Monday, September 19, 2011


On June 30th Bobby and I left work early and went to City Hall in San Francisco... where we got married. We are still planning a wedding, but there are some things that need to happen first... like me getting a permanent job and us buying a house. Obviously, lots of transition right now.

Mostly I feel lucky lucky lucky every day. I have my health, I have my family, I have my friends, and I have a wonderful, wonderful husband. I also have a master's degree which is cool even if it doesn't make into the top 4...

I've decided it doesn't really make sense to keep up with this blog. In the next few weeks I might scale things back and just keep my cancer treatment entries up so that other survivors and their family/friends can still access my experiences with this particular disease and treatment regimen.

In this next stage of life when I'm applying to jobs and people can easily Google me, I'll probably want to blog hilarious, irreverent social commentary anonymously. Hope to see you around the blogosphere!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Update, Schmupdate

Are y'all still out there? I know it seems like I have given up the blog in light of the chemo thing being over, but it's more like I am just trying to keep my head above water here at school.

Things are... GOOD.

So here is a fun post-chemo update. Yes! There are changes! My weird symptoms that I had gotten so used to are slowly fading away.
-Roaming, EXTREME itches that made me want to claw off sections of skin? GONE
-Constant runny nose? BETTER
-Intense and frequent leg cramps despite my daily banana? LESS FREQUENT
-Inability to balance on one foot due to lack of feeling in my feet?--IMPROVING
-Energy level? BOOSTED. My cardiovascular system has responded well to having more red blood cells and things like riding my bike up a hill or stairmaster are easier in the sense that my pulse doesn't beat as fast to supply oxygen to my cells. Or so I believe.

My stomach and skin are both a little unsure of how to handle my boosted immune system. The initial reaction was FREAK OUT, but I think they're getting used to the extra cells. In particular I think my skin had a hard time with the adjustment and for most of February I felt like I was 17 again. Now I'm just battling dryness.

So yes, it gets better. On Monday I'm going to see a normal doctor and hear their perspective. From an oncologist point of view (which is a little warped) I'm like super healthy, but I'd like to see someone who sees relatively healthy people.

School is crazy busy and I'm trying to be focused, but with perspective. Like, I'm here to learn and not to be the best at anything (FAIL on that count) so as long as I'm learning and I'm trying I should just be happy with that. Personally I'm working on keeping my ego in check whether I'm on the yoga mat or working on an econometrics problem set. It's important to remember that I do these things because they cause JOY and satisfaction and not because I think I am going to be the "best."

Speaking of JOY I saw the Alvin Ailey dance company last night and it was fantastic. Talk about joy. The human body is constantly amazing and beautiful and it was great to watch strong, gorgeous, graceful humans DANCE to music that makes your heart feel good.

I'll be back!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010


Dude, fuck this Insurance bullshit. My COBRA was rasied to $575 this year. It kind of f-ed up my very lean grad school budget. The raise was a $100/month increase which in no way reflects real inflation. This morning I got a pleasant surprise--the deductible has gone from $500/year to $1000. WHAT THE HELL. Now my lean grad school budget is unlivable. Seriously.

Who on earth thinks that insurance companies are running themselves efficiently?

They are pure scum-money sucking-evil-disgusting-parasitic-pieces of shit.

Will now return to meditating on my good fortune to have access to this shitty piece of shit COBRA...

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Two Years

A bunch of you probably got this in email form so feel free to skip. For all my loving lurkers and other internetz budz, you are part of my gratitude:

Friends and Family:

I’ve been struggling to compose this email, but today is the 2 year anniversary of my Leukemia diagnosis and it’s unreal to think that I’m sitting in my house in Berkeley, a graduate student, exhausted from 90 minutes of power yoga and worried only about balancing school work and beer drinking. Not only has this experience opened new doors (Berkeley! Yoga!) but there were so many times when I just couldn’t imagine getting to this place. I’m happy. I’m healthy. I’m very… content.

As of Wednesday, January 13th, I am completely done with two years of chemotherapy! With clear scans and bone marrow that is “clean as a whistle” I am officially in remission. What a joy.

I just want to say again how grateful for all of you, my supportive community. Thank you so much for all the love and kindness you have sent out to me, my parents, and my sister. It is overwhelming. I hope that in the next few months I have a chance to thank those of you who made a particular impact. Of everyone though, I’d like to thank my mom who has been a source absolute and ceaseless support. When I was angry or despondent or completely manic on Prednisone, she would take my phone calls and just listen. I’d also like to thank my Seattle roommates (dinner club and Mansioneers) who provided the kind of day-to-day logistical and emotional support that made it possible for me to be a Strong Woman and look like I was handling things with grace and independence.

