Good News Whale Deserved!

I saved up all my super good juju for now, it seems!  I finally get to share a few bits of good news… and a new haircut!

PET Scan results: no lingering, hiding, lurking, waiting cancer found!  My liver checked out OK (still just a lumpy bastard) and my left femur bone by my knee is cancer-free too.  Wootwoot!  Now we just focus on the invisible possibilities that could be floating freely in the Serena ship.

BRCA genetic testing results: I do NOT have the mutation in BRCA1 or BRCA2 associated with breast cancer!  This doesn’t really change my treatment–and I still have no clear reason to place the blame o’ cancer–but I am also able to breathe on the fact that I do not have an increased risk for ovarian cancer!  Yay!  No one is saying “hysterectomy” in my presence, for the time being.  I also like to hear that I do not have a mutation.  Ok, ok, well, at least I do not have a mutation that has been proven.  Yet.  I will do another test for yet another gene’s mutation associated with an increased risk of multiple cancers, as it could change my thoughts on radiation (which is still recommended).

Hair has been cut!  Here is the new ‘do:


And for reference, the old hair that is no more:

No pixie or faux hawking or shaving of the head just yet but surely those are the next steps!  Thanks for all the styling points!

Tomorrow it’s off to Oahu with Sean for my third opinion and port surgery (still ugh but feeling better about it).

To those of you on Maui or nearby or even anyone who just feels like coming to Maui for vacation, I hope to see you on Wednesday, May 30th at 7pm at Maui Brew Co in Kahana to say Aloha to Lahaina-side as we move to Kihei, prepare to get on the chemo boat in early June and welcome summer to the islands!  All are welcome, don’t be stranger!


Cancer, You’re Being An A$$hole!

Warning: Not intended for small children learning to read.  Despite following the songstress, Ke$ha’s, ruling that “S” letters can be swapped out for clever symbols to disguise bad words from children while still allowing intelligent adults to see the true lettering, I fear that some children of this era are too smart and will not be fooled.  Keep this blog away from your tiny geniuses!

I have a slew of Doctors visits to clarify with you, a grand decision that has been made and a gift to self but first I’d like to give a shout out to cancer being an asshole in the most strange of ways, a way I have alluded to before.

“I’m start chemotherapy in June.”

“Oh, what for?  Do you have cancer?”

“I have breast cancer.  Er, well, I had breast cancer.  Actually, well I might still have breast cancer?  Really, what I’m saying is… That, well… Ok, here it is, you know the short version.  I had a lump in my breast that was cancer.  And they removed it.  And they said that one lymph node had cancer.  So they removed that.  Which would mean I don’t have cancer anymore.  But then since it was in the first node but not any others, I might still have cancer.  Think like Star Wars and that my cancer cells maybe went stealth and snuck by the first node and now they have an invisible force field around them so that no Doctor can tell me I have cancer but we all have to err on the side that maybe I do still have cancer, when maybe I don’t, and I have to have chemo.”

“So, you have cancer?”

“I don’t know.”

Fuckin cancer!  If I say I have it I feel like I might be lying but the short answer is, yeah, sure, I have cancer.  Or on a good day: NOPE, NO CANCER but I’m having chemo for fun, just in case, just for the experience and curiosity!  Or on a bad pessimistic conspiracy theory day: yup, tons of minute microscopic little cells float around within me ready to land and harvest another of my organs, gotta watch my back, gotta put some chemical warfare on these punks, no more peaceful protests from this hippie chick.

Man, I sure have an active–healthy?–imagination!  Don’t worry, I haven’t gotten to the talking to myself in the grocery store stage yet, though I bet some busy women do this simply because our to-do lists are so long and never-ending.  I haven’t gotten to the crazy lady shit yet.  These are just the thoughts I have right before I fall asleep, when women are known to do their best–and maybe wackiest–thinking.  Then we fall asleep and forget it all.  But sometimes is stays in the brain until I can release it into the blog world.  And now this crazy talk is in your brain.  Welcome to my world!

A short stint into words…

Chemotherapy shall be mainly referred to as chemo, because therapy sounds peaceful and so far, chemo–with its baldness and its mouth sores–does not.

