Breast Cancer and Other News Update

It’s been a while. I feel like it’s been an eternity. It’s been months at least. And that’s because cancer treatments kick your ass.

No, really.

I’m not sure if you’re aware of it, but it the treatments that’ll kill ya. Seriously, the business of fighting for your life against a vicious disease is a hard battle. And I am fatigued. But I am coming out of the fog.

My hair is the shortest it’s been since I decided I wanted to be a buddhist monk at 3 or 4 and had my mom shave my head. I tried to keep it, y’all. And if my chemo had not been the worst, most dangerous and strongest chemo around- they call it the red devil, if that tells you anything- I would’ve kept most of it. As it was, I kept about 25%. It just simply looked too terrible not to shave off into a boy cut and go all Audrey Hepburn.

Cold capping works. It just doesn’t work very well if you do the chemo I did. And then if you have a semi-formal event- like a college graduation that you can’t miss because it’s your oldest child and you wouldn’t miss that shit even if you were bald on the head and hairy on the leg- that you must attend without a baseball cap. So you go and get a nice short do. And proudly wear that shit to your son’s graduation. Proud and loud, bitches. I beat cancer.

I did. For right now. Cancer always comes back. They don’t talk about that. But it comes back. What you want is for it to not come back for a really long time, like 15 years or more. But my body scans tell the docs I have no other cancer hot spots. And the chemo plus radiation treatment plan kills rogue cells which have broken off and might be roaming free.

It’s been 5 weeks post radiation. The black skin is all gone off my chest. And almost all gone off my back. Soon, I will be back to my old self. Well, without one boob. And with a wicked fucking abdomen scar. But with my life. And my brain in tact. Not that my noggin has been much help lately. Chemo brain is REAL, yo. But slowly, I am coming back.

I attended a Master Class with Alexandra Sokoloff this past weekend. It was awesome. Got my creative brain and juices flowing. And I wrote the most words I’ve written since I started this whole cancer saga.

Anyway, here’s my new do. Hopefully, my hair grows quickly. And I am so glad this whole no hair thing happened now. If this had happened back when I was younger, I think I would’ve been completely devastated. As it is now, short hair is just another thing. I’m alive. And that is all that matters.

And here’s hoping I have many more words this week. And I want to do an update on my erotic gothic thriller story. I’ve got some ideas.

Now. I need to go write. And take supplements to try and get these strands GROWING!

I Have Breast Cancer… and other tales of horror

I’ve been really remiss in taking care of my blog for the last year. Seriously, though. The last half of 2016 was mostly just trying to keep my head above water. I didn’t have the time or the energy to devote to my blog or even basic maintenance of the site in general.

That’s what a breast cancer diagnosis will do to you. Rearrange priorities. Right quick.

I’m losing my hair. I’ve lost a boob. And I’ll probably get radiation positioning at some point. The trifecta of shittiness. It wasn’t supposed to be like that. Me getting the whole package. Originally, when they first told me, I was only getting the basic package- surgery and then drugs and monitoring. But once they opened me up and took a look, it was more serious than the diagnostics indicated.

Listen, go get your boobs checked out. If you catch this shit early, you too can get away with minimal treatment. But if it’s more serious, you need the deluxe package and STAT at that. But this isn’t a service announcement for awareness.

Nope. It’s just a little heads up. And to tell what I’m doing. So. I originally had a surgery set and decided to cancel at the last moment. Believe me when I tell you that the people around you get REAL concerned REAL fast when you cancel a surgery to cut cancer out of your body. But I had a good reason. I wanted less surgeries. And the way my local surgery team wanted to do things didn’t align with the way I wanted them done. Plus, I’d found a team and surgical center willing to do it the way I wanted and who did the types of reconstructive surgery I wanted. The only downside was that I had to travel to obtain access to what I think of as THE preeminent DIEP team in the country… maybe in the world.

