Thursday, May 22, 2008

Who needs eyebrows anyway?

I went to see the cancer physical therapists earlier this week. They seemed confused. They told me I was healthy. I guess when you work with aged, cancer patients, I'm a little out of the ordinary. I passed all my strength and dexterity tests despite my incredibly diminished abilities. It was almost a little frustrating--I felt like they didn't take my weakened state seriously enough. Being told you're in great shape when every day you encounter things that used to be easy and are now really hard is really annoying. "I used to be better."

I could go two ways with this. On one hand I've been spending a lot of time prepping kids and crew leaders to hit the field this summer and compared to them I feel completely inadequate with my current physical capabilities. On the other hand, in comparison with old, dying people, I'm in great shape and totally able-bodied! The therapists did recognize that my balance is pretty bad lately, so I'm going to get some exercises to improve that as well as toe strength. Apparently the neuropathy has lead to serious atrophy of my big toes which is a contributer to my lack of balance. Fun updates.

When I think about how little I knew about cancer or the reality of what it would mean for me, I never would have imagined this life. I mean, cancer has this huge stigma in our culture of death, infirmary, people "fighting" and being "strong"... and most days I feel really alive and normal. I don't feel like I'm doing battle. If anything I feel like I'm trying to hold my ground in a big windstorm (like the Cay.) And a lot of days I don't even feel like this metaphorical wind is blowing very hard. I forget that I have cancer constantly. I'm bald, I run into walls, I need to sleep more often, I go to the doctor all the time... but I don't feel like, sick. I forget that there is something potentially lethal going on at a DNA level and that life didn't used to be like this. It's kind of strange. I don't know how successful I am at communicating that to others or if my friends and family can see past the cancer. Not that people make me feel especially cancer-y, I just wonder...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The sun is gone

Suddenly I find myself busy at work--with less time for blogging! Until I have anything interesting to say, here is a picture of me wearing my radiation mask. I can't decide if I should be a Buddhist Monk for Halloween or just wear this:

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Eugene! Part 1

This weekend was
a) Awesome
b) hot
c) Rugby Alumni weekend

What a sweet weekend. Hoolian and I left right after my last (!) radiation on Friday afternoon and drove down the 5 to Jenny and Richard's new place in Eugene.

Jenny and Richard have a cute cat. I miss Jenny and Richard. I wish we could fuse Eugene to Seattle and it only took 45 minutes to get there.

We went to Rennie's Landing to meet up with Dirty Ducks past and present. I didn't bring my camera because Ramey has learned the hard way that rugby drinking and nice digital cameras do NOT mix. If I were to paint picture for you... well, it was all my friends drinking a lot. It was great. Sometimes people seem afraid my physical body these days--like I might break or something. But my rugby girls just came up and rubbed my head and fondled my breasts and gave me lots of hugs and it was nice... I did see one old friend (non rugby) who didn't seem to understand that I had cancer and just kept complimenting me on my ballsy hair style choice! That was pretty great. I had almost 4 drinks over the course of the evening and felt quite merry. On the walk home we wandered into an apartment building and Jenny and Julian found us a route to the roof. After the proper amount of speculating about organized religion from the roof on a beautiful summer-y evening, we went home and binged on cookies. Mmmmm.

The rugby game was also fun. While I didn't play, I was able to run out onto the field and score my 4th tri in 7 years. Sweet. Oh, I forgot to take pictures. But it was really hot so we got Slurpees (I take the dumbest pictures)
Uh, I kind of ate constantly on this trip. Tasty Thai, Market of Choice dolmas, sushi, etc etc etc. Right now I feel a little disgusting actually. On the way home we stopped in Corvallis to see my family and now, finally, we are HOME. My room looks like shit and smells like dirty clothes. Tomorrow I have a spinal tap and my eye brows have started to fall out due to radiation. However, my warm, warm memories of this weekend make it all seem mostly OK. Eyebrows grow back and this will be my second to last spinal tap!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Today, today

Today was sunny! I wore a skirt to celebrate. I was going to drink beer when I got home, but then my friend Steve sent me a ton of organic chocolate chip cookies so I just at about 6 of those. No more sugar for this cancer patient today!

