Your Smiles Make Me Smile

If you really want to get the most out of my blog, it's best to start with the first post written in July to the present since some blogs refer back to earlier posts; but any order is just fine... Thanks for visiting! Now scroll on down to the good news! ~Renae~

Sunday, February 26, 2012


Posing for the National Enquirer
 "Cut it before you lose it."  That's just one piece of advice given to (pre)chemo patients before their hair falls out.  Apparently, there is nothing worse than seeing long chunks of hair fall out of your own head knowing you are going to go bald.  So, if you cut it short, at least you get short chunks instead of long chunks.  And so, I cut it.

I reluctantly picked up the phone and called the one person I trust dearly with my hair.  I'd like to think that even though I've seen her only once every five months for the past year (that would be twice) when I've realized my hair has grown into horse hair, an unGodly site on a 50 year old, that she remembers me for my personality. Actually, I'm pretty sure that's not the case. I would in fact bet money that the first time I had her making these artistic movie star layers while I provided numerous pictures of models and celebrities, from Kim Kardashian to Eva Longoria for a $16.00 haircut at Supercuts, that it wasn't my charming personality she remembered me for.  But she did such a great job of making me think I looked beautiful, if only for a moment, that I thought the paparazzi might actually be waiting outside, wanting to show the world on the front of the National Enquirer my celebrity status..."Depressed and Bankrupt Renae, Spotted At Dublin Supercuts! See pg. 5 for photos." I ever going to be on the front of the National Enquirer?? Please God, even for my cellulite, just once in my life.  My avid followers know how I long for the day where I am somebody enough that I make the trashiest of tabloids.  That, is when you know you've really made it.......... big time.
Posing Again for the National Enquirer
But on that particular day, no one was there but myself to admire the best haircut ever from a walk-in $16.00 experience. In appreciation of her skill and tolerance, I tipped her.  In fact, I tipped her quite well. Not that I'm a math brain or anything, but a $20 tip is by my calculations 125%. That was over six months ago.  Sadly, I think that's why she remembers me, if not for my expectation that she could make me look as stunning as a celebrity with a five minute haircut, but at least she knows I'm not cheap; and in my book, that's a good thing. Cheap haircut, good tipper, and all is right with the world.

So last week, in preparation of what was supposed to be my first treatment prior to getting broadsided with bronchitis, I called her up.  "Hi, you probably don't remember me, but you cut my hair a while back.  I'm Renae." I said.  "Of course I remember you!" She responded enthusiastically.  I didn't believe her.  Then she said "How's the roommate working out?"  Like, okay, she either has a photographic memory, or a little card under "R" that says "Ask Renae how the roommate is working out."  Seriously, I can't remember someone I met a week ago, much less six months ago.

"This is the thing..." I said.  "I'm going to lose my hair to chemo, so I need you to chop it off shoulder length.  I don't want to be pulling out big ol' chunks."  I mean, what if I'm at the library and I hand a kid a book, and a two inch chunk of long hair gets tangled up with the book?  That could actually happen you know.  That's enough to leave a child running and screaming into their mother's arms while I stand in disbelief while sporting a big bald patch.  I can't allow that to happen, and certainly not to a child.  Although, that's not my worst fear.  My worst fear is standing on my tippie toes while reaching to the top shelf for a book with my head tilted backwards and "thunk" the wig falls off exposing my bald front of the few kids I've kicked out of the library.  That would be the true depths of Karma hell.  Obviously, I've put a lot of thought into this. Maybe that's why two of my specialists referred me to a psychiatrist. Really, they did.

And favorite hairdresser ever squeezed me in just before 9:00 p.m. when the shop was almost empty, just in case on the off-chance I started crying or having a full on meltdown.  Not that I've ever cried or had a melt down, but just in case.  I am proud to say, that I did neither.  Not only was I a warrior on a mission, but this time, I gave her only one celebrity picture and was in full acceptance of reality that there were going to be no paparazzi waiting for me upon my exit, no cameras, no National Enquirer (~sniff sniff~).

