Uncategorized

ANOTHER CHICK GONE

ANOTHER CHICK GONE

Suicide, heroin overdoses, cancer. This year so far seems to be the year of exits. Is it just because I am getting older and life is just happening at a more expedited pace? Or is everyone just getting sicker and sadder needing to depart from this place sooner than planned? I have no idea, but what I do know is that it is wicked sad. I am wicked sad. I am tired of grief. Weary of grieving and feeling teary eyed. I am drained from worrying about whether cancer will return in my own body because I just want to drink wine and eat ice cream and stop the madness of concern that every non organic, non clean food item that enters into my mouth and down my throat is an irresponsible decision that will affect my life later down the road.

Gretchen died. A vibrant and disciplined woman I had the pleasure of working out behind for well over four years died after an almost year long battle with serious cancer that started in her breast and had a party on her bones and everywhere else. She was given not more than a few months and said a loud and bad ass Fuck You All making it to her niece’s graduation, I’m guessing her personal carrot, a place to get to, a goal to make it past. Strong heart from all of that working out and eating clean kept her heart alive and strong while the rest of her faded away around her.

Gretchen was young and healthy and I loved working out around her as she had the most incredible hair, wore the coolest workout clothes and looked great in them. She was one of my role models for increasing weights as she was always using the heaviest weights and while I was recovering from my surgeries I squatted and chest pressed in awe of her ability. She was a pint sized powerhouse, had the kindest of smiles and a loving warmth in her eyes. Some may even call her a gentle spirit. She was the type of person who you would describe as someone who wouldn’t hurt a fly.

When she first got her diagnosis I offered her some of my stash of medical marijuana stash. She was in a lot of pain and I recognized her descriptions from when my brother was first diagnosed. This is when she likely thought that all of the poison and protocols that would be offered as the doctor version of Hope in a Jar had the magic outcome the drugs claimed. She looked me square in the eye and told me she had been sober for years and didn’t do drugs. This was before. Before the pain got so bad that years of sobriety likely went out the door because all of that sobriety didn’t really help her health in the end. I hope she had a nice big glass of Brunello before she was too sick to drink it, I hope she had a triple scoop banana split from Newport Creamery and a big fat medically prescribed joint as she faced her very uncertain future.

All of her yoga, her weight training, her kindness, her clean eating, her light- though it mattered to the people who were lucky to know her, it mattered greatly to her many siblings and nieces who loved her, it didn’t matter to Gretchen because in the end, she died. Another superchick gone. I don’t know about you but I am fucking sick and tired of trying to see the bright side of things. After my workout today with my fellow chicks who all knew her and worked out with her too, I am guessing the majority of us are having a big glass of red tonight and probably a hot fudge sundae because all of this is out of our control. For those of us who think we have some control over the simple fact that not one of us gets out alive, we are kidding ourselves surely. So tonight if you see me out and about, I’m the one with the sassy chip on my Proseco glass. I am honoring the chicks we have lost this week by doing what I want. A glass of bubbly, a kickass pizza and a hot fudge sundae. To Gretchen. May your bright light be as lovely bad ass wherever you have landed and may we continue to feel your presence all the days of our lives.

Uncategorized

UNINTENDED UNPLANNED EMOTION

UNINTENDED UNPLANNED EMOTION

The slightly bouffanted blonde older (older, like my age older) woman with black eye liner and nude glossy lips was waiting for me. To be perfectly frank, I had my eye on a younger more tattooed woman to do my hair for the fashion show I was privileged to be a part of last night. I had decided to be completely open to the entire event as previously written about in my last writing so when Lori approached me, I just went with her and the flow of the beautifully crafted and organized like Swiss clockwork evening. These ladies from the Paul Mitchell School in Cranston, RI were volunteering their time on a Saturday afternoon doing all of the models’ hair and makeup and I just wanted to be a part of the total experience. I wanted to let them take care of me and free myself of the ridiculous incessant need to control every waking moment of my existence. I am sure that this need for control is one of the more esoteric reasons I got breast cancer in the first place. It seems like a common denominator in the personality traits of so many survivor chicks I have had the fortune to cross paths with over the last three years.

She gazed at my thick, long salt and pepper hair with a sparkle in her eye. I had no idea what she was thinking and I really didn’t care. There were no mirrors around for me to have to watch and I really used the time to just enjoy the experience. Typical of hairdressers and their clients, we began a light Q and A session to pass the time. Especially since I have been in the beauty business for over thirty years, I am always curious why people land there, she seemed about my age so I asked if this were a second career. It was. These are some of my favorite women to speak with because it usually means that they have headed down the path with an inner calling fueled by a long time dream to be part of the hair world. I admire women who follow their calling the later years of their career and I love to speak about it with them over the pulls and twists of getting my hair to do what they envisioned. She flat ironed, and marcel ironed and sprayed and teased. The aroma of heat with hairspray melting into my hair brought me back to my old days having to attend hair shows when I worked with Aveda. Meanwhile the twenty something tattooed waif of a girl standing across from us was thinking about my makeup and looking at me with her artistic eye. An hour later, I was the embodiment of a vintage pinup girl and I LOVED the whole look, the preparation and the end result. I was slowly learning that the whole point of the night was to celebrate the collective US. The cancer survivors, the caregivers, our families, our friends. I never really felt the need to have a group celebration like that, it never occurred to me that it was even necessary. As I plodded through the blur of the Kentucky Derby themed evening sitting with my only two friends who didn’t have plans that evening, I leaned in. Sheryl Sandberg would have been proud. I applied the wonderful five A’s that don’t always need to be reserved for intimate relationships. I Allowed. Appreciated. Accepted. I Attended and I had deep Affection for the women and men who made it all possible. What I assumed would be a silly and fun wacky evening was remarkable and the deep layers of emotion surprised me.

I stood in the line in my David’s Bridal coral chiffon dress and my five inch wedge shoes from Off Broadway Shoes from The Warwick Mall waiting my turn. I was second to last and stood a person away from the only young man in the lineup assuming he was the son of one of the cancer survivors modeling in her honor. “How did you get roped into this?” I asked with a playful curiosity.

“I had lymphoma.” He said with a gentle spirit.

“You are alive!” I said with utter happiness. “I bet you have a lot of people here who are so happy you are alive, how old are you?”

“Twenty.” he said. I smiled firmly. “I’m so happy you are here.”

