Monday, October 16, 2006

How Cancer is like a wedding...

At the height of my chemo, I attended a wedding of a friend. It was beautiful garden affair and of course, it brought up reminders of my own nuptials. I sat at the toile covered table, watching the dancing. "Shout!" anyone? I was too tired to partake. I popped a painkiller, tugged on my wig, and thought:

"Cancer reminds me of a wedding"

Huh? You ask? One of the shittiest things to happen to you is like one of the best? Yes, my friends it is.

1. They are both expensive.
2. You get presents.
3. You get behind in thank you notes.
4. You obsess over every detail.
5. Sometimes you wish you could just hop a plane to Vegas.
6. You have a binder detailing every expense.
7. You have the obligatory nervous breakdown.
8. Your mom thinks she knows what you want.
9. You find the most amazing things to buy on the internet.
10. You talk to relatives you haven't seen in years.
11. You haven't worried about your hair this much since prom.
12. You wear gowns. Sure, one "opens to the front", but who cares?
13. You look at your husband and tell yourself how lucky you are.
14. It's all about you.
15. When it's all over, you think to yourself, "How will I fill the time?"

Shenanigans aside, the real reason I thought of this is because of the surprises, pleasant and otherwise, these two situations bring. Some people will surprise you with their generosity. You will be overwhelmed and touched. They will go out of their way to make you feel special, loved. You will consider yourself lucky to share this with them.

And some people will disappoint you. They send a crappy gift (shut up, you know you've all thought about it, too.) Or better yet, no gift at all. Or they don't RSVP in time, or they just plan don't show up to the party. I think every person I know had one relationship change over their wedding- jealousy, priorities, schedules- they all make it hard. You think to yourself, "How could they not come to my wedding?" You realize as much as you want it to be, your wedding is not the center of people's universe. Doesn't make it hurt any less.

Cancer's just like my wedding. I have grown closer to some people. more distant to others. I have seen the true colors of people. Some relationships are forever changed. Some people have reached out beyond my wildest imagination. Some people plain haven't shown up to the party. It sucks, but it doesn't mean I'm not dancing with everyone else. And they definitely won't get an inivitation to our raging anniversary party one day. Or to my 10 year cancer free blow out bash.

Another reason why they're alike? Once it happens, your life is never the same.

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Cost of Cancer

When I first joined my union, I complained a bit about my dues... or the fact they collected dues on earnings I made before I even joined. Sure, it included things like health insurance, but come on! I joined my union last July. I was diagnosed in February. I have not only bitten my tongue, I have swallowed it completely. *not saying a word as writing current dues check*

Cancer diagnosis: (scans, biopsies, etc.) $4,671.25
Genetic test: $2,975
Surgery: $26,668.85
Port: $26,820.50
Frozen Baby Harvesting: $8,582
Harvest Drugs: approx $5,000
Chemo: $38,690.18
Radiation Planning: $24,483.71
Radiation Treatment: $77,925

Total Cost to Date: $315,723.27
(not including prescription drugs)

Insurance Payout: $219,945.72
(negotiated discounts/hospital adjustment/my out of pocket)

Future Costs:
Tamoxifen: Approx $200/month X 12 months X 5 years = $12,000

Cancer ain't cheap. Thank God for my insurance. I didn't have insurance for 5 years out of college. If you don't have insurance for the following reasons: (all are mine)

-you are too lazy to look into it
-your company doesn't offer it
-you don't want to pay premiums
-you think you're invincible

Please, please, please- you have no idea how important it is. And if you are lucky enough to have decent insurance and blessed enough to have enough cash to cover any deductibles, please do something to help the millions of Americans who can't afford insurance. Do something about the f-ed up system that drives people into the poorhouse if they're unlucky enough to get sick. Or poor to begin with.

I will write my dues check with pleasure. I will donate time and money to help those less fortunate. I will vote my conscience.

Easier than writing a $300,000 check.

(stepping off soapbox)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Think Before You Pink...

It's October 2nd. Two days into Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Everywhere I turn there is something pink. Pink wristbands, pink koozies, pink Dyson vacuums (yes, I said vacuum). You can buy something "for the cure" wherever you go. Everywhere I go I am constantly reminded of breast cancer. At least I got the socially popular cancer. The one that looks so good on a teddy bear. It's two days into this month and I'm already sick of pink. I have finished treatment and I am trying to move on. It's pretty damn hard when I can buy something off the "pink stuff" table when I'm buying milk and juice.

I go back and forth between rage at the commercialism for a cure and being grateful that it may help someone. That if someone gets checked or pays attention to their body it was worth it. Funny thing is, there have been plenty of Octobers before. And plenty of pink crap. And I don't remember any of it. I wasn't "aware." It didn't stop me from getting cancer. Maybe I'm just bitter. At the same time, I do have the cliched pink ribbon magnet on my Mini. I think to myself someone may see me and my bald head, check out the magnet and put it together. Maybe they'll feel themselves up later. Or someone else.

I have a feeling it's going to be a long month. I have a feeling I will be happy and sad, angry and blessed... every day. It's a crapshoot. So every day, I will steel myself for the magazines, commercials, spam email, TV specials, etc. etc. I will count the days till October is over. At the same time, I will accept every pink gift as a gift of love. I will still be tempted by the pink thermos at Starbucks. It's cute. I will probably buy a few pink items myself. Life's about contradictions. C'est la vie. I will get through October, hoping I get to see many more Breast Cancer Awareness Months.

I haven't written in a while. I'm sorry. Please check back later. I have a ton of posts I've half written- it's been an up and down few weeks and I haven't quite been in the mood to let it all out yet. But I promise brilliant, witty, poignant, sarcastic posts in the future.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Bye bye brows!

I lost my eyebrows yesterday. Yep, looked in the mirror and said, "What the funk?" They are completely gone. They had thinned out when I began chemo- almost nicely I thought to myself. "I'd like an eyebrow wax with my poison, please." But now, 8 weeks after I finished chemo, my eyebrows decide to play hide and seek. Some hairs are hiding well in my sheets, others not so well on my bathroom sink. I did have about 3 eyebrow hairs over one eye, but that just seemed wierd... like a horrible eyebrow comb-over. So I put them out of their misery. Pluck, Pluck, Pluck. I then proceeded to powder them in... drawing a line is so over. I still think I look like someone's 75 year old grandmother up close. Drawn in eyebrows. Like I should be putting on hot pink lipstick and maybe some clown blush. As if my vanity hasn't been assaulted enough. People look funny with no eyebrows. Real funny. Just when I was finding uses for my razor again. God has a real sense of humor. As if I don't have enough reminders... still bald, peeling skin from radiation, scars, daily pills.

Perhaps I could take some shedding fur from my dogs and weave me some brows. Or a sweater.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Could someone pass the aloe?

Seriously. Aloe. Or an ice pack. I'm done with radiation tomorrow. That's good, because any more and I think my armpit might burn off. 28 Radiation treatments down, and no- I never could taste burning flesh, but yes, I have one hell of a sunburn. It only showed up about a week and a half ago and fucking hell, does it hurt. My breast itself, while rosy, feels fine. The problem, my fair skinned and SPF protected friends, is my armpit. Yep, I wasn't really expecting that one, either. They radiated the armpit because of my lymph nodes. The problem is exacerbated (yeah. I said that. Triple word score.) by the fact the skin under my arm rubs against each other. They say it happens a lot also with the fold under the breast. They tell me I'm lucky cuz I don't have a lot of tissue folding over. Thank you, I don't have big tits. Not sure if it's a good thing or an insult. Right now, I'll take what I can get- this burn is a bitch. The skin is peeling and it's leathery. It's also very discolored. That could last months. Probably a step away from blister. Awesome. I should wear a lot of tank tops.

Wave your hands in the air, and wave 'em like you just don't care.

Except I can't wave my hands in the air. I can't raise my arm much. I can't really wear a bra and I wear cotton t-shirts so I can tuck the cotton in the crook of my armpit so it doesn't rub together. I've taken to spending my days with an ice pack under my arm. When I showed it to my doctor (before it even got bad) he asked me what I had been putting on it. "the prescription gel you guys told me to." He made a face and told me not to bother. Thanks. Thanks for that. I'm not putting hydrocortisone cream on. And aloe. It could get infected. That's hot.

So I'll be thankful I'm almost done. Cancer Rocks.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Breast Cancer Barbie

For those of you who don't know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. I know, I know, it's not October. But if you look around, you'll see pink retail items sprouting up faster than drunk boys at a frat house. Pink Ribbon Breast Cancer shit is everywhere- companies that make everything from yogurt to scissors want to cash in on some of our charitable shopping action. Of course, all portions of the proceeds are donated to XY/Your Mom's Breast Cancer Charity. Why they couldn't just write a check, I don't know. Granted, it is partly because of these retailers that there is research money, I just find it hard to swallow breast cancer awareness spatulas.

The new target of my concern is the Pink Ribbon Breast Cancer Barbie. She's beautiful. And glamorous. And ready for the next black tie charitable function. She is everything that real breast cancer isn't. It's an insult to me- a bald, chubby, oh so not ready for primetime, actual cancer patient. Yes, I know, I'm still beautiful. Yeah, I'm beautiful on the inside, whatever. As if Barbie hasn't messed with the self image of tons of little girls already with her huge tits and tiny waist. As if Barbie already misrepresents real women everywhere.

Now, before you call me a raging femi-nazi, complete with my butch bald head, I loved my Barbies. I played with them, had the Barbie dream house, played Barbie store. I'm sure I even grabbed my Barbie's face and slapped it up against Ken's and made kissing sounds. My brothers cut off Barbie's hair. I wanted to be Barbie. Go get over it.

