Dear Cancer

Cancer is stupid;

Port scars: a badge of honor.

But cancer cards…ROCK.

#tbt to that time my goofy mug made it up on the Stupid Cancer FB page! Also to that time my beautiful friend Isis Charisse of The Grace Project took a photo of my port scar tattoo. It’s a copyright symbol because 1) I’m a writer (Check out my first book, SHAKEN NOT STIRRED…A CHEMO COCKTAIL, my cancer memoir. It’s avail on Amazon and Kindle. And stay tuned for my second book, HOMESCHOOL HAPPY HOUR…IT’S 5 O’CLOCK SOMEWHERE, KIDS! It’s in my chemo brain still, but I’m working on it.) And 2) It’s my badge of honor aka my big damn c (with nods and namaste to Laura Linney and The Big C)

#stupidcancer #cancerisabitch #fuckcancer #leavemyfriendsalone #BigLoveToMySCARand GraceGirls …Especially my SCAR girls@marathonBarbie and @leahwrenstead36 who are both dealing with stupid recurrence.

Click HERE for a link to the Cancer is a Bitch song playing in the background of the slideshow on iTunes. It’s by my Redheads’s band called the Kicked-in Fence. They wrote it for me for my last chemo. It’s the theme song for #ShakenNotStirred.

Breathe

May 18, 2014 — 1 Comment

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I’ve needed that word a lot this weekend. It’s true that I have it tattooed on my hand, but sometimes I forget to look at it. Friday was one of those days, when my breath was taken away, or more accurately, the wind was knocked the hell outta me, and I forgot. Not just to breathe, but it was as if the concept of “breathe” was written in Chinese, like my tattoo. And I don’t actually read Chinese.

The hubs and I were driving through the desert on our way to the Grand Canyon to run a half marathon together on Saturday. I’d signed us up in December, to celebrate our 26th anniversary—two halves make a whole, if you know what I mean. I’d chosen the destination because seeing the Grand Canyon has been on my bucket list (or F*ck It List, as my friend Kathleen has so eloquently NAILED it) way too damn long. It. was. Time. Dammit! …to see the big damn ditch.

But that’s not what took my breath away. Though it felt so very absolutely apropos to be driving through a desert on the way to the Grand Canyon when we got the hard news that our dear friend Kristi had finished her battle with the bitch that is breast cancer and was resting in peace in the arms of Jesus.

I wrote about Kristi in my breast cancer memoir: SHAKEN NOT STIRRED… A CHEMO COCKTAIL. Kristi was a year ahead of me in diagnosis and treatment, my first survivor sister friend, my postcard from hope when I began my battle, and a pioneer in fighting the particular bitch we fight of Her2 positive breast cancer.

Kristi was also a young mother with young children… and can I just get a FUCK CANCER from anybody out there reading this, cuz I could sure use an Amen right about now while I’m sitting here in the middle of the desert.

Kristi did not lose her battle; she kicked cancer’s ass, like nobody’s business. That’s why she has earned her rest. And yet here I am.

I’m the one feeling lost right now.

So the desert, the Grand freaking Canyon, seems like a good place to be…to catch my breath (from this Air hunger, as my friend Angela so eloquently puts it), to find myself, lost, as I am, in the midst of one of the most breathtaking vistas in the whole world.

In trying to compose myself, not to mention, a proper tribute in Kristi’s memory, I found myself revisiting the chapter where our stories intersected, rereading the chapter I wrote about her…and I thought I’d share it in this sacred empty space.

Kristi and me

Kristi and me the day we met .

Round 6

Breathe

I didn’t exactly skip into the chemo cocktail lounge for my second round of Tax-ALL, which is how I decided to spell it, since its bite was so bad I needed to amp up my bark. Plus trash-talking my chemo like that cracked me up, and everyone knows laughter is good medicine. I even have a Save the TATAS t-shirt that says laughter heals. Which is both funny, if you think about it for a second, and a pretty convincing PSA.

