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I Just Need Someone To Be There

What came first, the chicken or the egg?

Did I first find a band of brothers that could be there for me, through life’s ups and downs, and use them to help, should shit get rough? Or, somewhere in the back of my mind, did I know that through all the denial, something was about to come up that I was going need back up for?

I have found so much respite, joy, strength, laughter, camaraderie, hope, humble…wait, is humbleness a word? (I think, “been humbled by” is more appropriate but it didn’t fit grammatically.) And I feel like what I have to say right now will betray everything I have found. I will betray what has become my family, mi familia, and they don’t even know how important they are to me.

I’m all over the place, a grammatical idiot, probably fucking up my spelling to the highest (even though I am a middle school spelling bee winner!)

I want to be irreverent and funny and take it all in stride. I want to have the strength that these women who have had horrible illness, sick babies, miscarriages, lost of loved ones, painful break-ups have. I want them to still want me as part of their band. But I know what I am doing… or not doing…is so wrong..and I don’t want to lose them. I am making every excuse, cutting every corner, and not hitting it head on.

I am so sorry if I have pretended to be someone I am not.

(Christ on crutches, I sound like an insane crazy person.)

I have developed relationships here and on The Twitter that I am so vested in. I’m afraid to tell you. Will you still want me, after you have survived, you have fought, you have won, you have lost and I finally tell you my secret?

I have a lump. A sizable lump. My left breast has hurt for about a month. I have done nothing about it.

Because what if it is something? There is NO ONE here for me.

My Chelle Belle. She would be devastated. She reminds me constantly that she doesn’t know what she would do without me. When the ache first started, we joked, “what the hell would I do if all the sudden you came to me and thought you had The Dead ? You can’t have The Dead? What would I do without you?”

So I can’t tell her. And my Bean, my beautiful Baby Bean…what would she do without me? There is NO ONE for her besides me.

Her dad? The 40-year old Roller Derby sensation, who has been on the verge of eviction for the last 5 years? The one who only makes time for her if it’s one of his championship roller derby bouts? And she can find her own transportation to it? At 17?

Or maybe my mom, who is living on my couch right now. Acts like an addict even when she isn’t using. Until this morning, I thought had been in jail for the past three days for driving with no license, in a car with bad tags. Any minute now, she’s going to find the next great thing in American health care. Which means that every morning, I hand out bus fare to my mom and my kid. And at around 3PM, everyone calls me to ask what’s for dinner. Well, at least Chelle is only calling because she knows I’ve forgotten to defrost something. She’s home and will happily do that for me.

Because, when the kid is 17 and the mom is crazy and the partner is a musician, you only worry about that ache in your boobie the third time you toss and turn. Which only happens at about 2am, when the dishes are done and the dog is walked and the clothes are pressed and the homework is done and YOUR homework is done, and work clothes are clean and school clothes are clean and your kids who AREN’T your kids are tended to and you’ve gotten a little strength from your blogs….

And you still feel like you failed because there are dishes in the sink and you didn’t exercise, no matter how much you bitch about your weight, and that paper could’ve been better and, have you seen the ant brigade making a home right next to the fridge? and the lawn needs to be done and the job is trying to kill you and the floor needs to be vacuumed and the beautiful jungle you loved when you got the house REALLY needs to be pruned before it eats one of the poor babies walking to the bus stop on your corner and there are only 3 paychecks before Thanksgiving and it’s at your house this year and…


There is a lump on my left breasticle. And my boobies hurt. And whatever that means, I just don’t have time for it.

But I’m gonna call my doc – the same doc who has NEVER met an ailment that a vegan yoga lifestyle wouldn’t fix, thank you Government HMO – I’m gonna call him tomorrow. And I’m gonna try to make time for an appointment to go see him before I’m due in Kansas City for 6 days. But I’m scared. And I’m sorry to all of the women who are probably cursing me out under the credo of early detection. Because I just know its bad. And I don’t know how to tell anyone. And I am surrounded by people who can’t care and listen because my job is to care and listen.

And I’m scared, terribly scared.

And I just need someone to be there.

And I am so sorry for asking.

Update: So after writing this last night I was a mess and clearly had to tell ChelleBell  what was going on. And then i frantically found Aunt Becky on the Twitter and asked her PLEASE DON’T POST THAT. And because she rocks my socks off, AND has probably picked up on the fact that I have roving bouts of the Bat Shit Insane, she agreed to put the squash on it. But now I know how important all of that was to get out, and I feel like a total punk after the stories you all have shared here and my apologies for not trusting you. And I’m feeling so much lighter today.

