Saturday, May 29, 2010


I haven’t written about this because it was too close to home, too negative and I didn’t want to offend her--- but because it is something so present in my daily life I feel I need to get it out so that I can feel better--- I no longer care about offending anyone.

Since the day I found out I have cancer my roommate, Michelle has been a constant source of anxiety and stress. She immediately tried to “help” with resources rather than offering a shoulder to cry on or a simple tissue to cry into. She right away said that I should move back to California—for those of you who know what it would mean for me to be back in CA you can hold the laughter a second… it gets funnier because she went on to assume that my dad or family would take care of me! OK, now you can laugh! Try not to wet yourself! I had to explain how I’d die in a week there--- probably from jumping off a roof rather than from cancer. She seems to not get the negativity and insanity that is my dad and his house.

For the record, even before this Michelle was a control freak. She would move my stuff around and treat me like I am a couch surfer in my own home—as if I’m not on the lease or paying the same rent--- she’s hardly cleared space for me and mostly I’m cramped in my room and everything has to be done or arranged her way.

When I had surgery I had to explain to her that I’d be limited as to movement and when my brother came to help she kept asking when he’d leave. Her boyfriend is over constantly, often with little or no advance notice, using the bathroom and leaving his things around and it’s added stress on me—she actually asked me once to get out of the bathroom because he needed to use it—yeah, I know! She made my brother really uncomfortable and never once got that he was here to help me. But it’s all about her; she hasn’t grown up enough to see that she’s very selfish and controlling and she she needs to chill the hell out.

Don’t get me wrong---sometimes she can be very nice and funny, and I’ve certainly had my fair share of total nuts as roommates, but I didn’t have cancer then. I think even some of the nuts would have been more understanding and sympathetic. This time in my life is going to stand out to me forever; I will never forget how people treated me and who was there trying to understand and be supportive, and who wasn’t. Michelle will always and forever stand out as this negative piece in my cancer experience. I wish this weren’t so but I have made attempts to get through to her and it seems like I’m talking to a brick wall. She’s too moody or too depressed and does not see that other people exist and that the world cannot revolve around her.

It baffles me that she’s here and sees me daily yet never offers help. As a matter of fact she does very little to make things easier on me, and I wouldn’t ask for much. She nags and nit-picks on cleaning the kitchen yet she has done very little to clean the disgusting bathroom. There are hairs everywhere (the tiny curly ones). There is a hair in the same spot it was in when I first moved in back in September. I keep waiting to see if she’ll ever clean it up… but I’m sure I’ll clean it soon because it’s really grossing me out.

I get that we’re all busy and I’m certainly no clean freak, but I do like clean bathrooms – especially since my cat is gone & I can control cleanliness more-- and I hate hair being everywhere. When I get out of the shower/bath I get pubic hair stuck to my feet. It’s black—not mine. I am capable of controlling my pubic hair!

I set things down somewhere and I never know if they’ll be there when I return. She moves my things, throws them away or puts them in my room when I’m not home. And I’ve asked her to stop but she hasn’t. she doesn’t take responsibility for doing something wrong either. The toilet was clogged with shit one day and it wasn’t mine. I’d been sleeping. She left it like that and when I texted her she wouldn’t admit she’d done it--- what, did someone else come in and shit in our toilet? She tried to claim I must have clogged it with a tampon or something beforehand--- I don’t use tampons! And if I had to use one I’d throw it in the trash not down old NYC pipes.

One day I said that my friend Shannon was sending me healing energy and that he’s wiccan and sending me healing stones to help me. She responded by saying she doesn’t want any witch craft in her apartment—she talked like we were sacrificing animals. Didn’t Catholics sacrifice animals in the bible? I ended up defending my previous religion and pointed out that I am tolerant of her Catholicism and all the religious artifacts and pictures all over our apartment despite my not agreeing with the beliefs behind them. What right did she have to demean my beliefs? Heaven forbidi ever mention I’m bi—she’d probably condemn me to hell or something, I get the sense that gay people make her uncomfortable.