I totally knew it was passive aggressive thing for me to do. I know chemo doesn’t care if I spell it right or not. That’s not the point. I care. Before chemo, spelling used to be one of my lesser known superpowers. I don’t mean to brag but I did win my class spelling bee twice in my elementary school days. Unfortunately, both times I cracked under the pressure of the big lights in the auditorium during the all school spelling bee. If you were sitting in the audience on those fateful days you might have thought I had a tick or something, the way I got nervous and tacked an -e onto carbon one year, and devout another. Even though I totally knew how to spell them.

This time I meant to spell it wrong. It had nothing to do with nerves. And everything to do with control. I’m sure Adam got as much of a kick out of naming the animals as I did when I re-named my newest antagonist: Tax-ALL.

I was also fully aware that I was displaying misplaced aggression by doing so. I know that chemo is a pro- not anti- agonist, cancer’s sworn enemy, not my enemy, but agony is agony. And I’ve got to be honest since this is a memoir, and by its very nature, non-fiction. Most of the time it sure felt like cancer and chemo were ganging up, together, against me. So yeah, I blamed the chemo. Can you really blame me?

When something kicks your ass like Tax-ALL kicked mine, once you’ve coped through the first round, you have to somehow find the courage to walk into the chemo cocktail lounge for three more rounds. And not think of them as three strikes.

Well, it isn’t easy. But it’s not impossible, either.

Especially if you have a Santa Claus hat and/or some peppermint sticks dipped in dark chocolate at your disposal. Lucky for me, I had both. It was December, so I thought it was time the chemo cocktail lounge began to look like Christmas.

What I didn’t want for Christmas was chemo. But I did feel like staying alive a bit longer, so skipping chemo wasn’t an option.

I did weigh all the options going in, after my first Tax-ALL hangover.

The way I saw it, the pros were: 1) I had no choice. 2) Once I downed this one, I’d be half-way through the bumpy Tax-ALL flight. 3) The bartender was finally adding the much anticipated Herceptin to this chemo cocktail. And Harry Connick Jr. had just starred in a movie about Herceptin, so it was like hanging out with Harry. Or Harry Handsome Connick, as I sometimes call him, when Dave is feeling super secure, since I don’t really feel like hurting his feelings. 4) I would have three weeks to shake this round off, and Merry Christmas, no chemo hangover on Christmas.

The cons were: 1) Saying the word “Uncle”. 2) Giving any remaining cancer cells any chance of getting all comfy cozy to the point they feel like staging another take-over. 2) I wasn’t in the mood for my own funeral if I could help it. 4) I was kind of getting into the groove of not having to shave.

The pros won out. Except for antics, antidotes, antioxidants (read: dark chocolate) and antipasto, I’m not a very anti- kind of a girl. In fact, I prefer calling myself pro-antics and so forth, because I like to keep things positive. For instance, even though I’m not a fan of cold temps, I wouldn’t classify myself as anti-freeze. Just think what that would do to the ice cream industry. I, for one, don’t feel like being a hater. (Proof: I don’t understand why so many people are against Monopoly, for one thing. One of my fondest childhood memories is of Monopoly marathons with my Uncle Bill, so all those anti-monopolists kind of rain on my parade down memory lane. But not so much that I feel like being all anti-them. I’m think returning evil for evil is a waste of time. And I don’t feel like wasting time.)

I’ve already covered my general distaste for antagonists, but I also have a general impatience for anticipation. I’m not just talking ketchup. Waiting, in general, bores me. Anticlimaxes have the same effect on me. I won’t go into antis such as anti-theft and antiviral because I never really feel like preaching to the choir because it is so anticlimactic.

A little known fact about me is that I don’t do antiperspirants. Although, it is quite possible that it has become slightly more public knowledge of late, as I have recently developed body odor. I totally blame it on the chemo buzz I’m still trying to walk off because I don’t remember stinking before chemo. At least it’s in keeping with my lack of style, NOT anti- fashion, btw. It’s not that I’m pro-perspirant, but neither am I anti-anti-perspirant. And not for anit-social reasons either, because as you might have guessed, I am not anti-social. Just ridiculously painfully shy. For one thing, I’m no math genius, but I do know that two negatives make a postitive, so it really seems to split hairs. And if you’ll remember, at this point in my story, I didn’t have any, so it’s a rather moot point.