And just called my doctor.

And I totally am having cupcakes for lunch.

I Want To Sue Susan G. Komen

I want to sue Susan G. Komen.

I want to sue Playtex gloves, Campbell’s Soup, Glad wrap, and every single corporation making money on the carnage of cancer. I want compensation for the last 7 Octobers shoved down my throat with pink ribbons and “awareness.”

How dare you. My physical rubble, my scars, my rib cage, my bones remember the day my breasts betrayed my body – I still had a baby at home to hold.

How dare you paint me pink. And to place your pink interpretation of my experience on mundane housewife products? Insult, meet injury. I hear some effed-up patriarchal focus group somewhere, dudes kicking back, women wearing men’s suits trying to live with the fact that they sold out. This is what they are saying to me with every pink ribbon: “See…I even own this; you are a woman and you mean nothing more than cleaning products—and if I can, I will whore you out to make money.”

I thought we’d come a long way, baby?


Psyche, join hands with your old friend despair, as we walk through the aisles of life in October and are hammered by image after image of a pink ribbon and the plethora of pepto-bismol shaded products I am supposed to buy. Does a kitchen sponge really make a woman get a mammogram? Is the dog food manufacturer really giving money to breast cancer research? I want evidence. I deserve evidence. I want the lab report on the efficacy of the color pink to reduce incidence of breast cancer. I want evidence that demonstrates that just seeing a pink ribbon on a golf ball increases the chance a woman will do a self-examination.

My body was hijacked by a disease at 36 . Hacked up, hacked off. Nerves cut, nodes removed. Home in time to hold my baby and play with my toddler. Dead tissue, dead sexuality, dead eyes meet mine every time I look in the mirror. Each October, my “recovery” is held hostage by corporations who sell their products with pink ribbons on them. Another invasion. Another intrusion. More and more mocking and belittling by those in power. I have to fight to “survive” October.

Oh October, I am tired of surviving you, and the other traumas of invasion that make me qualified to use the word “Survivor”.

Susan G. Komen, Avon, Revlon–you take one good look at my daughter’s 7-year old face when she sees the wreckage of my body. See her naive disgust, confusion, and fear that it will be her fate as well. See her try to piece together why her mother has no breasts, no nipples, no evidence of being a woman. Look directly into her eyes when she asks if she will “get it,” and I dare you to hand her a pink ribbon.

I want to sue Susan G. Komen.

She Is Sick

I met her in the Fall of 1999. I hadn’t set eyes on her until I showed up with my moving van in the Southie alleyway. The house where we would become roommates. A mutual friend put us in touch as I needed a place to stay and she needed a help on the rent.

We didn’t actually live well together. Sure, we were cordial and hung out a bit, but she wasn’t more than a roommate. I’m kind of that way with girls, to be honest. It takes me a long time to let someone “in.”

The next year I got engaged and my then fiance lived just 8 blocks away, so I moved out. This is when she and I became close friends. We exercised together, commuted to work together, met for happy hours, had sleepovers. She worked her way “in” and we’ve never looked back.

She is my son’s Godmother. She is my husband’s confidante in all things, “WTF is up with my wife?” She is my girl. She holds my secrets and my heart.

And she is sick.

Yesterday, my girl found out her biopsy results. She has cancer. The Big C. It’s in her breast and her lymph nodes. This is all she knows. She’s scheduled to see the oncologist tomorrow and on Saturday, Team A will get together with her for her self proclaimed “pity-party.” We’re going to figure out where to go from here.

I’m trying very very hard to not make this about me. But I’m scared. And I’m pissed. I’m fucking irate. I’ve cried a lot of tears and I’m sure more will be shed.

But on Saturday and every day that I’m with her, I will be her strength, no matter what it takes. Hell, if it comes to it, and she’s in throes of chemo and she loses her hair, I’ll shave my head with her. I’m in. I’m so in and will fight with her.

She’s my girl.

And she’s sick.


originally written on thursday, 9/23.

An update. Initially, A’s MRI and CT scans showed that she had no more cancer. She was due to have her lumpectomy tomorrow, her 37th birthday. Instead, she had another biopsy on Wednesday last week and found out the cancer is spreading. So instead of the lumpectomy, she’s going for the double mastectomy. Losing both ladies. In16 days. And chemo right after. Fucking sucks, to be honest. I’m pissed off all over again. Her one positive note – she said “at least I’ll never again have breast cancer.” How’s that for a positive spin. She’s goddamn amazing.

