Monday, December 27, 2010


It’s like nothing has changed. My family is not fazed by my brush with death; they still dismiss most of what I say; act like serious things are nothing serious. Had I died I doubt it would have made much of an impact on them… the adults, anyway. I lowered my expectations so low, yet I am still disappointed. I came home from war and no one got excited to welcome me here. I find the comfort of being with my friends is helping me to ignore my family’s lack of apathy. I am an island, lost at sea, floating and floating… I find myself, back at the house I grew up in, feeling my mom all around me. She is everywhere; in the pictures on the wall, in the way they were hung, in the furniture, the food in the refrigerator, the boxes of random papers scattered everywhere throughout the house… the shag carpet, the wood paneled walls, and in the dolls on the shelves. She is this house. This house is her. I come here to find her, but she’s not the same, yet nothing has changed. Anywhere else I go I can imagine my mom here in this house, watching tennis on TV or watering her plants in the back yard, but when I am here I have to face that, despite her presence still lingering within everything she left behind, she is gone. Gone forever. And I am here. I am here, trying to smile through the disappointment; trying to cling to my sanity in the land of the insane; trying, with all my might, to be a better person than I was before cancer. Being in this house may not be healthy for me. I’m pretty sure this will be my last visit here. At least for a very long time. It is time for me to let it go and move on; to live my life for me and no one else. I know I needed to come here, but I don’t need to stay. I can choose my own path and it is not this. I am learning every day to be okay with what I do have, and if I want something I can simply go out and put all my strength into getting what I really want. I am an island, and I will float alone. If anyone wants to join me then great, but I’m not changing who I am for anyone but myself. Because, despite the fact that nothing has changed for my family, everything has changed for me, and I am determined to make the most of it. This place no longer defines me. My mom is here, within everything, but I am not. I don’t exist here. I’m okay with that.

Friday, December 3, 2010


The other day I was very lost. My mind was all scattered and I was dizzy, and I was trying to keep track of simple things but couldn’t figure out what I was doing. I needed help but wasn’t getting it. I went to the library and they were so rude. I felt like half my brain had fallen out and I couldn’t explain why I was so upset, I just was. I couldn’t explain what I needed and I wasn’t being talked to like I mattered and it was so difficult because I knew I was in a hurry but I couldn’t figure out how to go fast enough. It was like trying to fit together a puzzle with pieces from another puzzle. I was scared. I thought I was losing my mind. A friend of mine was in the library and I saw her and hoped that she could help, but when I approached her in the midst of my desperation she responded as if she were a wall of brick; she told me to “breathe” and then she just sat there like I was some crazy stranger. I wanted to die. And it struck me that—well it struck me later since, at the time I was barely able to see straight, let alone be struck by something. At the time it just crushed me— It struck me that my therapist is right: I choose the wrong friends sometimes. She told me weeks ago to stop being friends with this girl because it's not healthy and she is very negative and mean, which is the last thing I need. I said I’d consider it; that it wasn’t like I was best buddies with her but we have some common qualities, and when she’s not being mean and moody she can rather nice. But I see now that compassion for others is not one of our commonalities. This girl doesn’t want me to cry around her, and obviously my cancer, surgeries, and my recovering from the hardest struggle in my life is either too much for her to deal with or too deep for her to understand. How can someone who knows that I’ve been through battle and that my brain is damaged from it, treat me so callously? Even if she didn’t know me would she be meaner?

Honestly, it’s not much of a loss. She fucked me over several times in the past and never apologized, and she interrupts my stories or things I do to avoid hearing I was sad or to avoid being around me when I cry. It’s so immature; so selfish really. I thought we had so many things in common and that was nice. I felt supported by her for a while, but now I realize that she is much like who I was before my mom died, and I never really liked myself back then. But even then I had compassion for others. And I knew how to say I’m sorry when I was a dick to others. At least I learned something and I’m just letting it go; she’s not important enough for me to waste energy feeling sad about. She really is a damned bitch.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Resurrecting the Orange Bag or Why I Wanted to Die Last Week

Last week I was going to kill myself. I’m not sure now whether I was really going to or I just really wanted to. What I wanted was to stop feeling so hurt. For more than a week I was hearing things like “You need to be more feminine,” “The play you directed wasn’t good,” “Why don’t you use happier emotions,” “Show MORE joy,” etc etc etc. And in response to these things I wanted to fall off the face of the earth. How do the people saying these things not hear what they are saying? Then take into account who they are saying it all to? I have short hair—shorter than it has been since I was a baby—and I have one half-real boob, my body has been through hell & so has my mind and these fucking people (they were my teachers) are questioning my femininity and asking why I can’t be happy on stage!

So I’m asked if I’m afraid to access joy. OF COURSE I AM!!!! I’ve had fleeting moments of joy in my life, but never lasting joy, and every time I get happy something awful happens. Example: Happy kid-Raped, Happy kid-Abused, Happy kid-Constantly told how ugly & stupid I am, Happy kid having fun- yelled & screamed at or continually ignored &/or laughed at, I grow up, I get over that shit (or so I think), finally getting my life together- car accident, find a good job with kids & get really happy- my mom gets cancer, Think she’s OK & get happy with new boyfriend- he’s an abusive psycho & my mom’s cancer is terminal & she dies & I get a restraining order on boyfriend, So I move away to make better life & try to fit in – but keep losing my job, Move to NYC to fulfill a dream & get happier than I’ve ever been- I get cancer. Afraid to be happy? Why is that question even being asked, and furthermore, why didn’t a single person in the room say: “Well, she did just survive cancer. We should be glad she’s still in school at all.”

It’s not the first time I wanted to die or thought about killing myself in my life, and not the first time this year. I wanted to die many times during chemo- the loneliness and isolation, and the pain was often unbearable. And after my reconstruction surgery I was so depressed and never certain if it was the anesthesia or something else, but I almost did do it a few days after. I was alone again & no one seemed interested in helping me. I’ve been struggling all semester & in that struggle I’m learning that without acting I’d rather be dead & these comments were threatening my acting. It’s the one thing I have that keeps me going through this shit and I’m baffled at how the teachers at my school don’t get this. Last year it was far better; the teachers were far more considerate & they made the classes safer so I felt good about being there. Now I feel in danger when I’m at school; like anything they say will destroy me because I don’t know that they care. I knew my first year teachers cared either because they told me or because I could see it in their actions.

People may think I am so tough & strong, but I am sensitive &, as my therapist explained, I have this open wound on my emotions & the more negativity I get the less I thrive & the more I hurt. It’s just stabbing at an open wound. I realize most people can’t fully understand where I’m at in this experience, but I am not healed and I am very scared. I feel alone constantly and I feel ignored and abandoned. All I want is people to talk with and have fun with, whether it is for distraction or just to find joy that I can feel safe with. I hope that makes sense. It’s not that I really want to die, but I want to gain control over something in my life, I want to feel safe, and I wanted to feel loved. I don’t know who I am anymore & I go to school to be other people. To do that one needs to know who they are. It’s such a conflicting state. I was me before cancer & before chemo, but I’m not the same anymore. I don’t even look the same. It’s definitely a crisis with identity & I wish more people in my life could see that & cut me a little slack; just take it into account. Just because I was who I was before does not mean I’m exactly that way now. I feel like I am treated as if nothing has changed. But the fact is, EVERYTHING has changed.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Identity Crisis

The shame in my tears drips down my cheek,
Drops of fear and frustration landing inside my glasses
As my head hangs low so nobody sees who I am

Hiding is never easy;
Trying to cover who I think I was
From who I might become

I am no one
I am non
I am nothing

My lack of identity is binding me;
Shackling me to stifle as much emotion from surfacing
So I don’t show anyone the truth

The shame in my fear keeps me crying in private places
Crying when no one else is awake
Crying in silent

I have no identity
I have no reality
Who I was is lost

Who I am now is…

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


The realization that I really almost died this year; that I really could have DIED: it just hit me.

I read an article about James Franco a few months ago. He said that as a kid... or it was his mom saying it... as a kid he was afraid to die because he said he had too many things to do. I'm feeling that way. "One always dies too soon- or too late. And yet one's whole life is complete at that moment, with a line drawn neatly under it, ready for the summing up." At some point we have no choice; we either randomly die or we get ill & find out we are dying soon. I never thought about death as something that came by surprise when you were totally content. No wonder people fear death: it's truly scary to consider that it's basically beyond our control when or how we die. I'm afraid to plan my life out; to get happy or to get busy because if I died tomorrow I wouldn't be satisfied that I had lived a good life or that I'd been successful. I need more time to get things done and be the person I always wanted to be. For some reason I've always thought I was guaranteed tomorrow; that my life needed to come to some cathartic conclusion to end, like in movies. But it could end at any moment. How do people live each day knowing this?

Saturday, October 16, 2010



This is not my vagina

My pubic hair is brown. I look down as I sit on the toilet and I think ‘whose vagina is this?’ it’s attached to my body but it is not mine. Mine had red hair on it. And when it was nearly bald it still had some red hair and I got used to it. But now it’s not mine and I don’t like it. The hair is straight and soft, not like it should be. And brown. It’s ugly. I’m embarrassed by it. I fear that someone will see it and laugh. I’m a red head and my pubic hair is brown and the hair on my head is blonde. I feel like someone stole my identity and left the unwanted pieces of theirs for me to have to deal with. This is not my vagina and I’d rather have none than this one.

