November 6, 2018 Facebook post

Hi friends, on 10/23/18 I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  It appears to be early stage and non-invasive, but my surgeon thinks there may also be invasive cancer present, so I have to get more testing done.  I am doing OK and I have lots of love & support. I’m working on a blog-type situation to update people en masse because I can’t sustain the amount of texting and phone calls I’ve been doing – stay tuned.  I love getting texts from people checking in, and I will continue to need that, probably for months to come. BUT – if you message me, I may not reply right away. If I don’t reply, don’t give up, keep telling me you love me!  

LONG post below if you want to read more.  I love all of you!

More info for the curious:

How did I find it?  I found a lump in my left breast and went to Planned Parenthood for an exam. No, I do not do regular breast exams – I just noticed a lump one day.  I don’t even remember what I was doing – showering? Putting on a bra?

If you are reading this thinking “Damn that’s scary, I should start doing breast/chest exams” and putting it on the mental list of stuff you “should” do, but don’t do, and feel guilty about not doing – then just feel yourself up right now while you’re laying around looking at your phone!  You don’t have to give yourself a full on medical examination. The idea is to generally know what your “normal” is so you notice anything new.

What will happen next?  I’m not sure. I know I will have surgery and some sort of treatment afterwards – radiation or chemo depending on what testing reveals.  I don’t have a treatment timeline – for now, we just wait for test results.

How am I?  My closest loved ones & I are on an emotional rollercoaster.  Every day we learn new, scary information about cancer, cancer treatments, and side effects, and about my diagnosis.  I know very little about what the coming months will hold, but even in the best case scenario, it will be hard. I have an incredible support network and good health insurance.  It turns out cancer comes with a LOT of admin – phone calls, appointments, social workers, paperwork, research, documents. And, I have been NON-STOP texting and talking on the phone with loved ones.  At some moments I feel drained, overwhelmed, lonely, sad, and scared. At others I feel loved, hopeful, and confident in my own creativity and resilience.

I’m also full of gratitude.  I have complex feelings about gratitude – I think often, marginalized people are commanded to feel grateful for scraps.  But I feel genuine gratitude welling up from within: that I live in the Bay Area and have access to so many resources, that I am surrounded by love and support.  I am grateful to every single advocate who has ever fought to expand Medi-Cal coverage. I am grateful to every person who manages to be human with their patients & clients while working in the medical industrial complex.  

And I am grateful to MYSELF and all the things I practice that have readied me to face this the way I want to: openly, with authenticity, vulnerability and humor.  Stuff like writing, yoga, meditation, talking about death, making dark jokes, reading, going to therapy, nurturing deep friendships, dismantling stigma, and allowing myself to feel the full range of emotions.  All the things I already do, that I make time for and prioritize even when others don’t understand or when it’s hard to fit into a busy schedule, are there for me to fall back on now. Thank you, Sara Spriggs, for being so awesome!

So what should you do?  How should you react?

What feels best to me right now is when people ask how I’m doing, listen, and follow my lead.  

There are times when I want to talk about this cancer experience, and other times I don’t.   It is okay for you to ask me about it, because if I don’t feel like talking about it, I will tell you.  If you’re thinking about it but you’re afraid to say something, I can tell, and it puts the pressure on me to manage your fears for you, or bring up the elephant in the room to cut the awkwardness.  Or just avoid you because it’s uncomfortable.

I know it’s scary – will you say the wrong thing?  Will you hurt me by bringing it up? We all say the wrong thing sometimes, and I already know I have cancer.  I would rather you move through your fear so that we can connect with each other, than for there to be a wall of fear and silence between us.  

Do I need anything?  Right now we’re good. If we have material needs in the future I’ll put out the call.  I am so grateful to everyone who is asking.

Thanks for reading, friends – I love you!  Hit me up if you want to hang out, especially if you want to go to the dog park with me & Zero.  ❤

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