A Grammatical Conundrum

Last week–between mouthfuls of pollo tapatio at my favorite restaurant, each bite, washed down with icy Corona, so exquisitely delicious that I shouldn’t have been thinking of anything else–I got it. Calling us breast cancer “survivors” is simply an elegant solution to a verb tense problem.

We who have been diagnosed with breast cancer–whenever, however many years ago–cannot use the past tense. We can’t say, “I had breast cancer,” the way we might say if, for example, we had had pneumonia. One may have pneumonia, but then, with some antibiotics and luck, one doesn’t.

And some of the more presently fortunate of us won’t say, either, that “I have breast cancer,” because hopefully we don’t. But there’s always that fear that one little cell could turn up somewhere, which is why, last week when I suffered a rotator cuff injury, my rheumatologist worried that I had bone cancer. I’d suffered a similar injury in my other shoulder, years ago, pre-breast cancer diagnosis, but that was when a shoulder injury was just a shoulder injury.

And it’s not called remission for us when we run a clean mammogram, as it is for a couple of my friends who live with hepatitis C. They’ve been through chemotherapy too, but for them there is no kidding themselves: they still have hepatitis C; it’s just not active right now. It’s not fun, but they know.

We breast cancer people, however, don’t. There are no definitive tests to give us the all-clear. It’s a special kind of anxiety for us. We might have cancer and we might not. We have moved for the rest of our lives into a DMZ, a mine field between the countries of the ill and the well.

It’s been important for me to find, for most of my moments, another way to look at this. Nobody really knows what’s happening in their bodies–the people in the well zone just enjoy more illusions. I’m really no more vulnerable than they are: I just have more information.

New Necklaces!

It’s a sort of madness, I suppose, all this bead-making and -stringing, as each necklace probably takes me half a day if I count the time making and/or sorting the beads. Once I get going, though, I find it hard to stop. The sun is shining and the weather is becoming mercifully mild, but I’m inside, waiting for the plumber to tend to a sink disaster but not minding it a bit that it’s already been five hours. I’m just loving the excuse to sit here making one wild thing after another.

Click on the image to enlarge it. Get a closer look–individually sorted out–newly posted on the Designer Artisan Jewelry Page.

Bead Day

I waited too long to get going on my bead project this time, because I made beads with a vengence, having quite a way to climb out of my irrational depression. I made beads for hours, for days. I made beads until my old nemisis, tendonitis, send my wrists back into their worn, 15-year-old black leather bowling braces.

But it worked. Just look at those colors. I had so much fun making beads that I couldn’t stop and now my wrists are too sore to string them. But that’s okay. Ice and ibuprofen and a few novels to tempt me from using my hands for a while and I’ll be fine.

But for now, observe and weep. Or, better yet, run over to your local craft, art, or hobby store and stock up on some polymer clay. All you need is a book from your public library on polymer clay bead-making, a few blocks of Sculpey or Fimo, some bamboo skewers for making holes. I also use a dedicated pasta maker, a toaster oven that I bought for $9 at a thrift store, a razor blade for clean slicing, and a block of floral foam to dry the final beads that I’ve painted with glossy varnish. (I bake my beads in the basement, as the fumes are not very breathable.)

So here they are, a bead bouquet drying on barbecue stakes. Wow. I am so cheered up. And whattaya know, all sorts of good things have begun happening. For example, I just got offered a blog job I never even applied for, and I took it. Stay tuned!

Click on an image to enlarge it.

To see some sample necklaces I make from beads like these, click here.

Click If You Love Mammograms!

There are so many hoaxes out there that perhaps this one has been suspected as well. However, according to Channel 5 KOKO in Oklahoma, this one is the real thing. Snopes.com, a website that attempts to verify the virtual virtuous and warn against the viral, has the story on the mammogram click program.

The email tree–the send-this-email-to-ten-people sort of thing–which has been used to popularize this site, isn’t my thing. I hate email trees. But I’ll happily put this on my blog:

All you have to do to help provide a free mammogram to a woman who can’t afford one is click on this link: http://thebreastcancersite.com. The hype, however, much like those airline “miles” issued by credit card companies, is a little misleading. It takes not one click but 45,000 clicks for just one mammogram to be donated. Furthermore you have to click not once but twice–once to get to the site and then click on the mammogram donation button, which sends you to a page of ads.

It’s not so much to do anymore, since the Internet speeded up. Unless you’re on a clunky connection, two clicks a day may be tolerably worthwhile.

Gallery Walk Thursday March 2nd 5-8 p.m.

Tomorrow (Thursday March 2nd) is the Celtic Gallery Walk, this month
sponsored by the one and only Friends of Celtic Culture. I missed the
publicity for the walk this month, but I will be open. Please come
visit me between 5 and 8 p.m. and check out my new gallery.

The new Mary Blocksma Gallery (just opened in November) exhibits my
paintings, including recent paintings of Bay City and Costa Rica, a
well as Bay City posters and notecards, my books about Michigan nature
and the Great Lakes, and many prints featuring my fish paintings,
Beaver Island, and more.

I have just put up a new display of watercolor studies for my next book, What’s In the Woods: A Great Lakes Treasure Hunt, due out in June.

Gypsies will be open as well for excellent coffee. Find me in the orange Gypsies building at 510 Third Street, corner of Madison, across from the Liberty convenience store.

For more information on the gallery walk, go to

http://gallerywalkbc.com/ You can download a pdf map there as well as a
list of all the downtown galleries participating.

Wine and snacks are waiting. See you tomorrow?

Report Arimidex Side Effects!

It’s not hard to do. Just go to http://www.fda.gov/medwatch/report/consumer/consumer.htm

and follow the report instructions. We need our voices heard! Too many health professionals have been dismissing these side effects, and I’ve just heard from too many miserable women to believe that it’s all in our heads. I know some of these women personally, so it’s not just coming from this blog.