Frequently Asked Questions...
Site Navigation and Content:
I heard there were surgery (medical, bloody, nude, boobie, etc.)
photographs here, but I can't find them? Where are they?!
You will please take note that there are navigational links along
the top of the page and also along the left hand side... one of the
links listed along the top is 'Breast Cancer Photos, Reports, Etc.". After clicking on this
link the navigational links along the left hand side should change
to include things like "Photos" and "Reports"... clicking on
"Photos" will change the main page (which you are looking at now) to a
listing of different cancer-related surgeries and other procedures
and experiences that I've had
photographed. Clicking on one of the surgeries listed ought to
take you to the page you're looking for (and probably some that you're not). The photos may take a
while to load completely in some cases, and please keep in mind that
they are surgical photos and may contain blood and other ookiness...
don't look if these things are going to offend you.
How do you get photographs of your
I ask, nicely. And way in advance.
In my experience, if I ask politely and give the surgeon time to
consider it, they're generally willing to work in some sort of
photography option. In some cases I've brought my own digital
camera and a nurse or other staff member has taken photos as time
allows, and in other cases the hospital has already had a camera and
staff member available for such needs. I've not yet had a
surgeon refuse completely, but I would understand if they did.
They're doing something important and a camera could be a
distraction as well as a liability. If you're about to have
surgery my advice would be to be as polite and accommodating as
possible and I'm pretty sure you'll be able to work out some way to
get photographs. I would credit these photographers, but in
the first place I don't know who all of them are on account of being
unconscious and in the second place I am keeping all hospital
locations and staff anonymous out of respect for their privacy.
How do you get copies of all of those lab
results and reports?
Again I ask, nicely. I'm not sure,
honestly, whether or not doctors and medical practices are required
by law to release all of those documents to their patients, but I've
never had anyone refuse outright. I have, however, had some of
them not be able to deliver them in a very timely manner, and that's
somewhat understandable. My file at some of these offices must
be gigacious, and looking for a specific report, copying it, and
sending it my direction probably takes a lot of time. If you
want to get copies of everything pertaining to your own medical
condition, my advice would be to let your doctors know that this is
your intention from the start, so they can have their office staff
prepared to make you copies as a standard procedure. Also keep
in mind that copies of most of these things are sent to your primary
care physician, so if you have a closer relationship with them it
may work better to go to them for your copies.
What kind of camera and other equipment do you use to shoot your
When it's my camera being used, I use a 4.0 megapixel CD Mavica by
Sony (MVC-CD400), which I absolutely love for a number of reasons.
For one thing, it burns to CDs (mini camera CDs), which is very
handy if you're going to be taking a large number of photographs and
don't want to worry about uploading photos or additional memory
chips. For another thing, thanks to the aforementioned CD burner,
the Mavica is about the size of a normal 35mm camera, which to me
feels a lot better when taking pictures or video. Speaking of video,
the Mavica does that as well... each CD holds approximately twenty
minutes of video with sound. Woot. When it's not my
camera (such as when the hospital or surgical team provides their
own camera) I can't really say... usually I'm not even awake.
Do you really expect people to send you
Expect people to send me money? No.
Hope some people might send me money? Yes. This whole
process has been incredibly expensive. A month of my chemo is
something like seven thousand dollars, and my insurance doesn't
cover all of that. Of course the hospitals and doctors are
very understanding and reasonable, but I'm pretty positive that I'm
accumulating an amount of medical debt that I may very well never be
able to pay back. And those are just medical expenses... I used
to get by (barely) with the resources I had available but now that
I'm paying for extra drugs and treatments and traveling I don't have any money for
anything else. It would be nice to have even ten dollars here
and there to buy the little things that I run out of like shampoo or
vacuum cleaner bags or something to eat that isn't ramen. If
some stranger is entertained or educated by this site (which also
costs a small bit of money, by the way) and wants to reciprocate
with a bit of money, I am most certainly not too proud to accept.
I'd be glad to accept. I would throw an 'accept help from the
stranger' party. Well, I would if I wasn't too
poverty-stricken and sleepy, heh.
Speaking of, say I was interested in
sending you money... how would I do that?
