Oct 05 2005

I Blame The Patriarchy



Skip to comment form

  1. Erin

    Ow, ow, ow! Oh, Twisty, it’s good to have you back!

  2. Josef K

    You have to be one of the bravest people I’ve ever known. You’re an inspiration. I wish I had your guts. (Currently working on it.)

  3. thingfish23

    I shall chime in with appropriate empathy and good vibes (right to ya, Twisty), even though you shoot with Canon instead of Nikon.

    Health, good vibes, strength.


  4. Twisty

    My EOS 10D has a bumpersticker with a picture of Calvin pissing on a Nikon.

  5. MsKate

    Twisty, you rock!

    I remember the first time that I ever saw what a mastectomy looked like (healed, of course). It was in a book of pictures of women cancer survivors.

    I was shocked to see that it wasn’t all that bad! I mean, I fully expected it to be vastly more mutilating and horrific.

    Not to belittle the fact that what you show here probably still hurts like bloody fucking hell, but posting these things takes out the mystery and fear because, well, it doesn’t look quite so very bad as we can imagine. It just looks a little medical and neatly arranged.

    One of the most patriarchy busting experiences I ever had was the women’s locker room after day 1 of the Pan Mass Challenge. Instead of the usual “dainty women hide out in little fungus infested stalls” that is the typical New England locker room set up, women were walking around buck naked, yakking, dressing, and freely associating.

    Middle aged women. Women with one breast or no breasts. Women with all sorts of cancer surgery scars. Naked. Fat. Thin. Old. Young. Every combination therof.

    We all had good bodies and we KNEW we all had good bodies … because every single body had biked either 65 or 110 miles that day!


    Your pics are also liberating. I’m going to cache this for the next time somebody I know and love freaks out over treatment … what you see is what you get.

    Keep whacking at the patriarchy Twisty, stitch by stitch!

  6. Sylvanite

    Yowch! Hope they gave you good pain pills…

  7. Twisty

    Just to be clear, the procedure I underwent to secure this alluring photo was a mere biopsy, and it sucked hard. They removed 3 lymph nodes from my pit and a small wad of cancery tissue from my infinitely pendulous gazonga. Immediately prior to which I enjoyed eight bracing injections of radioactive dye directly into the aureola and the opportunity to lie motionless in one of those metal detecto-tubes for 2 hours. There was a problem with the airconditioning in pre-op and I froze my ass off waiting for my surgeon to saunter in from her bridge game. In the recovery room I puked for 3 hours and the nurse was a bitch.

    The mastectomy is next week. I am confident that it will be quite a bit more hideous.

  8. MsKate

    You are still so very brave and baring here Twisty. I’d say you have a lot of balls … but evidence is to the contrary.

    Fear is high on the patriarchy’s control panel. I find it amazing how many women I know will accept less than human treatment because of fear.

    By posting this stuff, awful though it is, you are naming the beast. Very very important.

    Best to you in the Trials of Twisty!

  9. Anonymous

    My profound sympathies. I’ve had a bitch for a recovery nurse, and a wonderful one (on the next occassion). It makes an unbelievable difference.

    Best of luck with next week – sending all the good health vibes I can muster!

  10. Sam

    I’ve read some theory about the different way the brain processes images and words, and seeing your photo hammered in the notion that images are perceived more emotionally, more directly to our sensing facilities than words.

    The brilliant wordsmithery you regularly accomplish here is very emotionally affecting, but the raw sincerity of that photo pierces fast and deep.

    Sending healthy thoughts your way, Twisty.

  11. Daphne

    I blame the patriarchy for the broken fucking air conditioning.

    (anything else I can try to say would be totally inadequate. 8 shots???????)

  12. dorothy

    Twisty, you are a brave, brave woman. Thank you for writing about what you’re going through and for posting the pictures. It lessens ever so slightly my absolute terror of breast cancer.

    I blame the patriarchy for your bitch of a nurse. My mother is a nurse, and I can attest to the fact that she is often very bitchy because of the patriarchical attitudes of the doctors, and where she works, in a smallish town in Texas, most of the doctors are card-carrying members of the patriarchy. She once rebeled against the partriarchy directly, instead of taking it on on her patients indirectly, by squirting lydocane on one such monster’s crotch.

  13. Sara

    Oh, this is TOTALLY the patriarchy’s fault! Only misogynists would design procedures which would maximize the torture potential for the women who have to undergo them if they want to live. Only misogynists (and sad to say, sometimes they’re other women, conditioned by the patriarchy of course) would keep a woman waiting in these circumstances. And only misogynists would allow mean people to work in recovery rooms.

