Well, I can tell you that her talent doesn’t come from her formal education. She dropped out of that as soon as she could, so she didn’t have many people telling her what she couldn’t do or say, and trying to squeeze her onto some shape she couldn’t fit in, which she wouldn’t have done anyway — but her going her own way saved everyone a lot of hassle. But she was a voracious reader, and a discerning one. And she was always happily juiced up. She would have been outrageous if she weren’t so good natured. That’s what gets her through the tough ones like this. She’s a lot like her mother, come to think of it. As one of my sons said, “I’m not sure I could even be a fraction of that upbeat, but that’s her and I’m me.”

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Monday, April 20, 2015

The Story

This was taken a couple of weeks before the operation ,at the movie premiere of "Thriller in  Ajijic." I gotta tell you, bitches in town are all " You've been doing the HCG diet!"
 I  wore that high collar because the "fistula" had opened up, and every thing I drank came out of my
neck. The whole front of my dress was soaked behind the sequins. God bless sequins.,

Cancer is inscrutable to me. I've heard the word all my life and yet it never seems to mean the same thing, or anything, really. It's like saying "evil curse".
 Cancer is not one of those things that you can read about until knowledge has reduced it to another scientific equation.I tried! I read The Emperor of all Maladies, which documents the history of cancer since before the dawn of time, and practically every day thereafter.If that book doesn't desensitize you, then my point is well made. The language of cancer is just too powerful too manage.

 Perhaps there are those out there who have a different experience. For me, the more I know, the more occult it becomes.
I should be on familiar terms with it, like old enemies that see each other each Spring when the fighting starts again. I have been besieged by this illness, encircled and suffocated during one two year span when my father, and my brother and my sister in law were all sick and dying, and they all had Cancer, but nobody had the same thing, and they were all suffering in a different way. It's a big   shell game.
If they had all gotten a heart disease,   I would know all about heart disease. I  would be on fuck you terms with heart disease.But it's not that way with....this other thing. This other thing, if you say it's name you're afraid you'll call something terrible into existence, something worse, even, because its such an evil shape shifter.

 It doesn't help that my  "patient profile" or style. is such that the first mention of a word like tumor or malignancy, and  my inclination is jam my fingers in my ears and start singing "lalalala" at the top of my lungs. It's amazing what, after another almost non stop two year battle,my own, I do not know about what I have been fighting.
 I do know that it first appeared during the run ups to our little village's annual synchronized presentation of the Zombie dance from Michael Jackson's Thriller.

   This just happens to be something that I am involved in. Our village is full of eccentric and bohemian expats that are forever setting up art installations and backyard pantomimes. You can't cross the street without tripping over an oil painting exhibition or female mariachi singers having a rodeo. The Zombie dance is what I do, to raise money for the Cruz Rojas. As a matter of fact, being able to direct that fundraiser is a primary goal that I focus on for getting well. Check it out here
So, "it" showed up during rehearsals as a sore on my tongue that really, really hurt. I had a couple of different doctors look at it, and although they remained  unconcerned by what was surely the herpetic evidence of a debauched American sex life, as soon as Thrill the World was over, I hightailed it to Dr. Edgard., who did a biopsy. The first indication I had that things might be sliding out of my control was when Dr. Edgard suggested I might be cancelling the travel plans I had to drive up to Virginia and bring my Mom back with me.

My friend Linda F.asked me to give her as many particulars as I could, so she could consult with a supplements expert while she's visiting the states. The following is from that email

    I had a squamous cell tumor on the base of my tongue. It was successfully removed, but impossible for anyone to know, microscopic cells were left behind, and 10 months later, I was back in front of the oncologist team. Surgery was no longer an option, as removing any more tongue would have been the end of speech, eating, and swallowing/breathing, so radiation was the only choice.

I had 35 sessions of that, supported by targeted chemotherapy. and although we celebrated at the end, and the tumor as measured by CT scans was shrinking and continued to shrink, looking back it's easy to see that there was never that feeling of " yay, we got it!"

Of course, what I'm learning is that you don't get that feeling a lot when you're dealing with Cancer.

   Eventually, about five months after the end of radiation, the most bizarre thing happened. It is totally gross, so I warn you now, but on a Sunday morning I was drinking coffee and it began to escape through the surgery scar on my neck.* Really. So that was how we got into this chapter, with the discovery of that hole in my neck ( among oncologists, known as a fistula, an abnormal connection between two hollow places.)

At first, I was absolutely opposed to surgery. My poor body has been though so much already, and  radiation is no joke, ahem, Three Mile Island. Having been pretty much slowly poisoned by one cancer treatment, it would be that much harder to bounce back from a big operation. More than that, surgery meant there was something happening in real life. I would no longer be someone who had successfully treated cancer, I would be someone who had cancer. I didn't want to be that person, but no magical thinking could argue with surgery.

 Speaking of magical thinking,we tried some things, including filling the hole up with surgical crazy glue. It was these efforts, by process of elimination, that eventually made it clear that there was no choice but to go back into the operating room.

This arrangement was intended to let me drink a cup
of coffee.

This is another favorite: Hands free Phone!

Notice the scarf. Same idea as my home coffee drinking
ensemble, but in animal print.

 Surgery revealed that it was those same shitty original cells, resistant to radiation, to chemo, to the law of attraction, to krypyonite, to any thing that I could do to them. The rockstar surgeon cut those bitches out, and did an incredible job, as my worst fears, those of losing more speech or other function have been avoided. Considering where he had to cut from, it's pretty impressive.
  That part is behind me now, and I'm on the way back. Linda wrote out of the blue, offering any help she could ( well, specifically a really va va voom wig, which I still might take her up on) and we've ended up in a dialogue about supplements to help me recover well, and to make my body a bad host for any possible little microscopic shithead cells that may have gotten left behind.

    I think the rockstar got 'em, though. 
Underneath the post surgery feeling like I've been jumped into a particularly savage red hat gang, I feel pretty damn good.


  1. Hey Elliot, my heart goes out to you during your struggle, I keep you in my thoughts and prayers each day. I wish you much wellness and coconut cream pie :-)


  2. Va va voom fits you to a tee! Your minions are standing strong for you.