This time I even gave her free reign. "Don't worry, I'm going to lose it all in three weeks anyway, just give it a quick cut. I don't care how it looks."  Okay I did a little, but not really.  She cut it off.  I thanked her profusely and handed her a $10 tip (which is still more than 50%) and hoped she would remember me again the next time I call.  Somewhere deep inside, I would like to think that she really does remember me for my personality, and on a good day I even think, "Well dangit, maybe she does."

I look in the mirror, and I don't really look like myself with short hair, but it's not so bad.  I know I'm still me.  When I picked up Richard from the airport last night, he even said he really really liked it, and he emphasized the "really."  Which is another reason why I love my Richard so much; because he loves me with long hair or short hair, and I dare to believe he'll even love me when my hair falls out.  I really am such a lucky girl.  And you know what? After chemo....

Hair grows back....
Pre-Chemo Haircut - That's Me!
Sweet Dreams and Always GOOD Dreams,

Friday, February 24, 2012


"I dedicate this post to my new friend Jenn, because she trusts a stranger to hold hands with on an unwelcome journey, and because she loves Madonna and life's frivolities, just as much as I do." ~Renae~

I cough into my pillow at night to muffle the unGodly hacking sounds, and so the cold air doesn't pierce my lungs with every inward breath.  I try to focus on my breathing alone, that I am still breathing. Somehow, I find comfort in that.

Ten pounds down since my diagnosis and forcing myself to eat because my appetite hasn't been the same.  I'm the girl that other women want to hate, unless they knew what was really going on.  I know this, I'm a girl. I've secretly thought during healthy times "Ooohhh maybe if I got sick I'd lose some weight."  We are just brainwashed. It's a horrible thought, but we think it anyway.  And now I am sick, and now I have lost weight, and being thin is overrated.  I am miserable. I would give anything to have my health and a few extra pounds; the energy to make myself exercise so I could lose that "excess" weight.  It is so true that every time you get something, you have to give something else up.  Of course, my friends are too busy wishing they could drop ten pounds to notice that my face looks gaunt, the wrinkles are more apparent, my eyes have lost their shine unless I am teared up; or maybe they are just too kind to say anything. But I hear my mother's worried voice  in my head saying "Oh honey, you look so gaunt, and I can see it in your eyes that you are sick."  I wish she was here to make me tea and see past the skinny jeans to know how I really feel.  My health has taken it's toll and she is the only person to really notice.

I want my life back. I want to make plans with the blissful ignorance of forgetting to weigh illness into the plan equation. I mean seriously? I didn't even plan for the possibility of getting sick just before getting sick so I could get well.  Are you confused yet? Think about it.  I was supposed to start chemo. on Wednesday, which would make me sick.  But I would get sick from chemo, so I could optimize my chances of being well. Then I got sick which meant I couldn't begin my treatments. I didn't calculate getting bronchitis, or any other illness into the treatment plan. That is what I call blissful ignorance.

So how is it that we mortals, susceptible to a zillion different germs daily, forget to calculate illness into our plans? Like, I wonder if women who give birth to those 14 pound babies ever think about the pain the next time they have sex or go into that "Oh honey, let's have another baby" mode.  The female dinosaurs must have been so much smarter than us.  In fact, I bet after childbirth they told their mates "Oh hell no, find yourself a virgin, I'm not getting pregnant again!" Hence the extinction of dinosaurs. Smart women they were.

So I'm wondering while I'm laying in my bed coughing now for seven straight days, missing work, frustrated, bored, and restless...did I really think I could go through the stress of breast cancer and not get sick?  I was ready to take on chemo last Wednesday like a champ.  I even cleaned my toilet so it would be puke worthy. In fact, I cleaned the whole bathroom just because under the circumstances I may be spending more time in there than I anticipate.  I was ready, like a boxer jumping up and down with my boxing gloves on, adrenaline flowing, ready to go into the ring; ready to kick any living cancer cells from here to hell and then.....BAM! The sore throat came.

