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Boooo Cancer. You suck!

I'm going to kick your ass.

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Feeling all kinds of moody lately. I have no idea why that made me think of this song, but there you go! 

No biggie…

Today I went back to get the results of my biopsy. First of all, let me start by saying that Dr. Jerkwad was much more subdued today. I think my kind of snapping back last time and being generally unimpressed with his complete lack of bedside manner kind of put things where they should be. Today we just cut to the chase: the results. 

And the result was… pre-cancerous! Yay! Wait. Not yay. Turns out that dark spot that he removed was indeed “evil” after all. Luckily I caught it in time. Yeesh. I did not get through having breast cancer just so I could then move right into skin cancer. No thank you. I remembered while I was in his office this morning that there was a spot on my back that was pretty dark as well so I showed him just to be on the safe side. He agreed that it didn’t look too good and went ahead and got that spot off too so he could send it off to be tested. Better safe than sorry. Now I have to go back in again on Monday to get the results of that biopsy! 

It’s strange. I felt a lot like I did when I found the lump in my breast. Somehow I just knew it wasn’t good. That’s how it felt finding these dark spots on my skin. They just didn’t feel good. I can’t stress enough how important it is to be familiar with your body. Know yourself. Girls, that means know what feels normal or does not feel normal for you. Keep an eye on any changes that occur. Better yet, if it comes down to giving yourself a monthly exam, keep your fingers on any changes! Be mindful of your body and proactive in getting a second opinion on things. If you think something is off, have it checked out! Sure, it might turn out to be nothing (and that’s great!!) but then again it might be something and catching it early can mean everything. Trust me. Educate yourself about what is normal for you so that you know when things seem off. 

My margins cleared so that was a good thing. I guess these are pretty common. I’m just a wee bit weary having gone through the whole shebang once already. Not really in a hurry to do it again! It’s kind of wild because both of these spots are were in places where I don’t really get any sun. There you have it! I’m really glad that I trusted my gut and went to have things checked out. Might have been one of the best things I’ve done for myself in a long time! 

its maddi and i STILL love your blog. yep. what 3 years what? xxxx asked by maddisonsocean

HAHAHA! Oh Maddi! I still love YOU! (Email coming soon). xoxo

Bad week

This has not been my best week. Emotionally, that is. Something happened on Monday that got things off to a bad start and I just never quite recovered from there. I wasn’t even going to write about it but now that it’s the end of the week and things haven’t gotten any better for me emotionally I guess I’ll just go ahead and get it all out.

Back when I was going through treatment and went to go see a genetic counselor to find out if I had either the BRCA1 or 2 gene I always carried a notebook around with me everywhere. I had so many medical appointments with so many new vocabulary words and terms I had never heard of that I had to write everything down because there was no way I was ever going to remember it later. Not too long ago I found one of those notebooks (there ended up being a few!) and began to flip through it. When I came across my notes from the genetic sessions I noticed that the counselor had said that the BRCA2 gene can predispose you to other types of cancer. One of them being skin cancer, and so it was best to keep an eye on any darkening or changing moles or freckles on my body and have them checked out. I’ve been watching what I guess was a freckle on the side of my left breast get steadily darker for awhile now so I figured it was best to be proactive and go in to have it looked at. Just to be safe. 

This past Monday I had an appointment to see a dermatologist uptown. Now, I have Medicaid so I had to look up who in NYC takes my insurance and tried to make a good decision from there. The person I found had so many rave reviews from patients online that I went ahead and made an appointment at their office. I went in Monday prepared to have the spots I was watching checked out. I ended up crying all the way home. But I digress…

When I first walked into the office I filled out the necessary new patient paper work (in which I am well versed by now) and waited my turn. There were hand drawn cards and notes adorning the walls of the waiting area thanking the doctor and telling the doctor how great they were. Good sign, I thought. Then the doctor came out. He sat in the waiting area talking to a youngish girl who was obviously a medical rep of some sort. He told her all about a “rich” client who was flying him overseas and how “rich” this person was and oh did he mention he was rich? When he was done he told me to follow him back to his office. 

Now, normally when someone in the medical profession is meeting me for the first time they either take a look at my case history or I fill them in on me having cancer and all that. This is usually the time when we pause and talk a little bit about what happened and me having the BRCA2 gene. All things that are good to know. Not this guy. I told him I had had breast cancer and that I had the BRCA2 gene and he said “so why are you here?”. Okay. I said that I had been advised to keep an eye on any spots on me because the BRCA2 gene predisposes you to… but I didn’t get to finish my sentence. “Nah! That’s not really true. I mean, not really” he said. Then he asked me where the area of concern was. I told him it was on the side of my breast. “Okay, show me.” Excuse me? I asked if there was a gown I could change into. Nope. “Just take off your top and show me. I don’t have x-ray eyes”. This was getting worse by the minute. So, I complied, trying to maintain a little bit of modesty all the while. He took a look at the spot and agreed that it did not look good. He then asked to see my legs and I said there was no need. He told me to go ahead and take my pants off so he could see and I declined. This was definitely not going well. 

