Thursday, January 28, 2010

Choo, Dior for Sale!

On that note, I've been dragging my feet on eBaying some of my items—when they don't sell it's so annoying to have to pay! I've got this amazing Dior that I've worn about 10 times in 8 years (see below). It's black deerskin with gold hardware. I loooove this bag I just never wear! This bag was upwards of $1,500 years ago. I will happily part with it for much, much less. It's probably worth about $2,500 in today's ridic handbag price scale.

This could work as the poshest diaper bag thingy/whatever you call your lil pregnancy purses, as it has like 20 pockets for all kinds of shit. It even has a special cell phone slip inside.

And this is the worst—I went out and bought this pair of fabulous, camel patent Choos to wear to my Heeb reading and then wore the gold Guccis instead. I simply cannot do four-inchers. Consequently, these have never been worn and are actually one of a kind. Size 37. For some reason the Choo in Merrick Park (Coral Gables) was the only one to get them. Why Florida of all places, no idea. You know my camera is ghetto, but you also know you can trust me when I tell you they're fab. Consequently, thanks to ghetto camera, the shoe color is true camel—even though it looks a lil off in these shots. These retailed for $595. (I got them on sale, natch.)

Editor's note—Danielle has first dibs on the Choos. Dior bag still avail but posting today on eBay.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Buh-Bye Roxy the Unfriendly Ghost

Yesterday's phoner with Dr. Laura:

"How are you doing with the anger?"

"Oh, well, let me tell you about the Roxy curse and the antiques show Saturday. I've been yelling at that bitch all weekend."

I'd sort of thought a psychologist—even though I've been with her for 10 years now and we have more than a patient-doc relationship—wouldn't give much credence to the afterlife and her patient yelling at her dead grandmother.

Just the opposite.

"I had a friend who gave my family a whole bunch of stuff from the Czar of Russia, Nicholas or whoever, you know who I'm talking about. And all of these gifts were given in good conscious."


"But one of the things was this priceless, heavy, three foot high [vase or something like that]. And when this woman gave it to me she said, 'Now you'd BETTER make sure it doesn't get stolen!'"

I think Dr. L lives in the 90210; so you know, I'm sure a cat burglar is scoping out that pristine, cop-patrolled area. (If you know the city of BH, well, it's like, pretty fucking safe.)

So anyway, this lady gave her this object, and for years Dr. L. had it displayed prominently—ready for the robbers' taking! Then they had to move out of the house for a few months, so she packed it up and has since not unpacked it yet. 'Gifts' given in such a spirit—not so great, no matter how priceless they are.

"Would you ever just donate it to a museum?"

"I've thought about it and been approached, but one of my son's friends accidentally broke off one of the ivory bits so it's not museum quality anymore."

"Okay. Interesting."

"So this Roxy Curse—"

"I swear I think she's in Hell, cursing me. Mom agrees. So, yeah, I was walking around the house yelling at her and telling her to 'bring it on, biatch.'" Actually, I think I called her a cunt. That's more appropriate.

"Well, if she is a spirit visiting you and 'fucking with you' getting angry at her is what she wants. So what you need to do is just let her go. Get her out of your life."

"I've already saged the fuck out of this place."

"So if that's not working for you, then you're just going to have to mentally get rid of her."

"I can do that. I can ignore Roxy. I can totally do that."

Easy peasy, right? So I'm henceforth ignoring the hateful and haunting spirit of Roxy. Take that, GRANDMA! (We were forbidden from calling her anything but Roxy.)

Wherever you are, you're not in my life anymore. What kind of spirit hangs around for SEVENTEEN years fucking with her family? An evil one, for damn sure. Unwittingly to her—and perhaps this has something to do with her recent spirit shenanigans—she's brought me around to one of my cousins. Who is the bomb and whom I'll meet for the first time in NY in two weeks. I'll bet you one of her beloved baubles that she's petrified that I'm going to get even more information on her from Will. His grandpa and my great-grandpa were brothers. And he says he's heard some crazy Roxy stories too. Sooo, anyway, aside from her precious 'things,' connecting with Will could just be the best thing Roxy's ever been responsible for. Except birthing my mom and aunt of course.

To this day—since Roxy had a mean old potty mouth directed at her children—Mom never curses. Like never. She'll say 'darn it all.' Or something along those lines. Now, my mom is super-sweet, but she can bitch along with the rest of us like any proper Jewess. But can you imagine having the restraint never to curse? Fuck—you all know I can't. I think fuck is perhaps the best word ever—oh so versatile!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Broken and the Beautiful

Lest you all think I'm exaggerating about the Roxy curse. I really don't exaggerate much here. My life is just fucking bananas. And I don't even delve into my personal social life. That's going to be a major hurdle to deal with in Cancer Is the New Black. (Yeah, that's the partially edited 300-plus-page manuscript adjacent to the baubles. Christ, I hope Roxy's curse can't extend to the manuscript.) Though I really don't editorialize my narrative in that way—it's more pure reportage. My editorializing is done here, which is why I love blogging so much. It's really embarrassing for me to write about S.E.X. because I'm actually a total prude and incredibly private about that part of my life.

The cursed bag.

The goddamned waste of $300 Le Coultre.

One of my favorites—the pocket watch from Edith Ringling's estate. It's the other side, the face that broke.

Mom's restored Tiffany from her high school or junior high years. Thank god this one didn't break; so that $300 wasn't totally wasted.

It's finally beautiful here again, so I've thrown in a (terrible) photo of my view from my couch/'home office.'

