That Thing That All Women Do That You Don’t Know About

I have seen a number of my friends post this article, and I don’t know if it’s because of my age or my height or my general temperament, but I don’t do the behavior the article references. I mean, some of these things I have done in the past – walking with my keys between my fingers, for instance, and in college, lying and saying I had a boyfriend when I did not – but even the latter I eventually stopped. When men would ask me to dance and I didn’t want to, I’d just say no. In one case, a man continued to ask why until I finally said, “Because I’m not attracted do you. I do not find you attractive.” At that point, he walked away.

Once, before I was married (the first time), I was walking down a park path in Monterey, CA. I was listening to my Walkman (yes! That long ago!) and a – I won’t even call him a man – a loser, a waste of space, came up behind me on a bicycle and grabbed my ass. It wasn’t just a cheek, though – it was basically a goose. He slipped his hand nearly between my legs and pulled what I guess you could now call a Donald Trump. He then biked very quickly off.

I was IRATE. To the point that I basically jogged after him, asking everyone I passed if they had seen him, and which way he went. I knew exactly what I would say, and do – and it was possible he’d be going to the hospital after I found him. Luckily for him (and maybe for my criminal record) I didn’t. It still makes me angry to think about. And it wasn’t the only time I have stood up for myself or another woman – in college I once got a guy thrown out of a club for running his hand up my thigh as he walked past me. I once helped pull two drunken jerks off a girl who whispered, “Help me,” to me at a bar. What the article says is true – this nonsense happens every single day. And maybe I don’t minimize, but I also shouldn’t have to be prepared for a fight any time I go out with a dress on.

This article saddens me because so many of my friends have posted and reposted it. I wish I could go after every guy that has made you feel this way. I’m so sorry. I am sad and angry and promise there will be no minimizing if you’re out with me. I will not be quiet. We will roar together.

Politics as usual

Look, I’m not here to judge you. Unless you load your toilet paper with the flap coming out from underneath, in which case I am. And I am judging you harshly.

I grew up in a house with a Dad who had VERY STRONG political opinions. He also had VERY STRONG feelings about anyone who did not agree with his political opinions, and those feelings were VERY NEGATIVE. I saw how mad other people’s opinions made him, and how it altered his life to the point that he wouldn’t watch certain movies or buy certain products because they were directed by or endorsed by some “left-wing liberal commie,” and I made myself a promise. “That will not be you,” I promised myself. “You will not judge people based on their feelings on a political issue.”

I have remained true to this promise. I have friends all over the political spectrum. As far as I am concerned, I judge them based on their actions – the way they treat me, other people, and animals – and not based on who, in their personal opinion, based on their personal experience, is most qualified to represent them or run this country.This has largely served me very well, although I have at times been at the receiving end of other people’s judgments. And that’s really why I’m writing this.

Saw (and reposted) this meme on Facebook today:


Since the start of this election, I have seen and heard all manner of talk. People talking of deleting their friends who support a candidate they don’t like. People saying nasty, mean-spirited things about each other and about the candidates – and not just regarding their actions, but their looks, their weight, their children. I mean I literally saw a thread on Facebook where one woman referred to another woman’s YOUNG CHILDREN as ugly because the mother was a Trump supporter! How did it come to this? Thankfully I didn’t know either of those women, but I have seen people I know, love, and respect post things that are at best disrespectful and at worst truly poisonous.

This is a tough world. We have chosen each other as friends based on so many experiences, emotions, and of course on intuition. When we’ve weathered this election – and of course whatever the following four years might bring – those words will remain. Whether they’re said about someone specific, about a general group, or even about one of the candidates, any negativity you put out there will remain, and add to this toxicity of these already troubled times.

So speak, and speak with passion and conviction. But also temper that with patience and tolerance – traits so sadly lacking today. And remember…



This is so, so important. Like this woman, I knew nothing about metastic breast cancer when I was diagnosed, and only found information on it on my own after I began treatment.