Then out of nowhere, the tears flooded my mascara lined and ladened lashes. I had to turn my head so the floodgates wouldn’t open five minutes before I was supposed to sass my silly #lovelybadass self on the runway to the beat of some more music my fifty three year old self didn’t recogize. My brother. Yep, there he was in the center of the tears, just like thirty years ago when I was getting ready to speak in front of over one thousand attendees at an Aveda business conference, my first speaking appearance at the tender age of twenty nine. I had learned just the night before that my brother had adeno carcinoma of the lung, at the time a fatal diagnosis and had just asked the leader of the company five minutes before going on stage if he knew of a healing place in the country that may offer alternative medicine. My eyes had filled up then five minutes before going on the stage. Here I was thirty years later and it was a reenactment. So much had happened in thirty years and here I was standing in front of a twenty year young man very much alive who triggered my entire thirty years in one short sentence. I had lymphoma. Twenty. The same age as my son now. My son who was also diagnosed with the BRCH 2 gene. I got home and realized I didn’t want to be alone last night. I was mixed with joyful sorrow so I got my stuff together and drove to my partner’s house and promptly into his arms, tears flowing with the sadness of loss and the joy of life all mix and matched. All because Maria Gemma asked me to be the fashion show. It’s like she knew it was exactly where I should be on a Saturday evening. I would do it all over again in a nanosecond. This is the power of not only a powerhouse woman but a powerhouse organization filled with powerhouses on a mission to get people like me to say yes instead of no. More yesses for the right reasons, for the right causes. The unintended and unplanned emotions that came up last night despite the tears keeps my life in perspective. This was the gift that keeps on giving from all of this cancer. #LUCKYINDEEDAGAIN.




i didn’t want to take my hair down or wash my makeup off. My two superchick friends who gave up their Saturday eve to cheer me on. Runway pictures will follow soon. Lori the magnificent goddess who make this hair do what it did. And another survivor chick, Ali also modeling last night.
Uncategorized

ABOUT THE WEATHER

ABOUT THE WEATHER

“Have a great day!” I said with my usual enthusiasm to the woman walking out ahead of me at my gym class Sunday morning. We had just completed an hour and fifteen minute fundraising class for a woman, a mom, a wife who had just lost her under fifty year old husband to cancer. She has four children and has been a regular participant in these classes for as long as I remember.

Typical of my morning workouts, we are there for one thing, to zone out, to get out of our heads and get a great start to our mornings. We are friendly with each other, kind, but the boundaries are clear. We are not here to make friends except with our own bodies. The hour is short, many of us spend countless hours talking endlessly in our work and the last thing we want to do is get chatty in our workouts. Because of this, we don’t get to know the insides of people’s lives. Mostly this is a welcome respite, as for me anyway, my workout becomes my sanctuary, my morning meditation, my self reflection and connection as I burn through meters on the rower, miles on the treadmill and sweat like I never imagined I would ever have welcomed in my otherwise, I’m just a walker, life.

As a result of my insular workout world, I didn’t know about her husband until this past week when Kathy donated her company’s two Sunday morning super busy classes to raise money for this family. There we were, working out together for a totally different reason, our intention was a new directive for the end result. I hadn’t been to a class in almost a week because my schedule was way off kilter. This coupled with a week of no caffeine because my partner decided that it was revving up his heartbeat and it is just easier to drink decaf rather than make two separate batches, made for a less than blustery work out performance. As I considered, at about the forty-minute mark, that my tired body had enough, up came a picture of the couple on the screen (that usually tracks everyone’s heart rate and that I jokingly boycott because I refuse to take part in the wall of shame:) and I thought of my brother. My beautiful brother who will soon be gone longer than he was alive, is my go to visual anytime I am thinking about complaining or giving up something.

My thought is usually this: Michael would have wanted just one more choice to leave or not leave a workout in the middle of it so just like this couple, I forged ahead and completed the class. The fact is, I wouldn’t have left early anyway, just knowing I can leave is freedom enough, but I wouldn’t because I am fit enough, healthy enough, strong enough to finish. An hour goes by at the speed of light and twenty more minutes was certainly a nanosecond blast to honor someone who no longer had his own choice.

As I left the class battered and bruised, not really, and had the quick Have a great day with another warrior, she said in typical New England fashion, “Now if the sun would just come out.” Such an innocent comment; we New Englanders love to comment about all less than perfect weather. “Oh this crappy weather!” “Is it ever going to stop snowing!!?” (why is it that every winter my fellow Rhode Islanders seem to be surprised when it snows?) “Holy Wind!” People say exasperated when the breeze is anything more than gentle. “Is it ever going to be Spring?” when April refuses to perform in the fantasy way we expect every single year. Just when it warms the slightest but coupled with rain, “ Is this rain ever going to let up?” Then when Summer finally arrives. “This humidity- it is so hot!” Our endless discussions about weather as we pass by each other is automatic. It is a friendly excuse for banter beyond, Hi, How are you? If I respond with what I am usually thinking, I love the weather and all of its wackiness. After all, we live in New England, it makes the conversation awkward. People don’t usually expect a full editorial from an innocent weather comment. Is this unique to New England? Do people in Syracuse or Wisconsin talk about the incessant snowfall living in a place, well, that snow falls? What do people talk about in sunny and lovely California like San Diego? With the exception of those pesky earthquakes and oh yeah, those frightening fires in the north, is there a daily diatribe post workout like, Have a great day! Will this sun ever stop shining? Will we ever not be able to go to the beach?

I often thought it would be great if we turned on the weather and the weatherwoman would say on a rainy day, “Look at all this rain! We will be seeing those tulip shoots sooner than later, aren’t we lucky that nature’s intent is for the bounty of color in our near future?!” Or “We’ll be reaching ninety degrees today but it will feel like one hundred and ten with all of this humidity; why don’t you leave work a little early today and go jump in that beautiful ocean we are fortunate to live so close to cool off!” So many possibilities yet for some reason we have been conditioned to think that we are supposed to espouse negativity when it comes to the weather. What makes us Yankee northerners use weather as a way to communicate? I have to consider that at least we are communicating as opposed to walking by each other in our new human position of looking down at a blue screen to see if anything new happened in the less than five minutes ago we just looked down to see if anything new happened. Maybe it is just the excuse to talk to each other.

Working out for a cause just like doing anything for a cause is meaningful to my soul. Back in the day of cassettes, well before podcasts, I used to have some great ones from Maya Angelou and Marianne Williamson and would play them often instead of music. I remember one particular line from Maya Angelou. “I like charitable people,” with the sound of her well known deep and commanding, with just a pinch of southern voice of hers. This one seemingly innocent line in a random cassette when I was in my early twenties struck a chord with me. I remember thinking; I want to be a charitable person. It felt righteous and on purpose. When I give, my heart opens in the same way it opens when I look at my son, or feel the depths of love for my partner. I give often and I like to give quietly without a lot of pomp and circumstance. Sometimes I give with anonymity. There is a unique shift with this directive and often it is more of an eye opening struggle with my own ego that I reckon with in my decision to go naked or dressed in my donation.