A nice distraction, my view. Sometimes I have to remind myself that life isn't all that bad when you've got a view like this. I do so love this view and this apartment. I woke up with some very strange hip/side pain on the left. Which is either sleeping related or another Cancer spot! Let's hope for the former; I'm heading to Chad to see if he can needle it away.

But first a phoner with Dr. Laura, who's going to kick my ass and try to make me optimistic.

I did—while on the toilet nonetheless—realize that my work is not yet done here so I won't die yet. Cool? It's you guys—my longtime readers and commenters who inspire me to move forward with my writing. I've come to think of you guys as like, my grandfathered-in fans. It's weird, I know, but I do have personal relationships with some of you. Anyway, you know who you are and I can assure you your comments and emails and such are always valued.

PS, speaking of toilets, I highly recommend Kathy Griffin's memoir Official Book Club Selection. It's not only LOL funny, but pretty fascinating and poignant—she's led a very interesting life. It's one of the few books that scores in all three of my book-reading categories—gym book (fast-paced, entertaining); toilet book (so addictive you just can't even put it down for a short poop); and bedtime book (something I can look forward to before crashing out.)

Yup, girls have toilet reading material too. TMI? Too bad. Who do you think invented the concept of toilet reading? It's fairly odd right?

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Curse of the Jade Roxy

Stupid title, I know. Allow me to properly introduce you to Roxy, my mother's long-dead diva mother, as she really did curse me this weekend.

Roxanne Schwalbe Paver was a born and bred Manhattanite. Grew up on the UES, matriculated at Dalton and NYU. (Dalton is a Gossip Girl—yet coed—esque private school.) She was an only child, and apparently, quite the catch in those days. Before marrying my awesome, also long-departed grandfather Stanley, she was set up with all the power Jews. "Marrying well" has always existed amongst the Heebs, clearly. She dated Schuberts (the theatre family) and Pressmans (Barneys) and the like.

Roxy was a daddy's girl; her mom was apparently pretty batshit, like everyone else in my ancestral lineage. Her dad, Dave, and her mother Tassle (sp)—yes, Tassle, don't ask me—divorced when she was young and Tassle up and moved to Las Vegas of all places. Where she lived and played the slots until she died, which warranted the Green's first family vacay to Vegas, back when the Mirage was THE place to be. That's how bad relations were between Tassle and Roxy—she left it up to Mom and Dad to go deal with her mother's death. Can you imagine?

Anywho, Roxy and Stanley met—much of my abrasive, elitist, ball-busting behavior is in line with Roxy's. So I can imagine my larger-than-life grandfather thinking this ballsy woman was the bee's knees. Apparently he wasn't such a great judge of character. But he liked strong women; I think that's the part of my personality that he most respected and loved. Given that he died when I was 17 and a freshman at Emory, I suppose I'll never know.

Back to Roxy, The Curse and her complete ineptitude at doing anything for herself. It's like she was born with an imaginary assistant or something. So they met and married young and I believe that Roxy was like 20 or 21 when she popped out mom. Clearly, too young, but for Roxy, even worse. The examples are too numerous to name—but the quintessential one is that she had a wake-up call service awaken Mom and Aunt Cheryl for school. Her days in Sarasota were spent at one of two places. John Baldwin when it existed—an upscale retail shop—and when Baldwin folded, McCarver & Moser jewelers. (Those lovely boys ended up opening up a second shop in East Hampton.)

I'm not exaggerating when I say she spent her days there. Customers probably thought she worked there, and was just the laziest salesperson ever. Roxy was a fashion and jewelry addict. A Social by default. While Stanley and his family were working hard to develop Sarasota, Roxy was, well, shopping. And couldn't even be bothered to pick up the kids from school. I think they took the public bus. Seriously.

Some of my favorite Roxy stories: Stanley came home one day, saw a new plant and remarked, "Oh great, now I have to hire a gardener?"

Another one that just came to light: Stanley was away or something and had put Roxy in charge of decorating the house he'd built for her—they were in real estate. Well, according to Mom, she couldn't even lift the phone to hire a decorator. This went on for so long that Stanley had to hire someone for her.

They divorced. She was 31 or 32, with two daughters and I do believe she invented the Latchkey concept of parenting. I must issue a caveat about Roxy—had she been nice to her children, perhaps she would just be a funny character in the fabric of my family's life. Well, she wasn't nice to them. In fact, she was a complete bitch. Never told them she loved them. No physical affection. No cares about them at all.

I think the wake-up call service pretty much sums it up. So they divorced, and whatever the custodial arrangement was, Mom and Cheryl had to adapt to Stanley's playboy lifestyle—golf, boys' nights out etc. But he was still kind, and fabulous and loving and just an all around badass.

Having connected with a cousin on Roxy's side recently, that got Mom talking about some never-before-heard stories.

I was sitting at the breakfast table when I was home recently and Mom casually threw in something about Roxy taking flying lessons post-Stanley split and Mom and Cheryl being her passengers on a prop jet. WTF. First of all, in those days, I don't think flying lessons on private planes were all that common. Certainly not for a thirtysomething Roxy type.

So Roxy decides to take flying lessons and then forces Cheryl and Mom to go in the plane with her while she's at the helm and the instructor is shotgun. Apparently, Mom never got over this one. I cannot even imagine that scene.

"What the hell Mom? I can't believe I've never heard this! Roxy actually did something?!"

"Yeah, I guess it was her post-divorce thing."

"Chanel had probably just come out with an aviator line."

"Or John Baldwin was having a sale on stuff like that."

Seriously people, there is no other explanation.

Okay, time to focus, I actually have an assignment to do today.

Well, all my jewels come from Roxy via Mom. Unfortunately, aside from to-die-for stories, her physical possessions are Roxy's legacy.

