the general distrust of Mr. Obama's proposal. If Mr. Obama truly believes in real health reform, he needs to advocate the best "medicine" for our country and stand up to this powerful lobby and pass substantial tort reform. Let me see, "Financial Reform," "Health Care Reform," "Legal Reform" easy sell!

So, Mr. Obama suggested test projects. I'm not a huge Sarah Palin fan, but I'm pretty sure she tweeted that Texas and California passed successful medical liability reform years ago. Is the data not available? Were the tests too successful so more need to be performed? I'm a little concerned that Kathleen Sebelius, his secretary of health and human services, is in charge of these new test projects. Mrs. Sebelius only spent eight years as the head of the Kansas Trial Lawyers Association. No conflict of interest there.

So how do other doctors feel about this issue? Try asking one. I guarantee this is one of their top priorities regarding health care reform. DEFENSIVE MEDICINE IS REAL. As a Radiology resident I see extra, unnecessary studies on a daily basis. So far, the record is about $3,600 worth of unnecessary imaging studies in one hour. Research conducted and sponsored by the Massachusetts Medical Society in 2008, found that defensive medicine in the state of Massachusetts alone costs a minimum of $1.4 Billion annually. National costs put that number around $65 to $200 BILLION A YEAR (re-emphasizing that number for effect)!2 In South Florida, physicians live in unnecessary fear. We understand the gift and responsibility we undertake when we treat a patient, but everything we've worked so hard for and sacrificed so much for can be taken away overnight. All because of "Jackpot Justice." To avoid this nightmare scenario, it's easier to order extra tests "just to make sure," or "to defend ourselves in front a jury." This is wrong, wasteful and against our oath as physicians. Studies from opponents of tort reform try to demonstrate no financial impact of the "few" wasteful and illegitimate lawsuits, but we know the real data is not being captured. The data that is difficult to calculate because these so called "justified" tests can fall within a spectrum of treatment, but are unnecessary to patients' outcome. We have no doubt that curbing defensive medicine through LEGITIMATE tort reform will lead to substantial cost savings throughout the system.

Make no mistake, if tort reform is not part of the completed bill, we have all been duped by a political process that hasn't "Changed." Physicians understand this and will revolt. It is already starting. Please keep these thoughts in mind any time you discuss health care reform. Feel free to forward this email to anyone you want. I welcome debate on the issue.


Daryl Eber, M.D.

PGY 5, R4
Miami, FL


References
1. Wikipedia 2009. 1 August 2009 < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defensive_medicine>.
2. Wikipedia 2008. 1 December 2008 < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tort_reform>.
3. Strassel, Kimberley . " The President's Tort Two-Step " Wall Street Journal 11September 2009 <http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203440104574404984255332524.html>.
4. Sermo 2009. 9 September 2009 <http://www.sermo.com>.
5. Hypocrites, Democratic. H.R. 3200 - America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 1 August 2009 <http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h3200/text>.



XOXO Cancer Chick

Oh No She Dit-int

We need to take this bitch down, ladies. Read Michelle's blog GenFem in its entirety, but read this post about me first. And then read the comment from an OBGYN named Abby.

I haven't been this mad in a long, long, long time. I wonder how many of her patients have died from this doctor's ignorance and misinformation. Once again proof positive that good doctors can make or break you. Thank you, thank you, thank you to the good doctors out there.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Serene is the word that best describes my state of mind at this moment, sitting on my couch with Wally, looking at the beautiful bay outside my window and catching up on The Real Housewives of Atlanta.

This could've been the longest week of my life. Such a horrible time warp. And how do I even convey the "luckiness" I feel, all around the board? Yes, Cancer changes you however you get it. But the second time was infinitely scarier than the first somehow. Yet thankfully, the treatment supposedly will be a (no jinx) cakewalk.

So if any day called for retail therapy, it was yesterday. Full-on-full-price retail therapy, which these Jews rarely engage in. Translation: Bal Harbour. As Bergdorf's as it gets in these parts.

The "it hasn't spread" Cancer present is perhaps the best yet—and we're talking practically two years of Cancer presents here people. I've been lusting after Hermès enamel bangles for some time now. But like I said, we hardly ever pay retail for jewelry. It's technically against our religion. But I went in and tried on several and only fell more in love. So Dad bought me a pair of Tory Burch gladiator sandals (on sale) at Saks (which are quite comfortable despite the fact that most people I know say her shoes are incredibly uncomfortable) and I took the car home while they stayed and shopped.

Dad and mom got home and surprised me with the cuff that I'd most j'adored:
Loooove it. My first Hermès anything.

