What now?


What now? Well, I could talk about BC/DC/RFCT, (Before Cancer /During Cancer/Recovering From Cancer Treatment) but I am not ready to do that yet.

So I’ll be my Canadian self for a few minutes and talk about the weather.  And dogs. And mention lesbian because this is a lesbian blog written by a lesbian and the noun lesbian ought to be sprinkled freely throughout.


It’s the morning of a cold-alert day in Toronto. Cold alert or not, the dogs need to go out and it occurs to me (in that anthropomorphic flight of fancy thinking thing that I do) that it’s unlikely the weather gives a hoot that I’m a lesbian. Or the weather gods and goddesses. Or the dogs. I’m certain they don’t care.

They sit on the landing of the stairs and wait somewhat patiently as I get ready to face, in Canadian-weather reality, a fair-to-middling freeze. For a real deep freeze, I’d need to be in the Prairies, or in Nunavut or somewhere well into Northern Ontario.  I am not in any of those places, nevertheless, -20C with 40K wind gusts is freekin’ cold.

I would not go out given the choice, but I don’t have a choice. If you have dogs you know the cliché: no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate dress. Even for lesbians who have dogs. And so I get ready, talking quietly to the dogs. They tilt their heads in unison seeming to understand when I say, “just a few more minutes,” as I pile on the protection: two pairs of thermal leggings, lined winter pants, two wool sweaters — cashmere, of course — scarf, wool hat, a super-warm hooded coat, lined boots, a pair of thin wool gloves that slip easily into fleece-lined wool gloves.

Mindful awareness: the small of my back starts to sweat.

The dogs are standing. They know I’m almost ready for this winter trek. But I need more time to fill my coat pockets with the necessities: specially made bags to pick up after the dogs, my phone, water bottle. I need another hand with all the stuff I have to haul around with me.

We step out onto the porch. The teeny tiny hairs in my nose freeze immediately.  The wind takes my breath away.  We’re tough the three of us.  Well, maybe the old terriermix rescue dog is tough. Poodle regards me in a way that I interpret — then translate into Canadian English — as, “are you nuts?”

Down the steps we go. My extreme cold-weather mantra playing silently in my head. I try to say it silently + loudly to drown out the constant buzz in my head; a maddening side-effect of chemotherapy that is slowly driving me insane. It doesn’t work. But I digress — Focus. Focus on mantra.

  • In-breath: I love my dogs I love my dogs I love my dogs.
  • Hold a moment, and
  • Out-breath: Fuck! It’s cold. OOPS!! I mean, I love my dogs I love my dogs I love my dogs.

Bundled up and walking with two dogs on a Toronto street, no one would be able to tell that I’m a card-carrying lesbian. And it doesn’t matter that they can’t. Not one itsy-bitsy bit. Because right now, I am in my winter armour braving the weather with my head down against the wind as the dogs’ ears flap and flip about with each gust.

It’s a good thing that people can’t tell by looking at me that I’m a lesbian. I fly under the radar. Which is useful, because, well, here’s why: the lesbian plot that I am brewing to take over the world and encourage women to get educated, receive equal pay for equal work, and to dress comfortably with an edge of oh, so cool and amazing (in stark contrast to an enforced 1950s throwback to stereotype, fashion-editorial model style and department store mannequin wear — is on hold. For now. I need more energy.  Or minions.

As we walk, I notice that people are not saying, “oh, there goes that crazy lesbian again.” No, they are not. But I notice that they are thinking.  Wait a sec: they are saying — because in an alternate lesbian universe I have telepathic powers — “those poor dogs! They should be inside.”

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Some things just don’t make sense

Hate will NEver win 2


I watched the news.

First the Canadian. Then the American. Then the British.

And I listened hard. Keeping my feet flat on the floor. Remembering to breathe, and, to avoid jumping to conclusions.

But I had a conclusion. It crawled up my spine. It said, “this is shocking. Remember? This is what that awful sinking shock feeling feels like.”

I can hold that conclusion for the rest of my life.





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I see Lesbian Haircut #32.

lion's eyes- drawing from the hospital bed


Breathing in, raising my eyebrows, blinking slowly, then breathing out slowly while holding my body still for this delicate operation: putting mascara on my eyelashes.

I keep trying different brands of mascara. Looking for the perfect one.

No eyeliner. No blush. My skin can’t handle either one right now.

Reddish lipstick on my lips.

I try — and fail — to avoid looking at myself in the mirror.

Practising acceptance. It is how it is for now.

Turning away from the mirror, walking out in the hallway, she’s there waiting for me.

“I have cancer hair,” I say as I bury my face in her neck, careful to avoid smudging my mascara in case it’s not dry yet.

She wraps her arms around me and says, “No you don’t.”

I’m a littler, slighter me now. “Yes I do,” I insist.

“No, you don’t,” she repeats.

Voices in my head: yes I do yes I do yes I do. But I don’t say that outloud. Maybe I’m the only one who sees it.

We go out. I can last 3 hours now.


Jenn at the salon didn’t blink twice when I saw her after treatment. My hair was long enough to cover the effects of chemotherapy that thinned it and radiation that made hair fall out at the back and left side of my head.  I catastrophized: the only thing to do was something radical. I did not want radical.

I left the salon with my hair buzzed at the back to the ridge of my skull. Shorter at the sides and front. That piece of hair that falls over my eyes is still there. There’s some length to it on top. I can tuck bits of hair behind my ears.

A modern bob is what Jenn called it. I see lesbian haircut #32. And it works. For cancer hair.



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