Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Advantages to Being Breast & Ovarian Free

1.) My OB/gyn visits are shorter. There is barely anything to examine now!

2.) Save $$- no more tampons or birth control. Offset somewhat by the cost of the estrogen patch, but still some upside.

3.) I can wear white pants ALL the time.

4.) Bras can be just for decoration. No need for function (support, shape, etc.). Bring on the frill.

5.) Justification for buying all new bathing suits and tops.

6.) No more PMS! Steady state, courtesy of Vivelle.

7.) And of course, BIG reduction in worry over cancer. Best of all.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Tatted Up

May I say, HOORAY!! I'm officially done with all the Foob procedures, now that I got my ink this week. The Fipples are fully tatted up, although not available for viewing under the big square puffy bandages (see Fipplegate posting). However, only a few more days to go and the year-long process will be complete.

I do need to share deets on the tattooing process, since it was a completely different experience than a regular "Hi, dude, can you put a big ole tramp stamp heart & flower thingy on my lower back and try not to give me hepatitis" type of tattoo. A medical tattoo means you get to first select your shade from the Martha Stewart Paint Chip catalogue. Seriously, I got to pick my shade from a series of chips: Flesh, Tan, Pink, Brown, etc. I wanted to call in reinforcements from a decorator. How was I supposed to know what shade to pick?! I went with a basic Flesh shade. Then, the PA took a makeup brush and painted the shade on the Fipples. Finally, she brought out this tool which I think she borrowed from my dental hygienist. Instead of buffing my teeth to a shiny white luster, she sandblasted the color right into my skin. (I was pretty numb, so no pain.) 45 minutes later, voila!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Today was the day I was supposed to get my fipples tattooed. The final step in a yearlong process! Totally exciting. I thought about what shade-- maybe a nice bright magenta for spring? I also thought about what shape-- should I be bold and choose a heart or a star instead of some boring circle? I arrive and am ushered in to the onsite surgical room. The Physician's Assistant comes in (I know her from all of my prior appointments) and she gets right to work. We decide on a rather innocuous flesh shade. She takes out a super long needle and gives me some local anesthetic on the right Foob. NOTE: One benefit post surgery is that super long needles stuck directly into a Foob don't really hurt! Not a ton of sensation. I ask her about restrictions, i.e. no swimming, etc. She tells me that I can't take off the big square puffy bandages for one week.

HOLD ON! I was not informed that there would be big square puffy bandages involved in this procedure. I did get a tattoo about 20 years ago in a seedy Chicago tattoo parlor and I really don't remember any bandages. Perhaps not the best comparable? Anyhoo, I was pretty perturbed because this weekend is the 10 year wedding anniversary trip to New York City. Big puffy fipple bandages do not work with my chic wardrobe selections. Big puffy fipple bandages are not really a major aphrodisiac either.

Luckily, the PA was really, really cool and rescheduled me for next week. So, my numb Foob and I drove off, tattoo-less but looking forward to a fab NYC weekend.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Unicorn, Universe, Uterus

My kids are an endless source of material for me. Witness the interaction in my car on the way to lacrosse practice. In the backseat are Jacob (son, age 7), friend Justin (also age 7) and Will (age 5). They like to talk about bodily functions (poo, farts, etc.) and sports. I believe these topics will continue as mainstays of their conversations for the rest of their lives. Justin volunteers, "I had my adenoids taken out." Jacob counters with, "Well, my mom had her uterus taken out." Uhhhh. Hmmmm. That's awkward. I brightly interject, "Who wants ice cream after practice?"

Then, I hear from Jacob later on that they are learning the long "u" sound at school. Last week was the long "o" sound. The children come up with lots of "u" words, write the words down, use the words in sentences and so on. Jacob says, "You know, Mom, like Unicorn, Universe and Uterus." I'm sure the first graders in his class were amazed and delighted to learn so much about the female anatomy.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Points to ponder

Or, Where Have All the Bonbons Gone...

I’m sure that one of the first, if not THE first thing that people think of when they find out they have cancer is this: What’s in it for me? I mean, that’s not just me, right? For example, at Superdawg you get a free hot dog on your birthday if your last name ends in “ski”. They realize that as with everything, there's no point to it if you can’t parlay it into some kind of benefit.

To this end, folks informed me early on that apparently there are some triathlons where we get preferential bike racks, which almost makes it all worth it because really, what’s worse than having to get to transition at 5AM just to get a good spot on a rack? Or you're in a special swim wave, thus lessening the number of people you have to pummel in order to clear a path in the water. I know you similarly competitive folks out there are with me on this. As an aside, is it then wrong of me to employ my standard “elbows akimbo” racing posture, “gently” moving people aside if necessary? It is still a race, after all.

