Monday, November 23, 2009

Death Row

That's pretty much what it feels like. Someone whom I hadn't spoken to for a little bit asked me today if I "was any better or still doing treatment?". Before I really even thought about it I scoffed and blurted back "I'll never get any better, I'm on death row, man."
That's when it hit me.
It's essentially how it has felt to me being sentenced to unending chemotherapy just to maintain or manage the cancer that they cannot cut out of me. I am aware that the quote on the back of my Cancer Sucks shirts says "Cancer is a word, Not a Sentence" but it's moreso the idea that regardless of being diagnosed with Cancer, no matter how "well" you take THAT awesome news...in addition...you have to endure the same crap-ass treatments from there on out. Without much end in sight.
Before ever knowing cancer as intimately as I do now, I had a certain...expectation, if you will. Not that I ever expected to get cancer, mind you. But from what I knew about people who got cancer, you found out about it, got chemotherapy (honestly had no clue as to what that actually meant) and/or radiation (my preconception of this was you sat in a room and got blasted with laser beams for days on end. theoretically, I guess I wasn't far off). Than, you got some kind of surgery to cut it all out. And after all that is said and done...you're given the all clear, you're now respected and admired more b/c you were brave/inspirational/strong, and you got to call yourself by a new title of Survivor. That's how it's supposed to happen. It still actually happens to people in that way sometimes. Or, the expectation is you've found it way too late, its so far gone, you instantly just die. Note that in either of these crassly over-generalized views, do you get an ambiguous "well, you have cancer, we can't really get it out of you, or even see it, but it's there, so we're going to give you alot of drugs, lock you in to a regimen that will cement you into your current location/hospital, and really, we don't know what to expect or what will happen because of all this." That isn't how the story is supposed to go!! Damnit.
I'm not exactly sure what my motivation is. What is the impetus for walking myself into my doctors office once or twice a week, sit down in that awesome vinyl "recliner", having a needle plunged into my chest and waiting around a few hours while my body is infused with drugs that set out to destroy cells that seem to keep outsmarting us?? I ask that simply because, the more I think about all the time I spend getting treated for cancer, all I can see is all the things that get taken away from me because of it.
I can't work a full time job.
I can't have children.
I am not even entirely sure I can have sex.
I can't pay my own expenses.
I can't even have a bank account in my name.
I can't really move off to a new city.
I can't take a vacation thats longer than a week.
I can't fart.
I can't drink an iced tea.
I can't go for a full day without a few half hour visits to a bathroom.
I can't eat a salad.
I can't go to college.
I can't, I can't, I can't.

I'm sick to death of shit I can't do. I'm sick of all the trivial restrictions this b.s. has put on me. And even though I describe it as trivial, it really isn't. I may never have really wanted children. But the sheer fact that I CAN'T...as a ramification of things done to me in order to preserve my life...that human right was just blatantly taken away. And to some of the other examples I've given some may argue "oh, you can...it's just a challenge". Yes. You are correct. There are things I could do that may just be an extra challenge...I could fart....through a tube inserted into my stomach. I could eat a salad. Slowly. Chewing to mush. With a chaser of grape juice and an extremely loooooooonnnggg and frustratingly exasperating day in the bathroom later....yes.
I look at my examples and I see whining. But so flippin' what!! I think I've earned the right to whine.
Even though ultimately, its not really whining. It's just honesty. I've been living with this long enough to know that just like I will never be President of the United States...I will never be able to do or have some of the things I touched on.
And it's all cancers fault.
So basically, I'm just sentenced to the rest of my days, however many they be, being stagnantly resigned to this form of death row. It's morbid, yes. It's twisted, true. But it is.
And do not mistake this for gloom and doom. I'm simply being bluntly honest.
I am not seeking sympathy. Or fishing for inspirational words. Trust me, at one point I was THE Queen at "reframing" the situation. (who else could come up with rationalizations like: "well, radiation isn't so bad...it's laser hair removal, I get a great bikini line from it." or "being infertile and sterile isn't that awful, it's like built in birth control! I can go slut it up with no fear of babies!")
But even the Queen of it gets tired of hearing it sometimes.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

From Last August

Blow after blow,
taking me way down low.
And I don't know
how much more I can go.

Put on that smile and yes,
it works for awhile.
But at the end of the night,
I throw it back on the pile.

If I just want to lay,
completely wasting the day,
Don't need to hear you say,
I shouldn't pout in that way.