In another very odd footnote—I just returned from a neighborhood walk with the 'rents and ran into Tom and Hudson at Walgreen's. For you new readers, I was at Tom's apartment when I was first diagnosed. (See Heeb magazine's My Chemical Romance. And now I see him again just after I was re-diagnosed. Can you say psychic and freaky? He said he'd just been looking at my family photos on FB so he wasn't so shocked. But still, I'm telling you . . .

I think I need to go have my cards read in Cassadaga when I head up to Jax the next time.

Friday, October 09, 2009

All Hail the Talisman

Finally some faaaaabulous news. After going to the gym in the morning and seeing my pulse soar to 170+ despite my morning Klonopin; then heading to Chad where he quieted my manic mind by telling me about the ancient, Chinese medicine philosophy behind disease recurrence, I felt ready to take in Dr. Schwartz's news.

I was a fashion disaster to start. None of my talismen exactly went together. BUT they worked!!!

The Cancer has spread no further than the lymph nodes in the neck and—BC ladies, get this shit—behind the sternum. Apparently, as far as Dr. Schwartz can hypothesize, these microscopic cells behind the sternum were lurkers kept in check by the Herceptin. Sooo, when I stopped the Herceptin, these lil' fuckers returned.

So this Tykerb, which is so new that had I been diagnosed now, is what I would've been on instead of Herceptin. In Schwartz's words—Tykerb is a "Super Herceptin." Meaning, this, along with Xeloda, should really kick ass, and Schwartz will know within two to three weeks of me being on the meds, how well they are working.

"So this was the best case scenario that we could've hoped for?" I asked Schwartz?

"In my opinion yes."

"Are you happy?"

"Yes, I'm very relieved." And he was, you could tell. He's one of those rare doctors who sees patients as people, friends, humans. I cannot speak highly enough of him. And frankly, for those of you being treated in Miami, your idiots for not using him.

"I love you again! I screamed," a GI resident was tailing him, and she def wasn't prepared for the Greens.

After we grilled him and our moods turned from absolute fear to over-the-moon joy, I leaped off the table and gave him a big ol' bear hug, and mom took a photo with her iPhone—which she seems to think has supplanted her pricey Sony camera.


"Oh, boy, I know this photo going to end up all over the world, huh?" Schwartz joked.

"Hell yeah, but don't worry I always speak highly of you."

All's well that ends well. After that we headed home, texted and phoned the hundreds of friends waiting for the all clear. I decided a champagne picnic in the park would be the perfect ending to this day. We got some sheets, Wally, three bottles of Veuve and Perrier-Jouët and headed to the amazing South Pointe park.

Which was soooo lovely and amazing and beautiful at night that we are surely making it a weekly—or, according to Mr. Mike, nightly—ritual.

So the basic NY plan remains intact with only slight alteration. Schwartz says that if I stick around here for two months at the most that we can check the results here, make sure the drugs are working and then just be monitored at Sloan-Kettering.

All in all yesterday was indeed a great day. October 8th's a new lucky day.

"So what's happened on Oct. 8th to anyone?" I asked the South Pointe possee?

"My bar mitvah was on Oct. 8th!" Feldman exclaimed. Good enough for me.

Yoga, Bal Harbour and Michael's Genuine on today's calendar. And tomorrow Mom, Dad and I are heading to the Indy 300, with press passes in the pit. Life is beautiful again.


Thursday, October 08, 2009

Heading to Hospital

Less than an hour to go till PET results. Armed with mom's first (pre-upgrade) engagement ring; dad's watch; Hemley's ring fr India; Michael's pendant fr India hung on a red string from a holy site in India; wooden bracelet from Costa Rica; Ferre shirt from last trip to Italy that reads: "I want to live my life not record it"; my first pair of premier designer shoes (Choos); and my Jackie O Gucci bag, bought when Meredith still worked there; and of course Oribe's 24k Gold Pomade.

Acupuncturist put me at ease. As ready as I'll ever be. I won't be answering my phone. Dana in charge of phone change and Nancy's # is 904-945-4366. Don't expect anything till after 4.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Just Assume I'm Doped Up, Okay?

Mom, just now sitting next to me on sofa, knitting: "Boy, Cunty II is going to have her blanket sooner than any of them." Dana had her third nugget a few weeks ago—Jaylen Rose Silver. Yes, after the basketball player. Don't ask.

