Revisiting “To Tell or Not to Tell”

Three generations in Laguna Beach clockwise from left: son Thomas, the shy Author, and grandchild Oskar, all permitted to tell if they think they should

When I was a new blogger, one of the earlier topics I posted on was titled To Tell or Not to Tell wherein I discussed the stigma of cancer and patients’ dilemma whether to tell or not to tell others about their affliction.  I wrote that I had emailed my two sisters – the eldest in Manila, the youngest in Dallas – after a series of tests and imaging that the diagnosis of the tumor in my left lung was cancer stage 4.  Immediately their emails came to a screeching halt, leaving me baffled.

For days, in order to deal with the shock of my diagnosis and my sisters’ abandonment, I scoured the internet and educated myself on cancer. I found and read it voraciously. Finally, I figured out why my sisters simply stopped communicating with me. At first I let them stay quiet.  Consequently I enjoyed the relief because those women talk too much. Okay, in fairness, I admit I do the same. That’s what we do – give each other earaches .

Then one day, I broke it to my siblings gently. I told them I learned from my research that people react differently to news of a loved one having a cancer diagnosis. Some stop communicating because they are uninformed about the dreaded disease.  They simply don’t know what to say to a person with cancer. I had barely hit the Send button when their emails rushed in. They thanked me profusely for breaking the ice. They said they had friends who did not want to be contacted after they received cancer diagnosis.  They figured I’d have the same attitude.  What were they thinking?

I have personally chosen to tell the world through blogging that I have lung cancer, once with cancer, always with cancer, but there’s always hope.  It is my way of giving back – informing and enlightening cancer patients and caregivers – after surviving the 2012 dire prognosis of 8 months to live.

Last year, faced with a second widowhood after 8 years of remarriage, I decided to stay in the retirement resort in Southern Orange County, California where the tragedy happened. I thought, That’s it. What man would be interested in a twice-widowed senior chick with lung cancer stage 4? Forget them! I’ll join the Foodies club, Cannabis Club, Hiking Club, etc. and fill my cup.

Hey, never underestimate the power of a senior string-bikini babe!

The over-55 retirement community’s latest demographic report states there are 6 men for every 10 women in the resort.  I disagree. In the sphere where I move, there are 4 men to 1 woman.  Of course the sphere is super small, as in a corner of the hot whirlpool where we meet every weekday evening to tackle the world’s problems.  As an engineer in my past life, I blended in easily.  One of the men sees me outside the pool at other times and we discuss exciting things like Bring Your Own Everything (BYOE) dances.  I have occasional lunches with another man from another sphere.  A teetotaler and a zero conversationalist, he rants about politics and gives me an earache.  Win some, lose some.

Both seniors asked me, separately, How do you keep busy?  My answer: I blog. About what? they asked.  My answer: About cancer. I am a cancer survivor.  Wouldn’t you know! Their next words surprised me.  Both of them turned out to be stage 4 cancer survivors – prostate for one, skin for the other.  They told only because I told. I told because I had to.

So there we have it.  I still tell.  And telling has consequences, like learning I am not alone, hearing other survival stories, political rants, BYOE dances, etc.

How about you?


Serious Blogging 101


Work in progress under the two lemon trees in front of the author’s minimalist manor Seriousness needed here,  too
Ignorance is bliss. Not knowing is a blessing. Those are my crutch, being the new kid exploring the SEO block. Okay, SEO is Search Engine Optimization. I love my new capability to flaunt little blogging knowledge.  I am getting dangerous now.

I noticed on the first day of publication of the post “Ever Wondered How it Feels to Wear String Bikini,” a Victoria’s Secret ad appeared immediately after the article and photo.  I related this to a friend, an SEO genius. He said the Google bots –  short for robots – did that. Bots are developed to sense in a blog what sells, what ever.  Obviously, string bikini suggested sex.  I seriously was not thinking sex ads, especially ones that don’t add cents to the balance of my bank checking account.  Then I notice the ads change daily and they are all suggestive of something, not just sex.  Sometimes no ad appears.  Who knows what the bots have in mind. Or in their metal heads.