Happy isn't always right,
Laughs can't help every fight,
I know I can feed my soul
Even when pain takes its toll.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Washed out


cool stares and premeditated words,
its changed me.

orbiting around a piece of me that no longer exists,
its changed me.

normalcy averted. bliss thwarted,
its changed me.

doors closed shut, but trap doors left open,
its changed me.

appreciation grown while patience is lost,
its changed me.

a gift in disguise, or a curse in plain sight,
its changed me.

clinging to desire, and awash with ambivalence, what I wouldn't give...
to be able to change it.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Life Support? in our Social Networking realities

When you are diagnosed, you have a few choices in terms of ways in which to cope. Among those choices are things like support groups, or networking groups of other people with cancer. In our social-networking-crazed world, its also easy (if almost impossible NOT) to build a community of cancery-people online. All the myriad of websites with message boards, email groups, blogs and of course...the big bad daddy of 'em all, Facebook. Over the years, I've met people who've either been through the same things I have for colon cancer, OR have had various cancers of their own but for some reason or another, we've connected and relate to each other. Sites such as The Colon Club, Imerman Angels, and Planet Cancer to name a few, have allowed me to either reach out to, or be reached by a huge network of patients/survivors/caregivers, etc. Many of these people I keep in more regular contact with via Facebook.
I actually have my "friends lists" in my Facebook broken down into "Colon Cancer People" and "Other Cancer People" and they're both pretty lengthy.
I figured it was healthy and good to have people you can vent to, and relate to in ways you never ever could to even the most well-meaning friend or family member. But inevitably, if you have a network of cancer-folk you will also lose some of those folk. And chances are, lose them to the very thing that you yourself are fighting. No matter how close you were to a person, or how long you knew them, ANY interaction in the cancer world, even a brief one, can form an intense bond.
I've posted on here before about someone I knew and was close to, passing away from her cancer. And in the time since then (roughly a year ago) several others I've met have passed away from it as well.
As of late I've been mulling over whether having this community of cancer-folk is actually a good and healthy thing after all? I recently was in an email discussion back n forth with a handful of other colon cancer survivors (of various lengths of time) and one of them made a comment about how he was glad he was finally getting "past this cancer crap" and beginning to "move on with life". It wasn't a comment directed at me specifically, but at the group as a whole. Many in the group had cancer quite a number of years ago (8, 10, 13 etc). Just those simple comments were enough to simultaneously enrage me with jealousy, and fill me with sadness and resentment.
I would LOVE to be able to get past cancer. I would give anything to be able to move on with life. I don't see how that is ever possible for me however. I mean, yes, I can still do other things and not dwell day to day on cancer, cancer, cancer. I can try my best to not let it consume me every minute of every hour. But ultimately the fact still remains that every day, twice a day, I have to remember to take my chemo pills. And every week, for an hour or so every week, I have to truck myself up to the burbies to get an infusion at my oncologists office. The time in between all of that, I am sometimes lucky to be able to distract myself and not think about my ultimate demise, or perhaps any of the MANY ramifications that come about from having cancer, or being on treatment. Although, successful in that as I may be, I can easily log into facebook or even just check my email and instantly be reminded about it in someway. Some friend will post about how a scan has come back clear! Or another will send a link to an awesome organization we cancery-people should know about. Or maybe there's a fundraiser, young adult cancer-mixer, or a walk/run for awareness we should support. Or...and these are the "or's" you begin to dread: You randomly happen upon a friends profile page in passing only to realize from the comments posted that a person who, not more than a week prior, you were reading about them celebrating a 27th birthday...or who that VERY day you had just addressed a birthday card to send to her, belated of course...apparently just passed away the day before. I don't know whats more sad, the fact that someone you know just died way too young and for not a good enough reason...or the fact that you find out on a website...or the fact that its not all that uncommon of an thing.
I begin to think about how if I didn't know all these people...all these wonderful, amazing, remarkable, hilarious, strong, intelligent, accomplished, loving, kind people...that I wouldn't have nearly as much sadness and sorrow. To be fair, with or without knowing them, I have my fair share of it. But with knowing all of these new friends, I've expanded the potential for grief many times over. So is that good for your psyche? Is it healthy and healing to have to continuously face the end result to things in which you yourself are facing? In the same respect if I ignored all these new friends. If i disassociated myself from all the organizations I've connected to that do so much towards cancer-support...is that any healthier? Would denial be any better of a way to cope? Common knowledge would lead me to think no. But I would be remiss if I did not admit that I don't always believe common knowledge knows what the hell it's talking about!! Of course, ultimately, there isn't a right or wrong answer. However, I'd love to hear others thoughts on this matter.

(and in a related note. Rest in Peace Stefanie Biggs )

Sunday, September 20, 2009

I'll Begin bracing myself now *gulp*



















grumble grumble, growl growl...
Of course, I need to state my obligatory disclaimer now: IN NO WAY DO MY FOLLOWING COMMENTS REFLECT ANY DISRESPECT TOWARDS ANY PERSONS DIAGNOSED WITH BREAST CANCER. RATHER, IT IS IN RESPECT TO THE OVERSATURATION SURROUNDING BREAST CANCER AWARENESS AS OF LATE.)

