Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Ghosts of Chemo Past


So you know what my last Christmas was like. 

This year, it's better. Taking time off work to sort myself out. 

There's loads of strenuous physical activity, which feels good. Cleaning out closets, reorganizing everything for maximum efficiency, and feng shu-ing the living shit out of everything I come in contact with. Donating literal trunk loads of household items to charity. Mike finds the most incredible things on the street and we donate those too. Some of the biggest items sold there have been from Mike's keen eye for street treasure. 

Nailing down that at-home transcription work, paying bills, trying to figure a way out of this debt. Hating feeling so physically disconnected from spirit and body. For fleeting moments feeling a hint of my former kick-ass self but always losing it. Changing the part in my hair, putting on Pinterest-worthy makeup for no reason at all. 

And...the cooking. Rich, decadent, small portions but all excellent. 

Eggs baked in avocado, with broiled buttered rib eye steaks. Deviled egg shooters. Roasted pork loin wrapped in thick bacon slices, with roasted potatoes, cooked low and slow. 15 bean soup. Homemade protein bars. Creamy tomato soup from scratch. Dirty Alfredo. 

I'm trying to conjure magic everywhere.  It cannot be done without potions.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Channeling Al Pacino

In one of the Godfather sequels, Al Pacino has a great line that is something like "Just when I think I'm out....they PULL ME BACK IN!"  

So goes my career in the law field. 

I have a gig, part-time, as a receptionist. It's one of the best jobs ever - easy, no-stress, lots of smiling and chatting up clients, counsel, visitors. I refill the candy jar and straighten the magazines. I polish the reception area and keep it tidy. Sometimes, if I'm bored, I will take to Pinteresting and Ebaying, and playing Christmas music. What a splendid, amazing, beneficial change from my former career of unending terror. 

That is, until I agree to work till the end of the year in the back office. 

Ugh. I've been here before....stress, deadlines, attitudes from a plethora of individuals. Dealing with huge insurance companies, many other lawyers and doctors.

I hate it. 

I hate too, that the reason I'm there is because someone else got let go. Someone I really like, that has been through a hell of a lot of horror this past year. Boxing up her things makes me feel sick, and traitorous, even though she would bear me absolutely no ill will.

So, maybe it's easy to understand my absolute disinterest and reluctance to perform like my former show-dog self. What's funny is...I could if I wanted to. It's there, inside me, that ability. But to unleash it fully would mean my own ruin. There is not enough money in that building to convince me to take it on.

Yes, I know, I'm such an asshole!  After all, it's not like this is anything useful to society, or worthy, or anything to be truly proud of.

Here's the deal - after cancer, you will know what you want to do and what you have no desire to spend time doing. Me, I'd rather be doing my PIYO, redecorating my house, napping with the kitties and the Mikester, or enjoying the weather.

So, January comes around -- unlike Al, I'm OUT.

Infomercial of Pain

I've been vaguely threatening you all with my promises to get fit and lose weight. Sure, Tamoxifen and chemo-induced menopause are partly to blame. Truly, though, it's bad management. I have a pretty good idea too, that if I were working out and eating right, consistently and well, all of my chunk would melt away. 

You as a body owner, just can't keep letting every nefarious thing into your temple and thinking there will be no bad endings. Sugar, white flour, processed food are just bad for business.

Another result of allowing SHIT into your temple is a lack of solid, uninterrupted sleep. What to do late at night, when one is wide awake and waiting for the Tums to kick in?  

Infomercials!

HSN and QVC are great, what with their flirty, fluttery, body-friendly clothing. I already have way too much of those acetate wonders and I fucking refuse to go up yet another size. A few nights ago PIYO was on, slinging their program.  PIYO is a branch of Beachbody, and is an acronym for Pilates/Yoga. The instructor is fit but not overly muscled, perky and pretty. She seems filled with a joy that I have a hazy recollection of during my workout-years. She says that the beauty of the workouts is that ANYONE, ANY SIZE and ANY AGE can do them, and shows before and after results with real ladies. The transformations are amazing, but not overly-sensational. They appear to be real. 

I foment excitement over a few days, then sign up for PIYO on the Beachbody site. This morning, I did my first workout, "Sweat".  

Chalene, the instructor, is refreshing and awe-inspiring in her fitness and grace. She's encouraging without being an asshole (Yes I see you Jillian Michaels), yelling (ditto) or being overly dancy. There is gentle, easy to follow, non-bouncy movement and lots of stretching. Still, the bitch means business. Mikey comes out during the last 15 minutes of it, and only utters sleepy, "Damn woman", "Whoooa!" before dragging his ass back to bed. He's impressed.

I learn that the rest of the program is only available on DVD, even though streaming is available for Sweat. Fine then, thanks to Ebay, it's on the way. 

Already the pain is setting in...that fine, dull, happy muscle ache that has not visited my temple for years. It's nice to see it again. So instead of hurrying along its visit and not enjoying the painful, awkward moments, I decide to welcome it with open arms, and even invite it in for a much longer stay. We have forgotten each other. 

Monday, November 30, 2015

Out from the dumpster and into the light

Yep, Glenn made it out. Just like I thought too!  He hunkered down, and waited that evil disease out. Crawled out, dirty, beat and tired but alive. 

Glenn, I'm out too. 

Unexpectedly, I am thrilled with my new part-time job. Hey! I'm a receptionist! It's easy, fun and I love my new co-workers. Best of all --- When I leave at 5, there is no worry or thought, or dread of the next day/clients/issues. No more appellate briefs! No more divorce clients calling me on my cell phone!!! No more scheduling nightmares or paralyzing fear of missing a deadline/court date/consult. No more boring, dull, stupid transcriptions. It's just....great. It's challenging in its own way, but very social, exciting and a nice environment.

I job-share with a gal named Karen, she does Mondays and Tuesdays. She's gorgeous, thin and stylish. Yet, she's super cool and human. We trade some war stories during her training, and end up laughing like banshees. She is just like my new friend Heather, same deal. Heather, send me some Sugar Smash lives and as you were.

Zippers for tits!

Ahhhhhh, the holidays. 

This year is a vast improvement from 2014, when I was by turn, nauseated, vomiting, or otherwise ensconced in never-ending violent bouts of Perjeta-fueled diarrhea. By Christmas day, I'm sporting zero tits, 3 surgical drains (with blood and waste filled bags!), and many, many, metal staples where my fine breasts formerly sat. Really, my chest looks like it's got two shittily-sewn zippers upon it. Pain does not really describe the cigar burn sensations under my right arm, or my mental state. Sleep and regular movement are dim memories. 