He told me that we needed to get the spot that had brought me there off. Okay. When? Right then. Immediately. Ugh. I’m totally fine with needles and things like that but I usually need a moment to wrap my head around getting poked with something and having even a minor procedure. Not this guy. No time to think. No time for anything. He shot the area up with novocaine and scraped off the problem spot. This is when it got really bad. “You have the BRCA2 gene?” he asked. I told him that yes, I did. “You should just get a mastectomy. Cut them off.” What. The. Fuck. But that’s not the end of it. He then proceeded to tell me that I should just get implants and that hey, his ex-girlfriend had them “but then again she was a stripper. As a matter of fact my last two girlfriends were strippers.” Amazing. This was hands down the single worst doctors visit of my entire life. I told him that maybe he should chop his you-know-what off. You know, no big deal. He didn’t seem fazed at all. 

He told me to come back in a week to get the results. That would be this coming Monday. If the spot we removed is “evil” (his word) then we proceed from there. Let me be clear though. If the spot is indeed “evil” I will most certainly proceed from there but Mr. Jerkwad doctor will not be moving forward with me. I am NOT looking forward to going back for the results. Not because I am nervous at all but because I am still so upset about that visit and his complete LACK of ANY kind of bedside manner befitting someone in the medical profession. Ridiculous. 

There. Now I’ve vented and hopefully got it all out. I’ve been upset about this for a week. Now maybe I can let it go and move on. Jerk. 

Hi Everyone,

A friend of a friend has been missing since Saturday night. If any of you live in Brooklyn or here in the city let’s do our best to keep our eyes open for any chance that somebody might be able to find Jay. I know there are a lot of people who care about him who very much want to find him. It is such a scary thing to just go missing like that. If you have any information at all about Jay please contact the detective mentioned in this article. I really hope they find him and that he is okay. 

No makeup equals… what, exactly?

I was debating whether or not to write something about this whole “no makeup selfie for breast cancer awareness” thing that is happening. Obviously I chose to write something. My reason for doing so is twofold. First though, let me start off by saying that the good intentions of everyone involved in taking a picture of themselves without makeup has not been lost on me. I get what they are trying to do. And apparently a good deal of money has been raised. For what? I’m not sure? Research? Outreach? Education? I don’t think it’s any of those, but okay. 

These trends seem to pop up from time to time. They are always well intentioned. I get that. But what do they really do? The goal, supposedly, is to raise awareness of breast cancer. You’ve all heard me say this before but I’ll just go ahead and say it again. I’m pretty sure we are all aware that breast cancer exists. Heck, why stop there? Now I see there are guys posting pictures of themselves with socks on their *ahem* man bits to raise awareness for testicular cancer. Both very serious diseases, the seriousness of which gets kind of pushed to the side when you see a person with a sock on their you-know-what or a million selfies popping up all over the place. Do those things bring the focus to cancer? Do they make you think about cancer and the fact that it is an epidemic? Do they educate you? Or do they just make you laugh and think oh how funny? Cancer is not funny. Trust me. It’s not. 

The phrase “raise awareness” makes me weary. I inevitably sigh when I hear it and make a face that is probably not so nice. How about if with every selfie that people are posting they list some of the things you can do to check for cancer? Or how about they talk about knowing your body? Or your family history? Or anything?! Nine times out of ten I don’t see a single thing that is in any way informative when these “awareness” trends pop up. Education is the best weapon we have right now in dealing with this disease. Not going makeup free. And while I’m on the subject, what the heck is that all about any way? Is it supposed to be brave to post a picture of yourself with no makeup? What have we come to that we only present a version of ourselves that is made up or “perfect”? Almost every girl I know looks GORGEOUS without makeup. Once I met up with a friend for coffee and she apologized for not having any makeup on which caught me off guard, as did the fact that I had NO idea she had freckles on her face!! They were beautiful and so was she. I mean truly stunning without makeup. 

Sadly, I feel the only discussion that is being raised as a result of women and girls going makeup free is how people look without makeup. I’ve looked at some of the comments being left on various selfies popping up and it’s not a conversation about cancer, it’s a conversation that is reassuring the person who posted the picture that they still look great without makeup. That’s not the dialogue we need to have happening if the goal is truly to get people informed about how they can really stay on top of things. Let’s start a conversation about breast exams. Knowing our bodies so we can monitor any changes that might come up which could prove to be harmful. 

I think if there’s going to be a no makeup selfie trend happening it should be to “raise awareness” for how beautiful girls and women really are without a bunch of cosmetics piled on their faces. We are all so unique and special. It’s a shame to feel like you have to hide yourself in order to walk out the door. You’re beautiful just as you are! And as for raising awareness for breast cancer… how about we just focus on education? Real education and getting the word out about what you can do to stay on top of your health. Or how about posting selfies of yourself at a doctors office when you go for a checkup? Something that shows action! It’s going to take more than not wearing makeup to really make a difference. That is not to say that it’s not great to want to help out somehow, but the best way anyone can help is by getting the facts and taking action. We are all aware cancer exists. The question is: do you know what to do about it? 