Soooo the crazy bitch actually wrote in her will that none of her progeny were ever allowed to sell her baubles; we could remake them at the jeweler, but we could never sell. Or she would curse us. Literally in the will—she'd curse us.

Remember the Jaeger le Coultre watch I found in one of mom's 'junk' bags of Roxy's jewelry? Ugly as sin, but definitely not junk. I had it restored completely by my watch guy on 47th St. Picked it up last month.

"We-ell," Mom says, "I would tell you not to sell it because of the Roxy Curse, but you have Cancer so what else could she do?"

She could, apparently, as Durrett can attest, turn me into a Hot. Fucking. Mess.

Saturday D & I went to the antiques show here to show and tell and get an appraisal from a watch guy on 47th who had a booth. (We never found him; Roxy probably took a hit out on him.)

We walk in and I'm toting two Chanels—one packed with baubles. When you deal with 47th St., often you carry around your stuff in plastic baggies. I took out the bag that contained the le Coultre, the vintage pocketwatch that Sotheby's informed me was once Edith Ringling's (Ringling Bros. founder's wife, based in Sarasota, purchased from Roxy's estate jeweler), a restored Tiffany watch, another pocketwatch that I'd never paid attention to etc. I dropped the fucking bag on the way in on the hard floor of the MB Convention Center where Art Basel is held.

THREE watches shattered. The Ringling—ugh, I'm very upset about that one—face shattered, the le Coultre cover and two other layers of it came apart and the other pocketwatch's face shattered as well. Let me tell you, I have years of experience toting around jewels in Ziplocs. I have never, ever, broken anything.

We hadn't even entered the exhibition hall. I mean, come on, could there be more palpable evidence of the afterlife? Well, I've been cursing the bitch back all weekend. I would sell everything to spite her—if I weren't such a jewelry whore.

So now, after spending $300 on repairs for this stupid ugly le Coultre—and it took my watch guy THREE MONTHS to refurbish it—it's like in layers in a plastic bag. And the thing is only worth about $800 to $1k. I was *such* a mess that every jewelry booth we visited chastised me for my jewelry-toting technique and one watch guy even repacked everything for me. Another came running after me cause I also was hoping to get a battery for my Tank, and I'd dropped a screw/post.

Oy vey!! So that was my weekend escapade. Thank you Roxy!

I cannot wait to hear more Roxy stories from my cousin when I see him in NYC next month. Maybe I can get to the bottom of the childhood that fucked her up beyond belief.

I did just see Michael Caine at Publix, so maybe this will be a better week than last. Ta and happy, healthy Monday. Let's hope for a curse-free several days.

Stanley, his second wife Sara and Roxy a couple of years before they died.

Editor's note: Jan. 26. Tassle was Sara's mother! Roxy's was named Jeanne. Jeez, proof of just how little we know about Roxy's mom. Mom told me; I never would've even remembered.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Well, this week has really sucked ass. I suppose when you kickstart a week with your first trip back to the chemo ward in I don't even know how many fucking months, it's not a good omen. Herceptin is given to me in the chemo ward even though it's not chemo. There are no side-effects.

I've been in excruciating back pain from the fucking Xeloda cycle Norton suggested. Tomorrow will be two fucking weeks I've been off this shit! Imagine just how toxic a drug is that takes that long to get out of your system. I tried everything—even (unaffordable) acupuncture sessions two days in a row. Finally, after going to Vinyasa yoga yesterday and not being able to do like one-half of what Nicolay was teaching and barely being able to handle 40 mins of cardio afterward, I hit a physical wall. And I just had to give in. I called Schwartz for Vicodin. Even those didn't help more than just fucking me up. So yesterday from about 3 p.m. till midnight, I marooned myself on the couch with my Tempurpedic pillow, Wally, heating pad etc. It's so comforting with Wally, who knows when I'm in pain and hangs tight with me. What will I do without my little booger? The longest opposite-sex relationship I'll ever have—14 years.

Wednesday, I got an odd call from Shrink. Below conversation is taken from an email to a mutual friend and patient. (I write emails in all lowercase and I ain't fixing it here.)

"so, ilan calls me from his cell today in a very non ilan [professional] demeanor/voice:

"i'm with pharmacist and we think there's a drug out there that might be good for you."

"mentally or physically?"

"both! it's a synthetic form of marijuana."

"you mean marinol?"

"yes! [like we'd never discussed this before. we have. several times]."

"yeah, but you said i'd have to eat a whole bottle to get high."

"true! but a pill or two might give you the same effect and then you wouldn't have to keep making your brownies." [though i find baking brownies fun and therapeutic.]

so, i uh think that ilan and pharmacist basically marijuana "Intervention"ed me and are attempting to placate my weed addiction and enjoyment of with marinol. wtf. only me. nonetheless, i have a bottle of marinol in the fridge."

I got a real kick out of the fact that it reads (handwritten) on the label: "refrigerate." Just like real weed! I'm only on 5 mgs now, and clearly a pothead like me will need a higher dosage.

So let's take stock of just what I ingested yesterday to numb body and mind. I'm at the point of crying in public again. I wanted to bawl yesterday in yoga. I'm usually so good at yoga—the only 'sport' I've ever been good at. So much so that when I'm not up to par, the instructors actually throw in poses that they think would help me. Yeah, the Equinox instructors—esp Javier on Saturdays and Joey and Nicolay for those of you SoBe members—are amazing.