I'm bald too and kinda green. That fits with Christmas.

Can you blame me then, for sending my hubby off to dinner alone, while I sobbed myself to the floor watching Faith Hill on PBS? I wanted the poor guy to have some kind of holiday. Faith possesses the physicality and vocal talent of an angel, and I love/hate her for this, her ability to reduce me to a fetal, tear-covered twitching ruin. And, her breasts seem perfect. Damn. This. Real. Life.

This year things are different. 

Today I find a surprisingly nice looking, pre-lit artificial tree at a huge discount. My new job is only from Wednesday through Friday. Instead of dreading Monday, I'm enjoying the beautiful weather and decorating the tree to surprise my hubster. We'd talked about getting a real tree, but frankly, I'm into all things easy nowadays, so long as the reward outweighs the perceived sacrifice. He agrees - we enjoyed the fully cooked Thanksgiving meal we purchased from Publix too. I make some other nice small things - deviled eggs, brie with mango chutney, a relish tray. It's all devoured and enjoyed. We walk around the neighborhood and watch the parade. Sleep comes easy and lasts long, with nice dreams and no pain. 

His birthday is tomorrow, and he likes the silly Dump Cake that I find on Allrecipes. It's easy, delicious and just right. 

As its aroma fills the house, I'm reminded of all those times he went with me to appointments, scans, lab draws, chemo-fucking-therapy, doctor visits, prosthesis fittings. Never did he miss one thing. How he cried with me the first time we removed my bandages and saw the devastation where seeming perfection used to be. How he would lead me from the breakdowns to his arms during the horrific initial diagnosis. The unflinching, caring and precise stripping of my surgical drains. Washing me when I could not move my own arms. 

Maybe this freakin' cake just ain't good enough. Good thing I got that Marilyn Monroe 2016 calendar and new tires for his truck. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Under the Dumpster with Glenn

I'm a very late-coming fan of the Walking Dead. I can't take all the melodramatic apocalyptic human condition. I wish Darryl be the only one the ability to speak, since he does not take to whining and just looks so good on that motorcycle. I could watch him wandering around the post-deader Georgia woods for hours. 

Cancer has an amazing ability to shred the veil you've been living behind, and expose the raw, real, true nature of life. This is a blessing and a curse. 

Likewise, things that seem wholly unconnected are now synced. Everything has a message, an idea, a lesson--seemingly mundane things, even fictitious television shows for example. 

So....Glenn, last time we saw him, was buried in zombies, those unstoppable, hungry, evil things that want to destroy him. I'm not sure who's guts those are being chowed upon as Glenn wails in horror, but you can see he's pretty much done. Helpless to escape and powerless to stop the grinding menace. His resilience is  waning and you can almost see him want to give up. 

Fun White Trash Fact:  That dumpster may be in Georgia, but if it's like the industrial ones here, it is on wheels and/or short legs. Off the ground, just a little. Maybe just enough for Glenn to crawl under and hunker down till the assault is over.  

Parallels, me and Glenn. Our safe, normal worlds ended, and calamity, death and horrors followed, for a long time. We've been wounded and displaced.  Neither one of us is ever going to be the same, and never whole. Life has gone on, and we've become different people. 

And maybe we both found a crack to squeeze into at the last moment, just enough space to hide until it's safe to come out again. 

Friday, October 30, 2015

My apologies, John Cusack

If you have read some of my blog, it is surely apparent that I am a bit quirky. Okay, so some would say weird, bitchy, and that I have maybe less fucks to give than a lady should. 


Right on all counts.

Poor John Cusack.... he has been the recurring character in my dreams for a few years. So frequently in fact, we greet each other like true old friends each time. "Hey! How's it going?" AND, no, no. it's not about sex, although there is one time where I demand he throw down. What can I say?  It started to get to me, after walking the streets of Sarasota all night long with the king of 80's angst. It's like this....John Cusack and my hubster are one in the same in the dreams...I know it's Mikey, but he sometimes looks like Cusack, and vice versa. The feeling is always amazing and electric between us. 

Damn you, John Hughes. 

So last night, I am dreaming away, and it's fabulous. Mike/John and I are at some odd resort....it's winter but not, snowing but sunny. The place looks from the 50's, woodgrain and formica all around. Mostly it's deserted, but boasts a indoor (?) basic fucking ocean, complete with jumping dolphins and sharks. It has many rooms, a bar called the Blue something or other, and no bathrooms that a lady might consider. 

Then, the nirvana. We are playing scratch off lotto and matching the winning numbers one after another. And just like that, we win 52 Million dollars. Even dreaming, I'm a paranoid planner--NO! We cannot tell anyone till we get the ticket in the safe deposit box!  

But then, we are transported to our kitchen with all our friends--I remember hugging Cindy, who introduced us, with a fierceness and saying, "all our problems are over". A feeling of all-encompassing joy like I have never, ever experienced envelops me. I am dead asleep.

And then I wake. 

So. Sorry John Cusack. Maybe he has been having nightmares involving a short, round, old lady with no boobs, chemo damage and a bad attitude stalking him. Perhaps he misses the 80's too. 

I'm buying lotto tickets tomorrow.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Remote

During treatment, mostly when nauseated, memories of my former life as a paralegal would keep me entertained.

My first job in the legal field--working for a mentally ill, spastic and eventual social disgrace. Subsequent jobs with the very pillars of the community--some quasi-normal, most with addictions to one thing or another - work, money, social status, trophy wives. The creepy guy that thought a slap on my nubile 21-year old ass (very slapable back then) appropriate. Me, not confident enough to elbow him in the face and stomp on his crotch at that time. The endless succession of others - a Libertarian that was very open about, his group sex activities (and the endless parade of hookers through the office); the devout Catholic in denial of her son's prolific porn addiction (despite it crashing our systems constantly); the married Nerd in love with the likewise married office administrator, an arctic bitch that had a love hate relationship with bipolar disorder and simply played him like the love-sick retarded tool he was. Workaholics, alcoholics, drug addicts, sexual deviants, drama queens, control freaks, micro-managing psychopaths and narcissists. I've worked for them all. I've been sexually and verbally harassed, had things thrown at me, been screamed at and treated like garbage.

It's maybe troubling that there have been so few normal, kind, amazing mentors - Steve K., Tommy A., Tommy B., Steve H., Nevin of course.   