October Lows

I’ve been back in school a month. I thought it would be different. I wanted to distance myself to some extent but had no need because it seems that everyone has distanced themselves from me. Already there is silly drama and unfounded rumors. I’m happier directing my show and more excited to be designing costumes than I am for most of the classes. I feel like some classes are very good and some are okay, but could be more challenging or more interesting. I feel lost, but I am trying to forge ahead. I feel almost more alone amongst these people at school than I did when I was confined in my Brooklyn apartment wanting to die. So, that said, I sort of still want to die. I feel as if everyone resents me for living; maybe it would have been easier on them all if I’d just died from cancer so they could fain grief and then forget I ever existed. It’s the teachers I feel more connected to; maybe because I’m closer in age to them, or closer in maturity. For so long I was impressed with the 20 year olds who were so kind to me and so mature, but it seems the summer stole their maturity and their kindness. Maybe that three month break was too much. I needed it, but do feel it was a loss and wish that I could have kept studying acting during that time. I am angry at myself for not reading more and feel that now is my chance to create a change in my life. I am trying to discover how to do that. I need to break focus on certain distractions and really dig into what I love in life. I said I would do this when school was about to start, but the surgery and finality of it, my new blonde hair, and the resurgence of drama at school have all weighed on me and become cause for more depression. I know I am not exactly who I used to be. Some days I am very upbeat and energetic; enthusiastic and focused, and other days I am melancholy and disappointed. I don’t know if I want to be with actors more or cancer survivors… I feel I have no real place. With actors I feel I can discuss theatre and the art of realism and I feel comfortable because I know it, but most of the kids at school don’t care to talk about it. They seem more inclined to talk about themselves. I guess I can understand that since I was young once too, but even some of the older actors seem too focused on themselves and not on the work or the craft. None of them really understand what I’ve gone through and I think it hurts more knowing they no longer know who I am yet think they do; no one else really sees how I’ve changed. But when I talk with other cancer survivors sometimes it gets depressing as well; they talk about the people who’ve died and the metastases they’ve had, and they discuss the hard times that I would like to forget about. I don’t know why my life has been harder than other people’s lives, or why I’ve had so much suffering and pain. There’s no clear answer to that. I just want to be happy and to be working at what I love. There’s no other reason for me to live than acting. I can’t afford to doubt my talent, but I was severely beaten down this summer by chemo, and I’m having trouble really getting myself back up to where I was before. Maybe if these kids saw what I’d gone through or maybe if they cared more… I don’t know. I can’t expect anything more from people than what they are capable of giving. It’s up to me to ensure my future by working hard and not getting distracted by my thoughts. My mom said, six months before she died, that all she wanted was five more good years. I was mad she’d said it at the time because I knew she could have had more than five, and she should have been thinking twenty. Now I understand what she was saying. Five years isn’t that long, but if it’s good maybe it’s worth it. And there is no cure for cancer—well none so readily available and proven—but to have five more really good years would be nice. I’d prefer twenty or even fifty, but I’ll take five. It’s all they have for survival rates at this point and if I make them great maybe it’s worth it. Getting cancer was no choice of mine, but what I’m learning from having it is my choice. It hurts to be alone, but if this is what I’m getting, if things like loneliness are not going to change for me, then I’ll accept that and I’ll find my way around it. I feel like shit so often, I dream daily of truly feeling good and being a good person. I’m not sure what direction that will take me in my life—however long it will be—, but that is my aim…

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Fear is ever-present. It’s inside me just waiting to remind me that it’s there. Like a monster in the closet. And just when I think I’m safe; just when I think I’ll be okay; it jumps out and reminds me it’s there. It tells me it’s not leaving. It tells me I could be sick again; that I could die at any moment. I want to tell the fear that it cannot hurt me, because fear itself cannot cause us harm. But I know that what it’s reminding me of can hurt me: cancer, chemo, all of it. Every moment of every minute of every hour of every day I am on the verge of tears and all I want is someone to be there to catch me as I fall, or to help me not fall. Because I’m scared. And this isn’t fear like the kind you get when that monster jumps out of the closet. This fear is internal and invisible. And if I ignore it I may die.

The twisted part is that I went through so much already that I thought I wouldn’t be afraid of anything anymore but I am. And it sucks.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Me on TV

This aired on Saturday, October 2nd.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The play has already begun to develop. I'm so glad! I won't be posting pieces of it though. It will be revealed when done & work-shopped at that point.
xxo M

Some Things

Some things are so small, like paper cuts, but we get so worked up over them and stress ourselves out. Something I’ve been learning lately is that things in life change continually. Who I see daily now may be so drastically different in five years; my life may be so drastically different in five years. We can plan and plan for things but planning can only go so far when random chance is involved. I try now to consider the weight or the gravity of something and react accordingly. A paper cut might result in an “Oh fuck!” but then I put a band aid on it and move on. I don’t necessarily need to announce to the world I have a paper cut, and none of my Facebook friends will send me condolences for it. On the other hand, there are things like deaths and cancer that can cause deeper reactions. When my mom died I went to look at her body and I just stared. It was shock on top of shock. I was so surprised she looked the same as she had the day before; she just wasn’t making that awful breathing noise anymore. She was peaceful. I don’t know what I had expected, like, that she would instantly turn into a skeleton when she died or that she’d be stiff… I don’t know: I was surprised, but somewhat pleasantly, despite the circumstance. After that I lay on her bed and cried. When I heard Louis died I cried immediately. I think that one came as more of surprise because I thought he had longer and I thought he’d wait for me to be there, whereas I knew my mom was going when she did. I think some part of me died when I lost him; I was just recovering and coming to grips with losing my mom and then I lost Lou and it was as if I had been hit with a two by four just as I was getting up from being hit by a baseball bat a few hundred times.

So, I recovered, I have been coping and I have been making my life better. I tried; I accepted these changes that came. I reacted accordingly. I lost my mom and my cat and I was devastated but I got through it. I lost my boyfriend and then my best friend as well, but not to death, so the reaction was much smaller, but greater than that of a paper cut. Then I got cancer and I fell to my knees and screamed a lot. Dealing with this has been harder than dealing with my mom or Lou’s deaths because this is me being sick and I have to fight; I have to feel it daily. And I have fought- hard. I feel justified in all I do and I feel like I’m more loved and more confident in ways I hadn’t known existed. I was already pretty confident, but this is a little different. It’s funny: someone told me about six months ago that having cancer would make me a better person and a better actor. At the time I knew he was right but I wasn’t seeing it or feeling it until right at this moment. It’s also made me a happier person. And a better director! We can’t really control things that happen in life, especially the big ones, but we can control how we react to those things. Like a parent wishing for their kids to stay young and innocent; they have no control over a child growing up. The best thing to do is to enjoy every moment; soak into it and absorb all you can from it. Life is difficult and complicated and it can hurt a lot, so no matter what life gives me I will bask in the moment and laugh at the paper cuts.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Current Update


School started. Tamoxifen started. Hot flashes & night sweats changed after surgery & seemed to be getting worse in a way but shorter in duration. Then the Tamoxifen started and now I seem to be sweating all the fucking time. Can't tell what's from what. I get random nerve pains in my chest, not even near the stitches, and I'm always tired. When I'm not hot I get chilled because I'm covered in sweat, and I get woken up a lot and never feel like I've slept enough. There's this weird pressure on my skull but it's not really a headache, just pressure, tightness, and my mind is in a fog a lot. My eyes don't focus on certain things and I feel a little bit lost in space. But for some reason I seem to know what I'm doing & what I'm saying. The neuropathy is ok one day and awful the next. Yesterday it was so uncomfortable walking; I can't wear closed toe shoes without it feeling odd and the numbness goes up my leg. It's worse on the left. I get Reflexology next week to see if that will help, plus an herb specialist who might be able to help me get rid of hot flashes. And I'm attempting to switch Oncologists because mine is not considerate of my needs and my feelings. Maybe it seems weird to switch after chemo's over, but I have to be with this doctor for 5 years or more so I think it's best to change.
I'm getting hot writing this & need a break. So that's my update today... oh, and I feel odd that it's been exactly 2 years since Louis died and this is where I'm at: so much has happened in those two years it seems more like it's been 100. I miss him.

Shock and Awe

As I move away from having cancer and into this unknown space of surviving it, I feel dubiety toward the entire situation. I honestly look back and think: Did that really happen? Have I really been through this? If I think too much about how it has happened to me I feel as though I may begin crying hysterically and never stop, so I have been distancing myself; discussing it superficially with most people and avoiding relating anything directly to how I feel about it. I only have one therapist so I should just let it out to her and shut it off around everyone else; I don’t think anyone else really wants to hear about it or deal with it. The thing is… I want to talk about it-- with a friend or family member, someone, but I don’t know who would want to listen so I just hold it in, suck it up, and smile. Not that there is anything wrong with smiling, but I could use a good cry and a nice shoulder to cry on. I had the shock of a life time and now I'm at that point where my jaw is dropped & I'm looking at it as if I just saw Godzilla walking through Time's Square or something. I need to work out these emotions and talk out how I feel but I don't usually trust anyone enough to do that & those I do trust, well...
Maybe making this play will be what helps. We shall see...

Saturday, September 11, 2010


It’s an encompassing of fears and shivers;
Something tightening around flesh like an inflatable sleeve:
Compression and decompression;
Depression and de-depression?
Tightness, shiver, cold, hot, burning, nerves pulling, quaking, smells surround-
Engulfed in apprehension,
Like flames of fire, flames coming off of lava that runs through
Veins and burns off in huge sweats:
Nights lying wet and cold; freezing in perspiration,
Alone and knowing it.
Terror of the unknown, what is next and where to go,
Worry, fear, indecision, loneliness, tension, suspicion, paranoia;
Cancer: it eats away at you like a parasite on your sanity.

Friday, September 10, 2010

In Response to Dennis's Comment...

This is my response to the comment my cousin's husband posted on my entry entitled "Religion". I find that religion was always a constant battle in my family but that it's not about the religion as much as it is about the inflicting beliefs on each other, e.g., anti-gay marriage, people who hate Muslims because of 9/11, using stereotypes to base judgments of certain religious groups, etc. My orginal post (read it) was about me & my fears and experiences in dealing with cancer as a non-religious person.

