Tag Archives: Jana

Dance Par-tay.

6 Aug

Sometimes I lose faith in the Universe.  Doubt rears its ugly head and says, “take that, silly girl.”  And I think what will a walk do? A WALK?  Are you kidding me?  Kids are dying, people are losing their families, and women are maiming themselves as offerings to the cancer god…but don’t worry, people, because I’m going to walk. 

Yesterday was a faith-losing day. A give it up, throw in the towel sort of day.

Today is not.  Today is a kick some ass sort of day.  Get busy living or get busy dying, right?  I have stitches, a scar and weird skin folds where my right breast should be.  So what?  If I have learned anything from this, it’s that it could always be worse. Way, way worse.

This little light of mine is going to rock 60 miles.  Walking isn’t everything, but it’s something.  And I am pretty sure that everything starts with a little bit of  something.

This morning, I offered up all I had that was good to two moms who lost their kids.  And then I blared some music and had a Dance Party.  Xia and I broke it DOWN.  I spun my drain around like it was a fire baton while Xia demonstrated his expertise at Train Hip-Hop.  And while we were dancing like maniacs, I laughed in the face of 9 surgeries, a drain and some cadaver skin.

Take that, Silly Universe.  I’m going to Thriller in your face.


p.s. I would like to point out that the Reno-Tahoe Open is going on right now.  The RTO is the only PGA tournament that has a woman as a director.  That is an obscure fact.  Unless that director happens to be your FREAKING SISTER!  YOU GO, JANA!!!  See?  Not all my genes suck.

Annika & Jana

Skin. Eeek.

18 Jul

Ah Peeps. Guess what??  Back under the kuh-nee-fay. (Get it? Knife?) And here’s the best part.  My surgeon is using EFFING CADAVER SKIN. Oh My Lort, as Jana used to say.

Or as my brother, Andy, said just this evening… “It puts the lotion on its skinnnn.”  Barf.

As a tribute to my brother, I have decided to name my new cadaver skin Hannibal.  When I do something stupid, I will blame Hannibal.  For example, trip and fall?  Oh Hannibal, stop screwing with my equilibrium.  Drink too much? Hannibal, you moron, you know I don’t like tequila.

But Really.

I am pretty grossed out by this.  In the spirit of denial, the American Way, I am watching The 40-Year Old Virgin, drinking a little iced tea (no beer for me this surgery eve – that didn’t work out so well last time), and trying very, very, VERY hard not to think about the person whose skin I will incorporate tomorrow.



– Bedbugs.

– Having to hang out with that weird guy on My Strange Addiction who is “married” to a doll.  Creeper.

– Clowns.

– Being allergic to Mexican food.

– Cancer.

See ya on the flip side.  Again.


Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying.

11 Jul

A little clarification. I don’t have breast cancer.  I have the cancer gene.

In 1999, my sister, Jodi, was diagnosed with breast cancer.  She was 37.  In 2005, our Dad was diagnosed with breast cancer (yes, you read that right, my dad).  The combination of these two was enough for the geneticists to say Come on in, pull up a seat, let’s chat.

So in 2006, we went to chat it up with the gene people.  My dad went first, and they found the BRCA2 mutation, the “breast cancer gene.”   Once my dad had the gene, the 4 kids needed to get tested.  No surprise, Jodi has it.  Jana and Andy do not.  I was the other lucky winner. The odds for us kids were 1 in 2 – what a statistically perfect family I have. 2 mutants, 2 non-mutants.  (Those of you that have met Andy are thinking hmmmmm.)

(FYI, my dad, brother and I went to the Virginia Piper Center in Scottsdale for the genetic testing, results and education process.  I can’t imagine a better place to go. These people know their stuff and convey it without the stuffiness so commonly associated with smart medical people.)

A little education – BRCA2 = BReast CAncer susceptibility gene 2. Everyone has these genes.  In normal circumstances, my understanding is that these genes are pretty helpful.  In abnormal circumstances, they are not helpful at all.  With the BRCA2 mutation, chances of breast cancer goes up to about 80%. Yikes. Chances of ovarian cancer increases dramatically, too.  And not that any cancer is exciting news, but ovarian cancer is one you really want to avoid.

I was 32 when the geneticists read my blood results and had a love-in with me.  The next step was to head to a breast surgeon and weigh your options.  My surgeon is Dr. VICTOR ZANNIS, and I will scream his name from the hilltops because he is good people.  He is GREAT people. I love him. In fact, I just decided to add him to the blogroll on my home page.

Dr. Zannis gave me two options: 1) wait and see, or 2) cut everything out.  He is not an unbiased man, and strongly favors Option 2.  As he told me, he spends his days with people who already have cancer, providing the best treatment plans he can. Can you imagine?  Day after day, telling people they have cancer.  Over and over again.  One of the many reasons I love Dr. Zannis is his compassion.  He is not bitter, desensitized or unapproachable.  I can not fathom the toll his job takes on him when he sincerely feels for every single patient he sees. I heart him.

But with me, Dr. Zannis got to say, “If you do nothing, you will probably get breast cancer. Let me operate, and I can prevent it.” Preventing cancer.  Big stuff.

To me, it sounded a lot like get busy living or get busy dying.

Get busy living I did. First was the hysterectomy. Adios ovaries, uterus, fallopian tubes and cervix.  It’s been nice knowing you, but apparently, you don’t have much to offer me except a game of Russian Roulette with lousy odds.  With this came the decision of whether to freeze my eggs and all that jazz.  We had long before the discovery of my crap-ass genes decided to adopt, and by this time, we had already brought Xia home.  If we loved a child more, our hearts would explode. I took a pass on frozen eggs.

The hysterectomy was easy.  Wam, bam, thank you ma’am (now, hello, you are a man?? Not quite, but this topic might see the light of day). No one pretended the mastectomy would be easy.  And I’d seen it a few times before, and it wasn’t pretty.  So I waited.  And waited.  And hey, we had an awful lot on our plates so I waited some more.

While I waited, there were a lot of mammograms and ultrasounds.  That’s what you do when you have the BRCA2 mutation and sit around doing nothing. And voila, they found a little something called calcification – little calcium deposits in your breasts. Normally these little calcium clusters are nothing to lose sleep over…unless they’re irregular in shape.  If they’re irregular, start losing sleep.  In fact, just stop sleeping altogether. Irregular calcification + BRCA2 = I don’t care how full your plate is, move a side dish over because this calcification here is an entree. And it will take over your plate with a little something we call cancer – maybe it already has, maybe it will in a month, maybe it will in a year, but you are not likely to beat the bad gene odds. Game on.

Near miss, my friends.  An MRI showed that I was still ok, and I was cleared for the surgery that I now could not sign up for quickly enough.  They must have found this calcium spot on about the day it made an appearance. Call it karma, call it God, call it good freaking luck, but I got myself into an OR right before Christmas of 2009. Let’s getterdone.

I am not a survivor.  (Although, frankly, it’s an easier thing to say than this lengthy explanation for why I’ve had 4 surgeries since December of ’09).  No chemo, no radiation, no hair loss, and here’s the biggie, no threat of death – I am not a survivor.  I’m a lucky mofo is what I am.  I might start a new term. Under Cancer Survivor will be Cancer Lucky Mofo. With my smiling 3-Day-Walk Ambassador face.


One of the reasons I love this image is the spelling error. I wonder how many people have taken this to the tattoo parlor?  I like this almost as much as I like people who pick Chinese symbols thinking they mean “love, faith, believe,” but really translate to “I eat fish heads for lunch.”