That was before I had breast cancer and mattel decided the best way to rasie awareness is to make the most elaborate-pink-big haired, "I belong in beauty pageants" Barbie.

I've been spending a fair amount of time lately on the discussion boards of the Young Survival Coalition, where outrage ensued when this was announced. One poster went so far as to post a picture of the "Real" Breast Cancer Barbie.

Straight from the YSC:

From the photo you can see that Barbie has gained weight considerably, predominantly in the hips, ass and pooch area. She is sporting a paper "modesty vest," two drains and a gauze wrap tube-top bandage. She also has her lymphedema wrap, IV drip, port and has had some blood work done. Her toe nails and finger nails are unfortunately turning black and there is some concern that she may lose a nail or two. She is leery of going too far away from the toilet, can't remember if she took her pills today and is depressed that she doesn't have ovaries and can't have a baby. Her path report is looking OK but the bills are piling up and she is too sick to work, but has to keep working to keep medical insurance. Hot flashes are keeping her up all night and she wonders if she should call her old flame GI Joe when he comes home on leave from Iraq- but will he still want her? Her sex drive is gone, she's scarred-up and bald and twenty pounds overweight. Her body hurts, she feels as if she is losing her mind. She doesn't want to go anywhere or do anything. Yelled at Skipper for asking her if she wanted to go to the Townhouse this weekend for a party, then cried afterwards. Drove pink Corvette to Jack in the Box for drive through burgers and a chocolate shake for dinner. (Thanks Linnea)

Unfortunately, reality isn't as pretty. And it doesn't sell Barbies.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Bad Hair Day

You know how you take a look at some people on the street and you wonder how they walked out the door? I mean, did they really look at themselves in the mirror and say to themselves, "I look good?" Or were they looking at their reflection in the back of a saute pan? Bad clothing choices aside, everyone can have a bad hair day. That I must learn to forgive. After all, I've had about 5 months of bad hair days. And while my hair is starting to grow back, I'm told it will be months before it's long enough to style. And probably even longer before it actually looks like something other than Ronald McDonald. At least now I have an excuse for my bad hair. It's not the 80s or the early 90s. At least I don't have bangs, or a perm, or was attacked by the Crimp Monster.

However, like everyone's bad hair choices, my current bad hair will pass. It will grow out. I will discover what color it really is. (Although it can grow back a completely new color and texture.) I may get to experience curly hair without chemicals or heat. And I will look back on my Cancer bald head with the same sort of nostalgia as I do all my previous not-so-great choices. After all, I thought I looked good back then. And I had no excuse.

So, in honor of bad hair everywhere, and because I know you all LOVE pictures, I will now take you on a magical tour of my childhood hair styles. Grab your jelly shoes, slap bracelets, curling irons, flannel shirts- here we go!

Here I am in Kindergarten. I am cute. I mean, really. Fucking adorable. I'm not sure about the ruffle. I think this dress came with a jacket. The only time in my life bangs have been okay. This is probably my best look for about 15 years.

I can honestly say this is where things started to go horribly wrong. This is third grade. Let's not talk about the glasses, or the teeth, or the unfortunate collar. It's the hair, man. My first perm. And first BAD haircut. I'm not sure what my 9 year old self was going for here. I do know that thanks to this hair, my classmates called me Dolly. As in Parton. Not because of my tits- because of resemblance to her awesome 80s style. I'm not sure if I see it. But they did.

Look closely. I've been attacked by the Crimp Monster. This is circa fourth or fifth grade. The morning after a sleepover. This look took over an hour. An hour I'll never get back.

Why couldn't I just put this hat on my head? Why another perm? Why? Why? Why? Why do my bangs for softball? Why does it looks like I have roots? I had never dyed my hair. Why is there a waterfall falling from my forehead? One Curl up, one curl down. Blend. Spray.

Here we go again. May hair is definitely getting darker. Kinda like someone washed it in pond water. My permed hair is like a bell. Ding ding. And those bangs. Like I said. I spent time to look like this. No wonder Matt Minor wasn't into me.

Who told me that cutting my hair short on one side and longer on the other was cool? Oh yeah, someone else had their hair like this and she was cool. She also had really fine straight hair. Not my lion's mane. I don't have anything else to say. I really can't. It hurts me.

Oh, Lord. The perm was growing out at least. I think maybe my bangs started in the middle of my head. Are they feathered? What happens when a bad haircut grows out. I look scarily like my little brother here.

PS. Do you notice the smiley face big earrings? I had one that were peace signs, too. 1990 was a good year. The sweater went with these plaid pants. Public school boys told me I had a nice ass when I wore them. Nice.

Speaking of public school. This is what happens when your public school friend does your hair. This is the era of really really long bangs that you couldn't see out of. This is when I was in San Francisco for the cheerleading Nationals. Yes, I said cheerleading. Get over it. And one of my teammates wanted to do my hair. I thought it was a bit much even then. But they all thought it looked fierce. Fierce as in scary.

More growing out. My eighth grade graduation picture. At least the bangs are gone. But the color... yuk! The day I took this picture is coincidentally the first day I swore to my parents. No one told me we were leaving school early. I hadn't done my hair. I was working on it in the front seat of our Starcraft conversion van. My father, probably trying to be helpful, but only coming off as a patronizing jackass, told me I looked fine. In my stress over my graduation picture, I told him to fuck off. He was so shocked he shut up. Hey, that shit was a big deal when you're 14.

Why did I get another perm? Why do I look strangely like a poodle? Why did everyone think shoulder pads make you look good? Why does my dad look high? But dudes, check out his dark hair.

Homecoming 1991. I went with the fishizzle of boys. It was major social coup. It established my place in the upper echelon of high school order. I celebrated by wearing velvet and taffeta. And shoulder pads. And a LARGE matching taffeta bow on my head. Matches my corsage. BTW- that pose rocks. Teal is so eighties/early nineties. I could have been in the wedding party of the opening scene of "the Wedding Singer."

The poofy bangs up look stayed with me for a couple of years. Come on girls, you remember it- You grew out your bangs and proceeded to pull them back in a barrette. Then you stick you fingers in it and pull. Make it bigger. Make sure to strike a delicate balance between the top and the sides. Pull out the "tendrils" on the sides. Occasionally you'd curl those with a curling iron- again finding a balance between ringlet and stick straight. On the whole, this look wasn't horrible. I think I'm struck most by oh-so-fake smile and pink eyeshadow. Look closely.

Why do people think posing with a piece of sporting equipment like a supermodel looks acceptable? Just plain silly. This is the beginning of my Sun-In phase. I lightened my hair without dying it. In the process, I fried it. But for some reason, I stood on some highlight high horse, like I was above it all. Meanwhile, I spent two hours in my pink bathroom with peroxide in a bottle and blow dryer. The torture we put our hair through. I'm lucky it didn't fall out back then. And I have a really big mouth here.


This is what I would look like with dark hair. And Jewish. In Russia. Long ago. Of note: You will see my ears are tucked behind my bandana. Our wig guy, also our choreographer, this amazing chain smoking gay man, put my wig on and saw my ears. He proceeded to say, "Oh, my. Those are some ears. We have to tuck those in." Ouch.

Mexico, Summer of 1995. My senior class trip. That's a margarita. Yes, I'm eating it with a spoon from a pitcher. I am very drunk. I was drunk for a week. The only time in my life beer tasted good. Then again, I didn't drink all of high school so rubbing alcohol would have tasted good. I am also very sunburned. And my hair is fried. Too much Sun-In. Too much Chlorine. Too much product. Nasty.

Same summer. Prepping for my role in "West Side Story." That's my best friend Chris. I had the most bitchin' beehive ever. It involved mucho ratting. And apparently, at the age of eighteen in a community theater production set in the fifties, the more blue eyeshadow the better. On the flip side, I'm in awe of how tiny I am. Oh, to be eighteen again. And not have hips. In terms of my hair, it's a wonder it survived.

A cast party. You can tell I'm pleased. We decided to dye our hair fun colors. Mine was supposed to be red. It was punk rock orange instead. I came home this day and my mom looked at me and said, "God made you blonde for a reason." Thankfully it was washable. I was only red for about a month. Then strawberry. My hair wasn't happy. I should have cut it all off and started from scratch.

My college years are not far enough away yet for the trends to look ridiculous. Give it time.

I'd like to look upon this time, my bald head, as a chance for me to start over. All my horribly damaged hair is gone. I will start over. My current look is not pretty. But then again, neither were these. And I grew up. I'm fine. I've recovered from them. I'll recover from this.

This too, shall pass.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Wonder Woman

One of my strongest memories of childhood is being Wonder Woman. I was around 5 or so, and we were living at my grandparents. Maybe I remember it so well because I've seen pictures, or maybe I just truly believed I was a superhero. I had Wonder Woman underoos. Yes, I said underoos- an amazing invention of the early eighties that made it okay for small children to run around in their underwear. I wish I had underoos now. I hate pants. Anyway, back to my story...

My very cool Aunt Megan was visiting, and she took the time- as only cool aunts will- to help make my transformation into Linda Carter complete. She took the time to help fashion the gold cuffs for my wrists and a very excellent tiara- all with their requisite red stars. I had the boots and the attitude. In fact, I'm pretty sure we made a truth lasso as well. So there I was, able to fight crime, catch the bad guys, and generally do whatever I wanted. I had super human powers. I was invincible.

See, aren't I cute? Let's not comment about the amazing blue shag carpet and lime green bedspread. It's best left alone.