So, me. I am sort of indescribable. It's like deja vu with a bitter twist. I'm back (mentally) to where I was two years ago. Except it's worse. It's worse because instead of feeling like I defeated Cancer, I feel defeated; deflated; punished by the universe. And Ellie just died. And my friends in New York are suffering. And my great friend is in the hospital for major surgery and I'm wondering when did 30 become the new 80? And it's fucking BC Awareness month. And all but TWO of my Cancer Chicks in their thirties have had recurrences. All of us. There may never be a 'cure,' but can't someone, anyone figure out the why? Why so many women in their 20s and 30s are being attacked. Pollution, cosmetics, deodorant, processed food, toxic air—everything that industrialization has brought us is likely killing us. Then again, without all this technology, our care wouldn't be advanced.

And one out of eight of you ladies will get Breast Cancer, yet I cannot inspire any of my girlfriends to get mammograms? Except you Lesley, I still remember;) That—in addition to all my peeps changing their Facebook profile photo to one with me—would be the ultimate homage.

Yesterday mom and I headed to Neiman's Last Call, which was of course our default retail therapy location last time. Instead of getting that adrenaline high, I got very depressed and anxious. I'd been back there with Meredith in March, but I don't think I've been there with mom since the last Cancer. The following conversation with the employees behind the jewelry counter didn't help either:

"Excuse me, where are the good designers?"

"You mean couture? Oh, we got rid of those. The only stuff left is on those clearance racks."

I let the fact go that she'd employed the word "couture" to describe ready-to-wear, but I can't say that it didn't annoy me.

(Melnick says I need to get my anger under control so as not to raise my cortisol levels. He brought mom and I in for a free session this a.m. before we went to the PET scan.)

"What do you mean you're not carrying good designers anymore? Seriously?"

Natch, they were giving me the stink eye. "We're not getting any more couture till January."

"WHAT? Why?"

"They're sending them to the bigger stores."

Newman! I mean Sawgrass! I walked into the dressing rooms and told mom.

"Now there's really no reason to stay in Miami!" I proclaimed.

Of course we still managed to get some good deals. But I don't think I'll ever return to that Neiman's. Memories of Manolos and mastectomies and bandages and blood and rushing to the plastic surgeon because I tried on clothes the day after a major surgery and fucked up the bandages. So, I don't know, maybe Sawgrass. Or, depending on how bad the news is, Bal Harbour. I could use an every day black bag with silver hardware. Friday after Durrett and Chris dropped me off and I was alone in my apartment doped up beyond belief, I went on the Neiman's Web site and bought this snazzy little Valentino, in black. FUCK pink:



Then I forgot about this beautiful work of art. I didn't even remember until I came home today—five days later—that I'd ordered it. Hellloooo—clear cut sign I've really lost it.

My moods are kind of all over the place. I'm trying not to cry around mom; she's actually holding up much better than last time and despite a dinner with a group of 10 of my friends, she didn't tear up.

But as I was in the PET scan machine—picture an MRI type tube—for 20+ minutes that song "Lean on Me" came on. And I just lost it. What a great song to hear, but I really started crying. Because I have the most amazing family and friends in the world and I can lean on them. They want me to lean on them. I feel like I have the best support system in the world. But what does leaning on someone mean? Crying in their arms? Holding hands? I'm not a touchy feely person and I'm pretty much a private crier, except for Monday, when I was sobbing not only in Schwartz's office, but in the chemo ward to Michael, the charge nurse and the one I'm closest to. And then down to Peggy, Dr. Mesko's nurse. After two years, nobody had seen me really cry at that hospital. Not that I held it in. It was just, well, not fun, but it wasn't this scary or depressing. I was purposeful. And optimistic.

I'm sure none of this makes sense. One point five mgs of Klonopin and a Vicodin. (Like I said in the title, just assume I'm doped up while writing this week.) It's just so hard. It was so hard to allegedly "beat" it. And I never even did.

Sigh. Last night about 10 of my friends joined me and mom for drinks and dinner mostly sans Cancer talk. I wanted to hear about their drama—El Jefe sweating his exam; Laura sweating her school application etc. But it was nice and fun and I drank and barely ate and felt normal for a few hours. Tonight mom and I are chilling, watching DVRd shows, cleaning etc.

I have to tell you that although I'm optimistic/happy about so many aspects of my life—I mean, on Saturday I get to cover the Indy 300 for ESPN the magazine down on the field in the pit with all the hotties—it's nearly impossible for me to be optimistic and/or think positively today. I try to force my brain to say mantras and think positively, however, I can't quite come up with a catchy mantra conveying the message, "Please don't let it have metastasized. Please don't let it have metastasized. Please don't let it have metastasized. Please don't let it have metastasized." Any ideas?

