What I Got for Valentine’s Day

Two appointments were scheduled for Valentine’s Day (VD - who can tire of that short form?): a consultation with a radiologist, Dr D, and an appointment with my oncologist to review blood and the CT report. I was told they’d try to do them together so I wouldn't have to wait around between the first at 9:00, and the second at 11:00.

Cancer – a world of best laid plans.

In the Matter of Shrinkage

The first time I had a CT scan I didn’t cry in the machine. I worried. I wondered what the technician was thinking (more likely something along the lines of I forgot to put the laundry in the dryer than holy shit, that’s one big messy fucking incurable tumour).

The CT machine speaks, but offers no insight, advice or comfort. Hold your breath. Let out your breath. I couldn’t hear properly when it said Don’t swallow. Luckily I didn’t swallow. I’m learning that, when a scanning machine prefaces anything with Don’t, I Don’t anything.

cu·mu·la·tive (kyo͞omyələtiv,-ˌlātiv)

Increasing or enlarging by successive addition.

Even booking chemo is bumpy

Remember how last time my chemo schedule got fucked up and I was on a waiting list? A waiting list. For chemo. Which just seems wrong. Isn’t it one of those obligatory, time-sensitive things? As opposed to a voluntary, I think I’ll put myself on the waiting list for that fun activity, thing?

So here’s what happened this time. Last week when I got called to confirm my CT scan for Feb 6, I asked if my chemo was booked. 

Is it working yet?

Cancer has so many freaky parts. I write about them as they hit me. Up until now I’ve been in what feels like the uphill phase – the new world order. Moving bumpily toward the mid-point that may be the beginning of the end of cancer. Or not.

Do it again.

Remember the enhancement? The incidental finding on my brain? I’d gotten quite adept at not thinking about that.  If they were futzing around for so long, isn’t it likely there was nothing to be found?

Her (and me)

The movie Her passes the cancer test. But it fails the distraction test big time. Don’t read this if you don’t want Her spoiled a little.

Back at it!

If I start with these words I’ll feel driven to finish something. I’ve felt guilty about not blogging for a week. That’s not like me. I can write my way through all of this, regardless how depleted I feel. I know that’s not the point of the blog – to put pressure on myself, but it’s my driver. It’s my only job – well that and getting better, which frankly feels pretty passive.

Night at the Emerg - the aftermath

My mom had to remind me how exhausted I was the last time I had chemo. ‘You wrote about it.” Oh ya, I did.

The idea of rereading that blog post to remind myself how crappy it was seems counterproductive or masochistic. While misery does, to an extent, love company, I think it prefers the company of someone else, not the memory of its own past misery. I’ll take her word for it.

Night at the Emerg

Was I too cocky? I certainly jumped the gun by posting chemo #2 – check, on facebook, when chemo #2 wasn’t even finished. Still had one hour of Benda – we’re on a nick name basis now – left to go the following morning. But it went so smooth. I got home, had a work meeting with a friend, had dinner. But by the time I got into bed at 10:15 my head was killing me and I was queezy.

Not so Ho, Ho, Ho

I hate the time around Xmas and New Years.  Have for decades. I resent the fact that as a Jew, I have to bear the burden of 2,013 yrs of Christian hegemony. It seems unfair. 

The new normal - or getting to know the Windsor area

No News is No News – At Least No Brain Cancer News

The news I was waiting for last Friday at my Odette Cancer Centre appointment, the news about the "enhancement", the incidental finding in my brain they tripped over during the MRI, the one they sent off, unconcerned, for "a bit more testing", the one that jacked up my anxiety level, repeatedly... There was no news on that.

Last night I had a chemo anxiety dream

I dreamt I went for my treatment and hadn’t brought the drugs I needed with me. With Canadian chemo all you need to bring is your arm and some anti-nausea meds you pay for out-of-pocket if you don’t have a drug plan. But my dreams are taking place in other parts of the world where you have to BYOCD, bring your own chemo drugs. The nurses in my dream were annoyed, and blamed me for contravening the BYO. I was sent away to find what I needed.

One Day – Just one cancer-free day

Turns out, cancer is everywhere. It’s not like I’m looking for it, but I'd have to stay home with the radio off not to hear it mentioned umpteen times a day. Like the 17 months when I was trying desperately to conceive, and all I saw were pregnant women.

Party Girl

Last night I went to a party for my friend Tae, who is leaving for 6 months sabbatical in California. I know Tae can look cancer shit up from there, I've heard that Google and Google Scholar work in California.

Click to Fast Forward

There’s almost nothing zen about me. But the one bit of eastern philosophy I’ve consistently practised is to not wish time away. Never to say: I can’t wait until Friday. I can’t wait until the trip to Cuba. I can’t wait until all this cancer treatment is over.

Whoa Nellie

I guess Dr B was optimistic when she told me I’d have results from the lumbar puncture one day later. The nurse says it takes about a week and a half. Curious discrepancy. Doctors and nurses have different preoccupations.

So This Is What Tired Feels Like - So Far

I can’t bear to compare what I’m feeling now to the few days after my first son was born. It seems indecent. But there is a similarity in the sheer body exhaustion. I just don’t remember crying as much.  And of course, there's no baby as a reward. Plus, I knew then that every day would get easier, and the fatigue would lift, but I now have no idea what I’m facing. It’s hard to imagine I’ll feel this tired, maybe way more tired, for the next six months.