Anyway, the reason I don’t wear antiperspirant is because when my friend Sue first got breast cancer the first two things she did were eliminate antiperspirant and stop eating chicken breast that had been enhanced with growth hormones. Both of these steps made sense to me. Now, honestly, they want to lead.

One thing all the weighing of pros and cons led to me thinking was how chemo and Jesus both bring me to my knees. That’s the only similarity I can come up with, but it’s significant to me. I know I have no choice but to take the chemo. All I have to do is look at my three kids and there is no question in my mind about that. But give me Jesus, please. I’m not trying to be all religious or anything because I don’t really get into religion. Or feel like beating anybody over the head with it. But the truth is, people always ask me about the hope I have, that doesn’t seem to make sense in the middle of cancer and chemo. My answer is that except for Jesus, I don’t know, and it seems legit, even called for, to sign my name on the dotted line. The truth is, CANCER is the enemy here, and Jesus has been more than a friend to me.

Besides that, all I know about finding courage, is to put one foot in front of the other. Life does go on during chemo. Dave’s gall bladder But the truth was, we had to find a place on the calendar, somewhere in between my chemo cocktails, where Dave could have the troublesome gall bladder removed. Amanda was wrapping up her first quarter of college, not to mention, beauty school, for Christmas. And her driver’s license wasn’t going to be underneath the tree, but she was getting that back, finally. Matt was dealing with a double ear infection, and Mikey had an ear infection and strep. Both probably worn down from being the most amazing caretakers/ companions in chemo history EVER. While simultaneously being my own personal germaphobe-busters. You can’t even imagine the amount of Clorox Wipes and Purell my boys went through, trying to get my white blood cells’ backs. My hunch is that they crossed the streams from the Lysol cans because I didn’t even catch a sniffle. Which was good, because I didn’t have any nose hairs to catch a drippy nose.

I’m not saying that it was all fun and games in the Evanshire. We were definitely feeling like turnip pulp that had gone through my old juicer. Not exactly what you’d expect to throw in the shaker for a stiff bracer the weekend before the Tax(ALL)man cometh.

That Saturday was my tennis club’s annual Ballers Against Cancer fundraising event. We were partnering with The Tiffany Foundation, an organization founded by the family of Tiffany Floth Romero, in her honor. Tiffany was a fellow tennis lover who fought a long hard battle against inflammatory breast cancer. She was on chemo the last 4-5 years of her life. Without a break. But she fought with honor, on her own terms, and lived and loved to the last.

A bunch of my friends were going, and of course I was signed up, too. But inside I was a kind of a wreck about going because I was a wreck about Tax(ALL)day. Also, I was nervous about sticking out at a breast cancer event with my bald head. I told Dave that I hoped there would be other “bald” people there so I wouldn’t stick out and distract from the fundraising purpose of the evening. Then I told the kids I thought they should stay home. They were waiting on some friends to come over and were going to follow us over to the club. But one of them had a hard time driving and I changed my mind because I was going to be worse of a wreck if my kids were out driving on a night like that. I also think that part of me was worried they were having to deal with too much cancer and thought they could use a break.

When Dave and I walked in the doors at Five Seasons, the first person we ran into, coincidentally, was Tiffany’s dad, who told me I reminded him of his Tiffany. I was amazed that I got to meet him right off the bat, and also shocked that he knew my name. From there I was surrounded by friends. Then I met a girl named Kristi, who used to be bald like me. In fact, she had been traveling down a very similar road as the one I was on. Except she was only 28 years old, newly married, and pregnant, when she was diagnosed, a year before I was diagnosed. Kristi had done the Adriamycin/Cytoxin cocktail, while pregnant. She had a healthy baby girl, quite appropriately, on Thanksgiving day, during her break before beginning the Taxol/Herceptin cocktail. The precious miracle baby Addison Grace was now one. And Kristi was about to down her last Herceptin cocktail just before Christmas. What a road she had traveled. I was humbled, to say the least, at her youth and the incredible circumstances she had overcome, which made my own pale in comparison. And it was obviously encouraging to see someone who had traveled the same road I was on, to the other side of breast cancer and chemo. She had been there and done that already. Meeting Kristi was like getting a postcard from HOPE.

