My radiation oncologist says that they can zap the bone metastases in my hip in just one dose! He says that afterward it won’t hurt any more and I will stop limping.
One thing most people don’t know about radiation is that the person getting the radiation gets a tattoo (or three, or four.) Just your basic prison-style tattoo — where ink is poured on the skin and then pushed under it with a needle. Just one pixel, which is used as a guide to help the radiation tech line up the beams correctly. I have one on my breast from when I had radiation after my lumpectomy, but for this go-round I got FOUR: two on my abdomen and one on each hip. FANCY. You know, if someone had told me ten years ago they were going to turn my body into a connect-the-dots game, I probably would have minded, but now I couldn’t care less. I just want to FEEL GOOD AGAIN.
Do yourself a favor and take the next five minutes to really think about your body and how good it feels. Think about all your parts and how they work together and what a miracle it is that they do. And how someday they won’t anymore.
When he’s happy, my dog Manchester throws himself down on the ground and rolls around on his back. I know he’s just scratching his back but I like to think he’s celebrating himself so that’s what we call it. We yell “CELEBRATE IT!” and when I see him do that it reminds me to do the same. If you want to take a minute and celebrate yourself by rolling around on the floor, you totally should. Go ahead, no one is watching.
So it turns out that everything we learned in school about atoms and stuff is wrong. The Theory of Relativity, Newtonian physical theories. All wrong.
Recent research supports a new hypothesis that we’re actually living in a holographic multiverse. Supposedly, it looks like this:
It is believed that quantum relationships regulate all the processes that go on inside this crumpled up piece of wrapping paper at the bottom of God’s recycling bin. Not at the speed of light (not even close, Einstein) but at 20,000 times the speed of light. Relationships which occur and change, all with the mere act of observation.
Every time I get a scan, I consider this stuff as deeply as I am able, with my non-scientific brain.
When the PET scan follows the trackers through my body with its glucose-vision, what changes does the watcher cause inside me? While my body surrenders under the machine’s electric eye, in my mind I imagine my self slipping through the origami folds. I slide right down into the one in which I live cancer-free. That one. Not this one. I am the switch operator who moves the tracks. The train goes left, rather than right.
I briefly come out of anesthesia during my lymph node biopsy. I hear what sounds like a nail gun being fired and my entire body shakes in reverberation. Later, when I wake up again for good in the recovery room, it feels like someone kicked my armpit’s ass. We will know the results next week.
Walking past my kitchen today, I notice a frantic flapping on the inside of the window sill. It’s a big moth or something, lord knows how he flew up 21 stories to begin with. I open the balcony door and for 15 exhausting minutes try to get him to land on the bristles of a broom so I can chuck him out the window, but he’s not cooperating. I wish I was brave enough to touch him so I could help him, but I’m not — so instead I give up. “Stupid bug.” I think to myself. “If he would just relax and stop flapping around like an idiot, I could help him.”
If there’s something bigger than us humans, I bet that’s just what we look like to them. Stupid bugs flapping around for no reason.
James Turrell is my favorite artist. (If you aren’t familiar with Turrell’s work, or want to see all the different kinds of magic he makes you should click here.) Over the years, I’ve visited his installations in Europe, all around the UK and in various places here in the U.S. One of his works, “Backside of The Moon”, in Minamidera, I thought I’d never see, because it’s located on a tiny island off Japan’s Seto Inland Sea, and I could never imagine how I would find my way there.
Right after my first cancer diagnosis, Fireboy made my dream come true. After a few days in Tokyo, we rode three shinkansen, a ferry and a taxi cab to get to that place. It was August and it was so humid it was the hottest I’ve ever been in my whole life and I was a total whiny pain in the ass. Due to some confusion, we didn’t realize our tickets to enter Minamidera were only good for the exact hour and minute stamped on them. When we presented them at the door, the attendant made an “X” with his index fingers and held it up to us as he said, “Invalid.”
The sun was pounding down and I felt beads of sweat running down my back. I didn’t figure out until our last day in Japan that the secret to keeping cool is to cover every single inch of skin. I was so hot and tired that if I would have been alone that day, I would have just given up and gone back home. Fireboy leaned in towards the guy and said, “We came all the way from San Francisco, in the United States, to see this. Can we come back later?” The guard was firm at first, but eventually caved and told us to come back in two hours.
We killed the time, eating ice cream on a small bench and wandering around, keeping to the shade. Since we were missing Burning Man to make this trip, I had made a small paper mache sumo figure covered with Sanrio stickers. We called the thing Japan Man, and the original idea was to set him on fire somewhere in Japan on the night of the Playa burn. Instead, since we had nothing better to do, we walked around town looking for a good place to hide him. Once we had found it (in someone’s front garden) we went back to Minamidera. Right on time, I might add.
From the heat, we were led into a cool, pitch black room. It felt so good to be in the dark. After about five minutes, a rectangular screen gradually emerged from nowhere and we groped our way toward it, hands outstretched. If you’ve ever visited a Turrell installation, you know that what looks far away is actually very near, and what seems solid soon gives way to mist.
On Tuesday, I will fly back to SF for more scans. My doctor is worried that my cancer has changed genetically and the medicine I’m taking isn’t working anymore. I know in my heart that he is right. I feel strange sensations and weird pains and a fresh panic I haven’t felt before.
I think about Japan Man sometimes. I wonder if someone discovered him and threw him in the trash, or if he melted away in the rain, leaving just a pile of sun-bleached Hello Kitty stickers behind.
