Friday, August 14, 2015

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

A couple of months ago I received some difficult news. My health is fine, but my life is upside down right now and I'm pissed off about it. That's not true. I'm afraid. Anyone who has lived to see it knows that adulthood is highly overrated. If I had known how good I had it at four years old, I would have savored it.

For those of you who don't know me personally, I'm not a fan of change, I'm stubborn, and I have a hard time accepting help from others. I like to think that I'm pretty smart and I can figure things out. Lately, I'm finding it hard to talk to people about my feelings and my situation. Of course, everyone has suggestions that I didn't ask for and don't want to hear. It's frustrating.

I have so much to figure out, so many big decisions to make, and so very little time to do it. In the past, when things have gone awry, they have always come back around and worked out to my benefit in some way. I'm trying my best to be in good spirits and keep it pushing, but everyday I feel life's vice tightening around me. Telling someone to have faith that things will get better is easy. Actually having said faith is scary difficult.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Road to CancerCon - Updated*

So my BFF decided we needed to commune with some other young, fly, and flashy cancer survivors. Consequently, she made contact with an organization called StupidCancer.  As a birthday gift, she arranged for us to go to an annual event they host called CancerCon. It's being held in Denver next week, April 24 - 26, and I have a lot of mixed feelings about going. I am glad to go support her and meet some other people who know first hand what it's like to have cancer as a young adult. I'm also nervous because, as we know I am a big ass crybaby a bit sensitive and  I'm afraid that I will spend the entire weekend sobbing over feelings that I thought I'd already worked through. I'm hopeful that I will get some new resources for fertility assistance. I'm sure the experience will be a good one. I will be sure to take pictures and share.

Ridiculously Late Update:

As promised, I took a lot of pictures. Unfortunately, they aren't all here because I'm limiting how much of them I share to respect others' anonymity. I hope that's not too much of a bummer. Here are a few photos from the conference, my awesome breakfast from Snooze, the Denver Art Museum that I can't wait to visit again, cool architecture in downtown Denver, and a group shot of some amazing new friends I made.



Overall CancerCon was a great experience. I thought I was going to support my BFF, but I found that I also needed some support. I met gaggles of awesome people, each with their own stories and triumphs. I am so glad I went and I'm excited to attend again in the future.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

That Awkward Moment

Dating is hard. Dating post cancer is ever harder. Dating post cancer with infertility issues is like doing Chinese arithmetic. There's never a right time to bring up the big C. I tend to do it relatively early. Most guys take the news in stride. For whatever reason, surviving cancer makes me a superhero to a lot of men. They commence to telling me how strong I am. I kind of like it, but only after the fact. I never bank on getting that reaction.

The harder conversation is the one about infertility. My friends always complain that it's difficult to meet thirtysomething guys without kids. For whatever reason, I have the opposite issue. I meet men with no kids ALL THE DAMN TIME. It's not a relief to me to hear that a man does not have children. Most of them want to have some at some point. That's hard for me to reconcile. I feel like they would be losing out on the opportunity to procreate by entering into anything serious with me. If I'm being honest, I feel like they are settling to be with me instead of really having what they want. It's a lot to process.

Unlike cancer, I try to wait to bring up infertility. Talking about kids on a first date is really awkward. It's not any less awkward on a second date. Unfortunately, it tends to come up earlier than I want it to. When people find out that I already have a daughter, their next question is almost always, "Do you want more kids?" I never know how to answer. I don't know how to say yes without giving the ridiculously gloomy backstory. People never know how to react, especially on a date.

The other issue is, after I tell men that I'm infertile, I feel that they check out on the possibility of anything long term with me. Sure they're still physically attracted to me, but they don't see a future for themselves that excludes children or includes all the money and complicated procedures that would go into having kids with me. This is the thing that sucks the most. No woman wants to just be "something to do" for a guy; least of all me.

I suppose practice makes perfect, so I continue to put on my big girl panties and tell men the deal. I have to believe that at some point, it won't be as overwhelming and someone will be awesome enough to accept the challenge. In the meantime, I'll work on getting better at these uncomfortable ass conversations.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Gang Tattoos... Cancer Blues

So remember the clarity I mentioned praying for to make sense of my illness? It finally came. It isn't at all what I was expecting. My best friend has cancer. It's much more advanced than mine. That's as much as I'm willing to divulge here. Although her diagnosis came last summer, it's been presenting symptoms for several years.

I have been avoiding writing about it because I was scared she'd read it and be sad. If you are reading this and this is news to you, I promise to hunt you down and punch you in the face if you interrogate her about it. Everyone sees me and wants to talk about how she's doing. It's a challenge not to cry, but I would rather that they ask me instead of her because ultimately I end up having to comfort them. She shouldn't have to deal with that. Shit, I still deal with people bursting into tears when they learn about my own illness. It's really awkward.