Back to yesterday. Came home, popped a Marinol. (Kinda nice, mellow high a la Xanax or Klon.) Popped a Vicodin. Didn't help. Popped another Vicodin. Watched The Invention of Lying—couldn't have gotten through this week without Gervais, and those of you who think he sucked at the Golden Globes, well, I don't think I can be friends with you anymore. And part of Inglorious Basterds, which I am enjoying despite my dislike of Tarantino's—uber-pathetic-shoot-em-up-pseudo-masculinity and Brad Pitt's horrific overacting. I mean really, he's gotten as bad as Jason Schwartzman.

Anyway, two Klons before bed, another two Vicodins and still restless sleep—though better than I've had all week.

Sigh. What. Ever. I wonder if I moved to a city where nobody knows my name if I could lead a normal life. A life where every cute guy I meet doesn't know that I'm a dead woman walking. At the very least, it would be nice to fall in love before I bite it.

Moreover, Lady Gaga every time I turn on the TV—what is the BFD? The new Madonna? I don't think so. She's unattractive, her style is beyond atrocious—Thierry Mugler meets Patricia Field in the 90s—and her songs are good, but still. What is the big deal? I don't get it. Then again, I contend that nobody past present or future will top the music of my parents' generation. Beatles, Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, Joni Mitchell, etc and Lady Gaga. Pshaw.

Yeah, I'm hating everything and nearly everyone this week, most especially myself, natch. So what. Cut me some slack. At least—sliver of a silver lining—the weather is beautiful and I can go soak my sorrows in the sun and pool downstairs. Which is exactly what I'm going to do. Hope everyone else's week has been better than mine. And if not, do share your craptastic stories in comments. A group vent may not be a bad idea.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Norton, I love you to death—hopefully not literally on my part—but could kill you in lieu of this one-week Xeloda cycle. A week+ after I stopped, my back is still in agony. So much so that despite acupuncture yesterday, I'm going back to Chad for a massage today. Swear to fucking god, just one week without pain, okay?

It's a beyond-beautiful day here in South Beach, so I went to the pool for some much needed Vitamin D. But, I multi-tasked and—wait for it— finally began editing Cancer Is the New Black. And to my surprise, it's not nearly as cringeworthy as I suspected. There were a lot of LOLs. I got through 40 pages.

Fortunately, I've got several VIPs in publishing willing to read the book for me before I send it out to agents. However, given that Gary was my original mentor (and former professor) he's first in line. He knows me best. He offered, well commanded really that I email him the manuscript, saying something along the lines of "Just fucking send it to me already. Now! Stop listening to your shrinks and listen to me!"

Somehow that was easy to do; to listen to him as opposed to my shrinks—though Gary isn't the one who just called me to offer up a Marinol scrip;). So Gary has the first look—Gary who is as brutally honest as yours truly. He won't pull any punches, has known me for nine years now and is, well, a VVIP and a dear, dear friend, whose input will be priceless. And probably a little hard to take, but hey, must thicken this fragile artiste's skin.

Anywho, major hurdle accomplished. I'm like 1/8th the way through editing this monster now.

Aaaargh my back hurts. Can't yoga. Cannot. Fucking. Sleep. If I can't sleep, you know it's serious. It's to the point where I'd definitely pop a Perc or Vicodin if I had 'em. Or to where I need to go get a Tempurpedic mattress to supplement my pillow. I may try some herbal Chinese pain meds if this continues.

Okay, gym, acupuncture massage and dinner with Joni at Canyon Ranch Grill. What a healthy day! Hmmm, that's odd, no?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Esprit de Green

In fifth or sixth grade, I declared that I would wear nothing but Esprit for the entire school year. For some reason, the parents and Roxy gave into this absurd request. (Today, even I wouldn't want to be glued to one brand for a year. How boring.)

On one of our first Griswold-esque family vacays, we arrived at a hotel in D.C. only to find out that Dad had booked us for the entire wrong week. Randomly, we ran into the Rosenblums, and ending up hanging out with them. We took a limo ride around D.C. to see the sites. And apparently Lee Ann and I did some amateur modeling. She found this photo amongst her brother's stuff.

This was also the year that I insisted on wearing my hair slicked back on one side with mousse. Yeah, so the right side of my Sun-In-d hair was poufy Jewfroish, and the left side was slicked down with so much mousse that Dana's mom Nancy thought a bird had shit in my hair one day. I am so not kidding. Ask Dana.

We're all so lucky to have friends like these, whose grandparents were BFFs. They lived a much more glam life than we do though—summers in Europe, yachts everywhere and Chanel suits as uniforms.

But anyway . . . My first Herceptin treatment is tomorrow. Friday I found out the full results of the PET scan. Some of the nodes in the sternum shrunk; others grew. The nodes in the neck shrunk by 50 percent in some cases. Unfort, the PET picked up on a new area of concern on my right pelvic bone—I don't even know where the fuck this bone is. My vjayjay? Aside from my hip bones, I don't feel any bones down there. So, the new spot on the pelvic bone is too small for the PET to determine what it is. Obv it's Ca, but small enough not to worry too much about. Apptly, PETs are notoriously bad with bone reads—that's why people get MRIs and CTs. Although it won't change treatment protocol, I will likely get an MRI for peace of mind.

Sooo, the new treatment regiment: Herceptin infusions (in the fucking chemo ward) every three weeks combined with Tykerb and possibly Xeloda—Norton and Schwartz will talk tomorrow about whether to keep the Xeloda. As bad as the side-effects are, I think I'd be more comfortable with some kind of chemo mixed into the cocktail.

I was planning on going solo tomorrow, but then the rents offered to come so Dad is driving down today. I warned him that I'd be glued to the Golden Globes fashion coverage—YAAAAAAAAY Joan is back on E! One good thing to come out of all this Cancer crap is that it's def brought dad and I closer together, given that he's had Prostate Ca and knows what Cancer feels like. I get my temper and my bawdy side from Dad, and I still remember when he was on out-of-control hormones, him almost getting us kicked out of Asia de Cuba in New York. Ha.

