Archive for the ‘{16} May Updates’ Category

“Good morning Ralph” — “Good morning Sam”

May 8, 2009

Today wraps up my first week of radiation which means I’m 20% done.

Friends and family have inquired throughout this week about my radiation treatments, and my slightly emotionless response is “It’s fine”. I can’t see or feel any side effects yet.  There’s not much to say other than I don’t enjoy it, but I can’t give any real concrete reason why.   I suppose it’s because I’m just weary.  I’ve been going through various forms of undressing, needles, doctors and technicians for 6 months now and it’s getting old.  I think what I told Saundra the other day summed it up best; “I’m tired of everyone seeing me naked.  I just want to leave my shirt on and stay home.”

The routine is the same.  I listen to my audio book while I drive the 35 minutes.  Walk into the building and sign my name to the clipboard.  Give a faint smile to the few that say good morning.  Change into my hospital gown.  Wait anywhere from 5 minutes to 45 minutes for the technician to escort me to the room.  I confirm that the photo on the computer monitor is me.  I undress on the table.  I have 2 to 3 technicians in the room fussing over my body, tugging me slightly to get me lined up within millimeters of the laser beam grid.  They leave the room. The machine makes a faint audible sound yet there’s nothing that can be seen or felt.  The machine rotates.  The 5 minutes is up, everyone walks back in, I put on my gown, grab my purse from the side chair, say thank you and as I walk out they say “see you tomorrow”.

You know what it is like?  It’s like the cartoon with Sam the Sheepdog and Ralph the Wolf.  That daily scene which shows the mundane aspects of their lives, clocking in and out every day; “Good morning Ralph.”  “Good morning Sam.”


With all of my indifference tainting this beautiful Friday and my small milestone, I do have to say that the staff is wonderful.  Their energy is friendly and optimistic and they carry a spirited demeanor that could easily be transferred to the deck of an elite cruise ship touring the Mediterranean.  Instead they are making the most of their surroundings; a nondescript building with white acoustic ceiling tiles that is filled with people that have/had every form of cancer, all in the middle of Rohnert Park, a town that nobody ever talks about with any sort of enthusiasm.

They play a varied assortment of lively music in the treatment room each day, partially for the patients, but I suspect mostly for their own entertainment and sanity.  Yesterday was especially good with a slightly louder than usual Latin number that momentarily transported me away from all of this nonsense.  Good nonsense, because it’s doing what it needs to be doing, but nonsense still the same.

What are the Odds?

May 3, 2009

Let me paint the scene for you.

It’s Saturday night, you’re at a birthday party and the house is filled with smiling faces, most of whom are long time friends, a few are family members and then there are a couple new faces who you have just been introduced to.  Food, drinks, laughter.  The men are clustered in one area and the women are yapping away in another.  It’s your usual party.

The women somehow get onto the topic of breast implants and then the subject takes a quick right turn towards funny and the question is raised at how one could get a discounted augmentation.  Laughter and banter bounce back and forth; “You could get just one boob done and get the other done when you have the rest of the money.”  Everyone laughs.  So, I ask you, what are the odds that the nice woman with the blonde hair sitting off to the side with a smile, the one who has been engaged in conversation all night, what are the odds that she is sitting there with only one fake boob with plans to get the other one done later this year?

The conversation continues around the room as another injects with an idea; “I know, you could pay to have your boobs done but not get nipples!”  Laughter erupts among the group.  “You’d be like Barbie with no nipples!  How strange would that look!”  So, I ask you the question again, what are the odds that the same nice blonde who you just met, who is still smiling, is sitting there with one fake boob and has no nipple?

You can probably guess which one I was at last night’s party.  Honestly, it was a funny conversation and if I could have thought of something witty to interject I would have, but all I could think of was that the only gal that knew me in this gaggle of girls was probably sinking with horror and sending intense “shut up” vibes to her friends who had no idea of my situation.  I didn’t take any offense.  It wasn’t directed at me or BC survivors.

But I’ll ask this one last time; what are the odds?  I’m guessing pretty darn good, most likely in your favor, like 100,000 to 1 at least.

Just not last night.

A Model’s Life

May 2, 2009

As elusive as I’ve been with my little bald head to most of you, I knew that not photographically documenting this stage of the journey would be looked back upon with regret.  So, with trepidation, excitement and then trepidation again I called upon my friend and very talented photographer Douglas Thompson, who offered up his services way back when, and we embarked on an oddly hot April day to tell a part of my story.

Rewinding about 10 days before the actual photo shoot, we met for a lively 2 hour coffee session in town.  Doug scratched my thoughts and adjectives into his notebook while interjecting his creative interpretation.  We both agreed that the theme of the shoot would be different.  Cheesy grins and pretty poses would be left at home for the amateur.  Douglas took my original vision, pulling it and stretching it like an animal balloon until my idea morphed into something that was just on the fringe of what it originally looked like.  As Douglas molded his vision in his mind he tossed around words that made me squirm; “costume rental”, “generator” and “makeup artist“!  After all, I just wanted something simple, nothing that was too complicated or would take up too much of his busy time.  But I knew I was in good hands and that he would turn this idea into an amazing experience, one that I might never take again.

So, the next week we zipped down to San Francisco and slipped into a costume storage facility that convinced me that Doug must be part of some secret club, because how else would someone know about this place.  With an appointment already set, he rang the building intercom, he gave his name which proved he was “on the list”, we were buzzed into a long narrow corridor where a member of the facility met us at another locked door and then we time-warped our way down stairs and into a massive basement filled with every era of costumes you could ever imagine.  I bumped into Joan of Ark armour as I admired bejeweled Queen Elizabeth style gowns and I smiled at cute WW11 nurse uniforms that were across from 19 Century peasant dresses.  We picked out four randomly odd gowns that fit our vision and exited back into the 21st Century sunshine on Market Street.

With all of this build up and anticipation, I bet you’re frothing at the mouth to see the images now!  Well, that would be too easy, and besides every person that has ever produced a television or radio program knows that one should always leave a good hook to keep the fans coming back for more!  And besides, Doug is still busy editing my favorite pics so I thought I’d take this opportunity to work backwards and show you the behind the scenes before I show you the finished product.  Kind of like watching the making of the movie before you see the movie.  I don’t think doing it in reverse will spoil anything; if anything I hope it will make you more appreciative of the final images, which I promise will be here soon.

{The site.  Somewhere between Napa and Vallejo; between privately owned and Fish & Game monitored.}


{We spotted slithery visitors.  Twice!!}


{The glamorous life of a model; 98 degrees, no shade and notice the emergency toilet paper.}


{With all of the equipment and props in place for my photoshoot, Doug took a second opportunity to photograph a “real” model.}