Sep 29 2005

One Out Of Seven

Although some would question the sanity of publishing the following personal detail on the World Wide Web, there are several reasons I now confide to thousands of total strangers that yesterday I came down with a nasty case of breast cancer.

For one thing, I blame the patriarchy for it.

For another thing, I plan to use it as an excuse when I’m too lazy to post to the blog.

For another thing, although this will by no means turn into CancerBlog, it seems unlikely that I will be able to refrain–at least occasionally–from drawing for some excellent patriarchy-blaming on what promises to be months of harrowing and humiliating experiences in the dudely world of Women’s Medicine.

For another thing, one out of seven (or five, or eight, depending on who you talk to) women gets this muthafucka. So go check your boobs, and do it now.

But what about the men???? Don’t worry, fellas! I’ve consulted with the other feminists, and they’ve decided you can get breast cancer, too.

The urgent stupid crap to which I alluded yesterday is the requisite battery of tests to which one reluctantly submits when one inadvertently discovers boobal lumpage. I’ve got’em today. I’ve got’em tomorrow. I’ve got’em next week.

It sucks.

But don’t worry; dudely research suggests there’s an 85% survival rate, and dudes are never wrong! I just wanted yall to know that if my posting becomes somewhat erratic and I fail to effervesce with my usual vim, it’s nothing personal.

And, no,  I’m not gonna put a fucking pink ribbon on my car.


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  1. res publica

    I guess “I’m really sorry to hear that” is a pretty retarded understatement. I’ll be thinking about you, and hoping for your continued strength and a speedy recovery.

  2. WookieMonster

    Shit Twisty, snuggle Bertie extra and don’t let the patriarchy of the medical professionals get you down.

  3. Crys T

    I don’t know what to say, except we’re out here thinking of you.

  4. Jodie

    Of course it’s the patriarchy’s fault. Just don’t let it keep you from patriarchy blaming ’cause we’re all counting on you.

    (and big hugs from me to you — I’m glad you found it early)

  5. Elise

    Oh, Twisty! Fuck, fuck, fuck. I blame the patriarchy, too. I hear cute dogs retard tumor growth, so at least you’ve got that going for you. Please do keep us posted. You’ll be in my thoughts.

  6. Hissy Cat

    I’m so sorry, Twisty. I’ll be thinking about you and wishing you a speedy and painless recovery.

  7. Kyra

    Suggestion: before your appointments with the Medical Division of the Patriarchy, read something you find inspirational and empowering. Not only will this give you something pleasant to think about while you’re in the doctors’ office, but you can then be on top of your game, alert and ready to shoot down any misogyny that comes your way.

    Other suggestion: research doctors in your area and have a backup available, so that if the current doctor pisses you off too badly, you can tell him to fuck himself, loud enough for the entire office to hear, and walk out. Or, at the very least, not have to put up with his shit. Personally, I find blowing up at (and/or condescending to) examples of patriarchal assholery to be very therapeutic.

    Oh, yeah, third suggestion: research breast cancer and treatments thereof, consider what is best for you considering your situation, side effects, etc. It is an unpleasant fact of patriarchy that some doctors recommend treatments more severe than necessary, or without concerning themselves much with the side effects (after all, *they* aren’t the ones who’ll have to deal with the side effects), or push the treatment which they are most familiar with rather than the one that’s best for you, or even the one that’ll make them the most money. They will also often self-refer (they recommend the procedure and do it themselves)—get a second opinion. Always.

    Blame the patriarchy, because doctors are often uncaring assholes who often care more about being able to think of themselves as competent and in charge than actually being a good doctor.

    Best of luck, Twisty.

  8. delphyne

    Oh Twisty, I’m very sorry that’s happened to you. I hope you get everything you need to heal and all the strength you require to get through it.

  9. Pinko Punko

    They are just trying to get you to do the ribbon thing. You are the total Government and Champion of this cancer deal. It doesn’t have a chance. Just rock its world, and go with the dudely research, no magic beans, OK?

  10. Sylvanite

    Wow, Twisty. I’m sorry to hear that. Make sure you get a good surgeon. At least the prognosis should be good, but nobody likes to hear the “C” word. Take it easy, and play with Bertie lots.

  11. Laura

    Dear Twisty,

    Almost everyone in my hemisphere has had breast cancer, including my mother. And you know what? All of them are still alive, kickin’ patriarchal ass (with the exception of said mom, who is quite alive, but happens to love the patriarchy and its minions) and doing great. I have sat with said friends and mom though biopsies, chemo (what we refer to as “the big horseshoe barcalounger hall of fame”)and the rest of it.

    To say it sucks is an understatement, and for patriarchy blamers even more so, dealing with, as you put it, the dudely world of womens medicine. But you will be fine, and you will kick the B.C.’s ass. Sending you good vibes from the this patriarchy-marinated backwater of North Carolina.


  12. Chris Clarke

    Twisty, if there’s anything I can do, please don’t hesitate to ask.

    I’m glad to hear about that over-under. If at any point you start to pay more attention to the 15 than the 85, check out this article by Stephen Jay Gould, assuming you haven’t already seen it. It’s helped a few of my friends in similar straits.

  13. ehj2

    oh, twisty,

    with all the love it is legal to send,


  14. deja pseu

    Ah, Twisty, that just bites. I’ll second what someone else said about getting second (and third and fourth if necessary) opinions on treatment options. They do vary widely, and you’re the one who has to go through it. I’ll be holding a good thought for you.

  15. Q Grrl

    Argh. I’m sorry to hear this. Perhaps there is a surgeon out there that can channel your brilliance and cutting wit into an appropriate cure! Good luck with everything.

  16. David Parsons

    Well, that sucks dead bunnies through a straw. <AOL>What everyone else said for support.</AOL>

  17. nina

    Oh, Twisty, that’s super crap, for sure. But yes, you have the best defenses: puppy love, tacos, and lots of loyal readers to send you the love.

  18. BitingBeaver

    Damnit Twisty, damnit, damnit, damnit. It *is* the Patriarchy’s fault, it’s probably something in the bread! But I know that you, the foremost specialist in the field of Patriarchy blaming will kick it’s ass.

    On a more serious note, try to keep your chin up and know that everyone here loves you madly and will do any number of things to be here for you.

    Take care Twisty.