The word blog is a weird word of my generation and I wonder how it was thought up.  Some “writer” was probably thinking, “Man I’d like to write something, maybe a book?  No, too long.  An article?  Too much research.  BLAAAHHHH..gggggggg!  EUREKA! That’s it!  I will create a new genre of writing word vomit with facts, if I so choose, and interesting bits of life’s quirks and maybe it will have a purpose.  And I will write it when I want.  Or not at all.  I will write it when I am not Tweeting and I will Tweet about it so that I will have free advertising.  And I shall call it… a BLOG!”

The nitty gritty is that I had that second opinion with that lady Doctor and I was sorely disappointed.  Not because she basically gave the same treatment plan with a different suggestion on specific chemo drugs (ones better for my heart; will discuss with original Dr).  And not because she put a hard emphasis on the hormonal therapy, the drugs that I need to take for five years and thus would really put me out there with my age and the baby plan (there isn’t a “plan” per se but for the sake of argument, let’s just imagine I wanted to start having kids at 30-32; now I have to wait 1.5 years for chemo, 5 years for hormones and 2 more years “just to be safe,” though this last part is not research-based.  I’m 28.  You do the math.  We did also discuss “the risk I would have to decide to take” if I wanted to take the hormones for 2-2.5 years and then have baby time.  Studies show that 2 years is good, 5 years is optimal and 10 years didn’t show much difference.  I do believe Giuliana Rancic is on this one, tamoxifen).

What really pissed me off the most was her complete disregard for what I wanted.  To a point of dumping on my wishes.  Ah, hi, I’m paying out of pocket to be here.  Please, stop talking and start listening, hone your sensitivity for me and my needs.  I told her my main concern was infertility from chemo.  What I wanted to hear was reassurance.  I wanted to hear about studies in which women had children after chemo, maybe that chemo affects a certain age group’s reproductivity more or less, or that there were other options to chemo or within chemo to lessen this risk.  Or they had invented an invisible shield to protect my womb!  Ok, maybe not that.  But you know what I mean.  This was the Pacific CANCER INSTITUTE.  I wanted to hear the cutting edge research about my age group with breast cancer and future offspring.  That’s all.  Pretty simple.

Did she tell me anything like that?  You know the answer: no, not really.  She suggested egg preservation (which I had already heard about from my gynecologist and had an appointment for after this one).  She gave me a paper about drugs to be used in association with the hormones that would be injected in me should I harvest huevos (eggs in Spanish, we’re bilingual today).  And she went on to say that I should really consider egg preservation and surrogacy.  I told her that I was thinking about it but that my concern was that if it were to come down to it, I would much rather have my own child, that I’m really not into the surrogacy thing.  I want the bonding and the experience of pregnancy.  You know what she said?  Moms out there, you’re gonna shit your pants, she said the bonding thing wasn’t really that great, pregnancy isn’t all that great and that surrogacy would let me keep my figure.  UM, HI?  WTF?  I am not the kind of woman that wants to hear that shit, oh, heeeeeeeeeell no.  If she was saying it to make me feel better about my fertility options, she actually further encouraged what had already occurred to me: that maybe frozen eggs aren’t for me.

But let’s go to the fertility specialist before we make any decisions.

The dog just farted; it smells disgusting.  I want you to be able to experience everything with me.  It must have been the bacon Sean and I snuck him this morning.  Or the six gallons of ocean water he drank yesterday.  Damn it, it’s lingering.  He’s asleep on the couch and didn’t even wake up for it.

The fertility specialist’s assistant had called the day before to try to move the appointment later.  I had said no since I had one more appointment after and didn’t want to be driving like a maniac to it.  She said not a problem, we can keep it as is.  I got there at 2pm and had to wait 45 minutes anyway to see the Dr!  Again, me = paying out of pocket moula for this.  I SAID NO TO COMING IN LATER!  Was there a miscommunication?  Anyway, when I did see him it went well (and he said no charge).  He said, yes, you would be injected with hormones as part of the process but then I would have chemo right away so any problems with hormones, theoretically, would be taken care of.  But then we talked about the cost (which, honestly is not a huge concern for me, I could make it work and there are a few non-profits that help out financially), and that the eggs that are harvested may not even have a viable baby within them, some would be damaged, there’s a monthly charge for storage (can you imagine a chilled three inch petri dish storage unit at $50 a month?  I pay $89 for a ten by ten in Cali, though not chilled), surrogacy, timing…

The more I nodded the more it dawned on me… I don’t want this.

