I am honored to have been accepted into the next edition of Best Lesbian Erotica, volume number 4! It is a prestigious honor, as a writer to be chosen for this popular erotica series. I must thank the editor Sinclair Sexsmith for choosing my story.
Here is a little teaser of my story, Adventure in Palm Springs.
It is just a teaser so you’ll have to read the book to see how it ends up!
It was a warm October evening at Casa Madrona Country Inn, in Palm Springs California. The small, stucco B&B, built in the 1930’s was located near the center of town—its fenced-in grounds dotted with fruit trees, desert vegetation, and bright, red bougainvillea. The cool tiled floors and Southwestern décore of my studio apartment, with its small modern kitchen, delighted me, as did the swimming pool not twenty steps from my door. A perfect place for a sixty-six-year-old retiree to vacation alone—a good thing since my old stand-by man friend whom I’d dated since my divorce three years ago begged off joining me at the last minute, in favor of closing a real estate deal.
That’s what excites Arthur these days; closing deals. Inattentive bastard! I thought, as I unpacked my bags and settled into my room. I can’t remember the last time we had sex that registered above lukewarm for me. Wouldn’t it serve him right if I had a fantastic erotic adventure while vacationing alone?
You can’t see me in this iconic photograph, but I was present among the estimated 50,000 women to march down Fifth Avenue on August 26th, 1970 at the Women’s Strike For Equality in New York City. This was a stellar experience for me and one I remembered throughout my life. On that day I marched beside an original suffragette, who had marched with Susan B. Anthony to win women the vote. I knew then that someday I’d write about the experience and I did. Without further preamble here’s the story as it appeared in the Anthology, Times They Were A-Changing: Women Remember the 60 & 70s, published in 2013.
I still remember what she looked like all these years later — a petite woman with a quiet demeanor and a look of determination in her clear green eyes. Her silvery hair, parted in the middle came halfway to her shoulders. She wore no makeup I could see, except a little lipstick, and was simply dressed in lightweight cotton clothing and serviceable sandals — no being hobbled in high heels for her. And she was old enough to be my grandmother — in her early seventies, maybe, but straight backed and fast-moving. I liked her immediately.
We met on August 26th, 1970, fellow marchers in the Women’s Strike For Equality — a national event, celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment, granting women the right to vote. The strike called for women across the country to stop work that day to spotlight inequities in the workforce, In politics, and in social institutions such as marriage. That afternoon in New York City, tens of thousands of women gathered on the sweltering streets of Manhattan and marched down Fifth Avenue to the lawns behind the New York Public Library — demanding equal rights under the law.
I was a twenty-six year old housewife. Leaving my husband home with our two sons and joining the march was a personal declaration of independence for me. I’d been married for eight years to a man who espoused equal rights and justice for all — but at home, as the assumed head of our household he felt entitled to be in charge.
He was okay with watching the kids three evenings a week while I took college classes — as long as I did the shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry, and the balance of child care, in addition to my schoolwork. But he wasn’t pleased when I joined the National Organization For Women. Or when I read The Second Sex by Simone De Beauvoir and began questioning the male/female status quo. Or when I told him he’d be feeding the kids dinner that evening, because I was striking for equality.
My husband shook his head at that. “If you women had to deal with the serous issues men do, you’d stop complaining fast. Well, be home before dark. The streets aren’t safe at night.”
I sighed. His comments irked me, but I kept silent, not wanting to argue. I kissed my family goodbye and left the apartment, promising to return before dark.
How can we be equal, I wondered, if half of us can’t go out alone at night?
Filled with excitement and sense of resolve, I rode the subway downtown, exiting at Fifty-Seventh Street and heading east toward Fifth Avenue. The Strike began in the late afternoon and would continue on into the evening, to allow as many women as possible to participate. I was stunned at how many of us there were. Approaching Fifth Avenue, I looked out at a sea of female faces: women of all shapes and sizes, all colors, all ages, married or single, gay or straight. Some held signs bearing messages: Women Unite! Equality under the Law! We Are The Fifty-one Percent Minority, I Am Not A Barbie Doll! And the slogan of the day — Don’t Iron While The Strike Is Hot!