How did I get here? It all started with the weather. Innocent weather comments. This is how I got here. I wanted to talk about the feelings of humility after an hour of honoring and helping a family in need by donating money at a simple workout and how a simple weather comment stirred my thinking about the human need to connect even if the weather is the excuse. After my workout this past Sunday, I got to thinking about these innocent comments. I vote for appreciation of the unique and changing weather in our little New England state. I am sure that this family we worked out for would take one hundred stormy days in a row for just one day back with their father, her husband.

I have met people who don’t have a dime and have a perpetual attitude of gratitude that is infectious and I have met people who step into an eighty thousand dollar car with the weight of the world on their backs because of a rainy day. It is the awareness of our thoughts and our ability to intercept them when they head south. It is adjusting our scope as we march forth into our day Maybe it is our ability to be aware that helps shift us from staying in the rainstorm and instead seeing the sunshine in our own hearts each day we connect with each other in passing. Whatever it is, I love living in New England with all of its crazy mismatched weather patterns. There is never a dull moment. If this is what makes us talk to each other as we try to reconcile the loss of a young man taken way too early from a loving family, then so be it.




enjoying a variety of New England Weather days with my son, snowy, clear, hot, rainy, none of it matters when we have the privilege of great health, great connection and love. #LUCKYINDEED
Uncategorized

HAPPY BOOBAVERSARY TO ME

HAPPY BOOBAVERSARY TO ME

“You don’t have to come back to see me for a year,” Dr. M said so casually at my last check up as he sat facing me literally his head at breast level straddled in front of me taking a look at his work. Thank goodness he has a nurse in the room especially these days as just the entire situation has all kinds of levels of misinterpreting. Not by me. I totally get the clear boundary of patient doctor and I am happy I am in that camp. I almost felt a little bummed though when he said these words to me. This startled me because really why would anyone not be excited to hear the words from a doctor that I am doing so well, I don’t need to be seen as regularly as I have been.

Today. Friday. One full year to the day is the day I was headed to my surgery for my double mastectomy. How did a year go by? Just like a brand new baby where you can’t imagine ever going to the grocery store alone or your child heading to Kindergarten, this mastectomy experience was like that. I never thought I would be where I am today, mostly a better and improved soul from the whole lively experience.

I have learned a lot. Like all traumatic life experiences, the hind site is the platinum gift of retrospect. I have found myself enjoying the doctor’s visits, I have leaned in to the routine of them and their consistency in my life. Perhaps it is a safe zone for me that I get to have as some added protection from the inevitable worry that comes with a two diagnosis over the past three years. I try to live in the moment and not feel constant anxiety and I think the regular doctor visits help keep me feeling grounded in the womb that has become part of my new life. I have often said that the diagnosis of a brca 2 gene is like the gold insurance card when you walk into the office. I am watched and cared for and it has been a weird replacement at the same time Ann (aka my mother) stopped speaking to me. That probably reads really sad, but it is the only explanation I have for why any sane woman would actually be disappointed that she doesn’t have to go every month or three months anymore for her doctor check up.

But here I am. Naked. Stripped. Vulnerable. Honest. And this is the most glorious fact of this whole escapade. The cape that was my metaphoric source of strength as I jokingly connected my sense of self to Wonder Woman has been removed. That cape, the sparkly silky coat of armor I counted on as my source of strength, the outward appearance of its shiny flashiness turns out to be just a cape of many colors. And I didn’t need it after all. My power lies within the truth I have committed to living. My directness has softened as I have gained layers of empathy and patience in this past year with myself, yes, but in turn with the people around me. I am sure I always had it inside me, but for some reason clung on to it like a secret I wasn’t supposed to let out of Pandora’s box. Cancer sucks for sure. Having to be part of the unintended Survivorship tribe that seems to be growing every passing day is no party.

I am not Wonder Woman. I am not special. I am just a chick trying to get the most out of her life before the inevitable we all must face comes a knocking. Losing my dear brother so young gave me the sense of urgency often lost to people who don’t have the unfortunate young loss to deal with. I would have rather had my brother all this time and having my son has overfilled the hole left from my brother’s sad departure. Getting to watch him navigate the possibility of not having his mother has created a bond between us with the deepest of roots I am not sure I would have felt or rather appreciated if this hadn’t happened, but as I write this, I know this is likely not true. I have always had a deep appreciation for his spirit and our connection. Our weird family of divorce though during this rough and rumbled year has been a lovely transformation as the three of us, former husband, Dave, Michael and I have bonded in a totally different type of way and I couldn’t have asked for a better tribe, surely.

All these nuggets and blessings that have adorned my life this past year are a reason to celebrate this one year of great health. My scars have healed and so have I.

This I can say wholeheartedly has been a very good year.



before diagnosis, on the left, with a little pic of my son, a week before surgery shedding some tears with my dear and brilliant friend Julie Brigidi photographing and finally three weeks after my surgery with another photo session with QUEEN JULIE. #FUCKCANCER #LOVEMYLIFE
Uncategorized

NO FREE PASS

NO FREE PASS

At my fifth year or maybe it was the ten year high school reunion, (it all blends together almost forty five years later, eeeh gads), I spotted her from her literal behind. Her beautiful figure would in an earlier era be referred to as svelte. Smooth, curvy, but not bodacious at all, highly feminine, ballet-esque. She was kind of like the waif version of the Jessica Rabbit character who played in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Her pale sunless skin with her vibrant red locks cascading down her back gave her appearance away immediately but so did the shimmery fabric adorning her skin. The handmade fabric she had invented just for the occasion of the reunion stood out like the bright light she was in high school- creative, inventive, confident. She had designed a dress (of course) that she had screen printed on the stretchiest of fabric all of our senior photos from our North Kingstown High School class of 83 yearbook. We, well mostly the men, spent the evening trying to find where their early eighties hairstyles and faces, but still looked like late seventies, had landed. It was the hit of the evening and she sauntered around with the air of understated, hippy elegance, egoless, calm and kind. This was how I knew her when we graced the halls of the A, B, C, D and E buildings for the four years at North Kingstown High together. She went on to RISD and I connected her to my father in Fall River, Mass as he was very familiar with the textile industry and I think he helped her with some connections there. Eventually she began designing dresses for women who chose to strip for their profession and on and on with her magical creative life I could never wrap my head around, but admired greatly.

Keri Haas, who transformed herself into her alter name, Sarah Good and I were friends in high school. We had a nice connection and though never really stayed in touch, there was a familiar thread between us so when we would see each other at reunions, it was comfortable and comforting. She grew up in the woods of Exeter, and I grew up in Jamestown, worlds apart back then and we somehow found each other in the world of high school that mixed lots of different towns together for the first time in a hot bed of hormones. Back then a ride from Exeter to Jamestown without a drivers license may as well have been a rocket to the moon and the likelihood of getting a parent to deliver to and fro was next to impossible. There was also no public transportation so it was hard to become friends with anyone outside of our own hometowns. But we did somehow.