So how am I feeling? Like a guinea pig. There is no common sense in Cancer. It's a crap shoot and I'm the chips (or whatever the fuck is used in craps. Dice?). Schwartz and Norton are optimistic this will work. I'm beyond not. I mean, nothing else has worked. Nothing. Not the strongest Jet Fuel chemo out there. Herceptin is my last chance before being told I should go back on real chemo. Which, well, fuck that.

Tomorrow will indeed be tough as hell. I know that as soon as I step back into the chemo ward, see my nurses, etc I'm going to have a terrible visceral reaction and break down. No happy photos this time. No "1 down 7 to go signs." Maybe video, I dunno. In the two years of horrific treatments, I rarely cried at the hospital, now I walk around bawling and not giving a fuck.

This disease may have some mind-over-matter component, but that doesn't mean I have to be positive. I do not have a positive attitude people. I can believe I can beat this, but I don't have to be "positive" shiny happy about it. Just because I have a sense of humor about this doesn't equate to me having a positive attitude.

Moreover I've changed up my talismen. Clearly, they didn't work. I've shelved the Wiccan health candle. And switched out the Indian pendant Brother got me for an old ring of my grandpa, Mom's dad, Stanley, who was a total bad-ass and I know is looking down on me.

That's all for now. I'm heading to NY for Fashion Week just for the helluv it. Must book flight today.

I won't be able to type during chemo now, as I have no port and the needle will be in my arm or hand I guess. The infusion lasts 90 minutes. So Mondays are chemo days once again. What a life I'm leading. What a fucking life.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Just a little good news, that's all I ever hope for. It's why, without fail, I do a mitzvah every day. Lately it's been made easy—the Publix across the street is collecting for the Special Olympics and the Haitian thing. I always give a dollar, even if I'm not flush. But today, whatever fighting spirit I had left in me has now grown wings and flown away from this toxic house.

I live by the principle of Karma. Yet for the past three years, you'd think—given my luck—that I walked around South Beach with an Uzi picking off people left and right.

I can't think of one really fabu bit of news I've received since the great gift that is Fucking Breast Cancer. No news, typically good news in medicine. So I waited for Schwartz to call me today. I was not medicated when I saw the "Mammo" pop up on caller ID. But I was already expecting not the 'best' news anyway. So I took it like a woman. And as I suspected, I am indeed a dead woman walking, running and yoga-ing.

The PET revealed a "mixed response." Translation: The nodes in the neck have shrunk (good). The nodes behind the sternum have grown (vvv bad news). Why? Schwartz and Norton think that the Tykerb is what's working and the chemo isn't. The full report tomorrow will reveal how much the sternum nodes have grown and how much the neck ones have shrunk; obv it'd be nice if the sternum nodes had only increased marginally, but I'm not holding my breath for anything anymore.

I know I've said this time and time again here, but I genuinely believe it now. This fucking thing is going to kill me. Soon. Like, I'm banking on being dead by 40. Let's look at the facts: None of the chemo I put my body through in 2008 even worked. Sure, maybe it kept the Cancer from spreading, but it didn't eradicate it. I was never really in remission. So, basically everything I've done, what I've been told to do, what is in all experts' opinions the best course of treatment has failed. Chemo failed. Mastectomy, meh. Herceptin was, in Schwartz' and Norton's opinion, the only thing that my fucking HER2NU Breast Ca really responded to. Herceptin and Her2NU are BFFs. I'd rather have Dana.

So, what now? Norton and Schwartz have decided to take me off the Xeloda (chemo); they don't think it was working at all and that is the drug that is causing my hands to hurt even while typing this. Monday, I go back on Herceptin infusions. Every three weeks, report to the chemo ward, get a needle stuck in my arm and sit hooked up to an IV while god knows what kind of chemicals are pumped into my eroding insides.

That study that I linked to last week, about Herceptin plus Tykerb, is what we're banking on. I go in on Monday for my first (second-round) infusion, take five Tykerb pills a day and in six weeks we will know just exactly how long I've got left on this very confusing planet we live on.

If this treatment doesn't work—why should I think it will, when none of the other stuff has—then they'll try to put me back on regular chemo. Which I will not do. Period. Even mom seems to have accepted the fact that I will, when push comes to shove, choose to die rather than live my life as a chronic Cancer Patient.

So yeah, great news in the life of your's truly as usual. And this isn't even taking into account the Ovarian Cancer risk factor that gives me an 80 percent chance of getting that. So, what, I'll be removing my ovaries while I'm being infused with Herceptin in the vain hope that removing them will eliminate the possibility of Cancer? Puh-fucking-lease. That's why I had the mastectomy and those crafty cells still found a way to re-enter my body.

Oftentimes, and I don't know if it's cause I'm a depressive to begin with, but I honestly feel like dying is easier than living out a future that I can not see any goodness in.

Sigh. I'm about to call Dr. Laura in Bev Hills for my phone therapy. After this news, I may just go from Fashion Week in New York to Los Angeles and just try to run the fuck away from what has become of my life.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Is it really economical/time-is-money thing for me to write a column that takes me three hours of writing and research for $60? Aren't I worth more than $20 an hour by now? And being paid the same amount as when I started three years ago, when the company has gone from start-up to being sold to a major corporation?

I think I'm getting screwed and am pretty close to asking for a raise or letting it go.

