Dangerous liaisons

We knew this would happen. The kids would actually get along, form a bond and gang up on us. Today, they secreted a bottle of raspberry dressing out of the refrigerator and streaked their hands with it, screaming, “I’m hurt! Oh, my hand.” It’s my fault. I’m the one who said whoever draws blood first gets more screen time.

We’ve been spending a lot of time together, which has been very cool and exhausting being the cruise director. Every day, our activities end at 3 so I can get to radiation. My chest is just starting to look like someone bought a cheap leather purse in like 1974 and left it out in the sun ever since. It’s week four out of six, and I’m already thinking ahead to tweaking my business so I can be available for my kids. Finding out that Livvie was hurt and mad that I missed every field trip, every volunteer opp and her music performance did the trick. That’s not going to happen this year.


1- Set up our Race for the Cure team! We’re AC/DT, the Abernethy Cancer Dream Team. Brian and the kids signed up too. We’re on for the no-pressure, un-timed walk.

2- Livvie got upset. I led her through some exaggerated yoga breathing. She refused, saying: “It’s a lot funnier when you do it.”

3- The kids played in the pool while Brian and I had an actual, uninterrupted conversation. Or, maybe they were plotting their next move?

Welcome to the New Age, alright

I feel it in my bones.

Enough to make my systems blow.

I’m radioactive. Radioactive.

Coincidentally, the Imagine Dragons song follows me around. I’m closing in on week three of the ultimate tanning bed session. My skin is red, but not too bad. But when I sneeze, I feel like I’m at a crab feast and I’m the crab. My sternum is going to snap open, I swear. Other than fearing my skin will erupt into flames, it’s a pretty good day around here.


1- Took Livvie to the pool and met up with a bucket full of kids. Out of nowhere, she grabs my arm and says, “I love you, Mom.” Gosh. I’m lucky.

2- I got to read half a chapter of a Chelsea Handler book before getting interrupted. Good thing it’s so short.

3- Bought a fresh pineapple at Kruger’s. Not once did I worry about where it came from. Hawaii, duh.

The “Ketchup” blog

Firecrackers, ice cream and condiment jokes – it finally feels like summer around here. In our quest to make sure the kids have tools they can use to deal with other adversity like cancer, we took them to a family therapy session. Steven stunned us by saying: “They’re just the most amazing parents.” Livvie said: “I want ice cream,” then squirmed around like a three-year-old at the symphony. Clearly, talking about it makes her wildly uncomfortable. It’s cathartic to hear everyone tell the story from an individual perspective. What came through for me the most is the total respect and love we have for each other. Our neighbors have relationships like that with their kids, which turned out to be a lifelong thing. We would love that.


1- Four days off of radiation. I love when things start to feel normal again, like when we all went to Target together or crack up at dinner. Here’s a sample:

Steven: “Mom, I told you to take your protein pills, not your hillbilly pills!”

And live from a Sturkie dinner: The splurtiest jokes in comedy…condiments:

Livvie: “What do you say to someone when you first see them in the morning?”


Steven: “What do you say when someone is slow?”


Living the dream with family outing at Target


Steven and Livvie devouring ice cream at Salt & Straw
Steven and Livvie devouring ice cream at Salt & Straw
























2- Steven and Livvie actually OFFERED to help me clean the house. So I bought them gigantor ice cream cones at Salt & Straw, which makes its own waffle cones right on the spot.










3- Awesome Fourth of July with an amazing family we’ve been friends with since preschool. I haven’t screamed, laughed and jumped out of the way of burning firecrackers in a while. Thanks for that, guys!

Yay! Fire on a stick!

What could be better than this?

Nothing makes Mother’s Day happy like stuffed brioche and Iron Man. We started with an amazing brunch at Mama Mia. Just looking at my family sitting there finally laughing, I realized, Oh my God, I am so thankful I’m here. Then, tears. “Seriously, Mom. If you cry, that would be WEIRD,” Livvie said. Too late. We SO needed a reset after being so taken back by more cancer treatment. That moment gave it to us. As a family, we might as well make the best of any time we have. So we talked about where to go from here. I love hearing the kids talk about what they want. Because most of the time, I want the same. That explains the three boxes of candy we devoured while watching Iron Man.


1- Livvie says I’m the best mom ever; I say: best daughter ever and nicest compliment ever.



2- Check out Brian making such a cool brunch choice – Mama Mia’s with chandeliers. That’s as close as I get to feeling like Liberace.

3- Brian said he wanted me to know how important I am to the family. Done.




What fell away?