Somehow she read something I wrote and found out about my cancer experience and mentioned to me that she too had been part of the tribe of cancer chicks and we got together this past June. We met for lunch and shared our war stories, bummed out that this was our link, but nonetheless grateful for the excuse to be together. She told me about the latest discovery of cancer in a different part of her body, a dreaded spot on her lung and we talked about the things we wanted to still do in our young lives. She shared her typical Keri creative world, deciding to make her own wig after her last bout with chemo, actually going to New York to meet with a famous wig designer to learn the art of wig making and actually used her own hair that she cut before chemo to create a wig. Keri was like this. Thrifty is an insult. She was unabashedly one of the most artistic people I have known. Jewelry, clothing, living off the radar in Maine in a house I meant to visit, nothing surprised me about her ability. I sat in awe as she filled in the holes of the time that had passed between us with her endless love of creation. We left each other that day, sad that cancer was the excuse, but happy knowing each other and the shared camaraderie we always have had.

Life gets busy. I went on healing from my surgery, she went on trying to grapple with her diagnosis and our lives again separated as we both went on. I saw she got married typical shotgun style and sent her a comment that I didn’t hear back from her on and time marched on. So this morning for some reason, I went on Facebook which I seldom do and started to see mentions of her in the past. I quickly realized that she had passed away and reached out to her oldest friend, Kim who called me apologetically and promptly for not letting me know. Not knowing about someone dying and then missing an opportunity to celebrate their life among friends is one thing, feeling bad about is another. I don’t feel bad because I know that Keri knew I cared for her. I know that the people who know me who went to the memorial would know that too. This is the glory of ego release. I had a generous conversation with Kim about the service and Keri’s remaining weeks on this planet. This was enough. What I have been grappling with today is deep sadness for her loss and a fresh wound opening that just because I am ok now does not mean I get a free pass. I am not being negative or pessimistic. It just really has freaked me out that Keri died in less than the seven months that I saw her and she really didn’t know that the “little spot” on her lung would be her final coast into today without her.

When I was getting radiation, the thought process was that surgery takes out what is there, but even though they caught it early, there is always a chance that something could be missed and radiation is one more line of defense. When the cancer came back the second time, it disproved the radiation theory to me and I actually wondered if the radiation caused its return. Who knows, really. I was starting to buy into the idea that this is over for me. I am healthy, strong, fearless. When I found out today that Keri died last week, it reminded me that I haven’t even gotten to the one year mark each of the last two we caught it early times yet. So today as I allow myself to wallow, to write, to sit on the couch with tea and a robust fire, I feel vulnerable and heavy hearted. I allow this. I accept it and know that all of “it” is completely out of my control so I march forth again into the rest of the day and the weeks and the months.

I remember Keri and I think of all of the people who knew her and were inspired by her grit. She went too soon. She had a lot left to do and as she said when I last saw her and Kim said she said the same, “this sucks.” Yes Keri Haas, Sarah Good, it very much does.

god speed Sarah Good. A rockstar has left the building.
Uncategorized

IN THE WRONG BUSINESS

IN THE WRONG BUSINESS

I drove up to the parking lot at 10:33am last Saturday morning and there wasn’t a car to be seen; crap, could they not be open yet? I circled in front of the door and discovered that 11:00 am was the opening time so off I went to the bank just a hop skip and a jump up the road and did my deposits. At about 10:58, I returned and to my surprise, there were about twenty five cars in the parking lot on this just starting to snow December day and a line out of the door waiting for the them to open.

I stood out like Resse Witherspoon did on the grayest of New England days as she made her way through the Harvard campus dressed in head to toe Barbie pink in the movie, Legally Blonde. The people in this line were made up of a motley looking sort as they vaped their way waiting patiently. They were thin, somewhat scraggy. They looked like they hadn’t seen sunlight in sometime and many looked like they were in the midst of chemo treatments, sickly, thin and colorless. A familiar sight each looking like and reminding me of my brother as he and I traipsed back and forth from hospital for chemo treatments and home again. Some looked like they were part of the club who never leave their living rooms unless they need to, like that look of the kids who are addicted to video games dressing completely in head to toe black, vitamin D deficient. This was not me as I stood among them in the long line. I almost felt a little guilty standing there, but I got over that fast. I am part of this unlikely tribe, a victim and survivor of a two time we caught it early cancer diagnosis; and someone who does not want to take barely a Motrin let alone be addicted to oxy.

No this wasn’t the Apple store the first Saturday in the busy shopping month of December. It was a compassion store. The Greenleaf Compassion Center in Portsmouth where the economy was ripe and blossoming and where they only take cash, check or debit cards. I am in the wrong business. It was like being at a MAC counter the week before Christmas, free gifts with purchases, spend $25 and get an extra treat for an additional $12.50. They had coffee mugs that also double dutied as coffee bongs and hats, tshirts and chocolate treats fully charged with a variety of ‘medicine’ as they refer to it when you ask about the varieties available. It is a happy place in its odd way. It is a place that is also a political hotbed, a place filled with people who want to be well, who don’t want to choose the pharmaceutical route for their pain and have to jump through hoops to make sure their specific illness falls under the codes designated to achieve the platinum card- a Rhode Island state medical marijuana card. Though the term ‘medicine’ is a little tough for this former back in my high school Jamestown days weed imbiber, I understand the importance of shifting the meme as it relates to the way the terminology is perceived by the majority. In fact, the end result of this miracle product is reduced pain, reduced discomfort and a calmer groovier set of rose colored glasses to view the world. Don’t we need more groovier views of the world? Don’t we need calmer? Don’t we need less oxy addicted medically constipated humans and a less anxious collection of souls out there in the planet?

This topic is a hot one in the midst of an opioid crisis the likes we have never seen. I know there are thousands of people just in our state who have been affected by the abuse of opioids. Marijuana runs the risk of being thrown into the negative messaging barrel of bad information. Marijuana is not Oxy. It is not heroin. It is also not alcohol or cigarettes. As I stood there in the line, I noted to myself that I use medical marijuana cautiously and carefully. I am not a stoner, I am not an addict. I use it as a safe way to address the intense discomfort I have felt since my mastectomy. As I have written numerous times, medical marijuana has been the only relief to the upper band tightness I have felt since my surgery. I use it sparingly and responsibly usually right before bed on very occasional evenings. It works better than the prescription for oxy that was automatically handed out after each of my three surgeries. It has worked better than Tylenol or Motrin. Like alcohol, I would never indulge and drive, never smoke before work or an appointment or anything where I had to be a grown up; I am a responsible patient. This is all a part of making sure that this experiment of medical marijuana can become the first step to making this legal for all in our state.