    Poor baby. I’m so sorry. And I’m sorry that next week will suck more than this, too. Sometime at the end of a long list of sucky experiences yet to come, though, is a place where they’re over and you’re alive. Not just breathing, but all the way alive.

    Aim for that spot on the horizon. It’s real, and with your fighting attitude and a little luck, you’re going to get there.

  14. laughingmuse

    Wow, what a horrible day to suffer through.

    Your photo tells a lot.

    I’m kind of speechless ~ just sending you lots of good thoughts and hope everything next week (including dinners) goes OK.

  15. dr. b.

    Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us, you are an inspiration!

  16. casper

    Anyone know where I can get “Twisty is my hero” gear?

  17. Mychelline

    Your experience sounds completely horrible. I’m so sorry you’re going through this.

    I can hardly look at the photo, it looks like it must’ve hurt so bad. When I got my first mammogram a couple of years ago, since I have almost no breast tissue, the pain was excruciating. I felt like my nipples were being torn off. But shots in the aureole?!? I’d need to get knocked out before I could do that. (Extremely low pain threshold.)

    Sending good thoughts your way.

  18. nina

    I am so gonna kick some patriarchal ass for this. Thanks for sharing Twisty, and I’m sorry you have to go through so much crappy suckitude.

  19. Ron Sullivan


    Hoisting the camera with that armpit incision must’ve been fun, too.

    Insist on good pain control, no matter who you need to collar about it. There must be a decent nurse out there somewhere. Honest to FSM, people heal better and faster with good pain control. Not to mention that it fuckin hurts less.

    Ever see that shot of the woman with a really long mastectomy scar (bigger than yours would be) and a leafy vine tattooed along it? NO it’s not about positive attitude. It’s about plants, or something.

    Eight hits of fucking dye?? Holy jeezus. Ow. I think my tits just turned inside-out from thinking about it.

  20. d.e.i.x.i.s.

    That is so rock & roll.

    Shit– it’s just so intense I’m still trying to let that sink in.

    You are the most kickass woman on the planet and while my boobies weep for you, the rest of me is worshiping you.

  21. Chris Clarke

    Dear Twisty;


    P.S. In reference to the case EOS10D v. Nikon, I would like to refer to the maxim “Right on Sista.”

    P.P.S. I’ll save up a whole bunch of jokes for next week when you need a distraction.

    P.P.P.S. As you know, the above need not make you wince about post-surgical-laughter-related pain, as none of my jokes are funny.

  22. Anonymous

    Well, that answers my question as to what hurts more than a nursing child clamping down with his teeth. I think my nipples are whimpering.
    Did you happen to puke on the nasty nurse, by any chance?

  23. Twisty

    Yo, gang, I swear I’m not brave, although I am flattered that some of you seem to think I am. One endures these barbaric tortures because it seems preferable to the alternative, and any one of you would do the same, and some of you already have. The fact is, I stand alone at the top of the wuss-pile. I am whiney and plaintive. I cry for my mommy. I gurgle. And I don’t give a fuck who knows it, either. I mean, fuck it. A spinster aunt who’s sweating into her pit incision can maintain the stoic facade for just so long before she cracks. Yowch! Fuck you, fucking patriarchy!

  24. ae

    Poor sweetie. Twisty, I didn’t think it possible that I could love you more (w/o knowing you), but that picture is simply amazing. I am so sorry to hear about your many points of torture, and I hope to Buddha/Vishnu/Jeebus/Athena/Zoroaster/whomever that your next week’s tribulations go less painfully than this week’s.

    You are beautiful and crack all you want. The many people who love you can carry the patriarchy-blaming water for you for a while. You’ve been carrying everyone else for long enough. Here’s to the top of the wuss-pile! Anything we can do, call us on the Brat Phone.

    xoxoxoxoxxoxoxxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxx (ad infinitum),

  25. miz_geek

    I don’t care if you’re brave or not. You’re still my hero. You’ll kick this shit’s ass.

  26. stephanie

    I am hoping that you feel as brave as you are right now.

    Atta girl.

  27. Chris Clarke

    I stand alone at the top of the wuss-pile. I am whiney and plaintive. I cry for my mommy. I gurgle.

    Let me just say this about that.

    I have had the dubious privilege of meeting and occasionally working with a good dozen or more authentic and often self-proclaimed heroes. I am here to tell you that most of them are whiny and plaintive when the occasion suits, and often when it doesn’t. The remainder have been pains in the ass – and not in the good, patriarchy-blaming way you might be thinking. You don’t want to use them as a gauge against which to measure the P-ness of your own MA, believe me.

    I’m betting Shulamith Firestone whined and complained about sore necks and writer’s cramp and such as she wrote The Dialectic of Sex. If it’s good enough for her…

  28. Jodie

    I hope they gave you some really, really good drugs.

