The 8 Nights of Chanukah and Beyond

Cancer Bitch has agreed to write eight prose poems about the eight nights of Chanukah. They are appearing a few days after the events depicted, except when she is writing of the legendary events that gave rise (allegedly) to the holiday; then she will be writing millennia after the events depicted. Click the link for Mid-June, brought to you by Dead Man Publishing, fathering Midwest Dada Marcel Duchamp and Hans Richter try to figure out which is the real breast

ForChicago-area Lymphodema Bitches

Highlights from "Research Round Up" the 2012 Lymphedma Conference Date: Tuesday, November 13, 2012 Time: 6:30 to 8:00 PM Location: Glenbrook Ambulatory Care Center Building is on the west side of Glenbrook Hospital 2180 Pfingston Glenview, IL 60026 Conference Rooms E and F Speaker: Danielle Schiff, MD Director of Physical Medical and Rehabilitation Clinical Educator NorthShore Uniiversity Health System Topic: Highlights from the National Lymphedema Network Conference Research Day including Surgical Interventions and Breast cancer-related lymphedema will be discussed. RSVP at 847-570-7133

Hear the Bitch!

The audio book of Cancer Bitch just came out and Salon is very excited about it. Virtuosic, poignant.

No, not me

In answer to your question, I don't have mets. I was making the announcement (below) for a friend. Five years and 2 months after the end of chemo, I don't have a recurrence. Though my oncologist said that with my estrogen-positive tumors, seven years is a better benchmark. I also don't have cholera.

Got Mets?

For the uninitiated, mets refers to metastatic cancer. The existence of survivors with metastatic breast cancer is the unacknowledged shadow side of the reigning rah-rah-with-a-positive-attitude-and-a-lifetime-supply-of-pink-ribbons-I-beat-the-disease ethos. See how women with stage 4 feel shunted aside in the documentary Pink Ribbons, Inc. [PINK BOOTS: GUARANTEED TO KEEP THE ANGEL OF DEATH AT BAY] On Oct. 13, Northwestern's Lurie Cancer Center in Chicago will hold a conference for people with metastatic breast cancer. It will feature expert oncologists from Northwestern as well as several other leading institutions.. [Please note there is a $35 registration fee to cover the cost of a Friday night reception and as well as meals and a Saturday reception.] 2012 MBCN Conference at a Glance Registration When Saturday October 13, 2012 from 8:00 AM to 5:30 PM EDT Where Robert H. Lurie Medical Research Center 303 E. Superior Street Chicago, IL 60611 Contact Metastatic Breast Cancer Network 888-500-0370 (voice mail) Agenda highlights include: Understanding MBC When to Use Standard Care vs. Clinical Trial Hormone Positive MBC (Dr. Ruta Rao) HER2 Positive MBC (Dr. Virginia Kaklamani) Triple Negative MBC (Dr. Funmi Olopade) Brain Metastasis (Dr. Lorenzo Munoz) Research on Treatments to Contain Metastatic Growth (Dr. Pat Steeg) Following and Treating Bone Mets (Dr.William Gradishar) Acupuncture and Chinese Herbology (Virginia Burns) Improving Daily Functioning (Dr. Gail Gamble) Living with MBC for those under age 40 (Roz Kleban) How Do I Find a Clinical Trial? (Elly Cohen) Targeted Treatment for Patients with Isolated, Distant Mets (Dr. Steven Chmura) Treating Pain and Neuropathy (Dr. Judy Paice) Role of the Caregiver (Dr. Sarah Rosenbloom) Living with MBC for those above age 40 (Roz Kleban) Emerging Research (Dr. Steven Rosen)

Four Kinds of Breast Cancer

The New York Times reports on a study of genomes in breast cancer in the journal Nature. The most interesting piece of it is that triple-negative breast cancer is similar to ovarian cancer and responds to ovarian-cancer treatment.

Breast Cancer Town Hall Meeting, Chicago 9/30/12

Hear ye, hear ye, all you breast cancer bitches out there:

Do you have questions about treatment options, nutrition and physical activity, family history, and supportive oncology services to help you move forward after breast cancer?

This FREE interactive discussion about breakthroughs in breast cancer is a unique opportunity to have your questions answered by the experts at Northwestern's Lurie Cancer Center. Visit exhibits to discover breast cancer resources in your community and learn about local and national organizations providing support.

Sunday, September 30, 2012
Exhibits and registration open at 12 noon
Program: 1pm - 4pm

Arthur Rubloff Building, 375 E. Chicago Ave. (Corner of Lake Shore Dr. & Chicago Ave.—
enter on Chicago Ave.)