The great thing is, I'm sitting here in bed, looking out the window with Richard's cat, listening to the birds of spring chirp, watching the greenest of weeds in the back yard take hold and a few butterflies flutter by my window.  I'm thinking about the day I will have the energy to take care of the weeds, and paint that back fence before the heat of the summer sun takes its toll.  I don't plan on being sick when I make my plans, I only imagine the satisfaction of finished projects.  In fact, I wonder if this chapter will one day be a memory that only occasionally pops its head out to remind me of how lucky I am to have my health and then, I'll smile and go back to sweating while I pull weeds and paint the fence, while I'm making other plans.

Blissful ignorance.  How I long for that day.

Sweet Dreams and Always GOOD Dreams

Saturday, February 18, 2012


In my fantasy of me, I live in a very clean house.  I did in fact take pride in my cleaning skills, prior to kids and dogs and cats and cancer….that was back in, 1989.  I had a special toothbrush for cleaning any stain that appeared in the carpet. The perfumes were aligned from tallest to shortest, with proud perfection, and you could drink water out of my toilet bowl. Okay I’m exaggerating, because that’s downright disgusting, but if you were seriously dying of thirst or needed to throw up, the toilet was always clean for the taking.

Some call it OCD, but I call it crazy. Clean houses are overrated, unless you have company coming to visit, only then should you make it a priority; that is if you actually care about the company.  If you don’t, don’t clean. They'll know where they stand without your saying a word.

Since Lillian sleeps with me with her head on the pillow doing her dog snore chasing squirrels routine, (sometimes I roll over and mistake her for Richard), I do change my sheets a lot; that I will admit. There is nothing quite like the smell of clean sheets.  Just thinking about it makes me want to crawl into bed. Ha, like I need a reason.

Oh and I like my kitchen clean, at least the counter tops. Real germs freak me out.  So, why is it that people feed their cats on their kitchen counters?????  People.  Do you know where their feet have been? Double gross.

Other than that and gross germy stuff, my only cleaning guilt is that I don’t clean my toilet regularly.  I mean to, I know I should, I truly think about it even though I’m not going to catch anything from myself, but I simply hate cleaning the toilet.  I will pull weeds on a cold rainy day during an earthquake before I'll clean the toilet. You know all those little nooks and crannies around and in back of the outside of the toilet bowl? Those are time consuming, and if you want to clean a toilet right you need at least forty minutes to do it.  So I procrastinate.  I put it off until I hear the voice of my deceased grandmother haunting me with a vision of her disappointment that I didn’t inherit “the cleaning gene” and the thought of what she might say while shaking her head (!Ayyyeeeeee que Cochina!), and the guilt prevails and only then do I clean the dang toilet.  Guilt in fact, up until a few days ago, was my only motivating factor.

But two days ago, I was sitting before the onco-neurologist who without my knowledge was testing my brain function. I swear I didn’t know she had started “the test.”  I actually didn't even know there was going to be a brain function test.

“What’s your name?” she asked.  How could she not know which patient she was seeing?  Doesn't she have my chart??  I gave her the benefit of a busy day, and told her my name.  Then she looked at me seriously and asked “Where are you?”  “HUH?” I responded.  “Wh…eerree…” she asked again, ever so slowly.  “Um” I thought.  "...doesn’t she know where we’re at? What’s wrong with her?"  “I’m at....Stanford???”, I sort of said with that questionable unsureness that only a confused girl would ask.  She didn't respond, but proceeded to ask me today's date.  I couldn't remember. That's how it goes when you are going through treatment, and my real treatment hasn't even begun.  You just get overwhelmed with so many doctor's appointments, responsibilities you have to take care of prior and during your treatments, and then trying to live your life know, the bills, the cleaning (I threw that in for effect), the job, the groceries, the pets...I mean really, we are all tired.  Does anyone remember the date anymore?? And then I realized, she knew the answers! She was testing my brain function!  Okay, I admit, I felt stupid. Really, seriously stupid.  I wanted to say “Wait! Start over! I know all the answers! I'm really really really, I am!”  But it was too late, she was on to smacking my thighs and feet with a metal tool that vibrated when it got to my toes while I held back the ticklish feet giggles.  Unfortunately, my left foot wasn't responding appropriately.

