The diagnosis

I have breast cancer. A week ago, I had breast cancer, and the week before that, and the week before that. Maybe five, eight, even ten years ago, the first bad cell split inside me, secretly. But I didn't know. This is how I arrived at knowing.

Two friends of mine were recently diagnosed. When news of the first came, I felt sadness. When news of the second came a few weeks ago, I felt a different kind of shock. I'd never had a mammogram. Even though I was ten years younger than the time they say you need to start, it felt like time to start, and when her news came I thought: I need to do this right now. For my friends, for me. Solidarity. Something small I can do, some little action against the big unknowable that swoops down without warning and strikes the ones we love.

Around the same time, I'd became aware of a funny stiffness in a spot on my own body. But anomalies in women's bodies come and go all the time, and it was a fluid whatever-thing, something that would pass, definitely not a lump, nothing that my waking, speaking mind would grasp as danger. This anomaly must be misplaced anxiety, my logic-brain tried to explain to my lizard-brain; maybe it's me wanting to make my friend's bad news all about me.

I called my insurance company for a clinic referral, then dialed a few places on a list the guy in their Indian call center emailed. Over the phone, the clinics all sounded like places you'd take a pork chop to be examined, not a human breast, not a person, and not me. I googled around and found a place with a lot of stars on Yelp and other online ratings services from women who'd gone and felt they'd been treated well. Pink Lotus Breast Center. The women who answered the phone there sounded cool. I made an appointment.

I live online as much as I live offline. Often, I move around in the world staring into a device as I walk, sharing bits of one realm with the other. The morning I went in for my first mammogram, I felt nervous. I would tweet this new thing, like I do with lots of new things, and make the unknown and new feel less so. Maybe by doing so, I thought while I was driving, other women like me who'd never done this would also feel like it was less weird, less scary, more normal and worth doing without hesitation. I'd crack some 140-character jokes. I'd make fun of myself and others. I would Instagram my mammogram.

The women at the front desk were kind and welcoming. Both were from Virginia, like me. One of them is from the back-country part where there's still no internet. Her dad and uncle work the fields. We talked about growing corn and hogs, how they still make cane molasses with a horse-drawn grinder, and about poor white Appalachian babies nursed on Mountain Dew.

The mammogram technologist saw on my chart that I'd lost a loved one to ALS. She had too. I hugged her, and she hugged back. She folded my body into the machine, pressed some buttons, folded me another way, and the machine clicked and whirred and clicked and whirred. Then it was over. She told me to wait.

I tweeted the waiting. Inviting the internet in is something I do every day anyway, but this time it was like a shield. Nothing bad can happen in a new place if you're cracking jokes and 50,000 people are watching. You're safe out here, in here, out here.

The waiting-moment stretched out, and out, and out, and finally she returned.

Where was that thing you felt that isn't anything, she asked?

Here, I showed her.

Put your arms in the air, she said. She felt, and squinted, and her brow furrowed, and she stepped aside again. Then she returned. Come back in a few hours when the doctor is free, she said, and we'll look a little more closely with ultrasound, just to be thorough. She smiled. Maybe just go have some lunch, she said, and we'll wrap this up when you return.

The hours stretched out and out and out. I felt nervous, but it was still all normal. I was too nervous to eat, but not too nervous yet to tweet. A finger pulling down the iPhone touchscreen still yielded replies from familiar names, and this was all going to end well. I drove back to the clinic.

Dr. Kristi Funk is her name. How can anything go bad when the doctor's name is Funk, and there are so many funny things to tweet? She told me to lie down, put some goop on my chest, and waved a wand through the goop. The waves appeared on a screen. It looked like NASA video, something the Mars rovers might transmit home to a JPL engineer searching for distant water.

She showed me a crater in the waves, a deep one, with rough edges and a rocky ridge along the northern rim. Calcification. Badly-defined boundaries. Not the lake we'd hoped to find.

"The first thing you're going to learn about working with me is that I'm a straight shooter," Dr. Funk said. Her voice was steady and reassuring.

"That's how you know you can trust me. I'm going to tell you everything, and I'm going to tell it to you like it is."

I forget the rest of what she said, but it added up to this: the crater was cancer.

As the words sank in, the Mars rover crawled over another steep ridge, out of the crater and into a valley, and found one of my lymph nodes, larger and darker than the others. A rocky prominence. A sentinel node. No water there, just fast-dividing cells that kill.

I believe that we are looking at breast cancer, and that it has spread to one of your lymph nodes, she said. We're going to do a biopsy right away to confirm and learn more.

Another woman came in, and held my hand. Dr. Funk shot the biopsy gun in the air first so I wouldn't be afraid of the sound. That's when the shaking started and my heart started pounding.

I cried, but someone else was doing the crying, someone else was doing the shaking, someone else was lying there, and now the gun was diving in to someone else's flesh to bring back rock samples from outer space for the lab to analyze.

The shaking didn't stop. I tried to dial the people I loved on my iPhone with one hand while the assistant held down my other arm, pushing cotton into the place where the probe dove in for samples, where blood was now coming forth.

My fingers were cold and shaking, and I couldn't hit the numbers on the screen. When I finally got through, someone else's voice was coming out of my mouth, and it was taking forever for the stuttery radio transmissions to beam through space, from the cold planet I was lost on, way out here, far from home.

Treatable, curable, survival odds, margins, chemotherapy, surgery, radiation. Someone else's problems, someone else's words. The biopsy came back the next day. Those words became my own.

I do not know all of what's ahead. I know a little. I know that there is a new kind of life on the other side of this thing. A changed mind and body. A new appreciation of time, and breath, and health, and life, and loved ones.

The gravity in this place is different. I've spoken to others who've traveled out here, too, and returned home safely. When you become one of them, you learn quickly that you share a language others can't understand.

The trick, these fellow travelers tell me, is to accept the not knowing and find your equilibrium in that new gravity. Calm the mind. Find your balance out on the cold planet, whether or not you know the next step, or the date of the next appointment, or what good or bad news the Technetium-99 isotopes floating around in your blood during the last scan reveal.

You must be at peace with not knowing, they tell me. That is how you get through outer space, and find your way back home.

The thing about this thing, or, at least, this first week of this thing, is how it takes you out there to the cold planet again and again and again, when you aren't expecting it. Long, undulating waves of fear pull you out to where you are alone and unreachable, even by words sent from the strongest satellite.

The thing that brings you back is love.


  1. This is the sweetest, most honest, telling of bad news that I’ve seen in perhaps ever.  Break the big problem into smaller ones, solve the ones you can and see what is left over.  More people than you know are rooting for you. More people than you know will happily reach out in help. People care.
    Best blessings to you.

  2. Wow, amazing piece. Thank you for sharing, I know Jeff Jarvis got many great things out of sharing his prostate cancer, I hope you get the same. All the best.

  3. This was beautiful, devastating and uplifting, heart-breaking and spirit-lifting.

    The whole internet is rooting for you.

  4. Whoa…. uh, wow… you are a brave woman. Love how you tell the story so straight forward and easily and with you own twisted flair. Thanks for sharing. Wishing you the very best.

  5. Beautiful piece Xeni.  I’m very sorry to hear this.  You’re a wonderful writer even through the thick of this, and my thoughts are with you.

  6. Sorry to hear the news Xeni.  But in a way, I consider us all lucky.  You to be lucky to have the support of tens of thousands of people who you’ve shared your life with, not just today but for the last decade; and us to be lucky to have you sharing with us.  Your experiences will undoubtedly guide and support many others who may face a similar situation, and remind many that we’re not invulnerable even in youth.

  7. I’m so sorry, Xeni. Just know that there are many people out here who care about your wellbeing.

  8. This is lovely and courageous, although it’s the kind of beautiful writing one wishes never had to be written at all. Thank you, and all best wishes on your journey into outer space and back.

  9. Xeni, I am very sorry to hear you’ve got cancer. I don’t know you, but I read your articles, I’ve seen you on Rachel Maddow’s show and you strike as a very strong person, who will fight this. Fight hard Xeni!

  10. Holy crap! All prayers and positive thoughts be with you.  As hard as it will be sometimes I know that sharing this with your readers will be both therapeutic for you and beneficial to all of us.

    Not sure on the balance between me being a sentimental sap vs I’ve lost a few close ones to C but this is one of the few things I’ve read lately that made me have to take a few minutes to pull it together.

  11. Hoping for the best for you, Xeni. I have read your posts with interest for a long time and know you can beat this.

  12. Oh, shit.

    The only bright spot is that you are highly intelligent and capable of extensive research, so I know you will get the best known treatment to fight this.

  13. This actually made me well up a touch. Not because of your experience, but because I recently lost someone to a non-breast Female Cancer. I only dealt with the time between “I have X” and when she died. I dealt with the roller coaster of treatable to not responding to it turns out that it’s a very rare type to giving her eulogy. Reading this suddenly snapped into focus in my brain the part I never thought to deal with: the part between her knowing and her telling.

    So…you know…that’s where my brain is at right now. That said, good luck Xeni. Thanks for writing about the experience thus far so eloquently.

  14. “Oh shit” is right. Thanks for sharing your story. Much love and life to you. You have my prayers, and best wishes for full recovery.

  15. I hope you overcome this. You’re an amazing human being, the world needs more people like you. ¡No dejes de luchar!

  16. As with all your journeys, but especially this one, please take care and return to us soon. We’ll leave a light on.

  17. You’ve got  guts, brains, heart and style, in spades. I’m so sorry you have to go on this voyage into the unknown, but you set off well-equipped. Half a world away, here in an old fishing town on the North Sea we have a saying “Safe out,  safe in”, and that’s what I wish you on this journey, never-met  internet friend.

  18. Good luck in the fight, I’m into year 4 of remission following Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The advice that I can give is this: Always do your research, always get a second opinion, and always remember that it is your body and that you have rights when it comes to treatment. I opted out of radiation and I opted out of the final prescribed round of chemo because I could tell that my body was no longer getting any benefit from the drugs, it was only making me sicker.

    1. xeni, on that note: i don’t know if you’re in the Compulsive Reading stage of things yet, but if you get there and find you need more material, i’ve been up to my eyeballs in critical analysis/social science perspectives on cancer (esp breast cancer, and “pinkwashing”) these last few months; i’d be more than happy to send files, links, and book titles along sometime if you ever want.

      i’ve also been following some of the genetic/genomic tech developments, esp the stuff with whole genome scanning of matched tumor-normal pairs. a study billed as “the first genome sequencing clinical trial” (for triple-negative breast cancer) was just presented yesterday, and apparently had some promising results. whole genome sequencing for determining cancer treatment isn’t exactly mainstream yet, but Illumina is offering subsidized tumor/normal pair sequencing for people with “life threatening diseases” for $10,000; i read *somewhere* that at least one person had convinced their insurance company to pay for it (though after two hours of searching my notes, i can’t figure out where). if you end up considering chemo, this might be something to look into in addition to the usual genetic tests for recurrence likelihood and drug susceptibility of the tumor.

    2. I am husband to Robin who is now 10 years on – Ted offers great advice – do your homework and then see how far you need to go. 10 years ago there was only one way – all the way. Chemo is a step you are best to think very hard about.

      Since then Robin and I have done a lot of work on how you get Breast Cancer. This is a topic that the medical system know little about and talk about even less. It will help you a lot if you look into the key risk factors such as diet etc here as well. I wont go any further – you are brilliant at looking deeply into things and in the end you have to make up your own mind.

      Overwhelm is a huge part of this – you are in that now. A steady partner who can interpret what is being said to you and a loving shoulder to cry on – is part of your treatment. When you look up and say as Robin did that you want to die now – they are the one wh0 shows you why not

      Best wishes Rob

  19. on blogs, you read someone’s posts for years.. sure, you comment on them, maybe they comment back.. whatever it is, you feel like you come to know them.. that they become a friend.. maybe they are, maybe they aren’t – I don’t know.

    Perhaps, through reading someones blog/posts, you are simply getting a better look at humanity, and our “friendship” is just our relating with other humans and gaining empathy…

    Whatever it is – you, Xeni, or just my fellow humans.. whatever it is, I wish you, and all people struggling with this (including some in my own family now and in the past) the best of luck.

    Another thing I don’t know if whether good thoughts make a difference. Either way, my thoughts are with you…

  20. We in the Zisk family love you, Xeni. BTW, here is our daughter Xena, empowered to be a Warrior Princess, just like you…

  21. I wish for you and your fellow travelers all the luck and science in the world. You will all be in my thoughts.

  22. This was both a beautiful and sad reading… I hope you overcome this… Hugs from the Dominican Republic

  23. Very, very sorry you are having this experience, Xeni.  Thank you for conveying it with such precision and thoughtfulness.  Thinking of you.