After breast cancer and all its particular horrors, it's difficult to consider return to the standard legal office environment. Really, the thought keeps me up at night. 

So....I am delighted at my job offer today for remote transcription, from a reputable firm and it's been a real work to find it. Tomorrow we are revamping my home office.  My new foot pedal and computer are on the way. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Why your screening mammogram sucks

What, you thought that you were well protected with those much applauded mammograms?  Safe, because even it cancer strikes, you will find out right away and it won't be a big deal?  Feeling even safer, because there is no family history and you lead a healthy, active lifestyle?

Not necessarily. If you have dense breast tissue, please investigate further. Do not depend solely on this tool.

Why?  Because my mammogram was squeaky clean, a mere 3 months prior to my Stage II (bordering Stage III) IDC was discovered (by me feeling the very large lump in my breast). Also by then, it had already spread to at least one lymph node. Scary, yes?

Even more concerning, was my Oncologist's seeming nonplussed reaction to the timing and "clean" mammogram. Well, she said, with dense tissue, it's impossible to see it sometimes. What. The. Hell. Apparently, it is not uncommon to miss it with a normal mammogram, which is the standard test, the one I relied on for years and subjected myself to, and its false sense of absolute security. Did you also know that reading scans is somewhat of an art form?  That different practices and fields have differing diagnostics?  That the skill of the radiologist is paramount?  Had my cancer not been so prominently placed and large, it would easily have progressed to Stage IV, quickly. I'm grateful it was such an attention whore and placed itself right under my nose. I can tell you that the minute the ultrasound was brought out, the entire tone of the staff changed from routine to serious business, mere minutes after the diagnostic mammogram tech told me that it was likely a cyst!  I knew I was in some trouble then.

There is talk of legislation and it may already be required in some states, that patients with dense breast tissue are advised that a regular screening mammogram may not be sufficient as a screening tool. It was not the case in Florida in 2014, and though I knew that my tissue was dense, the full ramifications and dangers were never explained to me, and no other option besides a plain old screening mammogram ever advised or even discussed. Perhaps if I'd had the ultrasound my cancer would have been discovered earlier, saving me much pain, money, suffering, disfigurement and trauma.

Maybe we need a new slogan for October, "If your breasts are dense, take offense."    

Della Street, RIP

Yesterday I stopped in my old office to chat up my former boss and his new assistant, my replacement.

And to my surprise, found myself just a little bit jealous and sad. Since it was my choice to not return to this job, these feelings caught me off guard and left me anxious.

The fact that the office did not cave into a sinkhole in my absence had something to do with it. Everything is running smooth and by the numbers. It's annoying and comforting at the same time - I really loved working with Nevin and the great working relationship we had. So it's good that he's happy with the replacement. She's wonderful.  I'm struggling to find a decent job and failing. The old ego is taking a blow.

Some Buddhist book gives sage advice - it says to pretend to be a cork floating in the ocean, and not fight the riptides and currents, lest you go under. Better to ride the waves and not expend energies needlessly. That office is no place that needs me anymore, and certainly it's nowhere I wish to be. Maybe the horizon will unveil a safe, sustaining island soon.

Moving On

Having cancer has been sort of a liberating experience. Nothing scares me anymore except the prospect of it revisiting. 

After 23 years in the same home, we have made the decision to sell. It's not just the cancer thing, but the idea of future comfort. We are 52 and 48 respectively and we really need a new setting for the next phase of life. This old house, wood frame--lots of potential but needs extensive updating. Enormous yard, and all the plant proliferation a jungle-like climate brings. I am no longer a gardener and it's a full-time prospect keeping it looking tidy. The realities of physical aging. The precious commodity of time. 

It's a seller's market here and headed even higher. And so, we are working on downsizing, selling things on Ebay and Letgo, cleaning out the clutter. Making a void for new and better things to enter. 

So, today on Ebay I'll be putting on my favorite (and now useless) bras and swimwear, that do not work with my prosthesis. Maybe it will stop the dreams that always seem to involve my breasts-having them, losing them, missing them. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Bitch is Back!

Maine was wonderful, and more posts about the vacation will follow. Meanwhile, enjoy my handsome hubby and our camp in this photo.

Awoke yesterday and realized perhaps there is some post-traumatic stress going on. 

I feel almost back to normal and stellar distances from it.  Did a temporary gig for an extremely unpleasant (and of course, very successful) divorce attorney. I loved the staff and never saw the attorney once, which is good, considering how much the staff hates said counsel. Did another one for a very cool real estate attorney in a beautiful office with nice people. My mental fog has cleared (the chemo brain that your oncologist will say does not exist) and my physical energy is rising in proportion to my fitness. Maybe if my doctors had told me with authority that working out would make such a marked, immediate difference I'd committed sooner. 


Pinktober and Me

It's been a bit rough lately and it's not just that it's Pinktober. I know I should be overjoyed and grateful. Even if my cancer does return, it's not here yet. Not wanting to waste time and energy considering the horrid possible outcomes. And guilty for doing just that thing.

And everywhere, some garish pink sign telling me to BE AWARE. Yeah, thanks! The thing is, I was aware. Are these Pinktoberettes aware that my precious, regular mammograms MISSED my large cancer, 3 months before my self-diagnosis?  I wanna ask but it may come off bitchy. 

Despite the rage-inducing awareness blast each October brings, the return to normalcy is bizarre and welcomed. It is a gift not facing surgery or chemo, going to the doctor, the hospital, the lab draws. I am developing a new appreciation for my body and giving it loving care - gentle Pilates and yoga, low impact exercise to burn the excess poundage. Eating properly and less. Less processed food. Less alcohol. More sleep. Happy thoughts. 

Looking for work again is uninspiring. There are lots of jobs that appear for family law paralegals, but the mere thought brings shudders. So, wish me luck with my fledgling writing career. I'm actually seeking writing gigs, something that would never have happened pre-BC.


Saturday, September 5, 2015

Lucky Girl

Before Breast Cancer, I actively avoided all forms of social media.  
I am more than a little chagrined to have embraced it now so totally. It's been interesting to reconnect with old friends.  

I mostly lost touch with my childhood friends and my mother's family after puberty. We all went our separate ways, moving, going to a different schools and otherwise evolving. Some stand out - Brenda, Lolly, Kim, Joy and Denise.