  19. norbizness

    Best of luck, Twisty, if you need anybody to make a run to Sandy’s for some frozen custard and onion rings, let me know. Sorry I can’t meet-up for coffee this Saturday, but I’m sure we’ll hang out soon.

  20. piny

    Everyone else has given their good wishes more eloquently than I can, so I’ll just go with the heartfelt standard: I’m so sorry to hear it, Twisty. I hope you get better soon. I’m sure we’ll all do our utmost to patriarchy-blame during your sick leave.

  21. CafeSiren

    I’m sending waves of love from the left coast, Twisty.

    Hold out against the pink ribbons. If *you* cave in, there’s no hope for any of us.

  22. LCGillies

    Whatever you do, please keep posting if you can. Your screeds are one of the few powers standing between me and early-onset male brain damage.

    My theory is that your odds as a patriarchal ass-kicking twisty spinster aunt will be better in dealing with this—belief provides stronger support than pragmatism for surviving the horrors with which we are sometimes visited, as Viktor Frankl has told us.

    Meanwhile, if only to ensure we all have an adequate diet of rigorous, funny, well-written and scathingly incisive counter-criticism of the vast deluge of dudely mindcontrol, I will be thinking of you and hoping it is as tolerable is it can possibly be.

  23. D Bunny

    Thinking of you and wishing you the best.

  24. Steve

    Like everybody else said, we’re rootin’ for you. It’s good that you have a puppy.

    And there seems to be a fine group of patriarchy-blamers here to whom you can no doubt delegate, on the occasions that you have to lay off blogging for a bit to concentrate on crushing the cellular rebellion.

  25. Erin

    Oh, Twisty! First the obstreperal/wazoo problems, and now this! I don’t have anything to say except that’s a shitty deal and you shouldn’t have to go through it.

    And I would totally make out with you, Twisty: you’re the greatest. And I’m a straight girl, more or less.

  26. ursa

    Two friends I have with this have come through ok, only one blames patriarchy but she is doing it with as much gusto as ever.

  27. Sam

    What they said.

  28. Mandos

    This is a generic sorry-to-hear-about-it, get-well-soon post. I’m not creative enough to come up with something more creative.

  29. fayrene

    What everyone else said. Twisty, you are an inspiration to me. When you beat this, it will serve as confirmation that patriarchy-blaming is a superpower.

  30. AndiF

    I wish I could turn my extreme admiration for your bright mind and beautiful words into a guaranteed cure. Take care of yourself and never hesitate to take advantage of everyone around you that can help make your life a little easier.

  31. magikmama

    Would you be offended if I put a huge black ribbon on my car that says “Support the Patriarchy-Blamers” ?

    I’m think satin – with nice green letters and a taco in the center.

  32. bitchphd

    Oh, crap. Crap crap crappity crap crap.

    I hope the patriarchy has provided you with top-notch health insurance. Kick their asses if not, and demand everything you need and want and a few things you don’t care one way or the other about, just to keep the bastards on their toes. Here’s hoping all the tests show that it’s contained, small, and easily gotten rid of. Take good care of yourself, and let Bert do the laundry, or something. And yes, as other commenters said, do let us know if there is anything the internets can do for ya…


  33. Anonymous

    From what I read in SCIENCE and NATURE and other sources, there are great research strides in analyzing the biochemistry of tumor tissue to determine which cases are fairly benign and which cases are more likely to relapse. May I suggest you contact the oncology dept. at Sloan-Kettering or M.D. Anderson (New York City and Houston, respectively) to see what tests might be run on your own tissue and make sure either your local medical people do the work or send the tissue samples to someone who knows what I am talking about. It would also be a good idea to have some of the tissue preserved for study in a year or two as this research advances. I am no doctor and am not even a scientist, but I know about microarrays and other means of studying tumor genetics and proteins and the ongoing efforts to segregate those cases out from the most vigorous therapy which are unlikely to relapse anyway.

  34. Ancrene Wiseass

    Oh, Twisty. This is just crappy. I’m so sorry. But if anybody could bravely fight the patriarchy and boobal lumpage at the same time, that person would surely be you.

    And anyway, Twisty has a posse. Let us know if we can help.

  35. miz_geek

    Let me add my voice to the chorus of “Oh craps” and “I’m sorry to hear that.” That sucks big fat donkey dicks. Damn patriarchy!

  36. d.e.i.x.i.s.


    I mean really. Fuck.

    Though I am having a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that a cancer would fuck with you to begin with. I know I sure as shit wouldn’t– especially if I was a cancer.

    So go forth and burn that shit like it was parody-accusing, patriarchy-hearting commenter.

    You should be receiving a ribbon catalogue in the mail within the next 5-7 business days.

  37. yami

    Zounds! O rotten fate! But perhaps radiation therapy will provide you with new antipatriarchy superpowers?

    A thousand piles of sympathy, crossed fingers, offers of tangible support, etc.

  38. Laura Shapiro

    I’m so sorry to hear it.

  39. TeenageCatgirl

    I wish you the absolute best of luck, Twisty. If anyone’s strong enough to tell cancer to go and fuck itself, it’s certainly you.

  40. Elayne Riggs

    What they all said. You are in my thoughts, Twisty.

  41. Pinko Punko


    as Ph.D. in patriarchy and an actual Ph.D. in Sciency crap, I would second the comments of blank. If feasible, it would be good to obtain RNA from your biopsy and perform the microarray type analyses mentioned by blank. But this is one tiny kibbutz on the massive pile of kibbutzing that are probably pulverizing you as I write this. Don’t let the internets overwhelm you. I hope it makes you feel good that we adoring millions are thinin’ about ya. I overheard Mr. T telling cancer “prepare to be thrown, fool”.

    From what I read in SCIENCE and NATURE and other sources, there are great research strides in analyzing the biochemistry of tumor tissue to determine which cases are fairly benign and which cases are more likely to relapse. May I suggest you contact the oncology dept. at Sloan-Kettering or M.D. Anderson (New York City and Houston, respectively) to see what tests might be run on your own tissue and make sure either your local medical people do the work or send the tissue samples to someone who knows what I am talking about. It would also be a good idea to have some of the tissue preserved for study in a year or two as this research advances. I am no doctor and am not even a scientist, but I know about microarrays and other means of studying tumor genetics and proteins and the ongoing efforts to segregate those cases out from the most vigorous therapy which are unlikely to relapse anyway.

