I’m positive my mountain’s a molehill.

November 4, 2015

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Nope, I didn’t decide to get cancer and disappear on you. I know it seemed I like I dropped the c-bomb and then abandoned my bloggy ship, but really I’ve just had a lot going on. I did recently update the Recipe Page with several new goodies, so if you haven’t moseyed on over thurrrr yet, ya should. I spend quite a bit of time and effort trying to find recipes that are easy, yummy, made with few ingredients, and SIBO-friendly. So get yer ass over there and get to cookin’!  If you’re stopping by my blog to learn about SIBO, try my SIBO Guide for tons of info that I’ve found helpful (as well as a list of doctors that might be in your area).


A lot has been happenin’ in my world!  First, the most fun and exciting thing, my husband Joe and I just recently got back from a trip to Taiwan!!!  Before I started talking about my intestines, this was mostly a life/travel blog.  So of course I have to talk about my trip at least a little bit!  Living in Hawai’i makes travel a little more difficult.  Hawai’i is quite literally 
the most isolated land
mass on earth.  That makes it both time consuming to travel (can’t just jump in a car or on a plane and easily be somewhere in a few hours) and expensive. But Joe and I both LOVE to travel, so we’ve made it a priority.  This is our 4thmoleblog country in the past year. Traveling is the greatest thing we have in common. For those of you that don’t know my husband, he is the stereotypical engineer: introspective, quiet, intelligent, and logical.  I, on the other hand, am talkative, goofy, friendly, and emotional. AND wildly intelligent also, OBVI. We don’t have a ton in common as far as interests.  But as long as we’ve been together (12 years Nov. 1st!), we’ve traveled well together.  It always manages to solidify us as a couple.  It renews us somehow.  And after a hard health year, it was just what we needed.


Taiwan is a super interesting little country.  I think it may be one of the most unique places we’ve ever traveled.  Our plan was to partake in a LOT of outdoor activities: a 2-3 day mountain trek, biking (Taiwan is amazing and safe for bikers…there is literally a bike trail that goes around the ENTIRE country!) and possibly getting scuba certified.  But alas, the karmic gods dropped the hammer on us, once again.  It seems every time we go to Asia, the typhoons have a field day.  As soon as we landed, we heard that a typhoon was moving up through the country from the Philippines.  We had decided to move along the East side of the island, because it is more rural and mountainous and most unlike Hawai’i…but when we heard of the crazy

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Sitting in the rain, pissed.

weather fast approaching, we had to rethink our options.  We headed to a little cafe in the pouring rain, got coffee, and sat down to discuss what we should do.  We were bummed.  I suggested we chuck the entire trip.  I looked up flights to Singapore and they were cheap and it was sunny.  We ALMOST did it.  But Joe talked me into rerouting our trip back through Taipei and traveling along the West side of the island instead.  The West side is far more populated and not quite what we had in mind, and this meant that most of our outdoor excursions were not going to happen.  It took us about a half day to get over it and let our original plan go. We hopped on a train and tried to chase the sun.  It still worked out pretty well.  🙂


I’m having a difficult time summarizing our time in Taiwan succinctly, so I am abandoning succinct. 😛  We arrived in Taipei at 6am, hopped on a bus, and went on the great hotel search.  I had blindly booked a hotel (not knowing anything about this GIGANTIC city of 7 million), and we had some moleblog2trouble finding it. We had both only brought backpacks for the trip, which turned out to be brilliant because of all of the traveling we did while there. We had a funny introduction to this country. Being typical spoiled American assholes, we stopped several cabs to see if they could take us to our hotel.  I only had the hotel name in English (brilliant, right?) so none of the cab drivers could read it.  This is the first time that I’ve not prepared properly for traveling.  I usually spend at least a few weeks learning phrases and words in whatever languagemoleblog3 is prominent for that country, but with all of the crazy health stuff happening beforehand, I just…didn’t.  I knew “hello”, “thank you”, and “how much?” in Mandarin. That doesn’t get you very far with a cab driver. We were given a map in Chinese by a policeman, but trying to read the Chinese characters and match them up to the street signs was downright hilarious.  I felt like we were on the Amazing Race.  And we would have lost.


