You’re going to miss the hell out of me this summer

My life has been updated recently and the update includes a few glitches. Fixing those glitches will cause some downtime and users of my life will experience issues with connectivity.

Trying to figure out the easiest way to tell you where I will be and where I won’t be this year includes some explanations of what is going on with me. I won’t be around much, but when you do see me, you’re probably going to notice some major changes which you may or may not care about, but they’re a big deal to me, so humor me.

First: Where I’ll be:

SkeptiCalCon:  April 21, Berkeley, CA This was a con that was feeling like it was far too legitimate and fancy with all their smart doctors and stuff talking. So to make it less marketable as a serious skeptical conference, they invited me to speak. So I’ll be there. Probably wearing a pink wig because I’m trying to grow my hair back and I look ridiculous… and kind of thuggish. A pink wig will look ridiculous but less thuggish, which is a good thing, I think.

SkepticampOhio: May 26, Columbus, OH I was invited by the organizers of Skepticamp Ohio to give a talk for their event. I can only assume this decision was made in a bar on a dare and includes some kind of embarrassing bet. Pink wig may or may not be worn based on its success in California. Vaccines will be discussed based on their success as a life saving device.

Dragon*Con: I’ll be there and I’ll be on my worst behavior. If I don’t shame all of skepticism with my presence in Atlanta, it will only be because skepticism has no shame.

You may notice that TAM and Skepchick Con are missing from the list. That’s because I won’t be there.

A few weeks ago, I learned that I have a 3cm carcinoid tumor in my stomach. Carcinoid tumors are a rare, slow growing cancer that often goes undetected because it doesn’t really have any symptoms until late and it’s usually located in places you can’t usually check for cancer (like the inside of your stomach.) Fortunately, mine was detected. It hasn’t spread.

Unfortunately, this is also a cancer that doesn’t respond to chemotherapy or radiation treatments. So the only way to get rid of it is to cut the fucker out. Which I will be doing in early May… well, I’m not cutting it out. I’m hiring someone to do that.

The good news is that we discovered the tumor while I was looking into having gastric bypass surgery. I was considering having the surgery in the late summer or early fall. But now, I’m having it in May. Maybe I shouldn’t call it “good” news, but rather “convenient” news. To remove the tumor, the surgeon has to remove a small part of my stomach. To have a GBP, the surgeon will remove almost all of my stomach. Since I’m having a bunch of it removed anyway*, it seemed practical to go with one surgery instead of removing a little part then going back a few months later and removing the rest, including the part that I already had removed. I mean, you could if you’re a big fan of abdominal surgery. But I am not. I am only a fan of the pills they give you afterward.

Juanita: Fuck Cancer

I hadn’t planned on publicly discussing the GBP (because, really, who cares?), but now that it’s cancer and it’s interfering with the work I planned on doing during Skepchick’s and the WTF’s busiest time of year, I wanted to address it. And I felt it was disingenuous to tell everyone I had stomach cancer then lose 100 lbs and attribute it to a surgery for a small tumor. That’s not fair to people who care about me; that’s not fair to my credibility; and that’s not fair to other people who may be diagnosed with carcinoid or similar conditions. They shouldn’t have to be concerned about losing half their body weight from surgery that wouldn’t cause that kind of weight loss.

The short version of what will happen is that most of my stomach will be removed including the portion with the tumor, leaving a small “pouch” and my intestines with be rerouted. Then I lose weight and am cured of cancer and become immortal.

But this means that from the day I get home from SkeptiCal until after Memorial day, I will be unable to eat solid foods. I will basically be living on protein shakes. (Like the Jersey Shore cast… but without the orange skin, alcohol, and date rape.) When I get to eat solid foods again, I will have a lot of adjusting to do. I will have to eat tiny portions of food in tiny bites every four hours and will spend a good amount of time trying to figure out what kinds of foods will make me violently ill if I eat them. And I can’t drink alcohol for several months.

Given the major life adjustment, spending two weeks partying in July while traveling around the country is probably not in my best interest. So I won’t be doing that. I’m going to stay home and heal and figure out whether cottage cheese gives me horrific diarrhea. Which, I’m sure is just as fun as a 4 day long Skepchick-FreethoughtBlogs party.

But my plan is to have this shit sorted out by September and be ready to wreck the fuck out of Atlanta… dressed in my every day costume: El Mofo, immortal supermodel.

So, for those of you in Ohio, you will be seeing a very sober and smaller version of me, hanging out at the MuscleMilk bar.

And now you should all go now and buy your tickets to SkeptiCal. Because I said so and I have cancer so you pretty much have to.

In the meantime, I’ll be around the internets, mostly complaining about how much I hate Texas.

Featured mage courtesy me, drunk, before Skepchick Con 2011.

(ETA: When I wrote this post, I indicated that GBP surgery typically involves the removal of the unused portion of the stomach. It does not. That portion is disconnected and bypassed but left in place.)


Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

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  1. Wait.  People have to do what you say when you have cancer? Why am I just now learning about this? I NEEDED this info sooner!
    Damn it.
    Anyway… *fist bump*

    1. Yes! And if they don't, you get to report them to Make a Wish and they have those tiny bald kids shake people down. It's like the mafia, but with less hair.

        1. I remember the first endo I saw after being diagnosed and he said while the surgery recovery time is relatively short and complication free you might as well milk it for all you want with your employer. And damn, a peach discount! I wish.