Well, if you have a credit card or PayPal
account, there's a handy 'donate' button to the left there, at the
bottom of the navigational links. If you don't, my mailing
address is listed under the 'contact' link, and money orders or
checks are acceptable, too. If you want to help out with
things like art supplies those could be sent there, too. Or
baggy pants, even. I could really use some baggy pants.
Or even gift cards to places where you can buy art supplies or
groceries or baggy pants.
If you're so broke, why don't you get rid
of some pets or move in with family?
First of all, I consider my pets to be
family... there is seldom such a source of unconditional love as a
family pet. Secondly, I continue to be optimistic that this
whole cancer treatment situation is a temporary hurdle that I will
either move past or successfully work into my lifestyle and then
wouldn't it be sad if I reached that point homeless and without my
pets? People are often quick to give up their homes or pets
when things aren't going their way and this isn't really a trend I
can support. One of the funniest things I ever read online was
an advertisement (fake, of course) from a couple looking to rehome
their baby because they were about to adopt a pet, and a similar
piece on a couple looking to rehome their children because they were
moving to an apartment complex that didn't allow them. Now,
that being said, I did rehome some of my pets when I was first
diagnosed. I was raising chinchillas and sugar gliders (on a
very small scale) at the time, and I was concerned that if my health
declined or my treatments were too rigorous I wouldn't be able to
give them adequate care. I made a very difficult series of
decisions as to which pets I would best be able to take care of,
which pets I couldn't do without on an emotional level, and which
pets really didn't care who took care of them as long as they got
raisins at the appropriate time.
Website and Graphic Design:
Would you be interested in my services as an artist, graphic
designer, or webmaster?
Erm... no. While I'm glad that people enjoy my site enough that they
would like to participate in it's creation, it's my own personal
project and I reserve the opportunities to work on it solely for
myself and my close friends. I'm not interested in paying, trading,
or even accepting for free the artistic or design efforts of anyone
else at this time. If you're so amazingly talented (and I'm not
saying you're not) then you should channel your efforts into your
own personal artistic project, yes? I don't have a lot of
control over other aspects of my life at the moment, so I'm going to
run with this one.
I think I could do a much better job on your site layout or
Well, good for you. Now stick it up your arse. I design my own site
and graphics, and I enjoy it. There are a lot of people that do a
lot of things better than me, and that doesn't mean I'm not going to
do them. If you really want to put those skills to use, make your
own site... I'm sure it will be so fabulous that it's the only site
anyone will ever look at, and you'll put the whole rest of the
internet out of business. In fact, perhaps you already did and some
asshat is reading my FAQ from some sort of microfiche archive in a
library of the future.
I have a great merchandising idea... are you interested?
Unfortunately, I can't really be bothered with merchandising at this
time. There are only a few ways that merchandising can work, and
none of them really work for me. First, I can deal with a business
that creates merchandise for me when customers order it, but this is
unacceptable in that the delay will be too long in getting the
merchandise to the customer. Alternately I could pre-order
merchandise from a business, but then I'm laying out investment
money that I can't really afford on merchandise that may or may not
sell. Yet another way merchandise can be handled is that the
business in question handles the entire process and then cuts me a
percentage at the end, but this also fails to work since I have no
way to monitor the actual sales or the level of customer service
offered to the purchaser. All of those difficulties aside, I haven't
the time right now to even deal with merchandising in any way... my
health and schedule just don't permit it. Should I decide to explore
merchandising possibilities in the future, any efforts I make would
be along the same lines as my efforts concerning my site in
general... anything I couldn't do entirely for myself would be
shared with my close, personal friends and not an outside agency or
individual. If you really do have such a great merchandising idea,
my suggestion is to go into business for yourself and make a ton of
money, investing it in mansions, cabana boys, and rocketship
Would you be willing to do some design work
for me? How about some freelance illustration work?
Erg, that's a tough one. On one hand I
am amazingly poor right now and any paying gig would be fantastic.
On the other hand, the same fatigue, arthritis, and other
unpredictable health issues that prevent me from holding down a
regular job can easily prevent me from finishing any freelance work
in a timely manner. I guess the best answer here is... email
me about it? Perhaps if you're not too concerned about
deadlines and it's not too large of an undertaking we can work
something out. Keep in mind, though, that it can take me a
significant amount of medication in order to finish some of the
design and illustration pieces you see here, so I probably won't be
willing to take on commission work for less than what it would cost
me to finish it.