    If I were closer, I’d hypnotize you to help with the pain and any pre-surgery jitters…

  29. Sara*

    I wish that I could come and – not hold your hand – but your hair back while you’re puking all over that nasty nurse.

    I didn’t get it at first. I looked at the picture and thought it was perhaps some new surgery to make womyn stop sweating. And I’ve a breast reduction. Sorry.

    Sending lots of loving happy healing vibes your way … Wishing I could come help out around the house next week. Doing much of anything with that side will be a total bitch. Holler if you need …

  30. anonymous med student

    Hi Twisty, I’ve never posted before, but I love you. I’m in med school, and we just had a lecture about cancer last week, including photos like yours. Ouch! I think you’re very brave to post it. Do whatever you have to do to hang in there. Demand adequate pain relief. I hope it brings some comfort to you to know that when I get my degree, I’ll never be stingy with pain meds, I’ll never talk about “PMA,” and I’ll make sure the rooms my patients are in are warm. Yeah, I know I can’t do much to help you now, except blame the patriarchy some more. And I’m sending lots of healing thoughts your way too.

    Is there anything I can do for you?

  31. norbizness

    Man, that corset thing is looking better every day. Continued best of luck with a minimum of pain of discomfort as you pull through this, Aunt T.

  32. bitchphd

    Wow. That looks like it fucking sucked. And yet it’s awesomely patriarchy-busting for you to document this whole experience.

    I once had a breast cancer scare–bloody nipple discharge (pre-baby). Number of doctor visits, few different tests. The worst was one where they snaked a wire into my nipple through one of the ducts (once they’d determined which particular duct it was that was bleeding) in order to do some kind of diagnostic thingy. It didn’t actually hurt all that much, but the sight of a goddamn wire in my nipple made me faint for the first and only time. Labor was less traumatizing. I can’t even begin to imagine how a goddanm biopsy and removing those lymph nodes and sweating into your armpit scar must feel. You have all my sympathy.

  33. Kyra

    Fucking OUCH!

    Top of the wuss-pile is fine; I’ve been there three times. Once for wisdom teeth, twice for period cramps so bad I was honestly crying and moaning about the pain . . . I was embarrased about that for months.

    Mastectomy . . . shit. Poor Twisty. Only one single, solitary good thing about mastectomies, and you have to have two of them and be pregnant for that to work. Specifically, whenever you’re buying baby formula or bottle-feeding in public and some mommy-drive-by comes up and scolds you for not breastfeeding, you can tearfully bring up your cancer-caused inability to do so and make them feel guilty. As you can see, it is of no help here, so I guess you’ll have to be content with surviving. And, of course, blaming the patriarchy.

  34. Ron Sullivan

    One endures these barbaric tortures…

    Oh yeah. For what it’s worth, I had one of those brain flashes some years back when I was bumbling through all kinds of weird shit about asthma and the mysterious and inexact treatments thereunto applied. For some reason, I found it a great consolation to realize that we live in the Dark Ages, and we’re all doing the best we can.

    Except the patriarchy, of course.

  35. Amanda Marcotte

    Holy crap, you are brave. And don’t let no one tell you otherwise–it’s brave just to share this with people.

    A full masectomy?! :( I’m so sorry.

    And I’m in full patriarchy-blaming mode. I feel my boobs like they tell me for lumps, but I have little ones, too, and I can’t tell a lump from a gland. My doctor gave me a fake boob to practice on, and wouldn’t you know it, the fake boob did not have glands so that you can feel the difference.

  36. Amanda Marcotte

    For the record, that’s not navel-gazing, or not intended to be. More that I think the patriarchy inclines us to blame women for our cancer sufferings and frankly, we don’t have the tools to find what’s wrong. It’s no replacement for prevention, which we are way too short on in this culture.

  37. Hissy Cat

    Best wishes, Twisters.

    I remember those fake boobs. During a dorm meeting freshmen year, the sex health educators passed them around so we could all have a squeeze. I remember there were fake testicles, too. Fun!

    Twisty, rock on.

  38. anne

    if you peel these letters off your screen and drop them in water, they expand into a cool grey drizzly afternoon, a rocking chair, a cup of tea, a long view, a bunch of tough motherly women in the corner stitching and bitching (quietly) while they wait for you to ask for a foot rub, the good drugs everyone else recommends, some hair-brushing, and endlessly companionable blaming of the fucking patriarchy.

    with love.

  39. Lauren

    God, I heart you. Are you interested in a cabana girl from Indiana (small child included)?

  40. Sara

    The fact is, I stand alone at the top of the wuss-pile. I am whiney and plaintive. I cry for my mommy. I gurgle. And I don’t give a fuck who knows it, either. I mean, fuck it.