She’s 27 years old—I expect a little more maturity. I mean, it’s young, but it’s not 21. last night when I asked her if she could take the trash out, etc before she goes out of town (she texts me weekly to remind me of this on my day like she’s my damn mom… yet she hasn’t stuck to our cleaning schedule at all)--- so she’s going out of town and she’s left it before so I wanted to be sure since I have chemo today and I’ll be too sick to stomach the smell all weekend. So instead of just saying ok she texts me to sweep the floors. I sweep and mop and clean EVERY MOTHER FUCKING WEEK! I told her this and that I was hoping she’d do it this week--- she gets home, takes out trash, stomps around like an angry teenager, leaves a bunch of shit all over the floor from the trash, then slams her bedroom door—if you want to have a tantrum like a little kid go ahead. I can’t keep up with her moods. She comes home happy one day and we talk about his or that, then she comes home depressed or pissed off and I try talking to her---it’s like walking on egg shells! When I was first diagnosed with cancer she said she didn’t understand my crying and screaming--- umm, I just found out I have cancer! I thought I might be dying! How she can’t at the very least empathize or sympathize with that is beyond me. She just treats me like I’m a pathetic creature yet never offers assistance. She gives me these awful pity looks and is so negative about everything—like she’s waiting for me to die. I guess that would save her wishing me away.

How can she be totally unaware of common roommate rules: like if I’m in the bathroom you don’t ask me to get out for your boyfriend- he can pee out the window, I pay rent here! I don’t have anything against her boyfriend personally but she treated my brother so horribly and was so awful during that time after my surgery—she doesn’t get that he was here to HELP me and her boyfriend, well what’s he here for…? I can’t deny I’m not scared of my sister & niece coming and how Michelle will treat them. I need the help a lot right now and she’s not understanding how much I need it. Heaven fucking forbid she offer it.

I’m tired all the time but she makes a ton of noise and I get woken up and lose sleep. I have enough trouble sleeping as it is. I hate that I have to ask her to be quiet because she then pulls her giant guilt trips on me---oh the joys of Catholic guilt! Like I said, sometimes she is nice—she likes music I like, she an actor too so she gets the whole actor thing, but she seems to have an issue with connecting with people. She seems to need to control every little thing on earth, and I get control, I am a control freak—or I was, now I’m a recovering control freak. I get the needs behind that, but having cancer, if it’s taught me anything, it’s taught me that there is very little I can control and if it’s something I can’t just relax and let it go. I can’t control Michelle & I’ve tried to tolerate the mood swings and nagging and her obvious disgust of my illness, but it’s been months and it hasn’t changed.

So many people at school are constantly saying how impressed they are with me and how positive I am; that I inspire them even. I try to stay positive even when I feel awful, and I try to bring all that home with me, but Michelle gives off so much negativity and so much inconsistent energy I have trouble keeping up. I really feel like she’s hating me for being at home, like I’m a squatter there. I sleep, eat, sleep, eat and when I’m up to it I clean and organize. I neglect my room to get the rest of the house clean so she won’t give me evil death stares or nagging tests and notes (oh, how I dread her notes!). I try to be patient—I know she’s young and I guess she has had no experience with cancer or with death, but I feel like she needs to go to a therapist or to her priest and work this out because her responses to things are baffling. My brother saw it and my friends have read her text messages.

