Kicked in the butt by perspective

Getting a swift perspective change is like stepping on a rake. Somehow, despite the fact that my “jour-ney” is almost over, we are still overwhelmed. Then, we went to two cancer-related events. Seeing tiny kids with bald heads like mine forces all of the air out of my chest at a frightening speed. Seeing other women going through worse has the same effect. But yet there were a lot of smiles at the Cancer Celebration at the Rose Garden. I have to keep thinking: Eight weeks and radiation is over. Eight weeks and I’m planning on being healthy and done with Weird Cancer Guy. Eight weeks, and maybe I will move away from my “cancer” identity and into a job title. That’s what I’m going with anyway.


1- Celebrating friends is such a recharger. Check out my bud Steve getting a drink named after him (It’s called “The Reverend” because Steve Sharp officiates weddings and just plain rocks it.) at Savoy Tavern. Shonda and Maria joined me down there where we all had a rabid love affair with fried cheese curds. I loved “The Reverend,” which comes with a fiery orange slice. But I have to say, my body does not like alcohol anymore. It’s all like, Toxic. Hel-lo. Maybe I filled my quota already. Anyway, I really want something chocolate named after me – like Choco Lush. Wait, that sounds like a sex toy. Nevermind.

2- Overheard in the Sturkie kitchen: A conversation between Livvie and her friend Ella B.

E: “I really want a pet.”

L: “You can adopt a frog (on some weird online animal game they play).”

E: “Oh, I’m sorry. I thought we were talking about the real world.”

How many times is that going to happen with this generation? I want to give all the Minecraft kids a stack of wood and some nails. NOW build something, yo.

3- Steven’s still not doing so great with mono. He’s home sick again. But Brian and I sat out on the porch with him on Friday and had lunch. We also made up our own language that involves annoying clicking sounds. That made him laugh. I’ll do anything to make him laugh. Now the dog is sick, too. So I’m fielding two sets of medication schedules.

The boob shop and other miracles

Back in November when I found out about Weird Cancer Guy, I thought the possibility of fake boobs was a serious positive. That was before I realized surgery was involved. Plenty of people OPT to get fake boobs. But once we met with the plastic surgeon today and heard the whole run down, I was a little less enthused. This is going to hurt. After everything he said, I responded in my head: “Yeah, but it’s not chemo.” Brian sat quietly listening. The appointment wasn’t at all what I thought it would be.

Brian, I think, was imagining stacks of magazines featuring different cup sizes. Or perhaps actual “lingerie models.” Instead of bringing Esquire to the exam, he brought in a Porsche magazine. “I’m not getting airbags, if that’s what you’re thinking,” I said. “Or a convertible top, weirdo.” There were no bins of different-size water balloons for me to consider either. But the surgeon did hand us two different implants, which were kind of like heavier water balloons that would give you a black eye at high speeds. He explained they can get punctured. Well, there goes my dream of swimming with swordfish.

We talked about the process, which involves putting a thing called an “expander” behind your muscle wall. I envisioned an Edward Scissorhands contraption, but it’s actually like a rubbery change purse. Every week, they inject saline into it to make your muscle expand and create a breast. Then, you do another surgery where they switcharoo the expander for an implant. The “cherry on top” is the nipple. I choose to bar the possibility of high beams for life and go with a tattoo instead of a constructed nipple. Now how does that work? Jackie with an E imagines that some dude from the Sons of Anarchy bumps the surgeon out of the way and gets busy burning a 3D nipple on. The doctor said there are more clinical tattoo artists not located in a Hawthorne alley. Whew.

Once we landed on a plan (reconstruction during the mastectomy surgery plus implants), the exam began. Measurements were taken and a mug shots of my boobs. “Turn to the left.” “Turn to the right.” That was it. We went home. The sun was out, so I collapsed on a Power Puff Girls blanket on the driveway with the dog and thought about new boobs.

Nothing like sunbathing in the ‘hood – on a cracked driveway.
Look at that view. Stunning.


1- The best thing the surgeon said: “You don’t have enough fat around your stomach to make even one boob.” That’s the closest I’ve ever felt to super model.

2- The Oregonian interviewed me today for a feature story on what to say to your kids when you’re dealing with cancer. It will appear in this coming Monday’s paper. Just talking about how my kids have conducted themselves through this makes me incredibly proud.

3- Before today, I had not realized that getting a full mastectomy is like an insurance policy. It gives me the best chances of not getting a recurrence of breast cancer and staying with my family longer.


It’s Dalai Mama

ImageToday not as good as yesterday. But I got to go to my friend Karen’s house and wrap myself up in her red blanket. Coincidentally, the Dalai Lama is coming to Portland soon. And without even trying, I’ve captured the look! Nothing against the Dalai Lama, but I can’t wait to look like myself again. I’ll never whine about a bad hair day again.

Tomorrow is plastic surgery day. No idea how this will go, but I’m pretty sure Brian is envisioning being invited to “shop” boob sizes from stacks of Sports Illustrated swimsuit issues and Victoria’s Secret catalogues. I’m envisioning rifling through a plastic bin full of water balloons. Now that the reality of surgery and reconstruction is here, I’m not as excited. It’s sad getting a big part of your body lobbed off. I worked hard for these boobs, starting with Judy Blume’s “We must, we must, we must increase our bust!” Then, there were multiple training bra stuffings in sixth grade. Having two kids netted two cup sizes bigger. I was just starting to like these boobs. Bummer. 


1- Steven’s team won their last game today, which is pretty rad considering they lost most of the games over the season. His team played hard and deserved another great win.

2- Loy and Sharon just stopped by with some groceries. Thanks, guys!

3- Our super-cool neighbor Sarah brought over a HUGE Mason Jar full of fresh tomato-ginger soup and a pitcher of apple-beet juice from her juicer. My body’s teeming with toxins. Even my molecules are excited about fresh-made soup and juice.


Mahalo in tropical SE Portland









Nothing says Aloha like moss-choked Portland…until now. In my obsession with Hawaii, my friends are making it happen! Kate brought over a mango, pineapple, papaya, plant and retro card. Then, Lisa shows up with Hawaiian dish towels and earrings. Aloha, yo! It’s like being there. We’re going to get there somehow. Thanks Kate and Lisa for jumpstarting my fantasy of healing the whole family in Hawaii. Feeling slightly better today. I took the dog for a walk, and she moved really slow for me. Still feel dizzy and found out that I’ve got chemo-induced “fake” menopause. That’s what the hot flashes are about. This party just keeps rocking. 


1- When I woke up from a sleeping-pill induced night, a white paper bag sat next to my face. Oh no, did I eat take out in bed…again? Nope, Livvie had drawn “I love you, Mom” on it and left it in bed with me. Best girl ever.

2- Best quote I’ve heard in a long time: “Now I know what Yoda looks like eating chocolate,” said my hysterically funny friend Molly. She was referring to me nibbling on a piece of chocolate with two squirrel-like hands, a robe and Yoda bald head.

3- The kids overheard us talking about the mastectomy and reconstruction. Boy are they confused. Especially Steven. Why would anyone want fake boobs? he said. Uh, Pamela Anderson. Speak up any time.