I do have to add that her words and perspective are very dark and not all exactly true. I have an estrogen driven cancer but mastectomy and hysterectomy were never a suggestion made to me. Likewise, many people live many, many years with metastases. Still, it’s very important to understand metastatic breast cancer and that no one is really a “survivor” after a breast cancer diagnosis – we will all spend the rest of our lives wondering.


I am writing a whole long post on Pinktober and I hope to finish it in the next couple days, but in case I don’t, here’s a nutshell.

I am not opposed to breast cancer awareness month. I do get sick of the pink. Not every company that sells pink stuff is actually donating any of the proceeds to charity. I walk for the American Cancer Society because they personally reached out to me and had a positive impact on me during treatment. Yes a lot of these charities spend a lot of money on administration and marketing/outreach – they have to so that they can make money and actually help current sufferers. If all money went to research we still might not have a cure PLUS no one would be donating because they hadn’t heard of the charities PLUS current sufferers wouldn’t have anywhere to turn.

All that said OH MY GOD STELLA & DOT I AM DISGUSTED. I just started repping for Stella & Dot and did see they have a “Breast Cancer Awareness” line in rose gold (quite lovely, actually) with proceeds going to a charity called Bright Pink that is not yet ranked on Charity Navigator. A little shady but who knows, maybe it’s good. Then today I received a stylist email from them that contains the following phrase:

Here’s how Director, Annette Ultis, is following the 3 steps of prospecting using Breast Cancer Awareness to get her $1000!

First of all, way too many commas. And then, why not just say what you mean, gals? “Here’s how Director Annette Ultis is shilling our goods by exploiting people’s good nature and guilt for her (and our) profit!”

Absolutely abhorrent. Even though I have JUST invested in this company, I now have to consider if I want to continue working with them. They were supposedly founded by women for women, and really try to cultivate that “we’re all empowering each other” feeling, which has been a little shellacked but otherwise nice. This, however, is reprehensible. I replied and cc’ed my lead and will see how they reply, but I am feeling very betrayed and angry.

It’s funny because till now I have been very chill about Pinktober and pinkwashing – it happens, it’s the way it is, it’s not worth getting my nose all out of joint over. Thanks, S&D, for changing that for me. Grrr.

Anyhow. Feel free to join my walk team or make a donation to the ACS, which has PERSONALLY HELPED ME and other women I know with breast cancer, here:

Beyond that, buyer beware. Check your charities and be sure the company you’re supporting is in it to help people – not just in pursuit of the almighty dollar.


One Year Later – Cancerversary Post

September 11th was my one-year cancerversary. (pause for applause)

I don’t really know how I feel. And I don’t even know what I’ve covered before and I don’t feel like going back and looking so I’m just going to start fresh here. Some of the things I say might be repeats – just take it that I still feel the same, as opposed to me repeating myself.

Well, first, I had my first post-treatment mammogram yesterday. When I had my pre-treatment mammogram, it was nbd. I mean it wasn’t something I’d choose to do, it didn’t feel good, but it wasn’t awful.

Yesterday was awful.

I don’t know why and I haven’t yet googled it, but the mammo on my right breast (RB, or Ruby as she came to be known) was excruciating. It didn’t help that it had to be done at three different angles and then twice more with a magnifying lens. If you haven’t had a mammo, you probably only have a vague idea about what it entails. Essentially she took a shot of each breast with me sitting and facing the machine, one boob at a time smashed between a plastic tray and a metal tray, which are pressed together by a machine and then given a final hand crank. I then stood for all of the remaining shots, which also involved smashing. By the final shot, which was the very most painful, I started feeling nauseated. As soon as the shot was over I sat down and put my head between my legs so I didn’t pass out. Then I got all whiny and emotional and why me for a second and started to cry before I glanced at the People magazine I had been reading on the counter, which was open to a blurb about how the remains of an 11-year-old kid who’d been abducted at gun point 27 years ago had finally been found. And suddenly I realized breast cancer is honestly far from the worst thing that could happen to me.

