Guess Who Has Cancer!

Yeah, it would be me.

I have Malignant Melanoma in one area on my upper arm, a few inches from my elbow, right by my tattoo.

These pics are after the biopsy, not the spot itself.

I have another spot that is a hair-breadths from being Melanoma on my right scapula. I do not have a picture of that yet.

How Did I Get This?

Let’s see… grew up in Florida, sun tanning since I was about 12-years old, using Crisco on my skin to burn faster (and that was the goal), swimming outdoors until about 10-15 years ago, being a lifeguard and swim instructor, always outside, sun tanning nude in San Diego… and I never, never once, used sunscreen.

USE YOUR SUNSCREEN!

How Did I Find It?

Well, actually, I went in for a different spot that turned out to be a capillary thing, but the night before my appointment, I saw this place in the mirror as I was leaving the bathroom. It was flush with my skin and looked like a light cafe au latte birthmark. All the same color, but the edges were not completely solid. I forgot to get a picture, but the Derm has one, so I will get it for my records.

At the Dermatologist’s office, the PA was awesome and told me what the red spot was and then pointed to the one above and said, “Now that one I am worried about.” She also found 3 others to biopsy and 2 were in trouble, 2 were normal.

The one pictured above got infected, and my Dermatologist said she was not surprised being it was the one with the melanoma, so I am on Doxycycline and using Mupirocin ointment. 24 hours after beginning, I feel so much better already.

Next Steps

The PA told me that I need to have surgery (her word) on the 2 spots. I will have an almond-shaped chunk of skin removed, 4×6 inches and then sutured together again. The one on my back should be a tad smaller than the one shown above. They will be looking to see if they got it all, looking for “margins” of healthy tissue.

Blessedly, I already have an Oncologist (for my Iron Infusions) and she will get the results of the surgical chunk-ectomies, send me for an MRI or CT to look inside to see if the buggies have gone anywhere else and we will go from there.

How I Feel

I feel really positive! With a little gallows humor, I am not losing weight so it can’t be that bad, can it? I also told the PA it was good my arm was huge so they could take great gobs of flesh if they wanted to. They thought I was weird. I just laughed and laughed, wiping a couple of tears at the same time.

NO PITY!

Make me LAUGH!

I got work to do and a book to write!

Blackface

So, we know there are issues surrounding the wearing of blackface by politicians and I wanted to share how I responded as things began.

When the first story about Gov. Ralph Northam wearing blackface in college came out, I listened for his apology and thought, “Well, that was good.” I also thought this was 1984, not too long after I got out of high school (I graduated in 1979) where there were many KKK fanatics and I saw blackface done on more than a few occasions. So, the pounding reality of the horror of blackface for African Americans/Blacks did not really compute. I was tepid in my response.

I also realized I am white and what the heck do I know about what blackface looks like to a black person… feels like… to a black person, so I began listening and reading the comments and thoughts and essays by folks who live the reality of black hatred every day.

And while I still do not believe I really understand how horrible it must be to be demoralized, depicted and demonized by a white person in blackface, I think I am beginning to get it.

I hope to find the visceral reaction to it I should have had when the yearbook picture showed up on TV.

Bettering

I’m feeling much better. I have been for awhile, but forgot to write about it here because I have been writing a lot elsewhere, mostly for work.

My writing is really going well. I am really proud of some of the things I have written and do hope they can see the light of day someday. I’ve come up with a Nom de Guerre (someday will share that, too) with which to show my erotic writings. I’ve been encouraged to write on Literotica for years and am this close (holding my thumb and forefinger a fraction away from each other) to doing so. Will all the years of writing lead to being known for erotica? I find that somewhat amusing.

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I’ve been going through my old Navelgazing Midwife site for some folks looking for things in particular. Damn, I wrote some good crap there! I was reading from back in 2011… my voice is the same as it is now, my feelings pretty much the same now. How reviled I was for bucking the system! Sheesh. That was so so long ago, but seems like a blip in time ago, too. Isn’t time crazy?

I am writing a lot on Second Life, too. I have also been asked to teach some classes, which will be lots of fun. Classes about women’s health, cultural sensitivity in discussing sex workers, issues around pregnancy and the like.

