Hockey Strong

Dear Jamesy Gom,
We watch your strides so long.
Your hair “flows” out of its helmet,
Your “A” game far and long.
Your “cycling” of the “biscuit” as you “Bar Down” into the net.
A cause for a “celly” we are busting from the get.
You got the rink covered,
The opponents can surely tell.
While everyone was playing checkers in theory,
Your chess game very strong.
You are such a talented hockey dude.
Center rink is where you belong.

Pay it Forward! Shout out to Vinnie’s Tattoos

Pay it Forward. Reposting this story. Shout out to Vinnies Tattoos.

After a Mastectomy, Moving Between Gratitude and Grief

Getting diagnosed with a breast cancer gene mutation at 32 was a gift, but left room for disappointment too.

Credit…Michelle Mildenberg

By Taylor Harris

Jan. 25, 2022

I lay on my back and opened my robe, just as I’d done for every other appointment. But when the doctor prodded my new breasts with her fingertips, I felt naked for the first time. Thin, sloping scars were exposed on my chest, where a surgeon had removed my nipples, but left a smaller version of my areolas.

“If you ever want tattoos, I know a guy named Vinnie in Baltimore. He’s good,” my gynecologic oncologist said as she helped me sit up on the exam table.

“Thanks, but I think I’m good,” I said. My answer was a reflex. I’d had a preventive double mastectomy with reconstruction — two surgeries five months apart — during a pandemic, with three kids at home. I couldn’t fathom driving to Baltimore for 3-D nipple tattoos.

My middle child, Tophs, had helped us discover the BRCA mutation. His puzzling medical symptoms, including dangerously low blood sugar and growth failure, led doctors to order a genetic test of more than 20,000 of his genes. I never expected that my 4-year-old son carried a BRCA2 mutation, and, as it turned out, so did I.

I was 32, and the diagnosis — an increased lifetime risk of developing breast cancer (up to 85 percent) and ovarian cancer (up to 27 percent) — was devastating. Because the cancers associated with BRCA mutations develop in adulthood, my son’s care didn’t change, but my medical team expanded overnight.

I immediately entered a high-risk program at the University of Virginia’s Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center, and met my gynecologic oncologist, breast surgeon and plastic surgeon. They showed me photographs of women’s torsos before and after surgery. We discussed my family tree, which was marked by a variety of cancers on one side. Having a BRCA mutation doesn’t mean you’ll get cancer. It just means you have to weigh whether you want to spend the rest of your life under surveillance (alternating breast M.R.I.s and mammograms every six months) or take things into your own hands with a major preventive surgery.

Myself, I waited four years to decide. First, I had one last baby and nursed her until the fat filled her thighs and made delightful pockets around her elbows. I took time to write essays and landed a book deal. I prayed, and waited for guidance on timing. Then, before the baby turned 4, I read a piece by the late writer Elizabeth Wurtzel on breast cancer and her words nudged me over the edge: “I could have avoided all this if I had been tested for the BRCA mutation,” she wrote.

I had that chance; I could still get ahead of the cancer. I called to schedule the surgery and reminded myself that along with decreasing my risk of breast cancer, I’d also get a “free” breast reduction and lift. It was a vain silver lining, but I clung to it.


I’m a year out from my two breast surgeries. They call me a “previvor,” meaning I have a genetic predisposition to cancer, but haven’t developed it. My lifetime risk of getting breast cancer has been reduced by at least 90 percent. I’m confident I made the right decision for me, though most days I don’t feel especially brave or empowered. Grateful? Yes. But when I quiet all “shoulds” and expectations in my head for a moment, I hear a call from within to survey the changes to my body. To allow myself room for wonder and even disappointment when I look down at my chest. I ask myself for permission to grieve.

During my breast reconstruction, the plastic surgeon suctioned fat from my thighs and flanks and inserted it around the implants to make them appear more natural. It left my thighs dark purple with bruises, the pain far worse than I’d imagined. Over time, the bruises disappeared, but so did the fat placed around the implants; my body reabsorbed it. Now when I take off my bra, I see ridges and dimples that can’t be smoothed without a third surgery. My breasts have more lift and are smaller than they were after nursing three kids, and without nipples I’ll never again have to buy breast petals to wear with a strapless dress. But it’s also true that the holes where drains were inserted during my mastectomy left behind pock marks that remind me of cigarette burns when I glimpse them in the mirror.

