Tribute Thursday: A tale of two grandfathers


See that dude on the left, he’s my dad. The other man is Brian’s dad. There they are watching Livvie pop up from behind a sofa at Amelie’s in Charlotte, NC, while Steven shakes his head in “grow up already mode” like he’s 30. Both gdads have been hugely supportive of us, when we started a business that barely got off the ground, then crashed with the economy. When Brian’s mom died, Brian’s dad and his wife stood behind us with both hands on our shoulders. When I got cancer, Brian’s dad shipped a car out here for us to use, so we could sell our other one. My dad flew out here with his hugely supportive wife and helped us get rid of a dental bill amassed when we were self-employed. He texted me daily to see how I was doing, which reminded me how he used to leave work at lunch and bring me root beer when I was sick. Seeing them both at one time last week was magic. We called it Nxmas, as in next to Christmas visiting, but not on it. We can’t afford to fly during holidays. Brian’s dad set us up at an amazing resort house in North Georgia; my dad drove down to Charlotte. We saw a ton of crazy supportive friends every chance we got. Thank you all for twisting schedules to make that happen. And, thank you to the two of the finest men I know – for being there. We love you.



1- My sister’s 4-year-old daughter just got home after having some serious surgery in the hospital. So happy about that. Throw more positive Frisbees their way so she can get back on her tiny feet.

2- Almost reaching surrender mode. As in, no way can I get all this stuff done for Christmas. Just realized the real Christmas is like next week. Whaaa?

3- The dog plucked a few ornaments off the tree like it’s a doggy snack tree. We were laughing as we tackled her to avoid giving doggy Heimlich. In her case, it’d be Hindlick.



Kicked in the butt by perspective

Getting a swift perspective change is like stepping on a rake. Somehow, despite the fact that my “jour-ney” is almost over, we are still overwhelmed. Then, we went to two cancer-related events. Seeing tiny kids with bald heads like mine forces all of the air out of my chest at a frightening speed. Seeing other women going through worse has the same effect. But yet there were a lot of smiles at the Cancer Celebration at the Rose Garden. I have to keep thinking: Eight weeks and radiation is over. Eight weeks and I’m planning on being healthy and done with Weird Cancer Guy. Eight weeks, and maybe I will move away from my “cancer” identity and into a job title. That’s what I’m going with anyway.


1- Celebrating friends is such a recharger. Check out my bud Steve getting a drink named after him (It’s called “The Reverend” because Steve Sharp officiates weddings and just plain rocks it.) at Savoy Tavern. Shonda and Maria joined me down there where we all had a rabid love affair with fried cheese curds. I loved “The Reverend,” which comes with a fiery orange slice. But I have to say, my body does not like alcohol anymore. It’s all like, Toxic. Hel-lo. Maybe I filled my quota already. Anyway, I really want something chocolate named after me – like Choco Lush. Wait, that sounds like a sex toy. Nevermind.

2- Overheard in the Sturkie kitchen: A conversation between Livvie and her friend Ella B.

E: “I really want a pet.”

L: “You can adopt a frog (on some weird online animal game they play).”

E: “Oh, I’m sorry. I thought we were talking about the real world.”

How many times is that going to happen with this generation? I want to give all the Minecraft kids a stack of wood and some nails. NOW build something, yo.

3- Steven’s still not doing so great with mono. He’s home sick again. But Brian and I sat out on the porch with him on Friday and had lunch. We also made up our own language that involves annoying clicking sounds. That made him laugh. I’ll do anything to make him laugh. Now the dog is sick, too. So I’m fielding two sets of medication schedules.

Hanging in there

Finally feeling relieved to clear the last chemo. Having a house full of flowers and congratulatory notes is so nice. Sari and I went for a good walk this morning. But I’m feeling heavier and sleepier now. Who knows how tomorrow will go. I see the light.


1- Realizing I’m done with chemo.

2- I mentioned to Steven that I was craving Ruby Jewel ice cream sandwiches, and he went out and got some! Best son ever! When Steven told his class that my chemo was over, they applauded again.

3- Hanging with my family tonight watching a movie. So happy about that.