    What, you think the rest of us don’t scream and whine, too? Honey, I am so needle-phobic (based on experience, and yes, it really was the patriarchy’s fault) that before I could have my leg amputated (fucking cancer!), I had to go through several weeks of psychotherapy just so I could bear to get blood tests, just so I could stand the needle that was going to inject me with radioactive dye for my PET scan, just so I could stand to have the IV placed and the epidural. It’s the patriarchy that wants us all to act like brave little soldiers. It’s the patriarchy that wants us all meek and submissive, sunnily smiling like TV heroines so that they can treat us like meat without feeling bad about it, without, in fact, feeling much of anything, you know, just in case things don’t turn out so well.

    I don’t have to, but I find I suffer less if I give a courtesy warning to a new doctor. I warn him/her that I expect our relationship to be one of boss (me)/employee (doctor and staff), that I am in fact going to pitch a decibels-loud hissy fit anytime a needle comes within five feet of me, and they are all just going to have to deal with it. The best among them accept this and sometimes even encourage it. The rest are not my doctors anymore.

    Stifling your true emotions can make you sicker, so go ahead and let ‘er rip. Sometimes crying out loud is a mark of courage, ’cause it means you’re not so afraid of what other people think that you can’t be honest with yourself.

  41. Denise

    I’m sorry to hear your biopsy was so uncomfortable. 8 shot in the areola sounds positively hellish, as does shivering on a talbe for 2 hours and puking for 3 more. I hope the mix of pain meds and alcohol you take is effective at taking the edge off, and I hope that the mastectomy is less traumatizing all around.

    It occurs to me that my partner’s cancer experience has been minimally traumatizing (excepting the insurance company and the doctor’s billing office, but I hear that’s fairly standard) and that the others in my life who I haven’t been as close to through their treatment have experienced much worse. Today, you have increased my admiration for not only you (for I would be a whimpering ball of gelatinous goo clutching my stuffed animals if I had to go through what you did today) but for the women around me who have fought against cancer (and other debilitating illnesses), whether they won or lost.

  42. caroline

    I add my voice to the others, woman. May the mastectomy go easier, the nurses be a healing blessing, and your healing be speedy and complete. You’re doing what you need to do to survive. putting it out there for the rest of us is extra and I thank you for it, chica.
    I send you many hugs,

  43. bitchphd

    And on the question of bravery: bravery isn’t about not feeling scared and whiny. It’s about doing what you need to do even though you feel scared and whiny.

  44. sois disant

    Twisty, you are on the top of any pile, anywhere, any day. Thank you so much for keeping us aware of what goes on, what it feels like, and what it *looks* like even. I nominate your Photo Series for the next Dove Real Beauty campaign…yours shines through and through.

  45. TP

    Twisty your ordeal sounds horrendous. I’m so sorry.

    Puking for 3 hours would clean wipe me out on its own, never mind the other horrors!

    I hope your pooches are being cuddly big teddies for you.

  46. Bridge

    I blame the patriarchy for the evils listed/pictured above, and more of course, and I am so with you as you move forward through this tough journey you’ve got ahead.

    I also “blame” you, my dear, for attracting what seems to me the largest, kindest, coolest, most sister-powered kick-ass, right-on, empowered, gracefully articulate bunch of comments I’ve seen. You are loved so big, sunny days and chocolate are getting jealous!

  47. laurelin

    Twisty, your courage is inspirational. Have mega hugs from me.

  48. Meribeth

    Not brave? BS..part of fighting any battle is screaming, venting and dumping spleen as needed. Anyway, only the patriarchy would expect a woman to suffer quietly and with stoic detachment. Fuck that! Shit, we know the pissing that goes on when the Others get a paper cut. So whine and bitch on.

    You are and will continue to be beautiful.

  49. Reecie

    That photo is magnificent. Heartwrenching, but so compelling — thank you for sharing that. I’m not a huggy-type person, but it would be difficult to keep from hugging you right now if I were there.

    Please tell me you have someone there to look after you during these difficult weeks. Partner, friend, family, someone? No one should have to deal with something so scary and painful alone.

    Sending strength and peace.

  50. julia

    Love you, Twisty. Please be safe and healthy.

  51. Philoillogica

    Boobs are marvellous things, but patriarchy-blaming is better. One doesn’t need actual tits to have a formidable rack. You’re still my uber-goddess, Twisty.

  52. BitingBeaver

    *sigh* Damned Patriarchy.

    You *are* brave Twisty and you’re brave because you have to be. Even if you cry and pout and throw a good, old-fashioned, Twisty hissy you’re STILL brave.

