I read Barbara Ehrenreich’s piece on “the power of positive thinking” in breast cancer land and it didn’t resonate at all. It’s been what, ten years since she wrote, and for my life the pink ribbons have been replaced by sedate turquoise and soft grays, clouded glass walls, an emphasis on luxury amenities (meaning single-cup coffee makers and a bowl of green apples) and the trappings of privacy (even though there are roughly eleventy billion nurses and assistants hovering about me each second I’m at Mt. Sinai). I wonder what changed. I wonder if what we covet now is not positivity but the sense thatRead More →

I am sitting on the couch waiting for my Neulasta injection to complete. The nurses attached a little white box to the skin of my belly yesterday you’ll feel a snap like a rubber band and it dutifully pulsed with a green light until around 8:45 tonight when I heard a sort of ticktickticktick sound and it started releasing its medicine. I will know when it’s finished because that ticking sound will be replaced by a long beep, the blinking green will glow solid, and the little medicine gauge window will read empty. Many signs that things are over. There are also any number of reactionsRead More →

I am sitting at my kitchen table typing on my computer, drinking a cup of coffee. My academic paper planner starts in July, so I have my academic paper planner out. It’s July. I am writing down appointments and commitments in this academic paper planner. I have a meeting with my new medical oncologist on Wednesday, and a writing deadline too. Lunch plans on July 17th. Untold chemotherapy appointments that I’ll add when I get them, hopefully within the next week. I like to have appointments. I am sitting at my kitchen table in a button front shirt, one of two sets of button frontRead More →

I keep hitting these cognitive blocks. Why do I have to get node dissection on both sides when nobody else does? Because I have cancer on both sides of my body. Why are they removing both of my breasts? Because I have cancer on both sides of my body. Why? Because I have cancer on both sides of my body. I was given some choices about reconstruction, spent days settled into this as the next impossibility. Do I want no reconstruction? Do I want flap reconstruction (they take fat from your belly and use it to form breasts out of your own tissue)? Do IRead More →

I am in active treatment for bilateral breast cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes on both sides, diagnosed May 4th. I will have a bilateral mastectomy and left axillary node dissection on July 3rd at 2pm. What that looks like today: a bus along the Croatian coastline, Zadar to Split, the water turns aqua where it hits the land. A whole pizza with peppers and sour cream and a large beer at a table in the middle of the room, the kitchen cut it in triangle slices, I guess that’s how American I look around here. Soccer on every tv, and there areRead More →

I am back in my office and nothing has changed. The remnants of the last two panicked weeks are all around me, stray fax cover sheets to request my pathology slides, my food coop disability release form, Instructions for Filing a Claim. It has really only been twelve days or so, and that includes the trip to London. I should clean things up around here. The day of surgery itself was long, with ordinary waits and strange delays. They book you for two hours of intake that takes fifteen minutes, but I’m good at sitting in a chair, staring at my phone. Nuclear medicine didn’tRead More →

Some of this is just facts. I have two different primary cancers, one in each breast. Both are small: right side is six millimeters, left side is 1.3 centimeters. A biopsy shows cancer in the lymph nodes under my right arm. The number of women presenting with two primary cancers at the time of initial diagnosis is somewhere around 1%. I am quite special. The cancers themselves, though, are very ordinary. Hormone positive with strong receptivity for both estrogen and progesterone, HER/2 negative. These are common and therefore treatable breast cancers. We know a lot about them, says Dr. Port. We know a lot aboutRead More →

I have had cancer for a week and a day. Or, I have had cancer all my life. Or, I don’t have cancer yet but I will. I was diagnosed with breast cancer on Friday, May 4th. Today is Saturday, May 12th. I am at a cafe in midtown across the street from the synagogue where my kid goes to Hebrew school. I wasn’t supposed to have cancer and he wasn’t supposed to have Limmud today. When my biopsy in October came back clear I thought that meant I was too. The kid’s baseball team has a game today and he is so much inRead More →

When this administration locked us out, we learned that they believed they could run a university without faculty. We won the lockout battle and showed them it wasn’t true. But the war continued and continues. As management shrinks the campus, cutting courses and credits without consultation with us, we see them attempting to run a university without classes. These actions mean that our colleagues are losing their jobs: NTTA contracts are not renewed, long-time committed part time faculty are cleared from the rolls, and anyone without tenure is at risk. As a union, our job is to push back against administration, to organize ourselves andRead More →