We were really cracking up at our idiocy.  I finally managed to convey, through wild charades, what street we were searching for to a Taiwanese shop worker.  She took me by the hand and walked me all of the way to the street. The Taiwanese are EXTREMELY kind and helpful.  They will seriously bend over backwards to assist you. It’s lovely.  We threw our packs in our room and went out to explore Taipei.


moleblog4The city is, like I mentioned, huge.  It’s a whirlwind of activity.  Scooters are the main form of transportation and on the bigger streets, you can barely talk because of the loud hum of scooters buzzing about.  We “city hiked” (as Joe calls it) for hours, just taking in our surroundings.  We often don’t have a master plan when we visit somewhere new.  We kind of let fate guide us.moleblog5 We saw some AMAZING temples and an older Taiwanese man painted a sign for us to use in prayer.  It says, “Love.”  🙂  As it so happens, good ole fate guided us to “Modern Toilet” a restaurant where you eat out of giant toilet bowls.  It was the perfect introduction to this weird little Asian country.  We got a BIG kick out of it, and it seemed appropriate, given all of my digestive issues this year.  You could only find this kind of awesome strangeness in Asia.

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The next day, a very kind friend that lives in Taipei, Allen, offered to drive us to a little town called Jiufen.  It’s built right into the side of a mountain,moleblog8 overlooking the ocean. It’s GORGEOUS. We booked an adorable B&B there with sweeping ocean views. Jiufen has a great market on Old Street that we spent hours wandering through. We ate about every 5 feet.  Eating in Taiwan was kind of hilarious. Because nothing was ever in English, and because we don’t read a bit of Mandarin, we would often

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The only thing we understood. Hahaha

end up just pointing to something on a menu and saying, “this” not knowing what the hell we were going to receive.  We just hoped for beef or chicken, but never really knew.  That was kind of difficult for me.  I will try just about ANYTHING, but I at least like to know what I’m shoving in my mouth. However, when it’s your only option, it’s your only option!  The SIBO diet was OUT the window, completely.  There was really no choice.  When I could, I pointed to someone’s rice nearby and tried hard to stick to rice andmoleblog9 meat (something pretty easy to come by in Asia, thankfully). My ND had instructed me to bring Berberine on the trip to take every day, as it is an anti-microbial, to help combat possible food poisoning or traveler’s diarrhea. After the crazy nasty parasite I picked up in the Philippines, I was a little worried about getting sick,but we both did great! In other fun SIBO news, I reintroduced eggs while on my trip, basically out of necessity.  I kept accidentally ordering dishes with eggs.  I’m happy to report that it went great!  Eggs came up off-the-charts high for me on an allergy test about 10 months ago, so I totally cut them out of my diet this year.  But I was hoping to try them again soon, because an eggless life is surprisingly more difficult than one would think!  They’re in everything!  It’s the little (egg) things, ya know?  


moleblog10Later that day we hopped on a train to Shifen, a little town with big personality. We ate even more there (seriously…sooo much food), and let a lantern go in honor of our relationship. Chinese Lanterns can represent many things: a wish, a blessing, or the letting go of something.  I loved it.  The lanterns are huge and look so magical as they float up through the sky.  We had fun painting ours and on one side wrote “Two drifters, off to see the world…” and on the opposite side continued, “…there’s such a lot ofmoleblog11 world to see” – from the song Moonriver (our song) and then on the other side we wrote, “If we ever leave a legacy, it’s that we loved each other well” – also from a song (Indigo Girls) and then “Loving Kindness Compassion” and “May God bless our union as well as our individuality” on the last side.  We let it fly up into the air until it was a tiny spec, taking all of our hopes and prayers with it.


moleblog12We went back to Jiufen that night and wandered around Old Street some more, which at night was all lit up with beautiful red lanterns.  We had tea at a beautiful old tea house, overlooking the gorgeous scenery.  All day long we kept talking about how lucky and privileged we are to be ablemoleblog13 to see so many different places and cultures.  I believe traveling is one of the greatest teachers. It puts our ego in check, showing us how small we really are in the world, and it brings perspective to the trials and tribulations we think are SO big in our own lives, as we see how others live, how others suffer, and how others muster up incredible resilience in the face of great adversity.

