the mystic E2 dragon

We are writing a quest where we ask different people to write more about a topic. The requests are anonymous and some are for existing titles that have no write ups. This topic was given to another person and then I was asked to write about it as well. My sister was an editor on the everything2 website. She was born in the year of the dragon. She died of cancer in 2012.

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the mystic E2 dragon

 

“Hey.”

“Hey.”

“They want me to write about the mystic E2 dragon.”

Laughs.

“So I think of you.”

Silence… a weight. “So it’s me?”

“No, but you are a dragon, born in the Year of the Dragon.”

“Like we’re Chinese.”

“Yeah, well.”

“And you are an ox.”

“Thanks.” I wait. “Come on, show up.”

The dragon is made of a coat hanger, a rough gold cloth and black felt hand sewn to the body, thin gold cloth on the wings, gold earrings with rubies for eyes. Probably fake rubies, I’m not sure. I made it in college, tail to curl around the neck so that it can sit upright on my shoulder when I walk around. A gold fire lizard. I gave it to my sister, who said I could take it back when she lay dying.

The dragon morphs and now fills the living room, pushing on the walls and squashing me. The scales are hard and hot!

“Stop it!” I say, “Don’t destroy the house!”

The dragon is now couch size. My couch groans under it. The dragon is very alive and smoke rises from her nostrils. It manages to look like my sister, like a dragon and like the borg all at once. Metal and wires on the left side of the dragon’s face, eye socket with a metal camera that whirrs.

“Mind the couch.” I say.

She shifts a little, not shrinking. I peel myself off the fireplace, with the ache of the metal insert and the mantel on my back.

“So.” I say, “what should I tell them?”

She narrows her eyes at me and shrugs.

“What do they want to hear?”

“You tell me.”

“Keep the site alive.”

“Yeah, ok.” I wait.

She looks around. “Your dust bunnies are dying of old age.”

“That’s ok.” I say. “They are better than a guard dog.”

She snorts smoke.

“Tea?” I say. I have it made already, on a tray. The tray was painted by one cousin, the tea cloth woven by another, the teapot made by our mother, with my poem on it.

She takes the cup and saucer delicately. Five claws on each forefoot.

“What’s it like?” I say.

Shrug again, as she sips the tea.

I wait.

“I’m not telling you. And this is your active imagination, so what a stupid question.”

“But I am talking to the unconscious.”

“Yeah, whatever. And anyhow, you’ve already decided, puny human.”

“Ox.”

“Ok.”

And here a curtains drops, while I thank her and we say goodbye.

 

Submitted to the Daily Prompt: candid.

cancer pen

A patient told me about the “cancer pen” yesterday. I promptly pictured  Star Trek’s Bones holding his device over patients, but no, this has to touch tissue…aka a piece of you…and do a chemical evaluation. It is to be used during surgery.

Here: http://www.bbc.com/news/health-41162994

This is neat new technology… but. I can hear my sister saying, “Uh, so what about PREVENTION?”

This is technology to remove cancer after it’s already grown. And presumably metastasized. So this is stage II, stage III, stage IV cancer.

Cancer deaths are the second biggest cause of death in the US. Around 23% of yearly deaths and that does not count the people who survive cancer. At present we do not have many screening tests for cancer: pap smears continue to evolve, and now the recommendation is an HPV test or pap smear every five years AND we have a vaccine for the high risk HPV.
We can screen for colon cancer.
Mammograms for breast cancer.
The screen for prostate cancer sucks.
We can do skin checks.
The screen for lung cancer is now a low dose CT in a certain population that is high risk, that is, smokers. The recommendations have not addressed smoking marijuana.
Recommendations in the US are here: https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/.

There are lots of cancers that we don’t have screens for…. yet.

Proteomics is on the horizon. Genomics is looking at the genes, but it turns out that lots of cancers and infections and other illnesses have particular protein patterns. There is TONS of research in this area. Someday we may have protein tests: put a drop of blood or urine on it and say, “Hmmm. Looks like you have a positive test, probable lung cancer.”

That in turn creates problems. Initially we may be able to diagnose a cancer but not FIND it. Also not know how to treat it. The first big study trying to set up lung cancer screening had over 600 worrisome CT scans out of 1000. How many lung cancers did they find? Nine. And half of the nine had symptoms and could be found on chest xray by the time they did repeat CTs. Think of the anxiety of the 600 people who might have cancer and “We will repeat the CT scan in four months. Don’t worry too much.” Also there were complications from biopsying the lungs, like bleeding and pneumonia….

The best bet to avoid cancer is still living in a healthy way: don’t smoke anything, avoid addictive substances, eat good food, exercise, have friends and loved ones, work for yourself and your community, do some things you love…..

 

I took the photograph of my sister in 2011. She died of breast cancer in 2012. Her blog is here: butterfly soup.

For the Daily Prompt: strut. Struts support things: airplane wings, cars, things that move. How do we as a culture support people to live healthy lives?

Dream log: June 20, 2017

I am with my father and my sister. My mother is not around. I am not sure if she’s gone or dead. Dead, I think.

My father has gone off. My sister is 3 or 4 and I am 6 or 7. I am taking care of her. We are at a park and I am trying to get food. It is Thanksgiving. It is not cold, it’s warm. There are large family groups at picnic tables.

My technique is to move in on a family group. We play near them and I listen for adult names. We play close enough that I can hear but not close enough to impinge on the group. When they start to clean up and take things to the cars, I am ready. I slip in and hold my hands out for a bowl. The adult looks at me. “Aunt Norma’s.” I say confidently, because I know which bowl belongs to each adult. And which bowl I want. The adult hands me the bowl. They can’t remember which kid I am, but I know Aunt Norma’s name….I head confidently with the bowl towards the cars and quickly slide it under my loose sweatshirt. I bypass the cars and head around to my sister.

Now the game changes a little. We have a couple bowls so she guards them. I work the next table alone and score a left over turkey.

The problem now is that we cannot carry it all to the car in one trip. I debate about safety. We are living in the car. I tell my sister to stay with the rest of the food and I leave her, carrying the turkey. It’s still light and there are still a lot of people around. She is sitting on the curb, bowls behind her, between two family groups. I will get the turkey to the car and then run back to her. The two of us can carry the rest of the food in one trip. Then we will have food for a while. She should be safe.

I wake up.

I took the photograph within the last month. What and where is it?

 

sleepy head

This is a story my mother told. When we were little, my sister and I lived with our parents in a small house near Ithaca, NY. We each had a bedroom downstairs. Our parents had their bedroom upstairs. We were not allowed up there, because the stairwell came to the middle of a hall and there was no railing at all. They were afraid that we would fall down.

I am three years older. I’m not sure I was always a good sister.

One weekend morning, my parents were lying in bed in their room, quite early. Suddenly a very round three year old face popped up at the end of the bed, with a wicked gleam, and spoke:

“Boodie with a yellow bill
hopped upon my windowsill
cocked his shining eye and said
“Ain’t you shamed, you sleepy head?”

And then my sister raced out of the room and down the stairs.

My mother said that when they got over their stunned laughter, they came downstairs to talk to us. I had coached my sister until she could recite perfectly, aside from the missing r. I think we got a mild scolding about the safety of the stairs, but since they were still laughing, I don’t think we took it seriously.

previously published on everything2.com, a slightly different version