I wanted a DIEP flap for my new boob. I didn’t want plastic or silicon or anything foreign put into my body. Cutting cancer rout of my body was and is all about getting what doesn’t belong inside me out. Why would I put something else that doesn’t belong inside me in? The DIEP flaps allowed me to use my own fat- who knew all that baby fat was going to come in handy… and no, baby fat doesn’t mean MY baby fat, but rather, my babies’ fat acquired during gestation lol- to make a new boob. Some call it a foob. Fat boob. Fake boob. Whatever you call it… it’s mine. My new boob will gain weight when I gain weight and lose weight when I lose weight. It’s warm and jiggly and soft to the touch. Not that it can feel anything, but my hands can. And my eyes can see. One day, doctors will be able to grow us a new boob just like a new heart or lung or whatever, until then? Getting the fat cut from my belly and then shaped into a boob is about the next best thing. And the docs I flew to do these routinely. In fact, this is their specialty. They do these all the time. Which is important since DIEPs are microsurgery. Sometimes, lasting seven to eight hours for one boob and eleven to twelve hours for two boobs. And you want someone who does these all day everyday. Not someone who does things occasionally. I couldn’t be happier with my new foob.

So, I had my cancer cut out with immediate reconstruction. My local team wanted me to delay reconstruction, which would’ve added another major surgery to the two I was already slated to have just because I have breast cancer and I wanted reconstruction. My away team told me they would do it at one time and add in some extra fat to guard against the damage that radiation might do to the tissue. This was the crux of the issue with my local team. They wanted me to do radiation with a place holder in my chest- basically a temporary air filled boob. Wait a while and then do reconstruction. My away team told me they would pack my boob with extra fat and tissue so if there was any damage to the skin or tissue, the extra would take the brunt of it leaving healthy tissue underneath. And one less surgery.

I took the one less surgery.

The only thing my away team couldn’t do was save my nipple. They saved all of my breast skin, however. It was just that my tumor was too close to the nipple to get clear margins when they cut it out. This makes me sad. But I’m okay with it. Now. I realize I wouldn’t be able to feel anything anyway with my old nipple. So having a new 3-D one made later isn’t going to change things too much. But my skin was spared. So I am able to have some sensation where I wouldn’t if I hadn’t spared my skin. And maybe, over time I will get more sensation. That possibility is open to me because of the type of surgery I opted to do and the fact I invited on immediate reconstruction.

Because I opted for immediate reconstruction, I was spared the psychological smackdown of not having a boob or looking at a mangled boob. Because that’s what I kept finding. Women who needed radiation who had it with the temporary expanders who looked like burn victims. I never once looked at my foob and turned away in disgust or sadness. I look at it now and see the scar running vertical- just like a normal boob job patient, not a just a cancer patient. My scar is similar to women who’ve had plastic surgery to improve their boobs. And once the nipple is placed, it will look just like them.

Not everyone will focus on mental state or status. But I think when you are fighting a disease like breast cancer having the best state of mind is necessary. Mental status being good is KEY to kicking cancer’s ass.

Which is why I’m cold-capping to try and save my hair. It’s not working so great. In that I’ve lost a LOT of my hair to chemo. But I have hair after 4 dense dose AC treatments. And from far away, it looks like I have a full head of hair. So there’s that.

If you feel my head, it’s quite apparent that I have very thin hair right now. With patches of balding. But from a few steps away, it just looks like I have thinning hair. And from some angles, it doesn’t look funny at all.

Cold- capping is a commitment. It’s unpleasant. It’s not guaranteed. It’s a pain in the ass.

But I don’t look like a cancer patient. I don’t look like I’m going through chemo. And if I can get through my 4 dense dose T treatments, I will have walked through my cancer treatments mostly on my terms. With minimal impact by cancer.

Yes, I know I will be forever a cancer patient. Always needing to be monitored. But if I can move through my treatments- surgery, chemo, radiation- on my terms, my mind and body will do well. I’ve always believed that the body supports the mind and the mind supports the body. By making the choices I’ve made, I feel integrated thus far. And I know cancer is getting it’s ass kicked!

A good mental state is the reason why I didn’t cancel my reading in Baltimore. I’m pretty sure it’ll be a good time. I might or might not have hair at my Baltimore reading… come see me if you can, but I will have all my snark. I also didn’t cancel my erotic gothic horror over at Romance on the Rocks. I did decide to do it quarterly instead of monthly, however.  And I will have met cancer on my own terms. With a foob, thinning hair, and reading ALL the smut!

 

Romance, Erotic Gothic Horror, and Breast Cancer

I’ve been writing over at a group blog for the past year, so I haven’t done a full post in a while. Well, shit just got real, y’all.

