Last week I shot the pilot for a national television talk show with me as the host, and I must say, it all went by in a blink. Months of work and planning were over in no time. My day began with an early hotel wake-up call and ended with removing my false eyelashes, then falling asleep seconds after I turned out the light. My friend, Celina, was worried I might have a “blue slump” when the big day was over, but there’s been no time for a letdown. As I told Celina, “I’ve bitten off something really big, and there’s no time to do anything but make this talk show a reality.”<PREVIEWEND>
Oh, how I wish I could tell you every detail, but we’re in a “blackout” period until the show’s “a go” or “no-go.” Either way, you can’t imagine what’s crammed into our relatively short timeline, a critical path designed to turn a pilot into a full-blown talk show. We’ve begun something akin to an Olympic track and field event. The starter pistol has already fired, and we’ve come out of the blocks as fast as our legs will take us. While we’re not on the course with other racers, we do have to achieve a winning criteria. Then, if it’s “a go,” like being flung from a sling shot, another frantic race will begin: researching shows, booking guests and developing interview questions; finding clothes to wear and shoes narrow enough to fit my skinny feet; filling the audience with lots of wonderful women and men and shooting back-to-back shows till our first season is taped, edited and “in the can.” If it’s a no-go, then I’ll smile and cherish this wonderful, crazy experience and know that I gave it my best. As winning Super Bowl coach, Mike Ditka, said, “Success isn’t permanent, and failure isn’t fatal.” Either way, I will be fine.
One of the things I can tell you is that from the moment Dr. Susan Love walked into the makeup room, everyone fell in love with her. Word she was on set spread like crazy, and the director and crew came to meet her. Quite simply, Susan Love is a phenomenon! She radiates openness, enthusiasm and a curiosity laced with intensity, excitement and more than a pinch of mischief. Even to the casual observer, it’s apparent Susan Love does everything with her entire being. She is the real deal!
When we’d finished taping her segment, Dr. Love was mobbed by women who had more questions for her or who wanted to have their picture taken with her. I finally had to have one of the production assistants rescue her and take her to a car, waiting to whisk her to the airport. I would walk across hot coals for Susan Love, and I owe her a debt of gratitude for coming to do this pilot. I’ve already heard from so many audience members; women who’ve told their friends what they learned from the show and have passed the ArmyOfWomen.org website on and urged them to join. Others have sent word they’ve bought Dr. Love’s breast cancer and hormone books. This is so gratifying, because I consider myself a recruiter for the Army of Women. Regardless of whether you’ve had breast cancer or not, we’re looking for a million women to join, so Dr. Love’s research teams can find the cause of breast cancer and develop a preventative vaccine.
That’s about all I can tell you for now except, I did cry. As I was ending my interview with Dr. Love, I looked into the camera and said, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were the ones who made it possible so that our granddaughters and their daughters never get breast cancer?” By the time I got to “our granddaughters,” my voiced cracked, big time, and I bit my lip and had to pause before I could continue. The thought of what those of us who’ve had breast cancer, our family and friends have been through, lodged in my throat like it was the sum total of all of our pain and heartache. The thought of the great women who’ve already died, and the ones who are fighting with all their might, hoping against hope to be one of the ones whose Stage IV responds to treatment was more than I could verbally articulate.
The good news about a pilot is that everyone learns a lot about what we need to do next time. If given a next time, I’ll keep a better eye on the makeup artist and stop her before she turns my eyebrows into Frida Kahlo lookalikes.
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Who would have ever thought I might have my own national TV talk show? Stranger things have happened... I believe little men with big heads from a galaxy far, far away, may have landed in the desert outside Roswell, New Mexico, and that Sasquatch, the furry ape-like creature with big feet may exist or, he’s just a hairy guy in desperate need of an understanding woman and a good body waxing. But me... a national talk show host?<PREVIEWEND> While I can’t tell you about it, or even the name, I can say the focus is not breast cancer.
However, you can be assured that all things “breast cancer” will be discussed as frequently as possible. As a matter of fact, my first guest is Dr. Susan Love. Among other things, we’re going to talk about the difficulty in finding “the cure” and why she thinks the Army of Women have a better shot at preventing breast cancer from happening in the first place. We’re going to learn lots of new things about her as well, like did you know she speaks fluent Spanish, like it’s her native language? Actually, she does everything well, and she’s funny, and those are things I want people to know about her.
