Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Another Day, Another Diagnosis

These past seven days in New York have been pretty fucking insane, all in good ways—until today. My appt with Larry Norton at Sloan Kettering (aka Anna Wintour of Breast Cancer) was beyond mind-boggling. Like, I think he just possibly saved my life or issued what to me feels like if not a death sentence, then a death of the quality of my life sentence. Here we go again, people.

Prior to my two-hour stint at the new Four-Seasons-
esque Sloan Kettering Breast Cancer Center on East 66th Street, one block away from my former apartment, I had a lovely lunch with Mel at Bergdorf's, who looks fabulous as ever. Fun girl talk and not many Cancer thoughts. Shopping around a bit helped. Wasn't even so nervous about seeing Norton, but popped a Xannie for good measure on the 7th floor.

Though we (my parents and brother also in tow) had to wait for a while and we really cut it close with my flight (I'm in
LGA right now), but we made it and he spent an hour-plus with us.

First, his nurse
practitioner did a more thorough exam of my lymph nodes than Schwartz ever does. She only felt three, which is what we knew. No new ones that she could tell. Withing a few seconds, the nurse did a more thorough exam of me than Schwartz does. Yeah, I'm a little pissed at Schwartz at the moment, though I love the guy to death.

Here's the thing—I assumed (I know, I should know better than to assume anything in the Cancer Game) that because Schwartz was trained by Norton, and they conferred upon my case, that Schwartz would automatically stick to Norton's protocol.

Well, I had everything sent up from Schwartz to Norton except the actual slides, which I suppose was my bad because it may be Mesko who has them or even pathology at Sinai. The second bad omen re. Schwartz was the fact that the nurse told me—right off the bat—that they prefer one week on, one week off with the Xeloda. Schwartz has me on the most common regiment—two weeks on, one week off. Apparent-fucking-ly, not only does the shorter cycle decrease the side-effects, but it may indeed work more effectively on the Cancer cells. Are you FUCKING kidding me?

Schwartz NEVER even presented that as an option. Yeah, so my burning feet that kept me holed up at home writhing in foot pain during Art Basel? Schwartz never suggested what Norton did. After the nurse
pract. did the physical, she, Norton and his nurse Karen, conferred and then Norton came in.

"We have a plane to catch, so do we have enough time?"

"Well, jeez guys, if you're going to fly in for a day in the middle of winter at least make the appointment in the morning. I want to talk!"

"No, no, I will miss the plane for you. Talk."

A.) He needs the slides of the tumor; may want the whole node removed for further testing. (Schwartz did not recommend that. God I'm fucking
pissed at him right now.)

B.) He felt some enlarged nodes in the soft tissue under my arm, using a technique that again, Schwartz has never done. He actually taught the nurse
pract how to do it on me. The man never stops teaching.

Herceptin infusions are more effective/"better" than Tykerb. Polar opposite of Schwartz's assertion that Tykerb is a "super Herceptin."

There's a possibility that this is not even Breast Cancer. This is not a good thing. This is a frightening, in the words of Gary, standing on the mountain facing death, about to fall off thing.

"The nodes don't really feel to me like Breast Cancer."

What. The. Fuck.
Fuckity fuck fuck?

What? What do you mean?"

"I'm not saying it's definitely a different kind of Cancer, but I think there's a possibility, that this isn't even breast Cancer at all. It's unusual for it to come back in these areas. Usually it's in the organs. That's why I need to see the slides [from orig diagnosis in 2007 and recurrence date this October]."

What?" I pretty much have my head on his desk at this point. Weren't it for the Xanax, I would've been crying. I could not wrap my head around this. "What kind of Cancer? I don't understand."

"Let's not get ahead of ourselves, but your HER2 NU number originally was five; now it's two, which is borderline." [HER2 NU relates to hormones and what kind of treatment best suits you, e.g. why I had


"Do you smoke?"

"I mean a little in college."

Dad: "She smokes pot!"

"Stop smoking the pot."

"I vaporize? Still?"

Get this shit fellow weed lovers:
It's not just the smoke—it's the fucking THC. THC interferes with Cancer treatment. It hinders the efficacy. It fucks with your hormones. Meaning: I can't eat it, I can't vaporize.