Something I know I haven’t touched on before now is that my period came back that one time, but hasn’t returned since. The hot flashes came back with a vengeance and I definitely experienced some real sadness, verging on depression, as a result of the way my body has been affected. It’s hard because the symptoms I continue to experience aren’t from cancer, but from chemotherapy and/or radiation – I had no symptoms from cancer. So there are times when I think, maybe it would have been better if I hadn’t found it. Maybe I should have just let nature take its course and allowed the cancer to do what it was going to do. Of course that’s absurd, but sometimes the physical remnants of the treatment make me a little absurd.

I do wish they had prepared me better for what to expect after, but I suppose that would probably drastically reduce the number of people who would be willing to go through treatment, thus drastically reducing survivorship. My last chemo was March 30, so my 6-months out date will be September 30th – but if you’re really counting when that chemo was totally finished, probably more like mid-October. Six months is significant because the general consensus is that all chemo-related symptoms should resolve between six months and a year post chemo.

Symptoms I continue to struggle with include sore hips, knees, and back, stiffness after sitting, swollen, painful hands and trigger finger in the morning, hot flashes and loss of fertility, digestive issues (enough said), and of course the aforementioned tender right breast. I also have soreness and scar tissue buildup at my port incision site and also along where the catheter was so that when I stretch my head back it looks like the catheter is actually still in my neck.

All these things may sound trivial on their own, but when combined, they have presented a difficult hurdle for me. I was very strong and (I thought) healthy prior to my diagnosis and treatment, so to go from a mom who could do everything with her kids to a mom who struggles to go from sitting to standing has been a real blow. And funny enough, HAHA, I left loss of mental acuity and ability to plan and organize out in the paragraph above because I thought that was finally resolving, but AS I AM TYPING THIS my therapist just called because I was supposed to be at her office at 2 and it’s now quarter past – I completely forgot. So yeah, safe to say my brain is still being affected.

This has been an incredibly whiny post and for that I apologize. I guess the crux of what I am getting at is this: yeah, it’s over, but it’s not OVER. I have hair and eyelashes again, my mammogram was clear, I’m six months out of chemo, but I’m still affected every day, both physically and mentally. So I guess – just don’t expect rainbows and unending gratitude from breast cancer survivors. Getting the cancer out, getting through treatment, that’s a battle. But I’m still fighting the war, and I think in some ways I will be for the rest of my life. Just because cancer didn’t kill me (yet) doesn’t mean everything is back to normal. This is a longer road than I anticipated.

But I’m walking it, and I’m grateful to be doing so with so many people who love and support me.

After chemo.

Long time, no blog.

I have hair now. I’m doing well. Physically I am getting there – I have lost the chemo weight, so now just need to lose that additional 30 pounds.🙂 I feel good although I still have some joint issues including tendonitis, and I might still have C Diff – need to get another kit to be sure (SO awesome).

The main issue now I would say is my brain. Chemo kinda wrecked it.

It’s getting better – I am not losing words as much as I used to. But nor am I pre-chemo Kate. I forget things – dates, appointments, plans. Just this morning Gregory had a 9:30 appointment to get his hearing checked which we barely made because for some reason I thought it was at 10:30. I used to handle everything for our vacations – from flights to rental cars to checking us in to getting us to the airport – and now I am lucky if I handle half of that correctly. I was obsessively early or on time before chemo, and now I am lucky if I remember to be where I need to be before it’s half an hour past the time I was supposed to be there. It’s embarrassing. I have a hundred things to do today and I just sat and stared at my computer trying to think of them and couldn’t. I have a list, of course, but at one time, I could have thought of half a dozen things before even looking at my list.