First off. I’m writing a serialized erotic gothic horror over on the Romance on the Rocks blog. Well, gothic-like. Mostly, it’s set in the deep American South. Which if you think about it could be gothic horror inspired in some respects. I won’t have completely open doors because we have an all age readership over there. So, I will be using all the tools in my tool box to be erotic without showing erotic. What I might do is a companion open door portion of that story over here on my main blog. Ummm, I might have a few details to work out before September 15. I’m still gelling it in my mind so until I have all the deets finalized, I know about as much as you, dear reader.

Second, I have the cancer. Breast cancer to be exact. And no, I don’t know much more than that. I knew when I went in for the limp that something was wrong. And I prayed and hoped it was a cyst or benign in some other way. It wasn’t. So, I’m having a pity party for a day and then I’m going to get back up the next day and kick cancer’s ass.

If you know me at all, you know I don’t want any body work done. Living in LA and seeing the enormous amount of body work people got done just because really turned me off. I wanted to age gracefully. To show our young women that there is grace in aging. Or least, some semblance of it. I don’t color the gray right out of my hair. I have killer bright silver hair that looks like kick ass highlights, or at least, tinsel. I love it. And I also felt this way about the rest of my aging body. My tits have fed children. OF course, they sag. They’re supposed to at this point. But they’re still fabulous.

Well, until they betrayed me. I won’t know a treatment plan until I go see the boob doc for the first time. I haven’t decided anything yet. But the thought of getting fake boobs makes me sad. Even if I didn’t get them because I wanted, I’m getting them because I need to. Mentally that doesn’t matter. I still feel like my original life plan of aging gracefully has been stolen from me.

But I swear that I won’t let cancer not one more piece of me than I can safely allow.

Still, I will need some words of encouragement. And some patience. Because I have a feeling that a couple of my serialized installments might be late. I will write as long as I am able. If I can’t, I won’t. But writing has helped my sanity so immensely that I will cling to it like the life line it is.

Patience and Love.

What else does anyone need?

Well, maybe a little romance.

p.s. Go get your breasts squished. Go get checked out. Even if it’s for no reason. Don’t listen to anyone else. Listen to me. It might save your life.

Puppy Love

2016-05-13 16.57.45 My new puppy, Java.

I’ve been remiss in not introducing her before now. But life happened, right? And I’m getting around to it now.

She’s a little Havanese. And precious as all get out. But she keeps me busy as well. Plus, I’ve had a killer travel schedule. And staying at my house for a while kinda company. Which is fabulous, if exhausting. It also doesn’t leave a lot of time for blog updates. Especially when I’m slated to do another blog post per month. That one post has been about all I can muster. At least, for the last several months.

I’m not sure when Java is going to chill enough to let me have more time for another post. But be patient. Oh, and I’m writing as well.

Artist–Creative People–Always Get Screwed

Screwing over artists, writers, musicians, and the like seems to be a universal historical and current pastime. Sellers of art, the fucking Ferengi amongst us, jockey to get the largest slice of the artist’s pie. And it seems like by and large, the artist themselves are left by the way side. Driven to toil, for little to no gain, while always having to fend off predatory snake oil salesmen.

It’s exhausting.

Art, the written word, the heard note… they are the only permanent creations which withstand the test of time. We don’t go to museums today to see some clever investment scheme from back in the day. We go to see beauty and truth and visual wonder. We don’t go to music venues to ohh and ahh over financial notes older than Methuselah. No, we go to be transported by one of the only things which engages our entire brain in a global process. To fucking have a party in our ears.

Almost no other thing, other than artistic endeavors, last for eons, moves us until time immortal.

And we shit all over the producers of these wonders. Some try and exploit. Others cluelessly engage in behavior which places creative people in economic jeopardy. While still others, just stand by silently on the sidelines doing nothing, saying nothing, pretending to see nothing.

I’m not sure which of the two sideline-standing behaviors is the worst. Knowing and doing nothing. Or being clueless, oblivious, totally unaware. Who do we think is making the orgasmic smorgasbord for our eyes, ears, sense of touch? How do we think they are living? On what? Our good feelings?

Every time Amazon changes it’s terms of service or a publishing house engages in predatory practices or supporting cast members of the writing community slings mud, it makes me angry. I think back to Renaissance artists having to live off the largesse of their benefactors, and I’m not sure what we’ve got is too much better.