For the moment I'm saying screw it and going to the gym. Less than 24 hours till the PET scan which will fucking determine the rest of my fucking fucking fuckity fuckish Cancer treatment and hence the rest of my life, quality of and span. No biggie. Nope, not at all.

Honestly, I can't even make dinner plans at this point, cause if I get bad news on Friday—like, "Hello, you're not responding to treatment and we're recommending infusion chemo,"—likely I won't be good company. I'm so beyond sick of this bullshit and my own life I just want to go to sleep for like a month and wake up on another planet.

I know Norton said not to say things like this to doctors, but I'll say it to you. I will not lose my hair or go on infusion chemo again. I will be a guinea pig—as in trying Herceptin + Tykerb + Xeloda. At least then I'd be doing a service to research. But, sorry—quality of life is more important to me than longevity. Plus, a dead author sells more books and earns more respect anyway.

At a certain point, I have to live for myself and not my friends and family.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Holy. Psychic. Shit.

I just had to pop a Xannie even to deal with writing this. Psychic—thank god I didn't name names—gave mom a list of eight things about me. Psychic was so happy that her mom still possessed this portentousness while in the throes of full-on Alzheimer's dementia.

Mom looked at the list and immediately saw how applicable it was/is to me.

So, here goes, in the order that she saw or felt things. (Remember, this woman has no idea who I am; that I'm a writer or that I have Cancer):

1.) She sees lots of "pins" and "needles" and says to "keep it up," that it's a great thing. That would be Chad, acupuncturist extraordinairre.

2.) Wanted to know if I talked/spoke/taught—and if not, that I should be doing it exclusively for women. Would this platform right here not be the thing? I've got some straight-male lurkers, but I'd venture that 95 percent of you are ladies.

3.) That I should surround myself with "blues." In the living room, sitting on the couch as I am now, I stare at the turquoise water through floor-to-ceiling windows. It's the reason I decided to keep this apartment. My bedroom has always been in blues and whites.

4.) She asked if anything with "pottery" meant anything to me; that I should be using my hands. I've always painted and drawn, but pottery was never my forte. Clearly I use my hands while writing, but I'm pretty sure I know what she's talking about. One of my talismen is an aqua, blown glass, genie-bottle type of mini vase that I bought in Safed, Israel. The birthplace of Kabbalah, where an aged, bearded man plucked me from the crowd and read my palm. It's filled with sand from the Negev Desert that, yes, I brought back from Israel. It's on Roxy's dresser where all my talismen are.

5.) There's a "young man" in my life, whom I confide in and to keep it up, that he's a very good person and friend to me. Again, I know exactly who this guy is, and without my cognizance, I really hurt his feelings last year. And I've apologized and all that, but I certainly didn't realize the extent of his feelings for me, friendship wise. And she's really right on the money again here—since seeing him in NY, he's been a little distant and I know that I've still got some fences to mend with him. Pardon all the cliches.

6.) She wanted to know if I owned a house—says that money is coming to me from the sale of a "property." Natch, Pollyanna Mom thinks this is my book. I don't think she gets that the days of six-figure advances for unknown writers are totally gone. Personally, I think Psychic is referring to Roxy's Jaeger le Coultre watch that I had refurbished recently. So I really do need to get an estimate on that ugly-but-perhaps valuable timepiece.

7.) That money is always on my mind and not to worry; that it's not a problem. That I needed to get rid of the thoughts. It was at this point that I lost it and started crying in my car in the parking lot of Whole Foods where I was on the phone with mom taking these notes. I'm a constant money-worrier and guilt-carrier. Not as in keeping up with the Jonesfarbs, but in terms of earning money as a writer. After all, we live in a capitalistic country. What other tangible way do we have to gauge our success in our respective careers than money? Or the ability to earn money and take care of yourself/your family. (Thank god I don't have a family; they'd be living in a box.) But then again, money is the only thing holding me back from moving back to New York, so . . .

8.) Lastly: There's a 40-to-50 year old man or woman in my life who I spend time with, but it's not a healthy relationship and I need to get rid of this person and listen to my inside voice about him or her. This is a really tricky one; I cut the toxic people out of my life long ago. And they were mainly in their 20s and 30s. I have a substantial group of older friends, but they're all amazing. I'm thisclose to going through my Facebook friends to figure out who the fuck this person is. But I have faith that they will reveal themselves soon enough.

So that's it. Christ, I'm emotionally spent from hearing and writing about this. She did NOT mention anything about my health, which is honestly what I was hoping for. Wouldn't it have been nice if she'd said something along the lines of "Do the initials PET mean anything to her?" But I'm not looking this gift-horse in the mouth.

Time to curl up with Wally and watch chick flicks. Though realistically I'll be pulling all my blue clothes to the front of my wardrobe rotation.

Have I mentioned before the JCC (Jacksonville) psychic who works with my mom? I think I have—she's the one who told me my aura is golden and that I'm a 'new soul'. You guys know I'm not religulous, however, I DO believe in people who have natural psychic abilities. I think you're born with it, a la my fantastic Breast Ca gene! You may remember the psychic in India Brother visited a year or so before I was diagnosed: "Tell your sister she needs to get her breasts checked in the next couple of years." Time beat that psychic, but still.

So the JCC psychic would go into mom's office and say things like: "Don't worry Stephanie's surgery is going to go well today." (Without prior knowledge.) She is intuitive, but her mom was like a major psychic. The mother now has dementia, so she doesn't do readings anymore. Anyway, I was at the JCC in Jacksonville the other week and ran into her.

She was working the front desk when dad and I walked in. "So what's my aura today?"

"Golden, always golden." Hmm, gold—24k? Can I get upgraded to Platinum?