She did apologize once maybe a month ago—when she was already upset about something else. It was nice to hear. I felt like maybe progress was being made. But then she took the water glass from my room. I laughed it off—she needs to control where things are. Finally I moved her cans from my kitchen cabinet because I needed space. I hate touching other people’s things but I really had no kitchen space for my food and it seemed unfair that she has so much space for her stuff. Plus I had to store my lollipops in my room which resulted in ants everywhere. She has a lot of stuff, things piled in the stairwell that I have to listen to the super yell about—my lease ends in September. I would have planned to stay but I feel like after all this I’d rather not. I need positive energy in my life moving forward and getting past cancer. The area is ok but I’m in no way attached to it so I’m ok moving on. Although I do feel like she’s leaving me no choice. She reminds me frequently that I have to move out then--- strange but her lease ends then too, why shouldn’t she move out? In all honestly I’ve had to seek legal advice to make sure I am safe as far as how I’m treated here. I look forward to being free of this situation but worry that come September I’ll be just out of surgery and unable to move things. It makes it a bit harder as far as timing goes. But I’m sure I can recruit some friends & I really don’t have much to move.

I don’t know that there is really anything else I can do to remedy the situation. She just doesn’t get it and she’s so passive aggressive I am too afraid to approach her--- plus it’s the same shit on repeat: hair in the bathroom, mildew, her boyfriend, my cleaning weekly and her cleaning one ot two things at random as loudly as she can, everything being hers and on her schedule, and simply the fact that she seems to pity me rather than sympathize—gawd you should’ve seen her face after I shaved my head—I was so happy and upbeat about it and she took that away from me (well she tried) by looking at me like I was a dying puppy! It was depressing.

I know no one can truly ever understand another person entirely but we can certainly try. I’m trying to be understanding and tolerant of her (awareness without judgment!), but I can’t see that she’s doing the same. I’m sure it isn’t easy for anyone whose roommate gets cancer, but in all honesty, it’s not about her. Yes, my situation limits certain things I can do and right now it’s at the worst part of chemo so I am most likely to need help and rest and I have to be lazy—hence the reason my sister is coming out here—but I fear that Michelle will ruin this time with my sister and niece and if she does I cannot forgive that; it’s too important for me to have them here and it’s only ten days.

Shit, I though writing this would help me release this weight but I still feel sad and uneasy—glad she’s out of town for the weekend. I need rest and peace… oh but she just texted me to “remind” me to pay the bills that are sitting on the table. And then she “reminded” me that my (apparently not hers) lease is up in September & I should be looking for a new place. I guess that negative people only change when they truly want to. She seems content in her misery so I look forward to moving onto somewhere calm and positive come September.

xxo M

P.S. I apologize for the chaos of how this was written. I wrote it while waiting for chemo the other day & I'm now on chemo brain so I can't get my thoughts out as clearly as I'd like to. Oh well---halfway done & soon to be feeling better! :)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Photo Shoot

Today I had a photo shoot for a newspaper article I will be featured in. The article is something about adults who have quit the 9-5 career to go back and study in the arts. I believe I’m one of three people highlighted and, yes, my article does mention my cancer. The photographer was really cool. She took tons of photos both with and without my electric blue wig. I saw some of them on the camera and they looked really good. We talked the whole time about breast cancer, what I'm going through, acting, great actors, and she said she might even do the Avon Walk. I think that’s fantastic! Maybe I’ll have a walking buddy. It's funny, I interviewed for this article a long time ago I hardly remember it all but I recall the interviewer was rather an odd man. I think the best parts of the article as he had read it back to me months ago were the quotes of what I said. But it's safe to say I'm a better writer than he is. He just gets paid for it. Funnily enough, the photographer today could have created a better interview just with the conversation we had while she took the photos.
I'll keep everyone posted on when the article comes out!

Friday, May 21, 2010

I Remember California

Normally my posts are more upbeat and positive but this one really isn’t. I apologize in advance but the fact is cancer and chemo do suck a lot and I can’t honestly say that I’m not sad or depressed from time to time.

I Remember California
(Yes, that is an R.E.M. reference)

The week after chemo I start to burn off everything; I pee a lot and I sweat constantly, mostly from the back of my head. I get depressed and I feel rather sick, like I’m rocking on a boat all the time. I get heart burn like nothing I’ve had before and I have had it all my life. And the heart burn results in sores in my throat and now what feels lower, like in my esophagus, so I can’t swallow anything besides mush, which of course is only going to make me nearly shit my pants more--- the fun thing I do nearly every hour.