While the publishing industry is rapidly evolving–and not in a good way–I can’t help but think… thank god, I’m not in the music industry. Because they eat their young over there. Vicious, vicious bitches making tunes and stuff. Not the artist, although they can be back stabbing assholes as well, but the parasites who live off the work of artists. And I can’t think of a different term, a nicer word. Parasite will do nicely. It fits. And is wholly appropriate to many situations which seem to crop up in that field.

The creators of all that is beautiful, true, stack, real, lasting become fodder for sacrifice on the alter of profit. It is the nature of that exploitative, parasitic behavior which values the work of creatives far more after death than during life. After all, when they are dead, it’s pure profit. When the creator is alive, at least some small part of the value of said art must necessarily be shared with the creative person. Because while sometimes, it is the artist and the artist progeny who benefit, many times it is not. It is a predator.

Sadly, I don’t foresee this changing until we get new models for how we value contributions to our society when viewed in longevity terms. By my calculations, artist should get huge stipends to create. But then, I dream a lot. I’m a writer, after all.

More Things You Should(n’t) Ask Your Favorite Author

Continuing the funny/not funny things you should say to or ask your favorite author are some more random shit that maybe you can think, but shouldn’t say. That is, if you like your favorite author at all. If you don’t, then all bets are off. Go to town. Ask all the squick questions in the world.

But if you like your author even a little, just think about the answers to these questions and maybe not say them to anyone. But if you do, youtube that shit and post it for all of us to see. Because laughter helps everybody. 😉

  1. Do you need some cool sex scene ideas or stories to include in your book? [Then proceed to state the most bizarre sex act known to mankind… until the next guy.]
  2. It must be really easy coming up with story ideas, why don’t you write faster? Art harder?
  3. Can you loan me some money? I know you’ve published some books so you must be filthy rich, or at least, have enough to give me some.
  4. I wish I could have such a cushy, easy job like you. All sitting around all day and daydreaming and fantasizing and doing nothing basically.
  5. Why aren’t you more famous?

See how it’s done? Tell me, do you really like your favorite author? Even if you do, please for the love of all that is good and holy take pictures and videos and screenshots and share that shit for the world!

Go forth and enjoy.

Nazi Germany vs Enslaved America

Too many times there’s confusion about why we can empathize and have compassion for one yet deny the other. We all, North and South, reject flying the Nazi flag, yet entire segments of our population fly the Confederate flag with knowing unconcern. As dichotomies go, this is one that’s in your face and relevant to our current crises situation. And it’s absolutely maddening.

I get it, though.

It’s hard to stare at our shameful past behavior. It’s far easier to peer at another’s shameful behavior with neutrality and a lack of emotional baggage. Impartiality is attainable when you are passing judgment on another. It’s just that simple. We don’t like confronting out history of slavery, much like a child doesn’t like to admit they’re wrong when caught by parents. I don’t want to excuse our social gaffes on the fact that as a country and a people we are fairly young, but in instances like this, that youthfulness is glaring. Because other countries can and do confront past bad acts head on with adult-like responsibility. We just don’t seem to be able.

There is just no other explanation for why we can feel so deeply for the Jewish people and yet behave so scornfully toward black people in America today. And yes I said black people. Call me old school because that’s just how I grew up AND it’s not offensive. Or call me new school because I believe we are all Americans first now and other heritage second. So saying American of African descent or American of Asian descent or American of Hispanic descent or American of the First People, etc., is just too damn long for me. My designation are for brevity. That is all.

As a people, we recoil from the notion of prominently displaying our love for the Nazis of yore. And yes, I realize there is a segment of asshats who go around revering those tenets. In every batch, a few are rotten. But I digress. For far too long, we as a people looked on while really averting our eyes from the evidence of our own sordid past. As if seeing the signs of racism was to somehow acknowledge more than it’s mere historic presence. We can dialogue about our way past, but fuck you if you bring up how it affects our current daily lives. But even as I make that statement, American AP History is currently undergoing a traditional white-wash. And it’s a shame.

We can’t fix something if we don’t acknowledge that a problem exists. And that’s the most frustrating part. Trying to get around misplaced guilt and shame over past behavior is stupid. But to allow that ludicrous behavior to impact how we deal with the dregs of racism is offensive and serves to merely perpetuate our mistakes. We just don’t seem to be able to stop repeating our mistakes of the past. And it’s because we can’t face that past. We can’t look at it head on.