  42. ae

    Goddam fucking godbagly crap. Twisty, consider this message a wordy hug. I have had two friends go through this recently, and both are kicking ass now. I have absolutely no doubt about your coming through this. You will.

    Sorry for the advice overload, but take a friend with you to at least the early appointments and to all of them if you can. You should not have to both freak out and listen. Seriously. And I know your obstreperal lobe is well advanced beyond the puny measures of mere dudely medical science, but take along another patriarchy-blaming friend if you can, because s/he may need to call everyone on their shit and insist you change providers (though hopefully not). Fuck the patriarchy. That said, my BC survivor pals were as happy w/ their care as they could have been. We have amazing medical care here at Duke and UNC, and should you so decide to get care here, mi casa es su casa. I am 15-minutes from both, and I know where all the good taco places are, too.

    If there is anything you need, call on us. Patriarchy-blamers are notoriously stick-togetherish, I’ve found.

    Much love and hugs. Sending {{{fortifications}}} your way.

  43. DeepSouthBlamer

    On a serious note, from someone who has been there beside someone in your blaming-the-patriarchy-and-taking-tests-for-what-is-sure-to-be-a-patriarchy-inspired-cancer, I highly recommend having a few close, trusted friends you share most everything with to share everything with. These people are there to understand you and also to know the importance of picking up a taco for you when you need it most. Secondly, find the smartest people you know and get their input on most everything you feel you need input or feedback on.
    On an equally serious note, I hereby pledge myself to drive from the Deep South over to your fair state and feed you tacos and blame the patriarchy by your side. I would make out with you too, but so many people have already taken a number. In fact, I love your brain and your subsequent writing so much that I would make out with cancer in order to distract it from you! Now THAT is commitment to the cause.
    I wish you nothing but the very best. You deserve it.
    Much Love,
    Blaming in the Deep South

  44. Susan / holdingpattern

    Twisty, I am so sorry. I am hoping for your full recovery, although I know you will have quite a battle ahead of you. I’m not sure what else to say, but know that I am hoping for you.

  45. ripley

    awful news. sending support and admiration your way. don’t let the patriarchy (in medicine as well) get you down.

  46. rose

    Twisty, you are the adorable one, just make sure your Dr isn’t a Vetrinarian, read those diplomas verrrry carefully. I’ll put one of those black ribbon thingys on my car for you.

  47. eRobin

    Good thoughts for a speedy and complete recovery.

  48. David

    I used to work in the cancer care division of a local hospital. Our patients were well cared for and responded as expected to the chemo.

  49. Stephanie

    What everybody else is saying. My advice: hug that adorable dog of yours, hang out at El Rancho Deluxe a lot, keep on blaming the patriarchy, and kick that cancer’s ass.

  50. Q Grrl

    I work in the Pathology Dept at Duke Univ. (although I am *not* a pathologist). Let me know if you can use any of the resources that I might have access to.

  51. CJ

    Twisty, I love you and I would so make out with you!! Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

  52. Anonymous

    Doctors are assholes. No personality says patriarchy like Dr. Asshole.

    Okay they are not all assholes, but it sure feels that way sometimes.

    Good luck!

  53. Christine

    Damn, Twisty!

    Add me to the growing number of people in your corner!!!


  54. TimT

    Awful news. Don’t let it get you down. And, I never thought I’d say this, but may this merely reinforce your patriarchy-blaming-powers.

  55. Daphne

    Oh shit. Watch out. With nearly 5,000 knitters reading you, you’re going to be fucking drowned in anti-patriarchy support blankets and scarves and so forth. In cotton, of course, because you live in Texas and we are not stupid. In fact, I’m going to go chart some feminist anti-patriarchy symbols on some “knitter’s graph paper” for ya.

  56. nicky

    I’ve been there. Had the whole nine yards: double mastectomy, chemo, radiation, tamoxifen. Hi yi yi yi it sux. Of course I blame the patriarchy, much as the patriarchy wants to blame the victim. (I will e-mail you separately about that.)

    On the good news side, my nightmare occurred more than six years ago, and I’m still around to kick misogynist ass whenever possible.

    Do try not to banish from your life forever those who will press little pink ribbon pins upon you. They mean well and, I found, don’t understand an enraged reaction that incorporates such words as “infantilizing” and “tool of the corporate hegemony.”

    Much more support and advice, plus a free! copy of my master’s thesis (titled “Wrapped Up in Pink Ribbon: The Mediated Construction of Breast-Cancer Reality”) if you want.

    Hate to have to say it, but welcome to the sisterhood. Our number is legion.

    I am so totally available for you anytime.

  57. De-lurking Novice Blamer

    Nothing to say that hasn’t been said, but hang in there Twisty.

  58. Trope

    (waves) I’ve been sent over by Dr. Bitch, but have often lurked on your pages and found exactly the essay I needed to read. I wish you all the best for your health and hope you will continue to keep your sense of acid humor in the ever-irritating hospital environment. Please take care.

  59. wally

    Damn. Ditto what Trope just said. Consider me a delurker–I enjoy your writing.

  60. Orange

    Fucking cancer. I’m definitely a fan of patriarchy-blaming, but I hate the fucking cancer. Now go kick its ass.

  61. Jodie

    Nicky — just read your thesis — excellent work!

  62. Leslie in CA

    Fuck the patriarchy (not literally, of course–wouldn’t want to give them that much pleasure).

    The plural of anecdote isn’t data and all that, but along the lines of serving up a little encouragement/inspiration: my cousin was diagnosed on about the 16th and had her surgery this past Tuesday. Everything went as well as it possibly could, and her prognosis is excellent.

    I’ll be thinking healthy thoughts on your behalf.

  63. metamanda

    best of luck.


  64. Space Kitty

    You can, and will beat this, after all – you’ve got all of the internets supporting you.

    Sending good thoughts.

  65. vulture

    Twisty, I love you, and am so sorry to hear this! Your blog is the most original, brilliant, and hilarious thing going on the web these days. You’ve done such amazing work and I’m sure there’s a lot more to come.

    One thing I strongly urge you to read is Barbara Ehrenreich’s piece on ghastly breast cancer kitsch. She’s a breast cancer survivor, and wrote this piece about it for Harpers in the late 90s or early 00s. Like the best of Ehrenreich, it’s witty, incisive, and ultimately devastating. It’s also feminism at its patriarchy-blaming best.

    Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

  66. mcmc

    Twisty, you are a genius and I would so totally make out with you! In fact I think the end of the line for totally making out with Twisty is somewhere here in massachusetts by now. Cancer is gonna be sorry it messed witchu!

  67. nicky

    Vulture: I just wrote Twisty an e-mail recommending the very same Ehrenreich article. She, as always, nails it.

    Jodie: Uh — you read my master’s thesis? Where? When?!

    Twisty rocks and rules and always will. No doubt.

  68. bitchphd

    Here’s the Ehrenreich Harper’s article, and here’s a follow up speech she gave on the same subject.

  69. flea

    Oh, Mother McFuck. I’m so sorry, Twisty. Fuck cancer. You’ll be in my thoughts, for sure.

  70. Iggie

    As alarmed as I was to read about your discovery, I was relieved to hear your scorn for the pink ribbon. It’s definitely a tool used by the patriarchy, and must be avoided at all costs.

    Obviously, we’re all thinking of you. Keep doing what you do!

  71. Abi Vingston

    Putain de merde !! C’est une putain de saloperie de merde cette connerie de “C”, et je te souhaite tout le courage et la force dont tu auras besoin pour envoyer ta tumeur au diable, et les docteurs aussi s’il le faut !! Thoughts and solidarity from France. I have three beloved familly members who have put up the fight agains the “C”, one of which has been kicking patriarchial doctors asses for the last few years. I hope you recover quickly.

  72. Liz

    Blame the patriarchy for the cancer, but thank our pioneering feminist spinster aunts that there is funding for women’s health issues, including cancer and abortion, so that women come out the other side of treatment strong and healthy. As you will, Twisty, if the combined radiated strength of your well-wishers has any sway.

    Can all the women who are sending messages of support go and check their boobs, or the boobs of a consenting adult friend, right now? Report back any findings, or any funny looks from the person at the next desk in your office.

    PS I don’t care what anyone says, I’m going to buy a goddamn pink ribbon; fashion has no hold over me.

  73. badger

    sending you good wishes as you get over this lump in the road.

  74. casper

    I concur with the previous posters who equate some doctors with ass holes. If you encounter one of these, promise to call him/her a “fucktard”, ok?

  75. Derrick

    Another lurker delurking: So sorry to hear about the news, Twisty. I know you will put up the good fight and continue the snappy blamin’. Postive vibes and all … Derrick

  76. Philoillogica

    I blame the patriarchy. I didn’t want anyone manhandling the twistytitties but me, least of all cancerfucker. No matter. You’re still the beacon of my twistyfantasy, dammit.

  77. JB

    Hey Twisty,

    I echo all the shock and love and good vibes and righteous indignation above. The Big C and the Big P will both be sorry they ever messed with you.

  78. stroll

    I will say all the cliche things, like “hang in there”, “you can beat this”, “you’re tough”. I really mean them though. I’m wishing you the best from afar. :)

  79. Denise

    I agree with the above advice to research your treatment options; if nothing else, you’ll be able to ask better questions of your doctors to make good use of those expensive fluttering brains. I wish you the best of luck in your treatment. Give ’em hell!

  80. Anonymous

    twisty, i read your post this morning, and as a nurse, i felt i should be able to come up with the appropriate words… there just *aren’t* words to express how sucky this
    is. you have enormous strength, and i’m sure that will help you through this. you will also be in many people’s thoughts.

  81. Nora

    Delurking to say that I love love love your blog and know you will get through this with the same ass-kicking aplomb you’ve used to emasculate the patriarchy.

  82. alextree

    My mom was in the 85% – in fact, she got it _three times_, and today she is vigorously blaming the patriarchy in a state of damn good health. I know you’ll get sick of people telling you things like that.

  83. masterfraud

    i am delurking like nora to tell you how much i love your blog and how hard i am pulling for you. thanks to you, i miss austin both more and less than i should. i send zilker-park-sized hugs your way.

  84. kathy a

    delurking here — always get a boost when i check in, and sending one your way, sister.

    my SIL was diagnosed a few months ago. she bought a set of matching designer pink-ribbon bags, purse, etc., and passed ribbons to everyone she knows — her version of militant. [our styles differ.]

    she asked me to go with her to her lumpectomy, and it turned out she wanted to be sure she was asking all the questions, getting all the answers. not sure i was the *perfect* griller-of-medical-staff, but that was a good idea — she got all her questions answered and we found a bunch of info on the net. she later fired the recommended radiologists, and found her own — and she is doing great.

    give ’em hell, and be good to yourself.

  85. Scott Lemieux

    I’m so sorry–hopefully you will emerge stronger and more partiarchy-blaming than ever. :)

  86. SF Knitter

    hang in there. i’ll be thinking of you.

    take notes for the rest of us… many of us will be there one day ourselves and we may need a manual.

  87. a

    How I wish this were otherwise. How I wish I had the power to vampire-slay cancer.

    Hell, half the people here probably have it and don’t even know it. Life. What a ridiculous mess.

  88. vulture


    Here’s a link to that great Barbara Ehrenreich article I mentioned earlier:


  89. Roxanne

    I’ll be thinking good thoughts and sending them in your general direction.

  90. nwistheone

    sorry to hear! good luck, kick cancer’s fucking ass!!

  91. Mikey Jo

    I have been reading your blog in stalkerish fashion for a while now, and it is one of the best things around.

    Please get better soon.

  92. Mac

    Twisty, also delurking to wish you all the best, ditto to what your many admirers have already expressed, and thank all the powers that be you’ve made such a sound decision about the pink magnetic ribbon for your car.

  93. mimbreno

    Oh, crap. Big love from the dominant culture blamers.

  94. Rick Perlstein

    twisty, this is as good a time as any to tell you’re the best writer on the web. I wish I had told you when it didn’t sound maudlin. Much love, fish tacos, and professional respect from this quarter.

  95. Steve M

    Sending plenty of mojo your way, as are the folks at BroadBandReports Team Discovery. Kick ass and don’t take names.

  96. Ron Sullivan

    Aw shit.

    I second the recs about Ehrenreich and drafting a cool-headed friend to go along to every damned appointment. Consider a tape-recorder too. (I know one smart surgeon who tapes patient visits himself and sends the tapes home with the patients.) And make lists and take notes. Fuck ’em sideways if that makes ’em nervous.