Apparently, the bad news is, I may have inherited my dad’s peripheral neuropathy gene, which means, I can’t have the latest and greatest chemotherapy regimen which can cause neuropathy or exacerbate a pre-existing condition (I really wish she would have asked me something intellectual or the definition of, let's say...elyeemosynary, which I could have smugly responded with "Oh, that's legal ease for a charitable contribution").  But no such luck.

So.....when the sun comes up early Wednesday morning and I start my first round of chemo, we are going for Plan B.  Plan A didn’t have the other intense side effects, and so, Plan B will bypass the neuropathy issue, but cause, as my doctors say politely “insult to my immune system.”  That is code for "Be prepared to puke."  Which is how all this toilet cleaning business started.  There is nothing worse than puking in dirty toilet.

And so, I am motivated. I am determined to make the most of this and I will clean my toilet with such pride that even Howie Mandell would sit on it with a sense of germless comfort that all is right with the world. 

After all, if I am going to have to have a relationship with my toilet bowl, then it might as well be a good one, and that, my friends - is the good news.

Sweet Dreams And Always GOOD Dreams,

Monday, February 13, 2012


"Reeennnnaaaeeee! Time for your Shot!"
That’s what my mother used to shout while I ran wildly disheveled through our dirt road neighborhood, in the days before screaming for your kid to come home out the front door became a semblance of uncivilized.  Most of the time while I was crawling through dirt tunnels in the side of the hill with mud the size of golf balls stuck in my full length hair, I would hear my mother’s voice “Time for your lunch!” and I would come running.  Only illness struck and I was shuffled off to the nuns at Providence Hospital and stuck in quarantine while I was poked, prodded, x-rayed, and had tubes put up my nose and down my throat so they could take samples of whatever it was they were looking for.  I had tuberculosis; an active case, which was rare, or unheard of in Anchorage in the 1960’s.  My parents fought tooth and nail to save my life, when they couldn’t be assured that I would live.  I wasn’t scared, but they were. 

Unlike most cases, mine uncharacteristically traveled from the lungs into my bloodstream and landed smack dab in my spine.   Of course, I’m sure that’s why every person I ever had contact with prior to that time was doing the River Dance when they learned that they too had to be tested for TB, from Alaska all the way to California.  That six year old version of me put everyone in a state of turmoil. And for the record, I did run wild through the streets of my neighborhood in the 1960’s, under the close supervision of my big brother, hence the dirt tunnels instead of Barbies.

There was no shock to me, except when I had to spend two weeks alone in a hospital room where only my parents could visit, fully clothed and masked, for one hour a day.  That’s when I learned to tell time.  I named the only doll I could have in the room “Alan,” after my brother, although I’m sure the doll was burned after my release.  I always wondered why I couldn’t take my Alan home.  Because the tuberculosis was not pulmonary (or contagious), I was sent home with my parents who received a crash course in administering what I later learned to be chemotherapy.  Little did I understand then, the immense pain a parent will take for the love of their children. 
After the doctors found a concoction of 16 pills a day to replace the shots, I was left black and blue from butt to thigh.  Honestly, I didn’t care, I just bit the pillow, counted to 25, and waited impatiently for my parents to finish the shot so I could go back out and play.  I was innocent to the fact that my parents were falling apart through the hardship and fear imposed on them by my illness. 