Cause here’s the thing everyone, and maybe it’s just my thing but it’s still a thing: for me, the major allure of being able to create a human life that is in part me is the beautiful mystery of it all.  That’s it.  That’s what I am interested in.

When we’re talking about hormones and uterus size and egg numbers and test tubes and freezing and re-implantation and surrogacy, all that mystery is diminished with each step in the process.  Sure, genetically the child would be mine but I don’t just want the genetics (and even those are still questionable as we await my BRCA test).  I want the natural experience of having a child.  Or I’m OK with a very different, modern, helpful option: that might be lots of dogs and/or adoption of small humans… both cases are about someone that really needs a home, nurturing and a lot of love.

Egg freezing and surrogacy may be for some people, but I can’t do it.  As much of a proponent for modern science as I am, I am also still old fashioned in some respects.  This being a prime example.

The next year and five months will be a long, drawn out version of russian roulette and on the winning end of it, I will hopefully still have my fertility.  85% is my goal number.  85% of women are still fertile after chemo.

It’s also very close to some other important numbers, numbers that are the reason why I have to be OK with chemo: “89% of those treated for breast cancer will survive 5 years, and 82% will survive 10 years.”  I was always more of a B student so I will take it as a good sign and run with it!

My last appointment was easiest and with those I have grown to appreciate and truly trust, my home team: the Kaiser surgical staff.  Ol’ righty looks pretty good, she’s settling in nicely with lefty showing her the way.  My mastectomy scar will heal over many months and then be used to squish in and create a new nipple (ah, modern medicine).  Three rounds of tattooing later and I will have what will resemble a pretty believable new boob.  It feels good to be mostly complete with that aspect.

I cried at my first appointment, but then I just got frustrated, angry and gave up cause the tears weren’t worth it.  I almost cried at my second appointment but held it together.  By my third appointment, I was so emotionally wrecked that I just cried it all out, all it took was, “how have things been?”  And I don’t cry in the peaceful, Demi Moore in Ghost single tear from one eye way; it’s both eyes full buckets, runny nose (my nose cries too) and not able to speak a word then ragged breathing to shudder-talk.  It kind of has to pass before I can get back to a coherent conversation.  But the surgery center is good section to cry in because they actually are on my team.  This next year is gonna suck, she said, you got dealt a shitty card but it will go away.

I know what you’re all wondering–even if you forgot what you were wondering since you got sucked into this episode of Serena’s boob drama–what gift did you get yourself?!

Serena, you’ve won.. A. NEW. CAR!!!!!

Don’t worry, even though I am allowed to have a mid-life crisis or a 1/3-life crisis or whatever, this is not it.  I bought myself the car I’ve wanted since college because life is short and I’m tired of waiting for the right time or the right star to align with a half full moon on the 23rd of August.  Plus, I needed something higher up, more reliable, sportier and with tinted windows and AC.  It’s a Craigslist find, gently used, great condition 2000 Honda CRV-LX.  That’s right, a Cancer Resistant Vehicle-Lets Xtinguishthisshit!  That’s the name right?  It was on Kelly Blue Book like that… Maybe not but it sure would make a great boat name…

A couple of things coming up that you can help with:

1) I have a haircut on Thursday.  My hair is long and chemo might take all or some of it (and hey, maybe it will leave it all).  But to pretend I have some control and to not be totally freaked out when long pieces fall out, I am seeking a mid-length cut, shorter than I’ve had in years and I am looking for suggestions and ideas.  Celeb photos accepted.  I have stick straight hair and I use a blow dryer twice a month, oh and I live and a sub-tropical climate.  That is your challenge should you choose to accept it.

