Monday, June 13, 2011


no port? no problemo.
I've been struggling all day to choose the words that don't sound too over the top or hyper-dramatic to describe what the past few days have been like.  I haven't quite found the right ones, but I decided to just sit down and write anyway.

I know I wrote about some odd symptoms I was having a few weeks ago, and over the past week, they definitely worsened.  I quickly stopped taking all of the new meds I was put on (by 2 separate doctors), but the symptoms did not stop (as I thought they would).  So, last night, mommy and I went over to the ER to get to the bottom of this worsened fatigue, shortness of breath, lightheadedness and a new dull pain in my shoulder.

Of course, I was certain these are signs of the cancer having returned, after only 3 short months of remission, and the only way to know for sure is to do a pet scan.  Unfortunately, I had one of those 3 short months ago and so I can't have another one for another 3 months.  I can have a ct, though, so after meeting the on-duty nurses, physician assistants and doctors (which = tell your story until you're blue in the face), I eventually make it to the scan room.  I am scanned (not because they think C is back) because they think I may have another blood clot (had one last year in June after round one of chemo).

pocket has a secret opening for a port.
Luckily, the report showed a few good things:  marked decrease in size of mass (of scar tissue), no fluid (or pleural effusion) in the lungs, all else is clear.  On the down side, they did see a small "infiltrate" in the left lower lobe, which was diagnosed as pneumonia.

I just love pneumonia.

I will say, I dig the speed and efficiency with which the ER gets things done (at Abington, at least).  I was in and out in 4 hours with bloods, ct, results and a filled prescription all completed.  Now, 24 hours later, I will say that the shortness of breath has definitely improved, the fatigue and lightheadedness, not as much.  As my mom says, we're still climbing out of the hole.


Separately, we lost Auntie Laura last night.  Laura Ziskin, the mother of my dear sister-in-law, died from metastatic breast cancer.  My brother, sister-in-law and Laura's husband, Uncle Alvin, were all with her at home.  I imagine she was quite pissed.  As, of course, am I.

I had always admired Laura's work (from my brother's point of view) until I met her at the SU2C telethon in 2008.  Prior to that, I knew she had become part of my brother's left coast family and I had always enjoyed looking for her name in the credits of whatever movie I was watching (chances were she was involved somehow, if not in charge of the whole kit and kaboodle).  My parents and I flew out to LA to watch the show live in the Kodak Theatre, our eyes filled with tears right from the start.  Even though cancer had taken family members from me, I was still just "touched by" and not yet "in the fight" myself.  My feelings about the big C weren't those of outrage and anger, but just sadness and sorrow.

Then we went back for the beautiful wedding the following Spring (two years ago - almost to the date).  And we became "family".  When I began my diagnosis and treatment adventures last year, Laura was right there - a phone call away - to talk to me about what I should wear or eat (or swallow the night before) that might make it all a bit easier to handle.  Remember the wigs?  They came from her in a perfectly-timed care package just after my hair had taken hiatus and I was way down in the dumps.

in the chair, in the fight.
My admiration for her became less for the movies she made (although I had seen Pretty Woman at least 50 times before my brother even met his future wife) and more for the gumption she had to stand up for herself and the rest of us.  Her vision and her will to defy odds.  She was truly and deeply inspiring last September, as I watched the second telethon from the happy chair after round 5 kept me local.  She was interviewed wig-less during the pre-show (beautifully produced, I might add) which moved me - as a still-bald, in-the-fight, feeling-crappy, cancer goddess.  I remember her describing herself as a "pissed off patient" and I felt so connected at that moment, just less angry and more feeling defeated.  I wanted someone to rile every body up, cuz quite frankly, you SHOULD be pissed off.  This is getting ridiculous and we shouldn't have to take it.

That admiration has not changed one bit.  I will always adore that spirit, the feisty nature that helped her become a success on many levels.  I wish I could say I was mad as hell, but I'm not quite there yet.  I feel sad for the rest of us that she's gone.  I feel robbed for my sweet sister who had to say goodbye way too soon.  And of course it rears the fear that if this can happen to LZ, it can happen to anyone.

In trying to bring myself some comfort minus the calories, I've been reading all of the lovely words other people have written for and about Laura today.  My two favorites:

"Laura always said 'I hate to wait' (she hated to wait!) and as this sad sad day closes, the thought I have to share is - don't.  Don't wait to help someone you can help, or to love someone as you would if you have to say goodbye, don't wait to make a small change in your life, or a great one.  Live in the way you will want to be remembered, and love as much as you can." - Bedonna Smith (friend and colleague)

"Her work trying to help others with cancer was the sort of heroism that makes Peter Parker look like a wuss." - Matt Singer of IFC News



  1. OMG....I have no words...just read your entry. sending you my love,


  2. That was a beautiful tribute, Mia.

    I bet the pneumonia dx had you almost dancing your way out of the ER. Now, rest up!

  3. Still digesting this post. So many powerful thoughts and moments. Loving the pneumonia. May it put to rest as many symptoms as possible. When we heard the news about Laura, it was devastating. We knew she'd been incredibly generous to you, but it sounds like you and she shared the same fiesty impatience and straight talk. Perhaps the ultimate tribute is that in addition to being a visionary and glass ceiling breaker, in the world of Hollywood, Laura remained a generous, loving person. Much love