    A surgeon can be a total asshole and still be a good surgeon — they’re like IT lords in that regard — but you don’t have to take their advice; they’re technicians, whatever other private virtues they may have. And it’s a good idea to be sure they don’t have permission to do anything you didn’t sign up for in advance. If one gives you a hard time about that, find another. You’re close enough to Houston to have two big surgeon-buffets to choose from.

    All right, enough with the auntly advice. Kick onco-ass and keep us informed, hey?

  97. Christina

    Well, hell. Good luck with the Medical Unpleasantness.

  98. BritGirlSF

    My mother had breast cancer, and it’s about as nasty as it gets. I wish you well. Your obstreporal lobe, now restored, should serve you well in negotiating the endless reams of bullshit which the dudely world of medicine feels it necessary to subject cancer patients too.
    And a word of advice – when in doubt, bring backup. Your sister might do nicely. The doctors often try to take advantage of a patient’s fragile state of mind by withholding information and other similarly lovely behavior. Backup helps.

  99. misspinkerton

    You’re a fighter, Twisty. So is my mom. When I was 12, she was diagnosed with metastatic stage IV breast cancer and given a 10% chance to live. She’s still alive and fighting the patriarchy as hard as ever. (And really, who would expect any less from a fiery Bryn Mawr alumna? Right on, mom.)

    I’m telling this story to say that attitude has a lot to do with it. And just from the spark that I’ve seen here in your writing, I have faith that you’ll be just fine. (Not to mention that treatments have come a long way in the past seven years.)

  100. jc.

    The usual crying, anger and gnashing of teeth as i read Twisty, but no laughter.
    I want to piss on gods grave. Selfishly, I hope you have the strength, support and luck you need and want.

  101. sois disant

    bet a lot of folks like me got new typekey thingies today, just so they could say—
    well, so they could say how much we are all hoping you are healthy soon. How badly your shrewd (hey–just sliptyped “shrews”!) eloquence is needed in the world. How we all wish we could kick cancer’s ass for you but know you can do it with the most finesse. All kinds of us who never say much, but read your brilliant words faithfully, and send great huge healthy wishes for you. Get well, since you can’t possibly get any better, Twisty.

  102. travelling punk

    Damn it all to crap.

    Twisty you are the world’s most bad ass patriarchy blaming spinster aunt, and you have a whole interweb word of adoring fans to add to your real life compadres.

    We’ll be here when you need us.

    Get better. x

  103. Meribeth

    I am so sorry and pissed.

    If you become sad and frightened, go on and do it. Then move on to pissed off fight mode.

    As feisty, crusty, acidly funny and brilliant as you are…Cancer doesn’t have a chance.

    You will be fine and you will continue laughing at and strip down the Zipperhead Patriarchy.

  104. laurelin

    I’m so sorry to hear that Twisty. We’re all thinking of ya, and we love ya.

  105. frobisher

    All the best Twisty & wishing you a fast recovery, I will light a candle in your honour tonight.

  106. Reecie

    I’m with Meribeth. You’ll kick breast cancer’s ass; I have no doubt of that.

    Here’s hoping the ass-kicking process is as speedy as possible. I’ll be thinking of you, sending strength and positive energy.

  107. stephanie

    That sucks. I’d write something pithy, charming and supportive but I’m afraid that the truth is that this sucks.
    Naturally this is the patriarchy’s fault, and despite how much this sucks I look forward to watching you blame with ever increasing fervor, as the big P itself attempts to explain to you the ways that men are in charge of your breasts.
    Go gently. Eat chocolate. Blame on.

  108. Steph


    Fucking patriarchy.

    Hope it all goes as smoothly as it can.

  109. Metta

    I’ll send you some good energy, Twisty. Understand that people you don’t even know are admiring of you and wishing only good things for you.


  110. Summer


    You’ll be in my patriarchy-blaming, cancer-hating thoughts, Twisty.

  111. Sara*

    Been lurking, but I have to comment now.

    Get better! Knock down the patriarchy by getting back up on your feet and overcoming this. I hope that doesn’t sound like I’m telling you to ignore it. That’s not it at all.

    Find a femelle doctor. Keep some patriarchy-ass-kicking friends with you. Let us know what we can do to help. Fight to keep yourself sane … It is what you do.

  112. julie beth

    damn. fuck. hang in there, twisty. healing vibes sent to ya from the north of austin.

  113. christy

    Fight the cancer. Fight the power. And fight those damn pink ribbons. You go …

  114. baby metropolis

    good vibes good vibes good vibes good vibes good vibes good vibes good vibes good vibes
    good vibes good vibes good vibes good vibes
    good vibes good vibes good vibes good vibes
    good vibes good vibes good vibes good vibes
    good vibes good vibes good vibes good vibes

  115. larkspur

    Ooh, everybody has already zeroes in on Barbara Ehrenreich’s essential article. But so what, I say! I will post this regardless, and hope I don’t exceed wome word limit.

    “Welcome to Cancerland: A Mammogram Leads To A Culture of Pink Kitsch”
    Barbara Ehrenreich
    (The article was a 2001 finalist for a National Magazine Award)
    Reprinted at Breast Cancer Action from Harper’s.


    Ehrenreich describes the vast pink sea that awaits her after her diagnosis, as well as the frustrating dearth (relatively speaking) of real hard investigation into possible environmental causes. Her correspondent Gerri, mentioned in the excerpt, responded to a post Ehrenreich had made at a support website. Ehrenreich had asked if anyone else was pissed off about having breast cancer, and had received several mild rebukes about her negative attitude. Gerri had agreed with her: cancer hadn’t offered her an opportunity for self-awareness or spiritual advancement, it was scary and yucky. “It is not O.K.!”

    From “Welcome to Cancerland”:

    “…For me at least, breast cancer will never be a source of identity or pride. As my dying correspondent Gerri wrote: “IT IS NOT O.K.!” What it is, along with cancer generally or any slow and painful way of dying, is an abomination, and, to the extent that it’s manmade, also a crime. This is the one great truth that I bring out of the breast-cancer experience, which did not, I can now report, make me prettier or stronger, more feminine or spiritual – only more deeply angry. What sustained me through the “treatments” is a purifying rage, a resolve, framed in the sleepless nights of chemotherapy, to see the last polluter, along with, say, the last smug health insurance operative, strangled with the last pink ribbon. Cancer or no cancer, I will not live that long of course. But I know this much right now for sure: I will not go into that last good night with a teddy bear tucked under my arm.”

