Friday, April 23, 2010


For those who have been wondering what 14 screws and a metal plate looks like....
Wondering what airport security is going to do with me now.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Birth of a Blog

I have hemmed and hawed over blogging or not blogging for a while now. I even posted a query on Facebook to see if anyone would "Follow" me if I did. First and foremost there is the "Why would anyone care what I have to say?" feeling at the gut of the issue. Second is the concern over the time that blogging would take away from the "real" writing I am trying to do to get my memoir written. Then, the other night on g-chat, my good friend Michelle Citrin (a.k.a "Matza Girl" in our family) suggested I do some blogging. “So people can check you out,” she typed. “You can build a following and a web presence.”

Michelle has always been a muse of mine for letting my creative side fly. She is an innovator and an artist. She told me about a networking site called “Friendster” long before Facebook came into vogue. Michelle is the one who envisioned me dancing onto the stage of the Ellen Show to announce the publication of my book. As a musician Michelle has created her own successes from the first show I saw her play at a Border’s store in Fairlawn, New Jersey. Now she gigs all over New York and travels to play in places like Israel and California. Michelle has been named a “YouTube Sensation” and most recently got hired to create a soundtrack for the Broadway version of “Sleepless in Seattle.” So, if Michelle suggests a way to get my work out to the world, I listen. She is a person to follow and to get the pleasure of knowing. Check out this link to see her in action and understand why she got the nickname from our family:

The same idea was suggested in the "Writer's Digest" I just finished reading. There was an article on how blogs are the way a lot of current writers have gotten their audience. Another talked about using the web as a way to self publish and sell other products just based on social networks. Word-of-mouth is the way to go in today’s world, and connections are what it is all about. With today's communication and social networking systems, you can have direct contact with hundreds of people daily. With a blog you get the instant gratification of hitting “Publish” every time.

I take this new opportunity as another sign from breaking my leg. It is imperative that I derive some meaning from this challenge; otherwise I wouldn't leave the couch and the Today Show for three months. But, I am not that kind of person. I mean, if you are EVER going to start a blog and a regular writing practice, the three months you have to just sit and heal provide the perfect chance. I can’t do a lot of the things that I love to do or that help pay the bills, so why not write? I've made a lot of wishes for time to write my memoir. Be careful what you ask for, right?

My best friend from High School, Leah Levin, dubbed me the "hub" at one point to describe my social stature in our group of friends. She relied on me to connect her with other folks in our community, to tell her about what was going on, and explain how people were related to each other. During my surgeries this past year I relied more than ever on this community or "security hammock" as I like to describe it. There were people and resources buoying me up with each crashing wave.

“I can’t believe how fortunate I am,” I would say over and over again.

And the response was consistent, some iteration of "You made this for yourself." I try to take that in and believe it. Still I give thanks for all the ways I have been held up through all of this. I would do the same for others if I could. I have given of myself and made myself available to people in a way that they are happy to give back. Or, they know that if they ever needed something I would be there if I could.

This blog is the convergence of these two things. The deep love and appreciation I have for community being the very vehicle to get my words and stories out to the world. You are the ones who have read this far along in this post. Namaste.

The Breast Reason To Blog

The most transformational years of my life have been during this last decade. There were the blessings of getting married and becoming a mother. And there was a lot of loss: My mother, father, and sister all died within six years of each other. My mother and my sister were both breast cancer survivors for years before it took their lives. Due to this, I lived this last decade with a pink breast cancer target on my chest, waiting for my time to come.

Last year I tested positive for the BRCA2 gene that gives me an 87 percent likelihood of having breast cancer in my lifetime. Most of these cases are also marked by early onset in the 30s and a strong likelihood of ovarian cancer to boot). Suddenly, instead of being an observer and care-giver of cancer, and a pink-ribbon event and fundraising guru, the story was now my own. I decided to take action to change my genetic predisposition for cancer and have a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction.

When I went into all this last year I had two natural breasts that had served me well from puberty through breast feeding both my daughters. Surgery Number 1 took my original boobies and in eight hours on the operating table made two new mounds from my stomach (known as a DIEP flap). I elected to take the minuscule chance of cancer coming in the nipple to have skin and nipple sparing surgery, hoping for the most natural looking result possible. All seemed well enough for a little while, but things didn’t heal even after a few months. Surgeries 2 through 4 became necessary when a MRSA virus wiped out my new left breast and a subsequent tissue expander that had been placed in my chest to make space for an implant when the natural tissue breast failed. What remained after that was my worst fear, no breast on the left side, or what my husband so aptly dubbed “the flopped soufflĂ©.”

I spent the next few months on various antibiotics, wearing a plastic prosthetic boob that, above all else, will offer me some very funny and painful stories over the year. In November I had a new tissue expander put in my chest (Surgery 5 if you are counting). The following three months were spent getting “filled” each week with about two tablespoons of fluid until my left breast ballooned up to match my right breast. After Surgery 6 to take out the expander and place my new implant, I was back to a new kind of new. Again with two breasts, plus a bunch of scars, some silicone, and an asymmetric silhouette.

These stories feel meant to be shared, and this compels me to write and blog. The current working name of my memoir is Life in Asymmetry.