Two awful landlords, two impossible moves. Three clinical trials. One full year of infusion and all its attendant side effects with a few unexpected ones thrown in just for fun. A global pandemic. Business partners who (ahem) took financial liberties.
Becoming increasingly breathless, dealing with alopecia as well as mucositis and skin issues, I somehow continued to online date. That was, in retrospect, insanity.
That I have emerged, not only alive, but on the road to some sort of recovery, self esteem alive and well, boy howdy. Implausible. Unlikely as fuck. But, for the record, true. This, I can vouch for.
Winter is coming, and it shall be unlike any other. Hunker down and if we must venture forth, mask up.
I am grateful that I have a studio to retire to—one that is private, filled with natural light, and just warm enough. Art fills my head most waking moments. Occasionally I get a catch in my throat and find myself saying ‘I cannot die’. It is affirmation, assertion, fervent desire.
I am full of energy and brimming with ideas. All my life I’ve had a knack for right place wrong time. Being a late bloomer (short on precocity and long on procrastination), I’m just sliding into my sweet spot now—terminal illness be damned. Yes. Now that that little episode of depression (actually, nothing little about it) is bygone, I am bursting at the seams to achieve. Write! Paint! Compose! Assemble! Make–love and merriment! And lots and lots of art!
It’s a fine fucking feeling. Unfettered joy. Bliss. Perhaps a tad of mania. But after my sojourn in melancholia, I think that some over the top happiness is to be not only forgiven, but enjoyed.
Alright, I’m on a roll. Critical, negative, a bit whiny. Generally not the way to get elected class president.
It’s a trait I’ve had since childhood. I am not complacent and I do not hesitate to speak up when I feel that a situation is unjust. A nice way of saying I am often the first to complain.
That’s why I identify as an activist, rather than an advocate (too squishy for me). And I have no interest in being a poster child—for lung cancer, or anything else. It’s absolutely important to me to keep it real, and as time has gone on, my courage in this arena has only grown.
Some years back I was given the stage at the annual LUNGevity HOPE Summit in DC. Foolishly, I tried to give it a go minus a script. My presentation went off the rails quickly, with me proclaiming to the crowd that I would ‘never be anybody’s bitch.’
As I left the platform I was thinking I’d never be invited back. I certainly offended some people (because, of course, that’s not all I said that day) but overall, the response was receptive. And my transition from grateful advocate (thank you thank you thank you) to crusading activist (gratitude with a dollop of angry on top) had begun.
For better or worse, I am nobody’s bitch. At least in spirit. In reality, I am under the thumb of quite a few entities. Trial sponsor, landlord, taxman. It is what it is and I am what I am. A squeaky wheel, square pegged, outspoken mutant. Generally easy to like. Definitely hard to kill. And certainly impossible to silence.