    By the way, Twisty, last week I went to my local bookstore to hear Barbara Ehrenreich read from and talk about her latest book, “Bait and Switch”. She looks great, she’s writing with as much passion as ever, she’s funny, kind and still pissed off. I love her.

    And you, too. If I lived in your neighborhood, I’d ask you out for a movie date to see “Serenity”. It’s opening today and it would be a great diversion.

  116. Adam Ash

    Fuck me with patriarchal foreskin. Twisty, you’ll beat it cold. Keep us informed. We’ll ride it out with you, babe. You’re the bestest spinster aunt wot ever lived.

  117. robin

    you have everything it takes to knock this thing away, and knock it away you will. You’re brave, smart, tough, and I sense that you also have the wisdom know when it’s time to cry, too. I’m thinking of the that music awards ceremony where that fabulous rocker got up and sang that Aretha Franklin song – bald head and all, getting through the cancer stuff, strong, defiant, beautiful. I’m sure there were plenty of days when she cried, but damn, the sight of her up on stage belting out that testimony to women’s strength sent chills up my spine. We adore you and
    know you’ll get through this.

  118. Anonymous

    I would just like to say that you are under no obligation to have a “good” attitude about this. You don’t have to be a Strong Fighter. That seems like a lot of pressure, and anyway recent studies show that people with a so-called positive attitude don’t fare significantly better than people with understandably crappy ones. To suggest otherwise smacks of victim-blaming anyway. Is there a person alive who wouldn’t do whatever the doctor tells them? No, and that’s about all you can do. So yeah. Be sad or pissed-off or in denial or whatever the hell you want. But don’t let people try to make you into some kinda cancer-fightin’hero. Everyone who persists in the face of oppression (cancer or fascism or patriarchy or bad food) is automatically heroic. You don’t need to act like the mainstream culture’s idea of a Plucky Survivor. This is totally about you, not conforming (as if you could!) to society’s ideas about any damn thing.

  119. Cleis

    For fighting cancer while fighting the patriarchy and caring for yourself, I highly, highly recommend Susun Weed’s Breast Cancer? Breast Health!: http://www.susunweed.com/

    She kicks patriarchal ass!

    My mom and sister are survivors, and they’re flourishing.

  120. yankee transplant

    No, Twisty, say not so! I am so sorry, yet equally sure that as much as the Patriarchy is to be blamed, the cancer is to have its ass WHUPPED. Know that it’s ok to sit and cry, too. When you don’t feel strong, we’ll be strong for you. You’re brilliant, and funny, and the best spinster aunt that ever lived! Know that the internets are behind you, ever-adoring. Wish I could help more directly.

  121. WeaverRose

    I too wish you well.

  122. zz

    Hearing this just broke my heart. Here’s wishing you a speedy and complete recovery.

    Also, put me in the camp that stresses having a friend or relative be a medical advocate for you. I’ve had two major encounters with medical fucktards – one with an advocate and one without. The difference was as glaring as night and day.

  123. Sara

    Ugh, that bites!

    Of course, cancer is at worst fatal, but honestly, at least as often — and I know this from experience both personal and vicarious — it’s merely a gigantic, protracted pain in the ass. Or wherever. It can also be humiliating and degrading, you know, ’cause of that whole patriarchy thing, but I know you’re not going down that road without a huge, public hissy fit — hair pulled, eyes gouged, etc.

    Hang in there, kiddo. You can get through this. We, your loyal readership, will all be here for you in spirit, of course, for what that’s worth. But I wouldn’t write off the whole ribbon thing just yet, ’cause who knows? Maybe you can get your surgeon to corset-suture your scar — with pink ribbon, of course. Nothing brightens a horrifying medical experience like a little feminine touch. ;)

    All kidding aside, best wishes, really.

  124. Lauren

    Last year when I got into a bind I bitched about it on the blog. To my surprise, a slew of people requested I set up Paypal so they could help me out. The response was so overwhelming I cried for two days straight. But then, I’m a sap.

    I’ve been trying to think of something witty to say to this bad news but I’ve got nothin’. Fuck it:

    Take care of yourself now that things are in a downturn. I’m just so sorry. If there is anything any of us can do from afar, don’t be afraid to ask. It’s obvious from the number and depth (and shallowness — god i love it) of comments here that we will do what we can.

    Heart you. I’ll eat a bigass Hoosier taco with you in mind. (I know what you’re thinking, people. Stop it.)

  125. MRain65

    I, too, blame the patriarchy. I’m sending tons of good vibes your way, and if that sounds cheesy, I don’t give a shit. I wish you a speedy recovery.

  126. suezboo

    Jeese, what a lousy break for a Spinster Aunt. If you’re thinking of going the transplant route, I have a coupla hangdown saddlebags on the front of my chest that I have no further use for.Otherwise, what everyone else said.Blame on !

  127. suezboo

    Jeese, what a lousy break for a Spinster Aunt. If you’re thinking of going the transplant route, I have a coupla hangdown saddlebags on the front of my chest that I have no further use for.Otherwise, what everyone else said.Blame on !

  128. suezboo

    Bugger ! Sorry, everybody.

  129. Sassycat

    i’m speechless.
    good vibes coming to you from me as well.
    I know a lot of strong women who’ve beaten that shit, and I really can’t wait to add you to that list.
    Fuck the patriarchy in it’s uptight asshole.

  130. Thomas

    Twisty, hell, I don’t have any good advice, but I’m really sorry to hear the bad news. In my gut, I feel like you’re tougher than this and you’ll get through it, but I’m really sorry that you have to.

  131. octopod

    Well, fuck.
    If you lived in Central California, I could give you the name of a good local doc – she’d probably like you a lot, too – but as you’re in Austin, all I can say is “we’re all pulling for you”. Don’t let the bastards grind you down.

  132. pyramus

    A couple of dudely dudes in Canada are sending best wishes your way. We think you’re gonna beat it. My mom and stepfather have three cancer surgeries to their names (cervical for her, lung and prostatic for him) and they’re still alive and kicking; hell, they’re on a month-long live-it-up vacation in Germany as I write. Find yourself a damned good oncologist who’ll listen and not give you any bullshit. You’ll make it.