Dennis- First of all I don't think you understand that this blog is intended for me to express the feelings & thoughts I experience during my cancer. You may consider yourself rational but I have never believed anyone can be truly rational and still believe in any god. How do I seem intolerant of others? Everything I stated here is how I felt & that I worried I might fall into some belief system that goes against everything I've ever believed in simply to gain comfort. The whole point was that I was raised with some idea that there was a god but I never agreed with it, and there's no reason I should. I have survived cancer and fought my ass off on my own-- with no religion or god and without my family nearby, especially without my mother. I don't feel like you read what I wrote as anything besides something going against your religion. I respect people have religion & I stated clearly that I understand humans need comfort, but that I have discovered time and time again, even after cancer, that I do not subscribe to that and that I do not need to. That is mine, and that belongs to me. Of course I have issue with organized religion and with certain things that people preach in the name of god or jesus, like intolerance toward gays, or people who hate a certain religion based only on one version of it. If you believe in what Jesus taught about loving everyone than you would not support discrimination against anyone even if you don't agree with their lifestyle. These are the issues I have with religions, not necessarily religious people. As far as being religious, that's individual and not up to me. I stated above that I am content with my understanding that the universe happened at random and there is no plan. I get that. You can believe what you want and it does not matter to me, but you really do not have the right to judge how I feel about my beliefs or how I state these feeling based on my experience with cancer. I was raised Catholic and chose to believe differently, as did both my brother and sister; as do so many others. It goes both ways. Bad things happen and people "find God" and I feared I might, but I did not. It would be against my nature. That is mine and no one has the right to diminish it. Nothing in what I stated is expressing intolerance. Intolerance would be me trying to take away your rights or demean what you do in your life because I do not agree. I respect you regardless of what you believe in.

Tears like rain down my face

I wrote this poem today. Two days after surgery. I feel really melancholy; maybe it's the weather. I want to cry but I want to sleep. I yearn for warmth right now; it's very cold today. I yearn for love & comfort. I want to cry without being judged by anyone & curl up in the arms of someone I love. I don't really have that person yet but lately I've been thinking about someone I can't quite get off my mind. And I'm frustrated that my family has forgotten me. I could have died & only John called. Maybe the rest of them are dead & no one told me. Maybe I'm just sick of not saying how I really feel. What are they waiting for- my funeral!?! I don't care anymore that they are busy- I had fucking cancer in my tit & they cut it off!And I'm still standing & I'm still trying to be someone. I feel like my brother Bill is retroactively blaming me for my mom being dead; like I got cancer to steal her thunder from dying of it. Yep, cancer's so gawd damn fun & all! He couldn't even say the word "chemo." My sister can only send me tiny messages mostly from her kids. If she had cancer I'd do more; I'd do anything. Is that just me? I'd be there for her; I'd be there for any of my friends if they got this. People I hardly know are taking better care of me. How is this not strange? I wonder if they even think of me without being prompted.
Anyway, here's the poem. I deserve the love I want. I really do.

Tears like rain down my face
I wish you were here to hold onto me
The need for comfort is so deep
Feeling chained to myself and desolate
I know you smell the way I want everything to be
I know you are comfort for me
Please let me cry and don’t judge what I say
I’ve been waiting for you to be with me all day
The clouds and the wind cut low in my bones
I need for you to prove that I’m not alone
Come find me, wipe the tears away,
And be mine now and forever
I deserve you… whoever.

Monday, September 6, 2010

In The Middle

People I know see me and they seem uncomfortable, like all we can talk about is cancer. These are the younger people. They say, “Wow, so you’re done. Great.” And then the fidgeting begins. It’s frustrating to me that no one can talk about anything else. I try redirecting the conversation so I ask about plays they’ve read; try to talk about school, or ask about what they’ve been doing lately. I’m Irish and this “talk around everything” game comes naturally to me. Plus, if I get too into the cancer/chemo shit I either get angry about it or get sad. I mean, who wants to hear that I thought about killing myself for half the summer? No one, not even you.

Does everyone think I’m done? I do have surgery in four days. I’m not done. I was trying to figure out why I can’t develop a scene for my play. I can see what I want it to look like, and I have all these ideas for scene transitions, but I can’t write a scene. I tried asking a friend for advice or to at least test the waters with talking to her and getting some of this shit off my chest, but she was unreceptive. Everyone thinks it’s over so they can just act like I’m healing now and there’s nothing wrong with me anymore. I know it’s not over. I emailed someone who has often been the voice of reason for me this year, and asked for advice. He pointed out without beating around the bush that I’m still going through it; I’m in the middle of it. The funny thing is that I really am directly in the middle. I felt a transition about a week or so ago, like the haze lifting. But that haze wasn’t lifting to show me total clarity, it was lifting to show me the next half of my journey.

I have this excitement and nervous energy for school starting; I really want to experience it fully, but I wish I could get a vacation first (this summer does not count). I’m also desperately yearning to be lying on Christopher’s bed and be allowed to cry again. No one else in my life allows me certain acceptances like he does. I’m also yearning to sit in James & Shannon’s living room with their doggies jumping on me, eating vegan food, and talking about whatever is going on in their lives. And if I cry around them they won’t mind. And maybe most of all I long to see my niece Ashelei & my nephew Hawthorne. I haven’t seen Hawthorne in a year and he just turned three. Not to say I don’t want to see my other niece and nephew, but Ashelei and Hawthorne are fearless people; they both climb all over shit and don’t worry all the time. I was always worrying all the time. I want to be around fearless youth! Plus I told Ash that her hugs will help heal me so I’m really looking forward to her hugs. I miss home which is weird since I always hated it there. I miss the dolls and the figurines my mom left behind, and I miss the dust that covers every damn thing in that house. I even miss that musty-fart-urine smell that fills most of the rooms there. There really isn’t an inch of that house that doesn’t remind me of my mom. I miss her. I miss her more than ever now because she would talk to me if she were here, she would call me. No one else calls me. My mom would be here, or she would have been for a while anyway. I miss adults. I like talking to people who are my age. Well, older really since I’ve never actually been my age. I’ve always looked younger and acted older. I was born at the age of ten, meaning when I was born I was basically a ten year old. At three or four I knew I was smarter than my mom and I was confused why that was. She just never thought outside the box; her mind was convinced of certain things and she rarely changed her mind.

I have the opportunity, after going through this life altering experience, to literally alter my life. I want to and I say I’m going to, but here I am thinking I have to rush to let go of the cancer experience I just had, when in reality I am still having it. I did the same thing when my mom died. I tried to be okay and only cry the first few weeks. After that I said I should be over it, right? Then I realized it was only April and she had died in February. It hasn’t even been three years and it is totally okay for me to still be sad about her death. It’s also okay for me to be sad about my getting cancer; and to be angry about it; and to want to talk to someone about how I feel without them giving me advice or judging me for what I say or how much I speak. If I ask for advice then go ahead, but otherwise maybe you should just sit back and listen because I was already older than my age before, but now I feel like a wise old owl, and I may say something really fucking brilliant and if you miss it it’s your loss.

I have recently rediscovered a childhood joy of mine: swimming. I only have three days left to do it until I can’t for a long time after, but I plan to swim all three days until surgery. It’s given me another purpose besides acting. I’m seeing that I have to find a way to embrace my loneliness and accept that some people are friends but don’t need to be with me all the time, and that some people are just colleagues and we can work together and have fun, but that’s it. It’s okay to be alone. I am learning to be okay being alone because it makes being with other people that much more enjoyable.

This experience has not killed me, but it is not over by a long shot. I’m still in the middle of it, and that’s okay too. I’m at a transitioning point and as I transition I need to heal. I would like to make understanding a part of my healing. So, even though most people do not understand that I’m still in it, I understand that they don’t get it, but I’m okay with that. Everyone is doing as much as they can the way they can. I do wonder how my getting cancer really effected my friends and family. I’d love to know.

Tear Drop

The way that it droops when I lie on my side,
Trying to reach the other one,
It looks like a tear drop about to fall…
It will never look exactly that way again.

Who will I be when I wake up?
Will I still be me?
I wonder now if I am the me I was before.

I feel different. I feel lost in a familiar scene.
I feel as though I totally belong here but I’m early.

Does anything make any sense anymore?

Saturday, September 4, 2010


Recently someone made fun of me for talking a lot. My initial reaction was a mix between “yeah, fuck you!” and crying. I just laughed it off and said “well you try being alone for four months in almost total solitary confinement feeling worse than you’ve ever felt before. You do that & you’ll be starved for conversation too.” Plus the person who said that is a friend – I think- & she was fiddling with her phone for so long I was getting really offended & uncomfortable; what do you do when someone you’re with is fiddling with their phone forever. I hate when people do that when you’re hanging out with them; it’s rude. She claimed she did it because she didn’t want me to talk anymore. So, say that! And, why hang out with me if you know I’m gonna talk? I only hang out with people for the purpose of talking. I mean, what happened to intelligent conversation anyway?

I have been racking my brain to come up with the worst thing about cancer and I’ve discovered that for me it has been the loneliness. Have I said this before? It was like prison and being sick all at once. I thought all these people were my friends but at some point it felt like they forgot me, on purpose or by accident, but either way they forgot me.

A woman in my support group complained that some lady from her kids’ school was coming by too often to see if she’s okay. I told her to send that woman to my house because I’m lonely. I got so depressed not having anyone for four months, that now that I get a person or two to hang out with here or there I desperately want to talk because A) I can’t fucking stand talking to myself for one damn minute longer, and B) Talking stops me from crying which is what I really want to do but I don’t really trust anyone here enough to burst into tears, and I don’t honestly think anyone here cares enough about my problems to want to deal with me crying. Everyone’s got their own fucking problems. I get that. I have no one close enough to really let it out to and my therapy sessions are only an hour. So I just hold it in now and eventually I’ll explode or develop cancer again.