“You’ll do great,” people said. “You’ll feel so relieved.” I needed their voices, echoing as doctors rolled me into the operating room. All things considered, I did do pretty great, I have little to complain about.

New Developments in Cancer Research

Card 1 of 6

Progress in the field. In recent years, advancements in research have changed the way cancer is treated. Here are some recent updates:

Pancreatic cancer. Scientists are exploring whether the onset of diabetes may be an early warning sign of pancreatic cancer, which is on track to become the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. by 2040.

Chemotherapy. A quiet revolution is underway in the field of cancer treatment: A growing number of patients, especially those with breast and lung cancers, are being spared the dreaded treatment in favor of other options.

Prostate cancer. An experimental treatment that relies on radioactive molecules to seek out tumor cells prolonged life in men with aggressive forms of the disease — the second-leading cause of cancer death among American men.

Leukemia. After receiving a new treatment, called CAR T cell therapy, more than a decade ago, two patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia saw the blood cancer vanish. Their cases offer hope for those with the disease, and create some new mysteries.

Esophageal cancer. Nivolumab, a drug that unleashes the immune system, was found to extend survival times in patients with the disease who took part in a large clinical trial. Esophageal cancer is the seventh most common cancer in the world.

Yet, can my body hold two truths? Do I have room, between the asymmetry of my new breasts and my clean bill of breast health, to lament? To say: I’ve lost something, too. After having kids, my breasts sagged, looked worn out, but they never appeared unnatural. They were mine. Now when I undress in my closet with my back turned, it’s not just that I’m prone to shame. I’m also taking space to relearn my body, how it feels to live in a place that’s been rearranged. Doesn’t each of us, at some point in our lives, have to confess: I thought this body was one thing, it turns out it’s another.


Previvor. It’s a privilege, no doubt, a deep bow to science and, for me, to God. I cannot help but look around at friends who already have cancer and never got a chance to pre-empt anything. We call that perspective, right? But if I told you I knew how to navigate the psychological terrain between honoring others’ harrowing stories and my own, I’d be lying. It can’t be healthy to hide behind gratitude without acknowledging that sometimes I feel like the subject of a Cubist portrait — a woman made of fragments pieced together, almost recognizable as her own. I’m looking for space, as a previvor, to mourn. A space where I can stop and consider that my scars are signs of relief but also collateral damage from a choice I made. I am fortunate and disappointed, indebted and sad.

I may never have breasts fit for Playboy, but recently I’ve reconsidered my “Thanks, I’m good” approach to nipple tattoos. Now that my skin has healed and I’ve had some distance from the trauma of surgery, I’m more open to the idea of making my breasts beautiful to me. Maybe it’s vain, but maybe it’s not ungrateful to want my breasts to look more polished or complete.

The other day I ordered a temporary tattoo print — a mix of cool blues and greens, a dab of lavender, coral and pink — called “Confetti Floral.” Back when I first visited the plastic surgeon, he’d shown me photos of women who chose to have intricate designs, rather than nipples, inked on their chests. I couldn’t appreciate their artistic decisions then; I was drowning in new information. Now I’m standing somewhere between perspective and grief, and perhaps this area is just to reimagine my body and its beauty. I keep the fake tattoo in its plastic film on a bookshelf in my office, as a reminder that I have options. In time, as I parse what matters to me from what can be discarded, maybe I’ll give Vinnie a call and ask if he takes special orders.

Game of Bones!

Game of Bones!

Don’t fall the docs all tell us.

Let caution lead the way.

A broken bone incurs,

Conversations with more to say.

There is no easy fix.

No bandaid lined with salve.

Wearing sensible shoes,

You thought you’d never have.

The bones are the main structure,

From which we dance and play.

The years of “double dutching” so very far away.

So you fix the carpal tunnel,

A slice of life returned.

You can shuffle up the cards

And feel your finger if it’s burned.

With the femur and the tibia and the humerus intact,

A quick walk around the block

Once our sprint around the track.

One foot proceeds the other,

Add caution to the mix,

Enjoy this beautiful Saturday.

Leave nothing left to fix.