  133. a nut

    I’m thinking about you, too, especially since the Komar Breast Cancer Awareness College Tour people were here on Wednesday spreading good “check your breasts” vibes.

    You seem to be a fighter so keep it up!

  134. Kat with a K

    I’ll have you in my thoughts.

  135. Rhus

    ¡Ánimo, Twisty! Muchos abrazos desde España. I too will have you in my thoughts.

  136. Ron O.

    Sending good thoughts your way for a speedy recovery.

    Repeating as often as necessary.

  137. Nerice

    Sending good thoughts your way. I’m sure you already have a large support system, but I’m going on my second year in remission.

    LOL, I’m remembering my reaction to the hospital staff when they tried to give me this horribly pink frilly hospital gown, made special for the breast cancer patients by a local church, complete with strategically-placed velcro so my modesty would be held it check. I gave it right back to them. They were shocked, but not as shocked as I was that they expected me to wear that thing.

    Fight strong Twisty. And fight your way. We’re with you.

  138. CE Petro

    Twisty found you via Bitch Ph.D. The dx sucks big time. I’m just a little over 2 years from my dx. Things may happen fast — decisions must be made rather quickly if you have insurance. If not, like I didn’t, things will take a little longer. Books that were indispensible: _Dr. Susan Love’s Breast Book_ (I have 3rd edition, but get the latest edition on the shelves); _The Breast Cancer Survival Manual_, John Link, M.D. (Love was more thorough on the specifics of treatment and cancer itself, this book was more useful for record keeping, questions to ask your dr. and how to be more of a pro-active patient if you haven’t been before). I also was rather “radical” and have a copy of _The Politics of Cancer, Revisited_, Samuel S. Epstein, M.D. (interesting studies on links to Igf-1, as well as congressional testimony)

    For a historical look at the treatment of breast cancer, and how the patriarchy continues to demean women for the disease and the treatment, I recommend _A Darker Ribbon_, Ellen Leopold.

    If you have any questions or would like links to websites for more information, or just to ask questions, please don’t hesitate to email me. I understand all the emotions you are experiencing.

  139. john_m_burt

    Quaker talk for intercessory prayer is “I will hold you in the Light.”

    So here goes: I will hold you in the Light. That way, God can see you better.

    With any luck, it won’t be Patriarchal God the Father. . . .

  140. gerald

    This really bites, but I can’t imagine a bunch of out-of-control cells keeping you down. No way. Out of sheer will you’ll come out all right. Stay strong, get well. You have many out here who care deeply.

  141. Kate

    Awww shit.

    How to wish an almost total stranger well over the ‘Net? I dunno, but I will do my best.

    Under your tutelage I am becoming the patriarchy blamer I’ve always wanted to be. Please get well soon.

  142. StealthBadger

    Warm thoughts and good wishes to you… -_-;

    5 out of 5 animal lovers agree – fur therapy rocks when life gets horrible… provided the fur is part of something living, happy, and that loves you that’s trying to lick your nose.

  143. Dr.Sue

    So sorry to hear this–but it is well known in the field of behavioral medicine that the “bad patient”–i.e., the one who argues for the best treatment, doesn’t take the “experts'” dicta passively, and stays her own feisty and argumentative self through whatever medical crisis she undergoes–is the quickest to recover. You will be fine.

  144. Julia


    We love you!

  145. obsoletepostergrrrl

    Just another avid reader sending her love….

  146. Jane Dark

    Delurking to wish you luck and health.

  147. Nancy

    As a 6 yr survivor, I find it helpful to think of this as just another chronic disease, not some eternal tragedy. The worst part is coming to terms with aging, because it royally interferes with any fantasy I had that I will go on forever. I think women make a bigger deal of this than men do about their chronic illnesses because women are so youth-focused to begin with. There are a lot more debilitating chronic illnesses and a lot worse treatments out there than for bc. Keeping a normal routine helps a lot and exercise will help with the fatigue. Stress makes things worse and a lot of stress arises from thoughts like “it shouldn’t be this way” when we all get to die of something. Bc isn’t even fatal until way down the line, if it comes back at all after treatment.

  148. peacebug

    well damn, twisty – and the news this week had been pretty good, what with the bill frist investigation, judith miller talking, and tom delay indicted. it was shaping up to be one kick-ass week!

    hope your treatments go well, and best to you.

  149. nicky

    Nancy: As a 6-plus year “survivor” of this horror myself, I agree with your perspective on cancer as a chronic disease, rather than the automatic death sentence it was once perceived to be. I take exception, though, to your statement that “women make a bigger deal of this than men do.” Don’t know about you, but cancer IS a pretty big fucking deal, whether it strikes a man or a woman. And yes, there are “worse treatments out there” for other forms of cancer and for other diseases. That doesn’t diminish the nightmare women go through with BrCa treatment. And not to get into a pissing contest or anything, but “keeping a normal routine” can be a leetle bit of a challenge when you’re having chemo every four weeks for three months and then radiation every goddam day for six weeks. Yeah, we’re all gonna die of something someday. Blaming a cancer victim for feeling just a little bit “stressed” about her circumstances, however, does nothing to relieve that stress.

    Sheesh. Have a little compassion, how ’bout?

  150. Nancy

    Why did you hear my comment as blame?

    The word “nightmare” doesn’t apply to this situation. By the way, you mention radiation, but as you must know that is painless. The main problem with it is keeping a daily appointment and finding a parking space — trivial inconveniences. Why blow this up into a “tragedy” and scare people? It is just one of the variety of unpleasant health problems that people get when they get old.

  151. nicky

    I’m not going to argue this with you, out of deference to Twisty, other than to say that: Radiation is painless, unless your skin gets so burnt it blisters. That’s not so painless, believe me. “Keeping a daily appointment” for six weeks must be more of a “trivial inconvenience” for some of us than others. Show me where in my post I called it a “tragedy.” Nuh-uh. And I would be the last to try to scare anyone. I don’t know how old you are, but Twisty doesn’t seem to be in her declining years. Nor were the two women I know in their 30s who last year both diagnosed.

    You’re portraying the BrCa experience as little more than coming down with the flu. I’m saying it’s a bit more than that, and it doesn’t deserve such flippant dismissal.