Perhaps the reason I remember this so well is because, even at a young age, there was a part of me who believed I could do anything. There was no obstacle I couldn't conquer. Even in my underwear. Some might argue that in my early twenties I conquered most of my challenges in my underwear, but those are stories best told over martini's. And I still have a good pair of Fuji me Boots.

At one point during chemo, I was taking to my Aunt- the very same one who helped me become superhuman. I remember the conversation well. I was standing outside of Old Navy, and I was bitching about how I was too fat for my clothes, my shoes, my wedding ring. I was bitching about how it was hard to work AND fight cancer at the same time. My aunt, a very wise woman, not so subtly told me I was in fact not Super Woman. I should stop trying to do everything. I should prioritize. I should ask for help. I should surrender to the fact that some things that I could do before cancer would just have to wait.

This was a blow to me. What do you mean, I can't do everything I used to do? I don't understand. Doesn't that make me weak? There is NOTHING worse than weakness. Everyone tells me how amazing and strong and inspirational I am. Yada, Yada, Yada. If I am all these things, shouldn't I be able to handle it all? Isn't that what we're taught as little girls, as we're dressed up as Wonder Woman- that we can handle anything?

This is something I've struggled with the entire time I've had cancer. I have continually done too much. Other than the week of my surgery, I haven't take any time off work. I've moved across the country, I've painted a house (okay, Alan, I've painted some of a house). I've probably run myself more into the ground at times. I thought that by giving in to exhaustion sometimes, I was giving in to Cancer.

This past month, it's really hit me. I'm not Wonder Woman. I've been exhausted- so exhausted, its made it almost impossible to do anything sometimes. So I've given in. Some things don't get done. I've prioritized. I get the stuff in that's good for ME- I walk, I sleep, I do things that make me happy. If that means there's dog hair on the floor- then too damn bad. Even better, I hired a cleaning company. They come every two weeks. I've stopped berating myself for not doing everything. I like to call it "delegating." In the time it took me to clean the bathroom, I can now take a nap, or catch up on other things. And I'm not going to feel bad. Maybe I'm not Wonder Woman, but then again, they never showed Wonder Woman scrubbing hardwood floors.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Happy Anniversary to me

Well, to us. This week was our 2 year wedding anniversary. Yep, those of you reading this blog, it was only 2 years ago. In some ways, it feels like a lifetime ago. We celebrated our anniversary by working late. Both of us. Not to fear, we're going out for nice dinner tonight.

Only a year ago, Alan and I were walking around downtown Chicago, excited about the promises our second year of marriage would bring. We had no idea where we'd be the next year. Alan hadn't interviewed for jobs yet, and he had another year of school. We had just gotten our little puppy- Harry, now the monster dog. We were starting to talk about when we'd have little kiddies. Perhaps more importantly, we had no idea I had cancer. I hadn't felt the lump yet. We were blissfully ignorant.

Now, a year later, there are so many wonderful things about your life. We have a beautiful house, good jobs, a fun new car. We're getting settled in a fun new city. We no longer live in the stixx. In so many ways, it is exactly the life we hoped we'd have a year ago. We are so very blessed in many ways.

On the other hand, I thought I'd be fat from baby growing, not chemo. I thought I'd have the wind blowing through my hair when the top was down. I didn't expect to get up at 6 am every morning for toxic radiation. Cancer wasn't even in our vocabulary. Not even a possibility. No one plans for this- especially when you just get married. I never thought saying, "in sickness and health" at my wedding two year ago would be so relevant so soon.

I am so very lucky. That man who stood before me 2 years ago has stood by me every single day of this whole journey. He had no idea he was signing up for this, and has loved me unconditionally every step. When we got married, I specifically said I had no idea where the road would take us, and I was so happy he would be there beside me. And he is. I look forward to fifty some more years...

If we can do this, everything else should be cake. Yum, cake.

Where's Courtney?

It's like "Where's Waldo?" Do you see me? Can you find me? One of the women from Young Survival made this. I feel honored to be among these smart, beautiful strong women.

Coming soon to a doctor's office, sorority house or wherever young women are found.

If you'd like to see a real size poster,
including ages, go to

Monday, August 21, 2006

Thanks, man.

"Thanks, man." That is what I said to my doctor as he left my exam room after checking out my tits. My radiation oncologist is the big wig, but he has a resident I see a lot. I don't believe he is old enough to be a doctor. This is the same one who chatted with me about dirty martini's while marking up my boobs a month ago. I also called this doctor "Doogie." As in "Howser." Upon leaving the room, he told me he had a a diary to type on the computer. Doogie has a sense of humor. I think I should go out drinking with my doctor.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Beam me up, Scotty!

Yeah, yeah, it's been a couple of weeks. I know. Truth be told, other than the whole radiation thing I do every day, I've been beginning to, or trying to begin to put this whole cancer thing behind me. Unfortunately, it's a bit hard when you wake up every morning to be radiated. Or when you're on fire from hot flashes.

Back to this cancer business it is, then. I've been asked some questions about radiation, so here you go...


Q. Do you glow in the dark yet?
A. Not yet. Give me a couple more weeks.

Q. I heard they have to tattoo you... Is that true?
A. Yes and no. Some people get little tattoos. At my hospital, they just mark you up with permanent marker. Kind of reminds me of those sorority hazing stories where they mark up all your fat and laugh. Only there's no beer at the end of it.

Q. Can you taste/smell your own burning flesh?
A. No, sorry Dave. Actually, I usually can't feel anything at all.

Q. Are you stinky?
A. I can't wear deodorant, creams or perfumed anything on my radiated side. Only baby cornstarch power. So, after a big walk, yap, Pretty stinky.

Q. I called you at 8:30pm, where were you?
A. Asleep. Same goes for 10:30 am, Noon, possibly 3pm or before dinner. Radiation makes you tired, plus chemos caught up with me, plus hot flashes keep me from sleeping at night.

Q. Do you have a wicked sunburn?
A. Not yet. I was worried, as I could feel "something" after only about 2 treatments. They told me it usually takes like 3 weeks. But here I am, after 11 treatments, and nothing yet. I have a prescription cream I put on.

Q. Anything else hurt?
A. My back hurts a little and my shoulder's sore. Oh, yeah, and my left boob. It's a little tender, and not in the "love me tender" sort of way.

Q. Do you wear a lead cape?
A. As much as I'd like to be my own radioactive superhero, no. It's not like an x-ray. The radiation is very very focused and specific.

Q. So what happens?
A. Well, I wake up at the ass crack of dawn- strike that, it's before the ass crack as it's still dark outside.
I get to the hospital by 7am.
I greet my little valet guy. At 7am, it's pretty slow so we chat a bit.
I go to the radiation oncology section, which is in the basement. It's very empty, not even the receptionist is there yet.
I check in on a computer touch screen.
I sit down and read some bad business magazine from 1998.
I look for an "Us Weekly". No dice.
I'm called in by my tech, a pretty young woman who directs me to take off my top. Sweet. Keep up that visual boys. That's all you're gone get.
I get to put on the obligatory gown, open to the front of course.
I then enter the room with the linear accelerator. Just like Saturday morning Physics at Fermilab, only I don't have a college application to put this on.
I lay flat on my back, my head in this little cup thing. My arms reach up behind me, holding on to these little handlebars.
The techs line me up with my marks, sometimes involving me to be pulled and yanked into position by my gown.
They leave the room and some crazy ass machine circles around me, first taking pictures to make sure they've lined me up and aren't hitting, say, my heart.
I lay there completely still as the machine circles around me at different angles. There's usually about 5 or six different one. A weird noise, like a buzzing, means it's working. Here's my machine.

After about 5 minutes, it's done. I put the shirt back on, go to my car, and drive home. Usually back to my bed. My insurance company gets a bill for like two grand. I look forward to doing this 20 more times.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

What next?

The past month or so I've been struggling with a major decision. Much like when I was 18 and I couldn't decide between two colleges, I went back and forth. Northwestern on Tuesday, NYU on Wednesday. Mom asking what I was going to do on Friday. Still not sure. Finally, on the last day before I had the mail in a decision, I yelled, "Fuck it, I'll go to Northwestern. Mail that one in, Mom." as I walked out the door.

So has been the decision on what treatment to do now that chemo is over. What? You say...More treatment? Yep, more treatment. See in breast cancer, there is local treatment and systemic treatment. Local treatment is to the breast itself and either means lumpectomy and radiation or a mastectomy. Systemic treatment is chemo. I won't even go into hormonal treatment.

Part of my local treatment is already taken care of. I had a lumpectomy. So the standard of care would be to go in and have radiation. However, I've been debating going back in for surgery and having a mastectomy. Actually, I've been thinking of having a double (bilateral for those in the know) mastectomy. Figured if I'm going to cut one off, I might as well have a matched set. And I've been going back and forth. One day, I'm like, "screw it, cut 'em off". The next day, "Damn, I just want to be done."

All of my doctors tell me they are comfortable with me getting radiation. Good, I'm so glad they are comfortable. Let me know when they have cancer. I am told the survival rates are the same for lumpectomy/radiation and a mastectomy. They ask me why I'd want to go back in and cut them off. See, I don't give a shit about survival rates. I'm not worried about dying. At least not today. I'm worried about this bitch coming back, only next time I'll have 3 kids under 10, and I'll have to explain to them why Mommy is sick. Man, it was hard enough this time around. No one seems to give me real stats on recurrence. Then again, if I believed stats, I really wouldn't have gotten cancer in the first place.

