Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Story of Aunt Flow

My Aunt Flow used to visit me every month since just before I turned thirteen. Usually she was kind of a pain in the ass (among other things), but, still, I loved her because I knew she kept me healthy. For a whole year, starting May of 2010, just after I began chemotherapy, Aunt Flow went on vacation. I imagined she was off in Egypt exploring the pyramids, or roughing it in the Australian outback. She never called or sent a post card, but I stopped missing her pretty quickly. It was nice to have the break since chemo was so uncomfortable and Aunt Flow can be a little much to deal with at times.

To my surprise, one year later, in May of 2011, Aunt Flow showed up at my door and I welcomed her with love and tears of joy. I was relieved, for I had feared that she had died or gone away forever, and no one knew where she was or if she would ever return. After May, came June, and Aunt Flow was back for her usual three or four day visit, and I started to think we were back in our old monthly habits. July followed, and Aunt Flow arrived early, and she seemed a little bit angry. I feared she would never stop raging and maybe never leave, but about five or so days later, she finally said her goodbyes and left me to sleep a lot.

August came and, despite all signs to the contrary, Aunt Flow did not arrive as scheduled, and no one else seemed all that concerned over her absence. September came and went with no news, but I must have missed her a lot, because I could feel her in my gut from wherever she’d gone off to, maybe thinking of me. I worried she might show up and I would be unprepared for her visit. Then, miraculously, she popped in in early October, and my fears of her demise were put to rest. Her stay was short, but welcomed, even though she can behave like a total bitch sometimes. We said our goodbyes, and see you next month, but November came with no sign of her arrival, followed by December, and the holidays and merriment; with all the red ribbons and bows she would have loved: still no Aunt Flow.

In rang the new year, and I began to question if Aunt Flow was just getting too old to visit each month. Maybe my chemotherapy and my cancer really drove her away. I continued to worry through the long month of January. Even in the months of her absences, I still found myself craving our usually sugary indulgences, and getting extra tired from all our busy activity. Again, I began to think Aunt Flow had gone for good, and I missed her because I knew her visits meant I might, one day, be visited by her close friend, Mr. Stork, which is something I have dreamed of since I was very young.

In the past few weeks I have experienced so many “Aunt Flow is coming” signs, but I get tricked by those a lot. So, imagine my joy (and confusion), after months of worry over her whereabouts, she just burst onto the scene when I was in the bathroom yesterday! I was elated and, even though she is killing my back and testing my patience as usual, I am really glad to see her after so long.

I don’t know how long her stay will be; hopefully just a few days because I have a lot to get done and she does tend to get in the way and really make quite a mess. But, I do love her, and, even if I may only see her a few times a year now, at least I know she is okay (for now), and that she makes the effort to arrive for me and keep me healthy until the day I’m ready for Mr. Stork to come and take her place for just a bit. And, if it turns out that we return to monthly visits, I welcome them with open arms (and a bunch of chocolate!)


Saturday, January 14, 2012


Just started reading Living Beyond Cancer. I am glad. I know I need this book.
I have planned to go to New Orleans for their conference but, as of right now, I cannot afford to, even with the potential reimbursement. I'm bummed because I thought it would, well I think it will be a great experience (despite the air travel). Fingers are crossed I can go, but so far it doesn't look promising...

Poem January 2012

A Poem For Everyone I Know, Including Myself

I'm sorry...
for yelling, for hanging up on you, for cursing;
I'm sorry...
for hiding from life, for crying over everything, for loving the worst people too much;
I'm sorry...
for begging, for cheating, for stealing, for lying;
I'm sorry...
for not taking better care of you when you needed me, for indulging too much, being absent and inattentive,
I'm sorry...
for doing to you what was done to me, for neglecting and abusing;
I'm sorry...
that you get the brunt of my hate, the worst of my hurt, and the punishment for my blame;
I am so, so sorry...
and I forgive you.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Breast Cancer Awareness Part 1

So it's October again. My second October since I was diagnosed. I am sorting my files & much of them are medical papers. I hear so many fellow survivors/warriors talk about having DCIS (Ductual Carcinoma in Situ), and I realized months ago that I was never entirely clear on my exact diagnosis. I know I had Paget's disease of the nipple, which I was told is rare (you can see below how rare & understand how special I feel about that one!) So, as I went through my stuff, mostly by accident, I spotted my diagnosis on this paper: Infiltrating Ductual Adenocarcinoma. I had no idea what this really meant so I Googled it & found the best information on the American Cancer Society's website. I've pasted it below. I do not support breast cancer research that isn't researching diet and natural substances as cures for cancer because these ARE cures for cancer but they won't make anyone any money. What I do support is education on how to avoid getting cancer & how to find it if you have it or suspect you have. I also support organizations that give money to those who cannot afford tests and treatment. I am writing this because I think we all need to be aware of what breast cancer is; I feel that is the purpose of this month (no, it's not just wearing our pink wigs & passing out pink ribbons!).

