Because after all, we are fighting breast cancer here, and sometimes you just need to replace the ones you’ve lost… on your head! Great statement piece.
Wonder-child in photo not included. You don’t have that kind of money. Just saying…
Purchase boob hat HERE
See other cancer fundraiser auction items HERE
The #modcloth dress. Leggings a medical necessity: legs are too pale and its freezing on the chemo room!
Ever since the news broke yesterday that Angelina Jolie had undergone an elective double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery the internet has been flipping out. I made the mistake of going to the New York Times page on Facebook and was appalled at what I saw in the comments section beneath the…
I already know what I’m wearing to chemo tomorrow, I’ll post a picture. But I have so much to say about the dress, I wanted to write it down today.
It’s a #modcloth dress that I didn’t buy. Angela bought it and it didn’t quite fit her right. Then I got cancer and felt like shit and she mailed me the dress to cheer me up. That’s what friends do. Here’s the thing: I’ve never actually met Angela, except she has been my friend for over 10 years. And she has been spoiling me with little gifts since the very beginning. When we adopted SQ, she sent me a world globe pillow. We still have it, and we have stitched SQ’s birth place and adoption place onto it. We used it to tell her the story of coming all the way from China to our house. That pillow is part of our family history. And now Angela’s girls and my girls are becoming pen pals. Not techno facetime pals, actual, old fashion, pen and paper pen-pals.
In the late 90’s, I was a quilter and there were hardly any young quilters in my town. But there were tons of Yahoo Groups online and I joined a bunch. I would travel to Vermont or New Hampshire to buy quilting fabric at recommended stores. And if I posted about those trips, inevitably, a local quilter would offer to meet me for lunch. Internet friendships were born.
I started a blog on Diaryland in the year 2000. It was about quilting, and eventually it turned into a blog about infertility. That is how I ‘met’ a lot of my friends. I mean that word. Friends. Going through infertility was brutal and gruelling There were lots and lots of tears and so many questions to ask. And my girls had my back. Those women coined the terms ‘floor-cake’. Angela coined ‘dirty-underpants-girls’. I’ll never forgot any of the babies they lost, the eggs that never took and the FSH level insanities. This is going to sound super crass, but we were internet-pioneers. Before there were mommy-bloggers, there were WANNA-be-mom bloggers. We formed a community.
Those ladies lead me to my yahoo-adoption groups. The rest is history. The snarky women I met during our LONG adoption wait became the KLBs. I don’t need to explain it. You either know or you don’t and it’s not important. Adopting from China is also difficult in many ways. And those crazy-snarky ladies rose above the rest. The friendships that were formed in-real-life will never fray. The line between in-the-computer and in-real-life disappeared. Those friends are one and the same now. My kids have Chinese-friends for life, girls they share an orphanage with or an adoption date with because we met in those yahoo groups.
I’ve been to Paris, Chicago, Texas and Florida. People have come from everywhere to visit us. We had people stay with us for the weekend, for a week. L’s son came to stay with us for half a summer.
Over the last 10 years, I have gone through a lot of crap. Jay has been hospitalized more times then I can count. My mom was sick and then passed away. My kids sometimes made me go through things I didn’t think I could handle. We lost a dear friend. Jay got a transplant and then I got cancer. Through it all, there were of course our INCREDIBLE friends here locally. I don’t want to in any way diminish their importance and contribution.
But I feel the need to give a public shout-out to my other incredible support system. The friends that I watch tv with, drink a lot of wine with, make incredibly inappropriate jokes with. All from the comfort of my couch with my screen open. Those little green dots in FB that tell me my friends are there to chat. Those incredibly hilarious FB threads that start with one thing and end up an hour later into the abyss of inappropriateness (it’s totally a real word)
to Laurie, Jen, Magda, Linda, Amy, Amy, Amy, Shelly, Rivka, Amber, Corinne, Ellie, Nancy, Michele, Deana, Melissa, Susan, Natalie, Rachelle and everyone I am forgetting. And of course, right back to Angela. See how one dress can have so much meaning?
It seemed simple enough. I knit a Fuck Cancer hat I was going to sell it to raise money for the Weekend to End Women’s Cancers. My fifth walk, this time is a cancer patient.
It snowballed into an online auction with 173 listings! There are actually more things, but I ran out of time and energy, so the extra will be added in when we ship the stuff to the bidders.
Bid high. Bid often. Bid bid bid. There is something for everyone.
Woke up at 6 am and heard on the news that Angelina Jolie had a preventative double-mastectomy. Did what I did every morning: put on my screen and read through my feeds. It was on the FB page of CBC Daybreak with the question: What do you think of her choice?