THE TIME IS NOW!” someone yelled, and the mass of women began moving forward. This is it I thought, and thrilled by my own daring, merged with the crowd. When the march monitors on our block passed along that we would be taking the entire width of the street — not the half we’d been allotted by the city — we surged forward, arms linked, and with cheers of victory took Fifth Avenue from curb to curb unchallenged by the police.
“WHAT DO WE WANT?”
“WHEN DO WE WANT IT?”
Observers lined the streets: women with baby carriages, office workers, shopkeepers, tourists. The majority of people I saw were women, with a sprinkling of men, We were cheered and given the thumbs up sign from the office of a liberal congressional candidate. There were boos, jeers, and loud shouts of “GET BACK IN THE KITCHEN YOU BRA-LESS BIMBOS!” from a crew of construction workers we passed.
Among the leading marchers were women of achievement: Betty Friedan, strike organizer, first president of NOW, and author of The Feminine Mystique: Gloria Steinem, political activist and founder of New York Magazine: Kate Millet, author of Sexual Politics, and straight talking, peppery, Congresswoman Bella Abzug, tireless champion of women’s rights. I felt honored to be among them.
But the highlight of the experience was my encounter with the silver-haired woman. Somewhere along the way we fell into step together. I smiled at her, impressed that a woman of her age would be marching. Linking arms we walked side by side.
“This is my first march. I felt I had to come.” I confided. “And you?”
The woman told me that half a century ago when she was twenty, she had marched with Susan B. Anthony to win women the vote.
“I was scared to death by my own daring, The world didn’t take kindly to uppity women back then.” She laughed, her eyes crinkling at the corners, and shook her head at the ways of the world.” My family was scandalized and my gentleman friend left me over it. But I marched anyway,” she said.
And in that moment, I realized I was in the presence of a living, breathing, direct link with history — and that this courageous woman and others like her had put themselves on the line for something they believed was simple justice — for everyone. Now I was part of the link.
I felt overwhelmed by emotion. “Thank you for my right to vote,” I whispered. “I won’t ever take it for granted — or any other right.”
Our eyes met, an understanding passed between us. We hugged goodbye when the march ended at Bryant Park. Intending to head straight for the subway, I began weaving my way through the throngs of women who stood listening to the speakers. But I, also felt compelled to stop and listen myself. The sky was darkening as I walked away from the crowd on my way home. My husband would have to understand.
So, Happy Woman’s Equality Day — we’ve come a long way baby, as the slogan for Virginia Slims cigarettes once said. But let us not forget our sisters around the world who are enslaved, genitally mutilated, denied the right to an education, and even the right to show their faces outside their homes.
Let us not forget either that although Congress officially recognized August 8, 1971 as Women’s Equality Day, all these years later, the state of West Virginia remains as the lone holdout before the amendment becomes the law of the land.
Also remember that political and religious factions are committed to stripping women of their hard-won right to choose,are hard at work right now. And finally, that a reckless, misogynistic sexist man is now our President — and that the newest appointee to the United States Supreme Court is an accused sex offender and hostile to female equality.
Mid-term elections are almost upon us. Vote wisely. Vote for progressive candidates. Yes, we’ve come a long way baby, but obviously, we still have a long way to go!
The day the proof of my first full length book, Perfect Strangers: A Memoir Of The Swinging 70s arrived in the mail, tears of pure joy had already formed in my eyes, as I cut open the mailing envelope. They rolled freely down my cheeks while I held my written achievement in my hand.
I’d dreamed of this day since 1978, when a rampantly promiscuous cycle of my life drew to a close –and I began the process of analyzing the sequence of events that had unfolded during the four years since splitting with my husband, Paul. I was twenty-nine and deeply frustrated by my inability to achieve orgasm during intercourse. When I discovered him, naked and on top of my best friend, Cassandra, it wasn’t the infidelity that hurt me the most — it was the sizzling sex they were engaged in that cut to my core.
“You’re so damned hot,”he whispered, kissing her. “Come for me, baby.” Obligingly, Cassandra’s small moans of pleasure rose to a scream. Her large round ass raised right off the bed, her body stiffened, her toes curled, and her eyes rolled back in her head. She came for what seemed like hours, while Paul gazed down at her in delight.