More to write… on my way.

I’m Depressed (Again)

Due to a glitch in my insurance and the Latuda company’s lack of medication, I went about a week without it. Might have been more. I have been back on it for 4 days now, but have fallen into depression. I wasn’t sure at first, but after sleeping 20 hours a day 3 days in a row, I think that qualifies as depression.

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And the crying.

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I hate the crying.

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The welling up of tears for (seemingly) no reason. The way they fall unabated, no amount of logic stopping them. They just turn on and off at their own whim.

What am I sad about? Nothing. There is no precipitating factor here, merely biochemical.

I want out of it.

NOW.

Getting Into Washington, DC: 1979

When Bobby, Scott and I got into Washington, DC, it was July 10, 1979, hot and sticky. We’d run completely out of money, not having one idea what to do next. We went into our separate bathrooms on the Mall, near the Washington Monument (which was stunning, by the way).

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There were many people in there, but I picked the sink furthest from the open door and pulled out my paper bag of supplies: shampoo, soap, a razor and toothpaste with my toothbrush. First brushing my teeth, afterwards, I immediately felt more human. Then shaved my pits (why in the holy hell I did that is beyond me now), washed my face with soap and my hands and then leaned wayyyy over and washed my short hair (which may or may not have been fuchsia at the time).

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I ran my fingers through my dripping wet hair, gathered my supplies, dropping them back into the crinkly brown paper bag and walked outside past the gaping-mouthed women and girls. Outside, Bobby loaned me his brush and I brushed my hair until it was at least not dripping everywhere.

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Then we stood looking at each other. What now? We walked around looking for a pay phone to call family to ask for help. Scott’s family would help him, but not us… neither Bobby’s nor my family would help us, either. Scott was being sent a Western Union money order that would take 2 days to get there, so until then, we figured, we were on the streets together.

Looking up at the Washington Monument, I lamented we would not be able to get up there to see out the windows.

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See the teeny windows?

I then got the bright idea to try and schmooze the Park Services Ranger selling the tickets to go up and within minutes, Kevin had become our new gay friend.

He not only gave us tickets, but told us about Lynn up at the top, giving information to the tourists… that Lynn was known to take in strays and we were well qualified.

Up we went in the elevator. Dang, that Monument is much taller from the inside than the outside! When we got off, Lynn was there to greet us, giving us hugs and telling us about where she lived. I was craning my neck to see out the window, hardly paying attention until Bobby nudged me hard and I hit my head on the thick window.

US-QUAKE HISTORY-TOURISM

Rubbing my head, I turned just as Lynn was taking a key from around her neck and putting it over Bobby’s flowing red mane. Huh? Apparently, Lynn had just given us the key to her apartment where she lived with Risa and told us to shower, eat whatever was there and take a nap!! She told us where the quarters were for the laundry, where the laundry soap was… that we could play her albums if we wanted… to just make ourselves at home.

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It was rather stunning.

While still up in the Monument, we discussed what to do with the car, which had zero gas in it. The decision to leave it where it was, near the Ellipse, until we got some money.

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This left us with no way to get to Lynn’s house! So, before we went back down the elevator, Lynn said that Kevin had Metro tokens for us and the directions to her house, so down we went, over to Kevin’s kiosk again, got the tokens and headed off to Lynn and Risa’s place in Arlington, Virginia.

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After having been in the New York City subway, this one was pristine. Our stop was the Rosslyn stop, one that was a mere 2 years old, and was really was amazingly beautiful.

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Taking the Metro was awesome. And deep! When we got off on our stop, we went up an escalator so long, I had never seen one like it before, it taking several minutes to get up to the street.

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As we exited, all we had to do was go caddy-corner across the street and into the concrete building, up the elevator and into the really large apartment our new friends’ lived in.

We were immediately drawn to the enormous balcony. Leaning over the rail in one direction, we could see the Washington Monument and the Capitol Building and in the other, we could see the Iwo Jima Memorial. All of which looked very small from where we were, but look how huge the Iwo Jima Memorial is!

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Here is an image at night and you can see the Lincoln Memorial easier as well.

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How incredible is that? Our balcony gave us the scope of the buildings, minus the Lincoln Memorial.