When Kristi got up and shared her story, I was not shocked that The Tiffany Foundation had honored her with a vacation away from cancer. I was stunned, however, and rendered speechless, when she awarded me a family membership to Five Seasons, and free tennis lessons for me, to help me get back out on the courts! I don’t know if it was the chemo, but I had didn’t have the slightest clue the evening was headed there. So much for being inconspicuous.

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What an unexpected boost. And what timing. And it’s crazy times like that, when I find grace at the bottom of my cup, and the next thing I know I’ve downed another chemo cocktail, am wearing a lampshade, or rather a Santa Claus hat, on my head, and I’m singing my heart out.

Chemo Santa Baby

I had an awful lot to sing about. I had one round of Herceptin under my belt. I was halfway through the Tax-ALL. And I had three whole weeks before the next round. It might’ve been the Santa hat, either that, or I got tipsy on Tax-ALL, but something put me in the holiday spirit and found myself remixing a few holiday tunes. Not to mention, cracking myself up.

“The Twelve Days of Christmas” is one of my favorite ones anyway, but especially when every day your true love gets you ANYTHING BUT CHEMO!

“I’m Gettin’ Nuttin’ For Christmas” was not so bad when the nuttin’ meant NO CHEMO!

And the famous, “Jingle Bells, CHEMO SMELLS!” Well, that one just feels good to sing out loud.

Speaking of feeling good. Well, that was a another crazy twist in my plot. I’d called Dr. Stahl’s nurse, Rita, to talk to her about Port Rapha, which felt like a Hummer trying to fit into a compact car only parking space. She told me to call her friend Sharon, a massage therapist who is also a two-time survivor, and now specializes with women who’ve had breast surgery. So during my extra good week in between rounds, I completely freaked my body out by having a massage. It was not expecting that. At all. For a moment it wondered if it was having an out of body experience. What’s this? No poison and pain today? Then it remembered pleasure, and at first it was a shock but then it was just “ahhhhhhhhh…”

At which point I realized that I probably hadn’t relaxed a single muscle nor taken a deep breathe since I found the damn spot. Sharon told me I was in guard mode, and that it was normal considering all I’d been through. Her compassion was as therapeutic to me as her skill. It wasn’t obviously a deep tissue massage. It was more like a touch of mercy. She kept reminding me to breathe. Honestly, I was holding my breathe to keep my eyes from leaking. It was the strangest sensation. I wasn’t sobbing or anything, like Mira Sorvino does in the movie At First Sight. Although, I think of that scene when my eyes were leaking everywhere like that, every time she said breathe now.

 

Soul Tattoo

May 8, 2014 — 1 Comment

(for Jen Pastiloff)10341949_10203009237703744_3128114967743655481_n

At the end of my days, when I lay me down—

Not to chase dreams, and no more counting sheep…

But when Savasana “gets real”: me, unwound

From this long insomnia to the Big Sleep.

 

When I close my eyes and connect the dots

Tracing the R, the I, especially the P—

In Pen—I’ll inhale like tomorrow’s not.

Holding it like a forget-me-NOT. Me.

 

Swirling that little word around my tongue—

Trying to discern the aftertaste. Mine.

Before I spit it out. Before my song’s sung.

When I ask, “What have I done?” One. Final. Time.

 

When my slobber hits the pillow—Most of

All—Let my answer be: I. Have. Done. LOVE

 

URGENT: DRAGONFLY’S 5/8 “LIFE: INTERRUPTED” FUNDRAISER POSTPONED.

The Flight of Lovely Dragonflies

Unfortunately our featured guest, New York Times “Life, Interrupted” writer, my beautiful friend Suleika Jaouad, has been hospitalized this week and cannot make it to Cincinnati. As you can imagine, we have decided to postpone the event. I’m super sorry to deliver this news but I know everyone understands that Suleika’s well-being is our first priority. I will keep everybody posted on the new date and deets as soon as Suleika busts out of the hospital so we can make a new plan. Meanwhile, please everybody, keep her in your thoughts and prayers, and let’s send her lots of love and good vibes as she deals with this interruption and plots her escape.