And now I’m afraid to speak. I’m self-conscious again. I haven’t felt like this in years. Why do people do that to each other? Why be so negative and judgmental? So I talk a lot now. I don’t think I talked too much before, but everyone talks. Some days people talk a lot and some hardly at all. I HAD FUCKING CANCER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I don’t need to justify why I talk a lot. If you don’t get it then don’t get it but don’t hang out with me expecting that I’m just gonna sit there while you fuck around on your phone. If I wanted to be in my own little corner I’d stay home, but I try daily to reach out to people and more than half the time I get shut down. I really wonder how many of these people would be nice to me if I had never gotten cancer at all.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


People ask me how I’m doing and I try to stay upbeat. But the truth is I’m sad, I’m angry, I’m scared, I’m optimistic but then I’m pessimistic, I’m tired, I’m drained, I’m confused, I’m anxious as hell, and I’m lonely. I write about all the horrible yuck I felt on chemo and how this has been a tough journey & I'm getting through it, but for all the pain, discomfort, nausea, needle sticks, IV lines, lost body parts, and everything in between, the hardest part of having cancer has been having cancer alone. I have no one by my side on a daily basis making sure I’m okay or hugging me and telling me it’ll be alright. I just have myself. It was fine at first because I had a lot of energy and I was determined to beat this. Now I’m exhausted and I feel like I just returned from a battle, my roommate is a cunt and I’m finally truly seeing how hard she’s made it for me, and it only makes me angrier that I’m alone. I had friends there sometimes but I felt like I was burdening them and I think the glamor of the “friend with cancer” wore off and everyone got too busy to care anymore. I feel like people would like to just move on and pretend I’m okay, especially since I appear to be okay. Did anyone stop to think that I’m a great actor? I’m okay sometimes, yes, but right now I’m not. I scared, sad, angry, tired and lonely as hell. The worst part of cancer for me has been the last one on that list. If anyone else wishes my cancer were gone now & I'm totally okay, imagine how I feel...

Of course I always feel a little bit better after writing how I feel, and now I feel sort of better for writing it & worse for posting it because I feel better now that's it's out. See: confused!

Sunday, August 22, 2010


I was really afraid when my mom died that I would suddenly be overcome with some need for God or religion. I sat there for weeks as they turned into months and I eased my way out of the shock of her being gone, and it hit me that her cancer and her death were random, just as everything else in this world is, and that my fear was unfounded and I am just as atheistic as I was when I was three.

So, two years later I get cancer and I begin looking for someone to blame. I start thinking I must have done something wrong and this “God” figure is smiting me. I even thought that my mom was up in her “Heaven” laughing her ass off and saying “I told you so!” while petting my cat and hanging out with dead tennis players …, but here I am, over seven months after being diagnosed, and I see once again that life is random on a daily basis; everything is random; my getting cancer only proves randomness more. Anything can happen at any time and anyone can die. Everyone will die. I think I never really got that as a kid because I never really knew anyone who had died. Funny, I said a line like that in a play once and I remember telling a friend that it was the most truthful line I had ever spoken on stage (or off). What it meant to say back then and what it means now are so different. You lose someone close to you and suddenly you are on the other side of something. It’s the same when you get cancer. It happens daily with so many things though, good and bad: the first time you eat a certain food, the first time you kiss someone you really love, your first sex, your first sex in the back seat of a tiny car, first visit to anywhere; daily we do new things or we do old things with new people, and it’s a new experience and suddenly we are on the other side of it; the side where we now know what it’s like to have had that particular experience. It’s just that some of the experiences are more significant like your wedding day or the day your mom dies. We are all here, alive and breathing and death does not discriminate amongst the living; it gets us all someday.

I really had no full concept of death before I lost my mom. She was probably the most important person in my life. Then I lost my soul mate seven months later and the numbness of losing my mom that was just wearing off returned like a bat to the back of the head. All the tears I had stored up poured out. Losing Lou was easier; and not because I loved him less in any way, I just loved him differently. Actually, I loved him more: he was my baby, he was my life, he was my everything, and I told him all of that daily; I showed him all the time that he meant the world to me, whereas I really failed to do that with my mom. Even as she was dying I couldn’t get out all the things I wanted to say to her. Louis knew, well as much as he could, that he was worshipped by me, and even though I could totally have been a better mom to him, he had a really great life. I was happy he wasn’t suffering anymore and there was no unfinished business between us (well, besides my forgetting to say good-bye that last time I saw him, but I forgave myself for that a while ago). With my mom I had a lot of unfinished things and open wounds and what-not. I had two months I could have worked it all out and I didn’t. I hadn’t realized the finality of death until she was dead. I still have trouble fully wrapping my mind around the fact that she will never come back and I will never get to tell her anything ever again.

Maybe that’s why I think about religion and I almost want to believe in it. I think that if I tell myself there’s a heaven that I’ll go there after I die and I’ll see my mom again. It’s a comforting thought. That’s why so many people believe in gods and afterlives; it’s comfy and cozy and keeps them warm at night. It keeps them from going totally nuts realizing that there is truly no one looking out for us; we are absolutely alone and life has no meaning besides the arbitrary meanings we apply to things. We serve no purpose besides what we choose, and when we die we are dead. Most people are bothered by that idea. Sometimes I am too. Being cozy sounds nice. Sometimes I dream of complacency so I can just fit in with the world and not be that “weird Marie girl.” Why can’t I just be one of the herd wandering with the tide? Wasn’t it enough that my hair was red and stood out in a crowd? Nope, I have to care about animals so much that I see eating them as murder, I have to see our established political system as corrupt, I have to believe that nature and mind heal our bodies better than chemicals, I have to be sexually attracted to women almost as much as I am to men, and I have to believe that this generally accepted idea of some eye in the sky monitoring and controlling our environment is a completely insane, irrational and implausible concept. How easy it would be to be ignorant! I almost want that, but only because I’m lazy. It’s the reason I occasionally eat at Taco Bell: I know it’s bad and ruining the world but I want something stupid in me and that’s the best I can do without fucking a moron. Of course I get the only vegan option I can so it’s not like I eat a steak once a year or anything. But how easy life would appear to be if I could just marry one of these “regular Joe” guys, and have my 2.5 children and work my nine to five job doing something like teaching math or science or history by the book without questioning their truth, their relevance or their accuracy? No, I was born me, and I am too full of questions and skepticism to simply sit still while everyone else zones out and stifles progress by spreading insane ideas about meat being healthy, homosexuality being wrong and Jesus being the saviour of sinners like me.

I’m too smart for my own good, something I was told a few months ago, and it holds true throughout my life. I am not, nor have I ever been or ever will be, a religious convert or a blind believer. There is no one up in the sky looking over my every move, and I’m okay with that. I could die tomorrow, but I hope I don’t because I’d really like to have my hair when I die. Plus, there are a lot of things I would really like to do before I die. I’m sure everyone feels that way. So why wait to do them? You could die next week and never get to. There are so many things people fail to say and then they lose the chance. I lost my chance to tell my mom what I was thinking; and this year I could have died and I feel like my family was waiting for me to die in order to say how they felt sometime after I was gone. Why wait? Say it now when it actually matters; once I’m dead I won’t care anymore and I won’t be able to respond. I can actually see my brother, Bill, crying at my funeral and trying to hide that he’s upset. The joke’s on him though because if I know I’m dying like my mom did, I’m going to have my funeral before I die and it’ll be a huge party, and if I die suddenly I expect everyone to throw a party and celebrate my life. But, no matter what happens in this random world, God (in any form) is not invited to my party!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I Can See Almost Clearly Now

Coming out of the haze I am beginning to see what I really went through. The past seven, months -- well actually eight if I started from the day I found the lump -- were sort of a whirlwind of insanity, and the past four were basically a total blur. Did all of this really happen? I got cancer and had my breast cut off and let the doctors inject me with poisons for four months which caused me to lose my hair, nearly shit my pants every half hour, puke from the depths of my soul-- or at least feel like I might at any given moment--, lose my period (which is the least of my vaginal issues), get hot flashes left and right, possibly lose my ability to ever get pregnant and have my own baby (which I spared my left breast in order to breast feed), lose nearly all sensation in my toes and fingers that may or may not return any time soon, lose mobility in my right shoulder, get dizzy spells, have trouble seeing straight, feel weak and tired most of the day, get severe and crippling joint pain so bad that I have to walk with a cane, feel like my skin is too tight all over, forget things constantly, get confused easily, misspell words I know really well, and overall feel completely crappy and be forced to sit around watching movies and TV for days and days in between the screaming in agony and the crying for my dead mommy to come and take care of me. And now I feel like that cartoon character who was hit the head with an anvil or a frying pan and is shaking it off and trying to regain balance; all the little birdies tweeting around my head in a circle.

How the hell have I gotten through this? It really is like war. I mean I say that, I have said that before, but now I see it from a little bit farther away and it makes more sense. It’s like a Monet painting: it looks clearer when you back up a little bit and look at it from across the room. I’m standing back right now, almost three weeks out of chemo, and about to return to the chemo room for my tri-weekly Herceptin injection, weeks away from new boobs, and I’m scared shitless. I’m scared for me. I’m scared for anyone who has or ever has to go through this shit. I’m scared of the future, sure, but I’m more scared of the past. It’s this thing I do all the time where I decide to do something and I have all this drive and determination and I go do it and everyone around me says I’m brave or crazy and I don’t care because it’s something I want so badly I just decide to go get it. Then, when I’m all done, I sit back for little bit and at some point it hits me that the shit I just did was fucking terrifying but I did it before I had time to be afraid; or maybe I had so little idea of how terrifying it was so I just leapt right in. Like when I went skydiving for my 30th birthday and my initial parachute didn’t fully open so we had to use the back up one. The idea of jumping out of a moving plane way up in the sky is rather nuts in itself but a malfunctioning parachute adds a certain element of “Marie’s Crazy Life” to it (not to be confused with Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride) that goes just a few steps beyond explainable. But hell I did it and I wasn’t scared until April and my birthday’s in February. Then there was that time when I went to Europe by myself for two months. It seemed completely normal at the time, I planned it all out so well and spent the summer over there; I went to eight countries, twenty-two cities in just over seven weeks all alone, but by the end of winter I looked back at it and thought: Holy shit, I did that! I’ve been doing shit like this all my life and didn’t realize it. When I was in elementary school I remember the day of the talent show in second grade: they called my name as a performer and took me to get prepared. My whole class looked totally shocked and I kind of recall being surprised myself even though I knew it was going to happen. I swear I can’t even remember signing up to be in it and I never really prepared my act, I just planned to sing my favourite song and I knew it so well so I figured that’s all I needed. I had no idea the reality that there would be 100 people watching me, including all the asshole kids in my class who hated me already and my mean big sister. I’m not sure what I was thinking because this was ammo for them all to torment me with forever, but I got up there and sang “On Top of Spaghetti” in front of that whole school. The fear hit me once I realized what I’d signed up for, and I stared at the floor the whole time I sang, but I must have been fearless and determined when I signed up.