This is the worst part of this freaking sickness. The fact that the biggest decisions are inherently, MY DECISIONS. I have waited 6 months for someone to say, This is what you HAVE to do." Other than chemo, I've gotten none of that. The initial choice for what kind of surgery was up to me. I chose a lumpectomy because I wanted Maria out NOW. A mastectomy would have meant meeting more doctors, plastic surgeons, yada yada, longer wait. Plus, everyone told me we'd caught it so early, it was so small, etc.etc. Funny enough, we didn't catch it as early as we thought. And it wasn't as small as we thought either.

Most women do not think about going back and getting a mastectomy after getting a lumpectomy. Once you do surgery, you're done. I mean, when they did my surgery, they got clean margins (meaning there was healthy tissue all the way around the tumor... They got it all), so why go back in? I don't have the BRCA gene, my tumor is not overly aggressive- (it's average)...Why do it?

Couple of reasons. First of all, there's a fear of recurrence. A mastectomy does not guarantee anything, but at least if I do get it again, I can say I did everything. Second of all, radiation is a bit scary for me. There is a small chance of a different kind of cancer long time down the road, thanks to the radiation. Good times. Because of my age, it's a slightly bigger risk.

I think no matter what, I will second guess my decision. I don't think I'll ever be comfortable with this process, with what I have to do. It sucks.

Radiation: PROS- less invasive, can start right away, same stats as bigger surgery
CONS- skin problems, treatment is every day for 6 weeks, could clip a bit of heart and lungs meaning risk of other type of cancer.

Mastectomy: PROS- no boobs mean less chance of worries of any little lump or cyst, I would use my own tissue for reconstruction meaning I'd get a great tummy tuck :)
CONS- long, drawn out surgery, time in hospital, couldn't work for a couple of weeks, harder to detect anything else along chest wall, and well, I wouldn't have my boobs.

I can't say I'm overly attached to my boobs. I mean, I didn't make any decisions because my boobs are a part of my identity or anything. They're boobs. One day, I'd like to breast feed my kids...That's about all I care about. And my nipples. I suppose I'm attached to them. Reconstruction means no least for a year or so.

So, based on this entry, which way do you think I'm going to go? Surprisingly enough, even to me, I'm doing radiation. All my doctors think it's overkill to do mastectomies. Maybe I was overreacting. And for me, it wasn't about keeping my boobs, it was about not having new doctors, more consultations, more surgeries. Maybe my laziness won out. Not that every single day for 6 weeks is easy.

Maybe I just want it to be done. And maybe I just don't want to go back in for more surgery, feeling all those feelings I felt when I had my first surgery. I don't want any more needles, IVs, operating rooms. I don't want to feel sick. I don't want to "recover" from anything. I want to have my life back albeit minus an hour and half a day of treatment.

So, fuck it, I'm getting radiation. I start today. I've already had pictures and CT scans and permanent marker all over my body. Good times. I'll tell you all about that another time.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Pins, Needles and Rickets

(Open on two lovely ladies riding in a car- a Big ol' SUV that is no longer in the picture. (Tee Hee) The ladies are chatting, perhaps listening to Paris Hilton's new single... Stars are Blind.)

Driver Girl: You know, you want to hate this song, cuz it's- you know, Paris Hilton- but it's surprisingly catchy.

Passenger Girl: I don't care- I hate Paris Hilton.

Driver Girl: (SCRATCHING BALD HEAD) Me, too. But seriously, I'll shoot myself if I hear Shakira next - (YELLS) Bitches!

Passenger Girl: What? Who the hell you calling bitches?

Driver Girl: Damn bones!

Passenger Girl: (LAUGHING) Oh, if it's only the bones...

Driver Girl: Must be the rickets.


Yes, I finished the chemo, but the fun lives on. I spent the first week in horrible bone pain. My friend Jill referred to my "gangsta walk"- occasionally, one leg would buckle and I'd sort of mosey. I'm not sure what rickets is, other than a bone disease that kids get, but I definitely felt like I had it. My hips would hurt if I sat anywhere too long, my forearms would feel like someone was burning them from one end to another, like a matchstick. Good times.

About 10 days after my last treatment, I still have side effects. I'm told the pins and needles in my fingers and feet can last for a couple of months. Please, sir, may I have some more? My feet look like someone took a cheese grater to them... and not the single side...the tiny holed side- they are shredded. I'm told I can thank my chemo for this, too. My nails are lifting- a couple of them could fall off at any minute. In other words, I'm in desperate need of a mani/pedi, but I can't get one right now- my white blood count is low right now and I should avoid anything that could give me an infection. When I wake up, I feel like I'm walking on pegs for a few minutes- I simply cannot feel my feet properly. Thank you chemo.

But every day is better. And the worst is behind me. Who needs fingers and toes anyway?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

New Car Smell

I celebrated the end of chemo by buying myself a little present. It's not so little, I mean it's bigger than a breadbox, but it's little compared to others of its kind. In fact, it's so little, you could call it MINI.

Yep, a MINI COOPER. A convertible, in fact. It's blue. And drives like a go-cart. And I look oh so cute in it. And you know what, being bald is very convenient when driving a convertible. No nasty windblown hair.

Some might argue it was a rash decision. Or perhaps a bit impractical...I did in fact trade in my SUV and all its room (and its 18mpg) for it. When taking my dogs anywhere, we'll now have to smash them into the back of our sporty, yet not as cute 4 door sedan. But dears, this decision is a long time coming.

See, when I left life on cruise ships and Alan and I settled down for a life "on land," I desperately wanted a MINI. We drove them, looked at them... but decided we needed something bigger. Something more reasonable. Something for the dogs. So a few years go by, and you would think my MINI obsession would subside. Not so, my friends. I would see them on the road, cheer them on in their adorable little speed racer mentality.

Upon traveling to England, home to the MINI, every time I saw them on the road I would yell, "One MINI COOPER, Mwa-ha-ha. Two MINI COOPERS, Mw-ha-ha." This is easiest to imagine using your very best Count from "Sesame Street" voice.

When the convertible came out, I decided it was finally my time. I had recently gotten my current job. But practicality won out. We needed the room. We didn't need to spend the money, yada yada yada...

Then last winter, Alan and I were serious. We were going to buy a MINI. We contacted a salesperson in Atlanta. It was our goal to order one and pick it up when we moved. We went back and forth for a few months, building a MINI online, talking to dealers, we were all set to put down the deposit. YAY!

Not so much. That week, I found out I had cancer. Our world was now doctors and tests and surgeries. We put thoughts of the MINI aside. With deductibles and baby hatching and whatnot, we decided it wouldn't be practical to spend the money. We were worried about other things. Suddenly, bonnet stripes didn't seem so important. Alan emailed our salesperson and said "sorry." We bought a nice used 4 door instead. For half the cost. We commented on how good we were being. How safe. How responsible.

Well, guess what? Here I am, six months later. And I still love the MINI. And I still cheer when I see it on the road. And dammit, I just finished chemo. And dammit, we can afford it. And dammit, life's too short to be practical all the time.

I'm done putting aside my dreams. There's a time and place for practical- and guess what, it's never really been in my "free spirited" nature, so why start now? I used to do a lot of dancing and singing. So guess what? Dance lessons and vocal work for me. And I always wanted a MINI. So I got one. Time to stop having cancer and time to start getting a life.

So please, don't wait till something shitty like cancer makes you realize it's time to do something just for you. Whether it's a car or a new job or those oh-so-great-but-they-cost-too-much-but-my-ass-looks-so-good pair of pants. Life's too short.

Now if only I could get Alan out of the driver's seat.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Ooh-wee, It's hot in here- there must be some Toros in the atmosphere!

If you don't get the reference, I suggest you run your little self to the nearest Blockbuster, rent a copy of the campy and amazing cheerleading flick, "Bring it on." Then proceed to dust off your spanky pants and enjoy.

Hot, you say? Sure it's hot- it's called summer in Atlanta. No my dears, that is not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the raging hot flashes that are happening to me, even when the thermostat is set at 68 degrees.

Hot flashes suck. Except for my first night of chemo, I have been lucky to miss out on them during treatment. Unfortunately, they are coming on big style now. This scares me on numerous levels. First of all, I am afraid of my next electric bill. I am afraid I will scare someone by ripping my wig or hat off in the middle of an inopportune moment. I am also afraid that my dogs will lick my sweaty head in the middle of the night.

Most importantly, I am afraid of chemopause. I am afraid the hot flashes are a sign of what I've been trying to avoid. TMI WARNING: I've been lucky so far. I've had a couple of periods and am eagerly awaiting the next. Any day now. But when I have the hot flashes, I worry that my baby making machine is closing for business. Chemopause can be temporary and it can hit even after chemo. It can also happen while on hormone treatment. Other than being fatty mcchubby, menopause is the big worry. While I can revel in the money saved on tampons, I fear the money spent on IVF.

So I will hope the hot flashes, like potential chemopause, are temporary. I will walk around my house without pants because they are so damn hot, I will apologize to my husband when he's freezing and I'm screaming, "colder, colder."

I will suck it up. Meanwhile, I know the fall collections are in stores, but please refrain from sending me sweaters.

My Last Chemo


I had my last chemo on Thursday. I'd like to say it was life altering or prophetic or something, but it wasn't. It was like every other chemo. I waslked in, got weighed, asked for my two warm blankies, settled in to my lounge chair and away I went. I slept the whole time practically. When I did wake up, I had to pee. Benadryl and fluids... go figure.

The only excitement was the woman sitting next to me. It was the first time anyone was sick in the chemo room. Like pukey pukersons. And she was si-ick. She made the comment that just thinking about the flush in her port made her puke. That blows. I wanted to say something- tell her it would be okay, see if she needed to talk.