  24. I can only echo Barbara Ehrenreich:  You can’t think yourself healthy from this, and you can’t really think yourself worse, either.  In other words,  forcing yourself to always appear positive won’t do you much good,  and don’t feel guilty if there is a negative development.

    And good luck.

  25. Aw shit, Xeni. Internet hugs for you, cross-country.
    Charlie Stross said it best: “Cancer can fuck off”

    Stay strong, and know that we’re all here for you through whatever comes.

  26. I do not know what it is like to have cancer but my father is currently in the clear after treatment for his kidney cancer. Don’t believe the statistics online, his prognosis was fair to poor but he is currently clear without needing a scan for six months, without any chemo, only radiation therapy. He told me that the mental state is the most important. What helped in our case was providing my dad with some John Kabat Zinn mindfulness CD’s (the man is a genious, and has shown the power of the mind and meditation to expedite healing) and plenty of love. And brownies. You will find peace.

  27. {{{{{{{{{{{{Xeni}}}}}}}}}}}}}
    You are in my thoughts … thank you for sharing your story.  Stay strong.

  28. Xeni, I’m so sorry. Thank you for sharing that experience with us so honestly and beautifully. My thoughts are with you.

  29. I stumbled across this post from Twitter.  I will admit I’ve never been here before, or even heard your name, but now I’ll be thinking of you.

    Sending love and positive vibes.

  30. Thank you for including us on your journey. I am sending all of my good thoughts. I know you will have the most advanced treatment available and you will come through on the other side.

  31. Good Luck Xeni!  Know that you’re not alone and it can be beaten.  You may even find (as I did), that the net effect on your life is beneficial.

  32. My mother had breast cancer ten years ago, and I know I must check myself every year. You’re young and strong: you’ll win and you’ll be ok.
    Hugs from Florence, Italy. :)

  33. Beautiful writing. Sorry you have to go through this, but you seem to have an exceedingly brave attitude in facing it down. As a previous commenter said, we’re all on your side.

  34. Thank you for sharing a very personal, game-changing, experience Xeni.

    From someone who has been there and back I wish you strength of body and mind.  Travel safely…

  35. Never have I read such bad news expressed so beautifully. Thank you, and good luck. 

    (Also: I wouldn’t trust the machine in the second photo–it reminds me of someone…)

  36. Thank you for sharing this. You’re strong and amazing for being so open, and I’m positive others going through the same thing (or who will some day) will read this and feel less alone. 


  37. A beautiful article about a terrifying experience. Fight hard and know that we’re all rooting for you.

    I don’t know if you’ve read Marisa Marchetto’s graphic memoir “Cancer Vixen” about her battle with breast cancer, but I’d recommend checking it out when you feel up to it.

  38. Thank you for being so honest and vulnerable with us, Xeni. So much of cancer’s dominant media narrative employs martial metaphors about “the fight” or “the battle,” and I think that your choice to think of it as an exploration — of the body and the spirit — is far healthier. I look forward to reading more dispatches from your travels through treatment and recovery.

  39. When you broke the news on Twitter, and then disappeared from Twitter and BB for several days, I was really hoping (perhaps selfishly) that you would return with a vengeance to share with the BB community all that you go through (up to when you beat it – which I know you will – and beyond) in your unique way. With this piece, you’ve done that – and I can only hope you’ll continue, to be an inspiration while we all root for you from the sidelines.

    My mother had breast cancer… I was too young to really understand, but the first (and only, really) time I felt something was truly wrong in my personal life was when she was in the hospital for a few weeks for the worst part (and at home for a few weeks recovering). It’s a truly horrible thing for all involved.

    I really enjoyed meeting you at the boingboing meetup – next time we meet, I expect to congratulate you for beating this!

  40. Incredibly honest and moving piece. It almost got me in tears, and I’m a guy. Thank you for sharing and I honestly hope you fight back and “come back (to planet earth) to us”. Never forget that you have thousands of people rooting for you. All the best

    1. In cases like this, even guys should cry.  They should get checked too as they can get breast cancer too and their chance of survival is even lower than women’s.

      I’m a 5 year stage 4 breast cancer survivor, and I’ve never been able to put the experience of finding out into words.  Thank you Xeni and I wish you all the best.  Like you I like to make jokes and will share one with you….It’s rather lame though.

      My mother took me to all of my chemo appointments and while I was fighting the battle, I developed the habit of always being late (instead of my usual early).  It drove her nuts.  One day she was driving me nuts for being late for my chemo appointment, so I turned to her and said….”I can be late if I want to because I’m pretty sure that they can’t start without me.”  After that, I have been forgiven for my tardiness, which I’ll be honest I now cause because there are many things that we need to stop and look at along the way in life.

      Keep well and the worst part is over.  Yes you will feel sick and have down days, but the worst part is hearing the diagnoses (even when you expect something to come out of your appointment).

  41. My best friend’s daughter, a dear friend herself, found a lump in her breast at 23. She saw her doctor, who told her not to worry, 23 year old girls don’t get breast cancer, ever. She consulted two more doctors, both told her not to worry. She requested an MRI and was rebuffed.

    At 26 she was diagnosed with stage four metastatic breast cancer.

    My point in telling you this is that her life has become richer by several orders of magnitude as she progresses through her treatment. She’s met wonderful people, given help and received it, and grown as a person. She’s become a force for good in the world.

    She probably would have passed on breast cancer, given the choice. But she’s making the most of it, and then some.

    She’s going to be OK, and you will be also.

  42. Terribly sorry to hear about your cancer, Xeni. Best of luck with your treatment, I look forward to reading about how you kick its ass.

  43. Thank you for sharing this sad news in this poectic piece. I keep my fingers crossed for you. Good luck, may the medicine be successful.

  44. Wow.  That was beautiful, touching and very difficult to read.

    Good luck in your recovery.  It is survivable.

  45. thanks Xeni.   I’ve lately hated hearing about breast cancer and have pretended to myself that it must only happen to ladies who shop at Bed Bath and Beyond and put pink magnetic ribbons on their SUVs.  I suddenly realize that was stupid and that there are better ways to learn and feel about something as increasingly pervasive as cancer.  It really happens to real people that I really care about.
    We are rooting for you.

  46. My Mom, my Sister-in-law and my next door neighbor are survivors and you will be, too.  Love and prayers to you, Xeni

  47. I’m so sorry to hear about this.  Let me jump of the bandwagon and say best of luck with your treatments.  We’re all hoping for the best. 

    Let me also say that your doing this in the first place, getting a mammogram and sharing that experience with your followers was brave, and I really appreciate your wilingness to share that and in sharing your diagnosis in such a public manner.  In 2010, two of my paternal aunts were diagnosed (the same year! So far both have come through okay), so you just raising awareness was a great thing in my mind.

    And I hope that your public persona can help stop things like what happened to Fishnut’s friend from happening to anyone else.  :-(

  48. I am sending your way good luck wishes borne by rainbow kittehs riding on the backs of unicorns. Good luck Xeni!!!

  49. Xeni,

    Thank you for sharing your story. It had me in tears afterwards, as I have spent the last 10 months helping my 56 year old mom through diagnosis, surgery, recovery, chemotherapy and radiation treatment for breast cancer. When we met with a doctor to discuss the results of her Ultrasound, she said that her cancer was not “the end of the road” but rather, “a detour.”  

    While your detour will be challenging and at times terrifying, know that many others have traveled the same road. Take care.

  50. I’m only an occasional Boing Boing reader, but my husband pointed this article out to me this morning. (Actually, that’s often how I end up reading here!)

    Your story brought tears to my eyes, from recognition, sorrow, and sympathy. I was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 40; I’m now 45 and perfectly healthy. :)

    It won’t be fun, but you have strength and support, which you will need, and there’s no reason to think you won’t be perfectly healthy again, too. Best of luck to you.

  51. I couldn’t stand your arrogant and I-am-like-immortal stance. Hope is the only thing it’s going to stop. Get well, stay strong, keep living at your best. You can win as long as you know it in your most inner thoughts. Feel it. It makes the difference and you will make it, too.

  52. Oh, Xeni, you bring me to tears; discovering that one is ill is so terrifying and you express it with such beauty, such honesty.  People always seem to fall back on martial metaphors to express what feels more like a betrayal.  You may feel that this bad news has cut you off from the land you once knew, but we are all here to call you back.  Your life touches us all, and I am sure that for every person who posts here there are so many others whose hearts have clenched up with empathy, but lack the words to say exactly what they mean.  I think I lack the words to say exactly what I mean, but my heart goes out to you.  You are not alone.  You are too full of love, too full of life, to be alone — however much it may sometimes feel like that.  Peace and courage to live through this.

  53. Thank you for putting this out there, Xeni. I’m young, I’m a trans guy, and I have a strong family history of breast cancer. I’ve heard a lot of ‘Get a mammogram, just in case!’ stories and admonitions, but never anyone who’s come forward to say they did, it turned out they do have cancer, but it’s still better to know. For what little it’s worth, you’ve inspired me to get screened. Thank you for making your personal battle public. We all have your back. 

  54. Amazing that you wrote such touching prose with such novel similies under the circumstances.

    More POWER to you, Xeni. <3

  55. Bless you. May you feel the respect and love–from so many, many people out here–that surround you. I am glad that you have the knowledge so that you can move forward and work through this. You deserve the best health care, Xeni, and I hope that you will get it. One thing is for sure: You will never be without our support.

  56. Very powerful piece.  My wife was diagnosed a few months ago.  My thoughts are with you as well.  Blessed Be.

  57. It does come as a bit of a shock for something that you know about intellectually – you from friends and covering it, me from growing up around 16-letter words and cancer statistics – becomes a sudden personal reality. I emphatically relate after my April diagnosis.

    The only advice I can give is to stay focused on the things you can change – your daily life and time spent with friends – and ignore as much as possible what you can’t – what your body may or may not be doing until your next scan. Get through these really tough first couple weeks – lots of information, research, discussion, and visits – put the effort into them that I know you will – and then, just get back to life. There’s nothing you can do in those long waiting periods, so no point thinking or worrying about it. I’m likewise in waiting mode for two more months until I go for my next scan, and find if anything has happened inside me. If it has I deal with it then, and if not all the better.

    There are a couple recent studies and drugs that have just arrived on the market, but they’re all very dependent on your personal body chemistry and diagnosis. My Mom could likely put you in touch with some excellent folks depending on your location (mentioned before – clinical oncologist, director of clinical trials for a large pharma – so she has contacts). Initial treatment is critical.

    I know I’ve been a outspoken pain-in-the-ass – but if I can help you at all with this, hit me on LinkedIn and I’d be happy to put you in touch with my Mom and her knowledge and contacts.

  58. What a brave and beautiful piece, from a brave and beautiful person.  We’ll be thinking of you and sending our love from Benin.

  59. I don’t know you Xeni, not really, not the way I suppose I could or should, but I’ve always seen you as an interesting human being and you’ve been part of my “monkey brain” cultural group (the short list of people who are on our individual radar as part of our community) for a long time now. I shed a tear or two for you this fine December morning and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

    I send you my heartfelt well-wishes and hope to hear of successful treatment and happier days. 

    With love toward a fellow traveler,


  60. Xeni…

    When I was diagnosed with lymphoma, my daughter sent me a post by Stephen Jay Gould about his cancer diagnosis, which included some words which I took to heart. When Gould called his mentor, Sir Peter Medawar, and asked him for the best recipe for success in the fight against cancer, Sir Peter said, “a sanguine personality.” That’s when I knew I had it licked. That was 13 years ago. Xeni, you have this licked. And you have lots of love from lots of people. Me too.

  61. We can never really convey our feelings to another human being: words, touch, art are not enough. In that sense, we’re always alone.

    We are born alone, we’ll die alone and in between, we’ll try our damnest to fool ourselves it isn’t so.

    Even though you’ll talk and write to us and we’ll talk and write back, there will always be that certain loneliness behind all this communication. Something will be left unsaid. Because there are no words, no art, no touch to say some things. Those untold feelings make us feel lonely even with friends and loved ones.

    So don’t feel remorse for things you never said or did. Go easy, in life and death.

    I wish you the very best I can.

  62. Best wishes, Xeni.  A dear family friend recently struggled through breast cancer less than a year after losing her husband to leukemia, so I’ve seen second-hand what a horrible thing this can be.  Here’s another set of wishes for a successful treatment and speedy recovery. 