I can no longer be a proud pothead. What the hell am I gonna do in South Beach now? Ugh.

"Yeah," he says to all of us. "In Vermont and California these patients go in, they buy all the vaporizers—they all smoke it. So much so that the hospitals stopped checking for marijuana in
tox screens cause everyone in the hospitals in those states is high. All the time"


"So yeah, sorry, but stop eating it and smoking it."

"Okay. I'll stop."

What else? Well, let's all keep our fingers-crossed that this IS Breast Cancer. (Time to say those prayers/cast spells/light candles/send good vibes my way again please.) Yes, pray for breast cancer.

"What other kind of Cancer could it be? I mean, Jesus."

Look, I know I have a lot of religious Christian readers, but here's the deal. Us Jews say Jesus. A LOT. We just do. So, I'm sorry if it offends, but you'll just have to get used to it. In a room full of
Heebs, which natch Norton is, saying 'Jesus' is basically like saying 'wow.' We mean no offense.

Anyway: "You're jumping
waaay ahead. First I need to see the path slides to make sure it's Breast Ca. There's a slight probability it's not."

"But, what kind, like lymphoma?"


"Oh Jesus. Chemo?
Herceptin infusions? God, I don't want another port."

"Okay, I'm going to say something to you that is as important as any other part of Cancer treatment. I see people—actors, royalty, heads of state, dignitaries, you name it. The richest, most powerful people in the world. They come in and tell me, 'I don't want to lose my hair. I don't want a port. I don't want this, I don't want that.' These people are used to controlling the world. They tell me they don’t want chemo or this or that. I tell them what I think would save their lives. And let me tell you, lawyers are the worst
[looks at dad] are you a lawyer?”

“Yeah,” says Dad cracking up.

“For some reason, they just can’t relinquish control. But you’re not all bad. I’m having dinner with a lawyer tonight and he’s a very good person.”

Lolol. Is he not the funniest??

“A lot of these people leave and never speak to me again. So listen to me; I’m only telling you this cause I know you want to know. I’m telling you this because you just said you don’t want a port again; you don’t want Herceptin infusions; don’t want to lose your hair.

I’m telling you this because I tell it like it is [indicating that I’m the same] and I know you want to live.

But you can’t say things like 'I don't want this, I don't want that' to a lot of doctors—they’ll take that cue, know what you don't want, and offer you something else. That ‘something else’ may not save your life."

“I, uh, wow. Isn’t that completely unethical? For a doctor to know that a treatment that the patient doesn’t necessarily want is the one that will save their lives? Who does want this? I didn’t want chemo and a mastectomy, but I listened to you.”

“Well, it’s not an ethical thing. It’s more of a medical issue. The doctor should give you all the options, yes.

“Wow. That’s insane.”

That’s why Farrah Fawcett and Dominick Dunne went to Germany, I thought immediately. And their treatments didn’t work. As you know, Dominick Dunne was one of my favorite writers. He died the same day Oribe did my hair, August 21. I was speaking of Dominick today with someone, as I’m reading his final novel, which, unfortunately was not the book he’d hoped to write before his death. That black widow bitch Lily Safra who was beyond a shadow of a doubt somehow involved in her husband Edmond’s death in Monte Carlo and got away scott free. He was never able to write that book. So his final book, while entertaining, was more an amalgamation of his collected observations over his career.

And now—I’m on the plane back to Jax—I just finished the book. And stumbled upon this passage at the end. Dominick wouldn’t have seen Dr. Norton, but likely his doctor in New York was the best of the best a la Norton.

From Too Much Money:

“The party’s off. . . . I’m pretty sick. I just returned from a trip to the Dominican Republic, where I had a stem cell treatment, and now I’m going off to a clinic in Bavaria. I’d rather pursue those options than the chemo I’m being offered here. I have high hopes.”

He died within a few months. Seriously, is it only me that these fortuitous, portentous events happen to? I got the message from Norton; Dominick, wherever you are, in addition to being one of my literary role models, you’ve put some fire under my belly to stay alive.