I can still see my mom, hands trembling, turning the bottle upside down while drawing the medication through the syringe; pushing out any air through the needle for fear of it getting into my veins, while one day under the pressure, she burst into tears and my dad had to take over.

Speaking of my dad, he was either a genius, or really, really dumb.  In the end, to my fortune, he was a genius.  The medical bills were far too outrageous for a couple, barely into their 30’s to handle, so they applied for assistance through the TB Association, who was recommended by my ever so handsome, Dr. Peterson. At six, I knew handsome when I saw handsome.  But back to the point.  The TB Association agreed to pay everything, with one stipulation; that my parents sign their rights away to my treatment.  My fearful and innocent parents sat in a conference room in front of a Board who held my life in their hands.  But my dad, being bad ass, not only said “No,” he said “HELL No” and my parents walked out.  I was not about to be anybody’s guinea pig or clinical trial girl without his consent.  At that, the TB Association came back and agreed to full payment, no stipulations. Let’s just say that from thereon out, my parents gave back generously over the years while singing the praises of the Tuberculosis Association to all who would listen.

On that note, we do what we do as crazy as it may seem, because we love our children, if for no other reason.  We don't need another reason.

Did I ever mention that I had the police break up a party of hundreds of pubescent teenagers who came running out of a house like cockroaches, while I ran into the crowd screaming my daughter’s name? No I probably didn’t, but that’s what love does.  It makes us run into the fire, not away from it. It makes us crazy. 

And so, against the odds of my cancer having made it through my bloodstream like the TB did years ago, in contrast to the absolute necessity of taking four cycles of poison that could have lasting effects on my quality of life, and regardless of my oncologist’s recommendations that it was only an option, I chose the chemo.  Before I changed from my little hospital gown that magically turns me into a submissive child (not that I ever was), I added one final statement before resting my case; “There is one aspect that science does not take into consideration, and that’s the psychological aspect of a patient’s decision. I never want to look into my daughters’ fearful eyes and have to say ‘I’m sorry, I should have tried the chemo.’.”  That’s how much I love them.

The good news is, I’ll be sitting in a comfy chair with my feet up, my own little flat screen t.v., a laptop, a good book, and my cell phone, instead of biting a pillow after my mother shouts to the neighborhood in a most uncivilized fashion, "Renae! Time for Your Shot!”  My how times have changed.

Sweet Dreams and Always GOOD Dreams,

Thursday, February 9, 2012


So in my infinite naivety, I thought that cancer was an absolute science.  Stage 1, Stage 2, Stage 3, Stage 4.  Did you know there is a Stage 0? I sure didn’t.  The answer to the only question most of us know “What stage are you in?” is the most perplexing question posed to me, other than “Why didn’t you just have a mastectomy?” How does one explain the layers of questions and answers fraught with imperfection, medical research, and psychological aspects that get weighed into our decisions regarding cancer treatment, or any other treatment for that matter? 

I’ve decided I need to hire my own staff just to field questions that exhaust me, even when I pose them to myself, at 4:00 a.m. when I am cursing my brain for not shutting down.  I can see it now, me, in cuddly flannels, snoozing on a floating cloud like a new born baby at wee hours of the  morning, while a staff of spokespersons surround the cloud with microphones in hand, fielding the  hundreds of questions by mobs that doubt my decisions or question my sanity. In my vision, I am there, thumb in mouth, rocking on a wispy cloud, blissfully snoring like a lovable cartoon character.  

In reality, the cloud bursts, I fall through, and the questions are storming any vision of peace I may have hoped for, if only in my own mind, while I shake myself off, pull myself up by the bootstraps, and am left dizzy and confused. That’s cancer.

Stage 1 can mean at least 50 different things.  How do I tell you, I’m a Stage 1, at the far end of Stage 1, with a lymphovascular invasion that was excised but could have still caused malignant cells to slip into my bloodstream? I simply can’t. 