And since then I’ve been doing weird shit like that all my life, either on the small scale or on the larger one. Hell, my whole life is like that! I’m trying to become an actor and expect to get paid for it. Sure I know I’m good enough to get paid for it; hell I’m better than half the people who do get paid for it, but is this whole profession not a total joke? How do people make it at all? The funny thing is I don’t see any other choice. I never really did before either, but after cancer I see nothing else but acting. I’d rather be dead than work a desk job 9-5 or, even though I love kids and loved teaching, I can’t imagine doing that for the rest of my life. I need to be on stage. Not for the attention or the acclaim, but for the work and the constant focus it requires; for the ability to have control of my choices and actions but never really be in control of anything because you never know what my happen on stage. I love the working and re-working of the scenes, of the lines, right down to every single word I say having a real purpose and a true intention behind it. That’s why I chose life when I got cancer: because it is my life. I can act without my boobs; I can be an actor with fake boobs. There sure are a lot of other ones out there and they aren’t as talented as me, so maybe my fake tits and my talent will make me stand out above the actors who only have the fake tits. A girl can hope.

So was my crazy head-first behaviour a sort of preparation for cancer? Or a preparation for acting? Or maybe my cancer was a preparation for acting. Or maybe my acting was the preparation for cancer. Fuck! I don’t know. I’m still forging my way out of the haze. All I do know is that having cancer and getting through all this shit I’ve been through has only made me more determined to be a professional actor; it’s all I want. Well, it’s all I want to want but thanks to the damn faerie tales I was read as a kid I’ll admit I’m still waiting for Prince Charming to show up and rescue me. I would like to not be waiting for that and only be focused on acting but I can’t seem to shut off the lonely so I’ll just have to ignore it and dive head first into every possible piece of work I can. I have one more year to learn and bust my ass as a student and I plan to make the most of it before I dive head first into the real world of the aspiring actor. Or in my case “actress” which is just a demeaning term really; it implies diva or bitch, and I’d rather play one on stage than be one in life.

Nope, as the haze is lifting and I’m seeing clearer, I know I want to breathe more and be happy more. I’m only lonely because I believe I am so why not choose to believe I’m not? I am choosing to ignore and erase the mean, negative and unavailable people from my life and be grateful that I still have a life and that the people in it who have stuck around and have been rooting for me from day one are the people I deserve to know, and the kind of people I choose to be around. Like R.E.M. said: “Why Not Smile?” --- they also said “It’s the End of the World as We Know It and I feel Fine,” which is somewhat equally fitting. This may explain why R.E.M. is still my favourite band after all these years: they are both inspiring and right on target! But thanks to chemo I can’t remember if they have a song about climbing out of the haze… if they do it’s totally my anthem for the current moment. Once the fog clears I’ll be walking straight forward to reach my goals. In the meantime I know what I want but I might be heading towards it like a blind man on a staircase; but that’s okay because I’m alive! Insert Jimmy Cliff's "I Can See Clearly Now" here. :)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Hypocrite Kittens or Michelle Lies

Awaiting your arrival in terror
The itch creeps up my bones
As you approach the door

Blast in, take over
My lovely shell is broken
But I still feel alone, trapped here with you

I want to be by myself again
If all the company
I’m offered is yours

You are an infection
Eating away at my complacency
Tearing up my happy mood

Your smells, your sounds
The mess you create
And the hate…

You spread it over everything
You pretend to care
But I know you lie

You are a lie
Telling the world you’re someone who matters
I know you’re evil; I know the truth

What I've Been Thru

All week people keep saying to me, “Well, you’ve been through a lot,” or “It’s okay to feel crappy considering what you’ve been through.”

First of all: What the hell does anyone else know about what I’ve been through? Only I really know, and other women who’ve battled breast cancer and done chemo have a pretty fuckin good idea, but everyone else is just guessing and I’m gonna make my own guess that they are really far off from how it all actually went down. No it wasn’t a fucking picnic and it wasn’t nearly as fun as having the flu or food poisoning. Yes, it sucked ass but not in any way most people can compare to anything they’ve dealt with. Maybe soldiers in war can relate but the difference is my body tried killing me from the inside and I never signed up for that shit!

But that brings me to the second point: I don’t wanna hear about it! I know what I’ve been through and I am still going through it and the last thing I wanna do is think about how shitty it is. I wanna keep that shit in me a little longer so that when it finally bursts out I’ll be prepared and in a safe place to deal with it. That is far from where I’m at now in my shit-hole apartment in Brooklyn with my control-freak-psycho-mood-swing roommate fucking with my head left and right; that’s where I was while I went through it & it’s where I still am while I’m still going through it, so I’m in no place to be reminded how hard it is cause this place has only made it harder.

So to maintain what sanity I have left, and to survive the approaching surgery and terror of living beyond cancer and everything that fucking entails, I would happily like to have my peace and my cozy moments and not be reminded that I just returned from war because I’m not there yet. I know I’m out and I’m okay, but I’m not entirely okay and I will never really be out. So everyone else can cheer for my victory on the side lines but I’m still in the game and the game is not over.

Saturday, July 31, 2010


In the beginning it’s the feeling of being trapped in questions and bombarded with the unknown. It’s palpable and ever-present; there’s no escape from the not knowing that you can really feel how confined you truly are.

Before the surgery it’s knowing that surgery date is fast approaching and no matter how much you wish away your tumor it’s not going to just up and vanish and soon they will be cutting off your tit and you can’t do anything to change that.

After the surgery it’s the drains. You don’t realize you can’t move the same. I mean, I knew I had less range of motion and I knew I had pain and could potentially bust a stitch, but I had no idea how much I had lessened my movement until I had the drains removed two weeks after surgery and my right shoulder was so sore and felt like it had been pulled out of socket. I felt freed after they were both removed. Even my left arm had been used less. It was a nice relief, but still surprises me how much I hadn’t been doing without even realizing it.

During chemo it’s being attached to that fucking IV pole and that robot machine. I had to take that damn thing with me to the bathroom! Being on AC I was confined to not making plans far ahead (like even an hour) and never knowing how rotten or how not-so-rotten I would feel. Once AC was done it was another sense of freedom knowing nothing could possibly be as bad as that. The Taxol wasn’t as bad, but the pains were pretty awful and I was confined to being at home, or confined to relying on a cane to get anywhere.

With chemo done I feel free. I still have to suffer the side effects of the last treatment, but in two weeks I will see how I feel and it’ll be the first time in a very long time that I won’t be recovering from my most resent treatment. That will be the definitive marker for me that chemo is really done. Even if the pains and neuropathy aren’t entirely gone I’ll still feel free because I’m done!

I am confined again by having to deal with the potential long term side effects, like my fertility, and then there’s the tri-weekly visits for Herceptin that will reunite me with my IV pole and robot. And for five years I’ll be a slave to Tamoxifen. Of course we can’t forget my next surgery in five weeks where I’ll be trapped with the drains again. Here’s hoping that goes by fast and I only have to keep them for one week this time.

There always seems to be an end in sight but each end is also a new beginning. If I can look at all things that end, the good and bad, with the understanding that they are not an end alone but a start to something new, than maybe I can find more happiness in the mundane changes in my life. Cancer was a big wave in my ocean but what little ripples have I been missing?

I'm Not Her

Am I cured? I asked my oncologist when I would be scanned to make sure there is no cancer left in my body. He said there is no reason to subject me to unnecessary radiation by x-raying me or anything. He says the surgery got all the cancer and the chemotherapy was precautionary. I don’t really care; you can say that all day long I still want actual proof. I mean, take a fucking Polaroid of me and tell me there’s no more cancer—fucking doctors only do as much as they are willing and don’t really seem to have a desire to bend over backwards for their patients. It’s not like it’s my life at risk or anything… oh, wait, it IS my life!

My friends are asking me when I’ll know that I’m cancer-free, but I have no answer for them. I don’t want to say I am because I really don’t know. There are things inside my body that I cannot control and that I cannot oversee and therefore I have no idea if I’m okay or not. What if my cells are all pissed off that I killed them and they are plotting against me? My uterus and I have been battling it out for years about the damn baby situation, so maybe she’s out to get back at me for potentially ruining that one for good. I keep saying I did chemo because my mom didn’t and she died, but I could still die and that fear is very real. I want something to show that I’m okay; to show that I fought against cancer. I want that Polaroid or a certificate of completion; something to show I suffered from chemo and fought like a warrior, and that I survived it. A fucking trophy would be nice. Anything! I mean little kids get red ribbons after they participate in races and here I am: far more than just a participant and I get what? I feel like I should be wearing a t-shirt that reads: I survived a mastectomy and chemo and all I got was this lousy t-shirt. But I didn’t even get a t-shirt! Is it too much to ask for a parade? At the very least my oncologist could have given me that participant ribbon on my last day of chemo but all he did was say I’ll be fine and the light can be seen at the end of the proverbial tunnel, etc etc, etc.

