Round Two

Her hair is gone now.  In only four days, she has lost half of her long, thick red mane.  She donates the rest to Locks of Love and shaves her head.  She thinks that losing her hair will make her incomprehensibly sad, and yet, it doesn't.  She finds a way to rock the G.I. Jane cut and realizes that she doesn't need her hair to be sexy.

Prior to her second round of chemotherapy, she calls her oncologist and has her internist do the same.  She is not going to go through such a horrible round of chemo – complete with three days of vomiting and IVs – again.

Her oncologist finally takes her seriously and appreciates that her health history makes her a unique patient.  He orders three days of IVs after chemotherapy, but decides to administer those IVs proactively (before she gets sick), rather than reactively.  He also gives her five new drugs to take during chemo week.

She hopes that the second round will be better, but it's just different.  Side effects from the drugs cause her to be irritable and suffer from temporary amnesia.  For five days, she walks around like a moody, forgetful zombie.  She has little, if any, memory of conversations she had or emails she sent during those days.  The Type-A lawyer who is used to being in control is anything but that.

Her body responds to chemotherapy in the opposite manner of most people.  The average patient is exhausted.  She can’t sleep for more than six hours a night and isn't able to nap much.  The typical female never gets her period again following chemo.  She starts to hemorrhage.  Most people lose weight from chemotherapy.  She gains weight.  In 20 days, she has only one day without a chemo-related side effect.  Her body is drained.

On October 26th, she loses her friend to colon cancer.  He was her partner in the fight against this disease.  In three days, she cries more than she’s cried in months.  Her heart is heavy.

Four more rounds of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiation await her.  And, she knows that nothing about the next four months will be easy.

This experience is the toughest thing that she has endured physically.  But then, she reminds herself that:




She will get through this, and she is so very lucky that this was caught at Stage One.

Since early detection is what is saving her, she feels compelled to encourage her friends and readers to check the American Cancer Society’s Early Detection Guidelines.

If you notice an abnormal growth on or under your skin, get yourself to a doctor!

For the female readers:

Breast self-exams every month starting at age 20.  If you’re not sure how to do a self-exam, watch this three-minute video;

A clinical breast exam at your annual gynecologist appointment.  You should be screened for cervical cancer via a Pap smear three years after you first have sex or by the age of 21 (whichever comes first); and

Annual mammograms starting at age 35 if there’s a history of breast cancer in your family and at age 40 if there’s not.

She cares.

Quick, Quick, Slow

I receive quite a few sex and relationship questions via Formspring, but it’s been a while since I’ve posted my answers to them.  (Damn chemo!)  I figured that I would get back to doing so in between my posts about Mr. Exec.  I also have a great giveaway that I’ll be sharing with you all this evening.

Question 1a: With my ex-girlfriend, I could have sex for as long as I wanted.  With my current girlfriend, I can't last as long.  Insights on why that's so?

Answer: What's different with the equation?  The foreplay?  The positions?  How wet or orgasmic your partner is?  How often you have sex?

Has your current girlfriend indicated that this is a problem?  (I've dated guys who take a long time and guys who cum very quickly. As long as I'm satisfied, I'm okay with either mode.)

Question 1b: Nothing has really changed.  Same positions usually.  Wetness same.  She hasn't voiced a concern; this is more for making it better (not that it was bad).  I just don't know why anything is different.

Answer: Have you tried a sexual enhancement gel or herb?  (If you or your partner has sensitive skin or allergies, it’s best to stick to herbs over gels.  With respect to herbal products, herbs have yet to be approved by the FDA, although they are commonly used in Eastern medicine.) 

You could also add a cock ring to increase pressure to the base of your cock and keep your erection for longer.  They stimulate the clitoris during sex, making it much easier for the female to orgasm.

You also might try switching positions often to break the rhythm that you're in so that you can last longer.  (Some women love changing positions a lot.  Some don't.  The effectiveness of that strategy might depend on your partner.)

Good luck!

So, readers, did I miss anything?  Do you have any other suggestions for this guy?

In The Third Person

She feels like she’s looking through a kaleidoscope, only no turn of the wheel ends up on a pretty picture.  No flowers.  No butterflies.  No vistas resembling a peacock’s plume.

“We can’t give you the easier chemo,” her oncologist says as tears stream down her face.

“Why am I finding this out now?  Why did you tell me you were going to do what’s kinder on my health?” she asks incredulously.

“All of that changed the moment we received your HER2 results.  Your cancer is too aggressive to be treated any other way.”

“Give a girl a heads up next time so I could have had some time to prepare!  [Pause.]  So, I’m definitely losing my hair?” she inquires in the midst of her sobs.

