Dammit, It’s Back.

I finished all my treatment, I went on with my life with renewed appreciation and perspective.

But now my life includes my new friend, Stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer. You can call her Cruella.


So the way I handle things

The way I handle difficult things is to embrace them as if they were a project or a show. I learn and examine every aspect.

Along with learning about my fancy new medicines and the limits of radiology and how to conserve/expend energy, I want to learn about death and dying, as well as how to assess and live my life.

Before you get mad at me, know that I think it’s not pessimistic to wonder about death. It’s curiosity. It’s okay to be curious.

Plus I have cancer so you can’t get mad at me without being a total dick.

The cure rate for breast cancer is 90%. That’s because people are catching it early.

I caught it early. I caught it the first time when it was a tiny lump. I caught it the second time when it was a mere speck on a petscan.

Yet my ambitious breast cancer (she’s not named Cruella for nothing) is galloping across me.

I finished radiation and have started two expensive and complicated pills that might help.

Loudon Wainwright wrote a song – “I’m not afraid of flying, I’m afraid of crashing. I’m not afraid of dying, I’m just afraid of bleeding.” Well, yeah.

So I wondered about death and transitions and souls. I talked to my friend Rav Hannah. She turned my questions around and asked, “What does your soul need from your body while it’s alive? Some people choose things like singing, painting, touching or planting.”

I purely love that. I choose them all.

I’m endlessly irritated that my hair is falling out again. It only JUST grew back.

It was fun to have hair though, for even a little while. Trade hair for life? (It’s actually a choice that made me pause for a minute, but ultimately I’m not that shallow.)

And I still have Charmane, my trusty wig.

Enough of all this.

Let’s watch a video.

Click on the little me at the Audubon Zoo.

I chaired a volunteer Race for the Cure committee for about 10 years in the 1990s and 2000s with some of the most extraordinary women I’ve ever known. During that time, I estimate we raised over $35 million for breast cancer research, education and care. The survival rate went from 25% to 75%. In 2024 it is 90%.

A cancer diagnosis makes you ponder the meaning of your life in a deeper way than usual. Have I ever done anything that made a difference in the world? Maybe… This Race volunteer work is as close as I’m likely to come. I chaired the Closing Ceremonies Committee and my part was to give voice to the 65,000 people who came out to run, to cheer, to mourn, to celebrate life, and to feel part of a community. For many – for most – it was a unique moment where emotions are bursting out of your heart yet each person had a different reason, a different history and future.

I used words and music, balloons and white doves, and somehow I managed to hit that note that acknowledges fear and grief for only a moment and celebrates life and survivorship to its full extent.

So if I have to have cancer, breast cancer is the one that feels like an old friend as much as an enemy…