 

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Rice fields!!!

The next day we headed by train (Taiwan makes it SUPER easy to get around with their kickass train system) to Jiaoxi, to hit up some hot springs.  We passed through beautiful scenery along the coast of rice fields and mountains. We made a quick stop in Dali to see the jade temples (temples errrrrywhere! They’re so ornate and
amazing! And unlike the temples of China, they are perfectly preserved) where an old Taiwanese woman taught me moleblog16how to properly show benevolence and say a prayer.  By the time we arrived in Jiaoxi, it was pouring rain and we were soaked and tired and grumpy. We came across a beautiful hotel that had hot springs on site and even had the hot springs pumped right into your very own bath! I told the clerk, “Please give me the biggest tub in the place” and BOY did she comply!  😛  This was our big moleblog17“splurge” as far as hotels go, which is funny because this amazing 5-star hotel was only around $69 a night – the price of a 2 star, kinda crappy hotel in the states.  We LOVED the hot springs!  They had both fully nude (separated by gender of course) and co-ed.  That night we tried out the co-ed and stayed in as long as we could stand it.


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The next day we were in a pickle (that may be the first time I’ve ever used that utterly ridiculous phrase).  This is the day that we realized the typhoon moleblog19was DEFINITELY coming for us, and we needed to make some decisions. We spent the morning eating delicious Taiwanese pastries and getting “pedicures” courtesy of little creepy fish that eat away the dead skin on your feet while trying to make decisions about the rest of our trip. We decided to hop on another train and head to the famed Taroko Gorge, which was supposed to be beautiful.  We wanted to do at least ONE outdoor

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Fish nibbling on your feet tickles!

thing on our list, even if it poured rain the entire time. Several hours later we exited the train and got to hike through the gorge. Lucky for us, the weather held out just long enough to enjoy the gorgeous scenery! I’ve never seen water that color before, it was breathtaking.  To make it back to the visitor’s center in time (where we had left our packs) I had to run the 2 mile trail back.  Joe was like, “good luck!” – he is NOT a runner, so it was up to me.  I made it there just as they were about to lock the doors and they cheered me on as they saw me rounding the corner in a dead sprint. 🙂

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Since we were re-routing back through Taipei to go down the other side of the island, we decided to stop back in Jiaoxi to stay at the same amazing hotel. This time, we went for the all-nude hot springs.  My experience was totally normal, in fact it was mostly empty.  But Joe…ohhhhh Joe.  He stripped down and walked out in what God gave him and came face-to-face with 4 other men that were…wearing swim trunks.  He turned right back around. Hahahahahaha! Don’t have any pictures of that one, but I sure wish I had a pic of his face when we first walked out.  


The next day was mainly a travel day, as we rode trains all of the way down to Chinghua, and a bus to a little town (little for Taiwan, anyway) called moleblog22Lukang. We wanted something small and quirky, and Lukang delivered.  I’d booked a B&B online and the proprietress was AMAZING.  She was talkative and hilarious and told us tons of stories about the history of the town, as well as drawing us a very detailed map of the street food vendors and indicating which had the best buns, noodles, and desserts.  We loved her.  The B&B was crazy immaculate and adorable.  We decided to stay for two full days to explore the area.


We biked and walked all around the town for the next few days.  Wemoleblog23 explored quirky little places like the “tiniest street in Taiwan” called “Touching Breast Alley” (ooh la la) because if you stand with your back to each wall you will touch breasts (um, apparently people had bigger breastsmoleblog25 than I several hundred years ago).  😛 Being in a smaller area was interesting because Joe and I garnered a LOT of attention.  In the cities we would sometimes get stared at or have people trying not-so-conspicuously to take our picture, but in Lukang they were blatant about it. Teenage girls would run up to us, all giggles and smiles, and want to take pictures with us. We couldn’t really wander around unnoticed. It was a trip. We saw more incredible temples, many that were crazy old and hauntingly beautiful.  We took a day trip to Changhua to see the famed Changhua Buddha and temple, which was truly impressive and  peaceful. We found ourselves an adorable little cafe/wine bar and spent the afternoon day drankin’ and people watching.