So I realized today after a stop in walgreens to grab a bottle of water, that I should really begin to ready myself for the onslaught of Breast Cancer promotional collaborations every where I look. From pink-ribbon shaped cranberry bagels at Panera to pink-ribboned batteries from Duracell, the omnipresent pink ribbon will be infiltrating even more aspects of my consumer life during the month of October.

October, friends, is of course, Breast Cancer Awareness month. Now, I am all for dedicating months to various different issues in which awareness should be gently nudged forward. Buuuuut, in my humble observation, Breast Cancer Awareness is never over. It lasts all year round. I know for certain that in Chicago there are plenty more walk/runs for Breast Cancer throughout the year than are just in October. And I am rarely far from some sort of pink-themed product in almost any given store I frequent.
I suppose the reason I really get so irritated is not that I feel Breast Cancer is not an important issue. I think any and all cancers are evil, horrid, and awful. As far as I am aware every cancer there is can kill you. People should definitely be aware, vigilant, and proactive in their health in general. I guess that I worry how much breast cancer awareness campaigns focus on that one specific cancer as if its the only cancer that a woman can get.

Or is it that I fear the possibility that breast cancer awareness campaigns have gotten so incredibly large and successful that it could be detracting potential funding for research on other types of cancers? I do not want to try and imply that Colon Cancer should be getting the same recognition as Breast Cancer (I mean, theoretically, I could stick to that argument purely based on my own personal experience and based on the fact that colon cancer is a possibility in both men AND women, young AND old, bbuuuuuut, i digress).
Do any of you guys readily off the top of your heads know what the ribbon color or designated awareness month for Lung Cancer is?
Answers: Pearl and November. Learn something new every day. I believe it has also surpassed Breast Cancer as the number 1 leading cancer-related death in women. So maybe we should have some more walk/runs and fundraisers for lung cancer awareness and patients? It'd be lovely to have pretty pearlized frying pans where 10% of proceeds of my purchasing them will go towards Lung Cancer awareness.
Rightfully, the whole designated months for various causes can get out of control, there's a day for absolutely everything. from "National Health Care Professional Day" to "National Root Beer Float Day", it begins to not have any real meaning at some point. But I use that more just for example.
Why am I whining about it anyway?
I don't really know. It all just seems to irk me. Maybe its not right that I'm agitated by it. Maybe I'm just over sensitive due to my own experience with cancer and far too many times having the assumption or misperception if I'm a "cancer-survivor" it must've been Breast Cancer (or even more commonly, lymphoma or luekemia). Maybe it doesn't matter. Who knows. Ideally I'm not sure if there is an answer that would make me get off my soapbox and just shut my trap about it. More walk/runs for more causes? Seem like it'd be overkill. Maybe just less focus on one cancer in particular and more evenly distributed funding towards all cancers? But then, the argument could be raised that they can't equally fund every cancer b/c some are indeed so incredibly rare, that the time and expense would be better served for those cancers that are more prevalant? (heh, which just may be breast cancer). A short fairly interesting article about the top myths concerning cancer would suggest that funding should maybe go towards making sure people who are "ignorant about cancer" are better educated.
Needless to say, I mean no slight towards any one particular person battling cancer, no matter what part of you its affecting. Like my very first post in this blog, it's not a matter of "my cancer is better than your cancer". But rather that I'm just sick to death of the color PINK!! sorry

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I guess my left foot has a pretty big ego

Cuz it sure is all puffed up. Pfff.

So, Monday evening while sitting in my room, I happened to glance down and notice that my foot seemed pretty fat. I glance at my other foot and my observation is confirmed. b/c my other foot is decidedly thin and much more 'normal' looking.
I figure this can't be good. And proceed to freak out in my head. I racked my brain (and the brains of those around me) to figure out what the cause could possibly be. It hasn't gone down. but there's no pain, no discoloration, i can feel my feet and move them around just fine. it's just ugly, and very worrisome to me. And even more worrisome that I seem to be freaked out about it, and yet noone else seems to want to acknowledge the potential fucked-upness of this.
I tell my doc, they do a doppler ultrasound, they find no clots. and so that's that. I'm told to just elevate my foot. keep an eye on it. and if anything changes, let them know. That's it? Well, I already know its not normal. and there has to be a reason. And given all I've gone through and the fact that it's NEVER just 'nothing' that goes away with no further ramifications. Nothing has ever just gone smoothly for me throughout this all. I'm really tired, it turns out to be anemia and i'm damn near out of blood. I am short of breath, and can barely walk up stairs...turns out to be spiking liver enzymes and potential toxicity to chemo. I'm trying to be as proactive as possible, and yet seem to get nowhere. i'm extremely aggravated and upset.
So, does THIS look 'normal' to any of you? What the hell else can I tell my doc to do? I'm supposed to be able to go to my doctor and HE'S supposed to be the one who works to figure out the source.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Much needed update (sorry. spank me later)

Hey friends and loved ones. I'd just like to clarify that i have ideas that i want to get out on my blog daily. Sometimes multiple times a day. And for some reason or another, I never seem to get to my computer when I have those ideas, and be the time I do, Facebook suddenly eats all my time.
So, with that excuse put out there for my poor updating ability, let me just launch into where I've been hiding. But first, a teeny update on livingSTRONG. In the summer, July I believe, LiveSTRONG and Nike had a street chalking event in front of the Taste of Chicago downtown. So of course...I had to flex my supreme lettering and spelling skillz!