    Posting those pictures was brave and tossing aside your predetermined role as woman is also brave.

    And goddamnit, I fucking HATE cold hospital rooms! It’s the worst kind of torture, to be sitting in one of those ridiculous gowns shivering while you wait for the Dr. to finally get to you.

    Make them give you good pain meds and try to keep your feet up and relax, read a good book and know that your fans love and adore you and are wishing you a speedy recovery.

    Bravery comes in all sizes Twisty.

  53. leslie

    delurking to send wishes of healing and less pain next week. And to urge you to make sure you have an assertive friend/family member with you post-surgery to raise whatever hell it takes to make sure you get enough pain meds because you’ll be both groggy and hurting. I have been that advocate for both of my parents numerous times so I’ve seen it first-hand, it’s crucial.

    I’m sorry you’re going through this – it sucks.

  54. Metta

    I add my own good energy to the data stream.

  55. jayann

    Oh God. I was hoping for better news for you today. At the very least, relative freedom from pain.

    I went through the first part of this but under general anaesthetic and with no pain after; and I didn’t have cancer after all, the outpatient biopsy result was misleading. Still I do know some of what you were feeling before the op and especially, during any time you were waiting for biopsy results.

  56. Steph

    Twisty, you aren’t ever going to be the poster-girl for the pink-ribbonites which is exactly what I love about you.

  57. Lisa

    Yet another lurker here, impressed beyond words at the love pouring out for you. You completely deserve it, being a beacon of patriarchy-blaming in a world of feminine subjugation. Don’t subjugate, Twisty! It’s more important now than ever. Bitch at them, puke on them, spit in their eyes, but don’t let them ignore or marginalize you or make you feel diminished in any way. And for fuck’s sake, don’t feel bad for feeling bad. What you’re going through sucks, and everyone knows it. To be a stoic little soldier is to suppress self.

    Oh, and if you need a bitchy advocate on site to puncture the PMA-spouting patriarchists while you’re indisposed, I’m sure you could get a small army to surround you and demand the best treatment whatever facility you choose can provide. I know I can take a couple of days off from work, and I’d be glad to come down.

  58. TMo

    Nothing like needles to the boob to find out what you’re made of, huh? And as much as I wanted to believe that I was beyond the whole “boobs defining me as a woman” thing, I’ll admit it did creep in after they cut a small chunk out of my breast, leaving me with a decent scar. Can I blame the patriarchy for that? I must say though, after all the physical and emotional pain, I feel stronger for it. Another life experience under the belt, another battle scar I have learned to embrace. Twisty, I feel for you sister and know you will get through this. If posting your photo is any indication, you already have more courage than I ever did. I hope your hospital experience goes as smoothly as possible, and wish you a speedy recovery.

  59. novice blamer

    Joining the chorus of Twisty you’re brave even if you don’t think you are, Twisty I *heart* you, fuck the fucking cancer and the fucking patriarchy, I’d like to add another acronym: PCA = patient-controlled analgesia. Best thing ever.

    They attach a pump full of morphine to your IV, and give you a button to press. You press the button, it gives you a small hit of morphine. You can have more whenever you want, (except that it knows how much it gave you and won’t give a lethal dose). You never have to worry about lying there in pain waiting for your next shot from the nurse, and if you’re starting to feel a bit better, you don’t wind up drugged out of your mind when you don’t want to be. I hope they’re already planning to set you up with that, because it rocks.

  60. Dean

    Cancer is a serious and nasty business. But I’m thinking it’s no match for you, Twisty, and should therefore be prepared to get its ass kicked.

    Here’s hoping for a quick and effective procedure, a generous prescription for pain meds, and a speedy recovery. We’re all rootin’ for ya.

  61. robin

    Imagine so many of us, from so many corners of this chaotic world, cheering you on! Most of us have never even met you, which makes this a huge and outlandish testament to the heart, intelligence and wit and humanity of La Twisty. You’ve gotten our admiration and attention from your cogent naked-emperor-spotting missives, and now you’ve got our love and empathy as well.

  62. larkspur

    Oh, Sara, what you wrote is important: “…I find I suffer less if I give a courtesy warning to a new doctor. I warn him/her that I expect our relationship to be one of boss (me)/employee (doctor and staff), that I am in fact going to pitch a decibels-loud hissy fit anytime a needle comes within five feet of me, and they are all just going to have to deal with it. The best among them accept this and sometimes even encourage it. The rest are not my doctors anymore….”

    I hope you can adapt that attitude to your own situation, Twisty. The frustrating thing is how you have to do this when you are least equipped to muster the emotional wherewithal. It’s impossible to yell, demand an agenda, present a list of demands, or analyze the implications when you’re in a tube, being all radioactive, or when you’re barfing.