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Then it was time to return to Taipei, where we had a lot to do in just a few moleblog27days. FIRST on the list was to try out a cat cafe. I mean duh. For those of you that don’t know, cat cafes originated in Taiwan. A cat cafe is exactly what it sounds like…a cafe with cats. Cat themes, and REAL LIVE cats. They’ve become wildly popular in Japan but when I heard they originated in Taiwan, I HAD to do it.  I mean, I love cats!  And I love coffee! And yeah it’s a wee bit weird to combine the two but it’s also quirky and awesome.  So we did a little research

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Loved this grumpy kitty!

to find the best one and off we went. OH MY GOD it did not disappoint. There were 16 cats and 2 dogs in the cafe.  The owners give you “kitty treats” to feed to the kitties and they just play and crawl all around while you sip your latte.  So if you’re weird about animals and food, this isn’t for you.  I will say though, the place was immaculate.  It didn’t smell, it was hair-free, and super clean.  And shockingly, the coffee was super delicious. We had a whale of a time.  Ahem, I mean a CAT of a time.  (Yeah, I went there)


I then decided that since I was in Taiwan and so close to all of these incredible doctors of ancient Chinese medicine, I should really find a way to see one.  I contacted my friend and asked if he knew an herbalist that spoke English.  He sent me the address of one and off we went.  It was a HILARIOUS experience.  I walk in and everyone in the office let out a, “Oooooohhhh” and immediately started whispering.  But they all very kindly greeted me with shouts of “Ni hao!” I think they were just shocked to see a blonde-haired white American in their doctor’s office.  I get called in to meet the doctor and he doesn’t speak a WORD of English, not even hello. Not that I expected him to (I mean, we ARE in a foreign country) but I had to think quickly. Thankfully I had had the foresight to google translate all of my many ailments from English to Chinese characters and had taken screen shots of them on my phone. So I could at least tell him that I had ovarian cancer, SIBO, Hashimoto’s, and PCOS (I left out the others). He would speak to me in Chinese and I would nod my head like I understood like a total moron, then I would speak English and he would do the same. Neither of us understood a single f*cking word the other was saying.  After I showed him the translation for SIBO though, he said, “Ah!  Poo poo!!!!” and pointed to his butt.  I laughed so hard I nearly fell off the chair.  “Hao,” I said (yes), “Poo poo.”  It was the only time we understood each other.  He had his nurse prepare some herbal concoction for me and sent me on my way.  There’s no telling what he gave me.  I think it was of the I-don’t-know-what-the-hell-you’re-saying-so-here’s-some-shit-to-help-now-get-out variety.  😛  The whole thing was certainly an experience and only cost around $7, so it was totally worth it.


moleblog29The rest of the day was spent at Taipei 101 and the famed “snake alley” night market, where you can get a bowl of snake soup.  It was crazy to see all of these restaurants with GIANT snakes sitting out front, with rat cages right next to them for feeding time.  Snake soup is supposed to increase male virility, but Joe was having NONE of it.  Haha!

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We decided to get massages (pronounced by locals to us as “massage-eeee!”) because they are so popular and cheap in Taiwan.  We opted for the 40moleblog31 minute leg and foot massage with a 20 minute back massage included.  Let me just say that they do massages differently in Taiwan.  They basically beat the hell outta ya. We groaned and winced and carried on so much that our two masseuses kept exchanging glances like, “Sheesh these Americans are wusses!”

 

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My face fortune! 🙂

And suddenly, it was our last full day.  We spent the day exploring more of the city and went to a Taiwanese fortune teller, which I had read was an extremely popular thing to do for locals. We went to the “Street of Fortune Telling” which is a whole underground row of fortune tellers. We were told that this was the only place they would speak English.  They read our palms and faces and I have to say, were pretty dead-on.  The fortune teller NAILED Joe, telling him that he was “science-minded” and “too caught up in his own thoughts” and “not very good at the real talk” when it comes to talking with his family.  She told him he needed to be more honest about his emotions with me and his family. When she read his face, she noted that his ears showed that he was having liver trouble and that he needed to get that checked (fascinating) and that though he would always make a verymoleblog33 strong living financially, he never needed to own his own business or to be number one in his company.  She then turned to me and when she read my face she noted that my bottom lip was much larger than my upper lip. In China, apparently the upper lip represents the male and the lower lip represents the female, so she noted that my personality was quite dominant. Hahahahahahaha.  Ya think? She told me I should be less picky with Joe and be patient with him because he cannot communicate like others.  We both cracked up at this because this is by FAR our biggest struggle.  The whole thing was very fun and interesting.


