Archive for the ‘Cancer’ Category


I thought I should share this photograph since I spoke a great deal about this woman during the cancer scare last year.  This is Dr. Barbera Honnebier (pronounced HONEY-BEAR), the plastic surgeon that specialized in children’s maxillofacial reconstructive surgery at the time, but took my case on like *excuse my language* a fucking superhero. My only explanation for her existence is a gift from the universe.  I don’t even think she’s human.  I’m in love with her.  She let me keep my very own face on my head that another doctor wanted to Frankenstein back together using pieces of skin from my shoulder.  She’s magic.  Just look at her.  “Thank you” doesn’t even cut it.


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Life has been on a peculiar pause here in Dallas while I recover from a depleted savings account and in one week I’ll finally be in Austin.  I’ve spent all of my time with family who’ve helped ease that stubborn cork out of my fermenting bottle of emotions.  Whether they’re all aware of that, who knows, but there’s something about my mom and dad’s respective kitchens that impregnate me with a litter of tear babies.  I’ve (conveniently) lost count of exactly how many I’ve given birth to over the past few months.

One of those evenings we were all gathered around the island at my dad’s, elbows resting while discussing what we’d like to order from the take-out menu and apparently the “I’m going to die alone!?” I was craving wasn’t in season.

I forgot what it feels like to unleash that mammoth of sorrow in front of family members as opposed to strangers in public (because that’s where it inevitably seeps out).  They hug the absolute shit out of you and order you a hefty, soothing styrofoam box full of piping hot monosodium glutamate.  Not once has anyone here made me feel like a total dolt for letting it all hang out.

My dad placed a box of complimentary tissue in the middle of the living room the night we all watched My Sister’s Keeper because I may or may not have residual cancer scare whimpers buried way down deep behind my toenail beds.

My Mormon family didn’t even flinch the night I almost said “fuck” during a heated game of Catch Phrase.  I swiftly changed it to “fuh-art” , but I have a feeling they’d have let it slide because my grandpa (a Priesthood Holder) moments later said “damn” and we all laughed so hard we cried.

My little brother even gave me the permission to share a snippet of our conversation the other night in which he admitted to making love to his giant teddy bear when we were kids.

My older sister called me to apologize for always putting me in the middle of her ongoing battle with our biological mother.  I will call her later this week to atone for not fully appreciating the many nights she let me curl up on her bedroom floor after a nightmare where she and Joe Elliott would sing me back to slumber.

My ex-step mother welcomed me into her home and onto the unlimited family yoga account.  Her boob popped out the other day while she demonstrated a sun salutation and I’ve almost executed bakasana/crow pose properly because she makes me feel less afraid to land on my face.

My current step-mother truly completes my dad and has never once made me feel like an asshole for being a stereotypically terrible teenager.  We’re talking wasted high school football players smashing her sculptures after one too many glasses of Jim Beam and Kool-Aid terrible teenager.  Selling your Badmotorfinger c.d. for ecstasy terrible teenager.

In one week I’ll actually know what it feels like to be homesick because this time I’m not running away.  I’ve chosen to build a new life for myself a few hours away because honestly, any more than that and I’d be making Claire Danes Chin Crinkle Cry Face in every job interview.

Wish me luck, will ya?

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of  Zelda Rubinstein, “THIS HOUSE IS CLEAN!”

The lymph node results came back and those suckers were cancer free, ever last stinking one of them. 

I’ve had this song in my head ever since:

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The toughest decision I had to make Monday morning was what pajamas to wear.  I played Solitaire in the waiting room with mom on one side and my Ben on the other.  I had them wrapped around each arm like kiddie pool floaties.  When they called my name I made my last dad joke, “Nope, nobody out here by that…”

The nurse was sweet with a faint, dark mustache and I enjoyed her gentle presence despite the fact that she couldn’t find a vein.  We ran out of time because the radiology department was waiting on me, so they sent me on my way with cotton balls taped up and down my arm like a walking preschool craft project.

It was there that I met the woman who would inject piping hot radioactive tracer into my face four times.  It felt like a cattle prod and was okay because in my head I thought of it as punishment for leaving a corn poop in their restroom.  She stuck the needle in and offered a warning, “Solution” as the tracer oozed.  She said “solution” four times and I kept thinking, “Solution for what?  This is more like… a problem, lady.”