    I am far from Austin, but I know good Austinites (Austonians?) abound. Somebody needs to connect with Twisty and activate a network: rides to and from, pillow-plumping, nurse yelling-at (while you’re still in the hospital), note-taking when the docs talk, laundry help, etc. A good model for organizing assistance is set out by Share The Care (sharethecare.org).
    Twisty, is this something you’d be open to, or does it make you recoil in horror? Because you’re the boss here.

  63. Ancrene Wiseass

    In *The Body in Pain*, Elaine Scarry writes about the myth of the stoic torture victim. She reminds us that pain is, well, pain, and it really is awful. People who experience much of it at all are not capable of pretending that it isn’t happening and that it doesn’t hurt. What you’ve been through sure sounds like torture to me.

    As others have said, you are very brave, even when you’re whimpering and yelling and puking. Whimper, yell, and puke all you need to. You’re our hero precisely because you refuse to be either meek or stoic.

    And if all our hero-worship gets annoying, you should definitely yell about that, too.

  64. AndiF

    Nothing much more to say but just wanted to add to all the good vibes going your way.

    Poor taste Pollyanna moment: when my mom’s best friend had her mastectomy it ruined her golf swing so at least you will have an excellent reason to ignore that patriarchal boredom masquerading as sport.

  65. liz

    Good vibes coming your way. Why the hell do they need to do a biospy and then a second surgery if they know it’s cancer? Talk about your patriarchy-blaming content.

  66. Twisty

    when my mom’s best friend had her mastectomy it ruined her golf swing so at least you will have an excellent reason to ignore that patriarchal boredom masquerading as sport.

    I expect it will, however, improve my archery.

  67. AndiF

    I expect it will, however, improve my archery.

    Ah, so you the really good bad taste pollyanna moment would be to say that now you can emulate that most stellar patriarchy-blamer, Hippolyta.

  68. Elise

    Oy. 8 shots to the areola … I believe I feel faint. This whole thing sucks ASS, but I know you’ll rock us all with your emergence as a true amazon.

  69. Round Rob'n

    I expect it will, however, improve my archery

    A thought sure to strike fear throughout the patriarchy.

    Good luck on your surgery, and happy hunting

  70. Ledasmom

    Yeah, the PCA is good stuff. My husband had that when he had an open reduction on his broken wrist, and he said that not only did it help with the pain, he was able to make the first four pages of his book last for hours.

  71. flea

    Ah, Twisty. You are the coolest of the cool beans.

  72. ae

    Twisty, maybe you could write _The Amazon Chronicles_, a ‘fuck you’ to fucking cancer, and a companion monograph to your general ‘fuck you’s to patriarchy. Slings and arrows, indeed.

    Now, if y’all will excuse me, I have swooned over Chris Clarke’s Shulamith Firestone reference, and, for once, I’m not blaming the patriarchy.

    [Anne at 10:44 p.m.: lovely.]

  73. radmila

    God spare life, girl.

  74. FlippyO

    I knew the patriarchy sucked ass, but not this kind of ass. Okay, I kind of knew about this too (my mother had breast cancer – she’s very proud of her four tattoo dots for the radiation), but like you, should something happen to me, the word they’re gonna use for me is whiny, complaining, pain pill demanding, impatient…and maybe even bitch. I hope it comes across as “brave” though.

    Good luck to you. Success rates are high, especially for the cranky.

  75. cindyd

    I have not been able to get that picture out of my head since I saw it, and I have been thinking of you a lot. Hang in there, and know that you are loved. I wish we all could gather around you in person, but I guess we’ll have to do it in spirit instead.

  76. Finn

    So many have said it so much better before me, but I’m here to wish you well, my friend.

    I’ve had the privelege of rocking onstage by your side, and I hope memories of those fun times can be of some comfort during this tough time.

    And, hey, instead of calling it a mastectomy, you could say it was rock-related surgery… to clear off some room for your Les Paul strap. ;-)

    Keep rockin, Twisty, you know we love you!!


  77. Winter

    Ah no, my not at all brave nipples have inverted themselves and gone into hiding after reading this. I also blame the patriarchy. The ideal of the brave stoic woman who smiles through the pain and never complains is clearly deployed to keep women quiet about the torture inflicted upon them in the name of medicine. They have to be able to look after people better than this!
    But I will from now on be checking my own breasts a lot more reguarly. Good luck Twisty. You are indeed brave, but I hope you keep on yelling and complaining about all the shit, becasue we need to hear about it.

  78. lcgillies

    I’ll be thinking of you—surely all this bloggish energy, albeit from parts mainly unknown, should help at some level.