Typical of Suleika’s thoughtfulness, style, and grace, here’s a message she wrote from the hospital:

I’m writing from my hospital room at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City to say that I’m so sorry that I will not be able to attend The Dragonfly Foundation’s May 8th fundraiser honoring Maya the Magnificent and other young patients enduring cancer and bone marrow transplants. Although I’m stuck in the hospital, my heart, best wishes and congratulations are with you all in Cincinnati. I am overwhelmed by what you had planned for the event!

As a young cancer warrior myself, I was looking forward to sharing my story with you. The event was extra special to me because my mother Anne Francey was accompanying me and bringing her gorgeous paintings to Cincinnati to benefit the Dragonfly Foundation.

We know that life is unpredictable, and sometimes can be “interrupted.” However, it is Spring and hope is in the air! Please know that everyone associated with the “Flight of the Lovely Dragonflies” fundraiser, myself included, are determined to reschedule the event as soon as we possibly can. The Dragonfly Foundation’s website, Facebook page and Twitter feed will provide information about the new date of the event.

Please know that you have my deepest gratitude for welcoming me so warmly to Cincinnati. Thank you to Art Design Consultants, all our amazing sponsors, Joules Evans, Bonnie Collins, and all the wonderful people who purchased tickets to attend the event. I could not be more grateful for the support you have shown me, my darling friend Maya, and The Dragonfly Foundation.

If you so choose, The Dragonfly Foundation can provide you with refund, but I really hope you will wait for me. I can’t wait to thank each of you personally.

With gratitude, Suleika

Speaking for myself and my planning committee… we can’t. freaking. WAIT! till she busts out of the hospital so we can reschedule this event and make it happen! And speaking for the Dragonflies, here’s a sweet message to Suleika from one of the Dragonfly families:

P.S. In accordance with the rebooking of the Flight of Lovely Dragonflies event, my scheduled “haircut”…

…so yeah, that “haircut” will still go down in accordance with the rescheduling of the event, provided I can raise enough bucks to pay these crazy little warrior sisters of mine aka my dragonfly barbers.

The Flight of Lovely Dragonflies

Cincinnati, OH— Emmy Award-winning New York Times Well columnist, cancer survivor and health advocate, Suleika Jaouad will be featured at an event to benefit The Dragonfly Foundation on May 8, 2014 from 6-9 PM at ADC Art Fine Art’s “Gallery in the Sky”.

Suleika Jaouad is the writer of The New York Times Column, “Life, Interrupted”—which chronicles her own journey through cancer. In addition, the video series that accompanies her column earned her a 2013 News & Documentary EMMY award win. Suleika and her mom, renowned artist Anne Francey, will be the featured speakers at “Life, Interrupted: The Lovely Flight of Dragonflies” event to benefit The Dragonfly Foundation of Cincinnati.

The Dragonfly Foundation’s mission is to bring comfort and joy to kids and young adults enduring cancer and bone marrow transplants. The Dragonfly Foundation provides support to patients (and their families) from their date of diagnosis until they are 5-years free of their disease. Dragonflies range in age from birth to age 30. The Dragonfly Foundation also enhances quality of life programs at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center’s Cancer & Blood Diseases Institute.

To view the video from Suleika’s EMMY award-winning “Life, Interrupted” series, which inspired this event: “A Family Gets Cancer” please click HERE.

Local Dragonfly Maya “the Magnificent” Collins will also be a special guest, as she and Suleika have formed a special bond through following each other’s journeys with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML).

“Life, Interrupted: The Flight of Lovely Dragonflies” will take place at ADC Fine Art aka Cincinnati’s “Gallery in the Sky” at 310 Culvert St. Suite 501, Cincinnati, OH 45202.

Tickets are $25—a limited supply of 200—are available through The Dragonfly Foundation. Both Anne Francey and Maya the Magnificent will have art available for sale at the event, with a portion of the proceeds benefit the Dragonfly Foundation.