But I didn't. I didn't say anything. I slept instead. And I felt a little guilty. I mean, I was never that sick. Maybe I'm lucky. But I do know what it is like to feel that miserable. And I know what it's like to be thankful someone reached out. Next time I will. And I'm sure there will be a next time. Unfortunately.

I walked out of that chemo room with a smile on my face. I'm done with chemo. The hard part's over. But I can't help worry that I'll end up back there again. I'm not sure if that fear will ever go away. And maybe it's because of that fear that I don't feel as happy or as free as I thought I would. Maybe because I'm not done with treatment. Maybe it's because I'll still have side effects of the chemo for a while. Maybe it's because breast cancer is a sneaky little bitch and you're never actually "cured" or "in remission." Nobody knows if it's actually gone.

And that sucks. But we celebrate what we can. We enjoy the milestones when we hit them. So I will.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Ya-Yas

First of all, I apologize for not writing in a while. In all my "Grabbing cancer by the throat" shenanigans, I went out and got a life. My parents were in town, I flew to Chicago for a wedding, my brother came to visit. I drove said brother and husband around while they drank and got giggly and decided that yes, 12:30 am was a perfect time to give my parents a call... You get the picture.

Last week I met the Ya-Yas. You, know- like the book? (or movie starring Sandra Bullock that was not as good as the book?) The Ya-Yas were an amazing group of crazy southern women who did anything for each other. Oh, and they were usually drunk.

A friend of a friend's mother lives here in Hotlanta, and through this friend, she offered to take me to her support group. I wasn't sure, as I had gone to a support group already, but hell- it was a Thursday afternoon and I hadn't been to that part of the city yet.

As I drove up, a "mom looking" woman starts yelling across the parking lot, "Courtney?! Is that you? (YA-YA clue #1). I greet her and she immediately gives me a huge hug. I felt immediately like I had found my new southern mom.

Little did I know I would meet 15 more.

The minute I walked in the room, I was handed a hot pink feather boa. (YA-YA Clue #2) It was someone's birthday. (YA-YA Clue #3) Later, she would receive a long flowing wig... for her still short hair. It was amazing and black and had a huge grey streak and matted and would look excellent with a fake nose and wart and painted hat. (Clue #4)

When we began talking, I mentioned something about my younger radiation oncologist... to which the room perked up and we spent 10 minutes discussing cute doctors. The group informed me they kept a list of doctors to recommend but they considered Dr. McDreamy's to be a special section of that list. The group agreed having cute doctors was definitely a plus, if not a requirement. At one point, there was discussion of a particular doctor, to which it was mentioned they kept a picture of him. Eye candy is very important when you have cancer. (Clue #5)

Later, my southern mom informed me she has a terrible potty mouth. That it was amazing she went the whole meeting without saying "Fuck." My kind of girl. (Clue #6)

While there was no booze involved, I'm sure that was just a condition of the group being held in a church. I'm sure these women could toss back a few.

More importantly than the antics, however, was the true true support I received, even being so much younger than most of these women. It's like I walked into a huge hug the minute I walked in the room. I automatically felt like they would take care of me. Women offered to accompany other women to appointments, they offered advice on doctors, insurance, anything. They meet every week and I could tell that this group was a lifeline for many- and for some, many years out of treatment, it was a way to support those traveling through behind them.

This was a group of smart, funny, strong, beautiful women. They inspired me. They educated me. They made me laugh. And more and more, they made me proud to be a part of "the club".

Because if it brings out such generosity of spirit, it can't be all bad, can it?


Monday, July 03, 2006

Game on...

When I was in college, blissfully unaware I had a life threatening tumor growing inside my left boob, I was quite the little minx. See, I was crazy charge of just about anything I could (I know, big surprise, huh?). I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off, basically enjoying being a big fish in a little pond. I was also hot as shit. (that's a story for another day)

As only you can be at 22, I was afraid of nothing. Or perhaps that comes from being a middle class white kid who went to a fancy schmany private college with a bunch of other white kids. I would like to believe it was because I was a. brilliant, and b. simply that good.

"Game on," we would say, as our little "we could have gotten into the Ivy League but we were too busy having a life" selves would proclaim, as we took on such amazingly important tasks as funding the student government or rushing those soon to be sorority girls. "Game on," we would shout as we picked up our Dewalt drills and built some theatrical set. "Game on," we would laugh, as we stayed up all night licking envelopes or going to the Green Mill until 4am.

Game on. A late nineties phrase used to imply saddling up to a challenge. Also used in the same conversation... "not so much" or "cool beans" or "ricockulous."

Everything was a game. We were always up to the dare. I don't think I traveled in circles where people said, "sorry, I don't think so" or "I'm not comfortable with that." Life wasn't about comfort. Life was about grabbing some sack and getting it done.

Then life bitch slapped us. One by one. We couldn't find a job right away, we got cheated on by the guy we thought we were going to marry, we lost friends and GASP! we were shown that were weren't quite as smart or as talented as we once thought we were. Of course not, we were 22. "Game on" wasn't heard so much anymore. Perhaps it simply got replaced by other catch phrases. Or maybe, we lost a little of our game as real life responsibilities got in the way. You know, bills, real jobs... adult stuff. We lost a little of our fearlessness. Or maybe we just got a clue. Who's to say?

As I reflect on my lost mojo and how to get it back, I think about that time. The time when, granted it was in a bubble, I was ready for anything and afraid of nothing. Sure, real life might have made me a little less stupid, but cancer definitely wore me down.

I've let cancer take my self image, my strength, my energy. I've let it take my body, my self confidence and my fearlessness. I've let it take my hair, part of my boob and my sex drive and feeling in my fingers and toes. I've let it take way too much. I'm done. I'm taking it all back.

Game on.

Hello, my name is Courtney and I have breast cancer...

I went to my first support group meeting last Thursday. "But Courtney, you've had cancer for months, why a support group now?" Well, my friends, it is two fold... First of all, I am in a brand new city, where I don't know many people. Call it socializing, cancer style. Secondly, I never had a support group within easy access before... You know, living in the boonies and all. And thirdly, yeah, I suppose there's a thirdly, I have not actually spoken aloud about my feelings, in person, to anyone but my husband. Sure, I've talked about options, procedures, yada yada yada when I've seen my family, and I've talked about it with friends on the phone, but my friends live hundreds of miles away. I guess why maybe this blog has become more important to me than I originally planned.

So anyway, I decided it was time to speak some of this shit aloud. It was really nice. We all go to the same hospital, all have the same doctors, and we're all under 40. The rare breed. And we talked, we laughed, and yes, there was a little bit of tears. It's very hard to be witty through tears.

I was sitting there with this group of brave, strong, beautiful young women who had such balls to be going through all this. And again, I was inspired by their talents, their insight, their perspective. And I was pissed at the same time. Pissed that this disease - at any time - has made these women feel scared and alone. Pissed that it made them feel like something had been taken from them. Pissed that at any point they felt less than themselves. Pissed that they had to "recover" from anything. We shouldn't have to be worrying about this. We should be meeting boys and getting drunk and getting married. We should be having fun and having babies and having heart palpitations over our first house payment.

When I was diagnosed, I spent a lot of time (and still do) in the chat room on These women walked me through my pathology results, gave me ideas for side effect management, laughed with me over those side effects... When we weren't crying through them that is. They gave me ideas on shaving my head, what to eat during chemo and what questions to ask. Mostly, though, they gave me a place to talk about the disease and not have to explain it, not have to rationalize my feelings and not have to comfort the person you're talking to. They have been sisters and mothers and grandmothers to me, when they have absolutely not reason to be. In turn, as I move through this disease, I have hoped that I could be that to another woman who has the unfortunate ability to join our club.

So I was so glad I got to be a part of a real life support group. I am happy to do all these things face to face- to see the recognition on another's eyes as they tell you without saying a thing that they understand completely. TO laugh together over chemo stubble or peeing blue. And sometimes, maybe cry a little. Cuz after all, we are girls. And it wouldn't be a group of girls talking about feelings without some tears.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

More random pictures

Since I seem to get the most response from picture posts... here's some more...

This is Alan and the doggies... and yes, the one below is all three of them playing tug of war. Alan had had some drinks.

Harry's favorite sleeping spot... our fireplace

Harry's a construction dog....yes, that's bits of drywall all over his face.

End of random photo post.

Important Breast Cancer Article...

Just thought I'd pass this on. It's about IBC- Imflammatory Breast Cancer... I know about it cuz, well, I've read a lot of books, but most people don't. And let me tell you, even to those of us who actually have cancer, this one is scary. Please read it... it talks about symptoms and whatnot. Again, touch yourself up and get to know those girls.


Being as I'm on the upswing from my recent nervous breakdown, I have been thinking a lot about me- who I was, how I'm different, yada yada yada.

Then Alan and I went to the Tom Jones concert. Yep, you heard me correctly. Tom Jones and all his leather pants wearing, open shirt exposing, dirty mouth welshman talking, ways. See, Alan and I spent too much time on cruise ships, and somehow had become oddly fond of "What's New Pussycat" or more recently, "Sex Bomb." When I hear that song, I think of Dutch officers with no rhythm drunk off their asses trying to hit on women. It's freaking hilarious.

So off we go to this great outdoor theater thing...Think Ravinia without as much lawn if you're from Chicago. You know, old people with full candlabras and brie. And there were a fair number of old people there...being as Tom himself is no spring chicken. I think he's like 65 or something. Definitely AARP material.