Are you there, Doc? It's me, Judy

It is with sadness that we welcome Judy Blume to the breast-cancer sisterhood. It sounds like she's making the best of it and she has an early stage. We at Cancer Bitch Central wish her well.

Uh oh! Cancer Bitch jumps on the pink bandwagon?

Cancer Bitch (far right) finds herself atop a pink firetruck used by an organization that raises money for various females with cancer and women's cancer groups. The organization seems harmless enough...

But then the guy's brother starts videotaping and the firefighter asks the women to shout good things about pink. Cancer Bitch can't go along with this!

The occasion was the welcoming back of rowing coach Jenn Gibbons at the Chicago Yacht Club.

Great News! People don't die of breast cancer any more!

That's what Congressional hopeful Chris Collins says. In his world, people don't die of cancer--because health care is so great and it's extended our lives. Medical costs have grown, he says, because we're living longer. And somewhere along the way he concludes that we don't need so-called Obamacare, which is the law of the land.

IVF and breast cancer

It's not conclusively cause and effect, says researcher, but there is a link.

Breastvertising, Breastaurants & More

Sex sells, breasts sell, says Adweek.
Male drivers were about 60 percent more likely to give a lift to the woman with a C cup than an A cup. 

New drug for triple-negative cancers

Thanks to Katy Jacob for this, and for pointing out that the Trib headline referred to breast drugs. 
The change is part of a push at the FDA to spur innovation and get more effective drugs to the patients who need them.

Aquittal and mistrial for John Edwards

John Edwards, the worst-behaving spouse of a person with breast cancer, was aquitted today on one count; a mistrial was declared on the others.  WBTV in Charlotte, NC, reports:
A low point in the testimony came when it was revealed that a very distraught Elizabeth Edwards ripped her shirt open on an airplane tarmac after she learned of the 2007 National Enquirer story about [John's] affair.
Harrison Hickman, a Democratic pollster and strategist, testified that her reaction was "volcanic."
[Andrew] Young's book reports – and others witnessed - that Elizabeth Edwards ripped open her blouse and yelled, "Look at me!"

Elizabeth Edwards died of breast cancer Dec. 7, 2010.

Look at us! Facebook said you couldn't, but just reversed its decision. This is not Elizabeth Edwards, of course, but Joanne Jackson, 40, of the UK.

Direct from the New York (Cancer) Times

(all the cancer news that fits)

Cancer, at Age 23

This video series is about life. But life with cancer. “Since the diagnosis, my life has been a slow emergency, my world a waiting room,” wrote Suleika Jaouad. “Each month I do a round of chemotherapy, and then the doctors examine my bone marrow to determine if I’m ready for transplant.” Since late March, Ms. Jaouad has written a series of articles for Well, an blog about health and healthy living, on her leukemia diagnosis and her struggle against the disease. Her words are poignant and powerful. “Cancer has shocked and terrorized me into a wakefulness that I didn’t know existed. Now every decision, every moment feels both meaningful and fleeting.” Several videos that Ms. Jaouad did with the videographer Shayla Harris accompanied the series.

Lakewood & Byron, Wrigleyville, Chicago

Our well-traveled poppies have bloomed. They started out in Litchfield, Illinois, then a few plants went to Gary, Indiana, and now they've been in Chicago a few years. If you live on the north side, come by and admire them in person.

Embrace Your Allergies!

The New York Times refers us to Psychology Today to "The Mysterious Case of the Vanishing Genius," Margie Profet (pictured above), whose articles in scientific journals claimed, among other things, that allergies expel toxins that cause cancer. Researchers at Cornell and UMass who studied other studies recently backed up her argument,  according to PT, finding. that Inverse associations with allergies are more than twice as common among cancers of the nine tissues and organ systems that interface with the external environment—mouth, throat, colon, rectum, gray matter, pancreas, skin, cervix, and lung—versus the nine that do not, including the breast and prostate gland.
Good news, aside from the question, How can you trust scientists who say that the cervix interfaces with the outside world? Do they mean via childbirth? Swimming pools? Tornadoes?  Not to mention the pancreas and colon.
And for nursing mothers, the breast does provide a link to the outside world.
Nonetheless, perhaps global warming, which has brought us an early spring and myriad allergens, is a blessing in disguise. For now.

Au Temps Perdu

illustration: Arthur Rackham

I am in Iowa City, where many years ago (many many) I was a graduate student in fiction in the famed Iowa Writers' Workshop. This image came to me yesterday and seems so apt: I imagine a stage, and on it walk dozens of Wendy Darlings in light blue gowns, walking back and forth, and each of them is holding a large shallow bowl full of water, and each is walking quickly yet also carefully because they don't want to spill the water because the water is their Potential.