So as a society, we go about our business and we rest assured when our friends or family are an early Stage. That is the comfort zone that science brings to all of us; a sense of….relief from a truth that most of us don’t really need to know, or even want to know.  Because, life as we all know must go on, no matter what pain and disease, fears and illnesses permeate the lives of our loved ones.  But I will share with you a harsh truth.  Stage 1 can kill you in the end, and Stage 4 that is known to kill you can potentially outlive a Stage 1 patient by 20 years, if they have a metastatic recurrence.  That’s cancer. 

Cancer is me, being told yesterday by my oncologist, “Your numbers for distant recurrence (i.e. metastasis) are very very low! That’s great news!” While I hold back the tears and scream in my head, “Low! Five to fifteen percent recurrence is low??”  I would wager to bet if we looked at statistics of our heroes who have been deployed into Iraq and Afghanistan that show the possibility of mortality as 5-15% as being low, (I truly don’t know the numbers), that you ask any parent if there was a 1% chance their child could die in combat if that would be low enough for them….and I guarantee that no parent in their right mind will shrug that 1% off as no big deal.  So you give me a 5-15% chance of possible metastatic recurrence and I’m sure and blazing fires of hell not going to jump for joy.  Then again, the doctors see so much worse, truly. They see people with no hope in site and so, on that note, I am humbled, yet....I am selfish. I want a 0% recurrence rate.  That simply doesn’t happen when it’s cancer.  No sirreeebob.  No 0%.  That's cancer.

As luck would have it, my line in the sand was anything under the number eleven (out of 1-100).  Eleven is not the percentage, just a number that I will have my spokespersons explain when I hire one. Eleven and above was the decision in my mind to take the chemo, even though many with an eleven could have opted out.  For those that have lived through the wildest roller coaster ride ever created which cannot be outdone or even simulated by the Gods of Magic Mountain, eleven is the number of my Oncotype DX score.  For those that don’t know what that is "Onco WHAT?", that's perfectly okay.  In my book of abbreviations, that’s T.M.I.

Just know, there I was, on my almost two hour drive in bumper-to-bumper traffic to Stanford, and I said “eleven” that’s my line in the sand.  Then I said (to myself, not out loud), "Just watch it be an eleven…I bet money it’s going to be an eleven just to mess a little more with my head. That would be just my luck."  For those that don't know, gray areas and sitting on a fence with your pants down, sucks. There is no nice way to say it.

I sat in my little backless gown with my red Superman underwear, which I only wear to doctor appointments and while flying, and the nurse said “Congratulations! Great News! You have a very low Oncotype DX score!”  I didn’t get excited.  I sat there for a second, not wanting to know the answer to my next question.  I sucked in my breath, I let it out.  I looked down at my fingers.  I looked at my unpolished boots, wishing I had polished them before wearing them to my appointment. I looked at my  unpainted chipped fingernails from shelving too many library books, and then I looked up. Slowly, oh so very slowly I asked the question that I did not really want the answer to.   “What’s the number?”

"It's an eleven." She said.

Chemo starts in two weeks.  This is cancer, after all.

Sweet Dreams and Always GOOD Dreams,

Wednesday, February 1, 2012



What you are about to see is nothing.  It is, in fact, only the tip of the iceberg (pardon the pun).  I have written many serious articles about breast cancer, and mixed them up with stories of reindeer humping and dog massages, because life doesn’t always have to be heavy, after all.  But today I am back to…take a guess….breast cancer.  Can everyone say BREAST CANCER?? Makes ya squirm a little doesn’t it?