(feel free to click on any of the photos to enlarge them for a better look)


I just had to knock one out for my buddies over at Imerman Angels, giving em some representation (was actually really impressed with my ability to recreate their logo freehand with chalk on asphalt)
And even Ro-Ro got in on the chalky love, giving some representation to her Aunt(s) and many others we know affected by Boob Cancer. (she definitely got some stops and stares at those killer titties!)

And of course, there where plenty of super talented artists who pulled off pretty massive and, detailed pieces.
But more recently, for the past few weeks (almost a month now) I was fighting more acutely for my health as I seemed to have a sudden, rapid, and intense adverse reaction to the chemo drugs (at least they think that's the cause)
Three weeks ago I went in to see my doc and things didn't look good. My eyes and face were sunken in, my skin was grey almost, but definintely sallow. And I literally wasn't able to do anything but sleep. My liver enzymes spiked up to crazy high levels. as well as my potassium level went way down. I lost a ton of weight. I dropped down to 98 pounds. But in the midst of all this, I had planned to attend the "Colon Cancer is a Big Dam Problem Walkathon" in Little Rock AR. I got the ok from my doc to go, probably mostly because my mom was going with, and two friends. so I had mom there to be my nurse. I wasn't even able to walk i was so weak, thin, and lethargic, so pretty much the whole road trip, i was in a wheelchair. But I was determined to go. It was great fun. And even though I barely look like i'm having a good time, I truly enjoyed meeting so many new awesome folk, specially all those newbie colondar models from the upcoming 2010 issue.
However, seeing photos showing up from that weekend on facebook, I was a bit horrified at how I looked. I know its trivial to talk about physical effects, but you all have to understand, I freak out when something odd happens to me physically because it just serves as an obvious visual reminder of the cancer I try to avoid for little bits of a time.

Making my entrance to Little Rock, don't i look like one happy camper?

Team Babcock rocks the house though!

Bam! Check out them backs!

All the past, present, and future Colondar Models that came back to walk the bridge.
Now, I got bag upon bag upon bag of IV Hydration, with Potassium, Magnesium, and other Electrolytes dripped into me, was taken off Chemo for a bit. I was taking potassium tablets, and just tryiung to eat and gain weight. So, I am pretty positive that I'm on the mend. I feel WAY more energy, and don't need a wheelchair to get around now. That was a scary and hard to deal with moment. To have to depend on everyone around you to push you around in your chair, it was hard for me to just accept it. The doc's can't think of anything to account for my sudden change, after ct scans, gallbladder/liver ultrasound, small bowel follow through, and upper GI xrays, CBC's, and CMP's they don't know for sure what it was. Our general theory is toxicity to chemo, in some form or way. But, before deciding to take a break, I did get the news that my CEA tumor marker levels had gone way down to 8, from somewhere in the 20's before (and ideally you want to get down to nothing. But colon cancer patients sometimes never get down to 'normal' even if they're cancer is technically gone. So I'm a bit relieved to hear that at least the drugs where working to some degree.
I'm taking this "break" to recoup, strengthen myself, and get ready for whatever plan they come up with next. And FULLY taking advantage of the last days of summer. Smoothies, ice cream cones, milkshakes, italian ice....if its cold and delicious, I'm ingesting it!

In other areas, my mom finally got her blue colon star tattoo touched up:
and then my two female cousinds Katie and Jenny both got matching tatt's as me n my mom, in the same spots. I'm recruiting and initiating my army. and these ladies have been official card carying members since day one. but now they can drop the card, cuz they're wearing it on their skin!That felt really nice, to have my mom and my cousins showing their support for me (not that I needed validation, but its a good feeling to have).

And finally, proof that I am feeling waaaaayyy better, this past saturday my grammar school had an unofficial mini-reunion. I haven't seen most all of these folks for about 15 years!! All I knew, is I didn't want to show up looking visibly on deaths door. Sooooo, I think I did a good job cleaning up, and steppin out for a night on the town.


My docs work wonders down they? ;)

Alright, thats part of why I hadn't updated, just wanted to get that out of the way. I have more blog posts written and saved, and just waiting to publish very shortly. So stay tuned, recruit friends to read, spread the word. I want to gain some readers!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Cancer is sucking the big one all around the nation...