Once we got showers and scarfed some food we found in the refrigerator, we three fell into someone’s bed, curled around each other, and fell asleep for several hours.

 

 

Running Away from Home: 1979

I was living with 5 gay friends in a condo, way back in 1979. I was 18 and out on my own for the first time. Going to the Parliament House, the big gay bar in our city, was The Priority in our lives… above eating and, of course, paying our rent.

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So when rent was due and we only had $500 between the 5 of us, 3 of us decided to take our winnings, er… rent money… and head to New York City. Living in Orlando, that was quite ambitious thinking, but we were all young and stupid and believed anything was possible.

We stopped by my dad’s house so I could grab the Oldsmobile Delta 88, an enormous light blue wonder that had one back window that wouldn’t go down, another that wouldn’t go up, a trunk that would not open and a hood tied with metal wire to keep it down. I had to dig around for the keys and license plate, but found those and we were off, in my dad’s now-stolen car.

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It looked about this good, but was a powder blue with a white hard top.

We packed that car with all of our belongings: clothes, shoes, books… and for some reason, several jars of peanut butter and jars of grape jam. (Jars were glass back then, no plastic ruining the environment in the olden days.)

I remember Bobby taking the first shift in the back seat, laying sideways on all the stuff, his shoulder hitting the roof resting on the huge pile. We tried to open the trunk 100 times, to no avail, so finally resigned ourselves that sleeping like the Princess in the Pea was a part of this adventure.

Bobby, a bright-red redhead, curly hair down around his shoulders, ached to be a drag queen, dancing and miming songs at every chance. Even up on his back seat perch, I laughed hysterically, seeing him in the rear view mirror, holding a hairbrush and lip synching to “I Will Survive” on the radio.

Bobby was a liar, telling us, with complete conviction, that the Oscar Meyer little boy was his brother. At first we were awed, then the lies built onto each other and when it took a teasel to figure one truth from another, we just shrugged and laughed no matter what he said.

The other roommate who came with us was Scott, a gay guy I had known since junior high. Scott was so smart and clever, but more of a book nerd than either Bobby or I; he was a good balance for us. Scott found his way into laughing for the sake of laughing on this trip, which makes me so happy since he died of AIDS not 3 years hence. I was very glad to witness his joy. Bobby also died of AIDS a couple of years after Scott.

During our trip of 1979, AIDS was an unknown. Sex was with utter abandon. The worst sexually transmitted disease one could get was herpes and that seemed like a social death sentence. Little did we know then, herpes would be almost benign.

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The first person I knew of who died of the Gay Cancer was Fat Matt. I was fat, too, and Fat Matt and I talked a lot about dieting and trying to lose weight. Being fat as a gay man was not good… being fit and being gorgeous were (and are) a gay thing. So when Matt began losing weight, he was ecstatic. He had no idea what he was doing to lose so fast, but he was thrilled. His sex life picked up, his self-esteem soared… and then he passed through thin, from healthy to gaunt in a few weeks. Matt was gone 6 months after he began losing weight. None of us knew what happened. He was such a dear, fun friend, the bar seemed odd without his flouncing around, showing us his hippo dance from Fantasia.

Then there were others, not fat men, who began losing weight, then their lives. I remember standing in the drag bar, being told two dear club friends had died during the week and reeling with complete confusion about what was happening. It would still be 6 months before the words “Gay Cancer” would be said on the evening news.

Being gay in the late 70’s and early 80’s was still taboo. No “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” no gays in the military, no gay marriage. Homosexuals (and I, the fag hag) clung to each other when our parents changed the locks after throwing our belongings in the front yard. So when our gay friends were dying, we were never invited to the funerals, but held our own memorials at the bar. We would drink to our friends, huddle together, giving each other love and comfort. When there were so many of these bar memorials we’d become numb, we realized we had all run out of tears at the exact same time.

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Forgiveness

Mom and I sat at the vet the other day, in that tiny side room with the dogs hiding under our feet. We wept together, apologizing for all our past hurts and wrongs. It was extremely freeing to know my mom forgives me for all those horrible kid things I have done… and she has heard that I also forgive her for her own parental difficulties.

I hope to know that with my own children one day.

heal