Her oncologist nods.  She asks for a few minutes to herself to call her ex-boyfriend from Philadelphia.  She listens to his words of wisdom, realizing that there’s no reason to prolong the inevitable.  Given the lab results, this is the normal protocol.

As she walks into the “Infusion Center,” one nurse comments:

You have the most beautiful hair.

“Fuck,” she replies.

The treatment itself isn’t as bad as she had expected.  Thanks to the mediport, she barely feels the eight IV bags that give her fluids, chemotherapy, herceptin and antibiotics.  She tells the nurses about her propensity for nausea and vomiting and is assured that the current medicines are much better than they used to be.

“Most people just get nauseous with chemo these days.  You probably won’t even throw up,” her nurse informs her.

“Wow! That would be great!”

She goes home and has a light dinner before watching Love Actually with one of her friends.  For a few minutes, she actually thinks to herself that this might not be that bad.

Morning brings exhaustion, which is to be expected.  But then, she can’t stomach sips of water or ginger ale.  Hours later, she ends up on the phone crying to the doctor’s office, while lying on the Oriental rug in the fetal position.

It feels like she’s starring in her own Lifetime movie.

Her friend brings her to the Infusion Center.  Two hours of fluids and anti-nausea meds do the trick, and she heads home with a smile on her face and a little of her appetite back.  Her man comes over that evening and says words so sweet that she wonders if they might actually make it through this together.

He wakes her up with warm kisses on her face, telling her that she will always be sexy to him.  When she sends him on his way to work, she hopes that the worse is behind her.

But, alas, that’s not the case.

That evening requires her to go to the Emergency Room for more fluids and anti-nausea medications.

And then, the following day, she returns to the Infusion Center for more IVs.  She may be new to the world of chemo, but she is a savvy enough patient to realize that three consecutive days of IV therapy after treatment are not the norm.  Only at that time does the Head Nurse mention that she might need to be admitted to the hospital during treatment.

In her dehydrated haze, she forgets to ask:

This time or next time?

But, she’ll remember before she goes to get her second round of chemo in October.  You can bet on that.  She will do whatever she can to ensure that this Lifetime movie does not turn into a miniseries.

She reminds herself that she is one of the lucky ones.

She is blessed.

This was caught early.

She won’t lose her hair for another week or two.

The next year is just one year in a lifetime of years.

Moment-by-moment, she will get through this.

She sobs.  For right at this moment, there is nothing else she feels like doing.


I was up in Friendship Heights last week, when I received the call from my oncologist's office. The physician's assistant tried as kindly as she could to break the news to me:

So…the lab finally got back to us with the results. You're HER2 positive. [HER2 is one of the most aggressive forms of breast cancer.]

Me: I had a feeling.

We decided that I would have a mediport installed on Friday, September 17th. [A mediport is a device that's implanted under the skin and allows easy access to your veins.] And then, she scheduled me for my first of six chemotherapy sessions on Tuesday, September 21st.

When I hung up the phone, I leaned against the window of an empty storefront and sobbed for a few minutes. You know those cries where your whole body shakes? Yeah, it was that kind of cry.

Two people walked by me. I sensed that they wanted to stop, but didn't know what to say. I guess that I didn't know what to say either. (Well, besides the word, "fuck.")

I haven't cried that much since Friday, but I feel unsettled. I'm starting chemo tomorrow. There are days in which I love watching the clock move forward hour-by-hour. But, I'm watching the hours pass today as though I'm waiting for the bell to toll.

I don't want chemo. At all.

I don't want to worry about how my already weakened immune system will react to chemotherapy. I don't want to be more nauseous than I already am on a given week. I don't want to wonder if I'll fall within the 15% of people who lose their hair on this type of treatment.

Did I mention that I don't want it?

On the night after I got the port put in, my man came over to my place. The port surprisingly hurts a lot, and he's never seen me in this much pain. I was in so much pain that I didn't even want to orgasm or have sex. Me!

Me: You realize that this is going to get a lot worse, right?

Him: Yes, and I'll be here for you.

Me: I just feel really vulnerable now. Like I don't want cancer to be the reason why we don't work out.

Him: That's not going to happen.

Me: If I'm bald?

Him: I'll help you find a hot wig. Some look that you've always wanted to try. You are going to look sexy no matter what!

Me [smiling as I bury my head in his chest]: Maybe…what if I lose my sex drive?

Him: That's not going to happen with you.

Me [laughing out loud]: Misty joked that if I lose my sex drive I would still have a normal person's drive.