moleblog37That night we checked out the famed Shilin night market but unfortunately, it was POURING rain.  And I mean monsoon-style. We tried to stick it out but we only lasted a few hours. There was soooo much good food there, though!  I wanted to shop because it seemed like the clothes shopping was cheap and fabulous but it was too difficult with the rain onslaught.  We eventually returned back to our hotel wet and weary.  The next day we reluctantly boarded a plane back to Hawai’i nei.  It wasn’t the trip we had in mind, but it was still amazing and fascinating and fun.  I think we needed some time to just BE. Without doctors and the daily grind. It was refreshing.  Here’s a brief slideshow of some of the rest of our travels, if you’re interested.  🙂

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So now that I’ve given you (a probably totally unwanted) play-by-play of my trip, we’ll get into other business.  The last time we chatted (yes, I like to pretend like I’m chatting with each of you individually, over a cup of coffee or glass o’booze, so just go with it…) I had just learned that my biopsy after surgery had come back malignant for Granulosa Cell Carcinoma, aka ovarian cancer. While NO ONE – no matter how zen or chill or optimistic they are – can say they don’t react at all to hearing the dreaded c-word, I honestly thinkmoleblog36 I’ve handled it rather swimmingly. Maybe that’s because I learned that I’m in the earliest stage (stage 1A) or because I sought the opinion of another gyno-oncologist that concurred I don’t need much further treatment (right now), or maybe it’s because I’m a total f*cking moron. But in any case, it hasn’t yet had its desired cancer-y effect (I imagine that cancer is sort of the school bully…wanting you to feel frightened and belittled and powerless). I know how lucky I am, BELIEVE me. Not only did I watch my Mother die at a young age from lung cancer, but I am also a part of a few cancer groups online in an effort to gain some insight into this rare tumor. There are many VERY ill people in those groups, fighting for their lives with bravery and style and sass. I’m pretty quiet in these groups. I feel like the girl that joins weight watchers to lose 5 lbs…errrrbody hates that bitch. 😛


I’ve learned a lot from those two groups, however. Not even so much about cancer (though that too!) but about attitude. I hesitate on how to write about this, because I fear it will come across as belittling or mean, and that is not at ALL my intention. I’ve struggled with how to put it into words without being offensive. I hope most of my readers know that what I’m about to say comes from a place of love and care. But if you don’t know me well or haven’t been following me, please take heart in the fact that I genuinely care about people. I’m a social worker and a bleeding heart. But also, I’m a bit of an ass. How can moleblog39those coexist you might wonder? They do, trust me. What I mean is, I will do anything for anyone. I will bend over backwards to help you and I will do it joyfully and with love. But, I’m also painfully blunt, tactless, and honest (to a fault, even) and will always give ya the real talk. Sometimes this real talky-talk doesn’t sit well with others. Sometimes we fight hard against things we don’t want to hear. Even if we need to hear them. Even if they make make the deliverer an ass. I also say I’m an ass because I’m painfully pessimistic. I’ve somehow managed to snow some of you into thinking I’m an optimist. Mwahahahahaha. Nope. I’m silly and goofy and use humor a lot, because I come from a massively funny family, but I’m totally a pessimistic assface about my own life. It’s truly just a part of who I am. I used to be pretty ashamed of this part of myself, but as I came into my 30s, I began to embrace it. I attribute this greatly to Barbara Ehrenreich’s work on toxic positivity. Have you ever read her work? She’s AMAZING. she’s the cat’s meow or the cat’s pajamas or the cat’s hiss or whatever. She talks about our western obsession (and it is indeed an obsession) with positivity. When people tell us bad news, we chirp something annoying to them about silver linings and find some ridiculously minuscule thing for them to be glad of. When someone gets ill we tell them to “think positive!” Or “stay positive!”moleblog40 When someone goes through something horrific we solemnly and tritely tell them “everything happens for a reason” in a hollow effort to console. But all of these well-meaning endeavors only succeed in silencing the person suffering. It doesn’t enable them the space to grieve, to be upset, to be angry or hurt. It makes them feel guilty for not being “positive” and forces them to try to slap on a fake smile just to please others. I think this is brutally unfair and causes the masking of feelings that lead to isolation and depression. Ehrenreich writes about this even in relation to her own breast cancer experience:


But, despite all the helpful information, the more fellow victims I discovered and read, the greater my sense of isolation grew. No one among the bloggers and book writers seemed to share my sense of outrage over the disease and the available treatments. What causes it and why is it so common, especially in industrialised societies? Why don’t we have treatments that distinguish between different forms of breast cancer or between cancer cells and normal dividing cells? In the mainstream of breast cancer culture, there is very little anger, no mention of possible environmental causes, and few comments about the fact that, in all but the more advanced, metastasised cases, it is the “treatments”, not the disease, that cause the immediate illness and pain. In fact, the overall tone is almost universally upbeat. The Breast Friends website, for example, features a series of inspirational quotes: “Don’t cry over anything that can’t cry over you”; “When life hands out lemons, squeeze out a smile”; “Don’t wait for your ship to come in… swim out to meet it,” and much more of that ilk. In some cases cancer is even touted as a “gift”, deserving of the most heartfelt gratitude.


moleblog35There is sooo much literature that focuses on positivity and cancer. This inevitably, she discusses, sets the patient up for failure. This places the onus and responsibility on the patient, instead of on the fact that a disease is literally attacking their body, and that life is sometimes, all too often, unfair.  They might stay crazy positive throughout and still aren’t able to get well, thereby feeling as if they have failed despite their undying devotion to positivity. This may make them feel guilty, like they are letting down friends and family, or suffering further because they cannot seem to put on a happy face and fight the cancer demon with a smile.  Of course, the other option is that they remain positive and ARE able to successfully heal, and this is the tiny group we’re always shoving down cancer patients’ throats.


Barbara’s work (I like to pretend we’re on a first name basis and that we’d be buddies) discusses how detrimental this guise of positivity can be…so detrimental it can be toxic. **NOTE: I think it’s really important here to distinguish the difference between positivity and a sense of humor.  Many use humor to cope (including myself, obviously) and I think it’s often mistaken as positivity.  I HUGELY promote the use of humor as both a relief from the horrible things we must endure and as a coping mechanism.**  I wrote a large paper in grad school on positive toxicity and women, as I think women are especially susceptible to this concept of toxic positivity. Women are often called emotional, irrational, or moody and because of these labels, I think we feel a real need to gloss over our emotions with a sunshine-y demeanor. Always careful not to seem crass or wildly unhinged, we believe that by presenting a positive front, we may appear more palatable to others. Because women are a lot about presentation, right? We almost have to be, because wemoleblog41 are so harshly judged on presentation. We are also more susceptible because of our desire (as well as the pressure placed upon us) to be perfect. While men too sometimes struggle with issues of perfectionism, I believe the burden of perfectionism falls more heavily on women. We must be the perfect friend, mother, wife, and sister, while also being kind but still with an edge, intelligent but not overly powerful, humble but confident, and strong but not threatening; all while maintaining a slim figure and being endlessly stylish and endlessly young. It’s. EXHAUSTING. Studies show that women still do the majority of child-rearing and housework while also working full time. And on top of all of that shit, we have to be SUNSHINEY too? Um no. Can I get a HELL NAH?!?!