But no worries, it is not really real, you won’t get it; only other people get it.  Okay, I lie.  Anyone can get it, and until it happens to you, or your wife, or sister or mother or cousin or best friend….it is nothing more than a pretty pink ribbon used to make money by corporations like Kentucky Fried Chicken.  Don’t worry, greasy chicken doesn’t cause cancer, only heart attacks; although the stress hormones the chickens produce while being encapsulated in inhumane cages may be passed on to us once we consume the product, which could in fact cause cancer.  Nah, I’m kidding. That’s a dang hippie liberal talking.  Oh wait, I am a dang hippie liberal.  One with breast cancer.  But I digress, I still eat chicken.  Only I'd be more drawn to eating a pinkwashed* chicken. 

Am I scared? You bet I am.  It wasn’t supposed to happen to me.  I wasn’t supposed to find out one week after my 50th birthday that my love of life and friends and family isn’t necessarily going to last forever.  What a cruel joke…and right after my birthday.  We are all mortal.

The worst part is, and I think those of you that know me will agree….I don’t know who I am anymore.  I am angry and scared and frustrated, in between bouts of joy and laughter and fantasizing about the fact that I have never run naked through the streets of San Ramon.   And maybe I should because wouldn’t that be funny as hell to run through the streets of my cookie cutter neighborhood without any clothes on? I never wanted to streak, but maybe I do now.  I mean, what are they going to do? Take part of my boob away?

And yet, I have such abhorrence toward my own feelings because, how dare I complain when I am only a Stage 1?  What is the loss of a nipple compared to the loss of a breast – or both breasts??  Add an abundance of guilt for the self-pity to my overwhelming fears and you have a mixed up emotional 50 year old that’s supposed to know how to deal.  But here's what you probably don't know.  Breast cancer isn’t really all about the breasts.  Most people don’t know that. 

“They can take mine and give me bigger ones!” I’ve been told by the unscathed, the innocent who have not been held captive or taken victim by this ugly disease.  No, breast cancer is having a heavy lead frying pan hit you over the head at 60 miles per hour while you crawl to the phone to call 911; only you can’t find the phone.  It's about a nightmare that doesn't let you wake up. It's about trying to find a ray of sun in a storm.  It is about hours of reading and re-reading your pathology report, only to find a month after your successful “breast conservation surgery” that you in fact had a lymphovascular invasion in your tumor, which you spend hours researching until it is 2:00 a.m. and you are begging your brain to shut off.  It is about waking up in the morning exhausted and then crying when you hear a song that reminds you of a happier time, when mortality wasn’t in your face.  It’s about looking at your children and knowing they still need you around, not according to five or ten year statistics, but in twenty years when they desperately need you to give them advice while raising their own children, because you will be grandma and that counts for more than you could ever know.  Stage 1 doesn’t mean you have struck a home run, it only means you have more time to figure out how to keep it from turning into Stage 4. 

I should be grateful, which I am in between bouts of hysterical laughter for no reason at all, which no one should ever have to witness, tears that come from a place so deep in the gut that I never knew existed, and love that is so passionate I want to squeeze it like Lennie did to the puppy in Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men.”

Breast cancer has made me crazy. In some ways, I like myself so much more because of the enlightenment and the connection I feel to all that is kind and beautiful.  In other ways, I have become ugly, obsessed, angry, and hateful.  Basking in pity parties is part of that ride.  I know this will pass in time, I know in the recess of my soul what I and so many other women are capable of achieving during our most trying of times. 

But I beg you to let us honor our pain, even if and it is ugly.  Please, love us anyway.  We are so much greater than our breasts or a pink ribbon or the reality that no one really wants to see.  But the naked truth is this...I am still me, no matter what they take; no matter how bruised my body, or my soul.  I am still me.

...and don't say I didn't warn ya.

Sweet Dreams and Always GOOD Dreams,

"...Komen has also been caught up in the controversy over "pinkwashing"—the use of breast cancer and the pink ribbon by corporate marketers, especially to promote products that might be unhealthful—in return for a donation to the cause." ( Stacie, Stukin (2006-10-08). "Pink Ribbon Promises". TIME.,9171,1543947-1,00.html. Retrieved 2007-04-23.)