I love seeing all the different color combo's people are picking out for themselves for their Cancer Sucks shirts. If you get yours, please please please lemme see!
So far, a few of my fav's:
Order yours here for men's or here for women's
You can click and choose the color of the shirt, and the color of both "Cancer" and "Sucks"
just like burger king...have it your way!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Have you kissed your cancer survivor today?

So I hear that June 7th is "National Cancer Survivor Day". While I'm not entirely sure I'm buying into the cause...far be it from me to deny a little recognition of the absolute bullshit that I (or we, as survivors) are going through. Although, I honestly don't know if I really am all that comfortable in the role of "survivor". Its kind of an age old debate amongst people with cancer. Do you call yourself a Survivor? A fighter? A patient? Do you define your status, or avoid mentioning any "status" at all? I've heard arguments for and against all of the above. And they're all pretty valid. Some people can get rreeeaaaaallly touchy with the wording. Right down to how someone who's passed away from cancer is sometimes stated as John Doe "lost his battle with cancer yesterday..." b/c it makes them sound like they lost in the end instead of focusing on the strength and fight that they gave.
I dont think I ever got entirely comfortable with saying I was a "Cancer Survivor". The general public sure does love to push it on you though. And Just like other forms of labeling, you may not necessarily like them, but sometimes it's just easier to be able to classify yourself for certain situations. I've been in situations where I didn't really want the conversation to begin to focus on my cancer-journey, but I saw it heading that way, and it's just easier to say "oh, well y yes, I'm a cancer-survivor". Some people are so uncomfortable with the C-word they are grateful to be able to just nod admiringly and carry on the conversation in other directions. There sometimes happen those folks who will want to probe you further, but I usually have a set of generic answers for those situations.
(i.e. "yes, its very hard, but I have a great support system and medical team." and "How am I now? Well, I'm here and good at the moment, and that's all I can ask for!"...no matter how "good" I'm feeling.)
Anywho, I actually started writing this entry for a specific reason, and just realized I let myself start rambling...so I'm going to hijack it back to my original intent. Although I would love to hear your thoughts on labeling, the 'survivor' role, etc etc. I am sure I will be retouching on this in the near future. Considering I debate it to myself pretty much daily.

BBUUUTTT, Last night my buddy Jonny Imerman and his organization Imerman Angels held a "Survivors Celebration" at swanky "Martini Park" in downtown Chicago. It was an awesome event, with free cocktail reception, lots of well-connected individuals within the cancer community speaking, and networking galore. And, I got to showcase *drumroll please* My new Cancer Sucks shirts!!!!!
Yes Yes YES! You can now get on, completely customize the color of the shirt and the words of your shirt, making it your very very own. A very good friend of mine makes them right here locally and independently. He's graciously offered to donate proceeds to my Fund to help with all the ongoing medical bills. Go ahead and click below to get started customizing your very own...
Womens shirt's
Mens shirt's
Please please please spread the word on these shirts, they're great quality, and I don't think many would argue that it DOESN'T suck. Support your cancer survivor/fighter/patient/warrior/bitch/or badass. They make perfect outfit for a lovely visit to the doctors office, or your local infusion center, or even (as I so nicely model above) at swanky downtown clubs. Order and wear on June 7th!!

Monday, May 18, 2009

I am just a visitor in your world

I'm a guest at this point.

I peer into the same activities that I once was wholly apart of. I observe things like parties, and other social events. I attend dinners, and performances. I engage in these "small talk" conversations. I even physically partake in activities like shopping, or exercising.

For all intents and purposes I think I do a very good job at involving myself among our social world. I had 26 years of practice at being myself, so I'd hope that I'm decent at it. I don't know anyone else who can play the role of me, better than myself. When I'm feeling the isolation, the seperation, and the lack of motivation, I can quickly launch into "old normal becca" at the moment someone asks me "So how are you?" And I think most people are none the wiser.

Even though people ask that as a way to mask what they really want to ask which is "How are you dealing with cancer and treatment still? are you tired? sick? doing any better? is it almost over? What happens next? Even though they do that...ultimately, most, don't want to hear all the answers to it. If they did...I would think, they wouldn't mask it with "how are you?" They'd just cut to the chase and ask directly. "How are you?" is just a space-filler.

I've disassociated myself with you. You as in, the rest of our normal world. I don't belong there anymore, as I am not normal. I am in another class now. And not the "cool kids" or the "theater dorks" or the "jocks" class. I am now a member of a society of people, I believe, who cannot help but acknowledge that what we once were is no longer, and what we now are is a completely bizarro twilight-zone reality that most can ever even fathom.