Basically what I heard him saying is that “we just had you suffer on chemo for 4 months because we have to and we don’t really care that you feel like shit or need reassurance.” And, in addition “if we are wrong and missed something or the chemo didn’t work we’ll find out next year when we do tests and mammograms and discover you are terminal and there’s nothing else we can do, or we’ll subject you to more chemo and tprture you more instead of trying to stop you from getting cancer again by paying attention to what your body is doing before the cancer develops.” Western Medicine is beyond belief to me! They are simply treating a disease in my body without concerning themselves with HOW it got there in the first place. I’m 34 and I got breast cancer. I was the healthiest person I knew, I ate well, I exercised, I drank water, hardly ever drank alcohol, stopped doing drugs years ago and I hadn’t smoked in years. My only vice was Pepsi and I think it’s safe to assume Pepsi alone did not cause my cancer. How can all these things be ignored? Why can’t I be treated like a person who has certain medical issues all her life and have those factored into why I might have developed cancer at such a young age? The doctors are ignoring half of my medical history. No, more than that! Could my stomach problems have contributed to my cancer? Could my stress, my anxiety, my hormonal issues have anything to do with it? Could my migraines or bi-polar disorder be connected? Maybe someone’s doing a study of this but why isn’t my oncologist at all concerned with it? No, he’s not. Probably because he gets paid no matter what he does and it’s easier for him to follow the standard protocol and tell me I’m going to “live happily ever after” than put any extra effort into treating me like I’m an individual with differing characteristics from other patients.

Oncologists can prescribe this shit-fuck medicine left and right but they never have to take it. They give it to us and write down our symptoms and if we bitch enough about something they’ll give us another medicine to combat the side-effects of the first one. They don’t need to know anything about the interconnectedness of our bodies and how maybe my intestinal issues that reacted to my monthly hormonal changes may have been a direct factor in my forming a cancerous lump in my breast at only 33 years old. They don’t need to know my diet or suggest I eat this or that and don’t eat this or that because all patients are the same. Yet we keep discussing how most of us who are on chemo react differently to the meds and no one can say for sure that we’ll respond one way or another—so why can’t we all be treated as individuals instead of being clumped into categories and treated the same way no matter what our history, diet or tolerance for pain is? Maybe if the oncologist had ever taken AC they’d be more understanding of how it feels.

I’m not her; I’m me; an individual with different circumstances and a different body. That should matter but it doesn’t. How can I not be angry about that? There’s no guarantee I won’t get cancer again. In fact it’s rather likely that since I got it so young I will get it again at some point in my life. It could be next year or in ten years, or in twenty, but there’s no way of knowing, and since the doctors aren’t pushing to uncover the WHYs and HOWs of what’s causing breast cancer in young women as individuals how can we ever expect to get any better treatment or find cures at all? I don’t honestly believe there are any scientists looking for the cure for cancer because I think it was already discovered and whatever it might be is so simple that it won’t make anyone any money so it’s being hidden in some secret vault somewhere and no one will ever tell what it is. Maybe we should check the Disney vault!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

July 29th, 2010

I am done, Done, DoNe, DOne, dOne, DONe, dOnE, dONe, donE, DoNE, DOnE, doNe, dONE, enod (that's "done" backwards), finished, through with, c'est fini, klaar, من خلال ,مع, ‎abgemacht, fatto, feito, yhecho, とを, sa pamamagitan ng, läpi, до конца с,
과를 통해, and whatever done is in Gaelic (& all other lanuages I couldn't get a google answer for) DONE-DONE-DONE-DONE-DONE with chemo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Body of Work

This is a body I live in. Skin, blood, bones, veins… is that all? Everything we are in our lives; all we learn, all we do, and all we acquire is for what?

I am a talented actor. I am a very good writer. I am funny and have lots of great ideas. If I died tomorrow what would any of that matter?

I am also a renowned failure at a lot of things, primarily relationships. My career. Ever having kids…

If my body fails, it really doesn’t matter that I am good at acting or bad at love. It won’t make a lick of difference that I can build the coolest doll house or tie cherry stems in my mouth. Death is something we have no control over.

I think the worst part of having cancer is the lack of control. My life was mine for about 2 years and then cancer came along. I can let the doctors cut off my breast and inject me with horrible poisons in hopes that it will kill all the cancer cells, but in reality there is the chance that it won’t work and I will die.

We all die. That’s really the only guarantee in life. As a kid it’s all I wanted. I started my suicide attempts at age 7. I never feared death. No, I feared clowns and mustard, but death was nothing scary. Actually, I wished for it.

One day just a few years ago I stopped fearing mustard (well, sort of) and I started liking life. Unfortunately the more I liked life the more I feared death. Finding a marble in my breast really made me see how much I love life. But I also realized how much I fear death. And there it was: looking me right in the eye.

I don’t want to die at 34. Not at 44. Not at 54 or 64. I want to at least out live my mother by a few years. Is 75 too much to ask for? But I have no real control over it. I could win the battle with cancer and never get it again but get hit by a bus next year, or shot by some nut job, or get bitten by a rabid dog. No way of knowing. And the worst part, besides how it will hurt the people who give a shit about me, is that when I die I won’t be able to write about it after.

Maybe I should write my own obituary now. Maybe I should have a funeral for myself before I die. “Put the fun back in funeral” was one of my favourite bumper stickers on my car in high school. That and “Fuck Censorship.” Ah, memories…

It’s the memories that people will have of me that… well, they will be here after I’m gone. If anyone cares to remember me. I haven’t left anything behind but my writing. My acting isn’t really on tape anywhere. Well, I guess somewhere but my best moments were on stage, un-filmed and gone forever except for the memories in the minds of those who watched.
I can only hope that I’d be able to give my writing to someone I trust and that that person would write about me after I’m gone. They could use all my words, add their own… I trust like 4 people on earth but I think I know who I’d go to for that. Of course, if I died suddenly how would that person know?

I thought about writing a will. I thought about leaving personal notes for people to open “in the event of my death.” It is a good idea I suppose. Otherwise all this writing is just words on paper that will get deleted or burned or lost. And really, I am a good writer and this stuff should be saved. Well, most of it. Maybe the emo poetry from high school can be burned.

Burned. It seems like our society has only given us so many options when certain situations arise. Death, for example: We get burial or cremation. Becoming a mummy isn’t an option anymore, is it? I choose cremation. I want my ashes split up amongst my family and friends and spread all over the world, preferably near bodies of water and in places I’ve never been to or places I really loved.

Being buried is creepy. Being encased in that coffin. Why is there a pillow in a coffin? If you are dead you don’t need a comfortable head rest. It’s just money. Greedy funeral homes. The one we used when my mom died sold book markers and videos of my mother. I made a video for her that was better and free. Assholes showed theirs and put it up on their website for 50 bucks.

After we buried my mom I couldn’t go back to that cemetery for months. I waited until Mother’s Day and the head stone was done. I knew my family would be there too but they took forever to arrive I nearly crawled out of my skin being there alone, waiting for them. See, I knew that if I was there by myself I would try to dig her up. It may sound creepy, I don’t care, it’s true. I really would have. No shovel, just my hands. She’s trapped in that fucking coffin six feet under and she can’t breathe under there!

Okay, I know, she’s dead. I know. No, really, I do. But she’s not rotting away and becoming one with the earth; she’s probably fairly well preserved and I hate knowing that. If she’s not coming back ever… which I still have trouble dealing with… then I need her gone completely. I mean, not the memories but the physical being part. It may not make sense, but neither does my constant hope to see her again and tell her about my cancer and how much I miss her and that I live in New York now and I’m really trying to be an actor. “Hey, Mom, it’s not just a 20 year phase; I really am gonna do it. And look: I’m bald!”

But it’s just her body down there. I know. It doesn’t matter; just a body. We carry it around for however long we live and we destroy it with things like alcohol or too much sun; we spend too much time concerning ourselves with how other people see us that we don’t allow ourselves to let loose and have fun because we don’t want to look ugly; we spend tons of money to improve our looks with hair styles and make-up and fancy clothes… for what? To end up six feet under in a satin lined coffin with a fluffy pillow under head that we can’t even enjoy. Or poured into a metal urn or wooden box or something and set on the mantel of aunt so-and-so or whoever was lucky enough to be given possession of our ashes. No, I’d rather be lost at sea or have my body left in nature to decompose or be eaten. At the very least I’d like to become ashes flying in the wind.

Is it weird to say I kind of envy the victims of 9-11 because they burned up? I mean, I don’t envy that kind of death; it was probably horrific, but at least it saved them from having to be buried in that coffin.

I hate confined spaces. Even in death I want to be set free. But not until I’ve passed 75 and really lived. Otherwise everything I have suffered will be for… ????????????????

Saturday, July 24, 2010


a woman i met recently who has been going through cancer as well wrote something about being in a sort of battle or random bombing, rather, and the fact that she lost body parts. it was interesting to read that just days after another group of woman in the same boat were all discussing the term "survivor" and saying "so what am i if i don't survive? a loser?" so in response to the idea we were coming up with better terms for it. we are fighters, yes, that's good, but what's a great vaginal anthem? Bang! Bang! I am the warrior. Yep, Scandal. I love that song! Ok, it's a love anthem but it works.

we're not survivors, we are warriors! I want that on a t-shirt!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Screaming Down.

Wake up.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Oh, Menopause

I wrote a song to the tune of Danny Boy. It's only the first verse. I lost energy after that :)

Oh, menopause, hot sweats, hot sweats are killing me
From top my head down limbs then ‘cross my side
The city’s hot and all my ovaries are dying
They must go and my tears I’ll try to hide
They might come back when I move from the ghetto
Or when the streets are freezing at 10 below
‘Cause I’ll be here desperately seeking airflow
Oh, menopause, oh menopause, I hate you so.

Ground Me

I wonder where you are
In the world there are so many
People crammed into tiny spaces
And I keep wondering where you are.

I am here
I am floating on the air like a feather now
I think I was once a stone in the water,
Somewhere in a shallow river,
But I came out and I started floating in the air
Like a feather

I hope you can find me when you need to
I am hoping that you’ll
Catch me as I am floating;
That the breeze isn’t too strong and you miss me flying past you.

Maybe you have no hands to reach out for me
Maybe you used to fear water and never looked in the river,
And now you fear heights and I am floating too high
So maybe I should float lower
Or perhaps I should become something else
But what should I be?


Sometimes I feel like I am going to die from this pain. It’s so deep inside my bones it’s as if some machines are digging from the inside out. Jackhammers and bulldozers that someone parked inside my bone marrow or my joints, and they wake me by digging. Maybe chemo is some sort of construction company that is reconstructing my body. I don’t know how to battle it sometimes. All I can do is lie on my sofa and cry.