There’s really nothing pleasant about being on these drugs. I sit around thinking that it seems so fucked up that I go into the doctor to feel rotten instead of to feel better. How can I be healed by chemicals? I feel like it’s not worth it sometimes. My surgery should have gotten it all out and maybe I should have taken my chances. How is this really quality of life? And I keep thinking that it seems all too likely that finding the cure for cancer in something natural like a coconut is more probable than discovering it in a laboratory filled with chemicals. I feel like a lab rat. I feel like a bunny being injected with dyes and perfumes. I feel like I go into the doctor to get sick rather than to get well. It’s like that monkey in the lab that they test football helmets on; they cement the helmet to his little head and sock him over and over with G-force pressure. Then they hammer the helmet off his head and see how he responds to things. Then they fucking kill him anyway. How is that doing anyone any good?

I remember as a kid in California that going to the beach was so much fun. I usually don’t miss California, but lately I do. I miss my friends, I miss the ocean, I even kind of miss driving a car. I know that next time I go back nothing will be the same; I know that after all this shit nothing in my life will ever be the same. All those times as a kid that I was sick and I felt like I was going to die are nothing compared to how I feel on a daily basis. And there are days when I just want to quit and give up because I’m not entirely sure that going through this is worth it. What if it comes back in a year, or two years or ten years? Will I have the strength to do this again? I don’t have kids or a spouse to hold onto; I’m alone in this. I’ve made peace with that but it still hurts sometimes. No matter how much my friends care and how much they help me I am alone in this: No one knows exactly how I feel. I can talk to social workers but they don’t get it. I can cry on my friend’s shoulder but it is never fully clear to them why I’m crying. I find that the most comfort I get is talking to other people who’ve had this cancer and have been through chemo and surgery. I only know a few but they have helped.

Some days I sit in the tub and soak my sore ass and I cry. It’s weird that my roommate seemed bothered by my crying and screaming in the beginning of this. I kept telling her “I have cancer. Why wouldn’t I cry and scream?” now I just try to do it when she’s no here because trying explain it seems futile. I think most of my friends think I’m OK and doing really well, and for the most part I am. I’m working hard at school and I got through the surgery so well, but it’s the chemo that gets me down. It’s depressing and it feels disgusting. Whatever I eat right after chemo I never want to eat again ever. I thought that I might as well have a steak next time since I would never eat that anyway, but that seems so nauseating I couldn’t stand it.

Before this happened wasn’t I the healthiest damn person? I mean, yes I drank a Pepsi every day, but I ate well, I’m vegan, and I was getting a lot more exercise since selling my car and moving out of Southern California. Now I sit on the toilet some days and it suddenly hits me: I have breast cancer. How the hell did I get breast cancer? As a kid I used to wish that I’d be stricken with a disease so my parents would care about me. Like in that movie A Christmas Story where the kid imagines being blind and his parents feel horribly guilty for being mean to him. I wanted my mother’s attention. Now I have cancer, right when I want to be alive the most and I have so much I care about. And of course my mother is not here to feel guilty or show that she cares. Ironically I know that if she were here she would really care. I dealt with all that childhood trauma bullshit and I got over it. I mean we all carry that stuff with us for a long time, but I let it go, especially when my mom got sick, but sometimes the anger gets the best of me and I get frustrated with my mom being dead or with everyone around me in general. I just want space and air. Maybe that’s what I’m missing about California; no neighbours breathing right down my neck, lots of trees and open fields, and, well, of course, really great avocados.