No, I don’t want to wear the wig again. Yes, I hate this. Yes, it’s unfair. Yes, I’ll be crying in public, like I am now on a fucking Delta flight. No, I don’t want to gain weight, have a port again, enter the awful chemo ward, be radiated or whatever I need to do should this not be Breast Ca—please, god, let it be Breast Cancer—but I do want to live, for now anyway.

Saturday was a very fruitful career day for me. Saturday I was on a high. I’m now the Fashion Editor at Heeb. I’ll be writing a weekly Web column for them, as well as beefing up fashion coverage, attending the shows—everything I’ve always wanted. I then went to see my mentor, the editor in chief of ESPN magazine. He gave me the pep talk of a lifetime. Insisting that I email him my book now to read. Told me he’s proud of me—coming from a former professor who’s watched my writing grow over nearly ten years—that means the world to me.

But given that my life seems to consist of extreme ups and downs, I’m hoping hard that I can keep the up part, and NOT be plagued by the down. So yes, pray that I have merely Breast Cancer. That’s right—I want this to be Breast Cancer. Please, please, please, let me just have the Breast Cancer. I’m a pro by now and my dukes are still up. I just wish I knew exactly what the enemy is.

Monday, December 28, 2009

I've been in NYC for a week now and swear to god haven't had a breather. Between work stuff and friends (and my family who I'm staying with), I'm fucking slammed.

I will talk about this day in detail later, but Saturday I had the privilege of hanging out with Professor Irwin Corey, a legendary comic from the Smothers Brothers to Broadway to movies, this man is 96 years old and a PISTOL and a half. Watch him here. Making the publishing rounds today from Heeb to ESPN and drag queen bingo on the Bowery tonight. Don't ask, I'm always down for fabulous fags and fun.

Prof Irwin Corey at 94 years old performing. Google him. Also watch this Heeb clip; it's fucking hilarious. Seriously, it's like a minute but you *must* watch.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Well, snow decided to fuck w/my vacay too. As I was leaving for Atlanta Saturday, Meredith called to tell me Delta had cancelled their flights. So I drove up here anyway, thinking she'd get out by yesterday, and if not I would just chill with the Schoenbaums for an extra night or two.

After about a day of back and forth, we came up with a plan B, reminiscent of our Patsy and Edina days—a mini vacay in the city. So Mere and I are holing up in the W midtown this week. Then the fam comes in on Xmas, Christmas dinner at Brother and Saveira's—yes a Sikh/Jewish Christmas dinner. Should make for good material.

So now I've got a week in the city to play with. Maybe this one week per month in the city plan will work out after all, organically. I won't make it up in Jan, but February is Woodstock and all that good stuff.

Anyway, most likely won't be blogging unless something interesting happens at el aeropuerto manana. So Merry Christmas to all you goyim and happy belated Hanukkah to all you Heebs. If you're snowed in, make the most of it and try to dig up some (white, powdery nose-candy) er, I mean dirt on Brittany Murphy's death. What a dumbass. xoxo

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I'm trying to pack for four cities in three weeks—Jax, Atlanta, Savannah and New York. Was supposed to leave today and am still editing the wardrobe. Ugh.

Anywho, my colleagues are rolling along. You all know my friend, cheerleader, mentoress, person who talks me down from the ledge when I want to burn my manuscript, and all around bad-ass author Laura Zigman, so check out her TV appearance and book recs. Fast forward to minute 3:40.

Laura's the one who is credited with founding the Chick Lit genre. Hellooo Miss Thing! She's also a BC BRCA bitch like moi, and that's how she found my blog. Laura, can you do me a favor and declare this genre DEAD? Please? I'll take a hit out if you don't feel like committing litera-cide. If I read one more man-saves-woman happy ending I'm going to fucking hurl.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I am the Eggman, I am the Walrus, I am the Heeb Banner, goo goo gajoob ga goo goo gajoob. Wrinkles—pre-recent-Restylane.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Reading photos. LOOK at my fucking water-filled chemo arms. Seriously? I can do better push-ups in yoga than the buffest gays at Equinox and thanks to the WATER I look like I've never lifted a thing a day in my life. FUCK YOU Cancer. FuckyouFuckyouFuckyouFuckyouFuckyouFuckyouFuckyouFuckyouFuckyouFuckyouFuckyouFuckyouFuckyouFuckyouFuckyouFuckyouFuckyouFuckyouFuckyouFuckyouFuckyouFuckyouFuckyouFuckyouFuckyouFuckyouFuckyouFuckyouFuckyouFuckyouFuckyouFuckyou.