Another reason to exercise regularly...

Those nice researchers at the Kinsey Institute found what the marketing folks would call "value added." Thanks, Dawn Turner Trice of the Tribune, for reporting on this.

Inquiry: Block cancer center

Fellow cancer folk: Have you been treated at the Block Center for Integrative Cancer Treatment in Skokie? A friend of a friend in California has stage four stomach cancer and is thinking of traveling to Block for treatment. You can describe your experience in the Comments section or email me at SLwisenberg (at)

Komenwatch: Nancy Brinker says she's sorry

Read about it in Politico.
                                           This is St. Jerome, not Nancy Brinker (who is Jewish),
                                                     beating his breast with a rock. This is
                                                                not a recommended activity,
whether you have breast cancer
or not.

I knit, therefore I am

Why does this Englishwoman knit breasts? Find out here or post your own guess in Comments. Thanks to Anne Basye for the link.


In the yellow pages at our hotel in Ft. Worth (nestled next to the requisite bible), the listings under Taxicabs were shorter than the ones under Taxidermists.

Who's responsible for vintage racism?

Sammee Tong
I also watched an episode of Bachelor Father, which was vaguely familiar. It starred John Forsythe and aired from 1957 to 1962, so that means I was six and a half when it ended. I suppose I may have seen re-runs. The patrician Forsythe plays the patrician Beverly Hills lawyer Bentley Gregg, who has taken in his teen-aged orphaned niece Kelly. This week I saw the 1961 show entitled "Bentley and the Time Clock," though it's really more about the "houseboy" Peter Tong, played by Sammee Tong, and unionization efforts. Anyway, in the Time Clock episode, Peter's conniving cousin starts a union,The Benevolent Society of Chinese Houseboys, which is so amusing to uncle and Kelly that they can't help smiling indulgently when Peter tells them about it, then giggling, and in uncle's case, lecturing. One night Bentley has a woman over for dinner and dancing and keeps getting distracted by a small, aged "houseboy" in a tuxedo observing from the next room and taking notes. Peter explains: He's monitoring working conditions. A frustrated and resolute Bentley picks up the small, stiff man as if he's a mannikin and deposits him outside the front door. The next day Bentley brings in a time clock to teach Peter a lesson. (You want to set up antagonism between Management and Labor? Then let's be strict about everything.) The white master never loses his superior status, of course. The servant in this case is especially lower caste because he's an immigrant and an imperfect speaker of the language. He's naive and must be saved by the master from con man Cousin Charlie. (In the antebellum South, benevolent masters knew they had to protect their slaves from themselves and the world outside the plantation, because their slaves were inferior, like children. They were incapable of taking care of themselves. The white man was doing them a favor--after other white men had done the first favor of kidnapping them and bringing them in chains and squalor to the New World, as well as introducing them to Christ, whom they resembled in tortures received.)

Peter learns that his employer has his best interests at heart. (Under the new system, Peter grosses more in a week, but has $19 less in take-home pay because of deductions for the union Christmas dance party, its widows and orphans guild, and--get the laff track ready--the salary of the national official, who is Cousin Charlie.) Order is restored: Peter goes back to being the happy servant; Bentley, the appreciative master--and Cousin Charlie, instigator, self-interested catalyst of a power shift--he ends up washing dishes at the master's dinner party.
 On watching the p*rn film B*hind the Gr*en Do*r:
Beauty and intelligence was there with the whites, sexuality and the body is what characterized blacks. And I as a Japanese American? I was the one who watched, who did not participate, who was outside of that history. I was the neutered Hop Sing [ the Cartwrights' Chinese cook in Bonanza] or the houseboy of Bachelor Father.
--David Mura, "No-No Boys: Re-X-Amining Japanese Americans," New England Review, 1993
So this is the question in the title of the post: If this TV show was racist, if the use of the word "houseboy" is objectionable, if the patronizing (at best) attitude of the the main white characters is offensive, why is this series being shown on a major TV station? Shouldn't the station refuse? Why is this acceptable and Amos 'n' Andy not?

You will say: Because we had Civil Rights.  Because blacks are vocal. Because Asians are the model minority (quiet, satisfied to be accepted as white and admired for their inherent abilities in math, science and laundry). They don't cause trouble. Because this isn't so bad.

