Butchered, fat and alone. Around here we call that Tuesday…

In Uncategorized on April 17, 2012 at 3:31 pm

This whole ‘not wallowing’ thing is a lot of work, so I have taken a couple of weeks off and proceeded to feel good and sorry for myself.  There were a number of things that sparked this most recent trend.  The first is something I have been loathe to discuss but as it keeps rearing its ugly head, best to get it out on paper- or screen- whatever…

I am currently working on a play –The Pianist of Willesden Lane– about the kindertransport, children who in 1938 were taken out of Germany, Austria and other German occupied territories after a systematic attack on Jews, their homes and their businesses , known as Kristallnacht.  (Didn’t expect a history lesson here, I’m sure)  At any rate, I was writing an article about these events- and even as a Jewish studies minor with a focus on Holocaust studies- there were  so many aspects of this story that I didn’t know, and as I learned about the indifference of the Americans and the British prior to the implementation of the Kindertransport- I grew more and more despondent.

And believe it or not, this is tied into the BRCA gene- the very same BRCA gene that is most prevalent in people of Ashkenazi descent.   So the Jews survive this attempt to exterminate their people.  Granted, with higher death tolls than anyone should have to endure and which so many groups of people have.  And then, as we begin to raise families around the world, and our grandparents settle and assimilate into new lives, our desire to remain connected to our own culture begins to bite us in the ass.  And the form this so called ‘bite’ takes- effed up genes that make us prone to dying young.  Now, while I don’t believe in God enough to blame him for this cruel irony- I will point a finger at the universe and call a shitty situation a shitty situation.   I realize this is self-pity on a GRAND scale- but I wasn’t feeling sorry for myself- more for my Grandfather who died of pancreatic cancer when his son, my father, was only fourteen.  And my Grandmother, who died of ovarian cancer and spent so little time with her grandchildren.  The thing that brought this home worst of all- the woman who has created this show about the Kindertransport- her mother, Lisa Jura, was one of the children brought over from Austria.  Lisa had two daughters, and one of them was BRCA positive and died of breast cancer.  The direct line from a holocaust survivor to a BRCA victim chilled me to my very core.

So that was the first thing that depressed the shit out of me.

The second, and this is far more self involved and self-pitying- was recently my friend MK, who is also my BELOVED hairdresser, asked me how I was holding up leading into my surgery and because I didn’t pause to edit- or to find a positive lead in- I simply replied, “I’m fine with the exception that I’m about to be butchered, fat and alone.”  And then, when I would normally laugh at the drama of a statement like that, my eyes welled up with tears and I thought I was going to lose it.  Luckily, someone else walked in at that point and I pulled it together.  But the next day, I was recounting the story to another friend and the waterworks started again, and this time there was no stopping them.  My surgery is in less than two months, the juice diet was a bust, my body just basically told me to go fuck myself for starving it- and I am afraid that I am going to be unable to ever get back to a place that feels ‘normal’.  At least as ‘normal’ as my life has been in the last few years.

So I took this all to my sister- and when I told her about butchered, fat and alone she stated, “yeah, that’s pretty much how I feel”.  Of course, to me, she is none of these things.  She is strong, and surrounded by people who love her and weight is just weight and we can lose it.  But to add insult to injury, where my fear of developing cancer is sort of a vague “it might happen at some point”, she has to manage an active fear of further cancer.  She has an impending sense of doom because at 44 she has already had cancer twice and she knows she has both BRCA genes and she feels genetically screwed.  And here’s what’s really messed up.  When I pointed out to her that all of these things would be far easier to manage if we could just remove the fat part of the equation, she totally agreed.  So toss in a big dose of self-hatred and that makes everything exponentially more complicated.

With the understanding that Missie and I still have to fight the weight problem, she is doing amazingly well.  She has finished her chemo and is in the midst of radiation which seems to be going smoothly.  Her mood is good, she’s game for heading back  into a weight loss program together and starting to exercise again little by little.  Also, little fuzzy blonde hairs are making an appearance on the top of her head and that is cause for celebration.  She is fighting the good fight and taking on everything with grace and humor and although I know there are good days and bad days, there is a sense of the clouds lifting and the cancer leaving.

Meanwhile, the other BRCA triplet, my dad, is a rockstar.  He was back at work 10 days after the removal of his ureter and his kidney.  His lead surgeon has decided that he would like him to undergo chemotherapy to make sure that any traveling cells get killed before crossing any borders. They refer to it as prophylactic chemo, but I think we’d all agree that with both BRCA genes, these things are more necessary than prophylactic.  As long as they get all of the cancer out, they can refer to it any way they like.

And me- well I am still feeling less than optimistic.  I wish I had someone to lean on, but I know myself well enough to know that if someone were here, I’d avoid doing any leaning- it’s not my nature.  And I briefly thought about scrapping the nipple tattoos because I began to feel like somehow I was taking this too lightly if I turned it into an excuse for tattoos.  But truth be told, this is my way of making lemonade, so whatever gets me, and my nipples, through the night has got to be okay.  Besides, the quote I’ve chosen to tattoo is a good reminder that I will not be butchered, only changed.  I will not be fat, only on my way to healthy.  And I will not be alone because the love I have, I give, and people want love that is pure and honest and enduring.

Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offerring

There is a crack in everything

that’s how the light gets in.

-Leonard Cohen


  1. This is the best one yet!! We will survive this ordeal and become even stronger in the process. I am so happy to have you in my life!

  2. I am the lucky one! I love you and thank you for inspiring me to write this.

  3. I love you both, and wish I lived closer to you so I could offer more support. I will be thinking of both of you, and sending you love from here!

  4. I can’t say what I want to say… So I will say this-

    On some level, there is no way NOT go through an experience… like illness… or a challenge as profound as this… without facing it alone… as much as anyone and everyone does to help you or wishes it could be different. Regardless, it’s great that despite this you have tried to share what you can with everyone who asks after your health and reads your blog and a good thing that your sister and you have been able to turn to one another throughout this shift in both your lives. I continue to be impressed with your courage.

    I wish I could be a comfort to you, but as I am not, I just want to remind you that I am your friend (who sleeps like shit and is up at all hours) so when you’re feeling lonely and you want to put that aside, you DO have someone else you can yap to if you want-

    In a weird way I am so less worried about you in regards to this situation than so many other previous events in your life. And I can only think it’s because of how you have handled things- with maturity, grace, and thoughtfulness… you know… when you’re not hopping mad and cursing like a sailor who’s struck his thumb with a hammer…

    • I misspoke. I meant to write-

      “… when you’re not hopping mad and cursing like a DRUNK sailor who’s struck his thumb with a hammer…”

      My bad.

  5. Sigh. Wow. That quote. ANd then Missie. ANd your Dad. And You. I can’t wait to see you soon. I studied the Kinder Transport in grad school and went into quite a slump for awhile too. That connection to the BRCA gene is astounding. Have you seen this
    Also I think maybe if you didn’t take a moment to be sad and scared you would be a martyr. And martyrs are really annoying.

    • Martyrs are really annoying. xoxo

      • Yeah… that Martin Luther King, Jr. really rides a person’s last nerve, doesn’t he-?

        MAN! If having to die for what you believe wasn’t bad ENOUGH- What do Martyrs have to do to catch a break from the two of you-!? Seriously! Especially since appealing, agreeable, or nice people rarely even find themselves in that position- I mean-

        …oh. That was a joke. Huh.

        Never mind.

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