Yesterday, I wrote a whole blog about how our plans of being over Weird Cancer Guy fell away this week. Nothing but the headline showed up, making it seem a lot more dramatic than it was. We were ecstatic thinking we were done with Weird Cancer Guy. But then, I found out I need to have six weeks of radiation, meaning 15 minutes every day for six weeks. Add that to breast reconstruction and the summer is toast. We’ve never lied to our kids. We told them the truth. Steven sobbed: “I am never going to get to be a kid again;” Liv didn’t react. They were really looking forward to Camp Mom with hikes, swimming, day trips and anything fun I can come up with. Brian was really looking forward to not having to shoulder everything. But I have no idea whether radiation will pummel me or not. I could opt to not do radiation. But with two kids, an amazing husband and an army of friends, I have to do everything I can to beat this. I still have thank you notes to write. Later, Livvie said: “I think we’re supposed to learn something from this, Mom.” Like what? I said. “I don’t know yet.”


1- Got to hang out with Chris, Lisa and her mom while the girls played in a giant blow-up pool. They made me feel much better about going ahead with radiation and not looking back. Thanks so much for listening, guys.

2- We started putting the house back together after letting so many things go. We almost have a dining room table again.

3- At the end of the day, I guess cancer is never truly “over.” Chemo was 95% effective at killing Weird Cancer Guy, but there is no 100%. So I’ll have to find 100% in other places. Like my acupuncturist Tracy Andersen said, there’s a whole lot more positive about our situation than negative.

Being a woman is a pain in the chest

Next to chemo, everything should be a cake walk. But getting syringes of fluid pumped behind your chest muscle is no sparkly cupcake. With boobs under construction, a drain dangling from one side and a throbbing back, I am not confection happy. Why does being a woman have to be so painful. I’m talking menstruation, child carrying, child delivering and now cancer pain. Did we do something wrong in another life? If I could give Brian some of this pain, he’s gentleman enough to take it from me. Too bad it doesn’t work like that in my little cupcake world. Don’t worry though, I’ll still give you some literary three-positive-frosting…


1- While pumping fluid in the side of my chest with fluid build up, the doctor did not puncture the expander – necessitating the need for another surgery. Whew.

2- The sun is out in Portland, making our bully Xena very happy.

3- Everyone loved Steven’s blog post so much, I’m going to try to convince him to write more. He says he doesn’t know what to write. If you’ve got ideas, he’ll take ’em.

Blogging while strongly medicated

Here’s one piece of advice I can confidently give you: Don’t drink and look for jobs on Craigslist. I did that once, scored an interview, then realized that I would have gone home with negative take-home pay. They laughed out loud when I called them to bow out of the interview. So here I am again, this time my “drug” is oxy-cotton something, which sounds more like blemish control than pain killer. I want to tell you about what a KICK-A job the comedians did at the Spilled Milk show last night, but the prescriptions are making me feel go-to-bed wonky. Here goes… Wendy W, Debby D, Betsy K, Nikki S, Joanie Q, Brian S and Susan R all did a smashing job! I’ve got pictures, but they suck. Thank you all for helping our family make it through this!


Speaking of making it through. Weird Cancer Guy isn’t going down easy. In pathology, they found two tumors – one was a surprise. So my case is going to be talked about at a cancer conference next week (Crimony, I have to wait a week?!) where my doctor will get other opinions to see whether or not radiation is in store for me. I’ve got a new attitude about that though. Chemo took one pass and killed the cancer with a bus. Surgery killed the cancer with a freight train. I’m willing to try radiation, the roach motel of treating cancer: “when they’re dead, they’re dead.”


1- The microwave died with a plume of smoke that smelled like burnt band-aids. I’ve had my suspicions that the microwave is already frying us with radiation.

2- The sun is out and everything looks brilliant.

3- Steven gave me a hard time about not having lunch meat. Finally, things are starting to turn to normal.


The doctor said it’s a little early to

Cool! I always wanted an iPad.

The doctor said it’s a little early to get off of pain killers. I tried to just take one pill at a time. The rest are antibiotics, muscle relaxers and other stuff. It’s still beyond me how anyone gets addicted to oxy-whatever it is. One pill makes me semi-spacey. Two pills make me feel like Elmer Fudd on downers. Tonight is the Spilled Milk comedy benefit, so I only took one in hopes of staying somewhat on it.


1- The comedy show is tonight, and I heard there are people coming who don’t even know me but saw the article. There really are good people in the world.

2- Really appreciated having a quiet day punctuated by beautiful flowers from Brian’s client. How nice is that?

3- Relieved that I chose mastectomy because the lab actually found two tumors. Whew!