Circa 1980, Denise is one of my best friends. We are very close. She seems to possess everything I want - a pretty normal, intact family, a lovely home with air conditioning and cable television, the best clothes, latest records, makeup and spending cash. She has no siblings to compete with and is somewhat spoiled.  While she is pretty and thin, she's not beautiful. She knows it, and constantly laments her freckles and nose. She is adopted and cannot get over this ultimate rejection of her birth parents. She uses it against her adopted ones like a sword and they give in to her constantly. I happily enjoy some of these spoils with her, but secretly scorn her seeming ungratefulness. These people went through mountains of bullshit to adopt her, and they love her and give her whatever she wants. Denise's parents are not perfect, but they are solid and steady. They each drink one beer a night with dinner and that's it for substance abuse. There is no drama, other than what Denise creates. I think she is a very lucky girl.

We go through many tumultuous, pivotal moments together - puberty itself, my parent's divorce; smoking marijuana and drinking beer in the woods near my house; skipping school; dating; losing our virginity. I have pictures from the trip her folks took us on the now defunct River Country at Disney. We are achingly young, sunburned, smiling and happy.  

Things change. Denise is more willing to push the envelope where drug experimentation is concerned. I'm scared to be around that, and the sketchy fuckers involved. Little by little, we lose touch. I only hear of her exploits through the grapevine - she's overdosed on something, she's attempted suicide, she's acting strangely. She chases one boy in particular with manic devotion. He of course, uses and discards her harshly. For revenge, she ends up with his unattractive, hard-partying cousin, who treats her like garbage and cheats constantly. 

The last time I see Denise is at the Trail Drive Inn. She is there with the cousin and his crew. They all seem like bad news and way too old to be hanging with teenagers. Denise is uncharacteristically joyful and beaming. She tells me that she is pregnant and to marry the cousin. She is 16.

I possess my own self-destructive tendencies, but cannot comprehend her decision. So I tell her what I think - that she's crazy. What about that fully paid college that her folks have planned? She laughs it off, unperturbed by my genuine concern. 

Over the years, I've often thought of her. I was pleased to find her on social media, looking good and healthy, and pursuing a career in natural medicine. It looked like she got through it all, and wound up in a good place, feeling like she belonged.

I'm happy for her, until I click the next link. It shows her mugshot from last year, apparently when attempting to purchase Heroin a few days before Christmas. It's wrenching. Her hair is messed and neglected, showing much gray. Her eyes are empty and resigned. 

I don't search for any more links. It's better to remember her at River Country, jumping off slides and running with me on the rope ladders, our 13 year-old bodies strong and untouched by intoxicants. Or at Disney while her dad tirelessly taking our pictures as we model our sunburned faces and Mickey Mouse shirts. Singing along to REO Speedwagon in her room, a cool oasis in the middle of a sweltering summer. Putting on our first make-up together and picking out Sergio Valente jeans at the Big Apple. 

I'm a lucky girl. 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Ordinary Wonders

Okay, I promise, not to become a survivor zealot, but simple things are a thrill these days. My husband's sexy way of looking at me sometimes. Owning a home. Waking up. Sleeping in. Clean sheets. Good coffee that is made before you wake up. Breath. Walking. More of less full range of motion. Rain, sun, wind, clouds. Time, money and ability to pursue hobbies. Being a fine cook. Watching something good on TV. Being truly loved and loving someone back. Having good pets that miss you when you are away. Not having cancer. 

These are all things that were taken for granted pre-BC, when I was a normal, healthy woman. 

I can't wait to taste the air in Maine and its piney, dense coolness. The dirt road up to the lake, rutted and rough in places, then flat and smooth. Leaves and rocks. Fall color just beginning in the trees. Apple orchards opening. Church bake sales. Yard sales and thrift stores by the dozen. Road trips to the ocean, deep woods and cities. Napping. Reading, hearing the wind rustle the tall birch trees. Visiting with friends--drinking cheap wine with Kim; eating Cindy's amazing food; driving with Bruce at the wheel telling ghost stories and thus scaring the shit out of us on a dark Maine night; finding Dolly at the old place. Branch Lake, Eagle's Nest, Bangor's old and charming streets. 

And the best thing of all, at the end of each day of adventure and fun, snuggling with my husband in flannel, listening to the night creatures and drifting off to sleep. 


Sunday, August 30, 2015

Maybe some Demons are real



It has been a difficult month and I have not felt like posting.

Melinda died. She was diagnosed with Stage 4 Ovarian cancer from the start.

Melinda and I were not close friends, but she was special to me. I met her in her work as a Doctor of Chinese Medicine. She helped tremendously during my father's freight train descent into dementia and ruin and my recalcitrant uterus crisis (which occurred simultaneously, of course). I'll never forget her calm, cerebral manner or her deft hand with an acupuncture needle. Tears of rage, sadness and relief poured from me on her table. I discovered my third eye. It was safe with her to let it out. She was a kind, magic soul.

Our niece is in Hospice care, dying of Stage 4 colon cancer. She has a rare, horrific form that only affects 1% of persons diagnosed. In 6 months, it has gleefully eaten its way through 3 different types of chemo, which it apparently considers as a fucking fertilizer. It grows more aggressive by the day. It is everywhere inside her now and she is in unbearable pain. She turns 37 in a few days.

There are so many more that we have lost to this scourge. Mike's mother-breast cancer; my father-acute myoblastic leukemia; my brother-in-law's mother-brain cancer; Sadie-breast cancer; Kevin-lung cancer. On and on.

My birthday has come and gone. I am now 48, and though I've much to celebrate, it's bittersweet. There is a cake, wine and lovely flowers. I am grateful and happy to be alive. My scars are mostly healed and there is every reason to believe my good prognosis. We are going to our favorite place on Earth for a long restful vacation and time with our favorite people. I have no horrid, high-pressure job to think about. There are many, many good things to savor and enjoy.

I'm a rebel child of a mentally ill mother, who was obsessed with religion. She was so sure that demons were real, and could manifest in a variety of ways - child molesters, murderers, rapists, etc. She was convinced that some souls were impervious to such extremes and that sometimes, entities would use other means to destroy-alcoholism, drug addiction, smoking, and disease. Though I've spent years, and many dollars, on therapy, to undo her seemingly crazed delusions - I can't help but wonder. 

Cancer seems like a perfect evil thing. 




Monday, August 10, 2015

Totem for a Heathen

I'm spiritual but not religious, at least not in the conventional Western sense. My childhood was filled with religious-fueled manic highs and lows of my mother's mental illness. One week we were Pentecostal. The next, Seventh Day Adventists. Baptists for a short time. 