The sweats are so bad too. I turn on the air conditioner and the fans to cool off but I get so cold from the fans. Then as soon as I cover up in a blanket I starting sweating all over again. I can’t remember the last time anyone came to visit me or help me at home. Well, someone helped on Friday and that was nice. I hate to ask for help but I need it. I don’t know who to ask anymore. I feel as if mostly everyone has forgotten me. Maybe I would have been better off not finding the cancer in time. Maybe dying is what I’m supposed to do. I can’t be that inspiring to everyone if they never call me. I mean, I feel like shit and I want attention and hugs but I hate asking because it seems so insincere when people give you exactly what you asked for.

I’d like to remind my family that I have not died of cancer like our mother did, and that I am still alive, and maybe a phone call to check up on me or cheer me up is not too much to ask for.

I am scared about the Tamoxifen and the possible mood swings it might give me. I’m scared that my hair might not grow back or it might fall out again or something else will go wrong and the career I am dreaming of—the reason I am fighting to live—is a pointless exercise. What do we get out of feeling sorry for ourselves? I’m not really sure but I’m going to spend some of today finding out. It’s not like I have anything better to do. And how can I really inspire anyone when no one cares enough to really care? I mean, I have a phone. If it weren’t for facebook I’d be long forgotten.

I say that sometimes I feel like I’m going to die from the pain, and I do feel that. I also feel like I may wither away and shrivel up from the loneliness. Everyone else I meet who has cancer has family or friends taking care of them. I have a teddy bear, an air conditioner and streaming Netflix. And my roommate will return soon and move all my stuff around and be horribly insensitive and nothing about that makes me smile. I’m really only asking to be given a reason to smile. My life is shit right now and I know, I know, I know it could be worse, but I’m just looking for a sometime that I get to laugh a little and talk with other humans that are not in my head.

Sometimes talking and laughing and being hugged a lot makes the little construction company in my bones take a break for a while. It’s weird how that works but it really does. No one should have to do this alone…

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Sometimes those of us who are unintentionally inspiring others need someone to be inspired by. Today I met Katelyn, a 22 year old with breast cancer. She was all smiles and super positive. Her mother told me she’d get chemo treatments then go out to concerts. Her siblings have even set up a non profit for young women with breast cancer. It was nice to talk with her and to see her smiling. I really hope this medicine doesn’t crush her spirit or depress her--- but if it does I hope she meets someone who is smiling and inspiring like I have. Because, honestly, no matter how inspiring I may be to others I, too, need inspiration from others. Katelyn has reminded me see that we can all be strong and that we all do have something to fight for--- our lives!

Monday, July 12, 2010

NY Daily News Article

The link to the article about me:

The photos were in the actual paper.

OMG I Have Cancer

There have been intermittent times since I was diagnosed that I find myself sitting on the toilet being hit with the realization that, holy fuck, I am 34 years old and I have cancer. I’m on the toilet a lot seeing as chemo keeps me running there, and it’s always been a thoughtful spot for me. It’s actually where I was when I was rehearsing my speech to my family about my having cancer before I’d even gotten the official confirmation. I think I was hoping that by practicing telling them that it would make it not come true. Obviously: just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not after you.

Tonight I watched the movie Zombieland and then I headed to the bathroom. I started thinking and of course it hit me. It hit hard this time: Oh My Gawd I have Cancer! It’s like one of those things in life where you can see death right there in front of you and you have no control. His knock was at my door, or at least his feet were creaking on my stairs, and I couldn’t hide. When you are faced with death like that the natural instinct is to fight for your life. You don’t have a choice here. For once in my life my arguing was really life or death related and for once in my life I was taken rather seriously about it. It’s the same thing if zombies are chasing you and you can run, you’ll run. If you have a gun you’ll shoot. You will do anything to survive it. Which explains my taking the chemo they give me no matter how fucking awful it is and how much I don’t agree it’s the cure for cancer, or even near the cure.

The other day I wanted to give up. I still kind of do, but I’m going in on Thursday and I’m going to suffer through whatever happens this weekend. I was talking to someone recently who is very important to me and I could see in this person’s eyes that my having cancer was something that truly effected them; like, deeply bothered by it. A lot of people say they admire my strength and my courage; that I’m a trooper and I’m so amazing. I’ll tell you that I did not intend to inspire anyone, and when I’m screaming in my bed this Saturday begging my mommie to come and save me from the pain I will feel far from inspiring. That’s what sometimes digs into me; the fact that I know everyone knows what I’m going through is hard and they get that I’m fighting it, but that none of them really know how hard it is.

I’m not saying anyone should give me an award; I’m not the first person to do this—although I do really like flowers and massages. I’m not saying anyone should be more vocal about their admiration and support, although the support is so appreciated. I just know that most of my friends and family haven’t seen the worst, and if they saw it they still wouldn’t really know the true depth of hardship because they aren’t going through it. That is why talking with other cancer patients, especially ones my age who are dealing with similar issues and on the same medicines, has been something that has both comforted me greatly and scared me shitless. –Or was that the anti-nausea meds? See, cancer joke. Only the cancer survivors laughed.

But seeing the look on the face of this person who I know admired me before the cancer, well, I guess that truly makes me realize how hard what I’m going through is. Sometimes I try to forget so much that I actually forget. I am getting very good at distracting myself and letting myself be desensitized to the needles and IV bags and all the crazy waiting I go through. In this talk I was reminded of it being real and being terrifying. Not that I wasn’t thrilled to talk to this person, it kind of made my week, but this is a person who has helped me many times put my thoughts together so they actually make sense and since I haven’t had that in a while it was both a breath of fresh air and a wake up call. I’m simply stating that my life and the reality of my situation was returned to its natural perspective and I’m starting to remember not only the seriousness of my situation, but the reason why I wanted to fight it in the first place. Life is scary and there are days I want to drop out of it, even without cancer, but having acting in my life has made me a better person and I can’t imagine ever letting that go.

So, I guess I should thank both the makers of Zombieland and that wonderful person I talked to; I kind of needed that kick in the ass even though that was probably not your intention at all. I guess I’m surprised by what kicks my ass!

What Makes a Woman a Woman

I used to think that the difference between boys and girls was that boys had short hair and girls had long. I really thought that was the whole difference. Then I started growing up and learned a little more about birds and bees and all that stuff. I met girls with short hair and boys with long hair and I even dated some boys with long hair. Lately I have been thinking about how there was a time that being a mother, giving birth to a baby and breast feeding was something that defined a woman as a woman. I felt like all those female parts and wearing make up and high heels were things that made women something besides men; as if without those things we were men.

I hated wearing anything that made me look manly, like when I parked cars in downtown San Diego I had to wear this uniform that was khaki slacks and a polo shirt, but it was so un-feminine that I truly believed people would mistake me for a man. Or maybe I feared they’d mistake me for a lesbian. I never understood women who didn’t want kids because somehow I thought that made them not women. I thought that if a woman couldn’t have a child it was like she’d been robbed of something and what was the point in living. I always felt that my worst fear would be infertility or having to have my uterus and ovaries all removed. It baffled me that there were people on earth who chose to not have kids. It baffled me that there were women who dressed manly by choice, even if they were total dykes.

Here I am at 34 battling cancer with medicines that could potentially destroy all my chances of ever having children, I have one real breast and no hair and for some reason I feel more feminine than I have in a long time. I could have or at least be at risk for cervical cancer or ovarian cancer and there is a likelihood very soon someone may tell me that I should remove all my girl parts in order to avoid the risks of developing more cancers. Or perhaps I’ll be told I have to do it. Either way I have been considering that after I am through with the five years of Tamoxifen, if I can have a child I will most likely pop one out right away and then remove the whole works. So, if I do that, am I still a woman? One breast, no uterus or ovaries. What makes a woman a woman?

I’ve meet women who have had an oophorectomy or a hysterectomy and they look like women. They wear make up or they don’t; they appear to have breasts even if they are reconstructed ones; they wear dresses and high heels and they certainly are not men. So, yeah, I’ll be lacking certain hormones that are defining in females, and I’ll be missing certain body parts that are as well, but I’ll still have my vagina, and my female brain and most of my female-ness that is not entirely controlled by estrogen. And I’ll still not be a man.

I’m not sure where I got my idea that I might be mistaken for a man. Perhaps it was something that came from childhood that I don’t fully recall. I mean, even being bald no one has really questioned it besides the six year old girl I sat near on the subway who asked: “Are you a boy or a girl?” And in her case she simply had never seen a bald woman before and wasn’t sure what to think of it. That’s how I felt as a kid too: I was raised around girls who had long hair and wore pig tails or braids, and boys had short hair and men were bald not women. I guess if I had seen a bald woman when I was six I would have thought she looked odd and I would have questioned if she was a woman or said she looked ugly or weird. My six year old niece called it weird and even though she didn’t say I looked ugly I knew she was kind of thinking it. She said something about “when you look pretty” which meant when I have my hair and I know she didn’t mean it as insulting at all, that she simply found it unfamiliar.

I’m glad my niece saw me bald, and that girl on the subway as well, because I think it’s important for girls to understand from a young age that being female means more than the length of your hair, the size or even existence of your breasts, the fact that you are or are not a mother, whether you have ovaries or a uterus, that you wear a dress and heels or make up everyday, that you wear frilly underwear or not. Being a woman is something glamorous and enchanting even when you are wearing flannel pajamas and eating ice cream from a carton. Femininity is not defined by lipstick and tampons; all woman are different. We come in a variety of sizes and shapes; we come with all sorts of funny quirks and nasty habits; we like what we like and we do what we do, and we are still women when we lose a breast or any other part of our body. It’s not my body that defines my womanhood. I’m not entirely sure what it is that makes me a woman, but I know that no matter what I lose I will always be a woman because I feel like a woman. That is me. It is not that I am not a man, it is that I am a woman. And being a woman, no matter what I look like, matters.