My point is, cancer sucks.  I probably could have just written that, but whatever.  I’m long-winded. My cancer is small and well-contained for now, but I watched my Mother struggle profoundly.  I witnessed round after round of god-awful chemotherapy. I watched her lose her hair and her dignity (her appearance was soooo important to her).  I watched my always-plump, jolly Momma turn painfully frail and thin with hollowed eyes and

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My Mommy. 🙂

dark circles.  I watched as the pain pills affected her so terribly she couldn’t tell you what day it was.  I watched her cry as I cleaned her house, because she could barely walk to the bathroom, let alone clean or bend or move about.  I watched her slowly come to terms with her death and how this meant saying goodbye to 4 young daughters that she would never know as true adults. Cancer SUCKS, and pretending it doesn’t isn’t a service, it’s a disservice to those fighting and struggling. And as I am coming up on the 11 year anniversary of my Mom’s death (Nov. 5th), I want to honor her by writing this and putting it out into the universe…I’m sorry.  I’m sorry I didn’t understand all of this when she was ill. I’m sorry I was so self-absorbed and young and stupid that all I concentrated on at the time was how hard her illness and death would be for ME.  I’m sorry I didn’t give her the proper space to grieve, to feel exhausted, to express how truly terrified she was. I feel terrible about that to this day.  I wish I could tell her how sorry I am and how much I regret not allowing her to speak freely about how she was feeling. It’s easier for everyone else if you are ultra-positive, right?  It’s easier for doctors and nurses and friends and family but not so easy or fair for the person that is actually sick.  As my ole buddy and kindred angry spirit Barb writes:


Breast cancer, I can now report, did not make me prettier or stronger, more moleblog43feminine or spiritual. What it gave me, if you want to call this a “gift”, was a very personal, agonising encounter with an ideological force in American culture that I had not been aware of before – one that encourages us to deny reality, submit cheerfully to misfortune and blame only ourselves for our fate.


I highly encourage you to read her book, Bright-sided, or read this paper, Smile, You’ve Got Cancer! or watch (one of many!) her Ted Talk, Smile or Die.

The funny thing is, these groups HAVE given me something in the way of positivity.  They have given me perspective.  This is, by the way, the part that I fear will be offensive.  So please kindly remove your easily-pissed-off hat, and just try to go with me and know that I only mean this in the most loving, “real-talk” kinda way.  It’s really interesting to oscillate between the SIBO groups and the cancer groups.  Sometimes the posts on my facebook feed will be one right after the other, and the difference is almost startling.  SIBO blows, don’t get me wrong. Don’t even get me started on how much it can suck.  It can be isolating, painful, disgusting, embarrassing, and depressing.  I KNOW.  But, it’s not cancer. It’s not death.  It’s not losing your hair and having constant mouth sores and pain so severe you cannot sleep or move (at least for 98% of us SIBO sufferers, anyway). It’s not facing your own mortality. It’s not looking at your children and knowing you’ll never see them grow up or have babies or get married.  A few times I’ve seen people in the SIBO group compare SIBO to cancer and I have to say that I take offense to that.  They’re not comparable. Stop doing that for the love of God.  Please. I almost don’t even care if that one statement offends you.  If that offends you, you have some serious soul-searching to do around empathy and compassion and reality.


I feel the need to say that I know some in the SIBO group are SUPER ill. I am not talking to you…I know your life is beyond difficult right now.  I also think that SIBO is likely not your biggest problem.  Meaning, if you are that ill, it’s possible there is something much larger happening in conjunction with SIBO, or MANY things.  Stay the course, advocate as hard as you can.  You deserve health and happiness.


What I’m trying to express (probably poorly) is that I’ve seen so much resilience and inspiring strength from the cancer groups.  It really puts SIBO and hashimoto’s and even my own cancer into perspective, because these women are SICK, yet they use humor so fiercely and wonderfully to fight their way through this.  And while I don’t want to spread the positivity fever, it does really help me with the attitude I take about my own illnesses.  At the same time, however, I see bits of (toxic) positivity being pushed upon people in the cancer groups on occasion.  I don’t blame them, because I think it’s so pervasive, but I do want to call attention to it.  Moving between the two groups is startling because the SIBO group is far darker. Obviously since I just blathered on about how toxic positivity can be in circumstances of illness I don’t expect everyone in the SIBO group to “suck it up” or pretend to be ok…but I do hope to spread some awareness about perspective.  PUHlease don’t misunderstand…you are allowed to feel your feelings.  You are allowed to be frustrated and pissed off and depressed, but it’s painfully debilitating to live in that depressive space. This isn’t a “buck-em-up” speech, but it is a call to think about how you’ve let SIBO hold you back. And it is simultaneously a call to the cancer group, to not let the happy spin of positivity that’s shoved down your throat by anyone else make you feel like you can’t be who you are and what you feel. Someone ACTUALLY posted the other day that “Sadness is a waste of time.”  Wow.  No. You do not get to tell people that

moleblog44

GROSS. Get outta here with that bullshit.