Then Tom performed. And I have to say, I give the old guy props. I mean, this is the only concert I've ever been to where women swooned. And by swooned, I mean they flashed their tits and threw underwear on the stage. Really? Women do that? For Tom Jones? Are you fucking kidding me? They didn't even do that when I went to New Kids on the Block... then again, most girls there weren't wearing bras yet. But man, if we were...

So I'm watching Tom motion to his good ol' boy and women scream. He wipes his sweat with shirts, he sings. Man, he's got some pipes on him. And there's a part of me that says, "Good on you, Tom" I mean, wow- he's got some mojo. That's the only way I can describe it. Except when he danced. Ohh, that wasn't good. Stop dancing Tom... really, you're showing your age. Seriously, stop. Stop right now. Ow, my eyes. My side hurts from laughing. Stick to pelvic thrusting. Works much better for you.

Dancing aside, it's the mojo, baby. It's not just for Austin Powers. Tom Jones has it. It's that certain something that assures everyone you know you're the shit. You don't necessarily have to flaunt your fishizzle, it's just understood. You can read it in the way you hold yourself, talk to others, choices you make. Breast cancer aside- I definitely used to have it... how do you think I got all those stories I can't repeat in front of my parents? I think my mojo has hidden behind my chemo port. I can't seem to find it anywhere. And everyone has it, I know they do. So maybe it's time to embrace our own inner mojo...pelvic thrusting aside, of course. Unless you're into that kind of thing. In which case, call me later with the story.

Bottoming out...

Okay, I apologize for not writing this earlier, but you know, Star Jones got canned, Tom Cruise pimped pictures of his "daughter" (I use that term loosely) for cash, Britney posed nekkid on the cover of Bazaar... it's been a busy day or so. Oh, yeah, and I had to work.

So anyway, about a week ago I hit bottom. If I were an alcoholic, and my Lifetime movie were a mini series... last week would have been the scene where some well meaning person would have found me, Kitty Dukakis style, clutching a bottle of nail polish remover. Yes, I referred to Kitty Dukakis. The Duke in '88, baby. I digress...

Okay, so maybe I'm not an alcoholic. My bottoming out was more of a spiritual self image bottoming out. See, I had to get a new Driver's License. This entailed putting on my wig and going to the DMV. I hadn't put on my wig in a couple of weeks... it's very hot down here in the South. I struggled with the task- it involved giving up the dream that I was, in fact, still 120 pounds. When I was in Illinois and renewing my license, they would ask, "is all your info still correct?" Sure, I would say. 120. Yes. When I was sixteen, that is. Ha! Suckers.

Needless to say, I got dressed, put on my wig, and started to put on makeup. Why we bother to put on makeup for the DMV picture, I will never know. But we do. Face it. You spend a half hour on your face to wait in some smelly hot linoleum tiled room and take a split second picture that you're not even ready for. Why? So some bartender/waitress/cop who pulls you over might one day say, "Hey, nice picture"?

Stupid shit.

So anyway, back to my meltdown. Upon looking at my reflection in the mirror, which I don't do very often, I started to cry. I somehow looked...I don't know... "Garish". Yep, garish. Like some Toulouse Lautrec, Moulin Rouge wannabee. My face was fat. I mean, fat. No hiding it. My beautiful, wonderful, expensive wig didn't look right on my fat face. The hair ended right at the most unflattering spot. The make up looked like too much on my pasty face. I felt, honestly, like a bad drag queen. Like all this attempt at femininity was a sham. All the highlights and the Clinique in the world would not hide the fact that I had lost my cuteness, my hair, part of my breast... part of me really. I didn't see me when I looked in that mirror. I cried. The mascara ran. I rubbed my eyes... eyelashes came off on my fingers. I couldn't win.

So mid-meltdown, off to the DMV I went. As I was leaving, Alan asked me what was wrong, what he could do to help. I freaked out and just told him to let me go. He looked so confused as I drove away. All I wanted to do was rip off the wig, go put on some yoga pants and wake up when I was me again... fake hair color and all.

They say you have to hit bottom to come back up. That was it. That moment in the mirror. The moment I realized that for all my "you're so strong, you're handling it so well, you're a fighter" bullshit, I had in fact, lost complete control. That feeling fat was just a symptom of the greater issue. That while I had actually been "putting on my wig and makeup" for months, there was a part of my that had been taken over. So that very night, I got off my ass and decided to do something about it. I walked three miles that night. More movement than I had done in months. I'm going to find me again.

And yes, my driver's license picture is hideous. I do actually have two chins in it. And yes, when I am hot again, I will be "losing" my license and getting a new one. Cuz after all, what if I do get pulled over one day?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Gratuitous House Picture

Yeah, yeah, it's been a week. I know. And I have many posts to write. See, I've had a bit of an epiphany. But in the meantime, I've had requests for home info and pictures. So, here you go. This is my (still unfinished) office. Most of the time you can imagine me there, slaving away. Or looking online for window treatments.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

There goes my kitchen table!

Alan and I have sat and wondered many times in the past couple of months where the fuck our money has gone. I mean, I make a very decent living, enough even to support us both while Alan was finishing school. (Not to say I won't be peeing myself in glee when his first paycheck arrives, cuz I will)

Granted, we've moved, and taken on a mortgage, spent enough at Home Depot to feed a small country...but, really, there should be more cashola around. So where in blazes has it gone?

It hit me today. Cancer. Fucking Maria. I wrote a check today for $950.86 for my genetic testing. The bill finally came. Granted, my insurance covered more of the 3k test than I thought it would, and granted- they have covered lots of things, but still. This for a test that, in the early stages of diagnosis, I demanded to have- even though I didn't really have the risk factors for it. And of course now, in a more rational state of thought, it was negative. Fucking $950. That was a big chunk, if not all, of my kitchen table. Alan and I will be eating outside for a while. Good thing it's summer in the south. And I have such a cute new patio set :)

My genetic test is probably the last of the "bills" I will have to pay...thankfully. That's after deductibles, co-pays, etc. Where I really got slammed? Driving 360 miles round trip almost weekly for 3 months while going to Chicago to be treated. Then driving another 100 miles round trip from my parents to Chicago. Did you forget gas is like $2.75 a gallon? Alan and I are guessing that's probably a grand or two there. Fuck living in the boonies!

I should stop bitching... after all, one of these days I will add up how much it's costing the insurance company to treat me. Or Northwestern who was so generous with our fertility treatments. I am lucky. I have wonderful insurance, a great job and I can afford the $950. Still doesn't mean writing that check doesn't hurt a little. Who knew something 1.6 cm X 1.4 cm X 3.6 cm could be so expensive?

But I'd rather be poor and healthy than rich and sick.


You know that scene from "Old School"... The one where Frank "the Tank", Diet Pepsi in hand, refuses the beer bong at the party? When asked why, he says something to the effect of:

"We have a nice little Saturday planned. We're going to Home Depot. Maybe Bed, Bath and Beyond. We'll see if we have time. Big day tomorrow."

Yep, that is now my life. Yesterday we went to the outlet mall. The nice one- Pottery Barn, Willams-Sonoma and Restoration Hardware. All my suburban, I live in a cookie cutter house in a subdivision, heart could desire. And I desired. The end result- you're looking at it here. My current favorite home purchase. Why, you say? First and foremost, it has stripes everywhere. Many are aware of my longtime stripe obsession. If Maria, my tumor was striped, I'd probably want to keep her too. Secondly, being as we currently have no kitchen or dining room table, it now allows us to actually sit while eating. No more copping a squat on the carpet/concrete/grass for us. Alan has been grilling about 5 out of 6 nights (ARG ARG, FIRE FIRE!) so this is nice for us. I woke up this morning to find Alan reading the paper outside, drinking a cup of coffee, while my puppies played. A Pottery Barn suburban life has its perks. Almost makes you forget you have cancer.


Thursday, June 15, 2006

At least it's not cancer!

I know someone recently who had a health scare. And by health scare, I don't mean they came down with a "social disease" or anything. As in, they thought they might have cancer. The doctors were running lots of tests, there was a lot of waiting for results, yada, yada, it all sucked. Turns out it wasn't cancer. When someone told me she got her results, they actually looked me straight in the eye and said, "God, at least it's not cancer. Anything but cancer." I thought it was funny that they had the balls to say that to me. Then again, I've never been one to turn away a set of balls.

Cancer. The big "C". The "C" word. The "club". Cancer itself is a very scary word. People are afraid of the word alone. Why? Well, shit. It could be because so many people die of it. Most people I know have had a grandparent or someone die from it. Cancer is as bad as it gets. It's up there with like, I don't know- AIDS, Ebola, Bird Flu. Maybe because Cancer has no cure- only a treatment. There is no known cause. It sucks. Finding out you have cancer is probably one of the worst pieces of news there is.

So, armed with this knowledge that I am currently going through one of the scariest things you can go through in life, and that there are few things much worse (although worse forms of cancer are definitely up there) and that I am, for the most part, okay, I find this phrase "At least it's not cancer" uniquely funny. Hell, I've even been known to say, "Shit, it could be worse. You could have like cancer or something." In fact, I still say that now. Only now, it's with a sense of Alanis Morrisette Irony.

I find the phrase "At least it's not cancer" liberating. Kind of like when I got my first C in college. See, I was strictly and A and B kind of girl. But apparently when you don't show up to class, read the book, break up with your boyfriend, have your grandmother die and have tech week for a show, midterms become low on your priority list. So when I got that C in Greek Mythology, I said to myself. Wow- that sucks. The class wasn't even hard. Then again- you know what? I got a C. I'm fine. Still hot. New boyfriend. Great resume. I will not lose a job because of this C. Felt good. Felt liberated. Much like the liberation of getting cancer and hopefully coming out the other end. Well, almost like it. Although they both start with "C"- hmmmmm....