One thing I learned early on in owning a business is to not talk religion or politics. I have abided by this for my entire business life. But watching my brother die having to figure out illegal ways to obtain the only drug that would ease his pain and also have to try to locate it on the street was something that has stayed with me for over twenty years. Listening to the stories of people who have intense joint pain or back pain (no pun intended) and I know that medical marijuana would be helpful, but the codes necessary do not attach to these ailments. I must speak about this because I have seen its effectiveness. There is no reason why people who need it, like my brother did, should have to register like a common criminal with the state, pay yet another fee and have limitations like a ridiculous wait to obtain the card that has now been changed from a two year license to a one year.

As I stood there in the line waiting to spend a hundred dollars among every other person standing in the line waiting to spend probably more than that, I couldn’t help but think, “Why is this not legal here beyond medical?” I understand the perception of its harmful effects, but when I think about the positive effects compared to hard core drugs that are highly addictive, and up until recently highly available and the future tax income potential, this seems like a no brainer. I would rather know where the product was coming from because let’s face it, if someone wants to smoke pot, they are going to smoke pot. Why not capitalize and at the same time make sure the pot is clean and sourced properly?

It is seldom we hear of someone going into a public place and blowing it up because someone was high on marijuana. Alcohol is far more dangerous, cigarettes are still being made and sold and our children are still smoking them and we know the damaging effects of both of those. I am sure there is lots of research that marijuana is a gateway drug that the anti marijuana people out there espouse, but in my humble opinion, no scientific backup here, I don’t know one single person in my early circle from both my younger years and my present years who has ever gone beyond marijuana to something stronger. And back in the day living on a 3 by 9 mile island there wasn’t much to do besides smoke pot; lots of pot. Actually I have found the opposite to be true, if anything marijuana helps the sugar industry more than the heroin one. It surely doesn’t help the alcohol industry as this is the last thing I want to drink after a few puffs on a joint.

Is it big Pharma that is lobbying against marijuana becoming legal? Because goodness knows pharmaceutical companies are not going to be creating large organic growing fields in their highly industrialized buildings. If the sugar conglomerates out there are concerned about their demise as more and more of the general population learns that the sugar industry is more like the cigarette companies of yesteryear (like the bread companies were when Dr. Atkins came out screaming the negatives of bread, remember that?) they should be lobbying full throttle for its full legalization. Sugar and pot are like peanut butter and jelly, it is a marriage made in heaven. The restaurant business should also be gathering their posse and trying to get this legalized too for that matter. People are going to smoke pot. Why not monetize it and do something that helps grow our state tax base?

Like alcohol, I do not feel it should be allowed in outdoor public places, or in cars of anyone driving or passengers. It should be smoked in controlled spaces and in the privacy of our own homes or backyards. Why are so many so afraid of this? This industry is here to stay. What part our little state plays in it is the sixty four thousand dollar question? When I say I am in the wrong business, I don’t mean that I would ever want to own a compassion center, way too much red tape. I hope it is worth it for these rebel owners who have risked much to be the line leaders in this growing business. As I consider the future of retail and downtown livelihoods as we move further and further towards everything being available online, I witnessed that people actually have money and actually still leave their homes to shop. If marijuana was legal, the opportunities for brick and mortar businesses are exciting and I am not just speaking of places that sell it.

I know that there are people who believe that we don’t need more drugs, people should be high on life, exercise, hobbies, but indulging in alter experiences is not anything new. Humans like alter experiences and they are going to continue legal or not. Let’s make this happen and allow for the legalization of marijuana for all. Regulate away, tax away for that matter as good old fashioned economics will drive the success of the legalization simply because of supply and demand. People want to buy pot legally and are willing to pay for it. How many Apple I phones have you bought when the one you have is perfectly fine. You want it, you are willing to pay the absurd $850 for it and you don’t even need it. Rhode Island has the apple store potential if we can legalize marijuana. In weak economies, the businesses that thrive are liquor and lipstick; the feel good items. Marijuana is a feel good too. I know as my conservative peeps out there are reading this, they may be cringing with the notion that I am taking such a strong stance on this issue. It is always a risk when you say something controversial, but I have seen the struggles of many who would benefit and I have first hand knowledge of its many positives. I don’t think our kids should smoke pot. I also don’t think our kids should drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes. I am fully aware that this next step will need lots of detailed focus to avoid the potential of our children getting their hands on anything that could harm them. Massachusetts is getting ready to open their stores. We should move on this sooner than later so everyone in RI is not driving across the Massachusetts line to not only save on state tax, but the inevitable marijuana purchases as soon as Mass opens their first store.

We are often tongue and cheek referred to as Rogue Island. Let’s for once find ourselves being known as rogue for something instead of shady and misaligned politicians and Crimetown. Just because it is legal, doesn’t mean everyone has to indulge. As a matter of fact, every resident could be a beneficiary of the wealth of cash from the taxes our state could put on this out of the gate. As our governor goes after big businesses to expand and build here in our state, we have a monetary opportunity right under our nose. Way better than adding super harmful gambling casinos to our little state and a great opportunity to soften and create grooviness too. We don’t need more casinos, we surely don’t need any more corrupt politicians, we have plenty of those, progressive thinking about new business doesn’t have to be just going after tech companies or adding more bike paths (though I whole heatedly support both).

When I think about the part of legalization that is the fun part, I know there is a lot of potential. I am not naïve though. I know there are many regulations that have to be considered and I feel for law enforcement and politicians who will have to work hard to make laws that haven’t been created yet. We have many states like Colorado who have already been at this. Let’s find out what is working, what they would have done differently in hindsight and adapt what is working without reinventing that wheel, learn and correct what has not worked and fixed some of the issues that they have had. I am sure that this writing today will sit both comfortably and uncomfortably with many, but here is the thing- when I think of how much marijuana has helped me, how much it helped my brother, I am a believer. May the critics not ever have to be in the shoes of someone who needs it, but in my opinion whether someone needs it or wants it, it should be available. Time will tell but for now I will happily continue to take full advantage of my very legal card until maybe our state legislature can move ahead and consider that there are so many who will benefit from across the board legalization. Are you listening?

Uncategorized

WHERE DOES TIME GO?

WHERE DOES TIME GO?

I realized yesterday that the two months since my last surgery passed uneventfully. Unlike the past few countdowns from my first lumpectomy in April of 2015 and then again the mastectomy in April of 2017 (what is it with April? I wish I could blame it on April Fools Day- no such luck) So when I say two months what I mean is time is flying since I had my mastectomy seven months ago and replacement parts reinstalled only two months ago. As I have learned to adapt and actually oddly enjoy this new and different part of myself, I find it so interesting how far I have come. When I was away over the holiday I reread some of my earlier writings. I was so distressed in some of those pre-mastectomy entries and I can’t help but compare the experience to having a baby. This may sound like an odd comparison, but there are so many similarities. For those who have had a baby and gone through any form of childbirth there is that familiar comment we women make. Once we go through having a baby and time goes by, the pain of childbirth softens so much that you almost forget the pain. This is what brings you to the desire for round two. Time is our greatest ally, surely.