Look, if you think the Civil War didn’t have slavery as a central issue, you are white-washing history. End of. I don’t even want to talk further about it. But this inability to acknowledge what is going on today because it reminds one of that shameful past is criminal. We’re walking around hamstrung as a society. We can’t have a legitimate talk about the situation and possible fixes UNTIL AND UNLESS we say, “hey, institutional racism exists.”

And we were raging racists in our past. And the Civil War was about slavery. And flying the Confederate Flag is the same as flying the Nazi flag. What is hurtful to one group of people is hurtful to the other group of people for many of the same or similar reasons. And it’s that simple. Stop flying the flag that elevates slavery in America’s past as something to continued to be endured by Americans of African descent into today when we would never fly a flag that extolls the virtues of gassing European Jews. It’s a parallel.

If you really look at the heart of the matter, with your eyes and hearts open, you can see that parallel, too.

TSA… You Suck

Seriously. It’s been almost a decade and a half since 9/11, and you still suck.

Increasingly, the security measures you seem to want to enact are just tedious and unnecessary. Plus, they aren’t really finding any terrorists. Like not one. I’d be willing to endure, yes ENDURE, the stupid routine of removing my shoes and my computer and taking off my jacket only to be x-rayed to show all of my naked glory for the perving pleasure of people who couldn’t get any other job. But noooo, I must also endure the tossing of my cuticle scissors because they might be weapons.

Cuticle scissors, y’all.

Fucking cuticle scissors. From a matched set. Well, it’s not so matched now. Now, my set is missing the scissors I use to take off very tiny pieces of skin.

Does it stop there? Noooo, it does not.

This last time, they wanted me to throw away my wine corkscrew. Because it had a half inch wrapper remover. My corkscrew I was gifted in Tuscany. A trip that I want to remember and have very few momentoes of. But I wasn’t going to be deterred. So I requested to be able to mail the corkscrew to myself.

Is there a streamlined process for mailing shit to myself, you ask, you know, since it’s been almost a decade and a half since 9/11 and the most stupid security measures EVAR being in place of almost as long? Fuck No.

I have to leave the security area, of which I had already passed because they were digging in my bag to find my totally dangerous CORKSCREW. I have to go back out and mail that shit from a shipper who is going to charge me $10 to mail my shit to me. And then I have to go back through security and go to my gate. Is the shipper location prominently displayed? Fuck no. Is anything about this easy? Fuck no.

It’s a fucking mess at TSA. It’s a fucking mess at the private shipper. It’s a fucking mess at airports.

Traveling used to be fun. The plane ride was almost as anticipated as the final destination. It’s not that way anymore. It’s become tedious and something many people DO NOT look forward to. At. All.

Pro-tip TSA: The United States Post Office is also a governmental agency. Find a way for people to be able to drop ship their stuff to themselves from inside the goddamn security area. It can’t be that fucking hard, bitches. But in order to make traveling just little less of an ass pain than its become, you’d have to swirl some shit around in your head and come up with common sense solutions. It’s a skill that TSA has apparently never even thought of. TALK TO THE USPS and make mailing things you consider dangerous to ourselves. Because apparently, postal workers aren’t punk ass bitches and aren’t scared of corkscrews and cuticle scissors even if you are. Make mailing the things that frighten you, TSA, easier. It’s not that hard.

Cuticle scissors and a corkscrew.

Fuck you, TSA, you punk ass bitches.

Call in the USPS. Use your frickin’ common sense and try to make some shit EASIER because all you seem to be able to do is make things more difficult and hard.

 

Calling Out ALL The Jurists

… who have failed our legal system.

I don’t usually call out my fellow attorneys. But I can’t keep silent any longer. You must act.

We’ve allowed the bones of racism to run unchecked in the judicial system long enough. It must end. You must act. Inaction is legitimizing a system of discrimination that is steep in the law and allows the bones of racism to remain untouched by time and chaining perceptions. And it’s creating havoc in our country. Either be a part of the solution or you are a part of the problem.