I Miss Her, But I Did Not Know Her

I think my title sums up how I feel.  My heart has been aching for the past year for a person that has been there since I was two, for twenty-eight years of my life, and now she was gone. She was my cousin. She was there before my sister. I don’t remember life before her.

I feel guilty that I didn’t take the time to get to know my cousin. Sure, I did the family obligations, the birthdays, holidays, and weddings. But it wasn’t until I was at her funeral that I realized how much I had missed out on. I felt awful because she used to drive me crazy. I found her very annoying at times. While everyone talked about the saint she was, I felt so guilty about I used to feel about her.

Denean was different, she always was.  She was an old soul before she was in high school.  I think she knew even then. In 1998 we got the call, my mom, best friend and I, while we were working at my mom’s practice: Denean had Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.  It’s treatable, she will beat it.

But, still I think to myself, it’s cancer and she’s only 17.  Through treatment and chemo and losing her hair she remained positive. It was as if she was God’s own army, it was amazing.

Remission with follow-ups came next for five years and then there was a lump.

Breast Cancer.  Denean had a biopsy and yes, at the age of twenty-three she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  A double masectomy and a hysterectomy followed, plus lots of chemo and radiation. Then remission again. She had won, we had won! It was a good day.

Then two days before her brother’s wedding, another lump.  This one was bruised and ugly.  Breast cancer again.  With no breasts.  It had spread.  Lymph nodes, bones, tissue.  Her mother, my aunt and a nurse, asked a doctor how long we would have with her. 5 years, he told her, 5 years at best.

My cousin was twenty-five at the time.  She wouldn’t live to see thirty.

But we were all selfish. We expected her to win, to beat it. She always did.

Looking back, we missed it.  She knew she was dying and she planned for it. My only regret in life is that I didn’t plan for it, too.  My best friend told me to spend time with her while I could and I didn’t. I did once I realized what was happening, but I regret that I didn’t before.  Three weeks before she died, I rushed home with my two-month old baby to be by my cousin’s side.  Until the day that I die, I will be grateful that I had that one week with her. I got to make jokes with her about her ICU nurses, see her sarcastic sense of humor one last time.

I will carry that week with me always.

Denean left the hospital September 17, 2009 and three weeks later she died on Sunday, October 4th, 2009; her father’s birthday.  Her funeral was standing room only. The women and the real men wore pink to honor her.

Denean was that person that you read about in People Magazine.  She fought cancer three times, she put herself through school and she taught to special needs kids–it was her passion. But her most important job of all was that she lead so many people to Christ.  She helped start a prayer group in her high school that started out with 10-20 people. Today, it is well over 200 people.

To say it is an honor to have known her for her entire life would be an understatement.  I feel blessed by the hand of God to be related to Denean.

Thank you for this forum.  It feels amazing to talk about her.

Denean, if by the Grace of God you are reading this, I love you and I miss and I will forever feel blessed to have the honor of being your cousin. I think about you every day and will miss you until the day I die.

Sweet Baby, Hold Back Your Tears Now

The first night after my breast cancer chemo treatment was awful.  Nugget sobbed hysterically in my arms, giving way to heavy sighs between her defeated attempts for true comfort until she finally fell asleep.  I cried, and cried, and cried.  Between the tears i apologized over and over to my sweet baby girl for being sick.

Last night was thankfully less painful.  She fell asleep with my mother and only had to be quietly lulled back down once.  Thank god for small miracles.

As for me, I felt pretty nauseated yesterday and today, and the meds to combat that make me tired.  Today, I really started to feel exhausted.  We went out for some quick errands this morning, but I’ve since spent the remainder of the day in bed.

Tears For Fears

I’m not even sure to where to start.  Remember that fever?  It finally went away.  Then it came back.  A second set of bloodwork later, the doctor still thinks it’s viral.  I get a chest x-ray to rule out pneumonia.  Next is a CT scan,  then a biopsy.  The biopsy has to be done under general anesthesia by a mediastinoscopy, and a bronchoscopy is thrown in for good measure.  Now they think I have Hodgkins.

I know that there are readers who will get this so much more than others that have already heard it from me.  My biggest fearWhat if I have to have chemo and stop nursing my daughter?  It’s going to break her little heart (and mine) if she looks up at me, her mama, with her pleading, beautiful blue eyes and signs for her nursies and i have to say no.

I can’t say any more than that right now.  I just can’t.  This fear is crippling me and the tears won’t stop.