I drive down the street and see a young 20-something mother pushing her stroller down the street and I think "nope. never will be me.".
I stand in line at the bank and watch a couple in front of me who discuss their weekend plans of going camping in michigan. Seemingly no worries other than the fact that they've been waiting at the bank for over 5 minutes to take care of their finances for the week.
I watch an old 70-something woman hobbling out from Panera to her chevy taking her time to watch the seagulls in the parking lot as she puts her cane in the passenger seat.

I see all of this, and am filled with a longing for the irrelevance, enviable monotony , and unreachable normalness. My monotony and normalness is living my days thinking almost nonstop about my guts, my blood, my side effects, my prescriptions, my schedule of emptying my bowels, my money and lack thereof. I spend my days off doing doctor appointments, infusions, procedures, transfusions, waiting room, blood tests, scans, and scopes. I spend my evenings pretending I've found that new perspective on life that makes me enjoy all the little things that much more, when mostly I'm gluing on that smile and going through the motions of who I knew myself to be before the me I am became the permanent patient.


Chase Park Daycamp, circa 1987
Gay Pride Parade, Circa 1996
Senior Prom, Circa 1998

New Orleans Circa 1999
the "Friendsgiving" holiday, Circa 2000

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Professional Bathroom Critic....

Since being diagnosed with an affliction of the colon, I've developed quite the complex relationship with bathrooms, PUBLIC bathrooms, to be exact. I've never really had a fondness for public bathrooms (though, to be fair, I don't exactly know anyone who does). Particularly, I have an intense dislike of actually touching anything in a public bathroom if I can help it. (which includes such famous practices as "hovering" and the "kick-flush").
That intense dislike has grown to a certain dread now that I am a slave to my intestines. I very literally plan my day around knowing where I can access a 'decent' public bathrooms and at what times I'll be needing to do that. When that planning is done for my own home-city, its not too much of a problem. But when I'm in unfamiliar territory (say...vacation) that is a pretty daunting, if not damn near impossible task.
So I've often joked that it'd be great to just travel around and document, for people like myself, where the best (and worst) public bathrooms are. Maybe even create a little guide book to take along with you. It could be quite the lucrative business considering how many people suffer from Ulcerative Colitis, Crohns, IBS, Colon Cancer, or even just good ol' fashioned weak stomachs. I know I for one would pay for that information, in order to better enjoy my daytrips and vacations.
Well, I actually did start to 'document' my bathroom experiences. I was mostly being silly...but I found this little video from my trip to Eastern Europe earlier in the year that I fully intended to upload but couldn't manage to do it from overseas, and by the time I got back to the states had forgotten about it. Unfortunately, may camera cut off midway before I got to go into detail about this place, but nonetheless, enjoy the first installment of your new friend, The bathroom critic:
video

Monday, May 11, 2009

She's got Betty Davis eeeeyyyeesss....

Apparently, I was not crazy when I thought to myself a few months back that my eyelashes (and eyebrows for that matter) had exploded into a crazy twisty crimpy outrageous mess.
Here I was, hoping and praying that shaving my head did not also mean that I'd lose my eyebrows and eyelashes...b/c you know...that really makes you look like a cancer-patient. (which is one of my top goals. NOT looking like a patient.)
And not only was I not losing them, I was literally pulling out my manicure scissors and trimming my eyelash hairs! Whoever does that?!? I'd never had to "trim" facial hair in my life. But these damn lashes kept growing out too long and then kinking in wierd places and curling back into my eyes! It was so annoying. I trimmed them, and they just seemed to grow back. And my eyebrow hairs were poking out and down and up in all kinds of directions. I had to trim those on many occasions as well.
But I still just figured maybe my hair follicles were all around traumatized and freaking out with all the stress and drugs and low-blood count, etc.
However, in a doctor appointment a few weeks ago, just before my doc was walking out he turned and peered deep into my eyes (which was a bit awkward, I won't lie). After a moment he asked if I'd noticed my eyelashes growing out long and crazy, but before he'd gotten the whole question out of his mouth I yelped "YESSS!" He explained that someone had recently approached him with the idea of marketing the drug that I've been on (Vectibux) to people who'd lost eyelashes and eyebrows in other treatments as a way to grow them in again.
I thought it completely ridiculous that ANYone would even consider taking such a horrid drug simply to get some lashes, but as my friend Jess said the other night "Honey, you'd be surprised the lengths people will go for vanity!" (she being the daughter of a cosmetic surgeon.)
Anywho, he wanted to take a photo of my eyelashes so if this marketing push ever got under way, they'd have some examples to show.
And I give you...my betty davis eyes:

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

April? my how the time flies...

