In the movie Brain Candy, there’ s character called ‘Cancer Boy’.
‘Hi Doctor, I’m Cancer Boy! No, there’s no hope for me’.
He’s in a wheelchair and shares all the details of his condition in a cheerful monotone, like: ‘Ow- that’s ok, my marrow is low.’ and ‘Each day is a gift!’
Apparently people were vastly offended.
Share shock. Imagine a world where we never hide.
Now just try to create it.
I’ve decided now I want people to feel sorry for me. Especially people in check out lines.
I’ve started joking bout playing the Cancer Card. What’s the use of being part of this Club if there aren’t benefits? I”m not collecting any frequent flier points every time I check into the Chemo Daycare Clubhouse. I get juice. I get warm blankets. I get liquid flush into the shadow life of my veins and I get to make little sounds that offend. Oh yeah: and I’m Blitzkrieging my way to Full Remission.
But these days I’m in the mood to negotiate. Maybe because my Yellow is getting stronger. Or maybe my container, my facade of control is liquifying along with my marrow. My body has betrayed me and I’m finally feeling it.
I want the best seat in the restaurant by flashing my membership: ‘I’ve got The Cancer, and and I like my bread basket warm.’ Or standing in line at the bank: tap, tap: ‘Hey I’ve got Cancer, give me your sandwich, I’m taking your spot.’ Or even: ‘You have to give me a puppy, a PUP-PY! I’ve got the Cancer!’
Best of all: ‘I can’t answer that question: I’ve got The Cancer!’.
I”m going to try that one during the Film Festival.
Sometimes things don’t change enough, even when everything has changed.
Sometimes you want the world to tilt with you.
Back to square one, I know. Ego. Still there after years of meditation on emptiness and enquiries into the ultimately reality.
And I know I’m not the body. I know I’m not The Cancer.
But what I am is honest.
And it made me think of lobsters.
They’re kinda sinister, aren’t they?
What sound do they make? How do they travel through the water? What electric traces do they leave after they have mated and gone.
I have no clue.
Like I cannot know what is going on in my bones.
The process going on inside my body is so silent I have moments when I want to be a Cancer Outlaw. There’s a shadow life in my marrow and that invisible graffiti needs to be seen, some how. It’s not polite what’s going on in my body. It’s offensive as Cancer Boy. I feel I want to rip the steri-strips off the wound and expose the covert operation going on. This encounter needs to be brought into the open.
I need to bring in some Yellow.
The Yellow Diaries. Full Disclosure. I’ve done that.
Now a slow movement back to trust. I’m trying to learn how to trust my body again.
Sure, there’s a war going on, there’s nothing pretty about being under siege. But there are choices. The eastern tradition of Warriorship is about being courageous enough to be vulnerable and open- it’s not so much about aggression. I can actually step back and trust and allow the process of healing. And that’s another way to win this fight- scorched earth and rainstorm. Shrink and grow. Chemo and Love. Loving. Lots of it.
Maybe with a little Ayurveda and urine therapy on the side.
Yup. Put that in your Porta-cath. With some Saran wrap on it.
I guess I am still startled by the news of my latest protein work which shows near full remission. I should be ecstatic. I’m a little scared. I’m travelling back to trust. But the girl’s changed.
I’m not just talking bout a visual kidnapping here.
I remember an incident in the early days of my Membership after Bobcat- more resourceful than MacGyver- had brought home a collection of pamphlets on Myeloma from the PMH resource centre.
In the middle of the Multiple Myeloma Patient Handbook, tucked in amongst glittering new words (Basophil! Apoptosis! Waldenstrom’s macroglobulemia! Quiz in 20 minutes!) and the slightly less stimulating headlines of ‘Managing Complications and Side Effects’ I found this:
Other effects that can develop after long-term use of high dose steroids include the Cushingoid appearance (weight gain with a ‘moon face’)
Here I come Key West.
It stopped me short. Not that I might die.
But that I might die with a ‘moon face‘.
Travelling from out to in. This MM Marathon has sent me on the most treacherous of missions. It’s like going on assignment to a war zone. You cannot return the same when you meet yourself under trying conditions.
You cannot return the same.
Phew. I’m glad I’m off steroids now for the next four days. I think they’re making me a bit, you know, intense. Roid-tensity.
I met lovely Dannielle my manager today. She’s in town for TIFF but we had an off-site brunch. Most of the Film Festival activity and ‘happenings’ take place in a circuit around the Bay-Bloor area of Toronto. In previous festival years we have both put up at hotels in the middle of that ‘Twitch’. But this year, my skin is a barrier no more. Besides I’ve already got an in-built twitch in my feet from the Valcade. Can you say: Peripheral Neuropathy? Don’t need more twitch. I’m listening in on my marrow and I need to be far from people who are mainly concentrating on the out, circling profits and losses. I’m moving in the opposite direction.
So we sat at Over Easy and over eggs and lox spoke about the biz. We talked openly about the wide spread dysfunction in the industry amongst actressses to be unaturally thin, the poor body image, the eating disorders and the size zero. All the self-hatred, all the doubt.
There used to be a time when designers made clothes to fit an actress. Now an actress in Hollywood has to alter her body to fit the garment. A insult to flesh. A denial of lusciousness.
And I remembered. I was like that.
I used to care about being thin. Squeezing my proportions into the latest idea of fit. It was a part of my work as a model and actress but at some point it became part of my life. Anti-life. Denial.
Tap, tap, tap: ‘Hey, I’ve got the Cancer and thanks to MM I have a chance to be healthy again. Now give me your fork’
Is that another message from the marrow? Journey back to trust. To a new relationship with my body. With myself.
And I’m gonna say it. I’M GONNA SAY IT!
With. My. Soul.
Each day may be a gift, but enough thinking for today, already!
How bout some action: www.mm5kwalk.ca
Here’s another thought. I’m gonna wear my Myeloma Bracelet on the Red Carpet on Wednesday.
Tomorrow an interview with Canada AM. Fitting at NADA (still need a name for the dress) and the beginning of Press and Promotions for ‘Cooking with Stella’. And for the first time since my Cancer Club Membership, I changed the date for my chemo to clear Wednesday for the Film’s Premiere. It’s time to pull out my wetsuit and celebrate lusciousness. Stitching it all together. And then let it hang free.
‘Hey, I’ve got the Cancer. I’m cancelling my membership cause each day is a gift!.’