Another question that comes to mind right away is: What the hell does one say to people? And when? Now, I kind of took care of this by putting everything out on the blog – and as I tell my friends, my rationale is that I’d rather have people know that I’m undertrained AND have cancer, rather than just think I’m undertrained. The problem is that I sort of assume that most people already know what the deal is, by osmosis. So when I go traipsing into the bike shop, for example, I wind up having the following conversation with YCBG (Young Cute Bike Guy) Matt, which right away starts to sound like some weird Short Bus version of “Who’s on First?”

YCBG Matt, with obvious adoration in his voice: "Tasha, how are you? What’s new?"
Me, with a bit of nervous laughter: "Umm, what’s new?"
YCBG Matt: "Yeah, what’s new?"
Me: "Oh, the usual I guess."
YCBG Matt: "What have you been up to?"
Me: "Same old stuff in some ways. Training, cancer, all that....."
YCBG Matt, with a deer-caught-in-headlights look on his face: "Wha....what? Cancer?"
Me: "Well, yeah. I found out I have cancer. I thought you read my blog?!" I wail.

Now, I felt kind of bad springing this on him, but in my defense I was caught a bit off guard. The truthful answer in this situation to having someone you know ask “what’s new?” is clearly not “oh, nothing, saw the Sox play the other day, and how ‘bout them Blackhawks.” That’s a little incomplete. But perhaps blurting out the truth wasn’t the best either. Though I’m not sure what would have been.

But back to my original question. As I tell my friends, here I’m almost coming up upon the 2-year mark since I was first diagnosed, and I have YET to have bonbons heaped on me as a sign of support. A Fuck Cancer cake, boob-decorated cookies, sure. But no bonbons. Well, okay, just a couple of boxes. Anyway! Now, I’m sure there are those of you who are thinking “But Miss Tasha, you really don’t need bonbons, since you’re already shaped like a triangle.” To which I respond.....I say......well.....okay, maybe you have a point. Never mind.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

So, Nu?

The Yiddish word "Nu" means "Tell me. What's up? What's happening? What's new? Anything different?" kind of all rolled into one word. Best said with the voice raised up at the end of the word, combined with an expansive hand-waving gesture and maybe even a shoulder roll. At least, that's how my grandparents used to say it to me.

I was thinking about "Nu" this week after hearing Kelly Corrigan (author of "The Middle Place" and "Lift") speak at Mercy Hospital-- my hospital! So nice to go to Mercy for an alternative reason. Kelly had breast cancer a few years ago and wrote two very funny, touching, genuine books about her family and her experiences. She was a fantastic speaker, totally down to earth. My friend Jeanette and I went to the reading together, and afterwards, Jeanette asked me "Nu?" But in a non-Russian Jewish immigrant kind of way, with complete sentences and multiple words: "Adrienne, do you feel different after all of your operations? How is your life different now?"

Hmmm. Such good questions. I think resoundingly, YES, my life is different. I made a conscious decision to get rid of as much stress in my life as possible, given the huge amount of stress all the medical procedures and bodily changes caused this year. So, I quit my job and am a stay-at-home mom for the near future. Big and very awesome change.

Do I feel different? Definitely. All of the obvious physical differences (larger rack, menopause, etc.) sort of pale in comparison to the metaphysical difference-- this feeling like I dodged a bullet. I swerved around breast and ovarian cancer, spat on them, and kept right on going. I feel lucky that I didn't have to go through chemo and radiation and fear of recurrence and fear of dying and all of the many other totally shitty cancer-related issues that my mom and Tasha and lots of other friends/family members have gone through, are going through now and will continue to go through.

And with that bit of reflection, I am going to head out and enjoy my stay-at-home momdom with a nice long run. Ciao!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I'm Ready, Baywatch!

Now that spring is here and the days are warmer, my wardrobe of sweaters and hoodies has given way to tank tops and tee shirts. Hence, the new Foobs are out and about, and as far as I can tell, enjoying their newfound freedom. Here they are in a new (somewhat unnecessary) bra! Here they are in a fashionably fitted J. Crew Favorite Tee! And soon, the Foobs will be outfitted in new bathing suit tops! The old triangle bikini version is ov-uh. We are ready to debut something strapless. It's quite exciting, albeit a bit pricey what with all the shopping.

However, at the age of 40, I find it kind of bizarre to suddenly have a Rack. My whole life, I hovered between an A cup and a B cup (most definitely an A cup post kids). Now, I've upgraded to a full B and my whole body looks different as a result-- the ways clothes fit, even my posture. I have to say, I am enjoying the new shape but part of me feels a little tiny bit fraudulent. The Foobs are not really "real" to me yet. Maybe it will just take some time to adjust? I have this irrational idea (at least, intellectually it seems irrational) that fully embracing the new Foobs is akin to rejecting the old God-given Boobs in some way. Thus, the next logical step would be to inject toxins into my face, suck out fat pockets, or some other trendy steps to avoid aging and attain some relatively unattainable ideal of Beauty.

Maybe I'll just spray a tan on and call it a day.