After my workout, I passed her again and she ran up to me.

"Stephanie, you have to start keeping a journal about your Cancer cause this is a book!"

(I assumed that everyone at the JCC knew I was a writer.)

"Uh, you don't know that I'm a writer and I've been blogging about this since the beginning. And it is a book [well, in the making anyway]?"

"No, I had no idea. You must keep a journal! And sage, sage, sage!"

"Ugh, I know I just hate that smell." It really is vomitous, that sage. But maybe that's why it works—like garlic to a vampire. I like garlic, however. Natch, I had to go get sage. Where the fuck am I going to find sage sticks in Jacksonville, I thought.

On a lark, I asked the dude at the fairly new Whole Foods. Surprisingly, they had it. So I went home and saged my room at the 'rents house, under my armpits, in the Cancer-y areas and my 'root,' aka, the v-jay-jay. Barbara taught me that one. Though I think my root is probably obscured by some cobwebs. But that's neither here nor there.

Yesterday morning, after I slid barefoot in a pile of Wally's shit he decided belonged in the kitchen, I saged the fuck out of this apartment. I did everything, the doors, the balcony, the bed and, yes, Wally's bunghole. (Can't hurt right, he is 14 years old after all.)

Having been out of Miami for nearly a month, it basically took me all week to unpack and get my apartment back into it's OCD-ruled order. So after I finally vacuumed, scrubbed the floors that Wally did his bizness on, and—most importantly—organized the wardrobe, I saged. (Three weeks, three cities, three vastly different climates=three wardrobes.)

Have I mentioned that it's in the 30s here? And I live right on the water in a wind tunnel cause the geniuses who built this complex, were, well, fucking geniuses. With the 20 mph winds behind my building, it feels like the teens. So I'm walking around South Beach in my full-length shearling. With more layers underneath than I needed in New York. I think the Apocalypse is coming right for me. Then again, I love busting out the winter wardrobe down here. There's something so wrong about it that it's right. Perhaps because I could be wearing my PJs under a fabulous coat and hat and shoes and you'd never know. But I digress about fashion as per usual.

Sooo, the psychic and why I'm literally sitting on my couch with my poopy dog waiting to hear from mom. Mom's at the office today and ran into Psychic. I'd given Psychic my calling card last time, and when she took it, she declared it "mmmh, so warm."

Okay, so here's the email from mom:

"Hi Honey….i’m at work today until about 3pm but just saw [Psychic]….she visited her mom yesterday and gave her your card and she wrote down a whole bunch of psychic things to tell you. She was amazed her mom even got a reading because she has dementia and said if she asked her about it today she wouldn’t even remember doing it!! Anyway the stuff she said is so interesting….i’ll try to call you later and tell you everything…I know you’ll want to know!!"

I'll post what she said later—unless I feel like I'd be jinxing myself by putting her insights out there.

Maybe it's about the PET scan on Wednesday or Norton or something good. Like, maybe these fucking drugs are actually working and I won't need to go back on regular chemo? Norton was certainly off-base with his contention that the one-week-on, one-week-off Xeloda cycle lessons side-effects. Pshaw, my back has been in agony all week and I'm literally—I'm not kidding, it's fucking disgusting—shedding skin on my yoga mat thanks to my peeling feet.

Alright, I'm out. Time to get off my ass.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

It's so cold in Miami that I've been wearing my full-length shearling. They're even predicting snow tonight, which I would love. Curling up with Wally on my couch, watching snow fall over the water from my window? Too good to be true, so I'm sure it won't happen.

My mentor Gary told me I needed to write about S-E-X in Cancer Is the New Black. I can barely deal with sexual relations in the first place—reliving them on the page isn't my idea of fun. But he's the expert, a straight guy and if he's curious about what sex is like with Breast Ca, then I can only assume other people are. (FYI, it's not that much different. You just can't feel anything on your nips. So breast-fed men beware. There's something SO beyond grossly animalistic about nipple suckage anyway that I'm always a little wary of men who are into that. I feel like they must have a really weird mommy complex. No offense, teet dwellers.)

So I wrote eight pages between yesterday and today about my latest sexcapade. I mean, I do talk about sex with my friends freely, but writing about it is somehow more personal. If this piece 'o Cancer crap ever is published, then yeah, you'll get to hear about my decidedly boring 'sex life'.

But at this rate, I'll either be dead by then or sans-ovaries, so I probably won't give a shit. The guys I'm writing about—well you guys know you'll make a literary appearance somehow when you hang with me. They'll have pseudonyms out of courtesy, but whatever.

My fucking back and feet are fucking killing me. This one-week on Xeloda regiment is actually giving me worse side-effects. Despite acupuncture with Chad Thursday and an amazing massage last night.

Have I mentioned how I hate you Cancer? How I would gladly buy an Uzi and riddle you with bullets if I could? Ah, yes, I suppose I have. But here's another big Fuck You. Ta.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

I just awoke from a much-needed Klonopin nap. I cried in Schwartz's office today. I cried in acupuncture. I cried on the way from the hospital to acupuncture. This is becoming an annoying, more frequent occurrence lately.

Between the inundation of information I received from Larry Norton, the confusion over what my "copy" number is on the FISH test [aka, my HER2NU leve, guaged by this pathology test called FISH; no idea what it stands for], and the fact that I have to face that, should Wednesday's PET scan not show marked improvement, the possibility of infusion chemo again.

