Flight of the phoenix

29 Mar

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here. Which is good in some ways because it means I’ve been busy and not just moping around having cancer. Not that I’ve done a whole lot of moping, but there’s been some quality “under the coffee table time,” which I think is allowed (even in my family).

Primarily I’ve been working, writing stories about everything from the Hunger Games Workout to getting naked at the gym to Ashley Judd’s weirdly puffy face. I’ve also been running and socializing and swing dancing and doing a bit of dating here and there. In other words, wending my way back to my pre-cancerous life.

Or at least giving it my best shot.

But there are always reminders — and I’m not just talking about the new “pixie cut” or my flat-ironed chest. I’m flying to Arizona today which used to mean stressing out about packing and getting to the airport on time and worrying whether I’d be seated next to someone I’d accidentally made out with in college. Now that I have my breast cancer merit badge, though, I have new things to worry about.

TSA, for instance. Are they going to make me slap out my “gummi boobs” in front of dozens of passengers the way they did a breast cancer survivor from Charlotte, N.C., back in November 2010? Are they going to confiscate my prostheses as potential weapons of mass (transit) destruction? (Cue the fembot video).

Curious as to how other breast cancer survivors have fared while flying, I went online and immediately found a discussion board filled with posts from women with the exact same concerns. Some had indeed been subjected to invasive pat-downs and/or queries about what exactly they were packing in their bra (a question I haven’t had since seventh grade). Others talked about leaving “the girls” in their suitcase so they wouldn’t be grilled about the strange blobs on their chest after going through the body scanner. A couple (jokingly) talked about tossing their fake boobs into the gray plastic bins along with their shoes and purse and everything else.

I’m definitely not going to hide my girls away in a suitcase like some kind of illegal contraband. Likewise, I don’t want to have to announce to a complete stranger that my pretty Spanx bra is full of spongy silicone and not much else (although the thought of throwing my gummi boobs onto the conveyor belt with my bags and shoes and coat does have a perverse comedic appeal). On yet another note, I’m not too keen on going through the full body scanner, at least not after receiving 33 daily blasts of radiation this last fall.

Then there’s the whole lymphedema issue. Since I had lymph nodes removed from both sides (9 on the right, 3 on the left), I’m at risk for this crap. And flying, of course, is one of the big ways it can be triggered. Unfortunately, I remembered this about two days before my departure date, which didn’t give me enough time to find what’s known as a “compression garment,” i.e. a super tight sleeve (preferably in black).

So now in addition to worrying about the plane crashing (or the pilot or flight attendant having a meltdown), I have to worry about getting publicly outed by an over-zealous TSA agent and possibly having my arms swell up to twice their size.

On a positive note, though, Seattle is a sad, soggy mess while I’m headed for 85 degree weather. Also, more importantly, I’m still alive to bitch about all this stuff. ; )

Wish me luck, folks, and as always, thanks for the read.  Also, if anyone has any stories to share about flying with fake boobs (or fake anything else), I’d love to hear them!

11 Responses to “Flight of the phoenix”

  1. rosiebogie March 29, 2012 at 11:00 am #

    I am SO glad to hear that your life has returned to normal. Or rather, a new sense of normal. I hope that your flight goes off without a hitch!

    12 more blasts for me with my final being Friday the 13th. How awesome is that?

    • singleshot1 April 7, 2012 at 8:55 am #

      Thanks so much for the sweet note. It does feel good to have life returning to “normal,” although, as you say, my normal has been retooled a bit.

      Great news that you’re almost done with radiation. And I love that Friday the 13th is your last date! Hope you’re not too burned.

      I did manage to make it through all of the TSA security checks with my dignity (and girls) intact. Didn’t have any issues with lymphedema either (whew!) although I did get trapped in Dallas for two extra days, thanks to the crazy tornadoes. Go figger!

  2. Jalapeno Bob March 29, 2012 at 2:33 pm #

    Enjoy your flight, if you can. I used to enjoy flying, but not any more. The airplanes are too crowded, the security system, the lines, et al. If possible, I take Amtrak rather than fly.

    Keep us posted!

    • singleshot1 April 7, 2012 at 8:58 am #

      Thanks Bob! Flying has definitely become much less pleasant these last few years, but it is fast (Amtrak’s great if you have more time). Was really happy that everything went off without a hitch — unless you count the lost luggage and the tornadoes and cancelled flight. ; ) Am home now and delighted that I brought some AZ and TX sunshine back with me!

  3. Laura Temkin March 29, 2012 at 3:36 pm #

    I love the idea of not moping around having cancer. It’s hard to move past that.

    • singleshot1 April 7, 2012 at 9:00 am #

      It definitely gets easier as time goes by. I think cancer is a lot like grief. You just have to move through it and recognize that there are going to be good days and bad days. The further out you get from treatment, though, the more good days there are (at least that’s been the case for me).

  4. nyazborderland March 29, 2012 at 6:24 pm #

    best of luck on the fllight. you are probably here by now! Arizona is great this time of year. I’m in AZ, and if i can help in any way, you can probably access the email piece of this. feel free.

    • singleshot1 April 7, 2012 at 9:01 am #

      Thanks so much for the sweet offer to help. AZ was gorgeous and I wish I had had more time to explore. I’m home now and while it’s sunny here in Seatle, the temperature is about 50 degrees cooler. I miss those palm trees!

  5. amy April 1, 2012 at 4:36 am #

    God you are so funny! Thanks for your post, Diane! And just wait until you get your tissue expanders……those suckers have a magnetic valve (for when you get your “fills”) and actually set off the alarm at the metal detector! THAT is a fun one to explain!! Unfortunately, with how common breast cancer is, I’m afraid the TSA people aren’t all that surprised by anything anymore…..its still an unpleasant thing to have to anticipate. Travel just isn’t fun these days…..I hope you have a great trip!

    • singleshot1 April 7, 2012 at 9:10 am #

      Thanks for the note, Amy, and for “filling” me in on the tissue expander issue. Something to look forward to in days to come, I guess. ; ) Was really relieved that TSA didn’t put me through the giant X-ray machine (don’t need any extra radiation) or try to confiscate my “Lee Press-On Boobs.” Am home from my travels now and trying to process everything that happened this past week (lost luggage, baby kittens, tornadoes – it was packed!). Hope all is well with you and thanks again for stopping by!

  6. Barbara Little May 21, 2013 at 12:33 pm #

    Just can’t tell you how much your articles have lifted me up. I do not feel so all alone now
    And have learned so much. Had a double done and one was a radical that left nothing but
    A bad arm, the other a modified radical. But hey I am still on the green side of the grass
    And there is life without boobs as I cannot have reconstruction . Thanks for all the great
    Stories that I accidentally found on the Internet

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