2) Friday I have a third opinion with Kaiser on Oahu and then I have probably the most difficult part (other than mastectomy pain) of this whole ordeal: I get a port installed in my chest.  Look, cancer/chemo combo, it’s not enough that our hair falls out, we puke our guts up and we’re tired for a year and a half, but you make us get an unsightly medical device installed in our chests for all the world to see and murmur about?  Real cool, real cool, ya jerk.  No matter how you dress that up, I’m not going to be happy about it; though my arm veins will thank me as will my nurses who hate poking me for an IV.  So, basically, pray for me and if you’re going to stare at it or want to stare at it once I get it, at least have the decency to ask about it and/or make a joke about it.  If you try to treat me like a leper I will slap you with my port tubes!

3) We’re moving to Kihei at the end of March so if anyone wants to help us move, let me know!  I will be closer to my Doctors and work as I plan to switch my job responsibilities over a bit.

4) Go outside and let the sun kiss your face (with SPF 30+)!  And plant some flowers.  Or tomatoes.  Or both!

Le Rant

I’ve never taken a French class in my life, but I’m pretty sure “Le” is french for “the” and “rant,” well, that’s a good ol’ American term (one could argue that it’s English but didn’t we disaffiliate from them hundreds of years ago?  And I’m sure by this point in history we’ve made up enough of our own words where I’m sure G Dub would say, “we speak American!”) for purging hostile emotions in a yelling and irritable fashion.  Be prepared; I promised honesty and honesty isn’t always pleasant.

Listen, kids, I’ve been putting of this blog for a while.  In part because I just didn’t want to write; it’s just a sad time, and I feel defeated in many ways.

I know that I am lucky that the Doctors didn’t look at my cancer and say, “tough shit, there’s NOT A THING we can do.”  In fact, they told me the opposite: do everything in the tool belt.  And I still hate it.  I’m not happy either way because I’m still pretty pissed that this is what I get for following the rules all my life.

I literally just hung up the phone from making my appointment to get a port put in.  Look, I accept that this is all part of the process to, you know, live longer.  But it still sucks.  I don’t want to get cut open again and have a device put in my chest with tubes coming out to attach poisons to me for the next year and five months of my life.  At 28, that’s the rest of my life (or, in realistic terms, the rest of my wild and crazy twenties).

These last few weeks have been a frantic scramble to get answers to questions I never dreamed of addressing so early in life.  The baby question is everywhere.  I’ve seen more newborns and strollers lately than I’ve ever seen in my life.  Everyone has a baby!  We’ve discussed having kids right now but it doesn’t seem right.  How could I go through chemo and not be able to properly care for a child?  Plus, the Doctors would probably say no.  The good news is that my OBGYN visit came back positive and normal so going into the unknown effect of chemo on fertility at least I’m starting off on the plus side.  The unfortunate news is that every time I consider freezing eggs, I hit a road block: I would have to take hormone shots (a big no-no when my cancer is estrogen receptor positive) and it costs oodles of money ($10,000 ish and yes, that is the correct number of zeroes).  The money part does not concern me as much, I could make that work.  Not that I ever thought at 28 I would be considering this egg preservation as part of my budget when I’m still paying off student loans.

As I prepare for chemotherapy, we are still answering some questions, too.  Recently, my bone scan found an abnormality on my left femur by my knee.  The Doctor seems to believe it was caused by some trauma or other (easily attributed to either a) my clumsiness or b) drunken tirades known as my college years or c) both).  But we just don’t know.  The plus side is that my Doctor has finally OKed me for a PET scan, which will look closer at my femur and my lumpy liver… just to be sure.  (And the more understandable yet unfortunate part to all this is that Kaiser has to outsource to a PET scan company on Oahu for my procedure… and THAT is probably why they didn’t OK this scan in the first place: money).  Glad to have a cautious and thorough Doctor.