Seems just like yesterday I was blogging from Bosnia back in January ;)
Sssooooo, I've been absent in the blogosphere as of late. No real good excuses, just been out living life I guess. (although in truth I spent many many hours right here in front of my computer screen. damn that facebook just sucks up all my time).
Not a whole lot has changed in Becca's world. I did just get back from California. Back up in the redwoods visiting fellow colondar model (and very good friend) Mark. He has a bakery in Cazadero CA which is just outside of San Francisco. And let me tell you, it is an awesome place to be. I simply cannot get enough of the bakery, or them, or the redwoods. The best part is, Mark and his family have a few cottages on their property that you can rent out as bed n breakfasts. They're adorable. My mom, and two friends, stayed there for a few days and got simply spoiled. Check out some pic-spam:

Cozy Raymonds Bakery, off of Cazadero Hwy:
Where you can do silly-dorky things like pose with the owners:

Goat Rock State Beach is down the road. Where you may be lucky enough to catch Gus...the friendly seagull. (er, may or may not answer to "Gus")
We may look like we're posing, but in actuality we're just trying to weigh ourselves down in the massive winds :)
Mama waiting to tour her FAV beverage company, Korbel Champagne Cellars!
Our Gracious hosts for the weekend
HORSES?! oh, i'm so sold.

The view from Marks back yard. Redwood anyone?

Oh you know I just HAD to...

(p.s., if anyone out there is interested in going and staying in the redwoods, by all means please look up my friends, http://www.raymonds-bakery.com/ remember to support independent businesses!!)

Outside of that, I've just been truckin' along. Got a little more ink (I know, I know, its a sick obsession.). Doing my chemo treatments every 2 weeks like clockwork. Next week I have a PET scan again. And other than that, nothing much new.

I have exciting things to look forward to. Flight of the Conchords, my absolute favorite kiwi's EVER, are coming back in concert at the end of April and my awesome mom got me some tix. (I got to see them and meet them last year in concert, they are hands down the most gracious celeb's ever. Not that I've encountered many of them...but these guys take the cake.)

And, on my birthday, GOGOL BORDELLO!! (playing with Man Man! how epic). It's a sign i tell you. I've been trying to see these guys in concert the past 3 or 4 times they've played here, and I just keep missing it. So this time around, I'm in possession of tickets and nothing will stand in my way!! if ya dont know...betta' ask somebody.

Well, nighty night lovelies...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Language barriers


I admit, I'm a bit of an obnoxious american. Maybe not in the sense of thinking the world revolves around me...so to speak. But I guess I just listened too much to most of the people who told me that "dont worry, most everyone there speaks english too".
Wow. The language barriers. I may sound like i'm complaining but perhaps only becuase all i really want to do is be able to strike up random conversations with people. (or at least be able to appropriately tell off the naggy beggars that follow you persistently).

Anywho, I am in Sarajevo right now in an apartment with a ridiculously enviable view of a tremendously colorful city.

My oh my are there characters here. Soooo many of them. But THIS by far, is my favorite shot of the day:

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Dobar dan!

Greetings!
(my disclaimer right off the bat is that if you see ˝z˝ where a ˝y˝ should be just know that i canNOT get the hang of this croatian keyboard. I`m trying to catch my typos, but in the interest of typing fast and getting out of this internet cafe as fast as possible, i may not get them all.)

So then...that being said, Im in Croatia!! Split to be exact. Got in a day ago, and it is absolutely amazing. I dont want to be here long, but I just HAD to put some photos up. Its warmer than Chicago here, though its not hot, by any means. Its more like...mild. Today it has been raining all daz, though its only 1p. Hence why I am sitting in an internet cafe instead of browsing around. Im drenched. (and cant seem to find the apostrophe key on here...)

Observations (even though ive made these observations before), just about everzone in Europe is stylish...right down to the nuns. AND, there are TONS of drop dead beautiful women here in Croatia. Jesus. Talk about feeling inadequate. Tall, leggy, refined facial structure. makes me sick! heheheh.

Anzwho, take a gander a few photos from so far. Im sure Ill have tons more as the days go by. Tomorrow we are headed to Sarajevo in a rental car. Yipes. Keep your fingers crossed we dont get *gulp* lost...






Monday, January 19, 2009

I made the pilgrimage!

So I'm sitting in a kitchen of a house in Silver Springs Maryland, a mere half hour train-ride into the heart of all the action of the next few days. Obama-thon!
Tom and Dawn have very graciously offered us a place to stay in their home, and my mom, Roanne and I snapped at the chance.
I'll be traipsing around the mall for the next few days in bright red moon boots. I think I'll try my hand at this "mobile-blogging" feature, since I know am the owner of a nifty-difty new G1 phone. (super sweet 3mega-pixel camera phone)
Now that I've updated you all on the technology I'm working with, I'm off to put on my moon boots.
more to come...?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Mo' Money, Mo' problems