Damn, I thought bitterly, Twelve years of marriage,. We were never that hot! And with that, my life changed forever, and I began my journey from a frustrated housewife to an erotic explorer!
Perfect Strangers documents my sexual coming-of-age as a divorced single mom during a decade of unprecedented personal freedom. My adventure began in an upstate New York suburb and transported me to the Land of Oz, otherwise known as mid-70s San Francisco — an era when casual sex seemed as simple as a handshake — but for a woman to achieve orgasm, vaginal or otherwise, well good luck on that!
By 1981, I’d taught myself to write on my electric typewriter and had completed the original draft of my story. I learned of a gathering of writers and agents at Media Alliance, at Fort Mason, in San Francisco. I attended the gathering. Amazingly, that evening, I landed an agent for my erotic memoir! I was high with excitement. I printed out copies, and she began the process of snail mailing my manuscript to major publishing houses. My elation was short lived. By year’s end I’d accrued ten turn-downs and my agent was done with me.
Being a visual artist and not belonging to a writer’s community, and with no internet to assist me, I had no clue what to do next and accepted my rejections. Licking my wounds, I returned to my world of art fairs where I made my living, believing my dream of publication was over. I placed my memoir in the bottom drawer of my desk, where it remained for the next thirty years.
But I never forgot about it. In 2011 writing still strongly attracted me. I began penning short, hot pieces, writing as Dorothy Freed, the protagonist of my memoir.
I was ignored at first, accruing one rejection after another . But then my luck changed in 2012 and my first erotic story, Plaster Orgasm, was included in the Seattle Erotic Literary Art Anthology, edited by Kerry Cox. Needless to say, I was thrilled!
My initial victory was followed by the acceptance of, Adventure at the Casa Cervantes Hotel, in the Mammoth Book Of Quick and Dirty Erotica, edited by Maxim Jakubowski; followed by After Twenty-Eight Years, in Ageless Erotica, edited by Joan Price; followed by 500 word flash stories in online publications, Ice Skate Sixty-Nine, and The Kiss.
I was on my way! Getting published gave me the confidence keep writing, and enabled me to share pages with with a variety of prominent erotic authors such as Donna George Storey and Rachel Kramer Bussel. During this same time, I was reading at the Erotic Reading Circle each month, and receiving constructive critique from co-facilitators Carol Queen and Jen Cross and other writers. At first I struggled to determine how to create salable pieces of writing, but once I’d started down this new exciting path, and considering how much personal gratification I gained from writing, I saw no choice but to persevere.
And now, four decades later, Perfect Strangers: A Memoir Of The Swinging 70s, my first full length book — which brings us back to the tears of joy I shed, as I opened the envelope, removed the print proof, and held my first solo book in my hand.
Let me offer boundless thanks to my friend, Rose Caraway who, after interviewing me on her highly successful, The Kiss Me Quick’s Erotica Podcast, felt the story of my erotic coming of age must be shared with a wider audience — and who took on the task of formatting the e-book and print book. And Dayv Caraway, who created my beautiful cover art. And wonderful carol Queen, who believed in the story I shared month after month at the Erotic Reading Circle, and wrote me a kick-ass foreword!
I am filled with joy.
A book launch party will take place on Friday, June 1 at 7:30 pm, at the Center For Sex and Culture, in San Francisco. I will be honored by all those who choose to join me in celebration of this great event in my life that has finally come to fruition.
Yes! I’m delighted to announce that I have a story in The Big Book Of Submission Volume 2: 69 Kinky Tales! in fact, I can hardly describe how good it feels to be included in the company of some of the most talented erotica writers in the genre.
When my copy of the book arrived in the mail, I tore open the envelope and scrolled my way down the table of contents — it read like a veritable Who’s Who of prominent names. If you ask me, Rachel Kramer Bussel has worked her editorial magic once again and has done Cleis Press proud. This anthology contains an broad range of kinky stories of submission — literally short — since each tale in this collection tops out at 1200 words.