  2. My father went through something similar – malignant polyps in the upper part of his stomach, only caught because the doctor was already keeping tabs on his acid reflux symptoms. The surgery was uneventful (as far as having part of your stomach cut out can be called uneventful), and the malignancy hasn't come back. For a while there, he dropped a lot of weight, but it's climbed back up. Not sure how he's doing that with less stomach… Which is all just me trying to be reassuring. Yeah, as though El Mofo needs me to buck her up.
    And as always, fuck cancer.

  3. No!  I do not have to do what you say because you have cancer! 
    *tantrum throwing fit*
    But I want to anyway.  Be well, be happy, and for dog's sake be around so I can hug you in person. 

  4. Two things they don't tell you about cancer surgery:

    – You have it in the morning, so you sleep all day and are wide awake all night
    – The only thing on TV that night is Crocodile Dundee over and over again

    I know that's not what you wanted to hear. I know you're angry. I know you're shouting WHY ME at the cold, unfeeling stars. I know you want to lash out at me, because it feels like I'm betraying our friendship by even telling you something so horrible.

    But you have time to prepare. You can get everything in order. You will feel alone, there in the dead of night, but you will not really BE alone. You'll thank me someday.

    Remember: that's not a knife… as long as you don't let it be a knife.


  5. Elyse, your resolve shines through.  Kick its ass.  
    Can't wait to hear about this getting smaller in the rear-view mirror.  Kevin

  6. El Mofo, you are awesome and amazing and I betcha you'll kick cancer right the head and then rock the cons you can make it to.  Keep being cool.

  7. Elyse, you are (AWESOME)raised to the power of(Fucking Incredible)!!
    Cancer is afraid…very afraid!

  8. Pro: Immortality
    Cons: surgery and having to "eat tiny portions of food in tiny bites every four hours"
    Tough choice. Is it the good kind of immortality? And could there be more cons that haven't been revealed?

  9. No worries, Elyse.  You will prevail.
    I live in NW suburban Atlanta.  Give me a shout when you come.  I have a pretty good selection of implements of deconstruction you may borrow.  Crowbar?  Chainsaw?  Things that go bang?  Just do not mention Sherman. ;)

  10. Fuck cancer in the ear. It always frustrating to have health problems fuck up your travel/skeptical plans. I couldn't do reason rally for health reasons.

    And for what it's worth, I already thought you were immortal. My mom had a similar situation where she had been considering GBP and then her doctors discovered that ulcers had eaten away at so much of her stomach that part of it was precancerous anyway, and needed to be removed. If her experience is at all typical, you'll get diarrhea, but still be a Mofo.

    All the best!

  11. When I the Juanita thumbnail in my Google Reader, I thought I was clicking on a Bloggess entry, and then I thought The Bloggess had cancer. I was briefly relieved to find out The Bloggess does not have cancer, but then I felt incredibly guilty because it was like it was ok if it was just you. I'm just trying to say that you having cancer is not ok, and I'm firmly against it.

  12. Oh … OK then, you're excused from TAM–but this year only. See you on the other side of summer. Get well and kick ass, as always, Elyse! Hugs!!

  13. Also, I volunteer to consume your share of the booze at Skepchick Con, though I'm thinking I may have to arm wrestle some people over it. But I will face the peril if El Mofo commands it.

  14. Hey, Elyse, want me to invent you a homeopathic remedy (for enforced sobriety, of course)?  I just invented one for cavities.  Maybe about a 20C solution of dihydromyricetin.  I'm not sure if it is water soluble, but ethanol can be used in homeopathy instead of water in that case.

    1. Oh, I panicked about losing my post, and forgot to add the bit about GET WELL SOON! 

  15. Well, damn it!
    Feel better please, I hope you do. 
    And just make sure that guy cutting into you has an actual scalpel. ;)
    It may hurt more that way but it is reality based and will probably actually help. We all hope it does.

  16. Take care of yourself!  

    And, a note, GBP is awesome and fabulous and you're superamazing for being able to have it done.  I've known people who've had it done and it can be rough.  And, while I'm not glad you has the cancer, I'm glad they found it and I'm glad you're speaking publicly about it and the GBP.  There's a really stupid stigma around it as though somehow it magically means you don't have to do the same diet and exercise as everyone else.    

  17. Cancer fucking blows. Do not hesitate to whine and kvetch. We will be holding a bottle of wine for when you're ready. You have many friends and fans out here, and we will all be thinking of you. 

  18. Immortal MoFo? Holy shit, we're doomed.
    I'll help drink your portion of the Buzzed Aldrins at CONvergence this year. I shall toast a big Fuck Cancer in your name. Unless you ask me not too, and then I won't. Unless I have a lot of Buzzed Aldrins. Shit, it's going to happen.
    Speedy feeling better if you can't have a speedy recovery. Here's wishing you awesome surgeons and nurses with great bedside manners.

  19. Wow, I'm sorry to hear this news, best wishes for a speedy recovery!
    Fuck Cancer with Science!

  20. I'm glad they found it early. Fuck cancer indeed. Only fancy dressed-up taxidermied animals can truly express how shitty cancer is. Kick that cancer's ass.
    Sicne you're going to be eating non-solid food, might I recommend this video:
    He is so right, the concentrated juice makes a huge difference. I have a lot of stomach problems and am sometimes reduced to not being able to eat anything but liquid foods, you want something tasty.

  21. Thank you, everyone, for your love and support. I can't tell you how wonderful you all are.
    And, so you all know, the prognosis is excellent. I really do still plan on living forever. I just plan on doing it with fewer organs.

  22. Elyse, I am a frequent lurker here and I live in the Dallas area, so if I can do anything for you please let me know! Skeptics unite!

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