I made peace with my own cancer when I was able to tell her some of what to expect with hers. In the strangest way possible, the small bit of comfort I'm able to give her when she asks questions makes my struggle worth it. I would be lying if I said my heart isn't broken. I refuse to not be there for her. She's my person. I can't let her down.


Saturday, April 11, 2015

Procreation Procrastination

My birthday is coming up. With its passing I'll be one year out from advanced maternal age. If you don't already know how old that is, I'm not about to tell your nosey ass. LOL. I am logical to a fault and I thought, if I'm gonna make this fertility preservation thing happen I should get the ball rolling before I age myself out of having a viable chance at it. Initially, I thought maybe I would have a mate by now and I wouldn't be left to figure all this out on my own. But you know what they say happens when you make plans.

I thought I had worked through my feelings about infertility... until I started reading. Supposedly, there's so many programs to help with fertility for cancer survivors. What I didn't realize it that they are mostly geared toward adolescent and married women without children; two groups to which I do not belong. I also did not realize that freezing your eggs to produce children  is a relatively new process. Apparently the pioneers in this field only have about a thousand births under their belt. My best bet would be to freeze an embryo, but since I don't have a paternal candidate, my options are obviously limited.

The fertility for cancer programs do not provide assistance if health insurance is willing to pay for any portion of the process. Logically, the first place I started was with my insurance. Lots of my co-workers have done cycles for in vitro fertilization with the help of our insurance. Since egg harvesting is part of that process, it's not a stretch to think that they may assist me with fertility preservation.

You would think that people who work in women's health would be sensitive to someone like me, but no. I spoke to a female call center agent to whom I explained my situation. I told her that I had lost my uterus to cancer, that I still had my ovaries, and I wanted to see if they could assist me with harvesting and preserving some of my eggs. She proceeded to coldly ask me a battery of questions. She wanted to know the first day of my last period. When I told her I hadn't had a uterus period in over four years, it didn't seem absurd at all to her to expect me to remember the date. I know it was at the end of November in 2010, because the stress of my upcoming surgery caused me to start my period early and royally fucked up the prospect of me getting laid beforehand. I'm not sure what the hell difference it makes FOUR FUCKING YEARS LATER, but I guess she has a job to do.

After she asked me a bunch of other uncomfortable questions, she was careful to inform me that my case would need to be closed if I became pregnant. Excuse me?!? I tried to stay calm and asked her what she meant by become pregnant. Instead of clarifying, she sighed and repeated herself rather quickly as though I was an idiot for not understanding. I attempted to clarify my question to this simple bitch because I had already told her dumb ass... I DON'T HAVE A COT DAMN UTERUS. I asked her if she meant when the egg freezing process was complete, or when my surrogate became pregnant. She was silent for a second, then repeated herself. I explained to her that I was confused by her statement because there is no possible way that I would "become pregnant" naturally or as a result of this process. She glazed over my statement like I hadn't even said it and ended the call.

I hung up the phone and cried for the better part of an hour. That exchange really knocked the wind out of my sails. I know that I have a letter from my insurance company in a pile of mail from my mother's house. I'm terrified to open it and possibly see that they denied my benefits. I'm trying to psyche myself up. It ain't hardly working.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Back With the Remix



I was gone for a minute; not for a lack of cancer-related happenings in my life. I just couldn't figure out how to articulate my feelings. I think I've got it now. Welcome me back dammit!



Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Female Kalel



I have had this recurring dream for about the past five years. In my dreams, I have a secret. For some reason or another, each time something happens where I have to show someone and I'm really proud when I do. It feels amazing. I say, "Hey wanna see what I can do?" When the breeze blows just right, I take off running. When I pick up just enough speed, I close my eyes, lift my feet, and float away.



The Fighter



He survived two and a half years longer than expected. David died last week. I am so inspired to have known him and he is a shining example of optimism and strength. Cancer never made him waiver from a hope of survival. If you never met him its not too late to get to know him. He made sure of that. www.dpickens.com



Monday, May 28, 2012

We gotta stop meeting like this...





First I have word vomit on twitter about the stupid situatons I find myself in with XY chromosonal humans... And then God decides to use Google+ to talk to me... my only request is that next time he needs to +1 whoever this is so they are more readily identifiable...

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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sometimes I surprise myself...


For every bit of outward strength I have, internally I’m twice as fragile. I am analytical to a fault. I spend a ridiculous amount of time playing out scenarios in my head. Maybe its my way of trying to maintain a level of control. If I’m being honest with myself... it’s a neurotic quirk. A year ago these scenarios involved how I would feel if I were ever faced with certain fears. I am a self admitted cry baby. Strangely enough when I say that to some people they have a hard time believing it. I imagine myself not being able to handle certain situations. One that I was particularly afraid of was having to face the possibility that someone would care for me but not be able to accept that I can’t give them a child. At a certain point I had convinced myself that I was all worked up over nothing... until it happened. To my own amazement I handled it pretty well. I didn’t cry, I didn’t get sad; I just told them, “Life is short... if you want a child, you should have one... and I can’t do that for you... and that’s fine” I suppose that retort was smug. Maybe because I couldn’t imagine myself with this person long term. I suppose if I was in love (ha! imagine that) that conversation would have gone differently. Although a bit more tearful, I think my response would be the same. Who knows... but for now, I’m patting myself on the back for being a big girl.


