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The utter awesomeness of unremarkable

Quick report here starting with a simple turn of phrase. In the topsy turvy world of cancer, where progression is unwelcome, the word unremarkable is a guest of honor. Dull, uninteresting, common, ordinary.

In describing my latest scan, Alice used that parlance—the tumor abutting my heart is unremarkable. More than likely it is the schmutz in the bottom of my lung that is responsible for both cough and shortness of breath. However, most reassuringly, that area of cancer has not changed in the two months since my biopsy. Hopefully this is indicative of a less aggressive spread.

Per the biopsy itself, results are pending. Thus far we have one tiny nugget of information; my cancer shows no MET amplification. By the end of the week, we should know more.

In the meantime, I think I need to stop feeling sorry for myself. Not let the bedbugs (they will be spraying a third time) get me down. Drag my ass back to the gym. Start painting again. Maybe go on some more dates.

Cut back on the gloom and start feeding my mojo instead.

Suggestions welcome 🙂


Before my last scan–the one that showed progression–I was anxious. But that was because I knew something was up.

In the four plus years prior, I had let go of scanxiety. However, that was possible because of a sustained period of stability. Stability was the closest thing I’ve had to feeling truly safe in the last fourteen years and it was freaking glorious.

Now that I’m back on that active cancer rollercoaster, scans are once again something to be dreaded. However, there is a difference in how I feel this time around. It is not anxiety. Hell, I know what’s coming; it’s more like I just don’t want to know. It’s as if there’s a big fat court summons lying in a sealed envelope on my kitchen table and as long as I don’t open it I can keep pretending that it’s just not there.

Scanvoidance. That’s my new terminology. The goddamn it why-do-I-have to-live-these-month-to-month blues.

Gets old, it does. But then again, so have I. Older. And that’s something to embrace.

I’ll keep you posted.

The in between

Scans last Friday with a review tomorrow. No word on genetic testing which makes me think the final sample was also not viable. We’ll see how that CT scan looks.

In the meantime I feel a bit scooped out. Tired. Spent. Wanting so desperately to just skate along for a bit and not on this shitty thin ice.

My son August left this morning for a new life in Toledo. Proud, proud, proud of this kid who turned a hobby (cannabis) into a career. He will be the head extractor in a gleaming new lab where he will be highly compensated for the craft he’s been honing since…well, way too long.

Yep. Cannabis was a point of contention when Aug was a teen but we’ve all come a long way since then. August received a ton of assistance from his stepfather David throughout the entire application process and of course he’s been bunking with mom (me). In the end it felt rather like it did when his younger brother Peter was accepted to private school and later an elite college. That feeling of success all the way around.

I’m going to miss him mightily. His being here healed some old wounds and also returned me to a place where I felt part of a family. Cooking, watching TV, going to the gym together. Simple activities that are just not the same when done alone.

August and Peter have been my rocks during the past few months. I got really, really depressed and overwhelmed during the bedbug debacle and they were concerned as Aug was flying to Colorado over New Years and I would be alone. My sons had my friend Brian check in on me (dear, sweet Brian) and Aug sent me this text from the airport:

I love you mom. You’re tough as nails. It’s ok to have bad day but I know you’ll get through this.

I will. I always have. Sometimes in style, other times in tatters. A rip here, a tear there but holding it together.

C’est moi.

Kumo and Lily and the very cold day

I like cold weather. 17 °F on a sunny, windless day is my sweet spot. However, this morning it was 14 °F and breezy. Sun shining but after the bone chilling cold of last night (very windy and four degrees colder–no sun) I was not eager to get back out there again this morning.

Unfortunately, Lily and Kumo have not been trained to walk themselves. Didn’t stop me from asking 🙂

Kumo and Lily returned to their sweet spot

Unexpected gifts

I had a date with my youngest son, Peter, and his girlfriend Olivia last night. Dinner out and then the William Forsyth exhibition at the ICA. I hadn’t realized it, but admission is free from 5-9 on Thursday evenings so that was a pleasant surprise.