Now I know.  A little.

Success in Posting Photo….Almost!

First, I’d like to thank those who offered to help me with the posting of photos in the pages of my blog. I really appreciate the responses that I got through the post, email, and Facebook.

So based on my understanding of the process, I posted the first blog update that would contain a photo: Ever Wondered How it Feels to Wear String Bikini?  As soon as I opened the published post, color drained from my face.  It was embarrassing!  I saw a paragraph giving a warning about what might be an offensive photo at the end of the story and the photo itself near the warning!  It happens when a former hot shot is determined to tackle modern technology.

Anyway, being the self-proclaimed “la gran senora” of positive thinking, I declare that it can only get better from that post forward.

Tell me what you think.  I can handle it.




Ever Wondered How it Feels to Wear a String Bikini?

WARNING: A photograph that may be offensive to some people appears at the end of the story.

After years of blogging about cancer, the latest update being My Fifth Cancerversary, I suddenly felt extra-energized. I decided to post weekly again, except this time I’ll include topics  on “LIVING LIFE”, true to my mantra, which is a line from my favorite song.  It goes, “…Before my number’s up, I’m gonna fill my cup, I’m gonna live, live, live until I die…” Yes! I’m talking about a life without hang-ups and apologies, the go-for-it kind of life.

You know you’re alive when long-held thoughts still occupy your head. In my case it is about the string bikini. I decided to transform the thought into action and go for it!

Here’s the back story.

As soon as the original song Itsy Bitsy Teenie Winnie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini came out in 1960, I rushed to a seamstress and ordered a bikini swimsuit custom-made for me based on my own design. I was a sophomore civil engineering student then – a young starry-eyed chick pioneering in the male-dominated profession, hell-bent to break with the status quo.

My first bikini swimsuit was more like a two-piece bathing suit, the bottom piece similar to today’s hipster.  It was very tame, but at that time it belonged in the bold category.  I remember wearing it, strutting my 34″-22″-34″ figure, and sashaying to the YMCA swimming pool when the guard shouted at me, Miss, we only allow one-piece bathing suits here!  My swift response surprised even me. I asked, Which piece do you want me to leave on?  Laughter exploded.

I bought a succession of many swimsuits over the years, most of them bikinis. The top seam of the bottom piece kept going father down from the bellybutton but never got as low as that of the string bikini. I kept wondering how I would feel in a string bikini.  It’s strange what sense of security one-inch wide fabric had given me.

Fast forward to the present.

One day, a youngish Anglo man who goes to the same resort swimming pool that I wade in frequently, happily told me: I bought a couple of bikini swimsuits for you to take home and try on.

What? Who is this dude? I knew he had been eyeballing me.  In greater Los Angeles area, because of Hollywood, talent scouts abound, some of them up to no good.  But this man was not the talent scout who, in my fantasy, would propel me to stardom.  In addition to his professional achievements that make his resume glow, he is a loving dad who can buy at wholesale cost several bikini swimsuits at a time for his 18-year-old daughter.  By his estimate, she and I wear the same size.

The man’s generous offer, which I took as a compliment, sent me.  My loss for words made me confess to him:  I don’t know what to say!  He suggested a solution to my problem:  Say THANK YOU.  Oh yeah!  What was I thinking?  THANK YOU, I said and followed it with a flattening blast of a laugh.

I tried the two black string bikinis at home, one at a time.  It works better that way.  One style was labeled “cheeky,” which is self-explanatory.  I settled for the non-cheeky style.  Thus my first string bikini swimsuit and I connected.  Thanks to an opportunity that fell on my lap.


During that dry-run moment,  I so  belonged in the black string bikini. I felt awesome, comfortable and liberated.  I was even motivated to vacuum the carpet while prancing on tiptoes.

How I’d feel in a string bikini is no longer a mystery.  It is so here and now.

Let me know what you think.