Archive for the cancer Category

Details that I might regret sharing

Posted in body, cancer, health, how to, life, rant with tags , , , , on June 5, 2010 by bosquechica

But will keep brief. I’ve been exhausted to the point of collapse for several years now. I actually fall asleep while driving at times (usually I pull over and sleep for about 15 minutes). It’s been hellish and miserable and I have not felt like myself for a ridiculously long time.

My doctor sent me to get some blood drawn, and I added a check mark (after the fact) for a blood test I wanted done that my doctor has consistently neglected to run, in spite of my requests. It’s an “integrative health clinic”, and they always want me to take my temperature for three weeks and do elimination diets and blahblablah.

Got the results back. The box I checked? Yep, that was it.

Simple tiny pill every morning. Typical results of the single little pill? Increased energy, reduced pain, reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes, lowered cholesterol, weight loss, better sleep, healthier hair, skin and nails.  

Why the hell is health care so hard to manage? Why are women discounted so utterly? Why in god’s name have I been put at risk of serious complications because some nitwit didn’t want to do the most obvious possible test for a middle-aged woman with textbook symptoms and a history of facial radiation?

Geez fucking Louise.

Just thyroid. That fucking simple. Not rocket science, not a character flaw, not my lifestyle (my lifestyle is healthy and productive, thank you very much).

You want something done, you gotta do it yourself.

I’ll let you know how it turns out.

 

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Incredible-Hulking-Wonder-Spider-Woman

Posted in body, cancer, family, personal history, Uncategorized on January 5, 2008 by bosquechica

 

In 1959, I had cancer. I was three years old at the time. It came on suddenly and without warning. My dad, the engineer, designed a treatment delivery system that focused the radiation specifically in the hard palate of my mouth, where the cancer was located. First, they fried it, then they cut it. No chemotherapy – it wasn’t yet available. That was 49 years ago (my math – it is superb!).

In direct contradiction to predictions made by teams of medical experts, I did not die, the cancer did not recur, I’m not a deformed monster, and I did not spend my life with a brain cooked by radiation like a vegetable tempura. Far from it.

But here is the family myth I want to share: According to this myth, I am an amazing princess goddess of steel, given superpowers by the radiation itself. Like Spiderman, Bionic Woman, Wonder Woman, The Incredible Hulk. This was the story I was told, over and over again. The script: “You had cancer, such a tragedy. However, you were treated with Radiation (capital R), which means you have special and advanced protection against virtually all other diseases, and it also means you will never get Cancer (capital C) Again!”

This message was a logical extension of the power of positive thinking business that so pervaded my grandparents’ generation. My parents, themselves, were more fixated on how this illness would limit my choices as a damaged female. Their script was something more like: “Thank God you’re smart, cause you’ll never get married with a face like that!” (For the record, I’m actually kind of cute.)

I undoubtedly absorbed both messages, both of them flawed but incorporated into my sense of self. My funny-looking, super-charged special-yet-doomed self. In my adolescence, I suddenly realized that both myths were a lot of hooey, and damn that made me mad. I started wearing black and thinking about mortality a lot. Early goth really suited me.

It’s interesting to me that in our culture, intellect and appearance are set against one another. In the schema that informed my growing up me, female and imperfect, it was always smart vs. pretty, pretty vs. strong. Contradictory. Challenging.

How do we raise our girl children and our boy children to accept the blend of characteristics and circumstances that inform our sense of self? How do we learn to acknowledge, honor and even love the imperfections of self and other?

It is no surprise that in my middle years, I have chosen to work with people with disabilities, where my once “tragic” differences have transmogrified recognizably into the strengths of compassion and empathy. What surprises me more is how many years I worked in advertising, where appearance reigns supreme, and how well I proved myself in that setting, against a jury of my cultural peers. That’s me, Wonder-Spider-Hulking-Woman. Look out.