  63. Courageous and inspiring. You forced me into a decision today I had never even thought of before, but knowledge is power. My granny beat BC and then lost to liver, lung & lymph cancer. When I find myself at my 1st mammogram, I will be thinking of you both, and documenting for all. Peace and love in this journey.

  64. I can’t add much to the eloquent and heartfelt comments that people have already made, but I can add one more voice to the chorus of those who care about you, Xeni, enjoy your work, and want you to get through this successfully.  Our thoughts are with you!

  65. I’m spinning my well-wishes out into the aether and pushing them gently off in your direction in hope that they will join up with all these others to help you.

  66. You is kind.  You is smart.  You is important.

    !!!  I’m serious, girl.  Kick this thing’s ass!  I know you will.

  67. All the Positive I have I’m giving to you, Xeni. Positive thoughts, positive attitude. Because something tells me Cancer doesn’t know what it’s up against. ;)

  68. Such a beautiful post of such a difficult subject.  Life after cancer will be different for you, but better.  I will never say that I am glad I had cancer, but it has changed me and not in a bad way. the mind-body connection is the key to success and it sounds like you know this well, so  I know you will get home safely….love to you

  69. Hi Xeni, you’re one of the very few people that I do not know… but really matter. And  along with thousands all around the world, I send you my love, hope, and wishes. 

  70. Xeni, you and your words are so, so powerful.  The awareness you are bringing people with this article alone will surely save lives. Wishing you all the strength and courage in the universe. Good thoughts your way.

  71. I understand how terrifying this is.  Nothing will be the same again — ever. I can understand the yawning and painful gulf of fear that you seem to be swimming in right now.  But I’ll say this. It will get better.  In this context fear is a mind killer and a trap.  You can beat this and you will.  I have seen you do things that would terrify me without a moment’s hesitation – you have the strength to beat this.  

  72. Sorry for lacking the time to properly read everything.

    1) God Bless and may you be well

    2) If you can work it – the Cleveland Clinic and Mayo Clinic are amazing. My leg is full of tumor (thankfully non-cancerous… as far as we know). While obviously this is something different, both clinics are just so… so… awesome.

    ETA – oops- I meant MAY you be well, not MAKE you be well.

  73. I am a two-time cancer survivor (although the first round was only determined to be cancer after my uterus was examined after what was supposed to be a preventative hysterectomy).

    Here is a thing that I have held close to my heart the way religious people use prayer: All statistics about survivability, mortality, treatment, ALL of them are inherently pessimistic.  Because they are all based on people who were treated in the past and you will be treated in the present or even the future.  5-year stats? Those are made on people who were treated at least 5 years ago, which is a time of stone knives and bearskins compared to things coming down the treatment pipeline.

  74. It’s a lot easier (for me) to be snarky and flip in these comments than to be serious and comforting.

    Good luck, take care, think positive thoughts, seek out good medical care [you seem to have THAT well under control], and please keep writing pieces like this one.

  75. Xeni, I don’t know you, either.  But I feel like I was just told that my sister has it. 

    But, I also feel like a giant has entered a new arena, and that we’re all in for a big challenge, all together.

    I’m adding you to my daily prayers.

  76. Does anyone else think that the mammogram machine looks like GLaDOS? Well done to anyone who can face that thing down, braver than I’ll ever be.

  77. Xeni, I wish that all will be well for you. Who knows how many women will be inspired to get a mammogram after reading your story here.

  78. As others have said here, Good luck, and yes, the “Accept the not knowing” thing is absolutely correct. It was what got me through 6 rounds of chemo over 8 months for Leukemia… 7 years ago.
    The doctors and nurses always talked about my wonderful attitude, and I always replied that “It’s hard to plumb the depths of a puddle.”, explaining to the slow that it meant I was just shallow, but they also said it’s the best aid for getting through it all.

    Good thoughts are being sent in your direction.

  79. One of the best things I have ever read on BB, under such difficult circumstances. Thank you Xeni for baring this as you have everything else. It will strengthen the community and hopefully allow us to strengthen you.

  80. You may have breast cancer but breast cancer does NOT have you. 

    I’m sorry to read about your diagnosis.   It is time for me to go in for my annual mammogram.  No doubt, I will be thinking of your courage as I get pressed and folded into the machine.  

    Best wishes to you for a speedy road to recovery!

  81. As a long time reader… no, skimmer of Boingboing who gets his fix from bouncing down the page like a skimming stone and rarely sinking in deeper to a story this was my far shore. Stopped in my tracks and soaking up every word of your post. Thank you for sharing, and I hope that my small message of love, and the hundreds of others on this page are an inspiration and comfort for you and those in a similar position. Strength to you.

  82. Xeni,
    Eight years ago my boyfriend of the time introduced me to boingboing, and I’ve been coming back ever since. You are one of the main reasons I did. You are a role model, a visionary, and a shining example to every geek girl in this largely male-dominated community. Your words and the experiences you share in your writing inspire me on a weekly basis. You show that it is entirely possible to be sexy as hell while being smarter than all the boys. My thoughts are with you in this.

    – From one of the young women you inspire.

  83. My mom is a two time survivor of breast cancer. My thoughts and prayers are with you, and know that many, many people love you and are supporting you even over the internet. It can be beaten.

    Thank you for going public with this too. I am 41 and had my first mammogram at 35 due to family history. I badger my friends all the time about the importance of getting them, so thank you for helping to move them along.

  84. Good luck on the journey, Xeni!  My mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer (stage IIIc) 3 weeks ago and she’s decided to keep a journal on  I think writing about it is probably the most therapeutic thing she (and you!) could do. 

  85. Best wishes, Xeni. If anyone can beat this it’s you.

    I am so glad you got checked up when you did and that they promptly caught it. Thank you so much for sharing that wake-up call with the world. I hope many women will heed it. Your honest, beautiful and urgent essay may save more lives than you can imagine.

  86. Thank you for this post. 

    So very well crafted yet raw.  Humerous yet terrifying. 

    My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  87. This brings me much sadness, but know I  you are strong and will beat it.  Hugs, love, and positive vibes headed your way.  Viva Xeni!

  88. Best wishes and hugs and support and all that from a man who had a nasty scare with his prostate a couple years back. I had a high PSA level. The biopsy was inconclusive. I had to have further tests, another biopsy. I never landed on that cold planet, but I made a few orbits while waiting for test results, and more test results, and finally a clean bill of health, but with a warning that could launch me into space again far too easily. Bless you for sharing something this dire and personal. Men as well as women, please PLEASE do not put off getting your exams.

  89. Since 2004, I had had both parents go through cancer treatment for aggressive, late stage GI cancers. One made it, the other didn’t. I have been so pre-occupid about GI cancer screening that I forgot about the rest of my body. I forgot that in something like 2002 I had a breast lump that turned out to be benign, but was still surgically removed. I forgot that I’m supposed to get a mammogram every year, even though I was in my early 30s. I got the first one and then forgot.

    Xeni, I am two weeks older than you, and I am scared.

    I called and got a referral from my obgyn. I am trying to get my friends to go with me and catch up on theirs. Nobody wants to. I’m scared.

    Thank you Xeni, for reminding me there is a whole forrest around that tree I was staring at.


  90. xeni– i don’t know you. i don’t know how you feel. i am a 50 yo man so i can’t. but my wife was recently diagnosed with something life-changing and nasty, so i do know how the people who love you feel. and i feel that for you too. even though i don’t know you. be strong.

  91. This is a wonderful piece. The “cold planet” is such an apt description. For whatever reason, you have been inducted as an emissary to and messenger from that cold planet, and this first dispatch is amazingly touching and vivid.  Hoping all the very best for you throughout this, hoping very hard.

  92. Just chiming in with all the others to wish you the best, Xeni. You were wise to have yourself checked even though you were officially too young. I lost my mum and a sister-in-law to breast cancer and a friend to ALS, so I know something about some of the stuff you’re going through. Good health!

  93. Xeni, just found this. You’ve got the energy and support and love of all your dedicated friends and fans, and it sounds like you have a terrific doctor as well. You’re gonna live to a ripe old age and then some – cancer’s just another rock in the road. Stay strong, we’re with you.

  94. I am in tears reading this. I love boing boing and I love your articles and I am so very sorry. You’ll get through this. So much love and hugs and encouragement while you come to terms and figure out what is next. You’re one of those women I look up to Xeni. Thank you for sharing your story. <3

  95. This made me cry a little this morning. I hope you make it through this terrible thing that’s happening. You have, like, a whole internet full of strangers who adore you! 

  96. Hugs from Spain!
    Keep fighting, never give up, you have the right to be sad, furious, mad, crazy or depressed, but keep fighting.

  97. I am re-wiring the DSN to send you my love.  

    The planet you are on may be cold and forbidding, but there are many awesome people there with you.  I hope that you find them in your explorations.

  98. Well spoken. On that cold new planet that you are now on with the different gravity, are there new and interesting things out there? Explorers have always brought back marvels from their distant travels to astonish and beguile their loved ones back home.

  99. BoingBoing and your writing over the years have provoked, entertained and informed me, but this is the only time I’ve been prompted to post.
    Get well, get better and stay a part of our intellectual lives for a long, long time.

  100. As someone involved with health care, I’d like to applaud the lessons contained in your post to all professionals involved in cancer diagnosis and treatment.
    As a regular reader, I’d like to wish you a full and prompt recovery…

  101. So sorry to hear it.  Best of luck in your coming ordeal — at least you’re young and caught it early.  That’s likely cold comfort right now, but it puts the odds in your favor.

  102. I’m stunned. You shared that in such a way that I felt the cold fear.. the uncertainty.. but I also felt your strength.. and this is what will get you through your coming challenges.. That and the love of your family and all these many strangers coming to you in support!

  103. I don’t want to offend, but this was an amazing way to tell some bad news.

    That being said, I really hope you make it through. Cancer is such a bitch.

  104. Blessings, strength and wisdom to you and your doctors.  From one of the many people who know your voice even though you don’t know theirs, thank you for writing.

  105. Love, Xeni. Thank you for sharing the gift of you. One word that got my mother through breast cancer, again and again: Abide. 

  106. That was an overwhelming piece.  I cried, couldn’t help myself.  You brought breast cancer to life. It will never again be something that happens “to other people.”  It happened to someone I know.  You will be in my thoughts and prayers.

  107. They’ll probably take away my atheist card, but I’ll be doing the closest think I can to praying for you.  Good luck.  Live.  Grow.

  108. I’ll be sending good thoughts your way, Xeni.  I’ve read just about everything you’ve written online in the past many years, and from what I can tell, you’ve got the fight and the spunk it takes to beat this thing and live the rest of your life cancer free. 

  109. We’re thinking of you, of all who have faced and will face these moments. I’m happy that you’re writing about this.

  110. Sorry to hear about your diagnosis, but you are quite right that love will beat your cancer. I applaud the honesty, elegance and emotional intensity of your essay. 

    I speak as the husband of a woman diagnosed with ovarian cancer a couple of months after we got married, at 39 years of age. She is now 51, just had her fourth major surgery a week ago, has had lots of chemo over the years for the first fight with the disease and two recurrences, and is now disease-free again. Medical science, a great oncologist, and the love of people around us keeps her going. 

    A friend has another encouraging story: she is now cancer-free a full 20 years after breast cancer, surgeries, and chemotherapy. 

    Keep going, keep fighting, keep loving. You have our love too, and support as you go through this. Writing this essay was a gift to its readers, many of whom will be diagnosed early as a result of reading it. And keep cracking those jokes!

  111. This is such a beautiful and brave piece, Xeni.  Much like it’s author, in that way.  I wish you strength, courage, and support from those that love you as you move through this strange and changed landscape.  You have a lot of people who care about you not just because you are a funny, smart, and awesome internet personality but because you are an incredible person and we are all pulling for you!

  112. thank you for sharing. i cannot tell you how important it is for people to NOT feel alone. you are not alone and others aren’t either. may the goddess be with you

  113. Sending you love, Xeni, and thanks for your words, your thoughts, your courage. Know that your strength gives strength to others. You’ll be in our thoughts.

  114. Beaming positive transmissions to you and others similarly cast adrift into this uncertain landscape.  May you navigate it well!

  115. My Mom beat it a couple of years ago Xeni and has it again, but they still say she will be fine.  My father was not so lucky and a different kind of untreatable cancer took him quickly.  Keep thinking positive and listen to your doctors.  I wish you all the best.