And did I mention that my story, Plug Play is among them? I think I did, and now let me offer my readers a sexy snippet from my story — not too many words, mind you, since it’s very short — but perhaps just enough to whet your appetite and make you want to purchase the book to read the rest of my story — and all of the others
“Please, Richard, tell me you’re not serious,” I say, when he shows me the plug he has in mind. “That thing is enormous. It’s not going to fit in my ass.”
“Really, Kira,” he asks with that crooked grin of his, “that remains to be seen, doesn’t it? Kneel on the edge of the bed, face down and ass up.”
Richard, an ass man from way back, has been training mine since I became his sex slave six months ago — moving gradually from the finger-sized plug he started with, to the big bruiser he’s selected for today. We both know I’m Okay with it — we have safewords for serious objections and I’m not saying them. Richard, looking amused, arches his brow and waits for me to comply. I huff with indignation, but I do.
“That’s it. Higher even. Legs farther apart. Good girl,” he croons, stroking my asscheeks, spreading them wide, exposing me completely.
To read the rest of this story and all the others, you’ll need to purchase the book. I feel confident you’ll find the investment well worth your while.
At long last, another blog post! A bit after the fact, given the anthology I’m celebrating was published months ago. But in all fairness, I’ve spent 2017 recovering from breast cancer, consuming an almost vegan, organic food diet, with much time spent perusing videos and articles by alternative health experts about cancer and how to avoid re-occurrence — so far sogood! Plus I’ve been caught up in my daily life with a husband who is gradually losing his ability to walk — and the care of our two senior dogs which falls mainly to me. Not to mention the political Patriarchy running a-mock in our country, and my time spent resisting it. Consequently the bulk of my writing time has been spent editing my soon-to-be published, creative non-fiction memoir, Perfect Strangers:One Woman’s Journey Throughthe Swinging Seventies. I’ve also fine-tuned other erotic stories which have found homes in other anthologies. I’ll be offering Sexy Snippets of those stories soon.
Without further ado, I’m delighted to announce my inclusion in an outrageously potent, erotica anthology from Stupid Fish Productions, Dirty 30 Vol. 2.
First, let me state that Editor, Rose Caraway isn’t known as the Sexy Librarian for nothing! Each of the thirty short stories in this collection is deliciously hot in its own distinctive manner. Each one is introduced by it’s own library card catalog of information. My story, I Really Do Belong To You, is categorized as M/F BDSM, involving: 1) Silver Seniors 2) Submit and Serve and 3) Public Punishment.
A worthwhile effort on my part, if I may say so. Here’s a Sexy Snippet from my story — enough, I hope, to entice you to purchase Dirty 30 Vol. 2 to read the rest — and of course, the 29 other finely crafted stories contained within.
I Really Do Belong to You
I’m silver-haired and in my mid-fifties when Sir and I meet at a friend’s birthday party. Our eyes connect from across the room, and his smoldering look summons me. My groin comes alive with arousal as long-suppressed yearnings rise up within me, of being swept away and compelled to submit to someone with desires stronger and more focused than my own. And in this finite, potential-filled moment of attraction, my everyday life is forgotten — adult children, successful art gallery, and feminist persona. I’m simply Claire. Pliant, yielding, ultra-female. I go to him in a trance, head high, hips swaying — drawn like an iron filing to a magnet or a prey animal to a predator. I stammer slightly as I tell him my name.
Sir, five years my senior, has a mane of iron-gray hair combed back from his face. He’s thick-necked and wide-shouldered, with high cheekbones,and full, kissable lips. Not strictly handsome, but with a robust male energy that steps up my heart rate. His voice is low and calming, and while the party swirls around us, we sit together in a corner of the room on an overstuffed sofa, sipping wine, laughing, and conversing for hours. His dark piercing eyes focus on mine as he listens with flattering interest to every word I say.
“Tell me everything about you. Your interests, tastes, preferences, passions.” Leaning closer, his large hand strokes the smoothness of my cheek. Unseen by others, he slaps it lightly, surprising me.
Did he really do that?, I think.
He pulls me to him, his fist clenching into the wiry fullness of my hair. He kisses me hard on the mouth. I melt into him, never wanting the kiss to end.