  152. nolo

    Wow. I don’t check the weblog for a few days, and kabaam. Sorry to hear you’ve got to go through this. Just remember what you already know, which is that you’re entitled to ask the doctors whatever you fucking want (and they have to answer you), and that the nurses can be your best allies.

  153. Twisty

    Ladies, please, you can’t fight in here, this is the War Room!

  154. ownwomon

    Damn gurl… my heart goes out to you! I’ll be praying for your swift and full recovery…

  155. drublood

    Twisty, I had no idea. & of course you wouldn’t have said anything…but next time we all do coffee, I’m going to buy your beer.

  156. alex

    Damn, go away on vacation and look what happens…

    I’m sorry I’m late with my best wishes. The world needs every cranky patriarchy-blamer it has. I hope you get better soon, and don’t be shy about asking for help.

  157. Mark Early

    Hey Twisty,

    I was out of town when you posted this, but kick butt fighting that cancer.

  158. Quod She (TF)

    Like the last two people, I was out of town and only just heard about this. (I’ve only ever posted here once, I think — usually I lurk — but I dig you and your blog immensely.) But I wanted to add my best wishes. And if I can get a hold of it, I’ll e-mail you an article a fellow spinster-aunt-type (my friend) wrote about hating pink when she was doing battle with the breast cancer beast (she won, btw, and so will you).

  159. Sweat Sock

    Good luck with your treatment, I wish you the very best.

    I blame the patriarchy that breast cancer gets all the research dollars. I have lung cancer, and here are my odds of beating this disease: slim to none. Only 5 out of 100 will live 5 years post-diagnosis. But all the big research bucks go to breast cancer, and for that: I blame the patriarchy.

  160. Emma

    I’m v. late (out of town, too), but wanted to wish you all the best. Fucking patriarchy.

  161. Arjet

    Delurking. Go, Twisty. Make out? Of course.

  162. Kevin Hayden

    I found this note slipped under my door. I think it was meant for you:


    Hey, nice gazongas!

    With feeling;

    The Patriarchy

    (May all the healing powers be with you so you can experience every patriarchy-kicking joy to the ripest of old ages.)

  163. Ampersand

    Another late-comer.

    I don’t have much to say, except: 1) Damn. 2) You’re in my thoughts; if good vibes can be transmitted, I’m trying to send some your way. 3) This blog kicks ass, you totally kick ass, and I’m sure you’ll kick the patriarchal medical establishment’s ass, too. 4) Damn.

    Good luck.

  164. Medusaleh

    Fugg. This delurked me in a hurry after aeons of silent admiration. Warm but aggressive thoughts for cancer-conquering from me and from my ass-kicking baby sis, who emerged victorious from her own epic battle with Fucking Cancer and Doctor Asshole and headed straight to medical school to become Doctor Matriarch. Blame on!

  165. NancyP

    two words: second opinions re: surgery type, chemotherapy type, radiotherapy type.

    Many different options available now. Some are well tested by randomized studies, some new options are not.

  166. Tuomas

    Late-comer here…
    I wish you well. What others have said.

  167. sasquatch

    Best of luck, Twisty. I hope you kick that cancer’s ass.

  168. Hattie

    What a bummer it all is, Twisty. Who needs cancer? But the Man is giving it to us, big time.
    Looking at causes:
    Hormones. Birth control pills. “Estrogen replacement.”
    It’s a crazy thing to fuck with your endocrine system.
    Get off that “pill,” patch or whatever other poison delivery method you use and go back to barrier contraceptives. That’s my advice to you hetero premenopausal women out there reading this. You’re smart, you’re educated, you can do this. Hormones is hormones and NOT GOOD FOR YOU.
    We’ve got the goods on hormone replacement for us older gals now, thanks to the Women’s Health Initiative Studies, which confirm what I’ve always known: HRT IS NOT GOOD FOR YOU. Never took the stuff myself. I am well through menopause and can’t say I miss the monthlies. Why women are consenting to bleed into their 60’s and 70’s is beyond me.
    However, I note that many of my friends are loath to give it up. They have various reasons, but I think what’s at the heart of it is that they’re petrified about getting old. However, being old isn’t so bad if you feel good, especially when you consider the alternative, which is being dead.
    Eventually, my friends do have to go off HRT because they bleed all the time from giant fibroids, have unbearably sensitive breasts, or show other nasty symptoms of hormone poisoning. This is anecdotal, but I’ve seen friends going off HRT suffer kind of a supermenopause that goes on and on, I guess because it’s harder for them to deal with such an upheaval because they’re older or because their hormone systems have gotten so screwed up.
    It seems to me that when you combine the insults to our endocrine systems from hormones in our food, DDT residues,pesticides, radiation from X-rays and power plants, etc. it’s unlikely that any of us will be able to evade cancer.
    Well, this is cheery, isn’t it. Sorry, but if one person reads this and stops poisoning herself, it will be worth it.

  169. angie

    I always thought I was the only one pissed off at the whole deal – lived in a blind rage for at least 9 months; paralyzed. You can’t be anything but angry. Not hungry, happy, or endouraged. Just PISSED OFF. And as for the MD society, even the WOMEN MD’s, take the approach to their treatment suggestions “Why the hell would I want to do that?” or “Why wouldn’t I do that.” Don’t let them tell you what to do, even on a small scale. Kicking and screaming throughout treatment is just fine. And when the radiology place tries to push off a male technician on you for mammogram or ultrasound, don’t be afraid to use the “Get the hell away from me” approach.
    Now, nothing pisses me off like f***ing pink ribbons. What if you were mugged, and everywhere you went, there were do-gooders putting up posters and passing out magnets and ribbons for Mugging Awareness. This means everywhere you go – the street, the mall, or even behind another car, you get to be reminded of the humiliating and painful emotional and physical trauma you’ve had to deal with, and will deal with for the rest of your life.
    I know you’ll be fine – I’m thinking of you.

  170. ptittle

    there’s a tshirt out there i just love, it says “Who needs these when you’ve got brains?”

  1. After School Snack


    Twisty, the inimitable blogger of I Blame the Patriarchy, has just been diagnosed with breast cancer. Fucking cancer. I HATE it. She promises to keep us updated on her interactions with “the dudely world of Women’s Medicine,” and I imagine that will …

  2. Creek Running North

    I have no words this morning….

  3. arse poetica


    {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{ Twisty }}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}

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