  116. Cancerous cells are like unwanted house guests. Be the host from hell and they’ll move out. Be strong Xeni even though you are scared. We are all behind you. You will be in my prayers.

  117. Good luck and best wishes, Xeni. I have never met you, but (like so many other Boing Boing readers) I am glad you are here in the world.

  118. i can’t tell you how important it is to share. i can’t tell you how important it is for people to know they’re not alone.
    thank you
    and goddess be with you

  119. A very beautifully worded post about such a grave subject. My thoughts, prayers, and wishes are with you and your loved ones during your journey through this. I’ve had too many friends and family who have been stricken with cancer; some have beaten it (my Mom and some of my friends), and some haven’t (my nephew, who was 13 when he passed). 

    From what I’ve seen of you online, I know you’re a strong, capable woman. You’re not going to let this knock you down for the count. But for those times when your strength can’t carry you through, please take strength from all of us here; we’re rooting for you.

  120. Here is one of those times when I hope it is true that the focus of a group can influence an outcome, because you are thought of so highly by so many. Thank you for sharing … well, everything. Your vulnerability.  Your strength. Both are the best traveling companions you could have, I think. I wish you the best.

  121. Even in the face of such a challenge, Xeni, you remain a poet! Here’s to your courage and strength and talent.

  122. You make cancer sound wonderfully human and I appreciate that a lot. Lots of people are glad you’re returning to Earth! ;-)

  123. I really should be studying for finals, but I couldn’t resist a break to do my usual morning ritual of coffee and BoingBoing. And now I’m compelled to pass on what little perspective I’ve gained from watching three family members go through various leukemias and cancers. Two did not survive (both caught far too late); one, my sister, stepped right over breast cancer and kept going, despite having lost her husband to stomach cancer six months before. My default-nerd brain translated everything she, my father, and my brother-in-law taught me into this:

    That awful, metallic, choking feeling you’re feeling? Dr. Manhattan has just transported you to Mars and in his awesome indifference has neglected to fill your aura with air. It’ll kick in directly, and when it does, you can get up and start wandering around this arid landscape, which is cold, alien, terrifying, and remarkably beautiful all the same. Dr. Manhattan has teleported away, but if you look behind you, you’ll see all your loved ones in spacesuits, and occasionally, someone who’s just protected by a thin layer of air like you. If you take the receiver someone’s holding out to you, you can hear voices from far away cheering you on.

    Having said all that: I can’t tell you how much I look forward to watching you whip the cowboy shit out of this in realtime via posts and tweets. Kick its punk ass. Best wishes to you.

  124. Best wishes, and thank you for sharing your courage. Please continue to motivate other women with your stories. My mother is a breast cancer survivor and she beat it with love. Her journey was a beautiful thing. Keep sharing. 

  125. You’re brave to share this, Xeni, but I also know you wouldn’t have it any other way. We’re your non-immediate family, and we’re here to root for you!

  126. Kick some ass.

    Not the most eloquent way to put it but the gist is that you should never stop fighting.  Good luck and best wishes.

  127. With your attitude and smarts and support, I know you’ll have a good chance at beating this bastard back, Xeni. My best wishes for as easy a battle and recovery as possible.

  128. Another lurker chiming in to wish you the best of luck, Xeni. Thank you for your frank and beautiful write-up.

  129. chin up xeni… i have made a space for you in my daily thoughts, as i can see have many others. you are truly admirable being, i cannot imagine you not seeing your way through this.

  130. Oh Xeni, I have moved from being virtually with you to spiritually. Thank you for including us in your fight. You have built the BB community where we have sought intellectual, good laughs, jaw dropping stories of social in/justice and socio-emotional support. Now let us support you if in no other way than to read your posts and to Let you know you are not alone. Godspeed beautiful, strong, courageous woman. And if you need anything please don’t be afraid to ask us.

    We love you.

  131. Xeni, Take comfort that in at least one way, you are one of the least alone people in this world. For what it is worth you have touched many of us, and we are all here hoping for your best outcome. I’m so glad you were moved to get tested.

  132. Xeni, with your wisdom and compassion I don’t think the ass-kicking metaphor will be the winner. My best wishes have you riding back from the cold planet and returning triumphant another way. Love is the way – –  an expansive love that cracks open the heart to include the planets and the space in between the worlds, and loves cancer to its demise. We are the cancer, we are the healing of the cancer. Sending you every blessing!

  133. I am very sad to hear this.  But here is your silver lining:  get ready for learning some powerful lessons.  Many things become much clearer out there on that other planet.


  134. Xeni, we’ve been out of touch too long. I’m so sorry to hear you are going through this. My mom and I have both been through the ringer with genetic breast cancer in the last few years. She had cancer and the BRCA genetic mutation. I have the mutation and so opted for prophylactic surgery. Dr. Funk was my mom’s first breast surgeon. It’s now almost two years since my double mastectomy. I’m thinking of you and wishing you strength and healing as you go through this process.

  135. From one cancer-fighter to another: do all you can to defeat it. Don’t let it cow you, or change you or color your strength. In a year, you will have a completely different perspective. And hopefully, a better understanding of what it means to live. Love you!

  136. Big squishy hugs to you, Xeni. This cancer is no match for your strength and resolve. It doesn’t know who it’s messing with. *love*

  137. What an astonishing post, I am stunned. You have my brightest hopes and wishes. And by the way, they have some truly amazing drugs these days: my mother’s cancer was discovered at stage 4 several years ago. Her current treatment consist of one injection a month of an aromatase inhibitor (not a poison, this is not chemotherapy) with no side effects at all, and her tumors have shrunk drastically, some disappeared completely, without surgery or radiation. Nothing short of a medical miracle.

  138. I can tell by your thought process you are strong, you are focused and you will deal with this thing.  I kicked ovarian cancer’s ass many years ago – I hereby pass on my ass-kicking abilities and talents. You will be well. Prepare for hundreds of people out here in the anonymous internet universe to embrace you, support you, and strap on spiky boots so they may help you kick. cancer’s. ass. 

  139. Xeni you are one of my favoritest people in the universe, live long and prosper. And no, I am not a  Vulcan. 

  140. As I read your post I went right back there with you.  Same room.  Same scenario. Same kindness.  Same gun.  Same shock.  Tears and that horrific dissociated feeling that “this surely is about someone else.”

    Here’s the good news: that was 13 years ago.  It’s a long road.  But in this situation its the only road we have.  There are a lot of us here to help if we can in any way.

    Best of luck to you, I”ll sign on so I can keep up with you.


  141. Dear Xeni, good luck, best wishes, and love. Thank you for your wonderful work over the years, and your humor, and curiosity, and humanity.

  142. I offer no sympathy to you X, only well wishes. You are a writer and an advocate and such events, even when they happen to you, are your bread and butter. I look forward to the stories of treatment and recovery you will soon tell us. Yes, it’s a dark place you will descend into, but just like the multitudinous dark places you have gone to before, always know we have your back.

  143. You are very, very brave to write about this “in public.”

    Furthermore, doing so will definitely help other people suffer less.

    (This is a viewpoint that I learned about by studying Buddhism, but it’s true no matter which beliefs you have. The Buddhists would also say, “I rejoice in your heroic action,” and I definitely agree with that.)

  144. The new gravity description is incredible, unfamiliar, yet so relatable. I hope the space between the waves of unknowing lengthen, giving you time to calibrate.

  145. Xeni, I know what you’re going through. I was diagnosed this June right after I turned 30 something.

    Here’s the deal. You’re going to be overwhelmed with information. You’re going to be flooded with well wishes. And then, when the dust settles, you’re going to feel lost and like there is too much information.

    Breathe. At that moment, breathe. And do yourself a favor. Go to an organization like LIVESTRONG to get hooked up with a navigator. Even if the hospital/cancer center you go to provides one, get another – get one that’s unaffiliated. And remember this:

    This is YOUR cancer. In YOUR body. Follow YOUR gut. NO ONE knows what’s right for you better than you.

    Ask questions. Don’t take answers at face value. Ask everything. And bring someone with you to ask about things you aren’t thinking about.


    Want to see a little of what you’re going to be put through? Read my blog starting in July. I tried to get as detailed as possible with some of this stuff.

    If you want to reach out, feel free to. I’m here and going through it.

  146. Thank you for sharing, today and always. Usually when your posts make me tear up, it’s because I’m laughing so hard…today that was not the case. Sending you strength for the journey ahead…

  147. seeing the first part of that post literally made me sit up and stop doing the 9 other tiny things i was doing.  now i wish i didn’t check boingboing and then i wouldn’t know.  i don’t know what to say … my thoughts are with you.

  148. I’m sending this to friends TODAY. Thank you for sharing so honestly. Whatever good vibes/support/hope/love the universe will let me send you, it’s yours.

  149. Xeni – I, like so many of your readers and followers, I’m sure, love you dearly. Love the life you’ve lived, love the life you live, and fight for the life you’ll continue to live. I fought cancer for 5 years. I’ve had 4 operations and half my guts cut out. Lost my hair 3 times. But I’m healthy now and back to backpacking and kayaking and rough-housing with my daughter. Always hated that word “hope.” Sounds like a wish, like magic. I prefer the word “fight.” Stay active in everything about this – the diagnoses, the treatment, the attitude – there are mediocre doctors and great doctors, but we don’t often have the tools to know the difference. Get more opinions about everything. Keep fighting.

  150. We have never met, but I know you. I know you more now and want you to know, when you return from your journey, we will have been here all along waiting for you. Be well, Xeni!

  151. Usually when I hear news like this my immediate reaction is my typically pessimistic “man. . .  life stinks”, but I really wish there was something I could say to make you feel better, except the only really good words would be said by a doctor, and would sound something like “our diagnosis was wrong, you’re fine, it was a bug in the machine.”

    I have an appointment on Monday to check out some weird uncomfortable anomaly in my male nether regions.   It’s probably just a hernia, or at least after reading your account I’m hoping it’s a hernia.  It will be very odd to say “I’m so glad I have a hernia” but I’ll take it.

  152. although we’ll probably never meet, you’ve become a part of my daily life through this blog. i look forward to your posts and respect and admire your voice and opinion greatly. as you follow your interests and passions you’ve come to shape my interests and, i’m sure, those of many others. your voice and your work are important, if to no one else but myself. i send you all my best wishes and thoughts and lend you freely what strength i have.

  153. Xeni you have given me joy, happiness and wonder.  You have written about issues both marvelous and serious. Your recent coverage of the Occupy movement is the best on the internet

    If there is a scientific basis of “spooky action at a distance” via quantum entangled through waves, I hope my positive thoughts can support you mentally through this rough patch.

    You have made my life better with your writing and existance. Hang in there. I want years and years and years more of your wonderfulness.
    Live Long and Prosper.

  154. Thank you. You are in a unique position to save others’ lives by sharing your experience and increasing awareness. It is often difficult to get my patients to take a health issue such as this seriously unless it has happened to someone they know.

    Good luck. Best wishes through your recovery.

  155. Dang. I’m pretty much a cynical asshole most of the time and that hit me hard.

    Still, in a “Xeni vs. Cancer” matchup I sure wouldn’t want to have any money riding on cancer.

  156. Thank you for sharing your story.  Like others, I like that you talked of this as a journey not as a battle.  I wish you well on that journey and hope that it ends in a healthy and happy place.
    My daughter, Nicole, found a lump and was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 32.  She died 2 years later. She was the most courageous person I know.
    I sincerely hope that you have a better outcome and that whetever the outcome you are proud of the journey.  I will hold you in my thoughts.

  157. Auf gehts Xeni, kämpfen und siegen!
    It’s a german football (ok, “soccer”) chant that the supporters will chant for their team, and that might sound a bit inappropriate at first, but imagine the power of a whole stadium full of people shouting that out loud to you. Because that’s what is happening here.
    Best wishes. And now fight and win.

  158. Thank you for your honesty and your proactive actions on mammograms.  Many of my friends have gone through this.  I started getting mammograms when i was 35.  I dont know why the CDC doesn’t suggest it earlier and yearly.  Hang in there Xeni!

  159. Great post, but sorry to hear the news. Maybe it’s just my age, but it does seem like I’m hearing this from one friend or another almost every week. FWIW, my wife had breast cancer when she was 35. Lymph nodes, too. Dual mastectomies. A full year of chemo. She’s now 68.

  160. My wife is an oncology nurse and we have several good friends who walk in your shoes, Xeni.  Like you, they are strong and intelligent women who see a problem and confront it head on. Our thoughts are with you as you

  161. Dreadful news, of course. But good luck with it. It’s a hell of a modern age of medicine and you’ve got lots of fine people around you.  No doubt you’ll beat it.