I know that I would be so, so, so beyond fucked without my friends and family and I am grateful and thankful to no end for them—and you guys, most of whom are relative strangers—for the heartfelt support. So so so sooooo grateful I can't even tell you. They, and you guys are awesome.

Mom and Lynn (in Dr. Schwartz's office before the bad news) didn't plan on wearing the same outfit down to the Choos, but . . .

And, yeah, I got the dress I'm wearing at Neiman's yesterday;)


Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Cancer Hearts Me

I'm so completely out of it that I just realized I'd updated my FB status and not written here.

The enlarged lymph node is malignant. So, like, the Cancer is back. Whoopee! All I know as of today—that I can lay out in simple black and white after 3 Xanax and a chocolate heart from Berkeley—is the following:

1. Treatment protocol will most likely be two oral forms of chemo/Herceptin whatever pills. Tykerb and Xeloda. The most important thing? No hair loss.

Otherwise, like I just told Dana, "Are you fucking kidding? If I had to lose my hair again I'd be making my Bucket List." If fucking Cancer thinks it can take away my Oribe, clearly it has no idea who it's messing with, again. There are also very promising BRCA related new treatments in FDA approval stage right now. PARP Inhibitors. Schwartz was concerned after he felt me Thursday, and got in touch with Dr. Norton at Sloan already.

2. The reason docs don't tell you to go around doing self lymph node neck exams is that you can't feel them until they're, well, big enough to feel, which is fairly big.

Five weeks ago, this particularly enlarged one was not detectable to the touch. I called Chad (Acupuncturist) today, and he confirmed that despite the extensive work he did in those areas, he felt nothing either.
Meaning, the one they biopsied is the largest node, so the other ones—yes, apparently there are heaps of infected nodes in my neck—are I suppose what you would liken to microscopic somethings. Also, blood work (tumor markers) picked up nothing unusual in the tests this month.

3. We don't know yet whether it's anywhere else in the body, aka whether I'm completely fucked or not, until after doing a PET scan. The PET scan is Wednesday. We'll have the results Thursday afternoon. Mom's here; Dad is flying in Thursday morning.

4. Doc Schwartz was shocked. So, so surprised and upset, and he'd certainly never seen me cry before. Or scream or bawl or yell cliches like, "Why? I don't understand?" Pathetic, so unwriterly of me. He's always had good news for me. This is yet another 'unusual' case—would we really expect anything less from me? It's unusual that it came back on the right side, when my tumor was on the left. It's unusual that I'm fucking 34—okay, yes, I just turned 30fucking4—got it at 31 and was only Cancer-free for a year and a half. Basically, only because I was on Herceptin. It literally came back less than six months after stopping Herceptin.

I guess that I now have to accept that I'm going to be on Cancer pills for the rest of my life just like head pills. Chemo and SSRIs in the mornings along with coffee. Seroquel and Klonopin at night with Tykerb. Awesomeness. Isn't life just fucking great? Isn't it? Fucking brilliant. Happy happy joy joy, fuck you Cancer. Fuck you. Seriously, instead of a collective "Ohmmmmm," can we all just scream a big "FUCK YOU, CANCER?!"

Hey ladies—gotten your mammograms yet? No? Now what are you waiting for.

Monday, October 05, 2009

I am very sad to tell you that one of our Cancer Chicks has passed. I know many of you know who Ellie is; have perhaps read her blog This Is My Disease, or her comments on mine.

She was diagnosed Stage IV around the same time I was diagnosed Stage II. She had a different kind than me; no lumps she said. No mastectomies. Just two years of chemo and radiation hell from what I could see, so I think she's finally at peace. Never knew her in person or beyond emails, Facebook and blogs. But she affected me and some of you. And she will be missed.

Kind of a mind fuck to be writing about this—I got an email from a friend of hers that I read at about 2 a.m. last night. And as you know I'm awaiting my biopsy results tomorrow. Mom is here, but now I'm looking at the puncture wounds on my neck and kinda freaking out. What's that on the left side? That feels 'enlarged.'

I mean, WTF? How the fuck am I supposed to tell the difference between sore muscles and inflamed lymph nodes? Knots from stress or from Cancer? Huh? Big diff. Do I need to take a Bio 101 course to monitor my own health forever? Why wasn't I told to give myself lymph-node exams? Why don't you put that on your pink ribbons and commercials, Komen?

Why didn't my doctors tell me to be concerned about this?

Mom is here, passed out on the couch, while I'm rapt watching "My Monkey Baby" on TLC. Yeah.

ESPN/Indy/Izod day and night was beyond. Lots of fun stuff, but you guys know I can't think of anything now but the potential of the Big C entering my life again.