I'm still trying to digest the reading and why it left me emotionally crippled and crying yesterday over everything including this new Van Cleef ring that I was forced to be tortured with trying on thanks to mom 'visiting' the watch she's contemplating. (I only feel justified trying on such things when I'm with people who are actually buying.) And as I beheld its beauty on my chubby, chemo-dry digit, after what was apparently a very "successful" night in my career, all I thought was: I am never going to be able to buy MYSELF a present like that. Forget about a man or a husband or a boyfriend—I'm not one of those girls who inspires gift-giving from the opposite sex. I've never had the (what I think is odd) experience of having a man take me shopping and buy me what I wanted. I think of nothing lovelier when my uncle goes into a store and buys Kim a bauble, or when dad has jewelry from Landsberg shipped to Jax so mom can choose her birthday present.

But I digress. Just because I've accepted these facts doesn't mean I have to be happy about them. And I'm not. I hate my life. I hate Cancer. I hate the fact that I don't feel like a sexual being anymore. My body is just a shell now; all pretty on the outside and diseased on the inside. I don't know what's worse—being ugly on the outside and healthy on the inside like I was in college, or the way I am now.

And I digressed again naturally. I was only on here to share this link, which I didn't know about until someone texted me that I looked hot on the Heeb site. So this is my first (and likely last) real author profile/Q&A. And you guys know I don't talk about S.E.X. here—that is the one area that is not only boring in my life but also off-limits to the public—but in this interview I do. Because it was nearly 10 years ago, and I had three questions to answer one of which was sex-specific, I basically had to.

So enjoy. Sigh. Have I mentioned that I'm still in bed, slept till 4 p.m. and can't even summon the strength to go get food? Yeah, living the life as usual. And that I'm not moving back to New York for some time—probably until I have enough money to either buy that damn Van Cleef or put a downpayment on a condo. So, like, never, apparently. Another day living the dream people.

"Stephanie Green: Cancer Is the New Black"

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Wow, my brain really thinks I'm a loser.

Nightmare, Monday night about Books & Books reading Friday night: I run out of time and unable to have a cocktail before the reading.

Nightmare, last night: My friends get me *super* high and I'm too stoned to be funny.

I look forward to tomorrow night's escapade in the membrane. Actually, I think I'll refill my Klonopin scrip today so I can get some peaceful sleep. I'm actually more excited than nervous, but try telling my subconscious that. Sometimes it's hard to differentiate between excitement and anxiety. Lately I'm so unaccustomed to mere excitement without the attachment of something bad that it's even harder.

Anywho, so the reading. It's going to rock, actually. I'm going down to the store tomorrow to scope it out and meet with the events director. I basically have the mic for an hour from 8 to 9 p.m. AND, so does Wally! When Cristina said super dog friendly, well, Wally is as much a part of my story as anyone.

So I've got like a 20 to 30 minute reading and then I've got the rest of the time for Q & A etc. I'm esp glad about the Q & A since Schwartz, Chad, a couple of the Sinai nurses, Shrink etc will be on hand.

You know that Everybody Wears Sunscreen Baz Luhrmann remix video that I'm. AAAAAARGH FUCKING FIREFOX! I just lost all my Pulitzer-winning text about Oribe.

Fucking A. Version Two: A line in the song is do something every day that scares me. Not much scares or intimidates me in this town. With the exception of Oribe, Diety of Hair. Just the whole situation—like will he remember me? Have they issued a restraining order against that crazy, obsessed fan who brought in a 17-year-old book to sign? It's been on my short list to bring him one of the Heeb fliers so he could see both the cut, the gold pomade, and to invite him to the reading. Maybe that's what was scaring me—like having the nerve even to invite someone as big as him to an event starring me. While I'm quite comfortable performing in front of a crowd who will be filled with familiar faces, I'm not sure I could handle it with famous faces in the audience.

Here's another one of Laura's (unretouched) brill photos.

I'm saving these keepahs (sp whatever) to auction off one day for BC research $$.