  162. The news is shocking, but your article and dealing with this is such brave, strong and profound, it moved me to tears. You will make it through! Love and light –

  163. I don’t know what to say that hasn’t already been said, but I will say this: take care, be well, and you’ll be in my thoughts and my heart, Xeni. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  164. Sob.

    Exactly five years ago I went to hospital because of back pain when I strained myself. Had a bicycle stress test at the hospital. An hour later I was on intensive care. A couple of days later I had a dotter procedure. Five years later all is still well.

    So, been there, done that, I know how you feel Xeni and I can assure you that cures do exist. Take care, go girl.

  165. Here’s to your new appreciation of time, and breath, and health, and life, and loved ones.  

    And, to your speedy recovery made all the more speedy because love and strength is the sum of all those precious parts.

  166. And just like that, everything is different. Stay strong when you can and know that there are so many people to help support you when you can’t. Come back from that journey safely– all the best wishes and love to you!

  167. Thoughts are with you; you have a lot of well wishers that you don’t know.  I registered to say be strong.

  168. Your bravery is truly inspiring, thank you for sharing this experience with us, I wish you the best of luck with the future. Just know that you have love being sent to you from all over the world.

  169. What to say in response to such a heart-wrenching piece?  It would, of course, be better if you had not had to write it at all.  For what it’s worth, we are sending love your way.  We are rooting for you!

  170. It’s been said a bunch of times above — much love and positivity to you.

    14 months remission from metatstatic testicular cancer for me — it wasn’t any fun, but I feel like I am a better person having learned so much about myself and the love of those around me. Stay strong and know that we’re all sending our best to you…

  171. Hi Xeni! Thank you for sharing your cancer experiences with the web at large. I’m sure people who are going through the same wringer (or have close contacts who are in distress) appreciate the honesty and feeling of community.

    Best of luck. You are strong, intelligent and supported by a lot of people.

  172. I am going thru the same thing, did a biopsy this week, and are waiting on the answers from it. I’m so scared, but i hope, and pray. Well wishes to you.

  173. Xeni: One survivor to another, I’m pulling for you. Keep your wit, and the strength will follow along…

  174. Xeni, I don’t know you personally, but I feel I do from all I have read from you over the years and this news has brought tears to my eyes. The sheer amount of cosmic karmic good vibes you’ve amassed will surely reflect back for a full and speedy recovery.

  175. you fight! and if you feel  tired or sad or depressed or whatever you keep on fighting! 

    let yourself be afraid or even fatalist but then, after a while  you keep on fighting!

  176. Thank you for sharing what is extraordinarily frightening and know that there are tens of thousands of people on the internets (and real life) that are here to support you.

  177. Xeni, Sad to hear of your diagnosis, yet it’s true, life goes on, and you will get through it as I have and many others. Kristi Funk was my breast surgeon and she is amazing, so you are in the best of hands. What helped me most besides loving friends and family were guided imagery recordings, and the discussion boards at Feel free to contact me as I’ve a wealth of info to share.

  178. My thoughts are with you and your friends as you all go through this ordeal.  I’m only 28, but I’ve known many women of varying ages to have developed varying severities of breast cancer.  Fortunately, they’ve all lived.  It’s a frightening discovery – just try to remember (it’s hard sometimes) that your friends and family will be right there for you.  You also have us, your goofy internet support group.  :)  Let us know if there is anything we can do to help.  

    Best wishes and DFTBA,

  179. The gravity in this place is different. I’ve spoken to others who’ve traveled out here, too, and returned home safely. When you become one of them, you learn quickly that you share a language others can’t understand.

    This is where I lost it.  It so succinctly and eloquently describes the immediate difference you feel after diagnosis.  I spent this past summer bouncing around in this weird gravity and my (hopefully) final scan is a little over a week away.  I have become begrudgingly fluent in this language and am sorry every single time I learn of a new member of this group.

    You’ve got some work ahead of you.  Some of it is going to suck so hard you won’t even have the energy to cry; that’s okay, just close your eyes and let others take care of whatever they can for you.  The journey back is agonizingly slow and then breathtakingly sudden.  The path is well mapped and love will lead you home.

    Be well.  xxx

  180. Oh sweetheart. You know, I’ve felt like I’ve known you at arms length for the longest time, through Cory. 
    There’s something to keep hold of – your last line. Love is what it’s all about and there is nothing that stops strangers from feeling love for strangers. It’s what we’re all about, honey. I realised, after I had kids, that love is what makes humans live. It’s in our genes. 
    And you fight, and you love, and people love you back. 
    You just keep on going. Cancer’s never a done deal. Fuck that.

  181. Xeni, your words instantly took me back to my wife’s diagnosis 19 years ago and that “cold planet” chill I felt as the doctor spoke. I can only imagine how much colder it felt to you and my wife.  Thank you for your beautiful honesty.  We’ll be praying for you.

  182. I’m so, so sorry that you got the diagnosis. And I’m so, so glad that you went for the mammogram. While we all keep you in our thoughts, go beat the crap out of that cancer, ok?

  183. You don’t know me Xeni, but I love you.  I’ve been reading your posts for years and you always make me smile.  In the last few months you’ve helped me feel connected to the occupy movements all over the world.  You’ve helped to create this community for me.  It did not take me long into this post to begin to weep.  It’s hard for me to imagine beginning my day without having something you’ve written to keep me company.  You and you’re family will be in my thoughts and my prayers.

    You don’t know me Xeni, but I love you.

  184. A wonderful piece of writing. A beautiful glimpse of the soul. A reminder of connections shared both on and off-line.  Thanks for this piece which is simply written and brutally beautiful. I’m rooting for you.

  185. Ms. J., Please consider your thinking on this situation.  What does it mean?  Notice all the scientific evidence that you’ve been trained to believe.  I’m looking forward to your metaphysical, recovery story amongst the “scientific” pieces.  Laugh loudly and live richly!

    “You can do it!”

  186. Amazing, Xeni.  You are going to change lives and reach so many people with your honest, inspiring point of view on a topic so many close their ears to until it’s too late.  I suppose it’s no surprise that your intelligent, thoughtful and graceful approach to most everything you write about, which we are all so very familiar with, should also apply to something so deeply personal in your own life.  Also, fuck cancer.

  187. Xeni, thank you for such honesty. I wish you the best in your battle to beat this. One thing I can say is, if they want to do a mastectomy, get a second opinion as my mother fortunately did.

  188. Been right there, a little more than a year ago. No fun, but you get through it.  Good luck with treatment … I hope you’re surprised as I was by how much help came out of the woodwork.

  189. Thanks for writing about the details – that’s what so many people search and look for on the internet when they get a test result, a diagnosis, a treatment. Insurance is a beautiful thing when you have it and can get tested, treated, practically ondemand.

  190. thank you, xeni, for a beautifully written piece – and for being willing to share your experience so honestly and openly. many of us reading will also go to mars during our lifetimes; though we may not yet know which of us, or when, i for one am grateful for the light you’ve left on to make that cold and distant planet a little less lonely.

    wishing and thinking all good things for you and yours, both here on the internet and there on the ground.

  191. Xeni, please don’t go Steve Jobs on us and aggressively fight this with science and medicine! It doesn’t work every time but it works better than the alternatives.

    Hugs and hope!

  192. Thank you for sharing Xeni, it’s by opening up that we show others that they need not be afraid of doing the same. I know that the world of modern medicine can be a harsh reality, but it sounds like the pople you’ll be working with are both competent and warm of heart.

    I hope that you find the strength in yourself from by the support of those around you, to face what is to come, and emerge a stronger person, and more aware of the preciousness of life.

  193. Xeni, I consider you a strong voice of our generation and I wish you all the best that life has to offer you. You have a lot more living to do, lady. Get well. Sending you love & light from my planet to yours. 

  194. It’s always surprising to find out how much you can grow to feel like an internet stranger is part of your life.  I was really sad to read this, Xeni.  I don’t have anything but platitudes to offer, but those are yours for the taking.  I’ve come to appreciate your writing, and through that your coexistence.  I hope you make it through this ok.

  195. Xeni:

    Of all the many people that I follow on the Internet – through your writing, through your videos – I do feel that I know you more closely than I know many of the others .

    Even more interesting is that – in contrast to what so normally happens – the more I know you. the the more I think highly of you.

    So, if I may be able to offer thanks to a mind that guides me, it would be to say this:

    “Stay the course.”
    This idiom implies direction that we will take in uncharted waters. It will take us a number of changes of tack, changes of direction – when we sailed upwind – in order to get to that place where we are going – and given that we are in uncharted waters, we may not be exactly sure where that place is.

    While on the journey, there will be things to enjoy and things to avoid. There will be sunny summer days and dreadful winter storms.

    Nevertheless, at any given point in this journey, we can be aware and conscious of straying too far off course.

    When a big wave approaches, we turn the bow of our ship into into the wave and after it passes turn back to the desired direction.

    When there is a calm and steady breeze, we can relax and chat with the passengers.

    Stuff will happen. We may even sink before we get to our destination!

    Throughout the journey we have been conscious and aware, taking both precaution and delight in the journey, looking after those in our care while in turn they feed us or trim sails for us or whatever.

    There are times when we need to take down or reef our sails because the wind is blowing too hard. There are times when we can put up flying jibs and mizzen stay sails to catch the slightest puff of wind.

    At any given time we seem to know what is too much or too little. 

    How do we know that? Because from time to time we have allowed the ship to heel over to much and water has come in. Or we have crashed into a wave too hard causing a mess down in the galley.

    Being aware and conscious enables us to prepare for what comes next.

    Stay the course. Live in the moment, but not just for the moment…


  196. Welcome to the club, Xeni, though I’m sorry to have to say that. The account of my journey to the cold planet and back is on my blog (linked in my profile), should you care to peruse it. I wish you luck and bid you peace. Keep us posted on your progress.

  197. Damn, Xeni, this is fine writing, not so much because it’s written with finesse, which it is, but because it’s written bravely. Go get this thing. Lot of people out here pulling for you.

  198. “The thing that brings you back is love.”

    This. In spades.

    I’m hoping for the best for you.

  199. Good luck to you Xeni! I know you’ll beat this and be back to blogging and tweeting and taking pictures with your iPhone in no time!!!

  200. Oh noes!

    As part of the <1% male under 70 population that suffers from HER2 gene overexpression (yes, male breast cancer does happen) I totally feel for you, but from following your posts and tweets, I know everything will be ok. My family sends their prayers your way.

  201. Thank you, Xeni. Posts like yours do help other people, and you’ll find they’ll help you as well. I’m Kathleen Bartholomew – the late science fiction writer Kage Baker was my sister. She is now “the late” because she died in 2009 of uterine cancer. I saw her through her mortal illness. So when I started to bleed a few months ago, I had ample warning not to wait – I went in, I had ultrasounds and biopsies, and – I have uterine cancer, too. But mine will probably not win, because I learned from Kage. May your article, and those to come, also save someone as well as yourself. Best of luck and healing to you.


  202. I don’t comment here much, but thank you and damn, thank you for your bravery. I only know you through your posts and such, but my thoughts are with you.

  203. I found your post to be very poignant and very touching. Even though I do not know you I was moved by your discovery and how you handled the news. It was extremely brave of you to share something this personal and I really admire you for that. Please keep doing what you do best – write. And love. I wish you godspeed in your recovery and look forward to reading your post with the hashtag: #Ibeatcancerandsocanyou

  204. You are exceptional, even in the face of such a terrifying experience. If it is true what they say, that love can heal, you will be healed. Sending you strength and warmth. We are with you.

  205. Oh no, Xeni.

    Thank you for writing this. I have a family history of cancer and am going to ask my doctor if I can get a mammogram as soon as my new cross-state-move healthcare paperwork c0mes through.

  206. As one of those smug atheist scoundrels I don’t pray for people, but I did just wing a donation to our Breast Cancer foundation while thinking of you. Science may or may not cure it any time soon, but progress is always being made!