Every Superhero needs theme music


This is mine... for now





Sunday, October 2, 2011

It's gotta be the shoes

I did not ask for this. Although someone who loves me says I chose poorly, I'm not sure how to process that assertion. I do know that I will not accept that I somehow caused this. I love hard. I will not apologize for it. I'm nothing like Ms. Darling...







Sunday, August 7, 2011

Jake Gyllenhal creeps me out

Since Broke Back Mountain... but somehow I decided to NetFlix 'Love and Other Drugs' anyway.

Two steps back... Although I've had some really fucked up shit happen to me in the past three decades, I still sorta believe in God. He talks to me. Don't get excited, I'm no Joan of Arc. Like I don't hear voices in my head or see Jesus on a muffin. Its more like there are things I need to hear and said "things" find a way of presenting themselves to me.

I pray.

I'm not sure if I do it like other people. Stevie would be proud. It's never, "God, please give me." It's more like Celie's, "Maybe you can give me a sign letting me know what is happening to me." God wouldn't be God if he never delivered. Clarity comes from the most random places. Maybe God has even chosen some of you to speak to me at some point or another. Probably when you don't even realize it, but I do and that's all that matters.

Anyway...

I feel some type of way. God allowed Cancer to take away my ability to reproduce. If all things work according to his will, I feel I'm owed a freakin explanation. So like always, I asked for it. Except this time he's keeping quiet and I'm pissed about it.

Fast forward

I am still sad very often. I was seeing a "heart doctor". I thought maybe he would use her, but no dice and I still cannot make sense of my illness. So I'm still miffed that I have no answer.

Back to our regularly scheduled program.

The other night I'm watching Jake Gyllenhal. He's at a Parkinson's support group with Anne Hathaway's character when this lady stands up and says,

"There are still good things... You are still you... And you're alive... And life is beautiful"

And I thought, "Thanks for letting me know you're still there God. I needed that"

Friday, June 17, 2011

Genius Envy.... the credits are the best part





After Wesley embraces Halle and shouts, there's a jewel at the end of Jungle Fever. It pays to watch the credits.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Again with the KY Jelly?!?!?

So I went for the first of my quarterly pap smears. Yes I said quarterly... lucky me. It's actually less unpleasant than before. Mostly cause I don't think I have all the feeling back at the top of my vaginal canal. Well I take that back. The snap of latex is frightening. The good old 60 something gave me a double penetration again. Definitely was not looking forward to that shit. The ironic part is... before I went to the doctor I told my mom I hoped he wouldn't do it this time. Like what the hell is he checking for in there???? I have a fantasy in which I have a tramp stamp that says "EXIT ONLY" and when he comes near me I slap a big orange "VIOLATION" sticker on his forehead. Yeah but for real though... I hope this was the last time.

Simba's mean mean uncle



I have a keloid... I'm uber sad about it. So for the eleven dollars I spent and the hope I had of minimal residual noticeability I say... Fuck you Bio Oil you're a cot damn LIAR!!!




Thursday, March 17, 2011

From just outside the window

I got an email yesterday at work. It's content was saddening and the challenges therein dwarfed my personal sadness. In my tenure with my present employer at least three of my co-workers have died from cancer. They were all fairly young and when they passed it was a big deal. I'm not good with funerals and I did not attend any of theirs. People were sad about it for a time then as always they moved on. A while back another collegue of mine got some bad news. In November of 2009, David was diagnosed with Advanced Renal Cell Carcinoma. This scared me really bad because this is the same kind of cancer my father had (the first time). His cancer originated on his left kidney and spread to his brain, lungs, liver and most recently, his legs. The email said that it had reached stage IV. I learned the same day that David has also decided to blog about his cancer.  www.dpickens.com  I read it for a bit and this passage stuck out for me,

"My doctors have agreed that the prognosis at this point is anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. When I was originally diagnosed, I was told one year but I have beat that mark and I'll beat this one as well."


Then I wondered how he must feel hearing that he would meet his demise at the hands of this God awful illness. I decided that if he can be optimistic knowing that he has a short while to live... I should try approaching a half full glass with the aftermath of my cancer. Easier said than done... that being said I start therapy to cure my blues next week.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

On the ever looming elephant...

I mean sincerely that I'm so happy for you, you, you, and you. But I'm not ready to RSVP to anybody's anything let alone a baby shower. I want the focus to be on you and not me. And since I'm nowhere near able to keep it together when I'm sad, my presence would be a bit much. I know that right now I can't handle buying you baby gifts or even seeing your collective bellies up close. I honestly don't know if I ever will be ready to. With much regret, I respectfully decline your invitations.

Love you all madly,

Cee