Learn about what it is & how to be prepared if it happens to you. Right now "they" state it's 1 in every 8 women who will get breast cancer in their lifetime. It seems like it's effecting far more young people these days. I ask myself why? The only thing I can guess is diet, lifestyle (AKA stress), environment. Sure there are genetic factors & other things, but those three I listed seem most important. For more information on the various types of breast cancer you can read more on the American Cancer Society's website:

Next week I'll post about the treatments & what the term chemotherapy really means. In the meantime, here's my diagnosis:

Invasive (or infiltrating) ductal carcinoma

This is the most common type of breast cancer. Invasive (or infiltrating) ductal carcinoma (IDC) starts in a milk passage (duct) of the breast, breaks through the wall of the duct, and grows into the fatty tissue of the breast. At this point, it may be able to spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body through the lymphatic system and bloodstream. About 8 of 10 invasive breast cancers are infiltrating ductal carcinomas.


This is a term used to describe a cancer that begins in the lining layer (epithelial cells) of organs like the breast. Nearly all breast cancers are carcinomas (either ductal carcinomas or lobular carcinomas).


An adenocarcinoma is a type of carcinoma that starts in glandular tissue (tissue that makes and secretes a substance). The ducts and lobules of the breast are glandular tissue (they make breast milk), so cancers starting in these areas are often called adenocarcinomas.

Paget disease of the nipple: This type of breast cancer starts in the breast ducts and spreads to the skin of the nipple and then to the areola, the dark circle around the nipple. It is rare, accounting for only about 1% of all cases of breast cancer. The skin of the nipple and areola often appears crusted, scaly, and red, with areas of bleeding or oozing. The woman may notice burning or itching.

Paget disease is almost always associated with either ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) or infiltrating ductal carcinoma. Treatment often requires mastectomy. If no lump can be felt in the breast tissue, and the biopsy shows DCIS but no invasive cancer, the outlook (prognosis) is excellent. If invasive cancer is present, the prognosis is not as good, and the cancer will need to be staged and treated like any other invasive cancer.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Discriminating Behaviour

I feel like people either believe I am okay and can manage on my own now so they don’t offer help, OR they have decided what my disability is and base their decisions/expectations/judgments on their perception of my limitations.

I know my limitations; I know stairs and heavy boxes are my enemy; I know what to do when I get winded or dizzy, and I know that I feel better and heal more when I am on stage and involved in theatre.

Not hiring or casting me based on your perception of my limitations is discrimination. Additionally: it’s fucked up.

Being treated like that is like when I go into restaurants with meat eaters who know that I am vegan and they spend 20 minutes listing all the “vegan” stuff I can eat. Hey, thanks, but it’s my diet and I know how to manage it; let me worry about that.

I realize these people mean well—or that they don’t recognize how rude what they do is—but doing it feels to me just as bad as not understanding what I am dealing with. I am in pain pretty much all the time. Nerve pain, joint pain, bone pain… and the best things for it are massages, swimming, and any kind of dance/movement. These things renew me and invigorate me. They also get endorphins flying which lifts my spirit and fights the depression I’m dealing with as well.

So, please don’t make judgments on me based on what you think I cannot do. How will that encourage me to do more? I can’t deny I am disappointed that this is being done to me. I don’t ever expect anyone who hasn’t had cancer, gone through chemo and dealt with the follow-up medications to fully get the picture, but if I say I can do it the least you could do is give me a shot.

xxo M

Friday, August 19, 2011

Maura Tierney

Maura Tierney is currently on the show Rescue Me. She is playing Kelly, a woman who Tommy (Denis Leary) knew a few seasons ago who had lost her daughter, and now she's just finished her chemo for breast cancer, and had a mastectomy (all just like me).

In 2009 Maura had breast cancer for real, and she helped them write a lot of the things she says. Whether you watch the show or not I say at least watch her parts (although the whole show is really great). She's truly amazing (as she has always been when she was on News Radio & ER). She is what inspires me.

Here are 3 of the pieces I'm talking about:

Chaos and Excitment

Chaos and excitement
Arts and crafts late at night
I’m dwelling in some underworld
Scaring myself.

Alone to ward off ghosts and demons
Not sure who really wants me near
I’m afraid to go outside sometimes
The fear is almost real.

Dark thoughts, sad thoughts
Creeping in on queue
Speak to me of what I’ve lost;
Of whom I cannot be.

These are the nights
Filling guilty tomorrows
And tired, oh so very tired,
Of it all.