    The best advice, which I can only echo, is to take someone you trust along with you to advocate. I’ve done this for two people in my family so far, and it really works. You need someone to push back and kick ass if need be. Even in the best of circumstances, when the nursing is great, there’s never enough to go around. Someone with even half your firepower should about do it!

    The treatment sucks but often enough it works, and you get to bash the patriarchy for a good while longer. We need you to help with that…

  79. Sapphire

    Twisty, how about I hold the mean nurse down while you puke on her? And I’ll remember what NOT to do when I’m a nurse. Best wishes to you and thanks for bringing patriarchy blaming into my blogosphere.

  80. Nancy

    It sounds like you had a sentinel node biopsy. They do it so that they don’t have to remove lots of lymph nodes, which spares you problems with swelling (lymphedema) and use of your arm down the road. The waiting is because the radioactive dye must spread to the lymph nodes so that they can know which ones to dissect (instead of removing most of them). They can’t know how serious the cancer is without seeing whether it has spread to your lymph nodes. This determines the treatment with chemotherapy (which drugs will be used). I doubt your surgeon was playing bridge, but they can’t do anything until your body does its thing and the dye spreads, which takes hours. If you understand the reasons for your treatments, you will perhaps not take it all as torture and instead see that this is intended to zero in on the best treatment and prolong your life. If you were born in a really barbaric age, you would have no choice but to die unpleasantly and soon. This is a much better time for medicine because most cancers are now treatable.

    People here are talking a lot about pain but this isn’t any more painful than any number of small surgeries, including cosmetic ones. I assume you are talking to your surgeon about reconstructive surgery, often done at the same time as the mastectomy.

    As for PMA, the nurse is trying to help you cope better because treatment involves the mind not just the body. She isn’t the patriarchy. You don’t seem to recognize that your treatment is intended to cure you. Cancer is the enemy — not the nurses or surgeon or medicine. Everyone wishes you well, especially the people treating you. I do too. That’s why it is hard to watch you make this harder for yourself. The nurse is trying to tell you that people who become partners in their own treatment do better. Direct the anger toward the cancer, not the treatment. The treatment brings hope and hope is essential to healing both mind and body.

    Why should you expect this to be fun, pleasant or painless? Frankly, childbirth is worse in terms of pain, inconvenience, etc., but it is joyful because it is the beginning of a new life. Your treatment is bringing a new life because you will get your threatened years back after the pain and inconvenience. There can be gain, not just loss.

    Here’s a feminist issue. Why doesn’t anyone encourage or expect women to be brave? And if they do, as your nurse tried to, why are they reviled for it? Sympathy feels good but I’m not sure it is good for you.

    The picture has a “Look what you did to me” feel to it. It isn’t horrible. I hope your doctors do whatever it takes to keep you around, whether it hurts or not.

  81. kathy a

    dear nancy —

    i don’t see any evidence that twisty has failed to understand that CANCER will kill her if she doesn’t kill it. or that she is failing to participate in her own treatment. to the contrary, she is getting the tests and treatment, doing the research, drawing on support of friends. she is losing her breast, her dignity, and peace of mind, precisely because she has to.

    what she does not have to do is be happy about it. a person can be justifiably cranky and still be responsible. a person can let off steam outside of treatment, and still cooperate with the treatment.

    a masectomy is not comparable at all to childbirth, much less cosmetic surgery. i can’t imagine how making those comparisons could be helpful to someone facing a potentially lethal crisis and non-elective surgery. perhaps what you really mean is that one day, this will be behind twisty, and her life will be back on track — that, of course, is a sentiment with which we all agree.

  82. Twisty


    Thanks for letting me know how these little cancer surgeries are a fucking joyous tiptoe through the tulips. I’ll be sure to remember that on Monday when they’re fucking SAWING OFF MY BREAST.

  83. mlr

    Goddammit Nancy. No one encourages women to be brave? Are you KIDDING? Our society has all but deified the mythological Brave Cancer Survivor With A Beautiful Attitude. I encourage you to consider exactly WHO the “PMA” is designed to assist…as the most recent science has all but proven that attitude makes absolutely no difference in the patient’s outcome. The only exception would be an attitude of utter indifference, which would lead to not seeking treatment. And that’s clearly not the case here.

    The mandatory positive attitude is designed with everyone else’s comfort in mind. People undergoing treatment have a right to be angry, confrontational, insoucient, supercilious, carbonated, inflammable or any other adjective she chooses. Feelings aren’t good or bad. I might go so far as to say that white-hot anger can be a cleansing force. The kind I feel reading your comments above, well-intentioned though I presume they were.

  84. flea

    Wow, Nancy. You really suck.