None of these sects filled up the holes inside my mother's precarious psyche, but it sure gives me loads of interesting stories. By age 8, I can mimic demonic exorcism (for smoking and drinking "demons") and speak in tongues (gibberish). My powers of imitation begin with making fun of the slew of pastors, preachers and other various church goers that I am forced to spend my weekends with. Religion is dark and God seems to be a bit of a bipolar asshole. My friends love my stories about my crazy mother. 

Nowadays, I have a healthy aversion to all things supernatural. Except for my own altar of faith. 

It's just a bookcase, blond colored Ikea style. It holds nothing expensive or rare, nothing of any real monetary value. Lots of books - old cookbooks, mixed volumes on eastern religion, a few quirky and unusual titles. My favorite wedding photo, where we are untouched by time. My grandmother's cheap metal Christ statue draped with her rosary beads. Her hand mirror and pin from Zayre's. Statues of elephants. Crystals, my father's coins, rocks from Maine. My dad's dog tags and key chain, his watch. Every single card sent to me during treatment. Marble eggs to symbolize growth, rebirth, change. The handwritten notes from my oncologist with the words, "curable" in her neat script. My final pathology report indicating my complete response to chemotherapy. 

I accept all prayers gratefully and sincerely. They come by accident, coincidence and with terrific purpose. Strangers hug me and hold my hands, and allow me to cry on their clothes, embracing me fully and without a hint of embarrassment.  And, well...all this seems to work. I've come to learn - what harm is a little faith in the dark?  

For now, the bookcase will stay, undisturbed except for a dusting to keep the energy clear. Everything about it makes me happy, grateful and amazed. 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Cabin in the Woods

We are fortunate to have a vacation place in Maine. It's nothing fancy - but if you love old log cabins surrounded by beauty, it's perfect. 

It's an original cabin built by hand in 1927. Solid as concrete now. We have owned it since 2006, but it's been in Mike's family for decades. We have many friends that all live nearby and which Mike has known since he was a child. I just cannot wait to see them and it will be soon. 

Last year, just before we were to leave for our Maine vacation, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Allegiant Air refused to refund our tickets. I suppose the credit they offered, sans a $150.00 "service fee" and their offer of extending the travel date till March 2015 was decent. However, when I advise that March is not an ideal travel date for MAINE, and that I was still undergoing active treatment and very ill, they refused and scolded me for not being smart enough to purchase travel insurance. So, fuck you Allegiant. I am sure our $600 saved you from bankruptcy. 

My friend Kim lives there, and though I was not lucky with my birth family, my good fortune is with friends. Kim is wicked funny, has a bottomless heart and I love her like a sister. We are low maintenance women - our favorite things to do are site-seeing, day trips, thrift store shopping. At night, we sit around a campfire, chit chat, drink some beer, eat some good food and laugh our asses off. Our husbands together are nearly manageable, but they are like two peas in a pod. They put up with us giving them crap and acting like fools. There is no better time spent than with Kim and Bruce. 

We like to take night walks up to the pristine, unspoiled lake by our camp. It is a nature conservation area, which means there are no houses built right on the lake and never will be. It's as quiet and beautiful as anyplace can be. Nothing like the stars and moon seen from a high lake in Maine, with no interfering city lights, people, or sounds (except woodland creatures crunching on brush). It's the antithesis of Sarasota and I absolutely crave it. 

Deportation and it feels so good.....

I am now deported.

The port removal goes fine. Excellence in staff and facilities makes a huge difference. My pre-op RN is also a cancer survivor. We are legion.

The coffee tastes like heaven in the recovery room and since I need little pain control, we are out of there before noon. Taking it easy today, it is pretty sore but nothing like after insertion. I'm taking mild painkillers as needed, with a chaser of stool softener and prunes. 

The notion that all my active treatments are completed has still not entirely sunken in, but the absence of the port feels wonderful. I want to leave this hellish foreign place for my old, familiar country. This land is full of gravely, scary roads and shadows, hidden ruts where I get lost. Dead ends and swamps of pain. The only way through it is to keep moving, ignore the horrors and hang on.

I think I'm near to home. 


Monday, July 27, 2015

Hair and Boobs-a tribute

I have only two physical gifts in this life - my hair and my boobs. Well, I used to.

Of course the boobs are long gone, replaced by scar tissue and hazy memories of their amazing 1980's superpowers. That was a good decade for us...fables of the reconstruction can never come close to the originals. Damn right - they were exceptional. Perfectly shaped, perfectly sized C cup, perfect nipples, all of it.  I know I was lucky. 

As for the hair, it's back but has changed personalities. Whereas it used to be thick, soft and straw straight, it is now still thick, but oddly wavy and coarser. Like I always wished it was. It takes moments to style - towel dry and hair paste. That's it. It will stay all day, and does whatever I want it to. 

It is very normal for the hair to come back differently after chemo. Some say that eventually, it will return to its usual pre-BC state. Some say it won't. 

I hope it stays though - it's one reminder that I can live with. 

Back to the gym again

San Francisco did leave me with an awful cold, a mutant strain that caused non-stop sneezing, eye weeping and runny nose. Hard to breath through all the mucous. Really, it's disgusting.

Luckily I decide to try sinus irrigation with simple saline spray. I am relieved instantly, and astonished at the stuff in the sink. This, lots of fluids and rest, and zinc seems to cut it short. Still, it is impossible for me to get to the gym for a week. I am able to do some ab work and stretching during my sick leave. 

Today was 45 minutes on the treadmill, doing a hill program. Worked up a sweat all over and feel good. Proud of myself for not giving up, like I normally would do before BC. With all the treatments ending except Tamoxifen, it's vital that exercise become part of my routine. The stress reduction and health benefits are clear. I do want to be able to walk up that real hill in Maine this year!  

Pulling the Port

Last week we meet with Dr. Nora to schedule my port being pulled. Chemo and Herceptin are over and there is no need for it. 

Had my last Herceptin a few days prior. The hospital is in the midst of vast construction, and the new infusion center leaves me cold. It's about 1/4 the size of the old one, and there are rooms, just cubicles with curtains. No privacy, it does not feel right to even talk in a normal voice, much less that guffawing, never-ending giggling that we routinely engage in. Even my last infusion is lackluster and muted. They bring me hospital cake and some fruit. Somehow I expected more relief, or to feel free. Instead, I just feel more lost than ever. One of my favorite nurses is not there to say goodbye, and this bothers me all weekend. 