  207. From my reading of this , you are a very thoughtful, intelligent, and caring person. These characteristics will help you throughout your journey. Cancer is not an easy road to tread but we are able to get ourselves through Cancer by facing it at first with the minimum of knowledge until we are strong enough to fight it full force. Friends and family being supportive is the best medicine one can ever recieve and you are already recieving that through the people posting here. Be strong and cry, we need to cry as our body is being attacked by itself. Be determined and fight like hell! Life is worth the fight. It will be exhausting, terrifying, lonely and yet you will find solidarity,calm,and love. You will come out the other end scarred not just physically but mentally. You will be a changed woman & you will be compassionate,thoughtful, intelligent, and caring… even more than you thought possible.
    Bless you on your journey! I am sending out positive vibes & love & prayers for you :) xoxoxoxo
    BTW I am terminally ill with lung cancer & am pallitive now .. I know you can & will do this xxx
    Annie MacDonald Warren

  208. You are a terrific writer. I was diagnosed in June and going thru rads now. Much of what you said hit home. Thank you and BABY YOURSELF! 

  209. Very sad news, Xeni, but a wonderfully written post. Such courage and humor. I’m reminded that the only thing that is ever really under our control is our attitude. 

    Best wishes and continued grace.

  210. Xeni I feel like I known you for a long time and I daily thank all the persons that created the internet for this privilege, get well soon! 
    My prayers and best wishes go to you ..

  211. I’ve never met you, but read you and corresponded once.  Let love’s light bathe you and show you the way.  You’ll beat this, too

  212. i am dumbstruck by this. in the last year both my mom and mother in law found that they had cancer and it completely sucks. i read your posts and follow you on g+ so i feel like i sort of almost know you a little bit, and i feel comfortable enough to tell you i feel for you in your upcoming struggle. we may not be close to you, but we do all care for you.

  213. This is the first time I’ve felt moved to comment on a boingboing post, even though I have been an avid follower for about two years. Xeni, you’re a badass. I loved your interviews with Die Antwoord, and you fantastic hair. Thank you for sharing this and you’re in my thoughts. 

  214. Battle on Brave Warrior! You are in for a fight but you will be VICTORIOUS ! I will follow and hope to hear GREAT NEWS!

  215. Thank you for sharing your journey with us, Xeni. It seems rare these days to be untouched by the world of cancer within ones family or social circle, yet we all somehow still imagine cancer as something that happens to “someone else”, in denial of the fear that it could strike ourselves at any time.

    4 women, 2 on each side of my family, have all had breast cancer and survived. My grandmother had it in the early 1980s and she’s gone on to be a lively 80+ year old. My mom’s breast cancer was also in her lymph system and she seems to be doing well. I feel that catching it early and modern technology (and the positive wishes of all us BoingBoingers!) will help you through this.

    As a fan of your articles and a long-time happy mutant, I wish you a full and happy recovery. :)

  216. So sorry to hear about this, Xeni. Next time you’re in Chicago, there’s a big hug waiting for you….

  217. Xeni, I don’t now nothing besides this: in 2007 I was given half an year to live, tops. I’m still here, still checking BB every single day, still hating you guys for giving me so many time-consuming wonders. My plan, right  now, for you and me, is to keep coming back here to read you and the rest of the guys and gals for a long, long time. We’ll work on it day by day, dear. And here we go… 

  218. Xeni, that was one of the most powerful pieces I think I’ve ever seen posted here, and that is no small thing, considering the quality and thoughtfulness of the writing that gets posted day in and day out.  I do not have anything nearly so moving to say.  Thank you for sharing with us.

    Be strong, get well and know that we’re all rooting for you.

  219. Best of all wishes to you from Germany. This is one deeply moving story. My thoughts are with you:)

  220. I’m glad you found a straight shooter.
    Because my impression is that you’re one, too.
    I’m sending you love.

  221. I’ve been feeling stunned about this post since I read it this morning, doubly so because on the second time around I realized that one of the other friends you mentioned as having been recently diagnosed was Susannah Breslin, whose blog I’ve read for years but which I fell behind on a few weeks ago due to work, apparently just at the time she posted about it.

    I can’t be a tenth as stunned as you are.  Crossing my fingers and hoping for minimal lymph node involvement, no metastases, and a quick recovery with no complications and as little discomfort as possible under the circumstances.

  222. Oh Xeni, I didn’t realize how much you mean to me until I read this. I live in LA and read BB faithfully for years so you’re a … Presence? in my life… a friend  in my imagination? You’re inside my head.   I shared your fear when I read this, so I thought maybe I could share some of my courage for you to use.  I’ll tuck your hand in my arm and we’ll walk through Elysian Park and I’ll tell you, “I know you (okay “know” you) and you’re strong & brave & lucky, my dear.   You’ll get through this. ”  

  223. Christ… the unicorn chaser on this sucker ought to be good. Xeni is going to kick the everliving shit out of cancer.

  224. After making excuses and rescheduling it for several months, I am no longer putting off my mammogram appointment tomorrow, because I read this.  Wishing you a quick recovery, Xeni, and thank you for sharing something so immense and scary with us.   

  225. When my sister called me, saying that she had felt strange but light digestive symptoms for a couple of weeks and that she was to undergo a series of test, I cried for the rest of that day, non stop, like I hadn’t in 20 years before, like I haven’t in 20 years since: she finally was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

    Not this time, I didn’t feel even a tinge (but I’m officially POed): you’ll have a bit of hell to pass through but you will come out of it stronger. You have the fortitude; you’ll add to it the strength of whom had to face straight on how frail we really are all.

    If love is what will get you through, then you are set like no one else I’ve ever known. I do believe though that something else, something even less tangible, some inner resource, the sum of all that you are, which is plenty, likely plenty more than you are even aware of yet,  is what that really will do the trick for you.

    The down side is that I am not finished scratching my head at half your jokes.

  226. Xeni:

    I watched as my wife went on this journey to outer space 5 years ago. I went along with her whenever I could, but it was happening to her, and not to me. There were some places that I just couldn’t go. Watching her going to those places alone was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. She’s cancer free now, though once cancer enters your life, it never really leaves. You continue to live with a low level, background fear. But you also live with the profound, strangely positive things you learned on your journey. 

    What I can offer is some practical advice, to you and to those who love you.

    For those who love Xeni: 

    She is Xeni. She is not “Poor Xeni”, “Cancer Patient Xeni”, or “Sick Xeni”. Whatever you did with her before, do again. Whatever jokes you shared with her before are still funny. Whatever political arguments you had with her, continue them. Talk about cancer when you want to or when she wants to, but don’t talk exclusively about cancer. Don’t walk on eggshells. Don’t treat her like she’s delicate or broken. She’s not. She’s the same Xeni you loved before this news. Treat her that way.

    You’ll want to help. You should. But don’t just tell her “If there’s anything I can do …”. Be specific. If she’s worn out, tell her you’re coming over to do her laundry, and ask her when a good time would be. Clean her house, look after the little things of life for her. Take her out to dinner, a movie, a concert. There will be times she won’t feel up to it – respect that. Then, another day, ask again.

    For Xeni:

    The people who love you can’t live in your shoes. They want desperately to feel useful. Let them. It’s important for you and for them. Let them help you. Be honest with them and yourself. If you feel like crap and wish someone would just bring you a blanket and a juice, say so and people will gladly do it. If you want to be left alone, say so. But don’t turn away help. You’re not imposing. You’re not a burden. People are looking for ways to make a concrete difference. Those who love you are in a different part of outer space. Their gravity is different too. They are reaching out to you, but can’t quite touch you. If you turn towards them and both reach out, you can bridge the divide.

    Hug those around you long and hard – not because you have cancer, not because you are scared, but because you love them, and they love you. Your diagnosis changes your world and the world of those around you. Part of that change is a deeper understanding of the importance of your human connections. Embrace that change.

    Wishing you all the best,


  227. Oh, Xeni. :(
    That’s tough reading, but thankyou for sharing what you’re going through.
    FWIW, a friend was diagnosed in her early 40s, and is now over a year into “all clear”. And my Nana beat it and lived to the age of 97. I hope you share their good fortune.

  228. People have the ability to understand these things and experience what comes before it is here. My dog, Sugar, recently had to deal with a lung tumor, but she didn’t understand. She only felt bad.

    Sometimes I think these brains we carry around aren’t worth the trouble. Best of luck to you. I’m sorry I don’t have something better to say.

  229. To simply say you are an incredibly courageous and strong woman would be a gross understatement. When I realized that this is just as new for you as it is for your followers, I had to pause to collect my thoughts. Your desire to let us in, to educate us and most importantly at this very moment, to let us in so we can support you and encourage you, to be there as little or as often as you’d like us to be. You are a power of example who has in a very short period of time, shed light on the importantance of getting an early mamagram… even if it is, technically speaking, 10 years too early to think about getting one.  Stay strong honey, just as you are right now.  Lots of love and prayers coming your way. Thank you for sharing your experience with us… you are truly courageous and an inspiration.  xoxo

  230. I’ll spare the stories. I just wish you well and that you have the best of luck. Catching it early is way ahead of the curve. Keep your head up and don’t give up. 

  231. Reading your piece really hit home for me.  Your description of the biopsy was so real!  The sound of the gun, the tumor looking like a NASA video, and most of all the almost out of body experience.  The feeling like this wasn’t really happening to you, I really remember that feeling.  Thank you SO much for sharing your experience.  This is one of the most “real” articles I have read about finding out about being diagnosed with breast cancer.

    I am BRCA1 positive which is a genetic mutation that greatly increases ones chances of developing breast and ovarian cancer.   Due to my BRCA1 I was to get a mammogram and an MRI once a year.  My routine mammogram didn’t find anything but my MRI 6 months later concerned my doctor.  Early last year I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 31 and had a nipple sparing bilateral mastectomy with immediate reconstruction (removing all of the breast tissue and replacing it with silicone implants and keeping my nipples) to remove my tumor and to take my chances of reoccurrence down from about 50% to 5-7%.  My reoccurrence chances were 50% due to my BRCA1 gene and were 5-7% because I chose to keep my nipples.  Now over a year later things aren’t all about my surgeries or my cancer anymore.  The never-ending appointments have calmed down and the physical pain is gone. The scars on my body and in my heart are still healing but life is great!  Sending love and positive thoughts your way!

  232. Xeni, I’m in Charlottesville as I write this, not too far from your home town. We have conversed once or twice via the interwebs over the years and I have followed your posts closely. You have a real talent for sharing and this has to be one of the hardest, and best, you have done. The outpouring of support you see is a reflection of all that you have given. Now some of it will come back. Love? Yeah, love. As you said, when you strip all the bullshit away and see what matters gravity itself changes.

    My mother had breast cancer when I was 7. My father was in cancer research, radiobiology and biophysics, so she got state of the art care. Given the network of smart folks that follow you here I am comfortable saying you will have far better support than she could have dreamed of. These interwebs and the sharing culture you have helped foster are going to rally behind you as you face whatever lies ahead. You are definitely not alone.

    And my mother? 43 years later she’s still going. You will be too.

  233. A very beautiful and moving story, Xeni. I rarely comment on BoingBoing, but felt compelled and wish you luck in your fight.

  234. Anything I can imagine saying seems really pithy in the face of this news. It’s devastating and shocking and so damned scary. 

    I hope that, on the other side of this, there’s a time when you’ll never have to visit that cold planet again. I hope that the strength and love around and inside you pull you through to there, and that all the luck in the world is on your side. I’m sending you all the love and strength and good thoughts I can communicate in a comment from a stranger on your blog post. 

  235. Xeni, you are more than my hero. I have accepted you as my personal savior. I know you’re going to kick cancer’s loser ass. All the best thoughts from southwest Virginia.

  236. Hey Xeni, just read your post. Sucks I know, I had a couple of cousins who died young of brain cancer. So…could be worse! And, you know what the buddhists say: If you are alive, hey! no problem, and if you are dead, well then there is *definitely* no problem ;) All this silliness is just a way to try and cheer you up a bit, and as many have noted, we are all pulling for you. Your honest appraisal of your experience was pretty awesome to read, the whole space analogy was excellent and really put me in your shoes. Thanks, and tell those cancer cells to go to hell!

  237. So sorry to hear about this hard news for you, Xeni.  I’m sending as much healing thoughts and wishes as I can muster to you through the ether.  Please return to wellness!

  238. Xeni,

    We’re all here back on Earth awaiting your re-entry and landing. Our thoughts are always with you on your journey. We’ll be looking forward to the AOK.

  239. thank you for sharing this xeni, as a reader for a couple of years now so reading this at first my heart sank, but by the end, it feels like watching a close friend that is bravely taking on the uncertainty of tomorrow. hugs and wishes for a speedy recovery

  240. I am going to add you to my prayers Xeni. I have had a pain in my throat, and I’m not sure what it is. I have been afraid to go and get it looked at, because of what it possibly might be, based on certain indicators. Your courage, is divine timing for me. Coming home, and jumping on to BoingBoing was the last place I expected to read about the c word. I AM in grattitude for this gift. There is something here that we’re suppose to learn here, and there will be FULL recoveries and new life. Blessings.

