Tonight, I went to the local community potluck. It was me and one elderly couple. She is a Finnish poet. He is a Greek short story writer. They have farmed for 40 years in the summer here. They write in the winter.

We shared food we had each grown and cooked, and watched the Canadian Geese fly south over us.

“I always write for two hours a day no matter what,” a stern Greek man told me. “More in the winter.”

She was more whimsical. “I have a poetry workshop at my house. It is closed to just a few of us Islanders. How long do you plan to be here? Not long? Yes?”

They said, “Oh, you are renting the Ginger Bread House. That’s what us Islanders call it.”

I said, “I’ll see you at next month’s pot luck. This is my last stop.”

Then, I met a dog and played with him at the marina. His girlfriend looked a lot like me. She had a farmer’s tan. We played fetch. I said, “So what do you do here?”

“Oh,” she said, “Whatever I can to get by. I garden. I house sit. I pet sit. My dad lives on a boat here.”

I nodded and threw the dog a stick.






2 thoughts on “40 Summers and a Ginger Bread House

  1. Hello

    I really enjoy your writing in Counterpunch, then found another piece on NPR featuring you. Had been wondering how you were getting on after reading the articles you wrote about your breast cancer diagnosis and early travails in CP.

    As a newcomer to CancerLand, being exposed to medical industrial shenanigans for the past thirty years as a nurse midwife and nurse practitioner in independent practice, I am despairing of the ignorance and incuriousness of the radiation oncologist who has theoretically presided over the 10 whole breast hypofractionated radiation treatments I have been subjected to, before I quit a week ago.10 treatments into a planned 21–15 treatments for a total of 40 GY, then another six “boosts” with a bit higher radiation to the tumor bed. A modified Canadian protocol, it would probably be.

    After 8 treatments, entire chest started to burn, shingles broke out just below the treated breast, lymphedema flared up again, esophageal inflammation caused terrible cough and reflux, nausea, dizziness, then grade 1 radiation dermatitis sores started erupting on the spots I’d missed with mometasone, on day 10. Saw radiation oncologist who said I was being dramatic, that no problem but the rash has anything to do with the treatments, and urged me to continue the regime(despite now open lesions), or local and distant recurrence would increase by “five-fold”. She recommended emu oil, aloe vera gel, cornstarch and topical benadryl to relieve itching and burning. Every one of these products has been studied and found to have no, or adverse effects, on prevention or treatment of radiation dermatitis. Cornstarch is actually a really good medium for yeast, which a subspecialist should surely know–but maybe she’s never cooked….I had previously found a series of well-designed studies that showed that mometasone furoate 0.1% cream, applied twice daily, from prior to beginning, to 3 months after the conclusion of RT, significantly reduces Grade 3-4 radiation dermatitis, so have been using that, much to the ROncologist’s chagrin. She had not read any of the studies, even though they showed up in her professional journals.

    I did read you had bilateral mastectomies, and your experience is bound to be far different than mine.At this point in time, four of my best friends here in this little town have breast cancer, one diagnosed age 42, and another has a stage 3 colon cancer. When I think of all the other women I see in my practice with breast and ovarian cancers(as well as these), I am bewildered that no one seems to care about WHY there is such a huge increase in those afflicted. Must have something to do with money, you think? I reckon we’re just like the the orcas, the amphibians, insects and birds, holding onto whatever we can(plastic, more like) spinning around on a toxic, destroyed planet. Some comfort in that lovely company, I suppose.

    Thanks for the good work,and if you have any pointers for this journey, please pass them on. And thanks for the vent. Most humans don’t question authority, but It is essential that we do.


    Sue Skinner

    • Sue, Thank you so much for this kind note! I’m so sorry. I will answer your questions over the weekend. I’m not sure how I could email or call you. I suppose the easiest way is via Facbook (yuck), as it’s relatively private.

      I no longer write for CounterPunch, nor will I in the future, ever. We had a falling out. Another woman now was that column space.

      Yes, I’ve read many studies and had much experience. My care in Canada was far superior to my current treatment in rural Washington state.

      If you can find me on FB, let’s set a time to talk.

      Much love,
      Kristin Kolb

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