There’s a Turrell in the Louis Vuitton Store here in Vegas. It’s called AKHOB and it’s great, because it’s private so you get to have it all to yourself during your visit. I made a reservation for Valentine’s Day. While we were there, all alone in that crazy light, Fireboy put a box in my hand. Inside was my new wedding band. A concept by our friend artist Nick Dong – The Introspective Ring, made just for me. Melted down from a US Golden Eagle coin, and lined with ten Brazilian emeralds, the stone of renewal and healing.
Two people fumble through an undefined space. How can the corners be so blurry, yet the edge so razor sharp? I reach out for his hand.
I’m with Herm. I accept this challenge! In other words, now might be a good time to unfollow me on IG.
Update: I posted this a few days ago, got some challenging feedback, yanked it, then thought better of doing that and here’s why: as far as I can tell, one of my main reasons for being here at Earth School seems to be to learn how to stop comparing myself to other people all the damn time. I knew when I chose to move here to Las Vegas, that the ageism, sexism and all the other -isms of this city would push my buttons and force a few confrontations I’ve been sidestepping and that interests me. I also freely admit that I am having some serious personal issues around AGING. What does any of this have to do with cancer? Well, it turns out — quite a bit. As females, a great deal of our social value is directly related to our youth and sexual attractiveness. If you can’t see how these issues might be especially hot topics for women fighting breast cancer, well, there’s a “Save the Boobies!” happy hour I’d like to invite you to. (Uh, it’s our lives we’re fighting for, not our tits. K?) So this next post is just me trying to figure out how to get older as gracefully as possible and in my own snarky, often contradictory way. This basically my diary you’re reading here, you know that, right? So that said, I’m not really open to edits on any this material.
All girls, no matter how attractive they may be in relation to the prevailing beauty standard, are at adolescence handed the metaphorical equivalent of the keys to a Formula One race car. Most girls are unaware they are holding these keys and never even learn how to drive. A small handful figure it out before it’s too late and marry oligarchs and the rest become strippers. Of course what I’m talking about here, is making the very most out of being both young and in possession of a vagina. Don’t get me wrong, lady parts will always open doors but combined with YOUTH, the sky is the limit. That luminous, radiant skin! Those perky everythings! The magic is real and there’s no filler or facial muscle-paralyzing bacterial toxin that can hold a candle to it. Of course, the cruel truth is that to every woman the day will come when her race car gets repossessed. You can trust me. I know, because right now I’m behind the wheel of a high-milage 2001 Pontiac Aztek.
When our friends land in Vegas, the subject invariably turns to visiting a strip club. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against these places. I’ve actually spent more than my fair share of time in them. No one believes this story, but once in a Scottsdale gentlemen’s club, the ex-husband and I got into a friendly battle over who could “make it rain” harder — a skirmish which culminated in the two of us dipping a stack of money into a snifter of Hennessey, hitting the soaked paper with a lighter and then lobbing the flaming bills on to the main stage. You know, just a regular Tuesday.
But I digress. This new cancer thing with my hip kind of hurts. Actually, it hurts a lot. If I walk for too long, I start to limp. By the time the guys decided it would be a great idea to hit Saphires I was hobbling like a penguin with saddle sores. Now, I’m no jaded, big city doorman, but I can imagine that an awkwardly lurching 40-something broad is the very last thing on the planet you’d want to see come shuffling down your trademark blue carpet during peak weekend hours. How do I know this? BECAUSE THEY MADE ME PAY TO GET IN. I nearly burst into tears. If you’re not a girl, or a girl who has experience going to strip clubs (or most any club, for that matter – excepting comedy clubs) the unwritten rule is usually this: hot chick = no cover charge. I’ve never paid to go in a club in my LIFE.
Now, put on your thinking cap and try to imagine the WORST PLACE on earth to be when you’re feeling like your sexual currency has officially just been devalued? Yeah. So, that’s where I was. The WORLD’S LARGEST one of them, no less.
I flopped into a seat at the bar and within five seconds one of our party was approached by a gal I’ll call “Cinquain.” (Of course, that wasn’t the name she gave us. It’s a slightly related term though, and this is how I show that I’m smarter than her.) Anyway, Cinquain had a mouthful of braces and looked like she was maybe 20. She recited a mildly amusing verse that I refuse to repeat because I just know intuitively that a professorial customer of hers whispered it to her while she was grinding methodically on his leg during a lap dance. Needless to say, our friend and the metal-mouthed wordsmith soon departed together.
Our other friend was scooped up a few minutes later by a late 1990′s vintage blonde with the personality of a low-watt lightbulb. That left just me and the Fireboy sitting at the bar nursing our $19 cocktails. Pairs of girls wearing tiny Gucci shoulder bags and even tinier sad underpants wandered past, recoiling in horror whenever I glanced their way. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but I felt like that old movie Frankenstein, the confused monster who’s always walking around like “Whaaaaat? What happened? Why is everyone running away?” while the dewy co-eds in their pointy rocket bras clutch at their pearls and scream.
I turned in my seat to reach into my purse and within seconds I was hip-checked. By a Ferrari F14-T. Sigh. For the first time since I sat down someone finally spoke to me. She jerked her head in the direction of Fireboy and said, “Your friend here and I are going to have a drink together.”
I figured I still had eight dollars-worth of vodka on the bar. I grabbed the glass and put my foot down on what’s left of my gas pedal. I tossed back what was left of my cocktail as I limped on down the blue carpet, right out the front door.
Did you guys know that Mercury just went retrograde FOR THE REST OF THE MONTH? Good luck, guys! If anyone needs me, I’ll be hiding under my bed.
Four months ago, I saw this post on Reddit in r/internetisbeautiful:
Which led to an eBay auction page that said this:
Here is my unique offer.