Monthly Archives: August 2009

France Trip Photos

Hi there. I’m not doing a full post just now, but I promised photos from the trip, and voila...

See my Flickr page for a selection.

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I Got Mail!

I had a very nice surprise tonight…Apparently, someone out there with some very good connections likes me a lot, and they decided to tell me so via one of those tiny lingering bastions of communal human hope – the mail box.

I mean really, is there any better icon of simple mundane pleasures than the unchecked mailbox? You know how some people check it religiously, like there’s going to be something in there besides flyers and other unrequested junk advertising? Or bills, there are those too. My husband is one of those; I am not. I do not care about checking the mail because I am just so sure there will be nothing in there that I’m really interested in, and on the rare occasion there is, it can wait. But not him. He checks it on the way out to dinner, as if we’re going to carry an armload of supermarket circulars to the Macaroni Grill with us. He often prefers to leave his keys at home and depend on mine instead, so there’s a frequent, annoying tussle when we’re leaving the house for me to not have to dig my keys out of the depths of my purse (where I just dumped them after dutifully locking the door behind him) for this pointless mailbox checking as we’re on our way to any number of appointments.

Tonight I refused to indulge him as we left the house. But as we returned to our building he was scratching that little metal door like a puppy wanting in. And lo and behold, that common little fantasy of getting a nice surprise in the mail actually came true. Just not for my husband.

There, amongst the expected postal rubbish, was a UPS envelope for me from somewhere in Texas. At first I thought, Am I in rouble? This looks like something important from corporate headquarters. But inside were – get this – two tickets to a benefit concert at Madison Square Garden to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Seriously! What the…?

I didn’t even know this concert existed. But it looks like I’m going. And I can’t wait to find out who with!
Anyone want to fess up?

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Filed under breast cancer, in praise of true friends, life

Where I am Now

This was written last weekend, in the moment, before I realized I had no internet access where I was sitting, and I didnt’ want to brave the crowds back in the lobby. So, finally, it’s getting published now.


I’m sitting on the blue carpeted floor of the jetbridge. It’s 11:15pm and I’m supposed to be getting ready to shut the door of our 777 airplane to get myself (and 300 people, of course) over to London.

I’ve been trying to get a London trip for 3 months. As a French speaker it’s hard since there are no French-speakers on London trips with whom I can swap trips. One of my best friends, Adam, has been harassing me to get a trip there. He’s always harassing me to get a trip there, as we just don’t get to see each other often enough and I had promised that once he moved to London I’d be there “all the time”. Another couple that we knew in Brussels is there now too and I’m dying to see them as well. I want to see them so much that I accepted to work a flight that doesn’t take off until just 30 minutes before the next day. When most civilized people are snuggling down on their cool sheets, having punched their pillow to just the right shape and breathed their last heavy sigh, exhaling the long day before breathing in a night of rest…I’m just starting to work.

But no. We Flight Attendants showed up, me already glum because the mocha coffee that I had waiting until my report time to purchase (so that I had a last minute treat to to cheer-me-up; I’m easy to cheer, what can I say?) was not to be. All the stupid coffee places had just closed. Boo. Airplane coffee would have to do (and we all know that’s no substitute). But our plane had maintenance guys in its belly, working on an electrical problem. Next thing we know it’s “decision at 11:30”, which means that at that time a decision will be made as to whether the flight will cancel or not. I’m tired, but I hope we don’t cancel. I already left my house and flew all the way up here to NYC and then cabbed over from Laguardia. Not to mention that I need the hours, of course. If our flight cancels, we lose 3 day’s work. These days there are no extra trips for us to make up the time, even if we are willing to sacrifice a day off to replace the hours.

Oh, wait! Now we’ve dug up another 777, but we’re still waiting to see if this one gets fixed. Myself and three colleagues don’t want to go to the lobby and face an onslaught of passengers looking for a new face to ask the same questions of. So we’re staying put. Waiting. Four 30-45 year olds, sitting on the floor or the jetbridge like children. I hope you’re sleeping well all of you out there. I can’t wait to be you.

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Genetic Couseling – Part I

Yesterday I went to start the process of pursuing genetic testing further to that which I had done while living in Belgium. The first step is “genetic counseling”, even if you’ve already had this. This basically means you make an appointment with a specialist who talks to you for a good long while and explains the whole shebang to you. While I feared getting redundant testing and was not eager to pay again for something I’d had done already, I’m very happy with the way this went – “re-counseling” and all.

My counselor was Tiffani, a young, cute woman my age, warm and sincere. The kind you’re sure you’d be friends with under other circumstances. First she explained why we will start by testing for BRCA 1/2, even though that’s been done (and came up negative): because this hospital has no familiarity with the lab where I had it done in Europe and thus doesn’t know exactly how that lab did what it did and exactly what it did, since there are some different methods. Furthermore, in the last 2-3 years, new elements have been added to BRCA 1/2 testing to make it much more thorough and reliable. I’m all for that.

We spoke for about 1 1/2 hours, she asked me everything you could imagine about my cancer, from experience to family history to how I care for myself now. And it happened. That strange thing where I feel just fine, but when I have to explain to a perfect stranger about my cancer for the first time, suddenly I start crying. I hate it. I don’t know why it happens, but there it is.

She asked, “And when the doctor told you, I mean, where you just…floored?” I’m not sure whether she asked this for professional or personal reasons, which was the first thing to rattle me I guess. Somewhere inside, I felt we were talking girl to girl and she really cared. Like when someone hugs you at a funeral and suddenly you want to weep, even if you’d had your game face on.

So as I felt the catch in my throat, I headed it off with, “Please don’t worry. I’m not sad. I don’t know why this happens sometimes. I’m okay, really.” I blotted my eyes and she began to apologize profusely, while I tried to assure her she had nothing to be sorry about. The last time this happened was when I had to explain to my new yoga teacher about “any injuries [she] should know about”. Weird. (She went off on a tangent about holistic medicine and how she convinced her grandpa to drink a cup of urine a day at one point. Um, ok. Weirder.)

My only theory is that I have developed such an over-sensitive empathy-trigger that I sort of cry for the girl that was so scared in the moment she was told the heavy news. These days I could cry about the teenager who doesn’t get asked to the dance in a sitcom, if I let myself. All someone has to do is cry and part of me wants to join them (Can you imagine me watching Extreme Home Makeover?)  So even if that person is the former me, I can remember her sadness very clearly…that’s my only guess.

Anyway, what happened is that I spilled about 3 tears and then put it back in the bottle. About 15 minutes later, here we are talking, talking, serious genetic stuff, blah blah blah. And suddenly, out of the blue,  Tiffani’s lip starts to tremble. Then it’s her turn to say, “Oh my, I’m so sorry. I don’t know what’s happening. Here we are just talking and…just sitting here across from you, it just happened. I’m so embarrassed. This has never happened to me before.” I assured her she was simply an empathetic person and I appreciated that, but sure enough her demonstration of care made me cry again. So there we were, two strangers, friendly women in a serious scientific conversation, sniffing and blotting our eyes as we make each other cry. Cue awkward giggle.

I know she was horrified, but I was actually very touched. After we fanned our faces and took a few breaths, we got back on track. And I spent the rest of the meeting not looking her in the eye too much lest we start again, and remembering who I am now.

Coming soon, what I learned…

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