I also found out that my heart has an uneven flap to it that makes it beat a little wonky.  Nothing to be too alarmed about but sometimes, ignorance is bliss: I would probably rather not know about my funky heart and my lumpy liver and my weirdo bone bruises.  I can live just fine without knowing but senorita cancer has decided to put everything in the light for me.  Except for the cancer herself; we still have no freaking clue if it’s in me at all anymore.

Ah, my boob.  You want to know how the fake one is.  Surgery went well, it’s all in place.  I have a strong pain on the outer side that I will be following up with my Doctor on; it’s mostly only when I lay down.  It looks pretty believable, except for the scars.  In clothes, you can’t really tell (and I know many of you will try to figure it out; I will try to not fault you for your natural curiosity.  But if you stare too long, I may slap you.  You’ve been warned).

That whole process was difficult to accept at the time but now that it is done, I don’t really notice too much.  It doesn’t bother me as much as I expected it too.  In part because I could reason out the actual idea that we would cut the cancer out; and in part because what was taken was replaced, it doesn’t feel too different, and I still have the other one.

And for those of you that are still not understanding why I didn’t get a matching set:

1) It was not recommended by the Doctor, nor was it necessary for my survival.

2) Surgeries fucking hurt with the one, I cannot imagine two.

3) I’d still like to offer my future offspring an alternative to formula, gotta keep my–and their–options open.

4) I can get the other one done anytime; it seems that the Clintons took care of breast cancer patients for life.

I’m sincerely hoping that I will feel the same way about chemotherapy: that the anticipation is worse than the process; that one year and five months will pass more quickly than I can imagine; that I can continue to have an enjoyable life through all the inevitable hair loss, mouth sores, sunless days, puking, exhaustion.  Man, that sounds awful.  Am I really supposed to say yeah, sure, no problem to all that?  Ugh, I guess… If I have to…

I did also take my genetic test; yes, more of my blood is in a lab somewhere.  I should know in 4 weeks if I have a mutation to BRCA1 and/or BRCA2.  For clarification as much as for learning, we all have these genes it’s just a matter of whether they are mutated and if they are mutated, it’s not just breast cancer that can be related to the mutation.  Ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, etc (oh, I’m sure there’s more but sometimes I stop listening in these Doctors offices and appointments, I can only take so much).  And if I don’t have the mutation?  I get to take another genetic test to see if I have a different mutation associated with breast cancer.  And if I don’t have that?  Well, then, I’m just like the majority and we’re back to blaming parabens and pesticides (which, by the way, avocados are the least-pesticide-sprayed fruit/veggie out there; eat your avos!).

So where are we now?  Thursday May 17 is PET scan day on Oahu.  Friday May 18 is surgery follow-up and second opinion day at Pacific Cancer Institute here in Maui.  I’ve put an overwhelming amount of faith and hope onto this Doctor because not only is she affiliated with a medical facility that actually specializes in cancer, she’s also a WOMAN!  No, Captain Obvious is not part of the Avengers but that was a good movie.  It’s important to me to speak to a woman who can understand where I’m coming from with my concerns.  I’ve also felt that everything I’ve brought to my current oncologist he has shot down pronto.  So, sorry Doc at PCI, but you’ve got a big case on Friday; I will be asking a lot of questions and I’m hoping you have some new and better information and answers!

Thanks for listening to le rant.  I know it’s not easy to sit there and take it.  They say that breast cancer hits one in 2500 women under thirty; so to the other 2499, I took one for the team and I damn well hope cancer leaves you the fuck alone.  These statistics don’t make me feel any better when I am the “1” but maybe it helps you.  If you’re reading this then maybe you’re not facing it but you’re still learning about it.  This has been my life–my family’s life, my boyfriend’s life–for almost two months now.  That doesn’t seem like a long time at all and most days it still doesn’t feel real.  Maybe it will feel real when that first injection of poison goes in, or maybe it will never feel real and I will always keep it in another place.  Maybe as a curious scientific mind with my interest in embracing life, I’m meant to experience this horrible adventure for the sake of answers… or more questions.

The best hope I have for the future is that in a year and five months from now, this will all be a distant memory and that I will be able to move on with my life and plan for all the better brighter happier things.  And through it all and after it all, I still have the best brightest happiest supporters out there.

