Dena Taylor | BOOK
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Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho, that's not how I thought I'd go: Denver or bust 2013 – Arrival

November 22 - Up at 7. Breakfast taco/coffee. Movers arrive 9:15am. Sleeping neighbor's car blocking. Eventually clears, truck loaded. Clean apartment. Transport cat, luggage to friends' house.  Pick up boots from shoe repair. Pick up Jim from airport. Get truck. Jim to hotel, me to friends Linda & Steve's. November 23 - Awful early. Coffee. Load car. Hugs. Decide to tow car. No tow dollies or trailers in Austin.  Jim follows me to Round Rock. Car on dolly. Freeway. Moving now. I'm moving. Blechy I-35 construction, shoulderless stretches. Rain. Traffic. Accident. Jim unfazed, steady. Me: grateful. Cat lightly sedated. Later that day - Oklahoma. Icy. Jim still unfazed. Me: still not driving, still glad. Later still - Kansas. Billboard: Where will you spend ETERNITY? Next billboard: McDonald's, next exit. Pit stop: Restroom stall. Stopover - Salina, Kansas. Recall Shawn Colvin's Wichita Skyline song, always loved. Getting there looks mostly like this: "...

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Why today's mammo is different: Part 2

"Miss Taylor?" asks the technician. I'd guess she's in her late 50's, reddish bob, no makeup.  She reminds me of someone. Maybe an old friend of my Mom's. We are down to two in the mammo lounge now. The other woman is buried in her cell phone and two whispered damnit!'s indicate she's stressed. She's had her mammogram and it appears they want her to stick around, reason unbeknownst to me. Maybe she's answering work email, another diversion to the present ambiguity. I follow the tech to an exam room. She sighs trying to discern the history I scribbled on my form. "There's a lot of notes here," she says. "So you've had breast cancer?" "Yes." She opens my robe and asks which breast was removed. "Both." "Both?" "Yes." "Have you had a mammogram since then?" "Yep. Every year." She sighs and wonders aloud about which machine to use. "Every doctor is different. Let me see exactly what kind and how many...

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22 Ways to Occupy Yourself Before Your Name is Called for a Mammogram

Fear is real and I don't take it lightly. I sit with it, consider its origin, talk it over with someone, journal about it (check out Kris Carr's awesome post on ways to take fear for a joy ride). But at some point I've got to move on. The following is in order of how they arose in my brain while waiting for my name to be called for today's mammogram. Employ at your own risk. And if you do, oh, please, oh, please, do share! 1. Imagine that Betty White walks into the waiting lounge and sits next to you. Would you talk to her? What would you say? 2. Count in threes to 100. 3. Think of five things about the day so far that you're grateful for. (I had this amazing terra taco at a local cafe, and was glad to meet a deadline) 4. Do a crossword puzzle. 5. Bring...

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Why today's mammo is different: Part 1

“It gets better,” someone told me about the anxiety that comes with post-cancer mammograms. The first mammogram post treatment was naturally the worst. After getting normal CA 15-3 and mammogram results, I felt a little bit of everything: relieved they didn’t find anything but afraid they missed something; confident in my treatment but worried it would come back. It was a pendulum of feelings that would hijack my mammograms and follow-up appointments for years to come. But for that moment, I was given the green light. I could pass Go. I could blend back into the fold as if nothing was wrong. As if. — excerpt from my memoir, I Don't Wanna Be Pink. It's been 7 years since I was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer, just under that since chemo, and nearly two years since I popped my last tamoxifen. While I have a good prognosis, I still feel trepidation come mammo...

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8 Things that Seem Easier than Building an Author Platform

Ask anyone in the business, building a new author platform is really hard and can take a really long time. Throw in that it's for an as yet unagented memoir and well, almost anything seems easier. 8 Things that Seem Easier than Building an Author Platform Scrubbing the floor of an Irish pub the morning after St. Patrick’s Day with the feather of a baby hummingbird. Adhering eyelash extensions to Jake Gyllenhaal’s character in the movie Prisoners. Meeting a single, straight man in his late 40s willing to date a single, straight female over 40. Deconstructing Anthony Weiner’s sext messages with my 83-year-old mother. Employing Ted Cruz’s eyebrows to procure an important message from a Ouija board. Taking my cross-eyed shelter cat for a walk on a leash at night through a strobe-lit park during a falconry exhibition. Twerking without an ibuprofen or Icy Hot chaser. Eating a McRib. Thankfully, expert advice on platform development can be found online. It's...

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The Hunt for unPink October

I feel bad about it, crashing my brother Paul’s birthday like that. When I arrived, I was in tears, had major munchies, was practically naked, and so out of sorts that I messed my drawers. Then I slept it off without saying I was sorry. I would have but I couldn’t use my words. My brother was only three and I was only a few hours, but still, he’d never have his own birthday again, October 18 would forever be ours. We got used to sharing and for nearly four decades, October was my favorite month. Not just because it was our birthday month but because the trees were on fire with color — bold yellows, oranges and reds, the air was crisp and refreshing — the best to go running in, and slices of pumpkin pie were just around the corner. Yeah, whatever. It was mostly because of our birthday,...

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When I was sick. Guest post on Cancer, Cancer bo-Bancer

When I came across @DeeAnne_Barker on Twitter and saw the whimsy in her blog title, Cancer, Cancer bo-Bancer, and the spirit in her tagline, "I'm the boss of me!" I had to follow. When I learned more about her story, I was humbled and inspired. This incredible woman has faced cancer not one, not two, but three times, and maintains a sense of humor. In one of my favorite posts, her response to Facebook's blunder in failing to capture her most important moments of 2012, she writes: "Well $#%!&! you Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg, I've got moments!" We can learn a lot from her. As her 500th follower, she allowed me to guest post on her blog. An honor. Thank you DeeAnne! ...

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Tamoxifinale

Sunday morning I sprung forward, first at 7:30 am (too painful, fell back), then for real at 10:07 am, and for the first time in five years — five years! — I didn’t take Tamoxifen, an estrogen antagonist (I love that) used to treat breast cancer. [caption id="attachment_1386" align="aligncenter" width="291" caption="Buh-bye"][/caption] I took my last 20 mg pill Saturday, commemorating the occasion by washing it down with water from a wine glass, but not before dropping it on the kitchen floor where it rolled under the stove, precariously close to two boric-acid laced roach tablets. Determined to see my prescription through to the end, I called the five-second rule, moved the (cheap, featherweight) stove, dusted the pill off and swallowed it, bringing my “adjuvant therapy” to a close. I recently expressed concern that once I stopped taking the drug tasked with keeping the evil-dividing cells at bay, I would feel like a sitting...

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Five years later, it's still the moment that counts

Back when I was sporting a chemo-induced chrome dome, I remember someone saying that if I were cancer-free for five years, I would be considered cured. A loaded statement and a tall order, but something to shoot for, if making it five years without a recurrence was within my control. It was like being on parole: “Stay out of trouble and you won’t end up back in the slammer, where your chances of ever getting out and seeing an organic vegetable again are going to be slim.” I would follow the recommend course of treatment. I would eat kale. I would do my best, the five-year marker, my saving grace, firmly lodged in the back of my head. [caption id="attachment_1166" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="Will kale kure?"][/caption] Five years seemed like 50 then, and yet here I am, in my fifth year, cancer free. Party! Right? [caption id="attachment_1172" align="aligncenter" width="220" caption="Woop!"][/caption] Not so fast. First of all, I’m not...

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