For inquiries about the Life, Interrupted: The Flight of Lovely Dragonflies event, contact Joules Evans at joules@joulesevans.com or 513.265.4063. For information about The Dragonfly Foundation, visit the website at www.dragonfly.org. For more information about Suleika Jaouad, visit her website at www.suleikajaouad.com. Follow @Suleikajaouad on Instagram and Twitter.

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[Reposting this from The SCAR Project Blog, which I manage for The SCAR Project.]

THE SCAR PROJECT ANNOUNCES TORONTO PREMIERE OF THE INTERNATIONAL EXHIBITION—MARCH 28-APRIL 6, 2014

SCAR ImageMarch 3, 2014—The SCAR Project, the groundbreaking photographic exhibition created by fashion photographer David Jay is set to premiere March 28 at Edward Day Gallery, 952 Queen St West, Toronto Ontario.

The SCAR Project is a series of large-scale portraits of young breast cancer survivors. On the surface an awareness raising campaign for young women, The SCAR Project’s deeper message is one of humanity. Ultimately, The SCAR Project is not about breast cancer, but the human condition itself; the images transcend the disease, illuminating the scars that unite us all.

Sponsored by Rethink Breast Cancer, the world-renowned exhibition will open this year’s Breast Fest on March 28, 2014. This marks the first time the exhibition will be shown to Canadian audiences. The gallery will be open for public viewing March 28-April 6 (closed Sunday and Monday). Gallery hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm, Sunday by appointment. Admission is free.

A screening of the EMMY Award winning documentary about The SCAR Project: Baring It All will be shown at the Bloor Hotdocs Cinema at 3:30pm on Sunday, March 30. Tickets are $10. A Q&A session with David Jay will follow the screening.www.breastfest.ca.

For more information please contact :

Jennifer Rashwan, Touchwood PR  416.593.0777 x 205,jennifer@touchwoodpr.com

Alma Parvizian, Touchwood PR     416.593.0777 x 202,alma@touchwoodpr.com

For more information on The SCAR Project visit the website:www.thescarproject.org and www.thescarprojectblog.com. Follow @thescarproject on Twitter and Facebook.

For more information on Rethink Breast Cancer visitwww.rethinkbreastcancer.com

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When Reality Takes a Bite

February 25, 2014 — 1 Comment

[My first attempt at spoken word. Rough cut and raw. A poem for my beautiful friend V, who put the V in living sincerely.]

When Reality Takes a Bite

Sometimes reality is sweet

LIke a Gala apple

aka a party in your mouth

if you do the semantics.

Here’s some antics

—When my mother-in-law eats an apple

She doesn’t just eat the apple

She eats the core

Which is pretty much the definition of sucking the marrow

When it comes to eating apples.

(Hard core to the “Outlaw.”)

—My husband dressed up as Johnny Appleseed once when he was a boy.

All he did was stick a pan on his head

And he went trick-or-treating like that

But boy he raked it in.

Sometimes life is sweet like that.

And maybe there’s some genetic predisposition to it all?

I don’t know this but

I do know #thatawkward moment there’s a worm in your apple.

Neither half of the apple

Nor the worm in your mouth

is sweet.

And there ‘aint enough tequila to knock that sucker back.

Cuz sometimes reality

it.

fucking.

Bites.

And you try and spit it out

Cuz it’s too hard to swallow.

Like when the doctor calls and you feel the tug of the rug

Pulled right out from under your reality

With ONE word.

My word began with a big damn C.

I don’t know what your word begins with.

All I know is…

Sticks and stones my ass. 

That one God-damned word

Knocked all three of my kids down

To the ground

on August 20, 2008

at 5 o’clock.

We were huddled around the phone

When it rang.

I dropped the phone

After the doctor said the word cancer

Because my kids fell sobbing, to the floor

And I needed both hands to do the math:

1 lap, 2 arms, 3 kids

2 breasts

but they’d have to go

(salute)

but they did their job.

