I used to hang out here a lot. I joined DailyKos around the time Katrina was preparing to devastate the great city of New Orleans. At the time, it was mostly because I was eager for information and not having cable teevee, I found it was a great source of knowledge regarding the impending disaster.
Little did I know it would become a place I loved to read about the world around me, and participate in discussing it. My knowledge of the world around me increased, and I felt better about. I wrote diaries, I educated about intersex issues, and I had a ton of fun. I learned how to be a better gardener, and I learned how to do minor repairs around my home. I even started a franchise diary series that I am pleased to see still exists today - What's For Dinner. When I dreamed that up, I enlisted the eager participation of a couple of other Kossacks and it took off from there. I can't tell you how happy I am to see it still flourishing.
Then I fell out of touch. Life, as it often does, interrupted. I took a new job that has me commuting 60 miles each way into NYC five days a week, I married (okay - not really marriage but the consolation prize NJ offers up called a civil union) the woman of my dreams and she came as a package deal with two wonderful children. I began the learning process of figuring out how to be a mom in my mid-forties. I kind of forgot all about this place swathed in orange.
In December, I checked an email address I rarely use and saw the great push for lifetime memberships. I checked back in and quickly decided I would sign up for one. At the time, I figured I would never have the time to participate like I used to, but what the hell, I signed up anyways figuring it was a good investment of $100 that would last a lifetime.
Little did I know it would be decision I wouldn't regret. In a way, I think it must be have been fate. The time problem? Solved. I am embarking into a period of my life where I expect to have lots of time and will likely need lots of company outside of my immediate family and circle of friends. It's an event that became even more poignant this week with the exposure of the Susan G. Komen Foundation as the right wing front it is.
I've avoided anything in pink for a long time. As they delved farther and farther into the absurd, I became more and more incredulous at their intentions. I had friends who had breast cancer and I could never get my head around the concept of pink guns and trash bins sold to allegedly support their fight for life. I ranted about it on Facebook and to my friends, confident I was being heard in some small way. Never once did I realize the politics behind all that pink-washing. I just figured they had jumped the shark when it came to raising money and awareness.
In early December of this year, I had my annual mammogram. There was nothing unusual in getting me there; in fact, I was late according to the calendar but wanted to make sure I got it done before the year ran out so that I would start 2012 with another due in the autumn. Two days later, the mammogram center called and said they saw some suspicious microcalcifications and I needed to come back for some magnification views. This wasn't unusual; I had been called back before for similar reasons. As soon as I started with regular mammograms after I turned 40, I was going every six months for new pictures for the microcalcifications. Then a year ago, they decided they weren't changing and I could go back to yearly exams. I really didn't think anything of it. During the mag view mammograms, I even remarked to the technician doing the exam that she was like the merchant of pain. She replied she was really a merchant of life. I had no clue those words would come back to haunt me.
On December 23, my doctor called and said I needed a biopsy. Those words stopped me in my tracks. I had no lumps, I had no discharge. He tried to reassure me it was probably nothing and they were suggesting it out of an abundance of caution.
Three weeks later, I am scheduled for a partial mastectomy on Thursday. When I received the diagnosis from the biopsy a few weeks back, the doctor made it clear that while my variety of cancer is invasive, he sees no reason it should be life-shortening. Having spent what seems like every waking hour researching what I can about with Dr. Google, I'm confident he's probably right. But still, it's really going to suck.
I didn't plant a garden last year because I was doing a yard renovation. In a moment, I thought of all the beautiful raised beds I built during that time and all the beautiful manure and soil I trucked in to make them the best beds ever. Would I be well enough to play in the dirt this spring? I thought about how drawn out and tired I had been feeling the past several months and wondered if it was connected to this cancerous breast. I thought about the beautiful and fun family that I found.
I even wondered if I was going to be one of those people on that absurd cancer walk the SGK Foundation sponsored once I was healthy again. My reality is that I could never see myself doing that, but my heart tells me to always give back whatever it can. I joked with my wife that I could push a pink garbage tote along the route.
The news this week about what the SGKF is all about struck a nerve that continues to make me angrier and angrier with each day. How dare they politicize my boobs? How fucking dare they politicize the care a woman needs? How dare they get into bed with a group of clowns that would be happy to see poor women perish so they can get richer? How fucking dare they?
I don't know what the future will hold for me in terms of treatment and won't until they cut me on Thursday and pull out a lymph node or two along with the area of calcifications/tumor. The MRI I had last week was tainted by a big hematoma the biopsy left behind. The doctor was concerned enough by what he has seen that he wanted to do surgery soon rather than later. Right now, it's scheduled to be a partial mastectomy but it's possible it will be more. There will be radiation, and if it has spread to the lymph nodes, chemo. My mom died of cancer; it wasn't the cancer that killed her though, it was the chemo. I saw her suffer so much before she finally said enough and those memories scare the crap out of me.
I'm actually having some nude photos of myself taken this week by a wonderful photographer so I can memorialize my body as it is today. Yea, the breast is still black and blue, but now that is a part of me. How dare the SGKF politicize that black and blue breast I now proudly possess for a few more days?
I am thankful I have really good health insurance as I embark on this journey. I can't imagine what it would be like doing it without that safety net. I am am thankful I have wonderful bosses who insisted that no, I wouldn't try and work during some of my healing because they will be paying my full salary and they want me back healthy, not worn down from trying to over-extend myself.
And when I get healthy? It won't be the Susan G. Komen Foundation I'll be thanking and supporting.
It's likely this community I loved so much a few years ago and one I am happy to be a part of again will be high on the list of those I am thanking. I look forward to becoming reacquainted with all the wonderful people here.
Thanks for welcoming me back, and perhaps you'll even let me do a What's for Dinner diary again sometime soon.