I was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma in my right breast in 2013 at the age of 41. It was my first ever mammogram. Color me gob-smacked.
I stopped writing for a while. I mean, nothing really seemed worthwhile posting about when cancer was hanging out in the back of my mind. I mean, it’s kind of silly to be all like “Ooh I wrote 100 words!” or “Takeshi Kaneshiro is really hot!” or “Check out this cool taco truck” when what I really wanted to say is “Oh my god I have cancer-- this sucks.”
So yeah, nothing.
But then a High School Friend pointed me towards comedian and TV Star Tig Notaro’s stand up set at Largo about her own breast cancer diagnosis (which fortunately coincided with the “good” week of my chemo cycle) and I found these little bits of stories I’ve been telling people randomly about my whole experience with the FunLand of cancer treatment (I did the whole slash, burn and poison) suddenly wanted to come out and be written.
So I started writing again. And it was such a relief. I owe a big debt to Tig Notaro for creating a space where the darkness of a breast cancer diagnosis is illuminated by humor.
Here’s a story just for you about Chemotherapy and Popsicles and why I stopped eating Lorna Doones.
Want to know my favorite part about sitting in an infusion chair to receive chemotherapy? Watching the nurses in the infusion center tug on big, rubber gloves before they take out the huge-mongous syringe of bright, cherry red poison (Adriamycin) they’re about to literally shove into your veins in the hopes that it will kill off all fast-replicating cells—including your tumor. The gloves are so they don’t accidentally touch it, or get it on their skin. Because it’s poison. Poison=Bad.
So one week I was sitting in my chair being a good, little quiet patient while the nurse gloved up. All of a sudden, Breast Cancer Survivor Volunteer Lady comes in with her tray of Lorna Doones and Pretzels (because we all know nauseous people REALLY want to eat Scottish shortbread) and is all like “Oh, you’re getting the Red Devil, that’s good.” I smile at her. I know she means well. I can forgive her. She’s a breast cancer survivor and I will respect her journey. She’s alive. The very air around her is a mystical blessing, right?
But then the other nurse, without the gloves, brings me a styrofoam cup halfway through the Red Devil syringe. Inside it is a grape popsicle (no way could I handle a cherry red one) because you have to literally freeze the blood vessels in your mouth with a popsicle when getting Adriamycin infusions to keep from getting mouth sores. Then the Breast Cancer Survivor Volunteer Lady was all like “Oooh, and you get a popsicle, too. That’s lovely.” Lovely? That’s where I drew the line. I never ate another Lorna Doone again. All the Volunteers knew not to come by my chair during infusion after that.
Because yeah, Volunteer Lady, getting the popsicle TOTALLY made up for the breast cancer and the Red Devil.
For more on K. Bird's slash, burn, and poison Breast Cancer journey, check out What I Should Have Said
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Bio: K. Bird Lincoln is an ESL professional and writer living on the windswept Minnesota Prairie with family and a huge addiction to frou-frou coffee. Also dark chocolate-- without which, the world is a howling void. Originally from Cleveland, she has spent more years living on the edges of the Pacific Ocean than in the Midwest. Her speculative short stories are published in various online & paper publications such as Strange Horizons. Her medieval Japanese fantasy series, Tiger Lily, is available from Amazon. World Weaver Press released Dream Eater, the first novel in an exciting, multi-cultural Urban Fantasy trilogy set in Portland and Japan, in 2017. She also writes tasty speculative fiction reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. Check her out on Facebook, join her newsletter for chocolate and free stories, or stalk her online at kblincoln.com