Friday, July 9, 2010


I don’t know exactly why but I am really emotional right now. I keep sobbing. I feel really alone and have no one to talk to about the things I am feeling and thinking. Plus I hurt all over. I want to call my mom more than anything in the world. I keep remembering all our talks and how much fun we’d have just goofing around. Even when we’d fight it usually ended with some sarcastic comment or whatever. Even when she’d annoy me. I feel like her sister, my aunt, should be calling me or somehow be more involved in what I’m going through; I think my mom would be really pissed and disappointed knowing that no one is taking care of her youngest child when she needs people the most.

I do need people. I go a little nuts being at home all day watching Quantum Leap episodes and building a doll house. Sometimes I feel too rotten to even do those things and I end up lying around day dreaming about a future I wish I had. My future successful career or wonderful man who falls in love with me. Sometimes it goes back to that person I fell for that I should not have and I can’t seem to get off my mind. I need entertainment or distractions. I need to snuggle with someone who can take this fear and anger away; who can make me feel, just for a few moments, like I’m not alone; like I’m loved.

I go crazy here in my apartment listening to my neighbours yell at their screaming kids and the fucking ice cream truck going by at all hours. I start to feel okay again and then I get another hot flash and need to sit down. I get aches in my chest and aches in my back, my feet hurt and I get dizzy from the stupid pain killers. It’s harder and harder each day to remember why I’m doing this. Life was so wonderful so I knew fighting was worth it but right now life is sucking so I keep forgetting what I’m fighting for. And I love that I have cheerleaders rooting for me but mostly that’s through text messages and facebook notes; I miss real human contact. I miss being an actor and being with other actors.

I know it’s only until the end of July and I’m done, but when you are as bored and as uncomfortable as I am on a daily basis time starts moving so much slower that you can count the seconds until your head explodes. I ask people to go out or to come by and to join me at chemo, but I think I might be burdening them or maybe they are just over my whole fighting cancer thing. I certainly am. I’m scared to death that I won’t make it; that I’ll have a heart attack and no one will find my body; that I’ll give up before I’m through and I’ll be a quitter or the cancer will return because I only did half the Taxol instead of the whole treatment. I’m scared that everyone expects me to be sp strong that if I show them that I’m weak they’ll be disappointed in me. I’m scared I’ll die from some infection or I’ll die in surgery or the cancer will come back as soon as I’m happy again and I’ll die from it.

I want to laugh more but I’m by myself so much all I have to laugh at is the crazy shit I think about or the stuff I watch on TV. I want to dance but my body hurts and I can hardly walk. I miss my life. I miss being normal; being healthy anyway. I miss me. I want—no, I need a hug that lasts longer than 2 seconds. I need a real hug that doesn’t have to end. I know that no one fully gets what I’m feeling unless they’ve been through this, but I think anyone who has been lonely can relate to that part at least. I don’t need people to get this so much as I just need people. I feel like I’m desperate to talk to anyone. I actually called my dad last night and talked to him on the phone for twenty minutes. Neither of us likes talking on the phone but I knew that with him I had no risk of bursting into tears.

I’m trying to find things to plan so I can regain some control over my life again. I planned the surgery and I’m planning my visit to California for the holidays. I can plan my move in September and if I had more money I’d plan some sort of trip or excursion for August. I can’t plan very much since I never know how I’m going to feel. I’m so bored. I can’t even think straight or sit still long enough to write very much anymore. I’m hungry but I’m too tired or sore to cook and not interested in food really. I want to talk to my family but they never call me and if they did I’m not sure what we’d talk about; I imagine we’d talk around the whole cancer thing and our dead mother as we usually do. I hate that. I’d rather just talk about her and talk about cancer. The only one in my family really willing to have a conversation about it was my six year old niece and I really enjoyed the straightforwardness and understanding she has. I hope she keeps that and never adopts the whole “ignore the pink elephant in the room” game that is so popular with the Desy family. I miss my siblings and their kids but when we talk I guess what I really want to talk about never gets said and I end up not feeling any better than before.

I miss my friends too. I hear from some here and there. Some ignore my texts or calls. I can’t figure that out. The one person on earth I thought I could cry with seems to be avoiding me.

Writing this has become exhausting and I’ve bored myself.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


I just want to clear something up:
Fat is not a disability. And alcoholism is not a disease. These two things fall under the category of choice. You can choose to eat carrot sticks for a snack or you can choose to eat a box of donuts for a snack. You can choose to drink orange juice or you can choose to pour a bottle of gin into your orange juice. That is your choice. Your choice may lead to a disease like a failing liver or diabetes, or it may lead to a disability like jacked-up knees from carrying too much weight or a dislocated hip from stumbling down some stairs while drunk.

Cancer is a disease. Cancer is not a choice. If you smoke for 35 years and get lung cancer then I would venture to say you should not be surprised and that in a way your choice led to your disease and therefore you are just a moron. If you are fat you chose to eat too much. If you are an alcoholic you chose to drink too much. If you get lung cancer and you never smoked= not because of a poor choice. If you get skin cancer and you spent 40 years laying on beaches with no sun protection on= bad choice. If you get breast cancer at 33 and you were relatively healthy and active= not your fault, it’s a disease it strikes at random.

Obviously there are ways in which to avoid getting cancer. Some cancers are easier to avoid than others. Lung cancer can be avoided by not smoking and not being stuck in crowded bars with smokers. Skin cancer can be avoided by wearing sun screen and hats and not baking yourself under the sun or in tanning beds for superficial reasons. There are theories on how to avoid this or that form of cancer but in all honesty heredity and environment and personal outlook can be huge factors that you may or may not be able to control or even be aware of.

My point? Personal responsibility. As I embark on my journey of directing an existential play written by the beloved fellow existentialist and atheist, Jean-Paul Sartre, I am considering more and more how being aware that we possess free will and the ability to be whomever we choose, ultimately life comes down to personal responsibility. Religious people may not have explored this idea nearly as in depth as me or perhaps most atheistic types so I will offer examples of my point. During the award shows on TV I always wonder why it is that so many of the award recipients thank their god but never thank themselves. Is it not they who won the award? It has their name on it not gods’. If I ever win an award it’s safe to say I’ll be thanking myself for doing such a fantastic job. If you work hard at something you deserve the praise and awards and should thank you for your hard work. You can thank your deity of choice as well if you wish; for that is where so many people claim to find strength, but you did the work so thank yourself. I’ve also noticed that the same people, when times are tough, don’t often hold their middle finger to the sky and tell god to suck it. I think in times of trouble they tend to ask god for help. I see that as a form of talking to yourself. If you really need help wouldn’t it make more sense to go to a person who can really help? I mean someone it is proven exists and can truly assist you. For example, if you are in a car accident and get injured would a doctor or a lawyer be a better option than simply lying on the ground bleeding and asking god to help you? Or, say you are being abused by a lover and you want out. Could it be a better option to, let’s say, leave that person, call the cops, get a therapist, talk to friends, rather than hoping that your god will soon whisper in the ear of your abusive lover that maybe he should stop beating the crap out of you and be nicer? I mean, which one will actually result in your being better off and which one will probably result in your being bludgeoned to death? This is, of course, why believing in any form of god makes no sense to me. I simply don’t understand handing the responsibility over to an imaginary friend in hopes that he might exist and magically do something to improve my life. It seems faster, easier, more logical and less crazy to take the responsibility and go fix my life myself.

How do you fix your life by yourself? Simple: by taking responsibility for your actions and your choices. If you are fat and you don’t want to be fat stop asking god to make you not eat another donut and instead join a gym, do some yoga, eat the carrot sticks and maybe your knees won’t hurt and you will live longer and feel better. If you drink too much liquor stop begging the sky to heal you, put the bottle down, drink the juice plain and maybe your liver will stand a chance. I envy those who have that choice. My cancer came with no choice; I had cancer and that was that. But, how I reacted to having cancer did come with a choice. I could have jumped off my roof or hid under my bed or gotten super depressed and gave up on life, or I could have said “fuck you cancer!” and made the choice to fight it, cut off my boob and do chemo no matter how much I want to quit because chemo sucks. If you have the choice to not beat your wife or to not drive drunk (and here’s a hint: you do), then I suggest taking the responsibility to make a good choice instead of a bad one. This works in every avenue of life. When someone pisses you off you can choose to yell at them or you can smile and walk away. When the guy at Starbucks gets your order wrong you can choose to punch him in the face or you can simply ask for it to be made again. It’s shocking how kindness is often more contagious than a cold.

So, to clarify again:
Fat is not a disability. That means get the hell out of my disabled seating, put down the greasy bucket of friend chicken and stand your fat ass up on the train so you can burn few fucking calories.
Alcoholism is not a disease. If you are an alcoholic try not drinking alcohol, dry yourself out, get a job, take a bath and stop begging for quarters in the subway station. At least the sober homeless people perform shows on the trains to entertain people; they are earning that quarter.
Beating your lover is a choice. Stop doing it you stupid fucking dick! You are an adult and can control your shit so grow the hell up and use your words.
Cancer is not a choice, although bad choices can lead to cancer.
How you react to cancer (and anything else) is a choice. Choose wisely.
Believing in god is like having an imaginary friend that sort of hates you. Get real friends- Ones that like you and want to help you when you’re down. You can thank them when you win an award.
If you are in a car accident, stop praying and get yourself to a doctor. Your imaginary friend is not a real doctor (even if he keeps telling you he is).

Take responsibility for your actions. If you did something well then pat yourself on the back because you deserve it (wait, did god do it for you? Then maybe you don’t deserve it.). If you yelled at your kids because you were mad at yourself go apologize to your kids. If you smoke don’t act surprised when you end up with lung cancer. And (just to add a little politics at the last minute) if you think you deserve the rights you have under the government then stop trying to take rights away from others because one day you might be on the other side and I bet you’ll be pissed off that someone’s trying to rob you of your rights.

Life is filled with choices. This is why I am both pro-life and pro-choice. Choose well, my friends.