Lisa Ray

The Yellow Diaries

Mane Tamer

Evening before my stem cell harvest, I open ‘The Winter Vault’

‘No two facts are too far apart to be put together’ Anne Michaels writes.

Witness then, my exaltation.

And my fear.

Side by side on a bench. Thighs touching.

My enthusiasm and my exhaustion. Cuffed to each other like greasy inmates. Origins long forgotten.

Me and Bobcat-man.

I have to start where I am.

One paw in front of the other.

I had this dream where you told me you wanted to be a lion tamer, Rachael wrote recently. Please unconfirm asap.

Can’t do that Rach. My experience of living is shifting so quickly I need props. Got me a whip and chair. Metaphorically. Got me an MM beast to dance with and tickle-tame.

It’s been a month since the MM5Kwalk. Every time I sat down  to write, I slipped. My seat was slippery. My fingers could not curl. Living differently already, my mind struggled to register what my body knew.

So some pulpy experiences. A trip to Connecticut to attend the MMRF Gala aborted two hours away from my destination. I stopped driving in a small town in upstate NY. It had been raining dramatically the entire day. A meal at Dan’s Fish Fry and I fell alseep watching My Super Sweet Sixteen on MTV with images of squealing teenagers in my head. Hmmm. I woke the next morning with deep bone ache, fever and gummy eyes. So I drove back to Toronto only stopping once at the border to buy a Mongolian Warrior Vest. At a deep discount.

Cancer sprees should be tax-free.

Instead of disappointment, another barrier melts. I had just finished chemo a few days before. And I tried to get to the gala, in the way I knew best. So I grew my heart, and shrank my judgement. My intimacy with myself expands. The split in myself slowly seals. Yellow caulking.

Yellow reminds me of turmeric. A healing yellow. Now that chemo fog has lifted I’ve been trying to eat well and incorporate ayurvedic principles back into my lifestyle.

A pause in treatment. From end of chemo to now a different sort of Flush;

A visit from Shamim and Hanan. A Full Remission. A Remission Rock from Bobcat. A NADA fashion show. Another eye infection as payment. A visit with my eggs. A dream of zygotes. A Cancer Documentary. A reclamation of  my body. An interview with Anne Michaels. A revival of my brain. Of my traits. Shingles. Oil of oregano and travel to new old world Buenos Aires to prepare metaphysically for the next chapter of treatment, thanks to Dr. Galal’s support. Sol Vichez and Ambassador Viswanathan. Eenam and ‘rosy salmon to the grill’. Che boluda!

And on Wednesday, the inauguration of the David and Molly Bloom research Chair for MM at PMH. One month to the day of the MM5KWalk. I put on my Mongolian Vest and gathered with fellow lion tamers. Shane-Saunderson-in-a-suit ( tried to slip away when he was lauded by David Bloom. Me, I LOVE people who avoid attention. I can relate.

Which is why I became an actress, of course.

The mood was buoyant Yellow. I recall purple bloom of jacaranda trees in Buenos Aires. Something stirred and lifted. In the seventh floor atrium, padded by optimism and the shine in Dr Reece’s eyes, I feel: hope has a scent. It’s the smell of the rogue cells as they are washed away.

You can only smell it now its washed way.

And I thought of Frida Kahlo. The ultimate lion tamer.

Molly Bloom thoughtfully gifts Dr Donna Reece, a gorgeous painting which suspiciously resembles mine and Bobcat's potential zygote

Gracias to everyone throwing themselves against this new frontier. This research chair at Princess Margaret is buying us MM club members time. Until the cure. I’m a porteno, a traveller arrived, and I’m not protecting myself from the frontier mentality.

So a triumph on Wednesday November 18th.

I feel like Nadama’s favourite plant, I cannot make flowers yet.

But I can make leaves. A lot of fleshy leaves which grow and grow.

Charlie Bravo: cumulonimbus clouds on the horizon.

Stem celling. A waving field of yellow cells to harvest.

Undifferentiated of course.

My stem cell procedure begins on Monday. Tomorrow. So I donned a disciple’s robe and surrendered my hair. Bobcat buzzed my head on Friday. The harvesting of my cells starts with an intermediate dose of chemo. And hair loss. If not immediately, then it’s bound to happen one day in the shower. So, thanks to Bobcat and his professional clippers, no more barriers to suffer. I can transcend now. A reinvention. A purification. And a transformation. From the inside out.


I’m a little scared.

This Cancer membership comes with some heavy terms and conditions.

I did an uplifting workshop at PMH called ‘Look Good, Feel Better’ ( It’s a free 2 hour cosmetic and hair workshop for women with cancer. I love the idea of incorporating ritual into this stem cell purfication every morning. Of drawing liner over my eyes and dabbing outrageous gloss in the middle of my bottom lip. And I will meditate on my breath every morning. To live well and with precision.

Mongolian fur feels gooood on hairless brown scalp

No wigs though.

I got up and danced after Bobcat shaved me. I like the feeling of movement on my scalp. I’m transformed by sensation.

Ya know what I mean…

Like the H1N1 shot. The sweet throb that goes on and on…

And no more volumising shampoo. I’m gonna save a ton of cash.

Might help with the the drug bills. I may have to be on medication for the rest of my life. This calls for a poll- with fellow MM club members, not just oncologists. There are options that only another patient can illuminate. Straight up.

Imagine all the cash I'm gonna save: John Freida eat your heart out

Tango style 34 in champagne blush a tad too flirty pour moi, perhaps?

I want to caulk the gap between us. Yellow caulking. Keep you close during my practise. Practise of a new way of life.

‘Certainly travel is more than the seeing of sights. It is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.’

Mind the gap.

I’ll be closing on it fast.

Thanks for your patience fellow Yellow diarists. From here on in it’s wordspill. Even on my tumblestack days.

National Stem Cell Awareness week just ended on the 21st. Get in touch with to find out how to help one of the hundreds of patients in Canada desperately looking for a donor match.

And beso to Elrica Saw for her gift. She sent me ‘Anti cancer: A NEW WAY OF LIFE’ by David Servan-Schreiber.

Sure David. You and I and Henry Miller concur.

‘One’s destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things’.

And thanks Shuvo for the hint: if you read or hear or watch things that make you laugh while getting G-CSF prior to harvest, your CD34 count ought to rise faster. T-cell levels correlate with that amused feeling!

Thanks  to Myeloma Canada for coordinating and motivating the MM5KWalk. A Yellow Bond.

Team Myeloma, raised over $23,000 for the Bloom Chair, and the Yellow gauge still rises. I want you to know you are part of the Lion Tamer’s circle of Yellow. There’s a direct link from your generosity to Multiple Myeloma Club Members. Thanks David and Molly for the possibility.

As David  puts it: keeping us alive, from bench to bedside.

In the meantime.


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