So now it's time for another Xannie and people who raise monkeys (and dress them) like children.

Friday, October 02, 2009

It's Either Cancer or Nothing; No Biggie

Yesterday, interior, hotter-than-George-Clooney-oncological gyno notices something before he even prods the v-jay-jay.

"What is this on your lymph node?" He points out a bump/mass/cyst on the right side of my neck on the lymph.

"What the fuck? Are you serious?"

I felt it. Squishy, pudgy, moving around, visible to the naked eye and hands. Why hadn't I felt this? Or Chad, who does plenty of work on that area. Or the physical that Schwartz gave me merely six weeks ago? I suppose because it wasn't there six mos ago.

Natch, I freak the fuck out and can't even concentrate on why I'm there—to discuss removal of ovaries. Which—another fabu thing to look forward to—should apparently come out ASAP, since I don't want kids.

"I'm sure it's nothing," Dr. Hottie says compassionately. "You're seeing Schwartz tomorrow so just have him look at it."

"No, dude, you have no idea how I operate," practically jumping off the table naked. "I've got to see Schwartz now. I'll run down the hall to see if he's still there." It's like 5 p.m.+

"Wait, wait, I'll call him."

"Okay."

Tear off the gowns, begin feeling lump obsessively. Run down the hall to Schwartz's before Tangir gets back into the hallway. Tear into the nurses station—they're used to my antics. They're already on the phone talking about me.

I corner one of my lovely nurses:

"Jaunita, feel this, feel it please."

I tear back down the hall, where Tangir is amusedly waiting for me. "I called him. He's on 8 Main. He will wait for you and examine you there."

I arrive on 8 Main—the VIP wing where I had my room after the mastectomy. Head to the nurses station where all the docs are filling out their reports. Hot, youngish doctors—where have they been? I get distracted watching them and wait for Schwartz to finish his reports.

Schwartz calms me down a little. Says it's probably nothing but Mesko needs to do an ultrasound and needle biopsy to make sure. He calls Mesko right away; the nurse calls me back at 7 p.m. last night to tell me to come in tomorrow. I mean, is my team great or what?

Cut to today, int Mesko's office, with Durrett behind the sheet [back in the closet] so as not to see the ladies.

"Well," Doc says while jellying up my neck and doing his thing. "You actually have a lot of lymph node enlargements."

"Meaning?"

"I'm concerned. Someone with your history, yes I'm pretty concerned."

They do the needle biopsy right there, with their Biopsy Gun that feels like a staple shooter going into your neck. Mesko is a very cut-and-dry surgeon. Not an alarmist, but veeerrry hard to read/break down his walls.

So, what? Should I be freaking the fuck out? Bequeathing my jewelry?

"We won't know until Monday and whatever it is we'll take care of it."

"I'm not doing chemo again. I'm not." No fucking way is my Oribe hair going anywhere.

Next, over to Schwartz. "Well, yes, I'm concerned. But it could be a million things. Normal people get these all the time from infections, colds, viruses etc."

"I haven't had a virus, is it possible I have one I don't know about and could just put myself on anti-biotics?"

"Well, yeah, but then you'd have to wait for them to work. This way we'll know Monday afternoon."

Worst-case scenario: Remove lump either radiate the area of take a pill that is the follow-up to Herceptin.

Monday, Monday, Monday—more than 48 hours and how many Klonopins and Seroquels? I'll be texting Melnick to see how many I can take before I become Heath Ledger. So, Monday—either I'm still Cancer free or I'm Cancer-fucked. And natch, yes, I DO think I jinxed myself by boasting of my healthiness, my perfect boobs, my hair.

Fuck you Cancer. Kiss my neck, my ass, my titties, my ovaries and wherever else it is you think you're going. Fuck you. I hate you. You bite.

On the plus, plus, plus side I'm on assignment for ESPN the magazine all-day tomorrow covering this Indy racing/Izod partnership event at the W. So I get to be the girl running around interviewing these famous (hopefully sexy and sweet) fast drivers. I love being out in the field reporting; so much funner than working at home. And ooh, since I'm in need of major retail therapy, I think I just may need a casual chic dress for manana.

So, yes, Bible beaters pray to Jesus for me, my Jews are praying at temple tonight and my spiritualists, send me some good thoughts to India and back.

And I know you guys want to tell me it's nothing, but I freak out about that and think I'll be jinxed, so you can just find a synonym for that word when you comment.

Have you gotten your mammograms yet? Do it before you'll need a needle biopsy, PET scan, Jewish mother driving in to hold your hand and whatever. You know the drill. xoxo