Catching Cancer

Dear friends, we need some good news so here we have it… madam liver has checked out as cancer-free.  For now.  I know, I know, just stay with the positive.  But I can’t help but be cautious in receiving good news.  (Buzz kill?  Too soon?  Too soon?)

Yesterday was ultrasound day, with bro Erik and sis-in-law Lisa, the Doctors (multiple this time, they must be realizing not to F around with this, knowing my “reaction” and “interest”) looked over the images and determined that my lumpy liver is not cancerous.  And we’ll be checking back in 3 months.  Just to, you know, check, make sure it stays non-cancerous.

I think maybe my freak out helped.  Here’s my sound and logical reasoning.  Cancer is like the scene from one of the Jackass movies in which the giant floury hand slaps unknowing victims in the face as they walk through a door.  Every time I think things look good, I walk through the door and cancer slaps me in the face with a dose of bad news (also called “shit” or in the analogy, flour).  This time, I ran around and used the other doorway and screamed in cancers ear or I just told everyone else about cancer’s trickery: and it didn’t have a chance to face-slap me.  We beat it to the punch, so deflated sad little cancer moped off with its tail between its legs.

Until 3 months from now and they tell me cancer found an “in” to the liver party.

You can never be too sure with this stuff, but I will enjoy our victory cancer slap for now.

Now, I know you’ve all been wondering, “Gosh, how did Serena catch cancer anyway?”

And I know it’s not dengue fever or the plague or what’s that one from rats?  Anyway, we know it’s not defined as “catch-able” or as those pesky smart people call it “transmittable.”

Cancer has become the disease of our generation; more people are studying cancer in its various forms than ever before (see how I made that sound like a fact?  But if you really think about it, I didn’t commit a time to “ever” and of course more people are probably studying it because there simply are more people on the planet.  Genius, I know, the things I sneak in here).  Regardless, it’s probably true.  Everyone either has it, has had it, knows a close relative who has/had it, or at least knows a friend of a friend who has/had it.  Because of that, more Doctors are motivated to study it, learn about it, and try to get rid of it.

But how do you get rid of something if you cannot trace its origins?  We can treat the symptoms and we can try to kill the cells that have become cancer but how do we prevent cancer from forming?  Finding out that last part is likely impossible.

Let’s go through my day and/or life and see where I may have “picked up” my DNA-disrupters:

~I wake up: I am sleeping in flame resistant chemically-covered materials, anything from my mattress to my mattress pad to pillows to bedding is smothered in this stuff.  (GO WATCH Call of the Killer Whale, it is shocking how many chemicals we pick up daily that end up stored in our body fat over our lifetimes).  We seem to find a link between chemicals and cancer; but regardless, it just doesn’t feel normal.

~I pet my dog: He wears Frontline to protect him (and his human counterparts) from flea and tick infestation and disease.  More chemicals.

~I put my feet down on carpet: FLAME-RETARDANT!  Think of your kids crawling around on that.  Now go invest in wood flooring.

~I’m in the bathroom: most of my lovely well-marketed HABA (HeAlth and BeAuty for anyone who didn’t get to work in a big convenience store growing up) products are likely to contain parabens… linked to cancer!  Go read your products, folks.  Not only are all of those ingredients hard to read, they are likely made in a factory.  Look for anything that specifically says “[unknown word] parabens.”  Some places where we (yes, it became a family event after mom read an article, and Sean, mom and I were reading til we were disgusted) found parabens: sunscreen (I use that every day in Maui!), my Ponds face cream (used intermittently), hand lotion (work in ocean = use copiously).  I stopped reading labels; ignorance is bliss (for seven to ten minutes).  We are slowly swapping out products in an attempt to adjust and embrace a non-cancer-causing life.  In this day and age, it’s not easy.  (Sunscreen for babies tends to be paraben-free… I use Ocean Potion, and I’m happy to say that I’ve used it for a while not knowing it was paraben-free.  Phew, we can’t blame my cancer on recent suncreen usage!  But then the question of skin cancer comes up when finding a sunscreen.  Lesser of two evils?  Jury’s out).

