Cancerella Is My Nickname

On my 32nd birthday I was told I had a tumor that was certainly 99% benign. Last Monday I was told I have cancer, an aggressive form of lipo sarcoma. Basically a big nasty tumor with wandering tentacles in my thigh. While things have been a bit slow going since it was discovered it thankfully hasn’t spread to my lungs, I will finally be starting radiation on Monday (and will continue 5 days a week for 5 weeks), and I was told I would not have to do chemo. At least, not until possibly after my surgery, but not likely. Yay! So, I’ll still be tired and a tad sick — just not pukey-sick. Bad enough the anxiety is giving me sleep trouble and I’m already losing chunks of hair in my eyebrows and eyelashes. I have some fun targets, tattoos, and lines drawn on my legs that I have to keep for the whole summer before surgery. It looks like a serial killer was making butcher marks on me. My knee tastes the best, btw. The only unfortunate part of all of this is I will be losing some bits and pieces inside of my leg that will never grow back due to the radiation. I’ll be pissed if I have a limp is all I’m saying. What will become of my high heeled shoes?

It has been strange having such easy access to the Cleveland Clinic main campus; I have been calling it The Death Star because of the modern architecture and the fact there are actually droids wandering the halls lugging equipment. There is also a great sushi bar, a digital tree, a string quartet that plays a bizarre selection of music — including the Mickey Mouse Club theme — there is a 4 star restaurant for Oprah and the Saudi princes to chow at, and a Starbucks of course. I got to know the campus well after having 6 hours of tests scheduled. Sadly, the Star Wars vibe ends once you get into the Radiology building; the Death Star becomes 1976, full with wood paneling, bad oil paintings, and drop ceilings. At least I get free valet parking and free spa treatments.

I also got a few new kittens to keep me company, as I’m probably going to be napping quite a bit and they are very good at napping with me so far. Meet Ike and Tina (Ike is the younger baby who Tina beats up!)

Most people turn to religion when something like this happens to them. I have gone the complete opposite. I’ve had the lingering nihilist tendencies since several of my friends have died recently, and now I’m all about science! That nothing happens for a reason, it just happens. Who the hell gets leg cancer in such a random spot? Gods don’t do these things, a chaotic universe does these things. Who cares, just get rid of the bastard with some lasers and crap. People have been telling me I’m a tough broad and this will be a minor set-back for me in the end, but getting injected, extracted, poked and prodded, hooked up to machines and having to be in that damn clinic all this time before anything has even really happened, has been trying as hell; not to mention what it means for my future as far as family history goes, and what other fun tumors are to be expected. It is probably worse for my family even, as I’m sure this is giving them flashbacks (I only have vague memories) of what they had to endure in the years my dad battled cancer being treated at NIH — no happy ending there.

In the end I’ve decided I’m not going to live safe anymore. I’ve had a feeling for a while I could stand to be more reckless, taking trips I couldn’t afford and things like that. Next time The Damned and Motorhead do a European tour that ends in Russia? I’m going! Feel like piling into a van and driving around the country solving mysteries? Why not. I doubt anyone has ever taken a trip they regretted. Because you might get cancer and die just as much chance of anything else it appears. Pardon my French, but fuck it! This isn’t to say I’ll let this thing stop me from my responsibilities in regards to my art career — I’m still doing commissions and such — however, I’m pretty much done with penny pinching, restrictive diets, geographical limitations and other nonsense. If I end up alone in a studio apartment totally broke like La Belle Otero or Luisa Casati after my husband goes, so be it, as long as my funeral arrangements are paid for. I don’t care anymore.

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8 Responses to “Cancerella Is My Nickname”


  1. 1 Shannon 07/11/2010 at 4:29 pm

    You’re not going to be alone. Unless you don’t want to get robot cabana boys with me anymore. Hot damn. They better come with jetpacks, too.

  2. 2 Chris M 07/12/2010 at 4:58 am

    Holy crapola that sux! I wish you a quick and easy recovery.

    One question though; could you explain how you found out you had cancer…in the leg?! Did you feel it? Was a routine checkup? I ask because my family has a weird cancer history too.

    Thanks and Well wishes!

    ~chris

  3. 3 vendettabella 07/12/2010 at 8:04 am

    Shannon,
    I’m not counting on robotic cabana boys at the retirement castle anymore. People still use pay phones! I saw one the other day, for real, although this *is* Cleveland. Also I’m tired of being asked to fax stuff. This isn’t 1993 people!

    Hey Chris,
    I got out of the shower one day and there it was, bulging out of my thigh, and it just gets bigger. My particular case is nothing text book though (no pain etc.), usually cancerous tumors don’t grow that quick, which was why they thought it was going to be benign.

  4. 4 gina 07/12/2010 at 8:20 am

    i dealt with health b.s. 2 years ago and it was hell. After awhile the poking and prodding can be annoying and tedious. It will be over before you know it and things will be back to “normal”. At least our version of normal đŸ™‚

    cheers to more travel and less penny pinching. i see plenty of happy hours in our future!

  5. 5 Shannon 07/12/2010 at 8:26 am

    Once we get our robot cabana boys, THEY can do all the faxing. Faxing. Sheesh. Hello, 1987!

    Now every time I see a pay phone I think of the Hastily Made Cleveland Tourism Video: “Who the fuck still uses a pay phone?”

  6. 6 Lelah 07/13/2010 at 9:19 pm

    Cancer can suck it. Kick it’s ass, girl!!!

  7. 7 axnorwood 07/14/2010 at 8:39 am

    i am thinking about you – carry on!! alex
    You actually made this post a remarkable read. But then you always do; you write so well.

  8. 8 treena 07/29/2010 at 8:51 pm

    hey…

    i meant to find the ‘CERF’ site and pass it on…in case you weren’t aware of the fund. but instead i found this!

    http://www.womenarts.org/fund/EmergencyFunds.htm

    some great links/resources for any of us.

    take care and best of luck with everything.


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