The day that they found the tumour, I came home and listened to Tig Notaro's outstanding stand-up comedy set which she performed only a few days after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Louis CK, who was running the room fortunately recorded the entire thing and about a year ago I bought it. It's incredible. It's so inspiring and inspired and she talks so openly yet hilariously about being diagnosed. I just tried to see if you can still buy it from Louis CK's site, and it doesn't seem to be there and I am unsure if the LIVE album on Tig's own website is the same one I have or not, so I can't even tell you where you can buy it from. But I still have it and I highly recommend it, and maybe, if you come and visit me after surgery on one of those long long boring recovery days, maybe we can listen to it together. We can listen together but I won't make a copy for you because I believe that comedians should get paid! I know I don't usually get paid as a stand up comedian, but I certainly still aspire to be!
It's good to still have aspirations beyond just surviving this, I think. To not lose sight of where you want to go in life. Especially when you are directly facing that scary thing that I and 1 in 8 other women are facing/will be facing/have faced. In fact, it's the most important thing I feel like I am doing right now. You need something to look forward to, because if I really really think about the upcoming awfulness, pain, discomfort, and emotional trauma that I will go through soon, I fall into a hole with no way out. I know the hole is there, I know I will spend some time in it, but the "something on the other side" provides me with little footholds in the wall so that I can climb out. I am not Batman with the super hero physical strength to make the otherwise impossible leap out of the Prison Pit. I am me, and my super hero strength is trying to pretend as if nothing is happening, while at the same time thinking about nothing else. It's a weird talent, I know. To quote an old joke of mine, "Most people don't believe I am a super hero, until I point out to them that since I've been around, the Green Goblin is nowhere to be seen."
When I first heard Tig Notaro's set I was astounded - how could she be so hilarious and heartbreaking and entertaining so soon after the diagnosis? But I get it now. She had to do it. That was her foothold out of the hole. Thus, I have a booked a beautiful gig with Erth, an inspiring puppet company based in Sydney, quite soon after surgery, but not too soon to be a problem. It is what I am really looking forward to. I WAS looking forward to doing some writing this winter for a new show and for an installation I want to explore, but to be perfectly honest, since I got the biopsy, each time I try to focus on those ideas, which are cool ideas to otherwise focus on, I get distracted by cancer: the upcoming treatment, the experiences I've already had, and the things I think about it. My creative mind is being focussed elsewhere right now. So being able to continue working on my career, but by contributing to another company's work instead of my own, a company I really admire, is such a blessing.
OK. That's the personal indulgent stuff over with. Back to what happened today! I got asked by Monique if I wanted to donate my tumour to Medical Research. Ummmm… what the hell do I want with my tumour??? What, am I going to show it on the mantelpiece like an artwork??? Keep it alive like an insect in a jar with air holes in the lid? "Hi everyone, this is my new pet, Audrey III. She eats healthy cells, but she gets fat if I feed her too many, so I keep her on a strict diet of Amoebas."
What??? No! I don't want to keep my tumour!!
I signed the papers donating my tumour to "Medical Research" as fast as my pen would sign. Cos if it goes to "Medical Research", it's the only part of my person that will ever receive any kind of funding from the current budget.
*Boom boom tsh!*
I also demanded an ultrasound of my right bazoonga today too, which THANK GOD presented clear of tumours. They hadn't previously done an ultrasound on my right tata, as the mammogram had already come back clear so they never bothered doing it, but you don't always see everything on a mammogram, and I figured that I should demand an ultra sound. I have been a little demanding. But because I am so sweet and cheery and jokey about everything, people have been aquiescing. "I think I should have an ultrasound on my right booby and I want it before surgery, m'ok? Thanks." *Smile. Head tilt. Ching!* Also, I have cancer. My demands just get met. It's incredible. I think my next demand might be a pony. I think a pony will go well in my back yard. It will match the chickens.
Tomorrow is my last day before the op. My nerves got rattled today in the ultrasound when I thought maybe they had found another tumour, and they hadn't, so I realised that maybe I am indeed a little "on edge". But I have now recognised that fact, and considering the situation, I am still doing hobbling along fine at about a 4 or 5 out of 10 on the old anxiety scale, where 10 = pure all out uncontrollable panic attack, and 1 = eating cake in an Amsterdam coffee shop. OK. Perhaps that's a bad analogy, considering 1 could also be both riddled with anxiety, depending on your reaction to marijuana. But I think you get my point, I'm still doing ok.
Now, I KNOW I still need to tell you the story of the woman in the park and how I found the cancer in the first place.
And I KNOW I still need to have that discussion about private vs public health and also about the recommendations to see fertility specialists.
I KNOW I still need to write about how many people have called and popped over and texted and emailed from all over the world and how it's kind of like seeing who would turn up to your funeral, except you're alive to actually experience and appreciate it and love them back for it (morbid, I'm aware, but it really is - so many people have reached out that I lost count days ago - not that I was counting. Ahem.).
So I KNOW I need to write about all of this stuff for you still. But I am stretching it out. And I am stretching it out not only because I have a fairly solid idea of narrative structure and suspense, but also because I personally need something to look forward to.
Because, you guys, looking forward to something? That's my foothold.