  241. FYI, wife ended up with Stage 3+ breast cancer after two missed diagnoses. (What probably helped her was that when she felt a lump, she went to her sister-in-law’s facility’s instead of the one her doctor had been sending her too.) More importantly, though: Still here over four years later.

  242. Think positive thoughts and do what the doctors recommend. You will get through this and you have lots of support from family, friends and readers. You are a brave woman for telling your story and this will help other woman to get tested. I wish you the best and hope you get well soon.

  243. Please be careful to eat only the most ideal foods for fighting cancer, which will taste horrible (baking and frying will reduce their phytonutrient content,) but your health is worth it.

    Be strong!

    1. The ideal foods for fighting cancer will be the foods that best nourish YOU and keep YOU alive.  This is not the time to starve yourself on dry salads.  It may, in fact, be a time to cut far back on things that form sugar in the body, as many cancers thrive on sugar (if not most of them).  If it’s a starch, it will make sugar, no matter where it comes from.  If it’s a sugar, it will become all sorts of sugar, no matter what its origin.  Sugar just possibly became your worst enemy.  Make it go very far away from you.

      This is where you will need to step outside the box completely, not just look outside of it, because people will be screaming at you from all different directions, but–*get off the industrial grain- and soy-based crap.*  Get onto something like a Paleo diet.  I had a friend who died of breast cancer while eating macrobiotic.  Linda McCartney was vegetarian.  Steve Jobs was pescetarian.  Attitude or belief does not trump biology.  Biology says cancer loves to eat sugar, and sugar is a plant-based food.
      Eat only the most nutritious plants for the least amount of sugar, and do not waste precious stomach space filling yourself up on them because chemo patients lose weight quickly, and losing weight with cancer can be a death sentence.  Make them side dishes instead.  Otherwise… make friends with your butcher.  Quickly.  If it’s got to be grass-finished meat, all the better, I applaud you, but at least eat the meat at all.Quit skipping the butter and coconut oil, too.  Butter and coconut oil hate cancer.  So do you.  You now have common purpose, the three of you.None of this is a guarantee.  There are no guarantees.  From this point on you are playing the odds.  But at least tilt them more heavily in your favor.

  244. Be glad you discovered it that early. It leaves you a lot more time and a much better chance. When reminded to the inevitable, life gets a much stronger taste. It’s still yours!

  245. A very moving post. All the best to you. The only difference between you and the rest us is we take tomorrow for granted.  

  246. ¡Animo güera, rómpele la madre al cáncer!

    Always keep in mind that cancer in 2011-12 is a very different proposition than in 2001, let alone the 1980’s, when therapy was applied like a sawed-off shotgun, instead of a rifle bullet.

    That said, when therapy begins, my mother realized that in her meals, a variety of small portions helps to eat better and remain stronger, while large portions quickly become unappetizing, overwhelming.

    Then there’s a relatively recent hormone treatment with very few side effects, which could reduce the duration of chemo and/or radiation, hopefully you could skip them altogether.  Oncology has come a long way.

    Aqui estaremos, al pendiente contigo.

  247. Damn.
    Stay positive, Xeni. And take a little time each day to feel and absorb the love from all the people around the world who are sending their positive healing energy to you.Of course, do all the medical things you judge appropriate. But this is something you can do for yourself, anytime and anywhere.

    You can beat this.

    with love,
    Gary McFeat 

  248. Grandma had cancer. Mom had cancer. Sister’s mom had cancer. Half-sister had cancer. I keep waiting for my body to do that, to betray me, try and kill me at the same time it reassures me that I’m a part of this family. That last line made the tears fall down my face. They came on fast and unexpected, and went away again. Thank you. 

  249. wow…this post kicked my ass. I’m a 46 year old guy and I’m sitting here crying at my keyboard at work. I was diagnosed with lymphoma about three weeks ago. Got my first toxic infusion just yesterday. You captured the horror and surreal nature of the whole discovery phase with brutal perfect beauty. Thanks for sharing. See you on the other side of this fucking long tunnel.


  250. Having the strength to write this post at this time of life … wow.  It shows you will be fine as you and your close friends travel through the surprises ahead. 

    (Cancer survivor since 1976)

  251. Xeni, so sorry to hear. My wife was just diagnosed this week, so this is on my mind in a big way. Good luck!

  252. Damn. It’s scary how many women are getting breast cancer. Even in my circles I know four cases and the one case is my mom. Breast Cancer can be very difficult, but in all four cases I know they’re well for now. I wish the best for you! Thanks for sharing this very honest and open experience. It’s important to make people realize that it can happen to anyone.

  253. You don’t know me from Eve, but I’m here to say that you are in my thoughts and prayers. Thank you for opening this window into your experience; I hope having all of us along for the ride brings you some comfort.

  254. Like many others here, we have never met, but you have amused, informed and inspired me.  Keep sharing and living  life to the full.  You are in my thoughts.

  255. Sorry to hear about your diagnosis Xeni, sounds like you will have excellent care. May you recover quickly.

  256. Ms. Jardin,
    From one survivor to the next– surround yourself with the folk that love you. 

    Some days you’ll be brave, and other days you’ll collapse. Sometimes, you will be in control of where and around whom. Other days, not so much.

    My personal guidance is avoid chemo. I’m four years out, and I don’t think I’ll ever fully recover. Diet– find out what makes the bloody thing tick (mine was estrogen sensitive, and I’d been using progesterone topical application to avoid menopausal symptoms) and fight YOUR tumor on your terms. The doctors have “parameters” and we don’t all fit ’em.

    I treated my radiation burns with lavender essential oil and ice packs. It did avoid the burn symptom, but again, it took four years for my breast to stop radiating heat. That still doesn’t seem right to me.

    Surgery is amazing, these days… and then, trust yourself to be the judge of what you will or will not do to yourself.

    You amaze me, you are incredible at what you do.

  257. Reading BoingBoing is as much a part of my day as eating or walking. When there are no new posts, I will needledrop through the archives. But this is the first time a post moved me to tears. My sister is a breast cancer survivor thanks to early detection. I imagine your willingness to share your story will save lives. Can art fulfill a higher purpose?  I hope you take these messages and find strength and sustenance, knowing countless friends convey to you our very best. Godspeed Xeni. We’re rooting for you.

  258. this was so beautiful. and sad. i found myself crying for someone i’ve only ever “seen around” but never been brave enough to talk to. thank you for sharing this and being so open and online. i needed to read this (as do some many women). i need to get health insurance. i need to see a doctor. thank you Xeni. *hugs* and strength be with you.

  259. Stand strong. We’ve never met, but I feel compelled to call you my friend. You have, through your platform here on boingboing, inspired me time and again. Thank you.  My thoughts will be with you, for what it’s worth. 

  260. That first photo is just…  picture says a thousand words yada yada but then you wrote the thousand words anyway. And the world is a better place for them.

    Wishing you everything you need to beat this.

  261. We live in a time of miracles; technological miracles mostly and yet still have quite a few of the good ole fashioned ones too. Hoping all the factors conspire for a quick recovery and an abundance of resiliency. 

  262. I’m so sorry. I walked this path alongside my wife when she was diagnosed; three years later, we’re still walking it. It’s awful and scary to have the illusion of control over things dispelled by an invisible monster, but it can be beaten. It sounds like you have a good team. We all love you, and wish you luck. When traveling through Hell, don’t stop.

  263. As a 6 year breast cancer survivor, I can tell you that your basic approach should be useful to you.  I can also say that the way you were diagnosed was much more compasionate that mine, but our initial responses were the same: shock, fear, curiosity (what is next? what should I do? what do the studies show? etc), and acceptance that there are some things in life that you just don’t have a lot of control over.  Don’t sweat the little things, if you can.  Don’t be afraid to say you are afraid.  DO do your research on where your path is going.  DO consider a really short sassy haircut (even shorter than you have now?) if you decide on chemo (that way if you start to lose the hair, it isn’t as traumatic as if you lose it while it is long(er) and thick.

    And good luck.

    1. Listen to this person.  ^ ^ ^  You are going to run into a lot of people who try to deal with their own fear and pain by making you feel about three inches tall because you operate in some other mode than Perky Pollyanna.  Feel what emotions you feel when you feel them; you owe no one an apology for that.

      I recommend Barbara Ehrenreich’s Bright-Sided for some hopefully sane-making perspective on this.  She’s a breast cancer survivor, and oh the things she’s seen.

  264. Thank you for the courage to share this. You bring so much to all of us. I wish you the health and happiness.

  265. I’ve been an avid BB reader for a while now. At some point Xeni stopped being just some random name on the internets, and became someone I consider as a friend. You have lots of friends out here, and we’re all wishing you well. Be strong. And when you’re not feeling so strong, tell us all, and we’ll try to help carry the load.

  266. Thank you for helping others see the strange sites of life, both wondrous & autonomous, through your thoughtful & direct eyes. We are a collection of things, usually working together, but sadly sometimes not. Your mindfulness will give you options and resolve. Your Dunbar number has exponentially increased & all of us care deeply. If you choose to continue to share we’ll continue to learn. If you choose not to, and that’s ok too, we’ll continue to hope,

  267. Xeni–All I can say is best of luck and please keep us posted.

    And as someone overdue for HER mammogram, THANK YOU for getting me off of my ass.  Making the appointment Monday.

    Much love and good energy.

  268. I have followed boingboing and you for years and want you to know that I have you in my thoughts!!  I too wish you a full and prompt recovery!

  269. Xeni, I’m so sorry…no one should have to go through this.

    A close friend of mine found out she had cancer in 2009. FWIW, here are couple things I learned as one of her support people.

    First, do your best not to give in to fear and sadness in the face of a lack of information. When my friend first went to the hospital, her initial results said that she had stage 4 inoperable cancer. Everyone was shocked, and many tears were shed, but I refused to let myself cry. Why? Because not all her tests had come in. The new information from those tests could change the initial assessment. It took an immense force of will, but I held back and as it turned out her cancer was NOT stage 4 and was indeed operable.

    Second, have your 420 handy. SRSLY. The chemo took a lot of her, but smoking weed helped ease her pain and maintain a healthy appetite.

    So where is my friend today? Cancer free; happy and healthy and living in the apartment next door. We make each other laugh, give each other shit, and along with her other close friends, we roll 20’s every Wednesday.

    The first birthday she had after having beat cancer, I wished her many more trips ’round the sun. And I wish the same for you as well.

    Before I go, I feel like I should share a few links with you that might help. I did the same thing for my friend. When faced with a problem I look for as much information on solutions as I can. It’s the curse of being raised by two librarians. :-)

    Ultrasound Surgery

    Rick Simpson’s “Run From the Cure”

    The editing is cheesy, but the subject matter is fascinating. A breast cancer patient by the name of Dawn Darington just wrote about her expeience with the oil in the November issue of Seattle’s Dope magazine (no online version unfortunately). Her preparation of the oil is currently being studied by the University of Washington.

    There are also accounts of people with cancer being healed through Ayahuasca ceremonies. The following link is the memoir of such a person:

    I don’t know you Xeni, but from the posts I’ve read on BoingBoing over the years I get the distinct impression that you are an overall and intelligent, savvy, strong human being. You will get through this. You have to. Who else will charge into space on a unicorn steed, leading the Happy Mutants in Sir Richard Branson’s secret spaceship fleet to do battle with the sentient meteor men that are the REAL 2012 apocalyptic threat? :-)

    Stay strong,


  270. I’ve read Boing Boing for a long time now, and always remember your posts, but this is the first time I’m going to comment. Thank you for putting this into terms I can better understand. My mother was given 6 months to live 2 Novembers ago due to Pancreatic cancer. The fear that overwhelmed me created an unusual issue as conversation has always been easy between us and since the diagnosis, there have been many moments on the phone with her where there was just deafening silence. “What do we do now?” after each clinical visit, would put us on the precipice of a terrifyingly dark abyss. I knew the fear for her compared to mine had to be near paralyzing. All I could do was give her all the love I had. We had the best Christmas ever. But secretly I cried with every gift I gave her thinking I’d see it again in only 6 months. She finally met my wife then and they became close, we have taken every opportunity to shower her with a warm life and make her feel loved. So far she has outlived the initial assessment and she attributes that to the love she has felt for life and from us. We are soon going into our 2nd Xmas since this thing. And because of love, the fear has become less stratospheric.