And if you read my book then you know they were hot

Like the tears falling down my kids faces

When I gathered them up off the floor and drew them into my bosom

One last time.

And I wanted to pay the archer to shoot the crab

Cuz it’s God-damned pinchers woke up my babies

To this reality.

I’m a Libra so this seemed a just-ified sentence.

Oh, for the gavel big enough to take down the big damn C.

(Rock-paper-ROCK) bigger stones have been rolled away.

(Rock-paper-SCISSORS) don’t stop believing’! Let’s cut this shit out!

(Rock-paper-PAPER) show me the CURE.

And not just the pink one

But the greens and the blues

All of the hues

Even the Walter Whites.

Everybody trying to Livestrong.

But especially the kids.

Oh brother where art thou gavel?

Cancer is a

Cancer is a bitch wine

I’ll drink to that.

I can testify to that.

Cancer. is. a. bitch.

But especially, when it picks on kids.

A couple of weeks ago I went to a little girl’s funeral

She was 8 years, 7 months, 9 days YOUNG.

The Piano Man said “Only the good die young”

And on days like that I believe him.

Days like that I wanna slam that damn gavel down

God (slam) Damn (slam) Cancer (slam)

Amen.

She’s resting now.

But there’s no rest, for the rest

No peace

Till we make war on cancer

—All the cancers

And knock them all down one by one

Like dominoes.

That same day

The day I witnessed that gross injustice

Of a young mother beside herself beside her little girl’s casket

And I’m here

—If I’m here for any reason

—And there has to be a reason

—I’m. still. Here.

to testify

to such

gross

injustice.

That same day

That. same. damn. day.

A man

(he happens to be my age)

And has a son

Who hangs out with my sons.

Well that day that boy lost his daddy

To the same damn cancer that poisoned Apple.

Because there isn’t an app for that yet.

The evening of that same day

I visited a beautiful friend of mine who is dying

from the same damn pink elephant of a cancer

that doubles as a pink monkey on my back.

I took her some groceries

But no apples.

She didn’t ask for any and I didn’t buy any.

Her husband said maybe some Lucky Charms.

So I brought the biggest damn box I could find, and some milk.

And since Valentine’s Day was around the corner—

Which feels very far away when your friend is dying—

I found a Dorie from Finding Nemo Pez dispenser—

Which seems like a funny Valentine—

But I never ever saw anyone keep on swimming

Like she kept on, keeping on swimming.

But I know how this story goes and I know she finds Nemo.

I’ve been taking my time

Eating mine

But my Pez dispenser is empty.

Oh, my heart.

This scar.

And this scar

Beneath the pink ribbon

Beneath this big c

(I copy”write” that shit)

I used to suck on a green apple Jolly Rancher

To keep me from the hurly burleys

From the tin taste when they accessed the port

To pour in the poison

—24 chemo cocktails

Damn, bartender.

Still…paying that big damn tab.

You’d think I hate green apple Jolly Ranchers by now

But I don’t.

They remind me I’m alive.

And that sometimes even when reality bites

It can be sweet.

And I’m thankful they “handled” the aftertaste”

Of accessing the port

Cuz that poison “handled” the cancer.

God damn cancer.

Where’s that gavel?

*******

My beautiful friend died at 8:04 yesterday morning.

Yesterday…

Today…

Tomorrow.

Reality

Really

Fucking

Bites.

I-can-barely-swallow-i-can-barely-breathe-i-feel-like-i-am-choking-on-this-damn-apple

I can try and spit it out all I want

—And I want

But there it is

Right here

on the floor next to me.

I can try and wipe away the bitter aftertaste

But I don’t have any sleeves.

And even if I did,

The spooge would be on my sleeve.

I’d still smell it.

I can try and step on it

Smash it into the ground

This same ground

But we’ve been there before

It stuck on my shoe

And all I did was make a little

Applesauce.

I can try to kick it.

Been there, done that

Made a mess.

And it’s going to take more than Bounty to wipe up this mess and put it

In the trashcan.

I wish it were that easy.

But fuck easy.

Fuck cancer.

If Dorie can find Nemo

Surely we can find a cure.