One day near normal



Today felt like getting a day off from jail. I woke up 33% less dizzy and sick. First, we went to Steven’s early basketball tournament, where I was well enough to stand up and scream when he sunk a clean three-pointer. Next, magic acupuncture with Tracy Anderson. Then, I headed to my pal Trina’s house and got to talk to her honey Ed and his mom. We sat around the kitchen table and talked like normal people. Trina and I went to the Artwalk, then to St. Jack for some mussels. Just like normal people! I told the server I couldn’t really do cocktails. So she made me a grown-up Shirley Temple with mineral water. So nice of them. I feel maxed out on toxins, so mineral water is about all I can handle. The whole time I was enjoying being like normal people, I couldn’t help but think I’m the snowman in the snowman book. Eventually, the sun is going to come out, and I’m going to melt. Lucky for me, I melted after I got home. So happy for one day of relief from chemo. So, so happy.


1- I got to go out into the world today. I didn’t realize how much I missed it.

2- Debbie gave me fresh juice she made herself. I’m hooked. 

3- Steven’s team fought hard and won their game. So proud of them.

Looking past check in

It’s Tuesday. Check-in day for Brian and me. We went to Compote, a sunny little cafe where I got poached egg on kale and crispy hash browns. I’m too tired to make fresh food like that, but boy do I want it. He’s anxious for me to come all the way out of this. Me too. I’m doing everything I can, but I simply cannot take one extra appointment, philosophy, tincture or miracle therapy. It’s too overwhelming. After launching into action mode and staying in survival mode this long, I wonder – how can we process what’s happened as a family? Do we build a paper dragon and set it on fire in the Willamette? Explode something? Toss all cancer-related brochures in a bonfire? 

This situation has imprinted each one of us. How do we honor that and move on? I want to make sure the kids and Brian move forward with something tangible they can use. This can’t be an abyss of doom. I want Steven to continue to be compassionate without losing out on being a kid. I want Livvie to move on fearlessly, unafraid to give everyone little handmade gifts straight from her heart. I want Brian to be able to look forward more than over his shoulder. For Xena, I want her to stop feeling like she has to plop her furry body on me every single second and can go outside and be a dog. For me, I want to turn this experience into laughter and healing for other people. A lot of it has been pretty funny. Although right now, I’m not feeling funny at all. Just dizzy and weak.


1- Laura, our dry cleaner on Hawthorne, came out to the car to visit me. She’s now a grandma with two baby twin girls! She charged me up with: “You are so strong and you have wonderful man here! You’ll be alright!” I saw a glimmer of a tear in her eye. I can’t wait to go back in there at full strength to talk to her like I used to. 

2- I’m obsessed with fresh fruit and vegetables from the Mediterranean-style diet. That can’t be a bad thing.

3- I got a request to speak at an event for cancer survivors. THAT’S the future I want! 

BONUS – Just overheard from the kitchen: “Do girls need bikinis? Really?”

Anywhere but in my body

Today, I had a choice: surrender or fight. I’m too exhausted to fight. I was upright a lot yesterday doing laundry, which probably killed my fight today. I’ve got all the usual suspects on my last nerves – sick stomach, hot-cold flashes, unquenchable thirst and a scalp that randomly erupts like a sprinkler. In an attempt to forget about all that, I have become completely obsessed with the Big Island of Hawaii. The hues, volcanoes, turtles, mangoes. I’ve been looking at photo after photo just wishing I could teleport all of us there. Livvie’s into it, too. She sees herself on the beach doing a whole lot of nothing. I don’t have a lot of jokes right now; but during my virtual Hawaiian adventure, I did find these weird-rad places to stay on airbnb I thought would crack you guys up. Have a look:


1- Called my friend Dorothy in Georgia. She’s 90 years old and I hated to hear her cry when I told her why I’ve disappeared. She’s like a mom to me, so I soaked in her words of how she knows I’ll be okay. 

2- Steven covered me with a blanket before he left for school. He’s been right with me every step. Livvie cried a little and hugged me last night. She’s right there too. 

3- Brian is grappling with where this all leads. Neither one of us knows. But we’re taking solace in the fact that we’ve all never been closer as a family.