137 Killed, 316 Injured

El Malei Rachamim
RIP Dear Daddy,
Do we have some news to share.
You left us in 2012,

We hold you so Precious, so Dear.
Fast Forward 10 years-

The world in extreme disrepair.
Catastrophes are piled so high.
Listen up, please pull up your chair.
March 2020 brought a virus,
The likes of which we’ve never known.
We ran far and wide,
It kept us inside,
Isolated, and scared, so alone.
We zoomed and we binged on the daily.
Like nothing ever before.
Lives have been lost,
At too high a cost,
We were afraid to walk out the door.

Hold on to your hat,
It doesn’t end at that,
Fast forward –

To a World Wide dis-ease.
Putin has triggered a War on Ukraine.
Airstrikes and Rockets are hovering,
On the precipice of losing innocent lives.
Waiting on next moves uncovering.

With Threats and sanctions in place,
Horror and disgrace.
The Russians are coming,

The Russians are coming.

Let’s collectively pray,

For unity to preserve our freedom.

And to add solace as we find our way.

Came up as a Memory!

Chapter One “In the Land of VPL’s.” It all began while we waited for a parking spot at the Boy’s Farmers Market (which is the $1.00 store for fruits and veggies). It’s close by, right on Military Trail – a veritable bargain and if I tell you —fresh! So we sit and painstakingly wait until someone slowly wheels the stocked shopping cart back to their car, searches for their keys, loads the car, chases after the jar of herring in cream sauce that rolled away and finally removes the sun visor from the dashboard. The name of the place could be changed from The Boys to the Men. Like in forever. And so the brigade of visible panty lines came about. Spandex leggings have replaced “dungarees”- aka Jeans. With their swimming aerobic class over, a quick shower at the gym, the ladies are off to beat the crowd and get a coveted spot. Hey today the strawberry containers are two for the price of one. Could you plotz? They can serve them next to the bridge mix (chocolate and nuts) at the canasta game they are hosting later. Ok, back to the leggings. Spandex, helancas and stretch pants you’re killing us visually. You can get them cheap at the flea market on Sample Rd. The sign says “one size fits nobody over the age of 25.” Cheaper by the dozen if you like the color maroon. So we have returned, one year older, age appropriate activities have befallen us. With a little Mazel, coupled with a work out routine for balancing, we’ll come back next week, wait for a place to park, watch the brigade and who knows the blueberries could be two for the price of…

Read At Your Own Risk

Our hearing is not what it used to be,
And all the jazz.
Our patience is on the borderline,
And all that jazz.
So we watch where we are walking.
As falling is simply no good.
Our laugh lines are no longer laughing.
Dreary and dismal our predominant mood,
And all that Jazz.
So you left the water running and the
Door was slightly ajar.
If we were reading this new reality,
We’d be sure to hobble far,
The early bird specials are appealing,
Soup or a salad comes with,
Are we really living this chapter?
Please tell me we are just dreaming this.
Our morale is down in the basement,
Can’t find our get up and go.
The days are getting longer,
The Count down to search for the fun .

Brushed off the cobwebs of winter.
Planted some seeds in the ground.
Mallomars flew off the shelf,
We are turning this chapter around.
Wishes come two in a package,
We are thinking we’ll sign up for four.
Dog days will soon be behind us,
We will set the table for more.
Our new pair of sneakers are waiting,
We can get back on the treadmill of life.
We will grasp at our new found mojo.
Say goodbye to the anguish and strife.

So long to this dose of drama,

Let’s make it a thing of the past.
Say good-bye to that nasty ole winter,
It just was a matter of time.
So pull your chair up to the table,
It feels like all will be fine.

Double down for your chance at the win.
Springtime it is a coming.
A new dawning day will begin.

And all that jazz.

“Never Underestimate the Stimulation of Eccentricity “

Homage to Neil Simon-. We binged your movies to help ward off “The Biloxi Blues”

Whether we were “Barefoot in the Park, while “Lost in Yonkers” or hitching a ride home from “Brighton Beach,” we waited to hear Jonathan Schwartz “Playing our Song,” on WQXR American Standard Radio. Marvin Hamlisch played Carole Bayer Sager’s lyrics to his music with his particular Zip-a-dee-doo-dah enthusiasm. We swayed along and knew all the words. Your collaborations with Mike Nicols and Gene Zaks prolifically chronicled our youth. Oh Neil, we got hooked when we read your name amongst the credits as we watched Sgt. Bilko, played with such guile on The Phil Silvers show. We waited to hear your interviews with Joan Hamburg on 77 WABC to learn what play was next to be “Broadway Bound.” Her interviews typically came at the end of her show after the bargain shopping and food segments. (Shout out to Shelly Fireman, my forever friend and his spin on delicious Italian fare.) Even if we left the house to spatzere around our favorite thrift shops we heard your familiar very New Yawkish sounding voice broadcasted live. The two of you had a repartee we so enjoyed, although we considered you quite the “Odd Couple.”