That is how the phrase goes...right? The more money you get the more problems you get with it? Than how come I'm getting the opposite? Ain't got no money and yet it just gets me more and more problems.
I currently am trying to figure out how in holy hell I can deal with the devil (also known as Sallie Mae) when I don't have the ammo to battle.
I owe them...oh..I dunno, something like $35-40,000 in loans. *yay to all that interest. Apparently you can only defer it a couple of times (of course, you have to PAY to defer them, which in itself is pretty funny that you have to PAY in order to not have to pay.). I've exhausted that option. And then I was offered a partial payment deferment...for three months. whoo-hoo. And the last time I called to get them to stop calling me, they couldnt' do anything for me. Except the gentleman I spoke to (who I do believe reads my blog now, which is awesome that someone listened to me!) worked out pushing my payments back a month or two.
The problem lies in not only has my situation NOT improved, it has, for all intents and purposes gotten worse.
I dont make squat for money at my job. I get barely minimum wage. I work only parttime. I feel restricted and limited as hell in getting a different job due to a multitude of reasons. For myself, I'll elaborate:
A. who's going to hire someone who can't even commit that they'll be able to work a full work schedule b/c every two weeks i have to be out for chemo...damnit chemo infusion centers dont work on weekends.
B. Even if i didnt' have to get treated every two weeks, there are many occasion when various complications keep me from getting into work at all...be it sudden blood transfusion, ct scan, scope, or iron infusion.
C. and even if I didn't have that potential looming over my head, in general, I'm exhausted enough after working a short shift of 6.5 hours four or five days a week as it is. And its a pretty easy desk job. I can barely remember the times when I worked two or three jobs at once, or worked fulltime and went to school part or fulltime. That sounds like a wonderwoman to me, and yet I used to do it.
D. If I'm able to get past all of that, I'd have to get a job that I can explain to them that once (minimum) but more like twice a day, for roughly a half hour at a time I'll have to lock myself in a bathroom. Which, in most normal jobs, you get a lunch hour. So maybe I could work it so that it was my lunch hour...now of course this would also mean that I would always spend every work day in a bathroom instead of eating. That could potentially get problematic.
E. Oh yea, and do I need to even touch on the subject of Insurance and the fact that I would not only wreck the insurance setup at most any business with my pre-existing conditions, I am basically a Liability. I know that an employer wouldn't be able to NOT hire me based on me having cancer, but exactly how would I be able to prove that even happened? I've toyed with the idea of not saying anything to a potential employer about cancer. But realized it's nto exactly plausible given reasons I've already stated and the fact that I would need to right off the bat be able to start scheduling my off days so I can get my treatments.

I could actually keep going with reasons I feel limited. But besides that all...I love my job. Well, I may not have that involved of a job description, but I love the actual organization I work for. It is a folk music school and they have been amazing for me. They are the most supportive and accomadating people. I feel very much blessed that I have an employer that not only is understanding of my situation, but are right there in my corner. They've allowed me to use the entire facility (including huge gorgeous concert hall) for my very first fundraiser. Than, my fundraiser I had a few months ago they all collectively raised about close to $1000 for it without mentioning a word of it to me. When I was in the hospital about to have surgery, the first (and one of the only) flower arrangements I received was from my coworkers. A bunch of them showed up to my fundraisers. They bend over backwards to help me rearrange my schedule when chemo-stuff changes. They're always very respectful of my situation, willingness to talk about it, etc. I never dread going to work in the morning, I love what my job offers to people. The fact that we share, spread, and support local arts, artists, musicians, etc. The fact that we have a place where people from all walks of life come together to learn, play, and share cultures. That we offer people with limited incomes the chance for scholarships and financial aid, including children from low income homes. And thats only a small part of why I love where I work.

So needless to say I feel stuck. Because I dont feel I can get back on my feet, which I've been trying to for three years. And I can't shake these Sallie Mae fucks. And yet I can't pay them. I can barely pay my rent all on my own. and my monthly payment due for student loans would come close to $500. and a partial payment would still be like $250. I think even if i just paid the interest accrued every month its close to $200. And I can't afford that anyway. I have rent/phone/auto/food/ and then I'm not even touching on the massive medical debt I'm already in (and just get deeper and deeper into every two weeks with the next chemo treatment. I make payments here and there, but there are some things that just dont receive anything. For instance, I dont think I've been able to afford sending payment to the radiation people...ever. I just can't when I have to make sure that my oncologists office is current on bills so that I can continue my drugs as needed.
I'll elaborate even more later about how all this just serves to contribute to my lack of self-esteem in anything these days.
If I could blink my eyes and make Sallie Mae just fall off the face of the planet, I would do it in a heartbeat. . Someone help me! puh-lease.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Viiiidddeo!

Okay, it may not be riveting video. but needless to say my awesome mom and family got me a super sexy new video camera for xmas. So I have a way to get stuff i've had laying around, onto my computer. and out to my blog!
So, I want to start out small. A little infusion room anecdote if you will.

video