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a half-assed attempt to win an award

February 15, 2010

So I’m entering my blog in a completely last-minute, half-assed attempt to win a Hive Award.  I’d like to think there is a trophy involved, but probably not. I just wanna feel cool at SXSW.

Lots of folks have expressed their love of a particular entry.

The “tumor registry” will be featured in a new book by the folks at Planet Cancer & Livestrong.

Lots of folks like the “vampire port/carpet cleaning” piece.

I’m a fan of the entry on hemorrhoids.

Please comment and let me know if you have any fav’s!

I think I need a catchy tag line as well. I’m thinking of: The Tumor Assassin’s Guide to a Catered Pity Party.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Ideas?

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a rant about Mel Gilbson and nothing to do with cancer

February 5, 2010

This is a ranting exchange I had with comedienne Patti Vasquez regarding the Mel Gibson/Dean Richards kerfuffle.  Dean is a friend of ours and Mel is…well, a nut job. Part of this was read on air on WGN radio yesterday.

No, this has nothing to do with cancer. But, this is my blog and I have cancer and that means I can do whatever I want here. So, there.

Chris:

Oh freakin whaa whaa whaa Mel. You make millions of dollars to do a job many would be overjoyed to do. Part of the job is PR interviews. Suck it up and do the dog and pony show like every other actor, professional athlete, and politician has to. Do you think professional baseball players want to be interviewed in the locker room after losing a game? Of course not, but they do it because it goes with the territory. Go cry into your bank statements.

Boy howdy this thing has me hoppin mad. More than I thought. It was a totally legit question. I don’t see Tom Cruise movies anymore because of his wackadoo behavior off screen. I can’t get past it when I see him on TV or in a movie. I can’t “willingly suspend my disbelief” if you will. I just think “crackpot”.

And when you have the privilege of being such an international celeb, the onus is on you to behave with a modicum of sanity. If you can’t be trusted to behave yourself, then for goodness sakes hire someone to babysit you. Hire a sober individual to throw you over his shoulder before you chuck a cell phone at someone’s face, punch a reporter, or sport a concealed weapon in a dance club.

And another thing! (Boy this has me riled up!) If you serve as a CEO of a large company and choose to pontificate publicly on your politics, don’t be surprised if the public associates your views with your product and stops purchasing them. I don’t buy certain products because of the agendas their CEO’s publicly support. (And I’m not going to list them here, because I’m not going to put myself in the same position.)

An actor’s persona is their product and they serve as CEO of their brand. If a celeb chooses to campaign for a particular candidate or issue, they should be prepared for a publicity backlash from the opposing party. It’s part of the deal.

Lest I prove myself to be a loony tunes D-list public figure, I’ll shut up now.

Patti:

Exactly. I love that Dean had initially turned down the Mel interviews because they wouldn’t allow him to bring up the drinking and anti Semitic rant. Then THEY came back to Dean and asked him to do the satellite interview and offered no restrictions on questions!! Plus, Mel looked maniacally confused when Dean brought it up but I saw Sam Rubin pretty much the same question last week with pretty much the exact reaction from Mel…minus the asshole part because Sam was in the room.

Smile and do your job. Yes, part of your job is going to be saying you have regrets and that you’re sorry for the rest of your career. Suck it up.

Chris:

Amen sistah. Miniscule price to pay for the ability to act in A list movies.

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Girl vs. Gym

January 19, 2010

The first thing I do upon entering a gym is locate a woman that is fatter than me.  If I manage to spot a sufficiently plump gal, I sigh in relief and go about my self-torturous business. My reasoning is this:  All the women in the joint who are thinking “My God, if I ever get that big, freakin’ shoot me.” are probably looking at that other fat chick’s ass instead of mine. Yes, that is just how whacked in the head I am about weight. If I don’t see another plus-sizer in the house, I am skittish the entire time I am in public view. I am convinced that every skinny bitch on the floor is looking at me and thinking “Jesus, lay off the pie honey.” Trust me; I know its weird.