See, when you get this thing that everyone associates with one of the shittiest things that can ever happen to you- especially when you get it so young, you think...yep, I got cancer. And you know what? I'm still here. Still working, still decorating my new house, still playing with my dogs. (kylie, my golden retriever is just now learning how to fetch. We should have gotten her a back yard years ago.) So now, there's tons of crappy things that can happen. But- hey, at least they're not cancer. So if they aren't as bad and I proven I can already do cancer- then I'll probably be okay. Gives you perspective, I suppose.

You notice how my perspective is directly correlated to how I'm currently feeling? For example, see "Tears in the Shower" below. Funny. Not to say it won't be shitty sometimes. And it won't suck. And it's not scary. Because it's all those things. And there are good days and there are horrible days. Hell, it IS cancer, after all.

But if cancer also involves playing fetch with my dogs in my new backyard, watching my husband grill, I wouldn't be anywhere else. Everything else I can deal with.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Pins and Needles

I must say, this Taxol chemo is much better than my A/Cs. However, it's not without its own problems. Some of them kinda rough. The biggest side effects to Taxol are bone pain (and we know how I feel about bone pain) and neuropathy- as in tingling and loss of nerve feeling in your fingers and toes. You can also have problems with your nails. Within two days I had all of these. Granted, I didn't feel like I was going to curl up and die. I was, however, unable to walk one night. The bone pain is pretty intense. I feel it in my back, which I'm used to, but I was surprised to feel it so much in my legs. My shins, ankles and feet were wracked with pain. My legs buckled a few times and it hurt to move. Thankfully, the worst of it was over within a few days. I am left now with residual pain and a lot of tingling. It's like my feet and fingers are constantly asleep. It feels funny. And annoying. I feel kinda stupid cuz a day or so after chemo I was going on and on about how easy it was and how I was fine. I am- sort of. I just need to adjust to a whole slew of other issues. It's kind of hard to type- I can't feel my fingers and at the same time they hurt. Sort of difficult to do my job when I can't type well. I have spellcheck on overdrive with my typos. The wierdest thing so far had been my nails. The last couple of days my nails have started to hurt badly- like a slammed all of them in a car door and they could fall off at any minute. Can't drum my fingernails on my desk, can't open a can of Coke, it hurts too much. Bummer.

But I don't feel like I'm going to puke. And I have very nice drugs. It's amazing how your mood improves when you don't feel like you're going to puke your guts out. Even not walking seems not too bad.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Chemo #5- Mama's got a brand new bag!

IV bag, that is! I had my first chemo of the new kind (Taxol) at Emory last Thursday. So far, I really like Emory. The doctors are cool. They all know my oncologist from Northwestern. I feel like I'm a part of a big oncology sorority. I knew the secret handshake and everything. They don't have a penthouse or fancy individual chemo rooms, but they do have this chemo center type thing- there are like 30 little lounge chairs all set up at their own little station. Each has their own TV, their own requisite IV stands and pumps and an extra chair for the lucky mofo who comes along. Alan said it's not very comfortable.

This type of chemo takes a lot longer than my last one. Before, it was almost like drive thru chemo- I was in and out in less than 2 hours. This chemo can cause allergic reactions, so they give it to you very slowly. First there's the steroids, then there's the benadryl (for the allergic reaction), then there's the Taxol. All in, I was there almost 6 hours. Fortunately, thanks to the benadryl, I was asleep for about 4 hours of it. When I wasn't sleeping, I was peeing. They give you a bunch of fluids and my bladder is tiny.

Nothing says cancer like a bald girl dragging her IV pole and pump to the bathroom. Good times.

Being in community chemo was interesting. Because I was there so long, I watched everyone else come and go. Most were older- I mean old older. No one was even close to my age. I definitely was the most perky, even asleep. There aren't a lot of smiles in the chemo room. That's sad. Mostly people are quiet, watching TV, sleeping. Usually chemo day I feel great- almost forgetting how shitty I'll feel in a couple of days.

The downside to community chemo- people looking at you. A couple came in- it had to be for the husband's first treatment, as he still had all his hair. They were probably in their 40s- young for cancer, but not compared to me. The wife sat in her designated chair and just stared at me. Maybe it wasn't at me, but it sure felt like it. Her blank stare. It was a stare that screamed, "I'm fucking scared." She looked lost and alone. And she looked at me, with my port and my bald head, like I should be pitied. I wanted to tell her to relax, that I was going to be fine. Seriously, I'm not as sick as I look. I wanted to tell her that her husband would be okay, but then again I didn't know that.

Instead, I made jokes about unplugging my IV pump and my tiny bladder. I don't think it helped. Instead, it reminded me how scary this whole thing is. How scary it can be when you first find out. How shitty it all is. Then again, perhaps half the shittiness lies in our own attitude.

My apologies

Okay, I apologize to those of you who use this page to procrastinate. You know who you are. You have a project, a paper, a to-do list...Instead, you sit on the internet and check an assorted list of sites to put off what you're really supposed to be doing. What's the news? CNN? MSN? Celebrity gossip? Eonline? It's Monday, have you checked the latest And hey, has Courtney written any quality missives lately?

I have slacked on the job. I'm sorry. See, writing this blog is as much procrastination for me as reading it is for you. But unfortunately, I have been crazy busy. Too busy for procrastination? Really, Courtney- that doesn't sound like you. I know, I know. See, we moved across the country- and between setting up internet at all and the 1400 trips to Home Depot, it's been hard. Oh, yeah, and I also started my new chemo. Nothing says welcome to the neighborhood like a fresh IV bag of poison!

It all ends now. I have a whole list of things to chat about on this blog, so check back more regularly. I promise to keep you better up to date.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

I think I'm in love !!!!

And no, it's not with my husband, although I am quite proud of him this week. Alan graduated this weekend, second in his entire college class, no less. Who knew he was such a nerd? Certainly not me when I met him. Then again, when I met him, he was drunk in a bar wearing a "Male Escort Service" Shirt with the name "Dick" on it. No, right now, it's not with Alan. I haven't felt this way since I was bound to marry Jordan Knight from New Kids on the Block.

It's with Stephen Colbert, Alan's graduation speaker. Yes, Alan's tiny little school had Stephen Colbert. I think they asked him like 2 years ago before he was famous. I was this "-----" close to him on a couple of occasions. I stood proudly next to the kid whose sign said, "End Tyranny- Stewart/Colbert '08" My mother would not let me scream, "I love you Stephen" during his commencement address. My mom is no fun. She didn't like me hanging Jordan's poster over my bed either. I wanted him to be the last thing I saw at night and the first thing in the morning. I wonder if there's a Stephen Colbert poster?

Things about Stephen Colbert. Real life- tall. And cute. And smokes. And one of 11 children. And smart. And funny. And a fellow Northwestern alum. We're meant to be.

Anyway, his speech was funny. And well written. And serious too. And made it the best graduation I had ever been to.

For a full text of his Speech, check this out. It's a good read. Except that on the page, where it says he said "oops", he actually said fuck. Then he said, "be sure to take the Fuck out when you post this." Fuck at graduation. Why we're destined to be together.

I love you Stephen!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Have you touched yourself up today?

Yes, ladies- that means you. (Although men can get it too) Time to check yourself out. In the shower, in the mirror, whatever. Get yourself used to looking at the girls so you can tell if anything looks different. Feel free to make it a group effort. (And by group, I mean couple- or if you are in a group, I hope you're drunk.)

Seriously, please please please do this regularly. And If you're over 35, if you haven't gotten a mammogram this year, Run, do not walk, to get one. And if you're under 35 and you feel something weird, or hell, you just want to be an over achiever... and I'm all for that- get an ultrasound too. Ultrasounds are much better for younger women.

(stepping off soapbox)

Oh- we're halfway there!

Sing with me now - "Oh-oh! Livin' on a prayer..."

Anyway, I'm halfway through chemo. Sweet ass. And I am officially done with the a/c chemo. Thank fucking God. It sucked. I mean, su-ucked. If I had to do 4 more cycles of it I think I would gouge out my insides with the packing tape dispenser I currently wield. It would feel better. I'm over the hump, I think. Funny how optimistic I was about chemo before it actually started. Chemo blows. I'm very very thankful I will be switching to Taxol next week. Apparently Taxol is a breeze compared to A/C. Although who knows, I got breast cancer under 30 so I don't really hold a lot of stock in people's predictions. I was looking back on a couple of posts, and I found the one that listed all the side effects. It made me laugh out loud. My brazen screw you to side effects. How 8 weeks can change a girl.

Nausea- check. And just because the drugs keep you from puking doesn't mean you don't feel like you will at any moment.

Low blood counts- check. Sure, I got the expensive shot. The same shot's side effect of "bone pain" turned out to be almost as bad as the chemo itself.

Mouth sores- check. I currently have two cold sore like things on the corners of my mouth (think paper cuts) They've been there for about 3 weeks now. Also, about a week after chemo, it feels like I've burned the roof of my mouth.

Hair loss- check. Haven't shaved my armpits or my legs in two months. Membership has its privileges.

Fertility problems- check. Hot flashes, moodiness. I hadn't had my period since I started chemo. Although it's recently arrived. 60-some days later. TMI? Please, I've been talking about my tits and my ovaries for months. This is actually cause to celebrate. Menopause is my greatest fear. I haven't been so exited to get my period since I was in college.