The war on daytime tv

William Conrad as Cannon

Peter van Pels (aka van Daan)
Cancer Bitch's other nom de guerre is Holocaust Girl, and as Holocaust Girl, she has been watching daytime TV and movies this week because she's been attacked by her old arch-fiend, bronchitis. She watched an episode of a TV detective series called Cannon, which aired in the early 70s. . On Cannon episode "The Man Who Couldn't Forget," a Dutch Nazi-hunter has come to assassinate an SS man who was responsible for hundreds (I think that's what he said; was there anybody who was responsible for only hundreds?) of deaths that resulted from deportations in Amsterdam. Did they even use the word “Jew”? The ex-Nazi Erich Strasse is now a silver fox, a good man, a toy-making mogul named Elliott Straughn, played with a American accent by Leslie Nielsen. His young blond girlfriend had been planted by the Dutch anti-Nazi organization. But problem: She fell in love with him. The white-haired Dutch man,  Peter Van Damme, tries to convince... Wait--Peter Van Damme, as you other Holocaust Girls out there know, sounds a lot like Peter van Daan, which was the name (a pseudonym for van Pels) of the boy whose family lived with the Franks in the Secret Annex, and with whom she felll in love. Could the writers not have realized that it was the same name? It has to have been deliberate. Did the writers want the name to resonate with the viewing public, so they’d say, Hey, that sounds familiar, and thus, sympathize with him more?
Can't there be forgiveness? asks Anna, the Dutch woman who's fallen in love with the ex-Nazi. Can't people change?
Isn't that odd! That's the sort of thing you might say if you were pleading for a deadbeat to be given another chance to rent an apartment, or if you're arguing for early release from prison. But if someone is responsible for many deaths, does it matter whether he had a jailhouse or in-lieu-of-jailhouse conversion? In Cannon, the guy gives the usual explanation: he had his orders. Everyone said that, Peter says.
Get your government to prosecute him, he’s advised. He rebuts: A rich man can buy his freedom.
God ex machina, apparently, is his judge because the ex-Nazi falls to his death during a fight. Oh, thank goodness it could be wrapped up so quickly! And neatly.
Youtube is apparently full of Holocaust Girls, with clips from Anne Frank films and commentary. Such as: i watched the movie when I was 11. Im 20 now, but i remember being traumatised for months after watching it. Eventually I got over it and 'forgot' about Anne. When I was 12 I started writing a diary, and later, I realised that my first entry was dated 12 June. Anne's birthday! Anne became one of my comforts during my crappy teenage years. She's taught me so much about appreciating life. i've decided if i ever have a daughter I'm calling her Annelies. My middle name is Anne and im so proud of it
It goes without saying that when a Holocaust Girl has bronchitis, she thinks about: how when she had asthma as a child she would imagine how she would be an absolute goner in a concentration camp; and how bronchitis was nothing compared to typhus, malnutrition, etc., borne by prisoners who still had to stand in line for hours and haul rocks, etc., all day. 
One more thing to ponder: In another Cannon episode, "The Avenger," one character is named Ted Anschluss. 

News!!! Spine discovered by Republican-founded Komen Foundation

NYT: Cancer Group, Reversing Course, Says It Will Maintain Planned Parenthood Funding Komen is reversing its course on cutting the breast-cancer screening funds at Planned Parenthoods throughout the country. (The PP in Illinois was not a recipient of the funding.) Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation said on Friday it had changed its mind about withdrawing funding to Planned Parenthood, which provides abortion and birth control services, and apologized. Founder Nancy Brinkman said that Komen has a policy of not funding organizations under investigation. PP is under investigation by a House committee. Read more:
And just in case People Who Buy Pink Amulets are confused,  Ariana Barbour has come up with a poster to guide them...

O, you Komen!

The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation has funded some 170,000 breast exams at Planned Parenthood in the last five years. But no more. And Komen ain't talkin' about it. Planned Parenthood has always been controversial in some sectors, and CNN reports: In September, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce began an investigation of Planned Parenthood over the organization's "compliance with federal restrictions on funding abortions."

In a letter sent to Planned Parenthood, the committee asked the group to provide information on how it segregates family planning from abortion services, as well as its policies on reporting cases of sexual abuse, rape and sex trafficking.

Just too much controversy for Nancy Brinker, Komen founder, to handle. More here:


I have been abstemious in my eating: no sugar, no flours since September or so. Today I had chocolate (73 percent dark, as people in my social class are wont to require) from the city of Paree at Miz G's house. I'd gone there to report on my melancholia. What helped said melancholia was: chocolate. And deciding that I will go back to my friend S's apartment in Lafayette, IN, to keep working on my novel. At home I told L and he said, You have commitments. Of course I have commitments. But I will work around them. I got so much done in Lafayette in December. Plus took in a number of Zumba classes at the Y. It is so much easier to work there, away from everything, where it's just me and the ms. Indianer here I come. Soon.
My home away from home:

A quarter of a year later...