I haven’t cried that much with anyone since this happened. I’m not all that trusting so it’s hard for me to cry around other people. But lately I want to cry and cry and cry and I wish I had someone to hold me and just let me cry until I couldn’t anymore. I don’t want to sit around feeling sorry for myself; it could be far worse and I remind myself of that everyday. But the week after chemo when I’m sweating and I feel like shit all I want is my mommie to hold me and take all the pain and ickiness away. I don’t deserve this and I feel like it’s about fucking time I got something wonderful in my life. I gave up the idea of having kids for a while to focus on my career and now I may never get to have any kids, but I can have my career. I feel lately like I have to put even that on the back burner this summer just to focus on getting healthy. That pisses me off. I can’t even feel like I worked all that hard on my show because right now I just want to get it the hell over with so I can finally fucking rest. And fuck auditioning or working in a theatre; I can hardly stand up straight or make it up the stairs these days.

Part of me thinks about how my mom was so religious and thought that this god was going to save her and had some predetermined plan for us all. I knew at age three that was total bullshit, but having been raised in I sometimes think that this god of hers is out to get me for not believing in him. I think that what if I was some horrible person in a past life or something and this is my repayment. I must have been Hitler or something! I had a shit-fuck childhood and I think I deserve a better adulthood but there’s no guarantee in life that anything will ever be better. I think we have to make that happen ourselves. And here I am trying to do that I get cancer. Go figure. But I’m fighting it. That’s more than my mom did. She just succumbed to the idea that god was waiting up in heaven and she’d be better off there. That’s bullshit. I mean, yes the only way I’d ever believe in god was if everyone on earth collectively agreed he is a gigantic fucking asshole, but why would anyone give up their life just because heaven might be lovely? Even religious people fight cancer. I get mad at my mom sometimes because I don’t think she understood the importance she had in people’s lives and I don’t think she understood how severe her condition was. She played it off like it wasn’t so bad and the doctors weren’t very worried, but I think her doctors were morons and she was too easily sold down the river. My mom would have been one to buy beach from property in Arizona if the ads were nice and there was a church nearby. I loved my mom; she was my best friend, but she had a fucking golf ball in her arm pit and she didn’t notice it. All she cared about was going to the Baseball Hall of Fame to see Tony Gwynn inducted. I mean I get her excitement, she was obsessed with the Padres, but her health seemed so secondary that I didn’t push her to do chemo and I should have. I mean, fuck, I don’t wish this shit on anyone but if she’d done it maybe she’d still be here. She was a nut, but she loved her grandkids and I feel bad that they lost her, especially my tiny nephew, Hawthorne because he was a baby and he’ll never remember her and even though she drove me up the fucking wall with her religious bullshit and her tennis matches I really think she was worth remembering.

So I guess this justifies my being on chemo. I hate it. I want to give up a lot. I think about it all the time, just calling the oncologist and saying I’ve had enough. I take people with me because I can’t stand being there alone. I know deep inside me that if I had not lost my mom two years ago I would not be where I am now, in New York, working on my career and becoming a stronger person for having my own cancer. My mom’s death changed my life completely. It made it better. It made me finally own my own existence instead of relying on her for all my decisions. I fumble daily with things, but I am getting better all the time, and I miss her constantly, but I thank her for making mistakes that I have learned from. I’m on chemo because my mom wasn’t. I hate it so much, but I know I have to do it. I mean, yes, I do believe there has to be a better option somewhere; a more natural one, but this is what there is now and until that is discovered I have to do this. I know I won’t be the one to discover it but maybe one of my nieces or nephews will, or maybe I’ll have money one day to help fund research in a more natural and animal friendly way. Anyhow, I’m sure that in a year from now when I get a cold or a stomach bug and feel like crap I won’t complain so much because I will remember how fucking awful I feel right at this moment.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Something BIG is Coming!