Any-fucking-way. I went in and the hottie assistant who helped Oribe do me took a little reminding.

"Oh yeah! You brought in like this folder full of stuff for him and your whole crew and photographer!"

"Uh, yeah, the Versace book."

The Guru wasn't in yest, but I left him a postcard with a note on the back. I asked Hottie what Oribe charges. You could've knocked me over with a vat of the 24 Karat Gold Pomade when they told me his price. It's still the price of a (flat) pair of Choos, however it's about half of what Fekkai, Hershberger and Blandi charge. I think he's grandfathered his prices since the '90s. Cause I remember even back then it was only $100 cheaper at the most. LOVE him even more for that.

So now I'm on "The List" for January. Gracie who I gather runs the place for him totally knew who I was, took my name down and promised to get the card to Oribe. The List is not a BS exclusivity thing—because Oribe is literally jetting all over the world at a moment's notice, they don't know his travel sched till the last minute. Asked her to give me as much lead time as poss—cause that, not my doctors, shall determine my January schedule. Natch.

Tomorrow I'll have an update on my husband, er, Cancer I mean. Schwartz is running a FISH path report on my biopsy. He took me off Tykerb this week because of the side effects. When BC recurs, 25 percent of the time the strain can be different. I was HER 2 NU positive—being positive was what determined that I would get Herceptin. If this Cancer is not HER 2, he can put me on "better" drugs. Kinda hoping it has changed. I simply will not be able to live with the burning feet side-effect for the rest of my life. No fucking way. Hello, Manolos? My fucking sneakers have seen more action these past couple of weeks than ever. And I only have one pair of "cool" sneaks, black Costume National that I got from an outlet mall in Italy two years ago on our Amalfi Coast trip.

Okay, I'm off to traffic court.

And PS—I'm going to read a blog excerpt or two Friday night. Not sure which ones and am open to suggestion. OR should I take a really big risk—do something that really does scare me—and read an excerpt from Cancer Is the New Black. I'm actually thinking of "This is Not A Cancer Memoir" as an alternate working title. Whaddya think?

And Happy Birthday to Mel's hubby Chappy! Soo wish I were in the city for the soiree!

Monday, December 07, 2009

My Crazy Father

Saturday night. I'm laid up with my feet on fire at home, chilling and wardrobing for this Friday night. I text mom when I settle on what I'll be borrowing from her for the night.

Me: Can I borrow the Chopard, Van Cleef earrings and multicolored bangles for Fri? I'm done with the Louboutins. [Lest I get too greedy.]

Mom: Sure! If u r not wearing Louboutins then I will. [The Greens are arriving with the McNetts Friday afternoon.]

Two hours later a picture text from their good friend Nancy P. comes in.

Nancy P.: Subject: Your Crazy Father


Me: Oh Jesus, LMAO where r u?

Nancy: what is LMAO? bar mitzvah

Me: Lol. Can't blv Andrew hasn't taught you that one

Well, then the photos started coming fast and furious.

Subject: Blogworthy


I believe this is Gary's Dishalicious debut. Mazel mazel!

And I just *know* what's going on on the other end of that phone, for I've witnessed their shenanigans for 34 years now. Love it. Can't even imagine having uncool parents and family friends. Party like rockstars people no matter your age; you've only got so much time.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

The bottom of my feet hurt from the Tykerb while: doing anything barefoot. Sleeping. Waking—that's the worst. Wearing flip flops. There is like a burn pattern on the soles of my tootsies from the ball down the outside and into the heel.

The bottom of my feet do not hurt while: wearing Louboutins, doing yoga and in sneakers working out. Silver lining of this Chemo side effect? You guessed it; excuse to shoe shop and more incentive to go to the gym. (As if the inflated flotation devices that are now my arms weren't enough motivation.) Man, I would be in serious, serious bankruptcy-level trouble if I still lived within walking distance of Bergdorf while having Cancer.

Friday, December 04, 2009

I was so beyond touched, buoyed and amazed by the eloquence and insight of a long-time reader's comment today that I'm posting it. Obviously well-written and humorous, this commenter verbalized what I've been struggling with about my memoir and marketing it to editors. How to say that it's not just a "Cancer Memoir?" As if I'd even read a Cancer memoir. They're depressing, no? This comment is the best Cancerversary present that I could ask for, so a huge thank you, Anon.