~Breakfast time: Shall I have some fertilizer and pesticides with my fruits and highly-processed breads, cereals, and other toaster strudel-y goodies?  How about a delicious bowl of cancer?  Now, I’m furthering myself from processed foods as much as possible (I’ve never even eaten a Toaster Strudel or is it Toaster’s Strudel?).  But it is HARD.  Monsanto owns everything.  No, really, they do (go get that Facebook list or Google it).  Everything we eat—or the TV tells us to eat—is processed, canned, boxed, frozen, genetically modified.  Have you seen an ad recently for apples?  No, me neither (maybe because I don’t have cable but I would guess there are none and I would want it to be an organic apple anyway).  Somehow is it cheaper to create all the chemicals as food additives than to literally just eat an apple pesticide-free.  To me, this is counter-intuitive even though I can come up with some of the places it gets pricey to “go organic” (like if the genetically-modified lab-created Giant Apple Wasp kills off your harvest; and, no, that’s not a real creature, I made that up for the show, I mean, blog).  Let’s go back to the “old ways;” I’d like some pre-industrial revolution foods at cost-effective prices.  Why is that so difficult?!  But how would Monsanto feed the masses?!  PRAY TELL!  [insert dramatic music]

~And what’s in my water…?  That’s a whole other bog, chapter, book, made-for-TV movie.

~Clean the counter: what chemicals are lurking under my sink?  Time to convert to vinegar-water for cleaning everything.  And that ant spray and ant chalk and ant cups we have!  I swear, the island of Maui is one giant ant hill in which the ants are sent on patrol to every home to scavenge for crumbs to bring back town to their thriving metropolis below my home that is part of an entire ant planet down there!  There are so many ants and I would like them dead (yes, environmentalists, ants in my kitchen have crossed the line; they shall suffer death).  Is ant killer carcinogenic?  Why not?!

~Walk outside: the gardeners spray pesticides.

~Walk the dog: That car driving by could have asbestos brakes (I have asbestos brakes) that flake off with every tap to the brakes.  The exhaust fumes from that beat up ol’ piece of shitnanigans we’re breathing in.  Cancer-causing?  Wouldn’t be hard to believe.

~Get in the car: Love that new car smell?  Breathe it deeply every time?  Why, that’s the smell of TOXINS!  Glues melting, leathers leaching.  Windows down, air out the car.  Every time.  Even in winter in Massachusetts.  I suppose it’s a blessing in disguise I could never buy a truly new car.  There is an article in the Raw Foods Bible about this phenomenon.  Should we leave the fact that they make a car air freshener that is called “new car smell” to another time?  Yes, yes.

~Get out of the car and cry: here is the cliff notes on the rest of those questionable materials… paving tar, chemtrails (Wikipedia it since it’s still considered a “conspiracy theory” brought to us generously from our government–and probably Monsanto… don’t shut me down, Big Brother, I never committed to it’s existence here… nor do I doubt its possibility.  Ok, ignore the hole I’ve dug and leave my blog alone.  Love you, thanks!), pesticides for highway weeds (drove by that yesterday), lighter fluid, second-hand cigarette smoke, cell phones (we’re all screwed, I give up).

If you look hard enough, you can find cancer everywhere.  It can become a psychosis.

So I thought about what caused my cancer for a few days and then I accepted the realization that I will probably never know.  And I can’t go through life wondering at every little product.  Plus, I already caught cancer!

It may even be genetic.  I go to Oahu tomorrow to begin testing to find out if I have BRCA1 and/or BRCA2, the genes linked to breast cancer (only found to be linked to about 10% of breast cancers… about 80% are UNKNOWN, or see above list for potential causes).

By the way, BRCA does not actually stand for “BReast CAncer,” as it would make too much sense and most science prefers to be above the average human brain.  It actually stands for where the gene was discovered: BeRkeley, CaliforniA (Ok, maybe they did mean the CA beginning of “California” but I want to overemphasize the ridiculousness of this naming).  That’s kind of dumb.  Can’t we just be laymen about this and say it’s named for the obvious?  Or you should have named the gene(s) more cleverly; you are scientists after all.  Ah, I see, there may have been creativity lacking in that lab.  (Sorry to tease you, and thank you for your hard work).