I was thinking about how I feel like something really great is going to happen soon. It may be love or it may be career, or it may very well be both (ah, the interconnectedness of all things!). But I honestly feel like it's going to hit me like a bleeping tornado & I have no way of stopping it. It's a good thing. I know it is. But... hmmm, why is there a "but" here? I guess there's not. I can't complain & I welcome it whatever it is. I deserve it. I mean, I deserve to be happy & have something great happen. So let it come! I welcome it with open arms: career & love & life!
I think I thought I had more to say on this thought but I guess I don't. I'm just looking forward to riding that wave when it gets here.

The Dread of Sleep

I have about 30 different topics I feel like writing about right now, but I’m going with the dread of sleep. Seeing as it is now 2:35am and I am still up despite my total exhaustion. The fact is that that I get super tired a lot but I never feel like I’ve fully slept. I go to bed late and sleep all day, but I wake up every few hours to pee or to eat or both, and then I crash again. I don’t dream much the week after chemo. I started dreaming again maybe 7 days after, but I’m not there yet this week and for now I just suffer from acid reflux like I never knew existed, and I wake up a lot feeling kind of icky or uncomfortable. My healing lip is still sore and the tissue expander feels odd if I lay on it too long. I know it’s not much, and I tell myself daily that it could be worse--- I mean, no matter what our lives give us it can always be worse, so why complain? But it’s something I look forward to: sleep. Real sleep. The kind where no matter who shows up at your door you don’t care… Ed Mcmahon with the big check or the man of my dreams with a diamond ring--- fuck them, I’m sleeping! I am waiting for this sleep to come and I will welcome it when it does. For now, I keep myself up way too late and have to rely on Tylenol PM to get more than 2 or 3 hours straight. But at least I’m eating, I’m healing, I’m laughing & I’m looking ahead to that day (or whole week) I get to sleep and sleep and sleep and sleep…
But for now I guess I just dread going to sleep because I know that no matter how much I get it's never satisfying enough to matter. But, hey, there's next week & school will be out so I'm sure I'll be bored enough to sleep more & maybe enjoy it a while! :)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Chemo Update

you get to a point on chemo where you love feeling normal so much and you remember all too well how feeling shitty really feels that you dread returning to chemo no matter how much you know you have to. i am at that point. in 2 weeks i may need someone to drag me there!

but only five more to go total & only one more on these meds and i'm told it gets easier after that. i don't believe in any gods but if anyone reading this does feel free to ask them to make this easy on me. i didn't deserve breast cancer at 33 so i certainly don't deserve anything beyond that!

and i wish my lip would heal because it keeps swelling. i got antibiotics to help in case i get an infection but i also have another invasive procedure next week & i'm worried... i do need to be on stage Tues, Thurs & Sat. So everyone please collectively yell "CHEMO WEAR OFF QUICKLY!" i'm convinced yelling randomly helps in most situations.

OK, thanks for reading my little ranting update.


Saturday, May 8, 2010

A New Poem I Wrote


The African lady on the bus is
Holding a Pepsi cup of red 40 dye,
Shoving a slice of grease topped pizza into her mouth.
Her fingers are covered in the grease and the paper bag is leaking it onto her lap.
She stares at me.
A lot of people stare at a bald woman.
I wonder what they think;
If they want to speak but don’t know what to say;
I think they see cancer now instead of me.
It’s the kids who say something-
I like that they aren’t afraid to speak.
I like that when they do speak they embarrass their parents.
They are kids; they don’t know why I’m bald.

The lady keeps staring.
I think I scare her.
She looks at me like I am death staring her down
And she knows what she’s eating is disgusting.
The people back in Africa probably have no concept
That this greasy bread and red coloured drink are considered food.
I look past her, out the window at the blowing trees.
I keep seeing nature and wanting to hug it like I am its mother.

She gets up and gives her seat to a child so she won’t
Have to look at me anymore.
I’m not offended.
Maybe her next meal will be healthier.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Head Shave Video

Here is the link to my head shave video:
Also, I have photos of post-mastectomy that I put up:
And you should be able to access the entire photo stream if you wish, so you can look at Stella's travels and pre-photos, and other stuff with my friends!