    So I will send some love your way as well. In some way, I think you’re going to be ok

  271. Hi Xeni, really hope you realize that behind every avatar and nick name before and after my post, is a person that is thinking of you, and would hug you tight if they were to meet you in person.

  272. Thanks for such an honest and candid post.  I too remember the uncontrollable shivering (I called it chittering in my blog – a Scottish expression).  I wish you well with your treatment and recovery.
    Philippa (aka Feisty Blue Gecko)

  273. Xeni – I repeat what many have already said but this is an absolutely incredible and courageous post. Thank you. You’ve got one more person sending strong, positive vibes your direction. 
    (PS: When my mom went to her treatments,  she always did something special for herself afterwards – a present, special lunch, etc.; it made the treatments a little nicer. Six years on, she’s a happier, healthier woman. Don’t forget to treat yourself well during this mission to the unknown.)

  274. Dear Xeni, you are awesome and you made me cry today. I wish you all the best and you *will* beat this. Big hugs from Holland…

  275. beautifully told. as one who has been on the far planet and returned I can verify that you will get back. Don’t do anything too quickly. Research (I thoroughly recommend Dr. Susan Love’s The Breast Book) everything. Be sure to have an Oncotype DX bioassay if your cancer’s profile fits (estrogen and progesterone positive, HER2 negative…generally node negative, but the provider was validating it for node positive…that work may be done). My inclination was to get the cancer out; I didn’t realize presurgery therapies were available. Don’t rush. 

  276. Thank you for sharing this… you are not alone! now get yourself to the nearest cancer center of america and hit it with both barrels! there is a LOT they can do now and it’s not the end of the world!!! 
    A faithful reader and lover of boing boing…

  277. I rarely read you — was referred here from Instapundit — but I am aware of your profound and beneficial influence on the Interwebs.  Which seems like a weird thing to mention right now, except I think there are probably lots more like me, infrequent visitors, who are nevertheless with you, sending healing and strengthening energy your way, and totally in your corner as you take this on.  You’re not alone.

  278. Thank you Instapundit for introducing me to this amazing woman. Writing of this quality is rare. Doing it under those conditions is superhuman. The cancer does not have a chance in the impending battle with you. All the best, Xeni.

  279. If love from the internet could cure breast cancer, you’d already be fine.  We are all rooting for you.  I’m a mamms tech, and I’m glad yours found that common ground with you that we all look for with our patients.  We really do care.

  280. Six weeks ago I was diagnosed with carcinoid tumors, much metastasized, a relatively uncommon form of slow-growing cancer. Once metastasized, it may be containable but is not curable. Am just now surfacing from being shocked and frightened clear out of my wits, and having continuous hand-holding houseguests to keep me sane and go to doctors with me. 

    You will come back from the cold shocking scary place, get your feet on the ground, and be able to do what you have to do to fight this thing.

  281. Xeni, 

    I survived very serious cancer. What can I say. If you survive, I will celebrate. If you die, I will remember you. In a way, every day should be lived like that.


  282. Oh no. Sorry to hear about your diagnosis. I wish the best for you. We only met in person one time, but I feel I participate in some small, voyeuristic way in many of your endeavors. Thanks for including this one as well.

  283. Xeni.  Have you heard of Above & Beyond Cancer, an organization dedicated to educate the nation about cancer.  Charlie Wittmack, Executive Director of Above & Beyond and Dr. Richard Deming, an oncology radiologist and the Director of Mercy Cancer Center in Des Moines Iowa had taken 14 cancer survivors to the Base Camp of Mt. Everest this April, and they are getting ready to take 30 survivors to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro in January. Charlie is a world triathlete, who rode bicycle all over the Europe and to Nepal, swam the English Channel, and reached the summit of Mt. Everest twice.  Please join our journey to empower cancer survivors and care takers.  The Above & Beyond Cancer has a Facebook page.

  284. “There’s always a natural little “doctor” inside who wants to make you better. It’s there when you become aware of being self-absorbed, or in negative states of mind—there’s that natural reaction to move away from that. It doesn’t have to be terribly strong; but right there, that’s where aspiration bodhicitta comes in. A very natural bodhicitta: we want to move away from the small self when we see we are so attached to it; we want to have a more open, relaxed, larger self without so much of the tension that self-concern requires. So I think it’s a very natural changing of direction that is slowly taking place, as long as one doesn’t get hard on oneself at the time one notices.” —Dungse Jampal Norbu.

    You can cure this….your body wants to heal itself.

  285. Xeni, thank you for sharing. It takes real guts to purposely violate your own privacy and discuss the intimate, scary details of this kind of experience.
    Reading your story might help convince a few of us to get the check-ups we’ve been putting off…so thank you for being so open about everything.
    I’m adding my wishes & prayers to the others coming your way. I have this mental image of all of your friends, fans, well-wishers, and other supporters joining to form like a human chain that goes all the way out to that cold planet to bring you back!

  286. I am so sorry this has happened to you. I was 30 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My whole left breast and 30 lymph nodes had to go. It didn’t look very good for me. I did chemo and radiation and more chemo.

    I won’t lie. It sucked. It wasn’t fun. I *hated* losing my hair. But I coped by looking for the humor and living in, if not the moment, the very short term. I never let myself dwell on things that might happen in more than about 2 weeks into the future. That’s how I dealt with the not knowing. Because there is *so much* that you just don’t know, and can’t know, about what is going to happen.

    But 4 years later I’m still alive, and in remission.

    Keep laughing. Make fun of it all; it helps make the fear smaller.

  287. The planet you’re on might feel lonely, but this here communicator works two ways you know. You have a whole planet full of mutants sending their support your way.

    Ganbappe, Xeni.

  288. One of my colleagues at work has recently had a relapse for leukemia. I didn’t know she had even undergone treatment for it originally. Whenever I see her she is always so happy and positive. She is an inspiration to everyone who knows her.  I only wish I put something expressing that on the card that was passed round. Xeni, to you I say, be that inspiration to everyone else who is going through the situation you are having to deal with. Stay positive and stand tall.

  289. Xeni, I wish you lots of strength, for you and your loved ones. My father had cancer, but he beat it. I hope you will, too.

  290. Xeni – The whole web is watching. Thank you for sharing your story. You’re an inspiration. Looking forward to reading your “I am cancer free” post.

  291. I don´t know you personally but you definitely strike me as the kind of strong person who beats cancer and emerges from the experience even stronger. I look forward to that day.

  292. Wow this post kicked my ass. 

    I’m a 46 year old guy who just found out 3 weeks ago I have stage 4 Hodgkin’s. Started chemo last week. Thank you for sharing, and helping me to put this thing into words.

    Looking forward to reading about your recovery as I find my way towards my own.

  293. Good luck, Xeni, I hope this journey goes well for you, you’ve certainly got loads of support in this community. Thanks for sharing.

  294. Xeni — Just one more person sending you all the love and strength you deserve.  You are a great warrior princess…go kick some ass.

  295. “The thing that brings you back is love.”

    It is, Xeni. That’s why I’m still here (9 years out from non-Hodgkins’). And with everything I’ve seen in these comments, you have no shortage of lifelines/lovelines tethering you to this world.

    More love,


  296. 八(^□^*) タノム!!

    It is strange being sad about your cancer when I only know you from your posts.

    keep ya head up, Xeni.

  297. Thanks for sharing. I have emailed this to my nieces who are all about your age. Checking earlier is better than later.

    You have now brought tears to the eyes of total strangers. If somehow we could share a piece of our strength with you, even lose a bit of ourselves, you know we would do it in a heartbeat. I hope our concern, our prayers, our good thoughts, our love, has some effect and helps speed you to full recovery. Praying, hoping, wishing for peace, strength, and health for you.

  298. Doing my midweekly entertaining and informative trawl through BoingBoing as I have addicted to for years, reading this made me post my first comment. You’re going to need a whole lot of strength, and I hope that some of it can come from the fact that there are so many people out here who you’ve brought so much to, and value you so much. Keep going, keep writing, we’ll all be thinking of you.

  299. Dear Xeni — I don’t know you, but I’ve come to love and relate to your work. My mother’s breast cancer diagnosis came a decade after my own experience with what turned out to be a benign breast lump. I reacted deeply to her experience — including lots of dreams about Isla de Mujeres. Knowing your love of music I’m going to mention two CDs which were very meaningful to me at the time: ::Portal:: by Margie Adam about her pilgrimage to the Callanish standing stones; and ::Glass Half Full::

  300. I have read this post three times. This is the first time I am commenting on your posts after being a BB reader for forever. Thank you for sharing with us and being brave. My heart is with you.

  301. Xeni, I wish you the best. I will keep you in my prayers and send you healing and calming energy.  Best of luck with this.

  302. Sweetheart, I was trembling under the ultrasound on August 11. I was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer: rare, aggressive, terrible survival rates. I am determined to be in the tiny minority of longtime survivors.

    You will find a huge support network of survivors stepping up to you to say “me too.” Use their experience to guide you through the tests and procedures, and take them with you to your doctor. They know questions you do not.

    Your friends and family and even strangers will step up to help. I have learned that grace abounds, and it awaits moments like this to express itself. You are an intelligent and capable woman, no doubt used to the privilege of being the one to help. It will be difficult and humbling, but I urge you, let them help you. Give others the gift of being needed, and offer only your thanks in return. There is no balancing of this scale. But later, you will be one to step up and say “me too,” and you will have the privilege of helping.

    Finally, find someone with whom you can laugh—even or especially about cancer. Laughter changes your body chemistry, and besides, it feels good. 

    Wishing you laughter, love and long life.

  303. Our prayers are with you. My wife has been battling lung cancer for the past year and a half. Her odds were 1 in 4 last year. However, she has responded and is now cancer free and her doctors say her odds are now up significantly. I had the same experience you are having six months ago with my PSA test. “Your PSA results came back abnormal, we are going to have to do a biopsy.” However, unlike breast cancer, it seems they are happy to watch it and wait these days. I now get to live from test to test wondering when the bomb will go off. Someone asked me how we do it. My wife’s experience was horrible with surgery, chemo, radiation and three strokes from the chemo. I always tell them, “when you don’t have a choice, it isn’t as hard as it seems.” You will get through it. Now, it is your turn to lean on those close to you. They want to help, but most won’t know how to offer it or what to say. The word “cancer” makes eyes suddenly interested in shoes and friends disappear. But, they will help if you ask. Don’t be afraid to ask. There are no prizes for stoicism. Good luck. 

  304. I believe — NO, I know — there is force for good in the universe that we focus on, or call, or rally, that brings all things good and healing to you, Xeni, at this time. Beat back anguish. Look forward. Be well as I know you will. And join the millions who have been in this same place to work for a time when it does not have to be. Sending love.

  305. Xeni,
    As a cancer survivor (leukemia, but still), I can say that cancer was the best and worst thing that could have happened to me. There are times, now, when I wish I hadn’t had it, because there are things that you don’t think about at the time (continuing ill effects from chemotherapy, for example, even 10 years down the road), but it also gave me a new appreciation for life, and a determination to fight harder, at everything.

    You’re already a fighter, Xeni, and after this, you’ll be ready to take on the world.

    Try to keep a sense of humor about the situation, if you can. Some of the worst times for me were also, oddly, the ones that made for the best jokes, which helped to ease the pain (both physical and emotional).

    I look forward to reading your posts for many many years to come.

  306.  Dear Xeni,

    First, thank you for sharing this experience in your inimitable way. It sounds like you found the right doctor at just the right time and that you are on your way to kicking the cancer’s ass.

    My mother survived breast cancer twice–four years apart. It occurred once in each breast and–in each case–was detected early, was limited to a sentinel node, and was successfully treated by lumpectomy, radiation, and some chemo.

    The one thing that I caught as a former Army medic that she did not know was that the first surgeon to which she was referred tried to use her to get his certification in performing sentinel node biopsies followed by lumpectomy. To do so, he needed to perform a dozen or so biopsies and lumpectomies followed by radical resection of the lymph nodes to confirm his correct performance of the less invasive procedure. I realized his plan rather early on and we sought a second opinion at a regional cancer center that used an integrated approach to patient care. The surgeon, radiation specialist, chemo specialist, nurses, and cancer specialist all use a team approach to patient treatment. This made her ordeal much, much more bearable and, dare I say, routine the second time she had to go through it.

    I look forward to reading your dispatches for many years to come and will keep you in my thoughts as you meet this challenge head on.

Comments are closed.