Him: Exactly. And, if you lose your drive, then it just means that I have to work harder.

I kissed him, as I fought back tears. It must be karma or God's way of balancing my life out that in the midst of fighting cancer, my relationship with my man and my blog are better than ever!

As I think about the months that lie ahead, I can't help but feel grateful for early diagnosis and great medical care. I realize that there could have been a much different ending to this story. I also appreciate that the treatment that I will undergo in the coming months is to ensure that I'll be around for decades to come. I owe it to myself, my loved ones and the child I will adopt to be as strong as I can and do whatever possible to live a very long life.

Yesterday, I was interviewed for a breast cancer documentary. The producers asked me how breast cancer affected me and three words came to mind:

Vanity; Advocacy and Humanity.

I feel blessed to have such an outpouring of support from friends and readers. On the advocacy front, I know that I will be doing more with the issue of toxic ingredients in sex toys. I'm a sex blogger with breast cancer and a penchant for helping others. I anticipate speaking out about the use of cancer-causing phthalates in adult toys…under my real name.

But first, I need to kick this cancer thing. And, vanity requires me to do that with my own long red locks.


I’m too vain for this!

After my Mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 1997, we went to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital for a second opinion. As we waited in the lobby, we couldn't help but notice that one out of every third or fourth person in the waiting room:

Was bald from chemotherapy;
Had jaundice (a yellow complexion) from liver failure;
Had a large, visible tumor; and/or
Was missing a limb.

Quite a few of these patients were children, which only added to the horrifying image. As she looked around the room, my Mom brought her perfectly manicured fingers to her ears and clutched her carat diamond studs. She closed her eyes, shaking her head back and forth, as she said:

I'm too vain for this. I'm too vain for this.

An hour later, the oncologist informed my Mom that she wasn't a candidate for any treatment. In a manner void of all compassion, he told her:

Make an appointment for two months from now, and if you're still alive, we'll see you then. (And, yes, the doctor really said that.)

Two months later to the week, my Mom passed away.

Since I was diagnosed with breast cancer in June, I've tried not to compare my cancer to my Mom's. Her cancer wasn't caught until stage four, whereas mine was caught at stage one. I have breast cancer, which is very treatable when caught early. My Mom had cancer of unknown primary, which is rarely treatable. She did not survive cancer, and I know I will survive it.

On Tuesday, I went to Sibley Hospital for my breast cancer surgery. Because it's me and I attract the type of guys that I do, my man and I proceeded to have a relationship discussion via text for two hours while I was at the hospital. (If I could've taken my cell phone into the operating room, I would have. And, we probably would have continued to bicker at each other the entire time. I'll definitely be writing all about this in future posts!)

The surgery involved removing the two cancerous areas and two lymph nodes. As surgeries go, it wasn't that bad, and I'm recouping nicely. I'm thrilled to report that there's no cancer in my lymph nodes. That means that the cancer is confined to the right breast, and that it's not stage two. [Insert happy dance here.]

But, after speaking with the doctor today, there's some news that's not so good. When the doctor removed the cancerous areas, she also removed some healthy tissue or a "margin." The margin needs to be a certain distance from the cancerous area to ensure that all the bad cells have been taken and reduce the risk of recurrence. When the pathology report came back, it showed that one margin was smaller than it needed to be. So, I need to go back into the hospital this month for another surgery to remove more breast tissue. [Insert frustrated face here.]

But wait, there's more! The pathology report also showed that the tumor is medium-grade, which means that it's more aggressive than the biopsy had previously indicated. When the doctor told me this today, I immediately started to cry, as I asked:

So, that means that it's almost definite that I need to have chemo?

Doctor: Yes. You're 37, and we need to be conservative and treat this aggressively. I want you to adopt, to model…

Me [interrupting her]: I know. Just the agent wanted a tall redhead, not a tall bald head. [Pause.] I'm just sad out of vanity.

Doctor: I would be sad, too. I wouldn't want to lose my hair either.

Me [exhaling]: But, you're right. I'll do whatever I need to do to kick this so I can be around for my little girl and do all the things that I want to do with my life for decades to come.

The logical side of my brain knows that I will beat this and that chemotherapy is the strongest treatment available to prevent a recurrence. But, that doesn't mean that the thought of chemo is easy for me.

My hair is my signature. Have you seen it recently?

And, there's a 99% chance that I'm going to lose all of it! I don't want to hear any of the following right now:

It'll grow back;
You can get a wig; or
It'll be okay.