You mention a lot of other health problems... what are they?
which is an incurable (at this point) sometimes hereditary (this is
debatable) autoimmune disease
that causes your immune system to lose track of what it should be
fighting so it also attacks your own tissue and organs. This
generally results in pain, severe fatigue, arthritis,
photosensitivity, and organ failure. While the disease itself is
incurable, most of the symptoms can be manageable to some extent
through use of medication and careful living. Le sigh. I've also
been diagnosed with an odd sort of narcolepsy. Not catalepsy, mind
you, which is when someone falls asleep immediately and without
warning (like you see in the movies), but a strong need to sleep nearly all the time (twelve to
twenty hours a day) and a frequent inability to wake up. I've
participated in many sleep studies and the results indicated that my
brain waves were similar to those of a sleeping person even when
awake... I wonder what I would be like if I was all the way awake,
heh. I have a crazy amount of arthritis in my spine that at
times is almost crippling. It's so bad that it showed up on
some of the preliminary cancer scans and I spent an agonizing three
days thinking I had cancer in my spine. Not a lot of my health
issues truly bother me, but this is something I'm always trying to
remedy. Recently (comparatively) I've also managed to develop
a fairly aggressive breast cancer. I totally did not win the
genetic lottery. In fact, when I found out about the cancer on
top of everything else I called my parents and asked them if they
were related to each other, but they didn't think that was funny.
How did you find out you had breast cancer?
I was on stage doing a striptease in a small,
local club when I felt a lump in my breast. Yep, I discovered
my breast lump on stage, half-dressed, in front of a small group of
strangers. It felt wrong to me immediately (the lump, that is)
but as it was a Saturday I waited until Monday morning to schedule
an appointment with my family doctor. He fit me in
immediately, confirmed my fear that the lump was indeed a tumor of
some sort, and sent me off right away for a mammogram which became
an ultrasound which turned into a needle biopsy that came back
"cancer". All of that happened that first Monday, but it took
a couple of days to get the full results back from those tests and
about a week to continue with further scans and testing to determine
whether or not the cancer had spread beyond my breast (luckily it
Exactly what stage / type of breast cancer
I'm using "was" here instead of "is" because
hopefully it's gone now... the surgery came back with all of the
edges being clean, and clean lymph nodes, and after over a year of
other preventative surgeries and chemotherapies and such treatments
I'm going to remain optimistic that whatever it was they got it all.
As for what exactly it was, it's been hard for me to pin down an
exact answer as far as staging and type goes. It was a large
tumor and it grew incredibly fast, so they said it was considered
more serious than other cancers that might have spread farther but
weren't so aggressive. The tumor doubled in size in just the
two weeks between diagnosis and removal. It tested positive
for the HER2 protein, which adds another drug to my treatment
regimen, and responded positively to hormone deprivation, which
prompted me to go ahead with a full hysterectomy (okay, I've
honestly always wanted a hysterectomy, so that part was kind of a
bonus). So, I don't have a pat answer for you here, but
hopefully if you're truly curious the photos and lab results ought
to be enough to tell you anything you want to know about what sort
of cancer it was.
Physical Appearance (Tattoo
Questions go here...):
Why did you ruin your body with all of those tattoos?
This question may seem strange to those of you who enjoy (or at
least don't mind) tattoos, but amazingly I get it all of the time.
There's something about tattoos that causes otherwise well-mannered
people (who would *never* waltz up to somebody and criticize their
clothing or haircut) to share their unsolicited negative opinion
with the general public. Obviously, I don't consider it ruined... I
happen to like tattoos and am very pleased with the pieces I have.
If you don't like it, nobody is forcing you to look, and I suspect
you will have a much better time in life after you realize that not
everyone is going to conform to your personal standards of beauty
Did you get the chest tattoo before or
after your surgery?
This question tends to come from people who
didn't (or don't want to) look at the surgery photos. I got
the dragon tattoo on my chest well before surgery... about ten years
ago. I was pleasantly surprised that they worked so hard to
save the whole thing. The medical profession's view on tattoos
seems to have changed (for the better) in the last few years.