Finding closure for this part of my life is still a bit elusive. It has not been an unqualified bad experience: I have met so many amazing people and learned appreciation for the many, many blessings in my life. Saying goodbye to my care team at Swedish Cancer Center seems next to impossible—these are some of the most important people to have touched my life. Additionally, I dare say I am a much happier and relaxed person than I was before diagnosis.

Luck is a two-way street. While I celebrate my own health and remission it feels terrifyingly random and at times cruel that I have been given so many gifts while many suffer with disease that cannot be cured, truly difficult decisions, reduced access to care, and health insurance woes. Or for goodness sake, I could be living in Haiti so there is a certain amount of discomfort I’m experiencing with much of the rhetoric around Survivorship.

While I parse that out, just know that I’m Living Strong, and wishing you all the best.

Happy 2010,


Saturday, January 16, 2010

El Fin

Sorry to keep y'all waiting. It's over. I'm done. Final chemo is over. Final scans are clear. Final bone marrow aspiration is "clean as a whistle."

This is joyous news. It's hard to know what to say: it's anticlimactic AND overwhelming at the same time. But I'm working on that. For now, just a big big thank you to all my friends and fans. You all have been tremendous.

Internet love to you all.

Now, go give money to Haitians...

Friday, November 27, 2009

T-giving, philosophized

Kairol and the Thankgiving holiday have inspired me to try and put words to some thoughts that have been bouncing around and changing for the last two years: am I thankful for cancer?

For the longest time I was adamant that cancer was a bad thing, that I would never choose to re-live all of this if given the chance... But now that things are mostly over and done with, I've been re-considering. When you get a certain distance out from most big Life Happenings, so much has gone down and shifted around that it becomes impossible to extricate Life Now from the Life Happening. And depending on how you feel about Life Now or Reality, as I like to call it, it's all dependent LH.

Right before I left Seattle Dinner Club did a Whidbey Island retreat. On a lovely hike along the bluff, we were discussing the happening of our 3 years together and CL said to me, "I don't want you to take this wrong, but you are so much happier than you were [before cancer]" and I realized she was right--really right.

It's hard to say whether it was cancer or just getting older. But I have come out the other end of all of this with more... confidence? It seems like the wrong word because I've always linked the idea of confidence to appearance or aptitude... but really, I feel better at life. I got pitched a doozey and I fucking nailed that sucker. And yes, luck was on my side, but it made me feel more confident about inner-Jessie and her ability to respond to trauma, to find joy and humor in adversity and to keep going.

It's kind of pointless to speculate too hard on what would have happened if I hadn't gotten sick, but I will anyway. I think most glaringly, I would have entered the 2010 class at the UW Evans School instead of waiting a year and going to Berkeley. Everything that happened that last year in Seattle: getting my first taste of being a Boss, calling an end to the Crappy relationship, being part of the Crazy relationship, making lots of new friends, being part of Jessie and Julian's Epic Spring Party Marathon, getting to mentor another fabulous year of AWESOME teenagers... all of which shaped who I am and where I am now.

But at the end of the day, I still decided to be perversely thankful for my cancer (but not anyone else's). And truly thankful for my friends and family, my health insurance, my generous employers, for all the new people it brought into my life, and mostly for the opportunity to be here and now...

And yeah, I have a paper due tomorrow which I am NOT writing because I am updating here. Sigh.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Refreshingly Type A

It has been an emotionally complicated week, friends. Goddamn, prednisone, you make me insane.

Wednesday I came off (as scheduled) but for some reason I had a particularly brutal resurgence of post-roid despondency and spent the entire day freaking out about nothing identifiable. It was a serious case of Malaise.

It is ALMOST OVER. And I am fucking ready. The Pred makes me nutty, the Vinc is making my skin going crazy, the Mtx has my stomach on defense all the time.

But back to Wednesday: even though I wanted to burst into tears all day and I felt like the world was crashing down around my shoulders, I used my white-person-buddhist-mantra about the moment being temporary and it was all good. It's the drugs that make me crazy--it's not a permanent state of the world. Holler.

But what I really wanted to say in this post is that I have found a new thing that I love about being in school... the refreshing ok-ness of being a type A personality. I like things to be in order. I like them to happen as planned. I like to eat the exact same thing for breakfast every morning and as hard as I try, I am just not a chill kind of person.

In a lot of ways I've spent my entire adult life trying to fight this. Mostly for positive reasons: being rigid, stubborn, and attached is mostly ego and doesn't really do a lot to make life more pleasant. The other part of it is that it also is not cool to be a Crazy Bitch. Between undergrad at UO and then working with youth, I had to get good at pretending like I was a chill person. And for my own sanity I kind of learned how to accept reality, find order in chaos, and how to let things go.

I can't decide if it's just kind of people at a policy school or whether it the influx of people in my life from the east coast, but all of a sudden it's ok not to be totally chill all the time. It's ok to want things a certain way, to be hyper organized, to care about things being good.

Conclusion: I like it here.