So, I haven’t been to a gym in two years. The whole cancer thing put the kabosh on working out, but also served as a convenient excuse to lay on the couch and eat cheese. Now that chemo is a permanent part of my life, I can no longer justify scrambling eggs as exercise. Therefore, I joined a gym here in Texas. When I walked in for the first time, I was filled with self-loathing. But slowly, things started to suck less. Not only are all members of this sweat lodge super fit, they are also incredibly nice. The check in gal who swiped my card smiled at me without a hint of pity. The trainer dudes were helpful and not the least bit pushy. And the Barbie dolls were totally polite in the locker room. Not an aerobaskank to be found. Damn. Now I have to actually do something while I’m here.

With the best attitude I could muster, I hopped on a treadmill. I walked. I checked my heart rate. I walked some more. I watched closed captioned versions of Oprah.  More walking. A glance at the clock shows I’ve been dutifully working out for …. seven minutes. CRAP! This is why I hate this! For the next 23 minutes I employed as many mental diversions as I could recall. Complex math problems. Grapes in Chateauneuf du Pape.  Cleveland Show lyrics. Finally a half hour had passed.  I was sweaty and relieved to dismount the cursed machine.

Now, here’s the part that threw me. I actually felt…better. Taller and less knotted up in the shoulders. And NO ONE has given me the fatty stink eye. Not once! Maybe part of why Austinites all seem so damn happy is that they’re all super fit? Wouldn’t that be a kick in the pants! Perhaps there is something to this whole fitness thing. Maybe I’ll think twice about that pie.

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Settling In: Taco Trailers and Texans

January 18, 2010

I’ve been in the nation of Texas for just a couple of weeks, but overall I’m enjoying the warmth of both the weather and the people. Austin is an odd little pocket of ex-hippies and UT students who espouse the slogan “Keep Austin Weird”. People bike to work, recycle and carry concealed weapons. I’ve noticed an unusually high number of neck tattoos and an unusually low number of over-sized belt buckles. Yesterday, I passed a guy on his bicycle wearing nothing but a g string. Not even a helmet.  I thought, “this must be my first Austin Weird experience.” I also thought, “that guy can’t be comfortable in the saddle.”

Other observations of note:

Guy in his late sixties, walking down the sidewalk carrying a full sized boom box playing hard core rap.

You can buy beer and wine on Sundays, but not hard liquor. Guess Jesus doesn’t approve of shots.

This town has more bike lanes than sidewalks. Must be that Lance guy.

Local grocery store displays Velveeta in the produce aisle next to broccoli.

You can get almost any kind of food from an airstream trailer. Tacos, pizza, crepes, cupcakes. Genius.

Lady Bird Johnson was a big deal.

Dry cleaners are downright difficult to locate.

Grocery store clerks like to chit chat about anything and everything during your transaction. Same with barristas,  ice cream scoopers, pharmacists and of course, bartenders. My husband finds this unnerving.

Best. Grocery Stores. Ever. Original Central Market and Whole Foods offer incredibly high quality foods from every cuisine. Both have embedded restaurants that serve booze. Errands are much more fun when you can reward yourself with some hooch.

Everyone knows someone in a band.

The only people that ride the very nice public busses are poor minorities, the dentally challenged, and me.

Again, these are just observations in broad strokes. Overall, its interesting that everyone seems to simply love living here. People seem generally content and relaxed. I really want to give in to this mellow happy miasma, but I can’t help but suspect its all part of an evil plot involving mind control and robots. Can people really adore where they live to this degree? I’ll keep digging and report back.

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I’m not dead

December 31, 2009

I sort of forgot that if you have a cancer blog and don’t update it for a while,  people wonder if you died.