“You’re responsive,” he observes, releasing me.
I stare at him, blankly, still open-mouthed, my senses reeling.
“I treasure that quality in a woman. Female submission arouses me, Claire. I have a hunch it turns you on too.”
Arousal jolts through me at his words, accompanied by an icy stab of fear. “If you mean the fantasy of being spanked, bound, and controlled by a man, yes, it does,” I blurt, blushing. ” I visualize those images in my head whenever I’m turned on, but I’ve never allowed myself to experience them.”
“Has a man never pinned your wrist to the bed while he penetrated you? Or blindfolded you with a scarf? Or playfully slapped your shapely ass?” Sir inquires.
I meet his gaze. “No, those things have never happened,” I say.
“Would you like them to?”
“Yes, I’d like them to.”
“Then tell me what it is that frightens you about your submissive nature, Claire?
I’m silent. My mind races, deciding how honest to be about fearing the loss of my hard-won independence, while Sir waits for my response.
“Supposing I agreed to submit to you sexually,” I whisper, “what exactly would you do to me?”
Sir smiles and responds gently. Not one thing more than you’ll willingly agree to do.”
If you enjoy top-notch erotica, don’t miss out on Dirty 30 Vol 2!
July 31st, for those not in the know, is National Orgasm Day. I’m so taken with a day reserved for such an arousing occasion, I’ve decided to offer my readers a repeat of last year’s blog posting — which appeared headed by the forty-year-old image of a sculptural collage — featuring a certain ecstatic moment of my own.
I lay comfortably on a faded , old rug in my art studio, wearing paint-stained denim jeans, and nothing else. Outside, cold rain spattered the roof and ran down the windows. Inside the heat was turned up so high the room was almost tropical.
Jerry, gazed down at my half-naked body, his dark eyes widening with interest . He was half naked as well, his broad, muscular chest bare. He held the handle of a water bucket in one hand, and a shopping bag containing towels, a jar of Vaseline , and a huge box of plaster in the other. Grinning, he set the items on the rug beside me. “Hey, baby,” he said, “this art form has some distinct possibilities. Very hands on.”
I gazed up at him smiling, excited about his help on this project. I’d been working for months on a series of sculptural , female body parts, molded from multiple layers of plaster bandage. When the pieces dried enough to hold their shape I’d lift them from my model. When they were completely dry, they were painted, mounted on canvases, and transformed into collages with a variety of female images I’d cut from magazines and newspapers. There were almost enough faces, breasts, feet, backs, and thighs, for a show.
My boyfriend, Jerry, a fellow artist, had come to my studio that afternoon to make a mold of my reclining upper body — head thrown back, hair tumbling around me, shoulders relaxed. It was intended to be the centerpiece of my show. Squatting, he unscrewed the lid of the Vaseline jar and began coating scooped some up with his fingers, and began spreading it over my exposed skin. I closed my eyes and concentrated on remaining motionless while Jerry coated my face, neck, and head with the slick, dense stuff.
Vaseline is a necessary part of the mold making process. Carefully applied, it insures the preservation of body hair when the plaster form is removed. I closed my eyes and concentrated on remaining motionless while Jerry coasted my head thickly with the thick, dense stuff.
My long, chestnut-colored hair fell on the rug around my head and shoulders, in carefully arranged tangles. He smeared it over my face and throat and ears and over my shoulders, down my arms to the elbows, and up again — smoothing it evenly, in slow, circular strokes over my breasts.
My nipples hardened under his touch.
“Okay, you’re ready to be plastered,” he said.
I took a deep breath, let it out slowly, and tried to relax. Jerry began laying long, thin strips of cool wet bandage across my rib cage. Working slowly, he crosshatched them over my breasts, lingering over my nipples, then across my shoulders , over my face, throat, and ears — and over my head and hair.
I tingled with excitement under his touch.
“Sorry,” he said,, as drops of water dribbled to my ticklish armpits and behind my neck, making me fidget, while he continued to apply strips of bandage. I shivered when his hands moved over me adding layer after layer; meticulously smoothing plaster over my forehead and prominent cheekbones, working it with his thick, surprisingly sensitive fingers, around my eyes and half-smiling mouth. Two small openings beneath my nose were left uncovered, so I could breathe.