But Dr. Nora is as cute as ever, and he says he likes my hair - he actually ruffles it a bit. He asks me about reconstruction, how I feel and how radiation was. I reply later, good and it sucked. It's a short visit and likely that last time I will ever see him, if I am very lucky, unless he says a quick hello before the short port pull in a few days. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Meet my new Tits!


The fitter is interesting - she used to be a fashion designer. She has an natural intuition of my likes and dislikes. She loves cats, so gets bonus points for petting mine. The very first boobs she brings in (38B) are perfect, as are my bras. It's the perkiest B cup I've ever seen.

Wearing them is fun at times, and no bother. But the summer kills any ability to wear them more than a few hours a day. Good news! Your chest will still sweat after a double bmx! They are a pain at the gym, but better than not wearing them and getting the curious, pity looks. 

My clothes look better, I feel quasi-normal and people no longer stare. They are like a training set for my planned reconstruction. These are exactly what I want. 


Am I Crazy or is this Chemotherapy

The first time you have chemotherapy, you will understand what it feels like to be in an asylum. It's a contrast of physical, mental and spiritual extremes that must be close to madness. 

There is a fine horror flick called "Session 9", that was filmed at the abandoned Danvers Mental Hospital. It's truly frightening, deeply disturbing, with themes of entropy, isolation and hopelessness, not to mention the deranged killer hiding in the shadows. There is no light, and the tunnels and rooms are steeped in gloom. The ruins are loaded with long-forgotten rotting medical debris--rusty wheelchairs, mildewed and semi-burnt medical records, dubious looking instruments. There are no special effects, no CG monsters because none are needed. It gets through. 

I have a difficult chemo, and do not share the true horror of it with my friends till much later. I barely make it through my last round and only do so for my husband. The whole time though, Session 9 and Danvers keeps running through my dreams. Sometimes I escape, sometimes I don't. I never see the thing that gets me but it somehow surrounds me. 

Sickness and soup


Brought back a cold from travel, despite all my precautions. Of course, I get some mutant strain, causing marathon sneezing, swollen eyes and itchy throat. My sinuses feel like they have been packed with concrete. It rapidly takes me down to zero, a hacking, sneezing, snotty disaster. Worst of all, we have to reschedule my last Herceptin infusion.

I sleep nearly non-stop for two days and feel much better. Well enough to start a load of wash and make a pot of healing chicken soup. I highly recommend it for its healing power. It has is a hybrid Thai/Chinese concoction, spicy and warming. It can be tweaked as you wish. All ingredients are best organic, but regular is fine.

Candy's Healing Chinese Chicken Soup

1 leftover roasted chicken breast meat (1 cup)
1 can Chicken broth (low sodium)
1/2 package of mixed veggies, frozen
1 tsp Sesame oil
2 tsp Soy sauce
1 tsp Red curry paste
3 tbsp Garlic
1 tbsp Cilantro
1 tbsp Ginger
1 tsp horseradish or wasabi
1 bunch (4 each) green onions
Ramen noodles (without the spice packet), cooked.
1 cup water
1 can coconut milk, unsweetened
1 tsp. Red pepper flakes
1 tsp Siracha

Heat sesame oil in a frying pan. Add mixed veggies and all spices and sauces, mixing well and stirring on med-high heat till veggies begin to soften.

In a soup pot, heat the chicken broth,  cut up chicken, water and green onions, mixing well. Add the veggie/spice mix and heat till to a medium simmering boil. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the cooked ramen noodles and coconut milk and stir well. Let sit for a few minutes to cool, then enjoy!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

On Friends

Friends are precious to an introvert. It's not easy for me to let people in and I have always held back from emotional attachments. Maybe it was the mother abandoning thing, or something else genetic. I like solitude and peace, am comfortable in my own company and (used to) be able to live a rich dream life in my head. As a teenager I will escape into radio for years on end, developing a vast and useless encyclopedic knowledge of obscure 80's bands, songs, and lyric sheets. 

Now though....it's different for me.

I realize my time here is finite and a gift. It is obvious to me immediately after my diagnosis that my friends are amazing, kind, lovely women. They save me time and time again, together, individually, early in the morning, late at night, crying with me in person and on the phone, listening to my deepest fears and horrors and not trying to fix anything. See that's the key - they know they cannot do anything other than be there for me. And most times, it's more than enough to get me through the night, the day, the minute. How did I, a child of poor West Virginia Hillbillies and German pig farmers, get so lucky? 

So, this post is for my girls. Kim L., Cheri, Robin, Anni, Lauren, Theresa, Haley, Jean, Elaine, Lori, Cassie, Jacqueline, Angie, Eileen, Denise, Gwen, Kim W., Rebecca, Kim H., all my BC support group. I love you guys and you make me want to be a better friend. 



3 Tips for Eating during Chemotherapy

Well, what can I actually eat during chemotherapy? The answer is nothing and everything. Nothing usually won out with me, because absolutely everything made me sick. 

Chemotherapy is a carbohydrate addict's sick dream - all I could stomach was carbs. Potatoes, noodles, rice, white bread, saltines. You see where I'm going with this? 

Oh sure, you will hear the tales of Chemo Carrie, who only ate fresh, raw veggies from her own organic garden and/or juiced her way through chemo, whilst running a business, family of four and writing a memoir of her cancer journey. This woman is not your friend right now. And also, for the record, I do not believe she exists. If she does, she can fuck off. 

Because the truth is, everyone in my support group had a difficult time in chemo with food. Most women do. 

Despite being medicated with conventional medicines (4 kinds of rx) and non-traditional therapies, I could not eat much and was nauseated for months. What I was able to get down was bland, processed and bad for me. Still, it beats the compounded issued associated with eating nothing at all. 

Tips for Chemo Eating:

1.  Now is not the time to rehaul your diet.   Yeah, I know you think that your eating got you into this fine mess, and that may or may not be somewhat true. However, you will have a looooong time after chemo to fix it, that is why you are doing this, right?  So eat whatever appeals  to you. If you are able to eat the healthy plant based diet, that's great!  Don't count on it though. 

2. If you have to eat processed, get the best quality you can afford.  Buy the canned soup without so many fillers and salt. Eat veggie pasta. Get organic fruits and veggies pre-cut so you need not handle it as much. Buy chemical free and organic whenever possible. What, you can only drink milkshakes?  Fine -- organic milk or almond milk, natural honey and nuts, etc. 