They even called in a second surgeon just to draw the surgical lines
in such a way as to save as much of my tattoo as they could.
Did that chest tattoo hurt?
all tattoos hurt. It didn't hurt more than any of my other
tattoos, really. Well, it may have hurt more than the one
between my shoulders... that one didn't hurt very much. It
certainly hurt less than the one on my tailbone, that one hurt like
a motherfu... erm... that one hurt a lot. If you've never
gotten a tattoo before, I guess the best explanation is that tattoo
pain is relative. It depends on how sensitive your own body is
in different areas, and it also depends on things like whether or
not you've gotten enough rest and eaten a good meal that day.
One thing I can say, though, is that you should be very careful what
you take for pain relief before getting a tattoo. A lot of
pain relievers thin your blood, and thinner blood can negatively
affect how the ink takes to your skin (or how your skin takes to the
ink, I don't know). Definitely stay away from alcohol... not
only does it thin your blood, but it also thins your judgment, heh.
Do you plan on getting any more tattoos?
Yes, but I don't plan on becoming an 'illustrated lady', exactly. I
would like to finish the color on my chest piece, expand the piece
on my tummy (to completely encircle my belly button), expand the
pieces on my upper and lower back, and also get partial sleeves
(from the middle of my upper arm to just below my elbow). These will
mostly be traditional style floral and Asian designs, and won't be
for quite a while... the way my finances are I won't be in the
market for new tattoo work for a long, long time. Additionally, my
tattoo artist up and moved to Michigan (or some other foreign
country) and now on top of all of my financial hurdles I will have
to research a new one... eep.
What kind of example do you think you're setting for other cancer
I don't actually think I'm setting an example, or establishing a
reputation, for anyone aside from myself. This is my own personal
website, and it doesn't represent anyone but me. If somebody is
worried that other people may perceive them unfavorably because they
share a common experience with me, then that person has a lot more
time than I do and probably has had multiple experiences that I
haven't (or at least they should). On a related note, does Pamela
Anderson represent all actresses, does Dennis Rodman represent all
professional athletes, or does Brian Griffen represent all cartoon
Would you be interested in being my friend, or meeting up with
me sometime? Can we hang out? Want to go on a date?
No, not really... I wouldn't be interested at all. I'm not
interested in dating right now, and even if I was I wouldn't be
looking for my Mister Right over the internet... I in fact wouldn't
be looking at all (I would be content to follow my path in life
until I chanced to run across Mister Right on my own, with no extra
effort, when the time was right). Also, put yourself in my shoes for
a minute... I have to sleep most of the day, and spend much of my
time being ill, so I seldom have enough time to spend with the close
friends that I already have... why would I spend even less time with
my current friends to make time for a stranger? I don't, however,
mind exchanging the occasional email with people who share similar
hobbies or interests; just don't expect it to develop into anything
more than that.
Is it true that you're an avid gamer?
Of course not. I have to run away right now and not play any
computer or role-playing games. I will be busy not playing any
games the rest of the day, in fact, so don't email me or anything.
In fact, I should go and not play some games right now...
What games do you play currently?
Currently I play EverQuest II and World of Warcraft, and I also
participate in an AD&D d20 campaign that my friends run a few times
a week when I feel up to it. In the past (when I could afford it) I
played Ultima Online and Final Fantasy XI.. In the future I hope to
go back to Final Fantasy XI (it's a lot of fun), but my time is so
limited... poot. When I'm feeling nostalgic I occasionally play a
game from my Infocom collection. I play pinball as well, of course,
but I'm no wizard...
And now for something completely different... some questions that
I frequently ask:
What the heck is up with that hideously dubbed Febreze
commercial? Can they not afford actors that can talk?
It's very off-putting...
If "lawyer up" means to protect yourself with lawyers, and
"mob up" means to protect yourself with the mafia, why does "cowboy
up" not mean to protect yourself with cowboys?
Well, that's it for now, but I'll be adding more questions as I
field them in emails and in person. If you can think of a
question that ought to be included here, please feel free to email
me about it.