their feelings are a waste of time.  Ever. Allow yourself to be honest, allow yourself to be true to your feelings and express it to friends and family. You deserve the right to feel how you feel. It honestly kind of seems like the two groups need a good dose of the other sometimes.  I feel kind of honored to get to be in all of them, because as I stated, it really brings interpretation and perspective to my life in a really profound way that I am still figuring out.


I am not immune to either of these issues, by the way, because I am an unperfect person like yourself.  I’m guilty of both allowing myself to wallow in my own depression about SIBO and of chirpily pretending (maybe even to moleblog45myself) that hearing I have cancer doesn’t affect me. I have taken to my bed over SIBO and I also didn’t shed a single tear or have a single panicky moment over my cancer diagnosis.  Both of those seem a little strange.  In one instance, I was throwing a HUGE pity part that seems out of proportion with my illness, and in the other instance I was completely denying myself the right to feel scared and worried and freaked out. Looking back, I feel like an emotionally inept idiot.  


We all have battles.  I will never understand why some are burdened with mountains and others with molehills, but I believe it’s important that we don’t make mountains out of molehills, or molehills out of mountains.  Don’t pretend your SIBO is cancer, and don’t pretend your cancer can be taken away with sheer positive vibes.  😛 I realize that it’s impossible to find perfect balance always, and that at times we will waver back and forth between being too dramatic and not dramatic enough, and that’s ok. I think the most important thing is to be authentic, but also always strive to understand your own privilege  and reality in this world.  ❤


On my own cancer front, I got great news right before my trip (the day that I left) that my endometrial biopsy came back all clear, which was FANTASTIC news.  I start natural chemo this week with my ND, and am hopeful and confident that I will be considered officially in remission soon.  On the SIBO front, I’m doing great…the best I’ve ever been, actually.  I still have some bloating issues with certain things (like wine, for example…which I keep trying to make happen because ohhhhh how I love wine!), but for the most part, the bloating is down, my weight is up, and I’m feeling energized and moleblog46healthy.  I’m able to eat a really wide variety of foods that I still try to keep as low FP (fermentation potential, a la the Fast Tract Diet) as possible most of the time.  After a full year of dealing with health issue after health issue, it’s nice to be able to say that. And bring ON 2016…2015 can SUCK IT. Seriously.  If I could beat 2015 with a bat, I would.


I wish you all health and happiness and recovery!  And until next time, here is a pic of Joe and I on Halloween.  We were snails.  (We are weird).  😛 Aloha to you all!

moleblog47

12 Responses to “I’m positive my mountain’s a molehill.”

  1. Bethany said

    Insightful. Agreed. Cancer really stinks. AND… Great pictures of the trip!!!

    Like

  2. Katie Myler said

    Thanks for your post. It’s funny and sarcastic…and entertaining! Just the way I like it. I agree with everything you said. SIBO sucks…but I would imagine cancer sucks more. Thanks for the dose of perspective!

    Like

  3. Thanks so much and here is a Texas “Hell, Nah!”

    Like

  4. Thanks, Katie, and here is one big “Hell, Nah!”

    Like

  5. Laura said

    I enjoyed every word. Keep writing your truth. I have learned so much from you. And I, too, will be beating 2015 with a bat!

    Like

  6. Joan said

    Hello,
    I recently found your blog as I was just diagnosed with extremly high levels of methane (SIBO). I love your style! I have never responded to a blog, but your attitude toward cancer inspired me. If you can get through SIBO, and still have a positive attitude toward cancer I’ve got nothing to complain about!!! Oh, and your travel pictures are great too. Stay strong!!

    Like

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