I'm not ready to face that option, so I shall choose to believe that the PET will reveal NO NEW GROWTHS. I never want to see Ralf again. I didn't ask mom where she put him. (New readers, Ralf is my couture wig.) That's what we're hoping for—no new nodes and shrinkage of the original ones. Tomorrow the CA 15-3 results come in. I'm hoping (fingers and dried, peeling, repulsive toes crossed) for a number less than 100. Fifty would be divine, but that may be asking too much. If everything looks kosher between 15-3 levels and the PET, we can continue with the current regiment and add Herceptin infusions every three weeks.

I've just come around to the end of unpacking. Having been gone three weeks, well, you can imagine the luggage I'm saddled with.

On a couple positive notes (I can't remember who I tell what, so bear with me) I'm the new (and first-ever) fashion editor at Heeb magazine. I'll be penning a weekly column, a la this here blog, with more of a fashion perspective. As you can guess, Roxy, Mom, Lynn etc will be making frequent appearances in this column. And I got another major mag assignment today too. So happy these things fall in my lap; Cancer is too much of a full-time job to pitch.

Ugh. Back to laundry. 2010 can't start this badly right? Must focus on the positive—like booking my NYC fashion week and Woodstock trip. Yeah, Woodstock in the middle of winter—only me. I have these delusional visions of the Cotswolds from the movie The Holiday. Though I have a feeling it's going to be more like sleepaway camp on ice. With all women.

"Ooh will there be some hot lesbo action," my uber-straight friend asked.

"Hahaha. Actually, I guess it is kind of a Sapphic thing huh?"

Didn't take that into consideration either. So Jude Law will be played by Judy Law? And It's over Valentine's day to boot. Surely there will be a couple straighties like me to bitch about men with, no?

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Tomorrow at 11 a.m. I go for bloodwork and see Schwartz at 11:30. I won't get the CA 12-5 back till Monday probably. After all this insanity with Norton and the "these don't feel like Breast Cancer nodes," declaration by him, I'm a little anxious.

I just popped another 1/2 Klonopin. Anywho, Jesus, I'm. Fucking. Exhausted. I can't wait for acupuncture tomorrow. First time in three+ weeks; a record.

One of the highlights of the Mercury-Retrograde-fuckedupedness of this week so far has been connecting with Mom's second cousin, Will. He's on Roxy's side of the fam. And just a *doll*.

For my gays and literati crowd, read the Larry Kramer cover story in NY mag in which Will makes an appearance. (For those of you who haven't read Kramer's seminal Faggots, it's a graphic, riveting look into the life of the debaucherous gay scene in the 70s and 80s; I read it when I was in college and it truly is both a page-turner and profound book.) Kramer was the co-founder of Gay Men's Health Crisis and started Act Up.

Anyway, Will's now on a culinary adventure over on Cookstr. Recipes, chefs and authors, oh my! Even this non-cooking bitch is going to try a (very easy) recipe. I'm sure it will result in a delivery order. I am indeed Roxy's granddaughter!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Herceptin Innovation re HER2+ Breast Cancer

Only the new Four Seasons, er, Sloan-Kettering Breast Center, would have comfy seersucker robes for the VIP(atient)s. (Some of whom probably bring in their own Frette robes anyway.)

Just a couple of weeks ago, the results of a promising study regarding Herceptin and Tykerb success rates among HER2+ Breast Ca patients.

Dr. Larry Norton at Sloan-Kettering, told us about it in my Dec 29th appointment with him. The study found that:

"Ian Krop, MD, PhD, principal investigator of the study, will report that the hybrid agent, called T-DM1, shrank tumors by 30 percent or more in 40 percent of women with confirmed HER2-positive cancers. Another 13 percent had stable disease for at least six months, for a total clinical benefit rate of approximately 53 percent. The median time before the disease progressed was 7.3 months, including both responders and non-responders. Patients received T-DM1 as long as it was effective and well-tolerated. A total of 110 women were enrolled in the study."

This is when I said to him, with bowed head, body bent over Norton's desk: "I don't want another port."

After talking to Michael Schwartz, my Miami Beach onco, he said that yes, if my tumor IS the same as the first time—he's 98 percent sure it is; while Norton wanted to see the slides, en route to him now—Herceptin plus Tykerb would be something for us to explore going forward. I wouldn't need a port and it would require an infusion once every three weeks. Says it won't fuck up my veins. I SO do not want to Amy Winehouse my arms.

I go for bloodwork next week in MIA, so depending on that and Norton's report on the slides, hopefully this is an option that will kick some more Cancer ass.

Of all the things Norton had told me—the freakiest of the lot was that "the nodes don't feel like typical Breast Cancer nodes." Shit, is anything about me typical? Let's hope so. After talking to Doc Schwartz on the phone Weds, I'm off the ledge.

"Look, you don't have another type of Cancer."


(Laughing) "I'm not jinxing you. The slides look almost exactly the same. I'm nearly positive [no jinx!] that it's the same type of Cancer."

Re the Xeloda schedule: "Yeah, I know that's how they're doing it at Sloan now. His [Norton's] opinion is that you get more of the drugs that way and that it's more effective."

Not to mention, hopefully minimizing the side effects. Additionally, since we were rushing Norton: "We have a plane to catch!" We think he may have misread the FISH test (comp pathology test of tumor) number, which was why he thought I may not be HER2 NU positive anymore. Original number was 5; Norton said it was now 2, which would be a neg/borderline HER2+. It's actually now 4.7—clearly HER2+.

"He must've read the ratio instead of the numbers [paraphrasing]. But it's definitely HER2+."

I finally exhaled. Again, the lesson here is second, third, fourth opinions never hurt. You may learn something good or bad, but speak up and get those second opinions ladies.

I promise a full report on NYC non-Cancer news; right now I'm busy lying in bed with Wally and his sissies. And heading to the Saks outlet with mom, natch.