WHY CANCER IS MY THING

Breast cancer stole my aunt.  Slowly but surely, piece by piece, we watched her lose her fight to this insidious disease.  She was the aunt who instilled in me a love of travel, then helped me move nine billion times during my nomadic 20s; the aunt who ensured my parents always visited me for my birthday; the aunt who, like I, knew my mother wasn’t always right, but it was just easier to let her think she was.  The rule is that if you are cancer free for five years, you are considered cured.  She was.  But she wasn’t.  And cancer returned.  My aunt was a warrior; she fought like a girl, and her motto was “I’ve got cancer; cancer doesn’t have me.”  But she was wrong. In the end, cancer got her and took her from us.

When I was 37, during my aunt’s first diagnosis and treatment, a lump was found in my right breast.  A biopsy was done; there was a 99% chance it was benign.  It was not benign.  It was atypical ductal hyperplasia.  Big words. I asked, is it cancer?  Not really.  I asked, is it benign?  Not really.  WTF?

A diagnosis of ADH means that you do not have cancer, but, if left untreated, it will become cancer.  I didn’t even know that was a thing, but I set to work getting my cancer fetus out of my body as quickly as possible.  I had a lumpectomy to remove the mass, then was sent off to an oncologist.  The oncologist said I could opt for Tamoxifen and all its glorious side effects, or I could opt to take a ‘wait and see’ approach.  You know, because it wasn’t really cancer.  Since I was so young and the cancer fetus was caught early, he recommended, and I agreed with, the wait and see idea, and I began rolling the dice with breast cancer.

For the next year, I had a mammogram every three months.  Let me just say this:  I am done hearing about Elon Musk spending money to build rockets when a woman still has to put her boob in a vise to see if she has cancer.  Side note:  the highlight of my lumpectomy was the joy of having my boob put into a vise and then a six-inch needle stuck into said boob so the doctor could find the tumor.  Again, WTF?

After a year with no visible recurrence, I had mammos every six months for the next two years.  Now I have one mammo a year.  Being the proud owner of exceptionally small breasts with exceptionally dense tissue and an exceptionally high lumpectomy site, it is a rarity that all angles are captured in one take.  So I get to have my boobs repeatedly vised to ensure nothing is missed.  Good thing it is only uncomfortable and I only feel a little pinch each time.  (Gentleman readers: replace boobs with balls.  Now you’re with me.)

But so far, so good. There has been no recurrence, and the dice continue to roll on my defective boobs.

Recently, due to my high risk status, I was recommended for genetic testing.  I was all for this idea.  If I am carrying the gene, I want to get these boobs Angelina Jolied before they kill me.   So off I went to the oncology department once again.

The nurse surveyed my family history and my medical history, ran the numbers, read the numbers, and advised me that I am four times more likely to get breast cancer than the average person in the next four years and three times more likely throughout my lifetime.  That pretty much sucks, but I already knew that, hence the desire for the testing.  But the super sucky part is that this does NOT qualify me for insurance-paid genetic testing.  (Hey, Elon Musk, how about driving your electric car over to the insurance agency and focus on fixing that load of horse shit instead of playing with rockets all day?  Because that is a RACKET).  Oh well, Elon has his thing and I have mine.

The nurse advised me that the best way to prevent breast cancer is diet and exercise, and limiting alcohol intake to two drinks per week.  My response, then what’s the point of being alive?  Then she signed me up for yearly MRIs in addition to mammos.  Note:  not instead of, like I asked, because apparently I lost a bet in a previous life and my penance is having my boobs in a vise at least once a year forever.  Lucky me.  And the dice roll on…

That’s why cancer is my thing.  Because unlike my aunt, I am no warrior.  I am weak and weird.  If I get cancer (or rather, if cancer gets me), I will probably be dead of fright before they can mix up the first batch of chemo.  Not to mention the fact that bald will not be a good look for me with my giant melon head.

Ergo, once a year, I wrap myself in all kinds of pink (even though I’m a cool, not a warm), walk a 5k, and hit up people for money to help find a cure.  (Elon Musk: feel like donating a few million PayPal residuals to boobs instead of rockets this week?)  We walk with people who have survived the fight, people who are in the fight, and in memory of people who have lost the fight but inspired us all to keep on fighting.

Today I am livin’ the dream; I have a total bad ass husband (paid to say that); I have a sensitive and delicate dog; I have friends and family who have donated a boat load of money to support our efforts to find a cure for cancer.