Another insane thing about today is that I worked 10.5 hours! I have been averaging around 6-7 a day for the last few weeks, but today I was so busy. I'm hardly ever busy these days! It is so great! JK is leaving which is terribly sad because I won't get to see him every day anymore. No more long, nebulous programming meetings that take way too long but are totally enjoyable. I mean, I'm sure I'll sit through a lot more boring meetings, but I probably won't enjoy them as much. On the other hand, our program may double in productivity because JK and I are both pretty... tangential. And story oriented.

Tomorrow Julian and I are headed to the Eug to see Jenny and Richard and Leslie and allllll the rugby girls (except Shock and Liz Squffin) and perhaps drink some drinks and watch some rugby. I will try really hard to take pictures this time around.

Tomorrow is also my last day of radiation! I will miss my technicians and such but YES. No more daily appointments! Tonight I need to make some tasty treats to take in with me to the radiology department.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


If you google "will the world end tonight?" I'm #1! I'm #1 when it comes to the apocalypse! Could a girl ask for anything else?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

"blah blah blah"

I just deleted my last post because it was a little maudlin. This weekend I found out my cat died, it’s the anniversary of my best friend’s mom dying, and life can just be kind of stupid sometime. Blah, blah, blah.

This morning I decided that listening to these three songs on repeat was just going to make me feel like dying over and over:

Aimee Mann “Invisible Ink”
Peter Gabriel “Book of Love”
Nada Surf “Blond on Blond”

I know: Ridiculous.

So I decided to make a new mix. I have listened to Xtina sing “Fighter” about 10 times already today. It makes me want to hit people—but in an empowered way.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Thaw

Any good EcoFeminist knows that it's dangerous to create a dichotomy between the brain and body. For too many years the patriarchy has equated the masculine with thinking qualities and the feminine with the body and *baser*, more earthly things. They then used this dichotomy to justify wanton destruction of the natural world and the the subjugation women's bodies and minds. Blah, blah, blah dichotomies suck. Blah, blah, blah the brain and body are both beautiful. Thankfully because this is a blog there is no need for footnotes--just trust that I know a lot about this stuff.

OK with that for an introduction, I went running again today. My inner dialog went like this:
Brain: "thanks Body, for finally getting your act together."
Body:"You know what? Fuck you, Brain--you can't understand what I've been through and I'm doing this for me not for you just because you're all depressed and needing endorphins."
Brain: "Well this is hard for me too--I hate change! You aren't the only one suffering so stop feeling so sorry for yourself. You were never the superstar, anyway."
Body: "Why do you only love me when I'm skinny?"
Brain: "Oh shit, do we have to talk about this again?"

Uh. The point is that all of this is getting easier, but I'm still a freakin gimp.

Last night CL and Brandon took me to a Mudhen Rugby fundraiser--lube wrestling. Holy Moley I miss rugby. I miss the women who play. I miss the game. I miss getting hit. I miss hitting. I miss drinking beer like you've really freakin earned it. I miss flashing my boobs at my teammates and making really obscene gestures and the like. Next weekend is the rugby Alumni Game in Eugene. It couldn't come at a better time.

I feel like I'm at a good enough place mentally and physically that all of this stuff I had put "on hold" when I got sick is finally starting to... thaw out? Of course I have to be all cryptic about it because it involves people other than myself. So let's have a celebration for the fact that it's not all about Cancer and Me these days. Holler!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Getting honest with yinz

I can’t decide if my site hits are going down because I’m healthy which is boring or because people are losing interest in my blog because it’s boring in general. I do get some hilarious hits due to people’s crazy google-ing. Like if you google “Abe Korn Corvallis” like someone did, you end up on this blog. Not that I blame that person.

Dear Anonymous Abe Korn lover,

Once in high school I dreamt I made out with Abe Korn. It was a good make-out dream. If he weren’t my friend on Facebook, I’d probably google him too. Actually, I google people I have crushes on even if we’re already friends. Once I googled someone back about 21 google-pages in an effort to gather information. Whatever, I’ve never said I don’t get a little nuts sometimes.