3.  Most important-do not eat anything that will contribute to bowel issues.  I know you love spicy food, like me! A most violent and painful parting it was.  Just. Don't. Do. It.  I am sorry, but dairy, spicy, and beans are out of your life for a few months. You will thank me later. 

BONUS TIP:  If you have any perfume, lotion, soap or item that you love the scent of, do not use it during chemo. Smell is a wonderful and horrible thing - it has strong associations to moments in time and you can be transported back to chemo just from a whiff of anything you smelled during it. This is also true for food - even thinking about the eggs at the hospital makes me feel like hurling now. I had to give away my former favorite body lotion-it makes me dry heave. Put those favorites away for now, and come back to them after you are somewhat more whole. 

Is it Fall yet?

San Francisco is over now, so back to the gym tomorrow.

There is personal trainer that wants to school me back to fitness for only 70.00 per hour. My stretch marks are older than he is. I do not doubt his abilities though, it's just that there is a little medical debt thing and I have not worked a full-time job in a year. Sorry kiddo, maybe next year for a session.

My legs and arms feel so much stronger. I have more flexibility now. A simple resistance band has greatly improved range of motion. There is a yoga class that I can do, shaking and with lots of effort.

Feels like this Fall will be wonderful for us.  Looking forward to cool weather and cozy nights working on things that time used to never allow--mastering Chinese and Asian recipes, art projects and house decorating, possibly knitting, writing a book or two, reading more and planning our next trip.  New York is very appealing, as is Seattle and British Columbia. Maybe Spain?

More than my heart in San Francisco

San Francisco is extraordinary-full of magical strangeness. I'm lucky here - things happen right. I find money, get to stay in a 4-star hotel on business, and then enjoy leisure time and touring. The locals and other tourists are nice and mostly well-behaved. We enjoy the city and each other, and do not resist the urge to gawk and be enchanted by the place and its beautifully bizarre nature.  

I met some new friends that are also post BC treatments. All of us are so different, yet the same. Middle-aged, childless, mothers of twins, young, healthy, thin and overweight. All kinds of ethnicity and from all over the world. We all admit to being sort of surprised to be alive and kicking, and walking around Fisherman's Wharf. We eat chocolate croissant with G's French bulldog Oliver on Powell Street and I cannot believe that the sky is so blue, the air is so clean and cool and that I am able to breath at all. 

How much difference a year makes. How much fun can we cram into this trip. Isn't the sky/street/building beautiful? How much time do we have left?

July 29th is my Cancerversary. This time last year I'm just about to feel my tumors for the first time. And that began the endurance trip down  to Cancer Hollow. Along the way, there are stops long and short, mundane to terrifying, with lots of waiting in sterile, cold rooms with bland colors and gut-churning odors. Lights that are too bright, people in scrubs that are mostly good but sometimes nasty. Needles--sticks by the dozens, in your arm and chest and triceps. The locations pass on and on, while I hold on and grit my teeth: Port Insertion Place; Chemo Circle; Bilateral Mastectomy Parkway, and Radiation Alley. Then there are the darker places not on the map they gave me. Pain. Fear. Anger. Depression.  The surprising stops at end of the trip that I thought could only end quickly and badly - Resolve, Grateful, Abundance, Acceptance and Joy.

Would like to think that I left something out West too. It's not any baggage that ever needs to be returned. Never do I wish to see it show up again, uninvited and unexpected, at the worst possible time. 


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Buffy the Breast Cancer Slayer

There is a time, in the 80's, that I am a devoted aerobic gym rat. There is a nice gym for women only, and I use the hell out of it for years. High impact, low impact, sculpt, the sauna....I love it all and it shows. My late 20's are my best as far as physical fitness goes. My ass and abs are chiseled and shapely. Then, somewhere between 28 and 35, I let it go to shit. 

Slowly and by degrees, I allow my sedentary desk job to take over. Too tired to work out after a 10 hour day. Too much trouble. It's raining out. You get the idea. 

Today, after many, many years of neglecting my body, I joined a gym. My husband started me on the path to fitness by making my dead ass walk every night after my diagnosis. Now though, it's so beastly hot here that one risks heatstroke so I figured it best to take it inside.  

My gym is co-ed, and huge. It has many fancy machines, treadmills, ellipticals, stair-climbers and stationary bikes. I signed up for classes too, so tomorrow is Yoga Sculpt day! The price is very fair and I'm motivated to go, because it simply feels good to sweat. They play cool music and the staff is helpful and friendly. 

I do wish that during my long period of recovery that I'd started sooner and with something at home. The Biggest Loser has a program that offers a 15 day free trial, boot camp style. See the link on the right sidebar and check it out. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

I don't wanna work, just wanna write on my blog all day

I love that song, don't you?  So apprapo of my feelings now. 

And that will likely happen soon, since yours truly is working for a "difficult" person right now. The translation of course, is utter narcissistic sociopath, who likes to pick on women and make them cry. Legendary for this charming trait. Well, this is gonna be fun, because unlike those other poor women, I have no fear of the crazy. Been through chemo and radiation, remember? Oh! And they cut off my BREASTS. So I am now very protective of my body and mind. My days of enduring the ranting and raving of a maniac are long over. But I will take the cash until the first episode of psycho emerges, then tapping out. Next!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Farewell, F#%k Me Pumps

Ahhhh, how to quantify my love affair with high heels? 

I barely bust 5'3 without them. High heels have been very good to me. Standing taller. Looking thinner. Shoe envy from others. Always turned out in new ones. Fond memories of my first pair (faux snakeskin), the hundreds since, in all their various incarnations. Wedge, pumps, platform, spike, even kittens. Dating in them, working in them, dancing in them. Well, like all fiery affairs, time and circumstances have now forced us apart. That's right. Can't do high heels anymore.

The impetus is simple. I've had two heel mishaps in the last few months, the last resulting in a nasty, near bone-breaking experience on concrete. My left foot is currently sporting a large hematoma, but luckily no cast. Apparently, BC has taken any bit of physical grace I may have had. I feel unstable and hesitant, fragile and brittle. 

I went right down in a parking garage at a temp gig, thanks to low lighting and shitty sloped concrete. And my platform espadrilles, which my husband made me toss. He's had it with things that have any potential to harm me and is not shy about it. 

So, I am shopping today for sensible shoes, to go along with my just-acquired sensible job. It all just makes me feel old and used up. Maybe I can get a senior discount.