I firmly believe that individual prejudices have diminished over time in most of us. Oh sure, there are wingnuts a-plenty, but the vast swath of American humanity has shed these prejudices as we’ve welcomed people of color into our families, acknowledged LGBTQ peeps in our families, and been accepting of individual differences. What hasn’t changed is the structure of racism we’ve had in our society so long most of us have even forgotten they are there. But they are and we are seeing the effects all around us.

Federal Sentencing Guidelines illustrates the remaining bones of racism quite clearly. Crack cocaine is punished at a bout 3 to 1 times longer than powder cocaine. Same chemical compound when viewed under a microscope, but the penalties for each is vastly different. Looking that the sentences, one might conclude that it is fair and doesn’t discriminate. Except when you start to really look at who uses crack cocaine and who uses powder cocaine. Yes, it is almost brightline delineation by race. By and large, one finds crack cocaine in brown and black neighborhoods. But and large, powered cocaine is found in white and yellow neighborhoods. So, wonder no more why there are so many black and brown people in jail. We punish them 3 times longer than we do for the EXACT SAME SUBSTANCE.

And this is just one example of the bones we’ve allowed to remain and grow in our judicial system. And it leads to institutional discrimination. The disparate impact was planned, at worst, and ignored, at best. We’ve been using these guidelines and having them have this disparate impact on people of color for YEARS. And done nothing. We’ve allowed this to fester and flourish. And we are wrong for having done nothing. And this is just ONE example.

There are so many more examples of the bones of racism that remain and which hold up and add structure to the cloak of our humanity, or lack thereof–if we do nothing. By failing to act, we’ve become complicit is supporting the bones of that discrimination. As our social perceptions have changed, we did nothing to get rid of all the ways smart societies use to hold back discrete groups of persons. And in American, it shouldn’t have been acceptable before. It isn’t acceptable now. And if we do nothing, then we also become complicit in the tinderbox our country will become as push comes to shove.

Being Asian Doesn’t Make Me ….

More like white women. It does statistically mean I will fall more within their range than any other women of color. Asians are punished less, in schools and by police. It’s part of the cultural stereotype.

But it hides a far more insidious comparison, one that most people don’t even realize. And it revolves around Asian sexuality. Isn’t it funny how Asian men are seen as emasculated or feminine or some other way softer? Even though we have ninja movies, karate movies, we know about Genghis Khan, mobs like the Triad and the like, we don’t see Asian men as testosterone-laden threats. And it shows up in arrest numbers and incarceration numbers. Cops just don’t generally pull over clean cut Asian dudes. Not like the black guys that drive.

At the same time, Asian women are highly sexualized. And not in a good way. We are desired because we look like prepubescent boys for far longer than any other ethnicity. Men go to Asia not just to fuck and marry little girls, they’re are those that just want a woman who looks like little girl. The mount of human trafficking of Asian women is out of this world. It seems the entire world of men are obsessed with women who look like little girls. And my Asian sisters bear the brunt of this desire.

Don’t get me wrong, other ethnicities are sexualized as well. Think of the media’s portrayal of the lush, overblown Latina. Or the strong, loud black woman who will break you with her punanai. But there is an insidious sickness when male eyes turn toward Asian women, you know those of us who look like we’re twelve even when we’re thirty. Subservience isn’t just expected, it’s demanded. And having a child-like or a real  girl child as your sexual partner means you can treat them as children all the while fucking them to death. In many parts of the world, Asian girls are discarded as unwanted only to be swooped up by the predators who know just who to  tap. I’ve heard there are entire travel industries set up for Western men to go a pick up a young Asian girl, whether in fact or in looks.

And when we finally get a voice to stalk about some stuff, are we heard on our own? No, we get lumped in with the white girls. Now, I’m not dissing my light skinned sisters, but seriously? Do you even know what it’s like to not know math in a group of math overachievers? And I say that tongue in cheek. But you have no idea how many stereotypes I have to wade through each day just to get to my preferred endeavor with words.

I get why so many of my feminist brothers and sisters tend to lump us in with the white girls. In many ways, we escape the stigma of having darker colored skin. As we’ve seen recently, being black in America can be a dangerous thing. Asian women  and men generally escape this portion of the discrimination our country seems to want to mete out. But I gotta tell you, as Asian women, we only get the benefit of being lumped together with the white girls… until we don’t.

We’re largely ignored in the larger feminist dialogue. So we’ve become the invisible women wanting to know when it’ll be our time to shine, to have our fears voiced and our concerns addressed.