Just wanted to reassure everyone that I am very much alive and feeling pretty good actually. Its just the Holidays kinda snuck up on me and I just didn’t feel like thinking or writing about cancer. I went to Vegas and saw my good pal run her 56th marathon (one in each of the 50 states!). Visited Mom in St. Louis for pre-Christmas. Spent Christmas Eve with friends and hosted 8 people Chez Blumer for fancy food and drink. I started my holiday toast with “Here’s to another Christmas I’m not dead!” Luckily my friends “get me” and were already lightly boozed. In the meantime, I’ve been researching my snowbird relocation spot: Austin. Yep – I’m ditching the cold and chemo combo for a balmy and chemo combo in the land of Hippies with guns. I even started practicing my “hook ’em horns” sign, but I keep doing the heavy metal Satan sign by accident. So much to learn…

I hope to write a lot more while in Austin and have notes on several blogworthy episodes. Tentative titles include:

My Christmas Enema

The Elvis Moment

My Siberian Teenage Hair

Longest Two Hours Ever

and….Santa’s Watching so Stop the Drama Already

I promise to write soon. Right now…I have to pack. (gulp)

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Haunted by Calista Flockhart

November 15, 2009

My life is playing out on Brothers & Sisters. For those of you who don’t watch, Kitty (Calista Flockhart) a high powered politico was diagnosed with cancer about 5 episodes ago. They admirably avoided the “very special episode” crap and have dealt with issues of treatment, family and the internal mental game with particularly eerie insight. Someone on the writing staff must surely be a survivor or a close caregiver. Anyhoo, I was particularly happy and freaked out to watch the latest episode where Kitty chooses to shave her head and go the wig route. She has a remarkable moment where she just stares at herself and her hair in the mirror, as if taking one last look at her “normal” self before buzzing her noggin. I feel like I have that moment every morning. Despite my “the Donald” do, I’m too chicken shit to shave my head and move on.

For a while, she contemplates stopping treatment. (We’ve all been there.) Her family is incredulous. Only then does she let the “brave patient” facade drop and truly confess the strains of side effects to her Mother. Mom is embarrassed and sad to learn she had no real idea of what her daughter was suffering, despite sharing a home with her. I realized that I can also be guilty of an overly sunny report to my loved ones. I firmly believe a positive outlook is crucial to healing, but I could probably stand to be a bit more honest about the downside as well. How else do folks know how and when to help?

I also realize that lots of folks read my blog for some sense of commeradarie in the travails of treatment. Maybe a peek at what to expect from a similar regimen can eliminate some of the fear of the unknown rather than depress someone about what’s to come?

So, here’s my current line up of side effects. I list and detail these not to complain, but just to share and let people in a bit on my day to day.

To begin: I’m on a regimen of Folfuri every two weeks. That’s a drip of irinotecan, leukovorin, and avastin followed by 40 hours of 5FU on a portable pump. Overall, its way less awful for me than Folfox which involved oxiliplatin. Oxiliplatin is Satan Juice.

Schnoz: Every time I blow my nose, there’s blood involved. Sometimes a little, sometimes a minor nose bleed that stops quickly. Odd, but not a big deal.

Hair: Its thinning and thinning and thinning some more. I risk a sunburned scalp if I go out without a scarf, hat or my fab new wig. And its thinning everywhere. Lets just say….free Brazilian.

Mouth: Oh the mouth sores. These internal canker sore-type things are truly sucky. I had a couple on my tongue that brushed the sharp edges of my teeth whenever I spoke or ate. Ow. They make it hard to eat in terms of pain and a general oogie feeling that hangs around. And the medicated mouth rinse might actually be ickier than the sores themselves. Imagine BenGay in your mouth. Very weird.

Throat: For about two days in each cycle, I feel like I have 2 big lumps in my upper throat area. It makes it hard to swallow and I have to really really chew everything I eat. Major gulping of beverages as well. My doc admits to being “stumped” on this one. Alrighty then…good thing it always fades away.

Skin: Here’s a freaky one. My palms and the bottom of my feet peel as if recovering from a nasty sunburn. Sometimes it peels to a deep layer and my poor tootsies are red and raw-ish. Moisturizer definitely helps.

I’m also getting very sensitive around the area surrounding my port. I have major owies where the repeated use of tape has pulled away my skin. I’m totally putting my foot down tomorrow and making the nurses find a solution to this. I’m not putting tape on scabs. Duh.