As I get further away from the original surgery this past year, I am struck by how normal I feel. I have gone from completely freaked because I was having part of my body removed, to the exact opposite feeling of almost this was not nearly as big of a deal as I thought. Now just for the record LOUD AND CLEAR, I did not have chemo. My cancer was caught super early two fortunate times. I never lost my hair, I never puked, I was never stuck in the house because I couldn’t get out of bed. I was super healthy going in. All these elements were part of the whole success package. I am not WONDER WOMAN. I am not special. I am just lucky that when I realized that I hadn’t had a mammogram in four years when my doctor pointed it out, I made the appointment pronto. As I move through this new phase of my life, I am also lucky that I am in my early fifties. I have already had my baby, I have already gone past the need to sport a kick ass bathing suit at the beach, I have had great young sexual romps that require the upper body comfort needed. I am not saying that I am old or past the point of no return at all. I am just pointing out that there are a lot of significant milestones I have already had in my life and a double mastectomy came at a time when I have passed those. This is good fortune. I know of a lot of women who have to make painful decisions before they got to live the natural part of their female lives of babies and bodies and newly formed relationships.

With the glorious wisdom of retrospect, my personal favorite life view, it wasn’t that bad. I can’t believe that I am writing this. I have grown to actually weirdly embrace the whole experience. It has given me a sporting new way to love and appreciate my body. I have a new perspective on health and fitness and even more important on patience. I say NO more. I say YES less. I appreciate how short life is and I attempt to engage in the things that feed my soul, this includes conversations and interactions with great people and places. Breast cancer is part of my story, it is not my story. I will not say it was a gift, I will not declare it as a cliché journey. I wish I hadn’t had to have gone through this. I surely had lots of gratitude before all of this came into my life as an uninvited guest.

I reflect on my brother’s young loss at 25 from a rare form of lung cancer (and no he never smoked because I know you want to ask, everyone does). I consider how far cancer research has come and how many people are actually living and surviving cancer now. I consider that there is a high likelihood that if my brother had been diagnosed in this decade, he may be alive. Of course this is all speculation, but doesn’t it seem that people are living with and past the original diagnosis? It is not so much of a death sentence as it used to be. Of course I know many people are still dying of cancer and many people though they are living, their quality of life is not living at all. When we get devastating news, we have lots of choices to make and these choices are so personal, no one can make them for us. I am not minimizing cancer’s devastating wrath; I am just reflecting on how far we have come. I am trying to hang on to this notion so it doesn’t own me as I go forth in my life. These days it seems that cancer cases are so prevalent in our circles, it almost feels like we are talking about the common cold. In my case in the midst of the many cases I am aware of, mine is insignificant in comparison. There are a lot of emotions in saying this aloud because it feels like I am minimizing it, but in my world of pragmatic thinking and storing things in their neat little boxes, I get to wrap this one up and hopefully store it forever in my newly cleaned out basement. One may be asking why I would want to even wrap it up and keep it at all, why not just send it along with the other junk I got rid of a few months back? I actually don’t want to forget this experience. It has brought out the best in me, and it is has been a game changer in my worldly view on my future and in the way I live presently. I like the reminder even if it is wrapped up tight and placed in the farthest corner of my home, I don’t want to forget about this one. This surprises me, but then again, life is full of surprises.



Uncategorized

THE AWAKE WAKE

THE AWAKE WAKE

“I am thinking about having a party while I am still alive,” my dad on his almost death bed, cancer ridden, stated with almost Zig Zigler salesman like conviction. I had gotten “the call” that my father had been rushed to the hospital by Dad himself who sounded for the first time unsure if this hospital visit would be the last one. I rushed up there, ‘there’ being New Hampshire, Dartmouth Hospital, near the college where I found my father and my stepmother dealing with the ramifications of esophagus cancer that would soon take his young life. Once we realized that this was not the end, my stepmother had decided to head back to the cabin situated on my Dad’s beloved 100 acre campground in the Great Woods of Northern New Hampshire, Strafford, north of Lancaster. I stayed put so she could have a much needed break as she had become his primary caretaker, a task surely not for the fainthearted, but for a person who loved the other with all her heart. My father was lucky to have her, surely, as I chuckled at the notion of my mother ever taking on this selfless role. Not a chance. Not a chance of his mother, my grandmother doing this either, those two women were just not made of that fabric. Bernadette was, is, and I felt so happy she was his wife. I am not sure I would have had it in me either, especially since my cancer ridden father continued to smoke his disgusting cigarettes until almost his last breath. “What’s it going to do, kill me?” he would say with his twisted sarcasm. I had been going up to visit him pretty regularly before his cancer more like a freak show exhibit as once again my father was on some business venture and I, like the rest of my very white collar family of lawyers, doctors and business people, was intrigued by his never ending gumption.

My father was fearless in his quest to find the business that would give him the combination of livelihood and joy and the campground would be the winner for him. He loved the woods, he loved the social, he loved the community and his ability to make a small living doing what he loved was the best way for him to move into his seventies. Until he got the cancer diagnosis. Dad always thought that he would blast through his life living well into his eighties like his other grandfather, Joe, his father’s father who smoked at least a pack of cigarettes and drank scotch like water every day. It was a fifty fifty shot. The grandfather he was super close to, the one who died while Dad was at boarding school in Maine at Hebron Academy, when he was only 59 also of cancer. Stomach cancer was the diagnosis back then, but in 1959 who knows if that was the cancer. Almost sixty years later, cancer diagnosis’ have evolved and become much more specific and the genetic realities that have made cancer more prevalent are only within the last twenty years. My father didn’t know about genetic mutations and drank and smoked with a Joi De Vivre since he was about thirteen years young. I hadn’t been around the endless smoke of cigarettes since I was 16 and reentering the haze and smell triggered me. I couldn’t stand to be around it and Dad as usual didn’t really give a shit. Dad was the black sheep in the family doing all of the opposite that was expected of him and this used to drive my Grandfather crazy.

My Grandfather Herbie, ran a textile company in Fall River like so many other Jewish men in the fifties and sixties and my father ended up working there. I don’t think my Dad ever really enjoyed this, but because he eloped at twenty to a Irish Scottish German Catholic girl from Newton, Mass and I came along a year later, I don’t think his track in the management career at Woolworths in Burlington, Vermont was feeding his soul or his wallet. He now had a family to support and since he dropped out of University of Vermont and totally pissed off my grandfather, I think this was his cross to bear. With his tail between his legs, hat in his hand, he went back to Fall River and began his career at the factory where he unhappily resided until I was at least fourteen. He had some other businesses afterwards but when he found this campground and purchased it I finally saw him living his truth. I loved the campground, it was a bizarre collection of camouflage, ATV’S guntoting, pot smoking Libertarians and they loved my Dad and he loved them. I don’t know how he managed to be part of the party as quickly as he did, but Dad was a gregarious outgoing and super smart guy. Super likeable too and his ability to live his life how he chose was a great example for me. He was a curious soul and the longer he resided there, the more he became a Fox loving Libertarian along with the rest of them. I was in awe.

