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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The break from blogging and cancer

So first of all, an apology. Both for the long lapse between blog posts (I knew it had been a while, but June 5??? That's a REALLY long time) and for not explaining that I'd be taking a break from blogging.

Of course, the truth is, I didn't realize that I was taking a break from blogging. Maybe more specifically, taking a break from thinking about cancer. My cancer. My post-cancer life. Being N.E.D. (no evidence of disease). But a while ago, when someone asked me if I was still blogging on this site, I said that I wanted to take a break from thinking of myself as someone with cancer or someone who had had cancer.

But I should have said this all in a brief post--especially because looking at the last post, where I'm about to see whether I have a cyst or malignancy on my uterus, it leaves people wondering a bit. So the first thing I'll say is that my ultrasound was clear. All is good. And my follow-up appointment with my surgeon was also good (I think that happened a few days after I wrote the last post). I'm taking Tamoxifen, and aside from a few hot flashes, mostly at night (2-3 episodes), I don't seem to be having any side effects. I am, by all physical evidence at least, the vision of health. I've been exercising and lost a few of the pounds I gained in the spring semester when I was too weary to do anything beyond teach and sleep. My mental health is good--or at least I'm no longer experiencing a low level depression. And there doesn't seem to be any signs of cancer in my body that they can detect through blood work of physical examination--and my body seems to be holding up pretty well so far, meaning I'm having no other health issues and feel fine.

So I'm a healthy person. I look like a healthy person. I feel like a healthy person.

Yet there is that little question in the back of my mind--am I? Or perhaps more accurately, "for how long?" Because truthfully, even if I never have a recurrence, as my body ages I will probably have some kind of health issue where I experience a period of not being well--of being disabled--of being ill. We all will. It's a sobering thought. And the fact that I think this way is probably a sign both of what I've recently experienced with cancer/chemo/surgery as well as a sign that I'm getting older and recognizing that my 41 year old body is not my 21 year old body and will one day be a 61 year old body with different types of challenges (joints, I'm told, become a problem as we age). In other words, these are the musings of a middle-age person not of a young, vibrant 20-something or teen or even 30 something person--at least not someone who hasn't been through or witnessed intimately the deterioration of someone else's body or their own for a period of time.

Anyway, I thought about whether I wanted to take this blog down, but I think that there are still things I'm exploring and figuring out about living my life post-cancer. And there are certainly things about cancer in the world that I think are worth commenting on--like this piece in The New York Times about the language of cancer--especially all those "fighting" words we associate with the disease. And there's the presentation I gave at the annual meeting of the Association of Asian American Studies--one that talked about my experiences with getting breast cancer and the lack of Asian American models and stories out there. It was the most intimate presentation I have ever given--and while I was nervous when I first started to read my paper, by the end I had found my stride and really felt comfortable talking about what I'd been through, both from a personal as well as intellectual point-of-view.

So I'm not done blogging here. I may not be updating on a regular basis--there will probably be weeks between posts. But if you are curious about what life is like for one particular former stage 2 breast cancer patient, please continue to tune in.


  1. Please don't ever take this blog down. It was the first ray of light I saw after two months of darkness. I can't yet fully articulate how your much your blog spoke to me and how it provided a language for me when I was unable to fully express and process my thoughts. Your blog was my support group for in it I found someone who broached subjects that I was wrestling with, discussed language that was off putting, and wrote openly about depression, crafting a "new normal", and what lessons one takes away from such an experience. To say that I owe much of my processing and hard fought "new normal" to you is an understatement. With deep appreciation and tremendous gratitude.

  2. Please don't take this blog down. You helped me to make my own choice not to reconstruct my body. I, for one, would rather other women have the opportunity to read your thoughtful, measured and really, brave comments on your process. There is a time and place for actively talking about and reviewing health issues related to cancer, yours may have come to a standstill and that is understandable. I look forward to it myself.

  3. Anonymous and Melly,
    Thank you so much for your kind and generous comments about this blog. I feel humbled and honored that my words have had such an impact on each of you. Truly, in my line of work, I publish obscure articles in academic journals and you think, this really doesn't make a difference--my words aren't going to make a difference. So thank you for saying that my words have made a difference to you. That's a true gift for me.