One of the frustrating things about this mental impairment is that people don’t know. Everyone expects you to be messed up during chemo, but after, everyone thinks you just recover and go back to yourself. And maybe, hopefully, I will. But it hasn’t happened yet.

When you prepare for chemotherapy, you know all the possible side effects. You know how long your treatment is going to last and what to expect while you’re going through it. You know you’ll be sick. You know things will suck. What you – or at least, what I – don’t (didn’t) realize is how long lasting the effects are. I didn’t anticipate joint pain, but I really didn’t anticipate loss of mental acuity. And other people don’t really realize it either. I look healthy, yes – but every day is a challenge.

That said – would I do it differently? No. Because although I am struggling daily with the little details of life, there are two things I am not struggling with: cancer, or the looming feeling that my cancer will return and kill me. I killed it. And I’m paying the price, but I feel like, in the end, it’s a small price to pay for my life and my sanity.

Doctor Blows the Whistle on Chemotherapy

I am here today to express frustration. I have discussed a similar frustration in a previous blog, but I want to touch on it again after seeing the video referenced in the title of this blog.

Some people prefer traditional medicine, and some people prefer naturopathy. I personally prefer integrative medicine, which is a marriage of the two. I saw a naturopath during my cancer treatment and took various natural supplements to help combat effects. I just finished a cleanse to help relieve pain in my joints. At the same time, as a depression sufferer, I know for a fact that chemicals can help me live a healthier, happier life.

I took all my medical decisions very seriously. I researched each one, spoke with multiple medical professionals, and took time to think about what I was doing and why. So it makes me incredibly, incredibly angry when propaganda like this makes it way into my Facebook newsfeed. If you don’t feel like watching it, I will summarize: A “doctor” by the name of Peter Glidden spends five minutes discussing the fact that chemotherapy does not work and is simply a money-generating scam for big pharma and oncologists.

As soon as I saw the title of the video, I was curious. By the time I was halfway through, I was enraged. I couldn’t even finish it, nor did I want to. I took to the web to find out more answers, and sure enough, found a thorough debunking of this doctor’s claims on Snopes. Turns out the good doctor has based all of his research and claims on research published by another doctor in the 1950s who conducted HIS research in the 1930s. If that doesn’t seem THAT long ago to you, I point you to this summary published by the NIH, where – on the first page – you can see that 5-year breast cancer survival has risen from 60% in the early 50s to over 90% in the late 90s. Chemotherapy testing began in the 40s, so draw your own conclusions about what has led to the astounding increase in survival.

All of that background is really beside the point, however. The point is this: When things like that are shared with me, it is equivalent to saying two things. One, I am a stupid and uninformed individual who simply allowed her healthcare decisions to be guided by whatever the doctors suggested, and two, that I just wasted 4 months of my life on something that will probably kill me, or at the very least, will not help me. In fact, based on Dr. Glidden’s assertions, I only have a 3% chance of survival now that I have had chemotherapy. Of course, MY doctor says I have an over 90% chance of survival, but surely he doesn’t have my best interests at heart. He became a doctor simply to make money – not because he cares about women’s health. Thank goodness I have people like Glidden looking out for me – and telling me that now that I’ve had chemo, I am basically almost certainly going to die.

If you think, for a second, that I did not come face to face with my own mortality the instant I heard the word “cancer” over the phone, you are badly mistaken. Likewise, if you think that I do not already know and think about the fact that cancer could come back anytime, anywhere, and kill me, you simply do not understand the psychological impact of cancer. After going through chemotherapy and radiation, being told by some quack, and by whoever chooses to spread his quackery, that I am going to die based on my own INFORMED, RESEARCHED, MEDICALLY SOUND health care decisions is at best insensitive and at worst cruel.

If you truly believe the out of date, fear-mongering information Dr. Glidden is spreading, that is your decision. But understand that cancer and chemotherapy are hard enough without being told you’re making or have made a mistake. And do some research of your own before spreading his misinformation to other people, people who might already be scared as hell as it is.