The exhibit itself was mind blowing and delightful—see above. The kids had taken an uber over and as I’d heard parking was a bear, I’d left my car at Alewife and taken the T. As I was looking for my Charlie Card, a young man was heading through the turnstile and he motioned silently for me to follow.

Now, a free admission on public transportation was not necessarily his to give or mine to accept, but I did. As we waited for the bus he was speaking in Spanish to some women I presumed to be co-workers; I am all too familiar with that end of the shift camaraderie. It was also not lost on me that this young man was likely a fairly recent immigrant.

I thought about this country, America, which was not ours to take. I thought about that wall, which is not ours to build. And I thought about this young man, who decided that he would share what was not his to give, but that which he had paid for. Why? Because I was fumbling for my ticket? Because it was late? Because we are both human beings and there was a turnstile between us and our ride home?

Yes, yes and yes.

Making peace

Seldom have I found a year so difficult to get along with as I did 2018. And, true to form, she closed with an uncalled for display of downright bitchiness.

Three straight days of tearing up my loft so as to prepare for an exterminator. Covering whatever I could in sheets, taping plastic garbage bags over the rest.

And then off I went, exhausted and little bit tardy, to one of the best weddings ever. Two beautiful brides and the father of one toasting ‘love is love.’ Rocking high heels (that would be me, resurrecting a skillset from my youth) but then abandoning them at the end so as to dance with abandon.

Joy joy joy.

When I emailed my landlord for an update I learned that the exterminator felt it unlikely that my loft should need another go. However, if I wanted to put everything back (um, yes), if I left a two inch gap between furniture and wall, a wand could be then inserted for extermination if indicated.

So home I came, windows wide open, fans going, plastic garbage bags untaped, sheets laundered, floors mopped, furniture shoved back in place. Getting back my sanctity.

I always remind myself that in every crisis there is opportunity. It wasn’t particularly easy to see the positive in bedbugs next door, but in the end, I reassembled my loft in a way that is better. If I have to shift again, it will be much easier and in the meantime, the flow of space is far more pleasing.

So there you go.

And the same with 2018, a bit of an unmitigated disaster itself. Opportunity in that crisis–a chance to recalibrate and reassess.

To that end I have pulled back into myself just a wee bit. Introspection and perhaps even a tad of introversion. Writing, painting, waiting. For what, I am not exactly sure. Living in that liminal space where the only quantifiable concept is progression. That is a known, a given. Something that must be lived with.

Ironic that a certainty results in so much uncertainty. But that is something I must make peace with.

I’m working on it.

Sleeping around

I spent the bulk of the past two days prepping my loft for the exterminator that is due on Monday. And I should add that when first alerted to the bedbug issue next door some weeks ago, I both explained that I was physically unable to move all that was required and also quite concerned about exposure to pesticide (I mean, I do have lung cancer).

Well, my protests went unheeded. Today I asked for a little insight as to what to expect after Monday and was told that this would be the first of three treatments occurring every 10-14 days.

Not what I signed on for. I then sent this message to my landlord:

 I have now spent two full days shifting my loft (alone). Two brutal days even though I am also struggling with my lung cancer now. In its current state my living space is not habitable. From everything I have learned if you’d gone with the high heat method I wouldn’t have had to have moved anything, it would have been more likely to be effective, and I would not have been exposed to pesticides. 
In my five years here I have dealt with black mold, a nonfunctioning air conditioner during a heat wave, leaks (yet unresolved) and now this. I listen to a dehumidifier all day long and now a bed bug trap all night long. 
I have never asked for nor been offered a break on rent. I must now put my foot down as there is no way to justify $1850 a month to live in these conditions. 

No response, which has been the status quo.

So. I won’t be paying rent until this is resolved. Wish me luck. And, as my loft is in total disarray and will also be sprayed with pesticides not once but three times, I am simply going to find someplace else to stay.

Local? Looking for a house guest for a day or too? I am going to try to farm Kumo out to someone here in the lofts so I will be traveling lite. Hit me up if you’d like a sleepover 😉