Today I am cancer free.

So today I live in the moment, while my defective boobs and I continue to roll the dice with cancer.  But I am aware that I have already beaten the odds for a mighty long time, and cancer will never give up and just walk away.  Cancer will always be lurking around my life, waiting for the chance to end it.  Cancer got my aunt.  I wanna kill that mother fucker before it gets me.

 

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Random Thought Friday

Only in West Virginia will someone drop the F-bomb and call you Honey in the same sentence.  #iheartrednecks #wvnative

RTF

The guy in the truck with the This is America.  Speak English bumper sticker has obviously never been off the resort in Cancun and caught a wave of Montezuma’s revenge.  Gonna be sad times for the bigot when he gets to the pearly gates and finds out that Jesus is Puerto Rican and everybody inside speaks Spanish.

CHRISTMAS

What I hate:

  1. Christmas trees beside Halloween candy at Sam’s Club in mid-October;
  2. “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” blasting at volume 20 in every store I enter;
  3. Fruitcake.  (How can two things as delightful as liquor and cake go so horribly wrong when combined?);
  4. Family guilt for not participating in the festivities;
  5. Salvation Army guilt for not having any low bills to put in the bucket and refusing to part with a twenty;
  6. Thermostats set to 80 degrees;
  7. The debate about whether or not to say Merry Christmas. Just say it already; no one really cares.  (File under: too much time on your hands);
  8. Crazy neighbors complaining about the mailman putting mail in the wrong box. (File under:  First world problems);
  9. Glitter.  Everywhere.;
  10. Office Parties – holiday and otherwise.

What I love:

  1.  Cookies.

Don’t get me wrong; I embrace the Christian desire to celebrate the birth of their Lord.  I enjoy a holiday and the reason for the season (read:  time off from work).  I love to have a visit and a nice big meal, hence my designation of Thanksgiving as the best holiday ever.  What I do not enjoy is full-grown adults buying gifts for other full-grown adults as a requirement for Christmas.  In addition, I find no joy in searching for ‘’the perfect gift for the man/woman who has everything.”  Why the hell are we giving more crap to people who have everything? (File under:  RPP—Rich People Problems).  And why the hell do I have to pretend to be happy to get crap I don’t want in order to meet someone else’s requirement of what Christmas should be?

I’m definitely over-thinking this; I should have a cookie.  Merry Christmas, Everyone!

SETTING THE BAR

It’s such a small thing.  Minute, actually.  Simple to do, and it takes no time at all.  Two seconds, five max.  So why do few people do it?

This is what I began to wonder one day as I stood in the check-out line at Walmart and watched the shoppers in front of me as they unloaded all their items onto the conveyor belt and then, more often than not, failed to set down the divider bar for the next shopper.  Why not, I pondered, while your hands are already moving things onto the belt, go ahead and set the bar and make things easier for the next person?  What is it inside one’s head that makes him assume that the next person would set the bar instead of doing it yourself?  Seemed a bit presumptuous to me.

After noodling this for awhile, I decided, about six months ago, if the person ahead of me in line did not set the bar after he unloaded his purchases, I would not set the bar before I unloaded mine.  (Because we all know that one good dick move deserves another.)  I always, however, set the bar into prominent view behind my items, ensuring the next person in line had a clear demarcation point.

What happened next is just what you would expect:  my items rung up with the person’s in front of me until said person declared, “THAT’S NOT MINE!!!” with a perplexed look, as if no idea how my potato chips ended up in his bag of kale.  Then gave me a stare to ascertain if I were somehow incapable of setting the bar.  Drunk? Two broken arms? A (insert gasp) foreigner?  What the hell was wrong with me?

In the beginning, I pretended to be looking for my credit card or otherwise distracted as the reason for me to not announce ownership as soon as my items begin rolling into someone else’s earth-ruining plastic bag.  But as I grew bolder in my “I can be just as big a D-bag as you” experiment, I took full ownership of my actions, and merely stood silently behind my cart looking straight ahead as the cashier, once again, added my National Enquirer to someone else’s purchase.  Side note:  Poor Angelina and Brad.  I really thought those two were going to make it.  Said no one ever.