Fatigue- check. Try not wanting to get out of bed.

Poor appetite- check and uncheck. Things taste funny. I only ate carbs and starches for 4 days straight. However, the steroids make sure I'm good and fat.

Discoloration of the skin or nails- hmm. No. In fact, my nails look fucking great.

"Digestive" Problems- check. Wow, I had no idea that my body good do such amazing things. When I was diagnosed, my friend Dave gave me a chemo care package with ex-lax, metamucil, beano, pepcid, mylanta, tums. I have used them all. Every day.

So, looking back, I've gotten the full buffet. Lucky me. (Raising glass) Here's hoping the next rounds are better!

Monday, May 29, 2006

Now on Lifetime, "Tears in the Shower"

If my story was a Lifetime movie- and by all accounts, it has just what a good Sunday afternoon, Thursday at 3am, cable movie should be- there would be a pivotal scene that played out in my bathroom the other night. Tori Spelling would play me... or maybe the chick who played Andy on Dawson's Creek. Anyway, Tori would be chubby and bald (and perhaps her movie-lumpectomy would have fixed the unfortunate boob job she got in real life). She would be nauseas and grumpy and tired of laying in bed for two days. Tired of feeling like shit. Tired of feeling sore. Tired of trying to be productive and work, or pack or whatever and tired of having to stop after 5 minutes. She would be taking a shower trying to feel better. Finally, Tori would just sit down in the shower, too tired to stand. She would cry. No, she would sob. Not really sure why, so I guess I couldn't give Tori her motivation. Needless to say, she would cry for a good 10 minutes. Although ten minutes is a little much for TV- even on Lifetime, so they'd had to cut to a commercial to help you with your outbreak of genital herpes.

Back to Tori- She would be crying wondering what happened to her. Finally her Lifetime movie husband would come to her aid. As Tori's hubby sits and rubs her back, not sure what to say, Tori's voice would be heard, wondering what happened to the person this wonderful man married. The woman who wasn't scared, who wasn't bald and chubby, the woman who didn't cry in the shower. What happened to the woman who grabbed life by the balls? Why did that woman no longer have the energy to even take a shower?

The scene would be very poignant. Women like me would cry.

Needless to say, the past few days have been a little rough. I have spent about 2 and a half days unable to really get out of bed. Our A/C is turned down to 65 and still Alan put a fan on my bedside table. I've tried to pack (I'm moving in a week, remember?) and I've tried to work. Can't do either. This is the most I've been up and going since Thursday. I'm also now on some wonderful narcotic. The bone pain is terrible. Although for some reason, french fries are the only things I can taste.

Back to the shower scene. Being as it's my life, of course, the scene would end with my golden retriever, Kylie. The same one who cried and jumped to be with me the day I sobbed in my parent's laundry room when I found out I had cancer. Kylie heard me crying and wanted to help me so badly, she tried to climb in the tub with me. See, it can't be all bad. I stopped crying just long enough to laugh.

To the Deluxe Apartment in the Sky

I had my last chemo at Northwestern Thursday. It was also the last of the A/C chemo. Not sure what the hell I'm talking about? There's a chemo crash course somewhere in the past entries. Needless to say, I was pretty damn excited about the last A/C. The third cycle was a little rough and I've heard the Taxol (my next type) is easier. I like easier.

Anyway, I step out of the elevator at the 21st floor at Northwestern for what will be the last time in a while. I was a little bummed about that. I've gotten used to it up there. I know the nurses, the staff... It feels a little like my cancer home. I chat with my friendly medical queens who schedule things for me, have a hard candy...It's like Cheers where everyone knows my name.

They had a surprise for me this time... yeah, you guessed it. The penthouse, baby! Getting the penthouse is actually a fluke- the nurses rotate the rooms, etc. etc. I was escorted to the penthouse and was like, "Shit! It's about time." Another nurse then proceeded to fuck with me and come in to tell me that they had to move me. No way, I said. She laughed. Ha ha! Guess you gotta get your cheap thrills where you can. I settled in to my bed, threw my hat on the counter, checked my email and checked out the view. I wanted to take full advantage of what a million dollar view looks like. Checked out the sailboats in the lake, watched the Ferris wheel spin at Navy Pier, saw all the new construction along the lakefront. No wonder my bills are so high!

Funny thing is... the chemo isn't any better in the penthouse. Same old shit. Better view.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Puke and Rally

When you don't see posts regularly on this thing, it is for one of two reasons:
a. I feel too shitty to be witty. (Wow- was that good or what?)
b. I am in Hotlanta, covered in paint.

The last week has seen both of these. We drove down last Thursday. I worked, Alan painted. Alan is very good at all things home related. I think I'll keep him.

It's funny. Every chemo cycle it takes another day longer to get back to normal. So I guess it's not funny ha-ha, more like funny that sucks. My first cycle I was good to go by about Tuesday the next week. The second one was Wednesday. In fact, we drove down to close on the house the week after chemo and I was good to go.

Not so this last week. I was still feeling crappy a week after. We drove down, again on a Thursday. Alan drove and I tried to get comfortable in the passenger side. Sometimes this was harder than others. For example, Harry, our Newfoundland, likes to rest his head (it's very heavy, you see) on the headrest above me and pant. His hot, stinky dog breath feels very weird on my bald head. I tried to sleep past the 400 foot cross and the signs that said, "Hell is real". I love the South. No such luck. At one point, I felt like I might die. It came over me like a wave. I guess that's why they call it waves of nausea, huh? I thought I might pass out. I was hyperventilating. I was whiter than my usual pasty shade. We stopped so I could die for a moment. No help. We soldiered on. Alan asked what he could do. I told him get me there ASAP. He drove while I cried. I felt so shitty. Only during cancer have I felt so bad physically that I cry. Usually it's just over Dawson's Creek. Or the 90210 where Dylan's brand new wife (the one with all the hair) gets shot. He cries in her wedding dress. I cry. I digress...

Anyway, we stop at a McDonalds to allow our doggies a little pee time and I proceed to puke all over their bushes. And all over my $2.99 Old Navy Flip Flops. Felt a little like high school. Funny thing, though- I felt so much better. Really- should have shoved my finger down my throat 2 hours ago. I felt so good I had some food.

Puke and Rally, baby.

So, I have officially been sick. Today I have my final chemo of this type- the dreaded A/C. Can't wait to see what this cycle brings.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Seriously- my shoes weigh 27 pounds, I promise!

That is what I told my oncology nurse at my last appointment. See, I was on the scale- that heartless bitch wrapped in metal- and I was seeing numbers I had never seen before. The nurse laughed- real easy for her, she didn't pop the button on a pair of pants that week. She reminded me that breast cancer patients gain up to 15 pounds on average in chemo. Thanks again. I'm right on schedule to gain about 30.

I was never a super skinny chick. I used to have some rock hard muscles...Okay, that was when I was like 19, but can't we all live the dream? Since coming back to land (ie. McDonalds, constant snacks in the fridge, living with a boy) I have struggled with my weight in a way I never though I would. I never used to worry about it. My college roommates used to bitch that I could toss back a double cheeseburger (and about 15 kahlua and creams) and not bat an eye.

Alas, those days are gone. I was in pretty decent shape when I got married. Then of course, I let myself go :) Actually, I blame working at a car dealership with a bunch of smelly boys 12 hours a day. There was always bad food to order. I buy, you fly- and I flew baby!

Right around the time I first went to the doctor, I was getting a bit upset at myself for being the fattest I had ever been (don't worry, I have since shown myself that this is not the case). I proceeded to get my ass in gear and lost like 10 pounds. I was very pleased with myself. I was having healthy relationships with broccoli and asparagus. (before you make any comments about what those veggies do to your body, don't bother, my husband's made them already)

Then I found out I had cancer. Diet over. Stress eating? Check. Not enough energy to cook well? Check. Maria wants McNuggets? Check and check. I gained all the weight back. Then I harvested my eggs and became a human hen house. I thought the worst has passed. Oh, no, Karma Kitty says. I would like you to be bigger. On chemo, the only thing that seems to make my stomach feel okay is to fill it with things. It could also be the steroids or the fact my hormones are all sorts of fucked up. If I was blue I'd be like that chick on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Someone pop me, please.

I sort of wish I had been one of those people who actually LOST weight because they had cancer. I imagine myself in heroine chic, meth induced, nicole ritchie sunglasses with my bald head. Not so, I'm afraid. I have kissed my chin goodbye again.

While I greet this unfortunate set of circumstances with jokes and black humor, I have to admit, seriously for a second, that this is the worst thing to me about having cancer. At least right now. The hair- fuck it, it'll grow back. And yes, I will lose the weight- I hope. But I'll have to work at it. And dammit, I sort of believe I shouldn't have to work at it. Haven't I worked enough? Until then, I look at closet where none of my clothes fit- not even my fat jeans. I see my squishy profile in the mirror and it's a reminder f how shitty this is. I remember how hot I once was- not cuz I was skinny, but just because I was hot. I was a force to be reckoned with. I walked in a room and people noticed- although perhaps it was more for my loud mouth and fabulous stories. Now all I feel like people notice is the chubby chick who has cancer. No amount of Burberry hats will cover that up. I feel a bit like I've lost my mojo. Like it's somewhere in there, but my ass is so big you can't see it.

And at the risk of sounding bitchy- it's easy for everyone to say, "don't worry about it. You'll be fine. Just focus on getting well." yada yada. Easy for you to say. You don't have ten pairs of size 6 shorts taunting you as you're about to move to HOTlanta.

Wow. Shitty post, huh? Maybe Dairy Queen will make it better.