"You know, I've read your blog for much longer than 2 years and not commented, but tonight I feel oddly compelled (gin and tonic, be damned!).

And I'm going to comment on "wasting two years of your life on cancer."

Yes, that.

Ok, here's the thing: as an admittedly blessed 29 year-old, I've never had to deal with breast cancer on a really gritty, in-your-face personal level. It's not going to sound nice, but the chances that I would opt to read a blog centered around BC are slim. It's just not something most "healthy" folks are going to seek out.

But I found your blog through Gawker (I know, I know) some time ago. I was drawn into your voice on the blog - funny, current and sometimes even hilariously scathing. I have read you loyally since that time.

And it just so happens that someone I've never met but found endlessly amusing and accessible happened to be diagnosed with BC. It even started as something in the background - this was certainly not an activist blog. I mean, I came for Prada and ended up with Tykerb. Steph, I know what Tykerb is now. I mean, that's something.

And that's my point. For two years I've been reading about your experience. And I've been learning. And if I'm really lucky I may never need that information - I mean, I pray to whomever/whatever that nipple tats never become a reality to me or loved ones. But if luck has nothing to do with it and statistics come into play, I'm going to need to know about this beast. And now I do.

And that's pretty powerful. Because there's no way I'm the only person that has been affected by your writing.

I know you want to make it as a novelist, but as far as I'm concerned, you made it as a true writer a long time ago. And these two years are probably the most painful and draining of your life, but I can't help but think they've not been wasted."

Thursday, December 03, 2009


I can't believe it's been so long. I have good excuses though.

As most of you know I was supposed to move from South Beach today. Well, after a major internal mental struggle, I realized that I'm not totally ready to leave permanently.

So I'm keeping my apartment, with the intention of spending about a week per month here. I have no concrete plans about New York yet; I've learned not to plan too far ahead when Cancer is your life partner.

I will be in the City for a week a month as well. That's about all I can plan right now. Basically, it's more fiscally feasible to keep my apartment here and come here for checkups than at Sloan. I'd be paying $800+ for Norton visits, when they're covered here.

On that note, I had my blood work done Monday. Schwartz is content with the numbers and when I talked to the nurse today, she said that a 15-point drop from October to December is "making good progress."

The fucking side-effects though. They're bizarre. The Xeloda has me retaining water in my arms of all places, so you can imagine how thrilled I am with that since I never liked my arms anyway. Chad has me on Alfalfa capsules, nature's diuretic apptly. The most troubling/annoying/painful thing I've got going on right now—aside from wanting to stick pins in my arms to release the fluid—is pain and irritation on the soles of my feet. This is from the Tykerb. So I awake in the morning with a pseudo burning feeling on my soles to the point where I can't even put on my flip flops. Thank God I've got travertine floors, which cool the tootsies. So now I'm in the habit of slathering Regenecare (sp) to Lidocaine the feet in socks. Not being able to wear flip flops in Miami = not being able to wear black boots in New York.

So my arms are fat. My clavicle area is completely swollen, which sucks because there's nothing I like more than seeing my clavicle bone protrude in that too-thin way. Yes, I'm psycho about my weight, thus it's starvation central until my Heeb reading.

And I'm getting very excited about that. A lot of people are showing, including my amaaaazing onco Schwartz and some of the other members of my team. That being said, Schwartz will avail himself for Breast Cancer questions for you ladies. Loooove him. And of course the Shrink, Acupuncturist, Yogis, parents, family friends and probably a bunch of weirdos who are turned on by yarmulke covered tatas. You can pick up the fliers locally at Base and Books & Books on Lincoln Road.

Finally, tomorrow is the TWO YEAR anniversary of my initial Breast Cancer diagnosis. Last year I flitted off to Chicago to celebrate. This year though I want to go to the Sante D'Orazio and Francesco Clemente Basel bash, most likely I will be too emotional. Last year, I thought I was in remission. This year, not so much. Maybe retail therapy. I don't know. Alls I do know is that I never imagined I'd waste two years of my life on Cancer. So not cool.