So when he came up with this idea to have a party, I immediately jumped in and came up with the name and all we had to do was convince Bernadette. I’ll never forget her face when we both proposed the concept. It would be potluck. It would be a huge all day event, we would invite all the New Hampshire folks, all the Jewish family, all the Portugese contingent and whoever else wanted to jump on the party bandwagon. A bonfire would also be part of this wacky event, of course. And besides food, there would me much alcohol and lots of clothing layers. After all it was Northern New Hampshire in November. As we began the guest list, Dad determined who we would be asking and who we wouldn’t be asking. A couple of his first cousins would be left off the list which was fine by me. Hell when someone is dying of cancer, they make the rules, social correctness goes out the window and I was just the messenger. Little did I know that this decision would cause a war on the day of the event with me being the recipient of the fire. Of course the two cousins got wind of it and showed up anyway thinking it was me who left them off the list. Me in my codependent protective state took the brunt of their anger like it was right out of Seinfeld episode as they showed up in their Lexus with their high heels and Prada bags. Amusing and in hindsight added humor to the heaviness of the day. It didn’t feel funny on the day, but it definitely has been a topic at every family get together.

What is an awake wake? It is a celebration of life when you know someone is dying and they get to be the main guest while they are still alive. As one might imagine, this was a difficult concept for many of our family to swallow, but I was the cheer leader and no one was going to change our plans. I think losing my brother at such a young age made me look at dying with such a unique vantage point and if this was one of the gifts of losing my brother, an awake wake would soon be in the history books as one of the greatest celebrations ever. Imagine my grandparents traipsing up to New Hampshire from sunny and warm and wealthy Sarasota in the middle of November to “celebrate” their son’s life knowing he was going to die of a cancer that also took their first born grandson only fifteen years earlier. Heavy and hesistant hearts I am sure they had. Of all of the people who attended and there were at least 150, my grandparents couldn’t stop talking about this in the most positive of terms after the weekend experience. I think this gave my father a great feeling of peace. Why do we wait until someone dies to tell them all of the glorious things we learned and loved about them in a postmortem eulogy? The only advantage to knowing you are going to lose someone is that you know ahead of time. Why wait to celebrate their lives? Why not celebrate them so they know their importance on this planet and how they affected people and places by their short existence. I know this idea isn’t for everyone, but this experience with my father was life changing for not only him, but for the people in attendance.

We shared food, stories and life together with Dad and he knew his contributions without a doubt. He got to live two more months with the knowledge that he made a difference in many peoples’ lives and I think when he finally checked out, he was more at peace then he imagined. Less pissed off that his plan of smoking and drinking and outliving us all would throw our theories of health and fitness out the window, he was happy when he died. Isn’t this the point? And typical of loss, I miss my father more at each year that passes. I find myself really asking what would Dad have said, done, but I am so glad I was able to tell him what I loved about him while he was still around and coherent to hear it. Anytime I find out someone close to someone I know is dying, I always boldly suggest that they sit with the person privately and let them know all of the wonderful things they learned from them and loved about them. It is a real gift for the dying, but often it is surprising at what a gift it becomes for the ones left behind.










Uncategorized

ROCKSTAR STATUS INDEED

ROCKSTAR STATUS INDEED

“Are you alayne white?” a very kind woman and soon to find out a client of our Providence location asked happily at the registration area at Women and Infants Hospital yesterday morning. I had just registered and was off to the next phase of my final surgery time slot. She was checking in with her I presumed husband by her side. I didn’t recognize her, but her head scarf and fine hair gave me the clue that she was familiar with my story as I have been writing endlessly. This is the gravy of writing; you get to meet people and hear their stories in all areas. We respectfully didn’t keep each other long, but the knowing in our eyes said volumes as we immediately connected through our cancer experiences. Words are not necessary, the smile and the warmth was a great way to head into my surgery yesterday. My “living apart together” partner kept walking as he is used to these recognitions by now. I gather from him that these peripheral conversations a half hour before my final surgery are not necessary, but I embrace them because the intent is always from a great place. I never feel intruded upon even in this private moment because it was my choice to write and to publicly speak about this mastectomy. I love when people approach me and share their stories and am thrilled to think that my stories help to let Pandora out of the box. It is only my opinion that talking about the fears, the humor, and the female experience of cancer and all of its ramifications are helpful. This may not be true for everyone, but if the permission is granted because of my writing, then so be it. I have always felt that talking honestly about the feelings and thoughts about any life experience coming at you is part of the healing because the alternative in holding that in is usually more dis-ease over time. Just my two cents.

I made my way to the second floor to the community of women waiting with their men to be checked in for whatever female ailment was about to be cured. C sections, mastectomies, lumpectomies, salpingo oophorectomies, hysterectomies and transgender operations even, Women and Infants seemed to have the superchick monopoly. A bustling female ailment business surrounded me and my partner while we took a seat to join the party. What were my thoughts as I waited? Would I stay over or go home? (my choice). I forgot to write a brief testimonial for my friend, Peter about why Roger Williams University is an asset to the community, does my mother even know that this is going on, when would I be able to exercise again, would the size of my replacement tits be too big, too small or just right, blah blah blah. Mostly though I just took nice deep breaths, took Michael’s hand and allowed myself to relax. I was actually looking forward to anesthesia to shut my fucking brain off for a few hours. I was actually looking forward to a recovery vacation to shut it down for a bit. You know you are a nut when you are looking forward to a week off of work because of a double mastectomy reconstruction surgery. This is fucked up, I know. I have been busy in a good energizing sort of way but I was looking forward to the first chance to stop for a bit and use this surgery as a reason to do so.

Next stop the height measurement, blood pressure, temperature and the scale. I get that the anesthesiologist needs to know your weight, but since I have had this surgery in April, I have avoided the scale at all costs. Six months of swelling, tissue expanders and drugs assured me that the scale was not going to be my friend. Rather than torture myself, I just went with how good I felt and refused the call of the female torture chamber we call a scale. As a matter of fact I removed the scale from my bathroom and put it away never to be used again, because I have accepted that it will never be the number I desire so fuck the scale. Until yesterday when I had to step on it. Why did I look? My crazy female head that I seriously thought I had in check started that familiar list making… how much do my clothes weigh, my shoes, my fake breasts, all acceptable deductions, maybe if I hadn’t eaten a half of pint of mint oreo cookie icecream as my last supper, Okay I think I can safely account for a five pound deduction. I am happy to report that I quickly shut that part of my brain down because it is crazy and I have done way too much work on my self to undervalue my worth because of a scale. This is one of those female crosses we bear and I for one can’t stand this but needless to say, I got sucked back into the vortex in a nanosecond.