The real problem is that the only hospital gown they had readily available had a hole in the boob.  Nothing a little scotch tape couldn’t solve.  I tossed and turned in a tunnel for a little while and a brilliant computer found my sentinel lymph node.  The radiologist marked the magical spot on my neck with an ‘x’.

We traveled back to the room where the woman with a mustache tortured me with many needles and met for a little pre-party with my oncologist, plastic surgeon, anesthesiologist, nurses, and my favorite, the woman who could properly administer an i.v.  I think I told her I loved her and I was stone cold sober and sincere.

I don’t remember a damn thing after that.  I woke up guzzling Sprite and confessing too loudly that my boyfriend is better at taking clothes off than he is putting them back on.  Sorry, dad.

I’ll have the lymph node results back on Monday and stitches will come out.

I have to tell you now that I’m afraid the whole thing is going to split open and slide right off my skull.

Cross your fingers if you have them!

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I love to hate the movie, Twilight, so much that I’ve seen it twice already.  One of my favorite characteristics of Stephanie Meyer’s Mormon vampires is how they dazzle in the sunlight instead of bursting into flames. 

As funny as it sounds, it’s actually helped to think of myself as a vampire in order to combat the skin cancer blues.  I feel like the sun is crossing me off its hit list and it’s difficult not to sprint across the street during my lunch break to each shady patch of refuge, tackling bankers, the homeless, and poor, defenseless shrubbery in the process. 

My visit with the second plastic surgeon, Dr. Honeybear, was a dream come true.  Before we talked facial reconstruction she asked me how I was feeling about all of this in a thick, Russian accent.  I guess that’s the difference between the male and female approach to medicine.  Okay, that and false eyelashes.  However, I didn’t mind the tiny breeze that followed every blink.  Barbie could have used one for a Chinese New Year costume fan. 

I demonstrated to her in a mirror made by Botox Cosmetic how I’d been imaging the aftermath.  I stretched my face out to one side, Joan Rivers style, my tongue hanging out lifelessly like road kill.  She laughed and assured me I won’t come out looking like I’ve got a face lift on layaway.  I trust her…sort of.  

There are upsides to the situation.  I’ve connected to many people through the Melanoma Research Foundation’s message board.  We’ve compared notes and they’ve warned me to get my hands on some downers before that radioactive injection. 

The word on the street is that when the radiologist says, “it’ll feel a little bit like a bee sting” they actually mean “it’ll feel a little bit like Satan pissing into an open wound.”   

I’m the youngest on the message board by far, and I’m finding I have more in common with women in their 50’s than I thought.  I just wish they lived close enough to hug so hard I lose all circulation to my limbs. 

Just a couple more weeks…

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Melanoma Diary.

Here’s a beastly souvenir from my first visit with a plastic surgeon who could be working in tandem with my oncologist.  Yeah, that’s a balled up tissue in my fist.

I know that’s depressing, so I did you a favor and included my suggestion of a Michael Jackson skin graft and the note for PE class that the front desk nurse so kindly provided.

Sorry, Coach Frisbee!  No more squat thrusts for this little lady.

The dotted area notes the 1 cm of skin they’ll be removing along with the tumor.  And the arrows note the directions from which the remaining skin will meet with donor material they’ll harvest from around my ear.  My only other option is a skin graft alone using donor material harvested from the area just above my collar bone.

It’s sort of like if you had to order pizza with diarrhea topping or vomit topping.

I’d use my butt skin, but the color just  isn’t a pleasing match.  My butt is so white it’s see through and I don’t want to be the world’s first glass bottom face.  Can’t you just imagine them all mocking me in their bikinis, feet dangling into my salivary gland?

We haven’t scheduled the big surgery day just yet.  I have to meet with another doctor on Thursday whose last name is pronounced “Honey bear”.  I guess it’s better than “Dr. Pooh”.

I’ll be writing about this here just in case someone my age is searching for common ground.  I wasn’t able to find anyone online with a similar case under the age of 60, let alone female.

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