Only 2 Herceptin infusions left...the end is near

I am not sure how I feel. Should be thrilled that Herceptin will conclude soon, and my port will be removed, right? No more painful needle jabs. No more active treatment except Tamoxifen. My wild ride through Cancerworld will be over, more or less.

Part of me though is scared to stop. What is going to ensure my continued NED status? This is where it gets really scary. All there is to do is hope, try to make supportive lifestyle changes and maybe pray.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Nausea, I hardly knew ya

Before BC, I can count the times in my entire life that I am sick to my stomach. It's a low number and mostly from my wild party years and too much of the sweet nectar. Ahhhhh....how I miss those innocent, intentionally harmful dumbass moments.

The nausea begins immediately after the first chemo, and will not stop until 6 months later, and only after chemo ends. It is unrelenting and mostly unresponsive to medications. It ebbs, but it is always with me to some degree. With medication and diet, it stays down to a lower level but I always feel sick. Anything and everything aggravates it - walking, driving, eating, drinking, seeing any kind of food anywhere. I try everything - ginger gum, ginger ale, saltines, eating with plastic utensils, and wearing Sea-bands. It stubbornly mocks my efforts at exorcism. But the absolute worst thing is the smell factor.

It's 7 months after my last chemo, and there are still things I cannot even think about without feeling the stomach flips. Vanilla scented trash bags, citrus moisturizer, any kind of chicken soup, (thanks hospital for serving that constantly during my treatment), rice mixes, etc. Writing this is making it happen.

Still, I have to say that if I never recur, it will have been worth it of course. I can only hope it was worth it in the short run, because it scares me to think of ever having to do it again.

Monday, May 25, 2015

The 5 Worst Things about Breast Cancer

1.  YOUR LIFE WILL NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN. 

Your entire life after your diagnosis will be altered in ways large and small, soul-shattering and mundane. Your life will forever be divided - before BC and after BC. There is not one safe place in your world now. From body-image, physical condition, religious beliefs, mortality awareness, financial ruin, fear of leaving children orphaned, fears of recurrence, and the real practicalities of everyday life. It's one thing to make drastic changes willfully regarding career, family, and lifestyle. When only negative changes are forced upon you so viciously all at once, it can easily overwhelm even the best-adjusted person's ability to cope. Depression and anxiety are common and can lead to other problems.

2. ALL YOUR RELATIONSHIPS WILL CHANGE, AND NOT ALWAYS FOR THE BETTER.

Before my own diagnosis, I had never had a life-threatening illness or even serious medical issue. I was not prepared for the behavior and reactions from friends, family and strangers. Do not be surprised if your closest friends disappear or act strangely. Cancer is terrifying and even the kindest, most emotionally developed people can find it hard to be supportive and present. They are afraid of you and for you. Remember, you were just like them before diagnosis. You may be jealous and angry at their seemingly carefree normal life and physical health. They won't understand why you suddenly have no patience for their drama or minutiae. Frankly, I don't care what the appetizer course was at the nice restaurant where you ate. Some people are just unable to handle it and desert you during your period of greatest vulnerability. Divorces and breakups are possible. 

3.  YOUR DOCTORS ARE TRYING TO KEEP YOU LIVING, AND THAT'S ALL. 

I experienced this with all my doctors to some degree. For example, had I really known the true risk for development of Lymphedema, physical impairment and pain, would I have let my surgeon be so aggressive in taking lymph nodes? Would I have even done the prescribed course of radiation, had I known that my armpit would blister and blacken, and it would greatly up my chances of getting Lymphedema? Many doctors will minimize the future potential, long-lasting and often irreversible side effects of treatment. It's easy to see why, and I've heard it argued that if patients knew the full potential for lingering issues post-treatment, many would opt-out of life-saving interventions. 

4. YOU MAY LOSE YOUR JOB, AND/OR BE UNABLE TO WORK FOR YEARS. 

Yes it is wrong, and in some states, illegal to fire someone for simply getting ill. Larger companies must follow the FMLA. In Florida though, if the company is small, they are not governed by FMLA. Also if your state is prescribes to "at-will"  employment, you can be fired at anytime for no reason at all. Who would fire an employee just because they have cancer? Plenty of people. It's wise to have an emergency fund and disability insurance in place before diagnosis. I was fired under friendly circumstances, and luckily was granted unemployment. The "standard" course of treatment for my particular cancer takes one year, not counting reconstruction. My chemotherapy was rough and incapacitating. Surgery was grueling. Radiation was intensely bad. Working at anything approaching my old performance was impossible. I'm still fighting my way back physically, mentally and emotionally, nearly a year after my diagnosis. 

5.  THE DUMB THINGS PEOPLE WILL SAY.

The things people will chirp at you constantly are going to piss you off. It's an epidemic. It will come from your family, friends, co-workers, medical staff and strangers. They all are experts on your condition. Be prepared to be lectured, preached to and verbally abused. You will be subjected to sweeping minimizations, apocalyptic predictions, ridiculous theories, unlikely comparisons, myths, platitudes and endless other shit, all from healthy people that have never had cancer. Every single one of these has been said to me:

     The general ones:

"Yes, we all have cancer in our bodies!"   
"So did they say how you caused it?"
"It must be because you are overweight/not eating all organic/used to smoke, etc."
"I'll never get it because I exercise/eat all organic/never smoked."
"Oh, that's horrible! My mom/aunt/sister/stranger went through all the same treatments, then died." (This one is my favorite, because it unfailingly includes the most horrific, sad, dreadful details of the painful death). 
"It's just like diabetes now, easily cured!"
"You are so lucky. My friend/boss/parent/caterer had pancreatic/brain/bone cancer and it killed them right away."
"Lemon water/green tea/hot peppers cure cancer!"

      From the "Positive Police":


"Stay positive!"

"Don't be upset. It'll be over soon enough."
"God does not give you any more than you can handle."
"These things happen for a reason. There are silver linings!"
"Why don't you go out/take a drive/go to dinner/go shopping vs. sitting around the house?"
"It'll be okay!"

        And if you're having a mastectomy, you're going to hear a lot of these:

"You get brand new boobs AND a tummy tuck? Where do I sign up!"
"Well, they're only breasts. You don't need them anyway."
"Get REALLY big ones!"
"So how do they cut them off?"
"I knew someone that had that done and they were mutilated."
"Oh no! That is your womanhood!"
"Are you getting them both cut off? Why?"  
"Well, Angelina Jolie is fine now and you will be too."
"It's easy, it's just like regular implants!"