One of the reasons this opportunity has come my way is because of this blog and all of the conversations I’ve had with you.We talk about intimate, life and death issues, online and off, and we cheer each other on in good times and bad. You’ve been here for me since James died, and I can’t begin to tell you how much your support and friendship has strengthened me. You’ve prayed for me when I’m down--and when Goldie ate 20 square feet of lace--and you’ve allowed me to get to know you and for that, I’m grateful.
So, who knows if this talk show will actually make it on the air? A lot of things, I have no control over, have to happen. In many ways, the stars need to align before I have a close encounter of the television kind. Either way, the fact that I have a shot at something like this is remarkable, and I’m grateful and excited.
I’m not afraid to standup in front of people and speak, or be on camera, but in all of this, my biggest fear is that I will get emotional, over relatively nothing, cry on camera and look like an idiot. You, more than anyone, know how easily I cry at simple things like dog
food commercials or the mere thought of what we, and our families, have
been through with breast cancer. I’m told a certain vulnerability is appealing, but what if the powers that be say, “What kind of a nut job is she?” If asked that question, my response will be, “Just your average nut job, I guess.”
So dear ones, think of me this week, as I stand in front of a live studio audience. Once again, I will appreciate any prayers and hugs you send my way. I’ll keep you posted. Have a great week, and take care of yourselves....... I wish James were here to share this with me.... That made me cry.
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The other day I caught a glimpse of myself in a restaurant mirror.For a split second I thought the woman staring back at me was my mother. I spent another split second hoping it was my mother, only to painfully acknowledge it was me. I was shocked to see how much I’ve aged since James died. I know what Nora Ephron meant in her book, I Feel Bad About My Neck, when she said her friends had begun dressing like “a white ladies’ version of the Joy Luck Club.” In addition to my neck, I need to add my jowls and my forehead to the list of visible body parts in need of camouflaging. It’s not like I haven’t planned for this day, when my face goes south, because I have.<PREVIEWEND>
When I was 21, I began buying expensive French skincare creams designed to ward off the aging process: a light moisturizer for day, something a little richer for night and an eye cream that had the texture of vanilla mousse. Since I had insanely youthful, flawless skin, I rationalized the expense by putting the creams in the same category as Social Security: Someday, when I reached a “certain age,” they would pay off.
By age 30, I started buying wide-brimmed Frank Olive and Patricia Underwood hats to protect my skin from the sun; hats that were so big, they needed their own airline ticket when I traveled. I remember a particular trip to Central America to dig for Mayan artifacts. The locals kept pointing to my head and smiling. I smiled back, thinking they were admiring my hat, until I saw my shadow on the ground and realized a bird had perched on my hat. While the bird may have decided she’d found a ready made straw nest, the locals probably thought I was a crazy lady with a satellite dish on her head.
Recently I saw Jane Fonda on television. She’s 73 and looks great, for any age. Ms. Fonda’s admission to having had plastic surgery made me think, yet again, about having a facelift. Ten years ago, I had an appointment with a well-known Beverly Hills plastic surgeon that had “done” a friend of mine. While I didn’t have anything done, his outer office was well worth the price of the consultation. It was lined with young women with gold fish lips and old women in wheelchairs, wearing their granddaughter’s face and short shorts. At the time, I didn’t really need anything done, but now I sympathize with their desire to turn back the clock.
How many of us haven’t thought about having a facelift, or a nip and tuck, more than once? Sometimes I see people who’ve had plastic surgery and who look like another species, or like they come from the planet Restylane. If I were to have plastic surgery, I’d want to look like my makeup artist friend, Sandy Linter, who, at 64, is achingly beautiful. I have the name of her plastic surgeon, but there's no guarantee I'd wind-up looking perfectly natural like she does. What if I didn't look like myself, or what if everyone said, "She's had work done, but it looks pretty good?" I don’t want to be a walking neon sign that screams "Plastic Surgery on Board" although I have had 10 breast surgeries because of breast cancer, but that's different. Sandy gave me some great advice, however. She said have the one thing that bothers you most fixed and live with it for a while, then decide if you want anything else done.
Since I was the last woman in her 50s to get her ears pierced, the odds of my getting anything “done” are slim to none.Besides, I first have to deal with whether to try Rogaine or not. Also, when people see me, if they notice that my eyes are crossed and my tongue juts out, they're probably not going to think about how much I've aged.
PS: I realize that talking about losing James and finding humor in my vanity may not go together, but I think James would say it's a good sign. That I have any humor at all after this last year is reaffirming that I'm finding my way without his physical presence. His love and his spirit will reside in me always.
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