  85. Buffalo Gal

    Nancy, I just saw a “breast cancer awareness month” piece on TV about the Brave Mom and Wife who fought Bravely against her Disease with Positive Attitude and Humor, right up until her Death at Age 44. It sickened me. You can’t tell me there weren’t times she was pounding the walls, screaming, why me? My own mother did the “I’ve been through worse” routine about her cancer. I think my sisters and I would have been closer to her in her last years if she had let us comfort her, instead of pretending that nothing was really wrong.

    Twisty is giving us all the opportunity to show our love to her – yeah, we really do love you, girl! – and refusing to go gently into whatever good night is before her.

  86. jayann

    Nancy, when my surgeon showed me the biopsy result that meant I probably had cancer, he had tears in his eyes. When I then said “but this is good news? it means I don’t definitely have cancer?” he looked at me with compassion. He is a great guy — and a top doctor — and I will always be glad he was my doctor, not someone who thought patients should be cheerful; I breezed through most of the wait for the second biopsy result because I had such faith, medical and personal, in him and his staff. *Don’t tell Twisty how to behave*!

  87. Chris Clarke

    To do list:

    1) Hold your little mouse-cursor-pointy-thing over Nancy’s name beneath her comment.

    2) Look in the lower left hand corner (probably) of your browser window to see where it links to.

    3) Meditate on the “psy” in “[Nancy’s email address] @psy.ucsd.edu” and what it stands for.

    4) Wonder if Nancy is in private practice in addition to being a research pshrink.

    5) Wonder still further, in rather morbid fashion, as to whether she might say this sort of thing to a patient in her care who has cancer.

    6) Go to Google, type in the name “john birknes” and click “I’m feeling lucky.”

    7) Read the page that comes up from my late pal Maddy’s blog.

    8) Reflect on easy it is, in these days of the Internets, for insanely insensitive medical professionals to earn lasting karmic rewards that follow them for a very long time indeed.

  88. MsKate

    Awww Nancy, don’t cry … tearing out your fingernails doesn’t hurt. It’s only cosmetic surgery …

    Thanks for “putting twisty in her place” so she “won’t scare women”. We really need more patriarchal systems in our society to tell us what we do and don’t feel, what does and does not hurt, and what good girls should and shouldn’t do, now don’t we?

  89. MsKate

    Ewwww! What kind of fucktard professor puts pictures of her kid when said kid was little AND a whole friggin gallery of “look at my daugher all grown up with her fuckbuddy fiance'” on her PROFESSIONAL UNIVERSITY webpage? Nancy, that’s who.

    I think we should all snailmail her some barf.

  90. Becker

    Twisty, I’ll let the others speak to your bravery. I find your grand sense of humor to be my inspiration. The little nurses and Nancy’s of the world will just never get it.

  91. Sara*

    And why does Nancy assume that Twisty wants “reconstructive surgery”?

    Does shi need two breasts to make hir fully womyn?

    Twisty: Thinking of you on the morning of your transformation, and kicking the patriarchy in each place I see it. Want some company down there?

  92. Christopher

    Now, in my opinion, doing something that hurts now to prevent more pain later on is a sign of bravery.

    Lots of us do stupid things that we know will turn out for the worse just to avoid being in pain right now.

    Of course, maybe you (Probably?) you’ve done that kind of thing before and you didn’t do it now because this is more important or was already too much to deal with. I don’t know, it’s just the thought that came into my head when you said you weren’t brave.

    Or, to put it another way, at least you aren’t as big a wuss as some other people.

  93. Judith

    I read about you on the Bitch’s web site today, as you’re having surgery. I hope you are done by now and recovering. If there is a discussion group at your hospital or one in the area, I highly recommend that you think about participating. I was diagnosed last fall and joined one geared toward young women: we passed along info about what docs had a good bedside manner (other docs are hesitant to be critical), drugs, reconstructive surgery, lifestyle stuff, etc. I also recommend the “young survival” web site/discussion board. It was helpful to meet a lot of young, together, post-mastectomy women. There is so much to learn when you start this process, and a good group of peers can provide a useful head start.

  94. Judith

    I read about you on the Bitch’s web site today, as you’re having surgery. I hope you are done by now and recovering. If there is a discussion group at your hospital or one in the area, I highly recommend that you think about participating. I was diagnosed last fall and joined one geared toward young women: we passed along info about what docs had a good bedside manner (other docs are hesitant to be critical), drugs, reconstructive surgery, lifestyle stuff, etc. I also recommend the “young survival” web site/discussion board. It was helpful to meet a lot of young, together, post-mastectomy women. There is so much to learn when you start this process, and a good group of peers can provide a useful head start.

Comments have been disabled.