And then everything happened very fast: I was the first to post a comment that I supported her and wished I had had that option, and instead had to wait until I ACTUALLY had cancer. An hour later, I was talking about it live on the radio, using a land-line from the Hope and Cope office at the JGH. Yes, that’s how I roll.
Already, people are criticizing her: some for choosing a drastic surgery. Some for being public about it. Some for the privilege of being able to afford the best possible care .
Here is my take: I didn’t have the option because I was BRAC1 negative and thus not considered genetically pre-disposed. Except for the fact that my Mother and SEVERAL of my female relatives all had BRAC1 negative breast cancer. So we have *SOME* genetic component, just not the right one. And why should women be quiet about it? WHY???? There is NOTHING TO BE ASHAMED OF. My breast tried to kill me. So I took them off. If my leg was trying to kill me, I would take my leg off. Why are we supposed to be quiet about mastectomies?
As for being able to afford it: I live in Canada, where treatment is free. Except that this particular treatment, choosing to remove your breast BEFORE you develop cancer, is next to impossible to get, because they need to treat cancer patients first. I promise you, if it had come to it, I would have found a way to go private or go the USA and have my breast removed. Even it meant selling our house and moving. Angelina didn’t have to worry about it. Should I resent her for it? Nope, not for one second. Good for her for getting the absolute best care. I’m sure her new breast are SPECTACULAR!
If you read this far - Mazel Tov! Don’t forget, the auction starts at 9 am tomorrow! If you are new to this blog, Welcome! Help me kick cancer’s ass by raising funds for the JGH, the hospital that performed my life-saving double-mastectomy. Click on the link and bid on the fabulous items, 100% of money goes to JGH and you get a tax receipt!
My friends all have some of the same traits in common: they tend to be crafty (no, not all), almost all of them enjoy wine, and snarkyness is a MUST. I don’t mince my words and I don’t surround myself with people who do either. But when you have cancer and you are open and vocal about it, everyone wants to talk to you about it, it goes with the territory. The problem is: I don’t abide by the Social Contract that only nice, polite things should be said to the Cancer Patient (or any patient for that matter, no matter the disease)
If you have 10 min, I urge you to read this article called The Etiquette of Cancer. However, if you don’t have 10 min to spare, let me give you my own bullet-point version, thoughts I have had over the last few weeks and months:
- ‘My sister’s neighbour’s dog-walker’s cousin had the SAME thing and she is totally fine now’ OR ‘My mother’s 3rd cousin’s housekeeper had finger-cancer… she passed away’. The first thing they tell you in oncology: EVERYONE’s CANCER IS DIFFERENT. I understand that you want to ‘share’ my cancer with me, but 1 in 4 women have breast cancer - it’s really NOT special. I have my own experiences, my own MOTHER died of it. So thanks, but I’ll stick to people I actually know (if you yourself have gone through it, different story all together. But then again, I don’t need to tell you that, because you already know to reach out privately and have probably done so already)
- ‘You look great!’ (said in sing-song valley-girl cheery voice). No I don’t. I might not look like I’m a death’s door, but I don’t look great. I look OK. Maybe I look better than ok that particular day, but I don’t look great. My shoes are great though, so compliment me on that.
- ‘What are you numbers? What drugs are you on?’ - If you are planning on becoming an oncologist, I’d love to go over these details with you. Otherwise, can we just stick to I’m on my 1st, 2nd, 3rd treatment. OK, txs
- You were SO UPSET when you heard I had cancer - Thank you. Very much. Really, thank you. But I have enough with dealing with my emotions, and my husband and kid’s emotions, and then my dad and brother’s. So I’ll leave you to deal with your emotions yourself.
- It’s ok to NOT TALK ABOUT CANCER. Really. It’s totally ok. I can talk about the weather, or the Habs sucking ass, or knitting (I can talk about knitting ALL DAY!) - I promise you, it’s totally ok to talk about non-cancer related topics
- It’s ok NOT to talk to me - here’s the thing: sometimes, you don’t want to talk to me. That’s ok. I don’t need to talk to you either. It could be nice, but it could be forced, and I have very little energy. So if you happen to see me somewhere, it’s totally ok to say Hi and just keep going. Think about it this way: If I didn’t have cancer, would you talk to me? No? Then now is probably not the right time to start.
Boy, I sound bitter and angry, don’t I? Here is the thing: I’m a snarky, bitchy, foul-mouthed person when I’m on my BEST behaviour. I’m not a social-butterfly who air-kisses and chit-chats for the heck of it. Add to this: Cancer, Chemo, No Boobs, Ugly Hair and Lack of Sleep and now, I’m a real bitch, all the time. So I have no time or energy to start being nice now.