Well whadda ya know? I added a wee link up top to all of the fun stuff I’ve been working on lately. Mainly my collage work but some other projects as well, including all of the plates and bowls that I hand painted for a restaurant here in town! Have a little looksie if you feel like it! Hope you’re all having a great day! 

Last time I checked on your blog your hair was just growing back. I remember you saying that it was coming in a different color and now I finally found your blog again and I see your hair is so long! I'm so glad you're doing well! asked by vitalumvitaliss

Well welcome back, vitalumvitaliss! So nice to hear from you! It seems crazy to think about the fact that I was bald, and then to think how short my hair was for awhile. I feel lucky in that my hair has grown back in just as thick as it was before. At first when it started growing back I had a MAJOR case of the chemo curls which were later said to resemble a “nana perm”, hahaha! The curls eventually loosened up and my kinda straight/kinda wavy hair came back. I gotta tell you… I couldn’t be happier. I know my hair isn’t that long, but it feels like the longest hair in the world to me! 

Thanks so much for saying hello! Hope you have a nice day! 

I don’t know about you but I could use a little musical interlude right about now. How about the Shadows of Knight? Sounds good to me! This one is good for shaking off things you can’t seem to shake on your own! 

The Bystander Effect

Today I had something pretty upsetting happen. In hindsight what I did might have proven to be stupid, if not fatal, but I did it and that’s that. I was on the subway headed to an appointment uptown. As usual, I was listening to music and trying to tune out the crazy around me. If you’ve ever been on a train in NYC you know that most of the time you just keep your eyes down and get on with things. There can be a lot of weirdos on the trains. Now, I was sitting at the very back of the car I was in. All of a sudden every single person on the train stampeded to the back. And I mean everyone. I could not figure out what was going on, only that everyone was panicked and trying to get away from something. I figured somebody had probably thrown up or something gross like that, so I took my earphones out to see what the commotion was all about. As it turned out, two guys, maybe in their twenties, were beating the every loving shit out of some kid. Well, he looked like he was maybe 18 or something. He looked young. I couldn’t believe it. I could hear the punches as they came down on this kid. Each one louder than the next and each one making everyone on the train gasp in horror. 

Before I realized what I was doing I stood up and said “isn’t anybody going to break this up?” No one responded. I guess this next part might have been pretty dumb but I was on some kind of weird auto-pilot. I pushed through the crowd of people and headed into the fight. I heard someone mutter “she’s going the wrong way” as I passed by them. I didn’t care. Somebody was hurt. Someone was attacking another human being, beating them senseless. The poor kids face was all bloodied from the attack. He looked like he was scared out of his mind. There were two guys beating him up but one was definitely the ringleader. He was mean and more angry than I have ever seen someone in my life. 

Everything happened very quickly. I started screaming “STOP IT!! STOP IT!!” at the top of my lungs but that didn’t work so I basically draped myself on the kid to keep him from getting punched or kicked any more. I just kept yelling “stop it stop it!” as the two other guys tried to come at him again. By some miracle, and I mean MIRACLE, this was all happening as we pulled up to the next train station. When I say it all happened fast I mean FAST. The doors opened and I literally dragged the kid by the arm out of the train and on to the platform. I told him to run for his life and go find a cop. He was crying and said that they guys were still coming after him so I stood on the platform and tried to cause a scene to scare the other two guys into staying on the train. 

The crazy thing is that people walked right by me and didn’t say a word. Not a single thing. They didn’t try to help the kid even when he was on the platform and trying to get away from the two bad guys. I felt strange, like I had done something wrong. Or like I was bad for causing a scene. I know that sounds weird. The train left the station with the two guys on it, and I stood on the platform in a daze as the next two trains pulled up and then departed. And then suddenly the strangest thing happened. I heard the most beautiful sound echoing around me. It was the sound of an opera. I looked around and there was a normal looking younger guy on the platform who had suddenly burst into song. He had the most incredible voice I had ever heard. I stared at him and listened to his song until the next train rolled in, and then I got on and sat quietly as it drifted along into the tunnel. 

Luckily my appointment uptown was with my therapist! It was really bizarre. I was fine until I got there and then I just started crying and crying and I couldn’t stop. I’m still crying now and I don’t really know why. I understand now that what I did could have ended badly. I could have been hit, stabbed, shot, or who knows what. I get it. And I that the knowledge or fear of what could happen is what made my fellow passengers freeze. I guess I should have thought it out a little bit more myself but I just did the first thing I could think of to stop it. I have never seen someone so angry before. I’ve never really even seen a fight like that up close. And not one that was SO aggressive. I truly believe that the one guy would have beaten that kid until he passed out. He was that angry. About what? I have no idea. 

I don’t know what the point of all of this is. This blog has just always been my safe place to vent about the things that go on in my life which seem out of my hands or over my head. I am not naive. I know there is cruelty in the world. It is just a terrible thing to witness firsthand. I hope, wherever that boy is, that he is alright. I hope he has some loving family to take care of him tonight and that he stays out of trouble. I hope the guys who beat him up can find a way to let go of that anger but I fear they will not. Most of all I hope wherever you all are that you are safe too, and that someone is looking out for you. 

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