Be Your Own Advocate (If You Don’t, Who Will?)

photoI always had difficulty asking for what I wanted or needed. I never wanted to be a bother, or cause anyone any trouble. Even when asked if I wanted something, or if someone could do something for me, it wouldn’t be unusual for me to demurely decline, stating, “Oh no, that’s okay”, even if deep down I really wanted to say yes.

I also often held back when I received something I didn’t like, whether it was a disappointing dish in a restaurant or an unflattering hairstyle. I can’t count how many times I quietly paid for something with which I wasn’t satisfied, only to then turn around and seek it elsewhere, hoping for better results. (more…)

Listen To Your Mother

LTYMSo this is happening.

In an effort to step out of my comfort zone, at the suggestion of a friend, I auditioned to be part of the first ever Nashville cast of Listen To Your Mother, a collaborative performance which features live readings by local writers on the joys and challenges of motherhood, all in celebration of Mother’s Day. (Think Vagina Monologues, but about motherhood.) Born of the creative work of mothers who publish on-line, each production is directed, produced, and performed by local communities, for local communities. This year, the production will run in 32 different cities, including Nashville on Saturday, April 26th, 2014, at the Tennessee Performing Art Center’s Polk Theater.

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Your Cancer Is Not My Cancer: The Danger of Comparison

2014-01-25-comparison-thumbTeddy Roosevelt is quoted as saying “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I’ve found this to be particularly true in the area of my own personal journey with cancer. I learned the hard way that comparing my disease to someone else’s not only steals my joy, it has the potential to chip away at my resolve. It can keep me awake at night, in a vortex of fearful speculation of my own making.

A little over two years ago, I was diagnosed with Stage IIIC fallopian tube cancer; and I’ve been managing my cancer and the subsequent side effects of treatment pretty much continuously ever since. In that time, I’ve learned that staying present and keeping a strong mental attitude are essential to my well being. Having recently been told that my cancer is of the recurrent sort, maintaining this mindset is now more important than ever. (more…)

Cancer Is My Herpes: Living With Recurrent Disease

2013-12-09-1fav_DSC_3118-thumbAbout a year ago, I learned about some “worrisome” spots that had shown up on my quarterly CT scan. This was about six months after my last of 24 chemotherapy infusions, and to say I was bummed upon hearing the news would be an understatement. But I slowly wrapped my brain around the notion of a “third option” relating to cancer, the third option being something between permanent remission from cancer… and death.

Now the thought of just “learning to live with” cancer was unappealing then and is unappealing now. Of course, I (and anyone else without a death wish) would prefer to live a long life, free of illness and disease, without the scepter of cancer hanging over my head. But as a couple of wise blokes named Mick Jagger and Keith Richards once wrote, you can’t always get what you want. (more…)

Me and My Foobs: What It’s Really Like Post-Mastectomy

2013-09-07-photoBefore my surgery, I spoke openly about my decision to undergo a prophylactic bi-lateral mastectomy in the wake of a BRCA-1 diagnosis. I’m now about six weeks post-surgery, the (proud?) owner of two brand spanking new “foobs” (fake boobs), and I’ve had some time to process the new additions.

First, I believe there’s a huge misconception among the general populous about what it means to have one’s breasts removed and replaced with artificial ones (if they are replaced at all). When speaking about my upcoming surgery, I had many well-meaning people say things like, “Well at least you get new boobs!” and, “Your husband must be so excited… has he picked ‘em out yet?”

Yeah, well, it’s not quite like that. Not at all, in fact. (more…)

Me and Angelina: Why I Stand By My Decision to Have Preventative Cancer Surgery

2013-07-14-babylipsWhat do I have in common with Angelina Jolie (besides oversized lips that are apparent even in our baby photos)?

We’re both moms.

We both discovered through DNA testing that we carry the BRCA1 genetic mutation.

We were both told we have an 87 percent chance of contracting breast cancer in our respective lifetimes.

We both opted for a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy to dramatically reduce our risks.

And we have both been criticized for our decisions. (more…)

What if you treated everyone like they might die tomorrow?

bald2I’ve noticed something in the year and a half since my diagnosis with Stage IIIC cancer. People treat me differently. And I don’t just mean the way people reacted when they first learned I had cancer or saw my tell-tale bald head (a phenomenon I call ”Cancer Face“). I mean the way those in my inner and outer circles still behave around me, even a year out of treatment.

There’s apparently a certain grace extended to those who were nearly lost that other, “luckier,” ones don’t receive. I guess almost dying and having an unknown prognosis gives you some sort of pass. Not that I receive perks or free stuff. I’m talking about gentleness of attitude, and mercy. (more…)

Let’s talk about sex …. and cancer.

baldAnyone who knows me knows I’m not shy about talking about much of anything, especially sex. Although I’m happily married and in a monogamous relationship (in which I plan to stay for the rest of my days), I’ve been in relationships with both men and women and had my share of experiences during my 45 years. I’m an open-minded, sexual being.

In addition, I’ve worked for more than 22 years in family law. There’s not much of anything I haven’t heard when it comes to sex, and I’m rarely ever shocked. I’m the friend to whom you can talk about sexual positions, weird infections, unique fetishes and favorite toys. I have lots of great stories to tell (mostly about myself). I listen without judgment and can find the humor in pretty much anything.

So why, then, has it been so difficult for me to talk about sex as it relates to cancer? (more…)

False Evidence Appearing Real.

face-your-fears-giant-bunny-rabbit-man-small-easter-photoshopAfter I fell in love my now husband, I started experiencing an uncomfortable feeling: a low-level feeling of dread that something bad was going to happen that would take him away from me. I’d never really felt anything like it before.

Actually, that’s not true. I had felt something like it before, but not for a very long time. (more…)

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