I have been remiss

Please excuse Cancer Bitch's absence from her blog for the past week. Wait--it's been longer than that. She's been, uh, observing Passover. Obsessing about her failing dental implant? Overwhelmed by the New York Times Magazine articles on cancer last week and wondering how to summarize them and then as more time passed, figuring that it was too late and time to write about the next new cancer thing which is what?
The bad thing about hanging out with people w/ cancer is that they can die on you.
Friday was the funeral of Cindy Gerstner, whom I knew from ROW. Just below is a picture of Cindy with her daughter at a ROW open house last year. When I met her, her cancer was already Stage 4, but she was rowing with the rest of us. She was one of the few if not the only one of us who'd rowed in college. She spoke at our fundraiser in September and came to our regatta in Wisconsin that fall, even though she didn't row.
Our coach J wrote about Cindy in her blog. Cindy was a professor of biology and ecology and she was so very matter-of-fact about her disease. There are other women in ROW who are Stage 4--for some reason they are the trimmest and strongest-looking of our bunch. They remind us that cancer is more than fun and games.

Still Focused on Myself

I made an appointment to see the periodontist (pere) on Wednesday because I am still in dental pain. His son did the implant but has been out of the office. I realized today that I have:
a dentist a periodontist
well two periodontists
a podiatrist
an internist
an oncology gynecologist
a plain gynecologist
a therapist
a psychiatrist
an oncologist
a hematologist
a surgeon and accompanying rotating radiologist
and I think that's it. If I were Tom Lehrer I would have already written a song about it.

[Image: one of the elements in Lehrer's song]

Just one sentence about me

The antibiotic I'm taking to get rid of the infection from my dental implant precludes me from getting my twice-weekly phototherapy that is necessary because it helps with the intolerable itching caused by my blood cancer.

[Image: Victorian Blood Book, from the library of Evelyn Waugh, now at U of Texas, http://www.hrc.utexas.edu/enews/2009/february/bloodbook.html]

Does "support" include treatment?

Komen just received a $1 million grant to tell poor ladies in the Rust Belt about breast cancer. Over the next four years, the program will train nearly 500 lay health advisors [first in Ohio, then east and west] to provide education and outreach on breast cancer in 17 communities served by Key Bank and Komen Affiliates nationwide. Lay health advisors will provide information, referrals to health care resources, one-on-one consultations, assistance with scheduling, support during health care visits and more.

Komen founder and CEO, Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker, said the grant will help Komen reach women who otherwise might not be helped. “These women may be unaware of their risk for breast cancer, unable to access the health care system for answers, or unsupported if they do need treatment. Our mission is to ensure that all women have the information and support they need to confront this disease. This commitment from KeyBank Foundation will help make that possible.”

Are these women going to be treated for their cancer? Is Komen going to get them mammograms and biopsies and MRIs and surgery and chemo and radiation? Will these disadvantaged women be trained to find out what they need, and then discover on their own that they can't get it it? I'm all for helping people who need help, but there's help and then there's help. The adviser can make an appointment for you, but who's going to foot the bill?? I can't find any more info about this on the web, and we bloggers are known as parasites of mainstream media, feeding on what's already out there, ready to quick-draw our opinions. Oh no, does this mean I'll have to do some original reporting? Stay tuned.

I Love Prednisone & I ain't foolin'

I love prednisone in the summer, I love prednisone in the fall, I love prednisone in the winter, and I got my hands on some today because I am very very lucky and this doesn't have to rhyme.

I've had two itis-es since Saturday: laryng- and bronch-, and finally went to the doctor today. I was already on the mend. That's how it always works. She told me to use my inhaler every four hours but the albuterol wasn't doin' nothin. So she gave me 10 20-mg tablets of prednisone--co-pay only $2.40. What can beat that?

I love prednisone because it's the one thing that always cures my very bad asthma or bronchitis. I try to avoid it because it's not good for you--I treat it as the last resort. In fact, I wrote a long poem about it as last resort many many years ago, when I was at a resort of sorts, an artists colony in the middle of allergens. The poem was almost accepted in a feminist magazine's special issue on invisible disabilities, but the editor objected to a line about breaking the back of something, maybe capitalism. It was ableist to be seeing a broken back as negative, that was the argument, though the back that was being broken was sheerly metaphorical. Maybe that made it worse. Anyway, it's probably one of the better poems in English about prednisone.

Stanley Elkin wrote a wonderful essay, Out of One's Tree: My Bout With Temporary Insanity, about craziness caused by high doses of prednisone he was taking to treat breathing problems caused by his MS. He might also have been taking it for the MS itself. I sent a copy of the Elkin essay to my cousin D, after our family dinner was briefly interrupted by a call from one of his patients. D is a psychiatrist, a psychoanalyst yet, and I think he had to admit his patient to a hospital because she was suffering from prednisone side effects. But I never take it long enough to be so affected. I don't think.