Quite honestly, I’m getting a little bored too. I mean, I talk about Cancer a LOT and the other day I was wondering if it was getting boring. But then I was like, this is kind of ALL I have going on right now. I pretty much spend my free time at the treatment center and I’m so hyper aware of my body and various symptoms blah blah. Like, Mondays and Tuesdays are rough because Monday I have a spinal tap, radiation, and I take a week’s worth of 6MP. Then I have a headache and want to barf for 2 days and then I feel great.

Let me tell you about the run I went on on Sunday. It was kind of hilarious. It was more of a gimp-jog since my legs don’t exactly… work right. Pred makes your hips really weak and I still don’t really understand what happened to my strength and balance when I was in the Hosp in March—but I’m pretty klutzy these days. I fall over a lot. When I make sudden movements I often lose my balance. Running, I felt like a baby giraffe learning to trust its legs again. I also did a lot of walking. By the end of my out and back along Beacon ridge I was focusing solely on getting a STRIDE going and it was a little terrifying. I’m going to attempt at least one run a week I’ve decided. The rest of the week riding the bike and walking to work/radiation should suffice.

Here’s the thing, I’ve kind of had it with all this. I want to return to… normal. I want to go running and lead a crew this summer and go hiking with my friends when the weather is good and drink more than one beer and develop a life outside of hanging out with oncology nurses etc, etc and I don’t know if that’s possible. But I don’t feel bitter or grumpy about it, just sort of… pumped up.

Sunday, May 04, 2008


It's like I tell my parents, "when you don't hear from me it means things are cool and I'm just really busy and occupied trying to be normal." Not that blogging isn't normal or that I don't love the blogosphere or that I didn't write stupid things here incessantly before I got sick. Bah.

Things are mostly good. I'm a little sick to my stomach/dehydrated from the 6MP, but other than that... I've been trying to be "active." This means I've been riding my bike on the trainer, walking to work/radiation/home again, and yesterday Christina and I took an erie (but pleasant) walk around Seward Park. The thing is, I have these really powerful memories of running around Seward Park right before diagnosis and saying to Christina, "I just need some answers about what to do for the next few years..." And other memories of walking around SP with my parents right before I went into the hospital for the first time. And another memory of not being able to walk further than the first little dock with my mom when I got really sick. Somehow I'm not capturing all the millions of runs I went on there with M-Rachel or all the millions of runs I went on by myself or the triumphant memories of getting up to two laps without stopping, etc etc. Blah blah. I love Seward Park, OK?

Here is something fun. The radiologist (in defense of radiation no doubt) told me that if hair never grew back where LB was, it was because the tumor (not the radiation) had damaged the hair follicles. So the other day, I'm checkin out my cute bald head and notice LB is darker than the rest of my scalp. Upon closer examination, it's because the most dense hair regrowth is where LB is! I have this habit of rubbing LB that started long ago. For a while it was painful, and then it was kind of gross feelings, but now when I stroke the remains of my tumor, there are all these soft little baby hairs. TMI? I don't care! You're reading it!

In the last few weeks I've had a 180 on my baldness. Of course I still miss my hair and the identity that went along with it, but most days I look in the mirror and think, "you're pretty cute!" Some other awesome things about not having hair are: not washing hair, not struggling in vain to make hair look cute, not buying hair products to straighten/defrizz/curl/condition/wash hair. And of course there's my on-going fascination with androgyny...

Which leads me to the general topic of how I feel about myself in relation to sex and all that. When y0u have a giant tube coming out of your chest it's really hard to imagine having sex with anyone. I also realize that my lack of hair sort of kills the fantasy as well. Isn't that strange? I never realized how much my hair played into my thoughts of my own sexuality until it was gone. Thankfully (I guess) the initial anxiety of having cancer coupled with these crazy powerful drugs sort of shut all of that off for a while. What I find is that as my anxiety goes away (goodbye, Ambian! For now...) and my hormones say, "fuck you, chemo drugs!" I need to reconcile how to hold on to my sexuality and still be bald, tube-ridden, etc.

Well, I'd say that's enough for now. It's Sunday! It's sunny! Have a great day!