We marveled at the big city duplex apartments with sunken living rooms, and gilded cage appeal that set the stage for many of your playbooks. Was Willy’s (Walter Matthau) apartment at the Beaux Arts Ansonia really that big? We thought it could possibly the best pad ever to play hide and go seek. Did Jane Fonda actually run around “Barefoot in the Park” as she pleaded with Robert Redford to try again to save their marriage? We wanted to live in her apartment as soon as we moved to the Village. We knew we didn’t want to live uptown and become a “Prisoner on Second Avenue.” We weren’t sure you could top the episode when Felix Unger walked into Oscar Madison’s cluttered apartment to try to get back together with Gloria. You certainly did when you portrayed the classic “Northeast distributor of Guilt,” and had Molly Picon threaten to keep her head in the oven over the troubles with her bachelor sons. Oh, Frankie!

Our take away quote of yours is “ if you can go through life without experiencing pain you probably haven’t been born yet.” RIP Neil Simon- we’re sure you’ll be filling them with laughter in Suite 203-04 during your “Chapter Two.”


Oh, Good Morning Wordle.
What a fun way to start the day.
We got over the hurdle,
5 letters we will play.
Add, eliminate, guess a letter strong,
Move them around,
Find where they belong.
Words with Friends,
As a means to an end.
A daily game,
We found one more.
Hail The New York Times,
We do implore.
Keep it free, don’t change the name.
No rhyme or reason for this little game.
Let’s do it Wordle,
As we end this poem
A new word tomorrow,
Bring it on home.

Tempus Fugit- so Carpe Diem

Definition of Recidivism-a tendency to relapse into a previous condition or mode of behavior; especially relapse into criminal behavior. Is there a fine line between addiction and recidivism? Let’s consider how popular prison romances are and seem in no danger of dying out. One theory is that prisoners create a literal wall against emotional closeness. Conjugal visits preclude hanging out Sunday morning with Russ and Daughters and The New York Times. They certainly eliminate variegated activities i.e. strolling through The Whitney and eating french toast at Bubby’s in TriBeCa. Delving into a veritable pantheon of theories that depict the profile of personalities enraptured by the incarcerated is a thesis unto itself. Antithetical to the cover for every pot concept.

We recently viewed Jacob Ephron’s documentary on his mom Nora Ephron. We watched it for the second time. Oh, Nora you hated your neck, but we loved you. We so related when Harry met Sally and they were Sleepless in Seattle. We followed as Julie and Julia Got Mail and found a new fix for “Heartburn.” Your self-deprecatory humor was relatable and so comforting. And I quote “when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” Amen! The converse rings ever so true. When you understand that burnt pot roast doesn’t necessarily taste good clean up your social life, play Wordle, and find a new recipe for not just another chicken cutlet dinner. Sensibility does not kick in by chance. Seizing opportunities and disregarding discouragements is certainly better than bemoaning a fate not loaned to you.“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim. It will be a little messy, but embrace the mess.” Brava Nora Ephron. Make it a great Saturday- You Got Mail!

The Last Frontier

Sarah Palin go back to Alaska.
Play by the rules and put on your mask-a.
If you can see Russia-when you look out your door,
Be on your way sista, on this we implore.
While dining at Elio’s,
The virus in your nose.
While on your way out, the door you can close.
In 2008 you joined onto the ticket.
Really John McCain, a better choice
You couldn’t pick-it.
The “Times” in a lawsuit,
Seeking truth in the media,
Go re-check the facts.
Google wikipedia.
As an anti-vaxxer you begin,

Against the “herd.”
Take your twangy ole’ beliefs,
Antiquated and absurd.
With no malice, nor forethought,
Just plain ignorance.
Sorry, not sorry-
We’re over your dissonance.