“Doing okay, babe?” I felt him arranging my hair as he bandaged it. Moving back down my body he strengthened the mold with additional layers. I felt him pause, and linger over my breasts, slowly stroking the smooth, wet plaster under his hands.
“Fine thanks,” I mumbled without moving my lips — without moving anything in fact, at the risk of ruining my creation. My muscles began aching slightly from holding so still. Intense little itches erupted on the side of my nose, beneath my chin, on my right arm, and on my scalp.
I longed to scratch.
“Almost done,” Jerry said, and I felt his fingertips gliding over the wet plaster, searching out any weak spots in the mold. “Hold on. Feels like we need more bandage around your rib-cage, There, Looks good. Okay, should be dry enough to remove in thirty minutes. Remember, ” he ordered, sounding stern, “no moving.”
The clock ticked, Minutes passed. I twitched. I itched. I explored immobility in my plaster bandage restraints. With my eyes closed and deprived of speech, I listened to soft guitar music playing on the stereo, and the steady sound of rain in the background, . Jerry was beside me, his leg pressed against mine. I felt his body heat through our jeans, and smelled his musky male scent combined with sweat from the heat of the studio.
I wonder if he’s turned on seeing me like this? And oddly, Oddly the thought turned me on too. I imagined Jerry beside me, gazing down at me with a hard-on in his pants.
“Baby, you’re so hot bound up like that,” he moaned, like he was reading my mind.
“What are you doing?”I asked, (which came out sounding like “waarardoink?”), when I felt him unzipping my jeans and slipping my his big warm hand, slick with Vaseline, inside them, cupping my pussy, moving rhythmically, in a slow, circular motion.
A rush of heat shot straight my clit and I gasped with pleasure.
I could feel the plaster beginning to dry, growing tighter and more restrictive the drier it got. Jerry continued to play with me, and in some way I didn’t understand the restriction heightened my excitement.I moaned, clenching my ass-cheeks, longing to grind my hips against the rug. Then my guy upped he upped the ante, finger fucking me with what felt like three fingers, plunging deep and hard the way he knows I love it, while rubbing my clit with his thumb at the same time.
I tried to say, “No,! You’ll ruin my sculpture!” and remain motionless. But then, he parted my ass-cheeks, teasing my tiny puckered rear opening, and I gave it up for lost. Moaning steadily, my inner muscles clenched, my heart hammered in my chest, and the exquisite sensations claimed me. Distorting my carefully crafted plaster lips, I screamed, as the orgasm built and crested, and washed over me like a giant wave.
And in that moment of ecstasy — with muscles tensed, chest heaving, shoulders contorted, head thrown back with a grimace of pleasure on my face — the plaster mold hardened, documenting my orgasm for posterity.
When I was coherent again and the mold was removed, I lay propped on an elbow gazing at it in awe. Jerry sat looking down at me, a satisfied look on his face.
“Now that was hot,” he said. “A little twisted, maybe, but baby, that was way hot.“
Listen, I haven’t mentioned this before, but the whole idea of bondage and discipline turns me on.” He grinned and kissed me lightly. And after this scene, well I have a feeling you’ll be turned on by it too.”
“You’re right,” I said, and blushed, realizing it was true. “But Jerry,” I smiled picking bits of plaster from my hair, “Could we try something less messy, like ropes, next time?”
I titled the piece, Plaster Orgasm. I mounted it on a canvas surrounded by images of naked female figures cut from magazines and news papers.
For the record, it was the hit of my open studio show I held years ago.
It was also the title of my first published erotic story, which appeared in the Tenth Anniversary Seattle Art and Literature Festival, in 2012. It was recently narrated by the incomparable Rose Caraway on her podcast. Click on the link to listen to her lovely voice make my words come alive.
That’s my personal orgasm story. But anyone who cares to check out the origins of National Orgasm Day on the internet will find a plethora of articles and information on that delightful subject. Click on the link below to view the homepage of a site called Faces of Orgasm. This is a pay to view site, but the home page is there for all to see the faces of human beings in ecstasy.