I write about this because I want to acknowledge the silliness of taking a potential number obsession to the surgery room. I am about to have silicone implants put in to replace the hard baseballs I have gotten used to. I am about to have my nipple disconnected and reattached, and the doctor is also going to go into my previous ports of entry above each of my hips to suck fat out of my sides of my legs so my cleavage looks more natural and less Barbie (his choice not mine). I laugh at this. Then on top of all this as Dr. Michaud (aka Dr. Hottie) starts drawing with a black pen all over my front so he knows the areas in need of tweaking, I ask him how much the tissue expanders weigh hoping he is going to say five pounds. Yep, bat shit crazy, but here I am. Take me or leave me. (By the way, he said two pounds, damn.)

As I waited for the anesthesia Doctor, I felt the bustle of the presurgery room, pregnant women preparing for c sections, women preparing for their mastectomies and then I see a man with a beard getting carted off and naively comment because after all we are at Women and Infants, hence the word women. Then it dawns on me that she was becoming a he the same day I was reinventing my she. (The same day Hugh Hefner died, seems apropos doesn’t it?) And I felt so happy that I was in a hospital that is progressive enough to be part of his new life. The business of female, I don’t know how this hospital is not fiscally healthy. Women are big business and this was just two hours of one day.

When Dr. Anesthesia walked in we became fast acquaintances because she too recognized my name as she is a client too. Yay! I knew I was in great hands as far as the sedation went and the camaraderie that took place in that silly little room sealed the deal that all would be ok. I went in at 8:00am, was home, yes home, by 3:00pm, liposuctioned , 475cc silicone inserted feeling like I just got tackled my Gronk. It’s done. Now I just have to remove the bandages and my boobilicous staycation begins.

ROCKSTAR STATUS INDEED.


this is me after surgery just getting home on my couch. I can’t believe how great i feel.
Uncategorized

TWO DAYS UNTIL THE FINAL SURGERY

TWO DAYS UNTIL THE FINAL SURGERY

Fingers crossed, hands in prayer position, this Thursday it is almost six months already and I have my (hopefully) final surgery. Reconstruction consists of two parts. One part, the first part, is about the inserting of the tissue expanders so when you wake up from the mastectomy you get to look down and see breasts. Of all the surprises during this experience, this was the best part of the whole thing (besides not having cancer). It made the entire anxiety ridden wild ride a lot more fun for sure; I got to play boob dress up this past six months. Not everyone who has a double mastectomy has the tissue expanders put in out of the gate it turns out. Some women have the actual silicone put in right away. I think it has something to do with the fact that I had radiation at my first round and the skin needed to repair or something like that. I have stopped trying to learn every single detail because I trust my doctor so much and at this point I just want to get on with my surgery hence get on with my life and get used to the next phase of my upper body.

This summer when I speak of playing dress up, what I mean by this is that I had to get fills for the tissue expanders on an almost monthly basis and I had some input as to the size I wanted. This was actually pretty fun, the notion of playing Barbie adding more saline to see what a bigger badder ass tata would appear like. It turns out that 500 cc is actually too big as I quickly learned that over filled boobs struggle with my clothing size and there are some dresses I haven’t been able to wear because my boobs are too big. Not to mention my six foot partner and his very large hands barely fit over them. (Luxury problems indeed)

All of this as a matter of fact is what I would consider luxury problems at this point in my young life. I don’t have cancer, I don’t have my real breasts, my ovaries or my fallopian tubes either, but three surgeries later and I don’t have cancer so this whole shindig has been a welcome alternative and I am grateful. When I say I have my final surgery this Thursday, what happens next is that the Doctor does a small insertion on the scar I already have and pops out the hard baseball like tissue expanders and replaces them with a smaller 450 cc silicone implant. These are squishier and more realistic then the Barbie looking and feeling ones that presently reside in my upper body. When I say hopefully final surgery, it seems that many women have to go back in for some tweaking, maybe the size isn’t right or maybe the new silicone doesn’t settle properly and the mismatch isn’t right or God knows what else can go south. I am sure there are stories after stories of implants gone bad. I made the fatal mistake of reading a Medium story about some explosion that happened to a young mother on a plane. Holy hell. Like bad baby delivery experiences, I am so glad that when I was pregnant, social media didn’t exist with all of the horror stories out there for my inquisitive eyes to see. But the stories of breast reconstruction gone bad are everywhere if you make the fatal mistake of asking the question. I didn’t make that mistake and I won’t. I don’t have cancer and this is the only part of this party I am concerned about. I don’t really care anymore if my boobs are even (they are right now) or if my cleavage is natural looking (it is not right now) or my nipples match (they don’t). Dr. Hottie cares and this is his job, it is his art project and I have surrendered to his capable and artistic hands. At this point after “surviving” this bizarre experience, I am all too happy to move on with the final stage of this whole miraculous procedure just so I can have the female shape I think I still want.

Watching handicapped women and men protesting at a hearing yesterday at the Capital, a woman with no arms and no legs in a wheelchair who made it to Washington DC to protest the healthcare repeal and replace vote- I will not complain. These are boobs for Christ’s sake. I have health insurance that pays for this entire surgery. This is not life or death and it is cosmetic at the end of the day.

Dr. Hottie will take fat from another part of my body and use it as a sculpting tool to fill in gaps etc to make these boobs look more like they are the real deal. I can’t wait for this to be over. It is all so silly compared to all of the mayhem going on in our wild and wacky world at this point.

What I can’t believe is that is has been six months. A half of a year already. I start again with the six month check ups to try to get to the desired five year mark that all cancer patients want to get to. That five year mark somehow signifies that you are cancer free for real. I don’t know about that. I think that this circumstance continues to remind me to live in the glorious present. The alternative to living in the present is to obsess about something completely out of my control, the future. I have learned and am still learning that this is where I need to live or else I have the ability become obsessed with worry and fear. This is surely not helpful for healing. My lifelong personal work is living in the present; I know this for sure. I am the happiest when I reside here. This is the lesson from this last round and from the many women I have had the privilege of meeting who have had much more serious life issues coming at them then I have. In these times of our lives and maybe it is just my age now coupled with cancer and genetic testing outcome, I don’t mean to say cliché, but the present is where it is at, it’s all we got so again onward to this moment.

Hallelujah.



the moment in the sun, the memory to take more naps and the last glorious beach day I got to enjoy because I said yes yesterday.