I'll be fine in the end, but for lack of a more eloquent expression, this sucks. I'm allowing myself to cry and be as angry as I want to be this weekend, and then I'm letting it go. I haven't lost my hair yet, and until I do, I'm going to make sure that it looks especially fabulous!

And, when I get the official word as to my treatment schedule, I will lose my hair in a way that promotes awareness for breast cancer and raises money for research. There will also be a Happy Hour thrown in because that's just how I roll ;).

As I reflect on the day's events and what lies ahead, I realize:

I am my mother's daughter. I'm too vain for this.

I am my mother's daughter. I will use my experiences to help other women and causes I believe in.

I am my mother's daughter. I will come out of this stronger, and when I adopt, I will teach my daughter all that my mom taught me.

PS I'm off to get ready for my man. It's me. I won't let cancer keep me down for long! xoxo

Stage 1. Not so fun.

I've been thinking a lot about the different hats that I wear. I'm a relationship and sex blogger. I'm the in-house product reviewer for Dascha Boutique and a sexuality educator for Fascinations at Fun Love. I'm a non-practicing attorney who will still talk about the law ad nauseum and answer her former clients' calls at any hour of the day. I'm a sports fan, a dog lover, a cupcake and pizza fiend, a girly-girl, and an anal ambassador. And now, I'm a 37-year-old with breast cancer.

I don't want my cancer to define me, but for the past few weeks, cancer has dictated my schedule. I'm not looking for this blog to turn into a blog about cancer, but ignoring it is about as easy as ignoring "Buckeyes" Boy or any proverbial elephant in the room.

Since last I wrote about my diagnosis, I've had a few more tests, and the doctors have gathered some additional information. A second area of cancer was found so instead of DCIS non-invasive breast cancer, I now have Stage 1, invasive breast cancer.

This was still found early, and I know how lucky I am. But, the fact that there's now cancer in my breast tissue complicates things a bit. My surgery — originally scheduled for today — has been postponed. I need more biopsies this week and am waiting for results of the breast cancer gene test (BRCA) before I know the plan of attack.

I continue to feel my feelings as I need to without dwelling on them. And, I'm thankful for so many blessings, including my friends, great health care and early diagnosis. But, since I received the call from the doctor yesterday that the cancer is now in my breast tissue, I've wondered:

Will I lose my hair?

Even typing those words brings tears to my eyes. I admit it, I'm vain. I love my hair. What did "Buckeyes" Boy first notice about me? My hair! How did people on Twitter recognize me in real life even though I've never posted a picture of my face? By my hair! Why did the modeling agent think she could book me for work? Because I'm a tall redhead!

Is there a theme here?

Philly Matt
told me this evening that he thinks I would be sexy if I was bald. And, I love him for that. But, it doesn't change the fact that seriously thinking about chemotherapy brings tears to my eyes. It's not a given that chemo will be the recommended course of treatment for me, but I don't like that it's even an option.

And, that's not the only thing that's on my mind:

A few weeks ago, I was on top of my man having sex and as he kissed my tits and sucked on my nipples, I thought to myself:

Will these be my breasts in a year?

I'm (thankfully) able to displace my emotions during sex, but later that night, I cried openly about that concern. My tits are a part of me and are inextricably linked to my sexuality. I don't want to lose them, and I'd much prefer to keep my big naturals than trade them in for a shiny, perky pair. Mastectomies might not be the recommended course of action for me, but again, I don't even like the option!

I didn't write this post to be Debbie Downer or make any of you worry. I realize that cancer won't keep me down for more than a few months. I know that I have dealt with far worse things in my life and come out the stronger for it. (If you've been reading my blog, you know that I've had much more toxic things inside me than this!)

I WILL beat this, and cancer will NOT win in the end! I see the future, and there's more more for me to do as a sexuality educator and a lawyer. And, although my goal to adopt a little girl is on hold, all of my doctors are aware of my plan to adopt. I've told them that I will do whatever they recommend to ensure that I'm around for decades to come!

For those of you who might be skeptical that I'm letting this get the best of me for too long, I'll leave you with this:

What DC relationship and sex blogger had anal sex when she got back home from her breast biopsies?

This one.

I might be a bit down, but I'm not out. Not even close. I'm not going to give up what I love to do if I can help it, even if that means that I have to be a little creative while doing it. (It's better to have sex with your bra on and ice packs inside your bra than not have sex at all!)

PS For those of you who have emailed, called, texted, commented or Tweeted, your support means more to me than you could possibly know. For my friends in real life who are my family, you are a huge part of what I'm fighting for! And, you know me well enough to know that I'm not going to miss out on any laughs, girl talk and gossip with you all. I love you with all of my heart. xoxo