2016 was a hellish year for me — no doubt about it, the worst health year of my life — jam-packed with high-octane events beginning in early January, when I experienced a stroke affecting my left and dominant arm from which I mercifully made a full recovery. In the spring, a retinal exam revealed a worsening of the sight in my left eye, due to dry Macular Degeneration. During the summer I discovered a gum infection that threatened to jeopardize the future of my four lower front teeth. This necessitated a root canal in September, which didn’t help the situation and a flap surgery in November, which actually worked.
After almost an entire year of struggling with health maladies , I couldn’t help but wonder what might go wrong next — obviously a big mistake.
The final medical test on my agenda for 2016 was a mammogram, prompted by a tender spot in my armpit . Imagining it a benign breast cyst which had troubled me in my premenopausal days, I underwent a mammogram and an ultrasound in mid-December. I received the diagnosis on December 23rd, my husband’s seventy-fifth birthday — happy birthday, dear Sir — when the radiologist called to inform me that I had a modest sized, malignant tumor in my right breast.
Breast cancer? Me? Surely there must be some mistake? I was a near vegetarian who’d even banned cheese from my post-stroke diet. I was a light drinker and had quit smoking cigarettes three decades ago. I’d never moved beyond a little pot in the drug-taking department . I’d never taken hormones as a means of birth control or to ease menopausal symptoms . I used cruelty-free, environmentally friendly cleaning products in my home. I was a writer who loved my work and enjoyed a low-stress lifestyle.
But my husband, who’d held my hand during the Ultrasound, saw the dark mass within my breast, himself — and no, there was no mistake, the mass turned out to be a malignant tumor. The newest of my ongoing list of maladies was breast cancer.
Isn’t life just crammed full of surprises?
During the consequently somber holiday weekend, my nineteen-year-old grandson told his dad how deeply impressed he was by my show of strength. Poor kid, his other grandma, also in her early seventies, died of cancer the week before my diagnosis. He must have been terrified that his grandmas were dropping like flies. The least I could do was exhibit courage under fire — although truth, if I thought falling apart might positively impact my health, I’d have given it a go.
What a blessing to be surrounded by family during the holidays . Our older son’s employment in Portland Oregon ended when the building he managed was sold , and opted to seek work in a drier climate for the sake of his own health. His plan was to stay with us temporarily, while he sought work in the Palm Springs area. But given my health situation and my husband’s increasing lack of mobility, he decided to remain with us for the foreseeable future . He couldn’t have come at a better time to brighten our spirits and would make much-needed repairs on our home during his stay.
We occupied ourselves with family activities during the holiday season, until our grandson’s return to college, and our younger son and his partner’s return to their home in Brooklyn in early January. A stand-out entertainment for me was treating us all to an evening at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. I hadn’t been there since my sons were young.
What fun that was! I enjoyed myself so much , I actually spent the entire evening, and was in the car, on my way home before remembering I had cancer — and when I did, I cried. Since then, my emotions have run the gamut from unbending intention to regain my health, to sobbing like a child.
Being an optimist by nature, I tend to stay strong and do what I must to not only survive, but thrive. In spite of my incredible run of negative health luck, I visualize myself strong and healthy.
On January 5th, my husband and I met with a surgeon at St Mary’s hospital in San Francisco, to review my options. She confirmed that I had stage 1 breast cancer, and offered the choice of a lumpectomy or a radical mastectomy. The thought of having my entire breast removed was so terrifying; I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. Instead, I opted for a lumpectomy, and the removal of the Sentinel node and one other node. If neither proved to be cancerous, the recommended follow-up treatment was a course of radiation, and the estrogen-blocking pill, Tamoxifen, to be taken for five years — after which I’d be considered cured.
And although my surgeon informed me that each cancer was uniquely individual, she advised, as well, against Internet searches on the subject of cancer, and seeking out the medical experience of other women.
But that’s not my nature. I was raised by a gutsy woman who’d protested the spraying of alleged “wonder chemical” DDT on food crops in the early 1950s, and was an outspoken critic of the fluoridation of the public water supply as a means of preventing dental cavities. She purchased organically grown flour and other products from Walnut Acres Farm, one of the first organic farms in the country, when I was a small child.My mom read environmentalist, Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring in1962, the year it was published. She and her two closest friends who joined her in protest all lived to be over ninety, while enjoying healthy bodies nourished by organic food.
