On August 18th of this year my whole life changed forever. I was waiting in a patient room with a close friend after undergoing a colonoscopy and the doctor walked in and said, “I have really bad news for you. We found a tumor in your rectum that we believe is malignant. We believe you have cancer that has spread to your lymph nodes, liver and lungs. This is considered stage 4 cancer.”
It felt like a sucker punch. I couldn’t breathe. I fumbled with my phone to call my best friend and to Skype Liz in Australia at the same time. I wasn’t able to function. Once I got Liz on Skype she asked the doctor how long I had. He told us “months.”
Back in July I had gotten really sick for the first time and ended up in the hospital for five days. That is the first time that I said to myself I can’t work on Listening 2 Lesbians. I was exhausted, ill, scared. They couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me because they kept ignoring my symptoms. She can’t have rectal cancer, she’s only 42. No colorectal cancers in her family. No weight-loss. Generally quite healthy.
It turns out this is happening to a lot of younger people. Colorectal cancer is increasing drastically in 20-, 30-, and 40-year olds, but it’s taking a hell of a lot of self-advocacy to get the doctors looking in that direction. It’s an older person’s cancer no longer, but not enough medical professionals are listening. I had to demand a colonoscopy and I was referred very reluctantly.
I’m telling you my story so you know where Listening 2 Lesbians has been since July. Why we stopped so abruptly after our big campaign against Facebook gained us a bit of additional attention. How Liz and I have had everything change, from looking forward to immigrating to Australia in October to finding out Australia doesn’t let people with cancer into their country permanently, and many times, even temporarily. How even marriage equality in Australia, if it happens, will have little to no effect on their decision-making process. Liz is stuck in Australia and I am stuck in the USA with cancer.
And in the middle of all of this devastating news I have mourned the loss of my ability to work on Listening 2 Lesbians. I have come to understand that my Purpose in life is to work for the safety and well-being of the lesbian community living in all corners of the world. I have such passion for our community and I truly believe we can become a much stronger force for our own self-advocacy. Whether it’s fighting Facebook’s discrimination, or standing up for and with our sisters in South Africa who face rape and death on a daily basis, we have a lot to do. I believe we can make a difference, even in this fucked up world we live in today.
Luckily for me, my oncologist was pretty pissed off at that doctor who gave me months to live. He told me simply that the median is 2-3 years, but everyone is different. If you look at the statistics, people are making it years, decades even, past that median. I’m young, strong, determined. And I have Purpose. That Purpose is you, dear followers of Listening 2 Lesbians. I plan on sticking around for a very long time.
Moving forward I will be starting the news section of L2L back up again. I am currently looking at my last round of chemo in less than a week. It will be the end of my first treatment. They will scan my body again and see if it worked. After that, could be radiation, could be more chemo, or it could be both at the same time. I will update L2L when I feel well and rest when I don’t. So, while we are not back 100%, we are at least back up and running. Please bear with us during this difficult time. You may see a lot of articles you’ve already read as we try to catch up on recording acts of violence and discrimination against lesbians around the world. You might not see many blog posts like we used to write. We are going to do what we can with what we have.
I encourage every one of you to do the same. Do what you can with what you have for your lesbian sisters. We need each other more than ever now. We are listening to you and for you at L2L. It’s good to be back.