At the end of the day, cancer is a mutation in the DNA, namely in my DNA.  And we have no freaking idea how that happens.

The worst part is that we can fix some of the decisions the industrial-revolution and that thing called “progress” has led us to, where we made chemicals that have turned out to be bad news, but it takes time, it’s costly and that word called “change” and that other phrase called “stop eating processed foods” scare people.

I’m going to leak a little story.  TMZ-style, folks.  And sorry if it’s not ready for public knowledge but I believe in it.  And it needs some more press, since not enough kids these days know about PBS.  It’s about a little story Mr. Jean-Michel Cousteau (son of Jacques, don’t tell me you had to Google that name) is filming in Oakland, CA about how all these useless fish bones from a processing plant don’t have to be thrown away in the trash anymore.  They can actually mix them in with the dirt in Oakland.  Why does this Oakland community even need fish bones, you ask?  Oh, because they have terrible problem with LEAD contamination.  It’s in everything and it’s making them sick.  They used to have a harbor that was filled in to become a community and all the lead from boats was in the ground; mixing fish bones in neutralizes it.  Ah, one man’s trash can be another man’s LIFE-SAVING IDEA!

That’s all the details I have for now, just enough to peak your interest.  I imagine it will be playing on PBS, but feel free to check out the Ocean Futures Society web site (

This is just one example of how we can right our wrongs and get away from some anti-environment and anti-human health decisions we as a society have made over the years.  It’s just hard when the collective whole cannot embrace it because all the money-holders will not embrace it and make it affordable and main-stream.  But I have run out of steam for that can of worms.

Has anyone recently read the ingredients and been surprised when you actually know what all of the ingredients are?!

I have.  That’s sad.  We are too comfortable picking up an item and not knowing what we’re about to consume or slather on.

And some say we’re lucky to even have the FDA requiring the listing of ingredients!  IF WE ATE NATURAL FOODS, WE WOULDN’T NEED THE LIST!  Can a salted potato chip please just be A SALTED POTATO CHIP?!  Ingredients: potato, oil, salt.  Enough said!

I am going to end with the last bit that could be considered associated with everything above, and that is close to my heart: babies, babies, babies!

A lot of these cancerous connections also factor into reproductive challenges.  Whether it’s chemicals causing cancer that cause reproductive issues or chemicals directly causing reproductive issues.  Brain pain?  Sorry.  Read slowly.

I worked in California and assisted with a study on Horny Head Turbot fish.  See, they lived near the waste-water treatment outfall pipe in SoCal (yeah, I used that term, deal with it!) and scientists were finding that all of the hormones we ladies pee out from our birth control pills were changing the manly boy fish into LADY FISH.  Now, some fish can handle sex changes—it’s actually more common than you’d think—but this was unnatural change for this species.  The number of ladies would outweigh the number of dudes; more eggs, less sperm, no future turbot fish!

What have we done to our world?!

This forced sex change—and even sterility as a result—has been found with many frog species too (another pat on the PBS specials’ back!  Nerd it up, my friends, nerd it up.  Knowledge is power).

As for me, I cried at the Gyno’s office until she finally listened to what I was saying (part of it at least) and am going through hormone testing (too much information?  Wait til I tell you about my exam!  Just kidding).

She also started the appointment off with, “you cannot have babies for seven years.”  Oh, we’ll see, Doc.  Maybe I wont do everything that is suggested.  (**Seven years comes from 1 year chemo, 5 years hormone therapy, 2 years waiting… no science behind the 2 years reasoning, could do 0 years hormone treatment or 2 years hormones would also help a bit; could say F it all; could lose my mind).

Man, I’m tired.

Now, you have a lot to think about, huh?  Do not fear your kitchen and bathroom.  Grab that product by the plastic (*another issue for later) and read its ingredients!  And then go get the Burt’s Bees that matches (face wash for face wash, shampoo for shampoo) and feel the weight of chemical dependence lift off of you.