Extreme Sport of Cancer

I’m drinking. Water, water, water. Dandelion tea. Apple juice, apple juice, dandelion tea. Water, water, water.  Should I set the alarm during the night to drink more?


“We thought we’d start the chemo on Monday.”

“But I have a meeting on Monday.”

Assessing treatment – there are options

I have stage 4 indolent Lymphoma 

Doing Defence

I've been thinking about the skills and experiences that have strengthened my defence, and will bolster me in the cancer arena. I used to box. In boxing, there are a variety of defences - contact and non-contact. There's blocking: covering your face with your gloves and taking the punch to the arms not to the head. There’s parrying: deflecting the blows off to the side with a swat. There’s slipping: ducking or moving to one side to avoid contact all together.

Yup, that's my bone marrow

The waiting is the hardest part. That’s what many people have told me. It’s the not knowing that’s intolerable.

Baking Soda – You’re Soaking In It

I can feel myself getting more anxious. My back went out in a restaurant bathroom this afternoon. Tomorrow I have my appointments at 10:30 am with Lymphoma, and 1:30 pm with Head and Neck cancer.

A Large Build-up of Snot. An Unremarkable Brain.

I’ve been thinking about the MRI I’m getting. Will it reveal nasty thoughts - like setting fire to the latest Diary of a Wimpy Kid so my child will look away from the computer screen? Or steal my great ideas - like Tupperware coffins? I’ve been trying not to conjure tumours. I’m told visualization is a powerful thing.

The company I keep

The waiting rooms are packed. So many people waiting for treatments. Waiting for blood work, to tell them they are healthy enough for more toxins. Waiting for news. Waiting to crumple to the floor in the presence of a stranger. Waiting to have that last optimistic fragment of "benign", shattered. Waiting to step away from everything familiar. Waiting. No reading. Just peeing for distraction.

Can you see it in my face?

It couldn’t just be simple.

Every time the phone rings and it says Private Caller, I panic. I suspect I’ll have this Pavlovian response for the rest of my life. (The rest of my life... but that's another story.)

The Amazing Race

I've been feeling racey lately and I’m starting to think it might be anxiety. (Yes, starting.) Not head anxious, like the kind where you keep saying to yourself “Boy, I really feel anxious”, but body anxious.

Sunday in Lymphoma Land.

My Sunday was all over the place.

Less Ativan

For the three weeks leading up to the great news in the shitty news department (GNISND), I was almost never alone. I had cancer tinnitus and the only thing that lowered the volume was chatter and Ativan.

After my brother got tinnitus on a flight home from the Soviet Union, decades (obviously) ago, he carried around a radio and could only fall asleep to the static between stations.

Totally Rad

I have a bucket list of fears I’m looking to empty. I don’t have room for them all right now. I probably wasn’t meant to use the bucket this way, but it is my bucket. One of the fears that up until recently lay glowing at the bottom of the pile, was radiation. Hypochondriacs should never work on radiation protocol taskforces.

Lymphoma is the new good news

It’s CANCER. I can’t tell the whole story now. It will come out in bits, as I piece together the space junk (think Bullock and Clooney in Gravity) that was the last four weeks of my (really?) life. Spoiler – I have indolent cancer.  Lazy. The kind, my friend Bob says, lies around on the couch watching TV all day. No. Don’t get up. Just hold onto that remote. I’ll get you some chips.

Moving “house”: The summer of doing things differently

I’m at my parents’ cottage alone. I came for a little solitary writing time while my kids are still away at camp. Parental life – breakfasts, lunches, dinners, backpacks damp with yesterday’s wet bathing suit, compulsory laundry, homework, missing shoes, missing forms, Lego underfoot, random complaints, yelling, disrespect, disregard, perpetual feelings of failure and filial love that mutates by the minute, will resume within days.

Aviva: Welcome to LinkedIn!

Aside from Banana Republic e-mails, which I like to keep because they are so touching, a plethora of LinkedIn communication is swelling my already bloated inbox (9,736 messages – everyone files things differently).

Can't get it up

I’ve been trying to get it up for anxiety lately. If there’s anyone that has a perpetual hard-on for stress it’s me. I seem to be in the mood all the time. No matter how many exciting distractions or calming influences fill my day, there’s always time to get naked for a little freak out. Lack of creative productivity is one of my favourite anxiety aphrodisiacs. It’s like my missionary position – comfortable, familiar, and moderately satisfying.

Writer’s block or life block?

Not that I thought I was above it, or immune, but I long-ago (ok, a couple of years, which for me constitutes the bulk of my writing life) determined that my self-diagnosed adult-onset ADD was protection against writer’s block – that firing off in all directions, while it might delay movement forward on any given final product, would at least have writing be my distraction from writing – a win-win(ish) situation.

Seeking apt gardening metaphors

War is the first thing that comes to mind. All you pacifists who head out there with your floppy hats, flowered gloves and Martha Stewart attitude to greet the garden like a pal with whom you’ll create a thing of beauty – can piss off.


I should take a writing hiatus (to accompany the sugar hiatus I keep starting) and with the exception of the speech I have to write before my kid’s bar-mitzvah (which it turns out, is only a few weeks away), focus exclusively on getting my shit together. (my tax and bar-mitzvah shit that is)

For most of the year, May is a few months off, but in April, it is not. Until now I had never given that calendaric fact much thought.

That magic in your pants, it’s making me blush

Who says that? When was the last time you were hot for someone and made reference to that magic in their pants? Or even thought it? Well Kesha did and millions sang along.