Tag Archives: menopause

another reason why i love you

Alice, my best friend of yore, sent me this.

“I thought you’d either find it hilarious…or be really offended.”


“The lady at the post office asked if I was sending it to my mom. She thought she was in on the joke.”

Not many people are in on the joke.

Thanks, Alice.

[This is the girl who, when I told her they were gonna cut my tit off, suggested she could make one for me out of a chicken cutlet.]

I’m going to take it to work…and confuse people. The mug, of course, not the cutlet-tit.

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“Sexy Mastectomy”

If I know you, I don’t really care if you read my blog. I mean, please do feel free, but you’re not the reason I write it.

I write for other women with cancer.

And they’re all strangers, because I realized — I don’t know anyone else with cancer.

So I’m always interested to see what search terms lead people here. That’s how I realized a network of breast cancer bloggers existed, and I wasn’t as alone as I felt–by googling things like “latissimus dorsi reconstruction” or “mastectomy and feminism.”

Recently, I noticed somebody found me by searching for “sexy mastectomy.” I still wonder what, exactly, they were hoping to find.

Every breast cancer support book and site I’ve seen offers some half-assed Sex and Intimacy section, and all of it is absurd. One of the very first pamphlets I was handed–on “Young Women and Breast Cancer,” which enraged me because all of the photos were of 40-year-olds, no one who still gets ID’ed buying beer–offered lukewarm suggestions to spice up your chemo-fied sex life, like stripteasing with your headscarf: “Think of it as the dance of the seven veils.”

Or they give up on it altogether, and offer juicy alternatives, such as “join a book club.”  

Now, the Booker shortlist is thrilling, but I’d take getting laid any day of the week.

 People love to ask how you found your lump. And here it is: Continue reading


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And by ‘anxiety,’ we mean ‘expense.’

In case you missed the controversy sparked yesterday by the “government task force” (can anything sound more Orwellian? who are these people?) over new mammography guidelines, and let’s be honest, I doubt you did: women should start having mammograms at 50, not 40,  and every other year, to reduce ‘anxiety.’ Because the aforementioned anxiety, the possibility of ‘unnecessary biopsies’ &c., for the majority who will not be diagnosed with cancer outweighs the inconvenience of death for the few people who will.

Now, I too can dig my John Stuart Mill, but that sounds like some crazy utilitarian bullshit to me.

 And oh, also, breast self-exams are useless and should not be encouraged.

The age debate got me thinking about the mammograms I had done of my left breast, the ones with USLs: unidentified suspicious lesions (still unidentified and suspicious as of this posting). When I handed my file, with an oncologist-ordered mammogram, over to the lady behind the desk of the breast screening department at Charing Cross, she said:

“You can’t have a mammogram because you’re under thirty-five.”

And I stared at her, bald and incredulous. And I wanted to say:

“Can you apply that logic to the cancer in there?”

Three times in the past couple of weeks I have been asked my age, and each time I hesitated. I honestly couldn’t say. Saying “twenty-five” seemed absurd. Because whatever it is you associate with being twenty-five–like having the rest of your life ahead of you, when “the rest of your life” is something long and non-hypothetical–that’s not what I am.

I remember discussing immortality in sixth grade. The teacher asked us, a group of 12-year-olds, what would be the perfect age to spend eternity as.

For some reason, the class consensus was 25.

I wonder what seemed so magical about it. Myself, I’d chosen 10. Maybe even then I had a premonition. Or maybe I was just a strange, precocious pubescent, already nostalgic for my youth.

Something else that is strange. During my last checkup, the nurse asked about my Tamoxifen side effects in near baby-talk: “Are you having little hot flashes or anything?”

I’m tired of having my cancer cute-ified because of my age. I’m terrified by what the chemotherapy and the Tamoxifen have done to my body. I hate that I’ve gone through menopause in my twenties. I hate that I haven’t had a period since July, maybe earlier. I’m worried that I’ll never have one again.

 And there’s nothing “little” about my flashes, lady.

Re: mammograms, The American Cancer Society and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists are sticking to the earlier recommendation of 40.

Guess they’re not part of the Force.  

(YSC’s response here)

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external shows

The other night we felt like slumming it and went to pick up Dominos in Didcot, where we saw the typical weekend chav-rabble cluttering the pavement outside, queuing up for pizzas and fish and chips. Obese. Smoking. Pregnant.

And I wanted to say, excuse me, it appears as if you’ve chosen not to use your god-given bodies for anything but destruction. Mind if we trade? You may as well take this one; it’s trashed with cancer anyway.

Anecdote: one of my hospital roommates (of whom more tales to come) was in for a hernia operation. From the other side of the curtain, I heard the surgeon explain to her that they had had to pull her stomach out of her chest.

Pull her STOMACH out of her CHEST.

“Uggh,” she said several times that day. “I feel like I’ve been pulled backwards through a hedge.”

The figurative language, I found, was insubstantial. Surely in such an instance it is more striking to speak literally: I feel like I’ve had my stomach pulled out of my chest.

So this is what I mean now when I say I dread the question “How do you feel?” Continue reading

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