I am my mother’s daughter, after all…
I had the first surgery on January 25th, and a second on the same breast to widen the margin for error, a month later. Neither node was cancerous.
Ding Dong, the Wicked Cancer’s dead!
Now, I’m two months past my second surgery. After considerable perusal of books such as Knockout, by Suzanne Somers, recounting her successful recovery from cancer without conventional treatments, and a series of in-depth interviews of alternative medical practitioners, as well as Heal Breast Cancer Naturally: 7 Essential Steps to Beating Breast Cancer, by Dr. Veronique Desaulniers . I also gleaned information from medical websites ranging from the conventional, such as Susan B. Komen .org, and Cancer.org, to a variety of alternative sources such as the lengthy Mother Jones article, The Business of Cancer — and in particular, a nine part documentary titled The Truth About Cancer, featuring alternative medical practitioners from around the globe.
This plethora of medical information raised pertinent questions that made me seriously question the wisdom of attempting to heal my weakened immune system by poisoning my body. Radiation for stage 1 breast cancer, with its potential side effects of nausea, vomiting, appetite loss, and damages to breast, lung, and heart tissue, seemed like a less than idea healing modality to me. And Tamoxifen, chemical treatment, has its own set of of side effects: common ones listed are hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms , and a reduce sex drive which I didn’t experience when in menopause nearly two decades ago. Why then, would I wish to experience them now?
Two pertinent facts about cancer have resonated in my brain. Cancer loves sugar and loathes oxygen. With this in mind, I made my gut level decision to heal my body via an organic food diet consisting of lots of cruciferous vegetables, moderate protein rich in Omega 3 oils, such as wild-caught salmon or sardines, low carbohydrates, good fats, such as avocados, coconut and olive oil, and immune boosting supplements, such as mushroom extracts, plus a shit-load of vitamins. In the interest of oxygenating my body, I’ve added twice a week Pilates classes to my once a week Yoga class, with a Zumba class a week , in addition to my daily walk with my dogs,
I was lucky enough to find an MD who supports my decision. A bold choice, perhaps, to flout accepted medical treatment — but there’s no lack of boldness in my makeup.
I’m still uncertain about how to monitor my cancer-free state. I’m unwilling to submit to frequent mammograms, which deliver significant radiation to my recovering breast. The tumor I had removed was malignant, but slow-growing. The pathologist said it had probably been inside me for several years before my doctor felt it with a manual exam, and the mammogram and ultrasound revealed it . I’ve since learned about Thermograms, a modality based on signaling heat from inflammation that are over eighty percent accurate. There are as well, certain blood tests that indicate cancer markers. Perhaps a combination of all, along with regular manual exams…
I plan to resume writing and have with the completion of this new blog post. A dear friend, an editor of erotica, offered to set up my Amazon Author Page, which I eagerly accepted. So far this year I’ve been accepted into three anthologies, and taken second prize in a prestigious literary competition under my legal name.
My sex drive is returning. My husband and I enjoy an open marriage. My breast — although a bit less perky than it once was — is still pretty in spite of two, inch-and-a half long scars that are healing rapidly. I intend to come through this hair-raising experience with my sense of humor and adventure intact.
My father died of stomach cancer in 1960, when he was forty-nine and I was sixteen. The surgeons cut him open and sewed him back up, saying there was nothing more they could do. Back then cancer was a death sentence, although it wasn’t customary to inform patients of their impending demise. But my father, an editor and translator of technical books, including medical dictionaries , must have realized he was dying.
After his death a poem was discovered among his personal papers, attesting to his deep regret in departing this world, in which he’d found so much to live for. The poem, titled Sunsets, was lengthy. Each stanza dealt with another aspect of the life he was loath to part with — and each concluded with the haunting refrain, There Will Be So Many Sunsets Left Unseen.
Our home faces west. I observe many sunsets. Each time I do I remind myself , there’s another one seen — and wasn’t it lovely to behold.