I also used to get tiny pimples on the right side of my face and neck on the day after treatment. It seems the culprit was Decadron, the steriod that I get in my pre-meds. I asked doc to eliminate this from my druggy cocktail and the zits promptly cleared up. #nozitsatfortyWIN

Armpits: This one is fun. While I am free of hair in the pit department, I have developed zits in the region. I learned that it is not uncommon to develop small cysts in the area, but luckily I don’t have any. Just armpit pimples. Yay.

Belly: I’ve lost all muscle strength in my torso, so extended walking or standing can leave me a bit achy or sore. As far as nausea goes, mine is pretty well controlled by drugs. I feel most queasy on my last day of the pump and the day after, but it doesn’t interfere with my diet much. Lately though, I’m getting slightly queasy on days later in my cycle. Probably to be expected after 10 bouts with this chemo cocktail, but I plan to ask doc about this too.

Butt: Hemorrhoids, anal fissures, constipation, diarrhea, rectal bleeding – you name an ailment of the ass, I’ve had it. I’ve learned to alter my diet a bit in different phases in my cycle, but ultimately I have a regular battle with irregularity. Usually some Immodium, Tucks and a soak in the tub will clear up the issue. However, I have had 3-4 episodes of blinding, sweating, cringing pain over the period of an hour or more on the throne. Those days have been the worst in my entire experience of treatment. I’ve been planning a blog specifically dedicated to these horrific scenes, but its just so damn embarrassing I keep putting it off. This coming from a gal who has detailed the day she crapped her pants. Trust me. Its ugly.

Overall fatigue: This is a biggy. On day two of my chemo, I pretty much just sleep all day. I’ve come to accept this for the most part, but it freaks my husband out. Seriously, I’m awake 4 hours max. Its very disorienting and freaky. I also have a hard time falling asleep – mostly I just can’t get my brain to shut off. A groovy drug called Ativan helps a bunch, but my hours are still irregular and hard to manage. Most days, I need a short nap. Some days, I just can’t seem to wake up at all. This takes a progressive toll on me and I see this as my biggest challenge long term. I have a feeling exercise is key, but the ass groove in my couch isn’t shrinking.

Brain: Here’s where the real stamina is required. Yes, all of these side effects are uncomfortable but they are by no means unbearable. (Except, of course, the occasional hour long butt battle.) Everyday, I try to push myself to do at least one thing I don’t feel like doing. Sometimes its just moving from the bed to the couch, but its something. I need to add some exercise to my routine at this point, but I’m not having much luck. Hopefully I’ll have the motivation and discipline soon. Right now, I’m a mostly unapologetic lard ass.

Well….uh…there ya go.
How am I feeling? Now ya know.

But please know, none of this is too much for this Tumor Assassin. As long as I can down the occasional Bourbon; I’m good.

Peace out.

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Booty Patrol

November 8, 2009

Individuals with hemorrhoids should not ride bikes.

Never the less, it was time for this post surgery gal to get off her duff and try to exercise. So, dusted off my bike helmet and took a little ride round the hood. Checked out our new Sausage Shoppe. (No double entendre here, it really is a shop that sells sausage.) Peeked at fancy cooking stuff. (Been coveting a Shun cleaver. ) Contemplated Cold Stone for lunch. (Hmmm…probably counter-productive.) And generally enjoyed myself. Yes,  I panted like a 15-year-old boy surrounded by Venezuelan Ms. Universe contestants, but still glad I got out on this odd Indian summer Chicago Sunday. Nice to feel kinda normal. Especially since my helmet hides my “The Donald” looking remnants of hair.

I also got my fab new wig yesterday and had a date night with my hubby and 2 fellow foodie wine pro pals. Again, felt like my old self. No nausea. Ate a freakish amount of rich food, split 3 bottles of wine (after several aperitif cocktails!),  and woke up late, but not hung over. Now I’m cooking for a dear friend who is caring for his Mom, post surgery. I actually get to help someone else! What a nice change of pace. If I can have mostly days like this, the side effects are not so bad.

Suck it cancer; I’m livin large.