The Bitch returns. The Bitch is still aflutter: What does this blog serve? What does it do for her own imperiled psyche? What should the subject of it be? If it is not about breast cancer all the time, will it be considered AWOL from its mission? And most of all:
Does it matter?

The fears: If I do not document my life, my memory of it will disappear so that it will seem to have disappeared. If people want to read about my life, they will. If not, they'll click off. So be it. I do believe in selfishness (even Ayn-Rand brand of selfishness) when it comes to writing. You write for yourself. You revise with others in mind.

Tonight I felt sadness. A lump in my throat I tried to eradicate the direct way, with Ativan generic. Worked some but also made me feel sleepy. Or was that the Atarax generic I took with it? Indeed, better living through chemistry. Sadness. Deep sadness. Deepening sadness. I try to do a check: Rage? I ask myself and see if I get a response. Fear? No, it does seem to settle on sadness. My dream last night, so very sad. Something with Jews on a boat coming back, a trial going on, I was sitting next to Sidney Brustein (as in The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window), who was a 60-ish buttoned-up lawyer. At one point someone drew blew pencil lines connecting all of us (a picture of us? maybe) and there was a blue line on him, so I said, you've been caught but he denied it. Later he went out of the ship and was watching frogs with his grandson. Then he jumped in the pool/ocean behind the kid and the frogs. I was about to jump in behind him, but then we had to all get onboard. We couldn't wait for the Brusteins. It was assumed that they would be killed by being run over by the boat.
Why did I dream of a character from a play I've never seen? From tooling around online, I find that this was written by Lorraine Hansberry and produced as she was dying. Sidney is unlikeable. He's the Jew in a play with blacks and Jews. What is his sign? I don't know. There's a wife who lowers herself to do--commercials, of all things. There's an in-law who's a prostitute. There's a candidate who isn't worthy. There's Sidney and his allegiances and schemes. In my dream he was Bourgeois with a capital B, very very conservative. Finally he lets out his playful side crushed.

Alas, too tedious to examine all the influences on this. The big public one is the Italian cruise ship and the captain who was dedicated to saving his own skin.
As my mother always said, If you do the right thing, you never have to worry.
She didn't add: In dangerous situations you may die an uncomfortable death. The stakes weren't so high when I was young.

But we digress.

The sadness is what we came here to dissect. The sadness while walking up Lincoln Avenue, thinking of The Guild Bookstore that closed down maybe 30 years ago, the years in my 20s and 30s when we were forming the National Writers Union and there seemed to be so much promise, both public promise and private promise. The younger you are the more promise you have. Usually. Government, social change seem to have gotten heavier, requiring more effort to push and shift. Or maybe it's the lump in my throat that's spread to my chest. It was easier to get swept up in movements. Those were utopian times, for me. The most recent Atlantic: profile of Mearsheimer at U of Chicago, promoter of Realpolitik by by another name. I don't want to live with Realpolitik. I liked the days when there were masses of angry and frustrated young people and clergy who knew what had to change. We knew what had to be done. Mostly it was that the US had to get the hell out of [fill in the Latin American country of your choice here]. Now a deeper malaise that's stronger, more insidious than just some covert bombing in service to imperialism. A feeling of scorched earth. In the Trib today the same list of big regional polluters as you would predict. Refineries. Coal. What was that clean coal that Obama used to talk about? We were skeptical then about it then. The pall cast over everything. A college student reporter asked me weeks ago what the worse problem was in the neighborhood. I couldn't rank them. Poverty I thought, which is behind much of crime. I said crime. What I fear most is crime to my person. Already much unknown crime committed in my name, the name of Western consumers: oppression in Chinese factories. As if I woke up and found that everything was made in China. It used to be that a lot was. When did the ubiquity start?
A Linked-In invitation from R, who was lovers for many years with K. They lived in one of those old, comfortable and beautiful houses in the Berkeley Hills. I admired both of them. I accidentally rubbed K the wrong way by asking her to write a letter of rec for me posthaste. It was stupid to ask, to press her to do that favor for me. But that stopped her email responses. She didn't ask me to join on Linked-In. Or maybe they divided people up and R got me. I knew her first, though not well, in Paris, mid 1970s.
Going through boxes of cards today to find posters and such to put in my office at the Smart University. A card from M traveling in Europe. Which M? The poet R talking about a short story. When did I send it to her and when did I meet with her? I have no recollection. A card with letter inside from H reporting giddily about the roaring response to his lecture on photographic history. Then he published his book, he divorced, he married a former student, had a child, then died suddenly while walking into Wrigley Field.
This Shiva Nataraja has many arms but has such good balance that he doesn't look stressed out.