Anyhoo…  After months of clueless stares, this week it finally happened.  Validation.  And man, oh man, it was sweet.  I was at Aldi’s, which prides itself on a speedy checkout experience, as do I.  The scraggly haired (no, this is not relevant; I just didn’t like the look of it) woman in front of me put her items on the belt and rolled on up to the cashier without setting the bar.  I followed suit without setting the bar in front of me, only behind, and waited.  Then, yet again, the familiar ‘’That’s not mine!!!’’ flew from the shopper’s mouth with a quizzical look at the muffins the cashier had added to her purchases.  Suddenly, the heavens parted, and the cashier looked at her, not me, and uttered these magical words to her (not me; bears repeating), “There was no bar.”

Witchipoo hair looked at me with a frown.  I looked back at her.  She looked at the cashier, again, frowny-faced.  The cashier looked at Witchipoo, smiled, and added, “If there’s no bar, we just keep going.”  Witchipoo looked at me; I looked at her and then nodded at the bar I had set behind my items.  The end.

I would like to say that I saw the lightbulb go on over her head, but no.  No lightbulb, no smile, no apology.  From either of us.  (I will not be out-dick-moved.)  So instead I will say this…

I truly believe that the little things are the big things, and a small kindness can make all the difference in someone’s day.  So I will hold a door for you.  I will compliment your purse choice.  I will help you with your bags.  I will even offer to pay the difference if you are short on cash (unless it’s by $100 like the jag wagons at the Walmart awhile back).  But if you don’t set the bar for yourself and expect me to do it for you, prepare yourself to pay for this asshole’s cupcakes…

MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!!!

So, Donald Trump is our new president, and he’s going to make America great again.   I know a lot of people are upset, but I believe it may be simply because they misunderstand how great (pun intended) the changes involved in this endeavor will be.  For example:  I, personally, am especially looking forward to Americans being able to drink and drive again.  Let’s face it, getting pulled over by a cop and sent to jail is a serious buzz kill.  Remember the days when the only thing between a .347-blowing you and your comfy bed at 3 a.m. was the ditch?  We’re bringing those days back and making America great again!  Side note:  God speed and good luck.

In addition to getting blind drunk and behind the wheel (seatbelt-free, I might add), we will once again be able to smoke in public.  So, while you’re getting loaded before driving off for home/ditch, you will be free to chain smoke your Camel Unfiltered wherever the urge may strike.  Remember the days of going out to dinner and coming home smelling like the inside of the Marlboro Man’s chaps?  Those days are coming back!  Too busy at the office to sneak outside and across the parking lot for a quick puff?  Light up right at your desk!  America is gonna be great again!

Got kids?  Imagine never again having to try to figure out how to get the car seat, 1. installed, and, 2. locked around little Junior’s Frito- and Mountain Dew-filled belly!  That’s right:  no more child-protection devices and no more dietary hassles.  We are going back to raising kids on Twinkies and McDonald’s.  You know, if they don’t get killed when you drunkenly veer into the ditch on the way to the drive-thru window.

Speaking of kids…  Many people have wondered what words will adequately explain to the children how a more qualified woman lost the election to a screaming carrot demon.*  I would like to recommend an easy solution.  Use the same words you used before the election.  Specifically, “The world is run by rich, white men.”  Then you can try to stop the hysterical sobbing by adding, “Don’t worry; this isn’t the first bat-shit crazy president America has had (Richard Nixon, anyone?), and it won’t be the last.”  Fortunately, since we are making America great again, you can throw in, ‘’Now quit whining, climb the seat over your brothers and sisters, and fetch your Mommy her Red Bull and vodka; this Beltway traffic is a beast today.’’

Finally, from a technological standpoint, making America great again means going back to a time without Facebook and Twitter.  ‘Nuff said.  Hopefully, this will free up some bandwidth for the Canada immigration website so it will stop crashing.  Plus, I cannot wait for those great eight-tracks to come back!  Side note:  save your matchbooks when they are empty from lighting up your Marlboro Reds in the dentist’s waiting room; you will need them to get your Boz Skaggs eight-track tape to play.

And a quick note to those of you heading to Canada:  I will miss you Snoop Dogg Lion King.  Don’t forget to take your green hat.

So, let us celebrate the election.  And the new president.  And the making of America great again.  Let’s all just sit back, relax, and enjoy the shit show of the next four years.  Well, two years; then the shit show that is the campaign for the next election will begin.

Unless, of course, you are not a rich, white man; then you are doomed…

PS – Thank you to the veterans who serve this great land and the rights therof so I can say dumb stuff on the internet.  Right or wrong, I love this country, and I am eternally grateful to those who protect her.

*Stolen from Samantha Bee