I am OVERWHELMED by the genuine kindness and support that I have been getting. Muffin and soup drop-offs, impromptu playdates, help with the auction - I appreciate more than I will EVER be able to thank you for. I REALLY REALLY do. But please remember that I am also hurting. It’s not easy. I have to channel my energy to do simple things like walking NJ to school or going for ice tea down the street. I have to put on my metaphorical armour to get these things done. So I don’t want to be nice just because it makes it easier for you.
Instead, how about:
- I like that hat, it hides your bad haircut quite well
- That dress is super cute, it goes well with your greenish hue
- How many seasons of Charles in Charge did you watch today?
- I was supposed to go to the gym today, but I figured, my ass is hard enough, want to go have ice cream instead?
- Lung Transplant last year, Cancer this year - what’s on deck for next summer? Leprosy?
I promise you, I will respond much better to these!
<bonus points if you get that title reference>
One week since chemo #1. I was nauseous for 3 days, not too bad though. Frankly the dizziness and loopy-ness from the anti-nausea meds was worst, so I might try to skip the meds next time. Today was my last neupogen shot (white-cell booster). Next week, I should be more tired. So this is the in-between. I’m fine. I’m a little tired. I definitely get tired very quickly. Like I am fine one minute and then bam, hello, I need to lie down and I end up napping for 2 hours. Most days though, I have 1, maybe 2 good things I can get done. Everyday, one of those things has been working on the auction. The other, I try to make a little fun: going for ice cream with NJ, arts and crafts with SQ, today I went out for lunch with my long-suffering assistant/manager/collegue/bff Dee on the 8th anniversary of her days at the store.
If it stays like this, it’s totally manageable. It’s just probably NOT going to stay like this.
Apologies right off the top, yes, this is another post about my hair. Hopefully this is the last one, but this is a deep, feelings-processing post for me.
I don’t have body issues. I have been EVERY size from a 4 to a 24 (I know some of you will find that hard to believe, but I promise you, it’s true). I have worked through my stuff and I am very content at 8/10. Sometimes I still take out those size 6 skinny cargos from J Crew that I wore in a picture with Kelly Ripa and we were almost the same size (she had just had a baby!) and wish they would fit. But I spend ZERO time worrying about it. I don’t diet, I exercise because it’s good for my health, not because I’m trying to fit into things.
I am also pretty confident in my own style. Quirky, off-beat, original, Indie, slightly-hippie. The clothes in my closet have changed very little over the last 15 years: tons of garden-party dresses, vintage-looking cardigans and more 3/4 sleeve swing jackets than a person could ever want (which reminds me of a shopping trip in Paris with L. years ago: ‘Dude, that is the 3rd swing jacket you buy today!’). I own my style, I really do.
So this reaction to my hair cut has been a major learning experience for me. I thought I was totally ok with loosing my hair. I offered to shave it off when my mom lost hers years ago. She wouldn’t let me. (She went with my aunt because she was afraid if I went with her, I would cut mine and she didn’t want me to. I didn’t understand why at the time.) My hair has pretty much been my calling-card. The thing that set the tone for the rest of ‘ME’. For the last 48 hours, I have felt very ordinary. Boring. Main-stream. If you asked me to describe my look right now, I would say Patrica Heaton in Everybody Loves Raymond. Get it? Is there anything worse?
A few select people have seen the hair and assure me it’s cute. Things I have heard is: ‘It’s summer, it’s fun, you can play with it!’. Let me tell you something: when you tell me this and your hair is down past your shoulders and YOUR idea of playing with it is putting it up in a ponytail, don’t tell me this. Because I don’t believe you for one second.
Now, I don’t want to rag on short hair. It looks FABULOUS on some people. First one that comes to mind in my friend Fluid Pudding. She can rock the pixie cut! Interestingly, our fashion likes are so similar that the 2 of us + facebook + a sale on Modcloth = mutual charges on our credit cards. But I feel confident in saying that she would never want my shaggy-bangs.
Why am I still going on about this? Why am I devoting a thesis to my hair? Like I said, this has been a big learning experience. After the mastectomy, it took me weeks to look at my scars. I even hired a home-care assistant to come help me bathe and deal with the wounds because I simply could not look down. I didn’t have to though. I could choose not look and I certainly didn’t have to show anyone. It’s not possible to not look at my hair. And there is only so much time I can spend inside the house.
I will be fine. I will get over it. I will wear hats and scarves and I know that I will feel better about it once I am bald (odd, I know). I have an appointment with a wig person today. I hope to find something affordable that can cheer me up. (FYI, good wigs are SEVERAL thousand dollars. multiple. urgh.)
Let’s hope this is the last thing I write about hair.
PS: a special thank you to Perrin for the very insightful comments on the last post. My feelings are very raw these days and well-wishes from people who understand what it’s really like help more than I could ever explain.