Hell yeah, it’s 2014!


Look at us…Blissfully hanging out on a hopefully dormant volcano. No idea cancer was waiting right around the corner. That’s pretty much like any day. You have no idea what’s coming. So you might as well hang out on a volcano. I’ve never been so happy to exit a year as 2013 – only because of cancer. What I’ll take with me is all the positive from my amazing husband, our kids, unstoppable friends and undeniable love. We chose to live in Portland, and that’s why. Here’s to making 2014 our year to give back. But first, I’m wondering – what three positives will you take with you into 2014?


1- Looking forward! First stop…my “Waiting for the Brazilian” Comedy for the Cure, Tuesday, Feb. 4th, at Harvey’s Comedy Club. That’s right. Tuesday night – a hot night in comedy because guess who’s not famous? Me.

2- Looking back. Why is it always the same? Work out. Eat better. Oh, I know why. Having your health means you’re rich.

3- Looking at right now. You guys rock. With my infrequent ability to keep posts going, I keep thinking maybe I should stop. But people still approach me at coffee houses. I’m not sure what’s interesting about this blog. Cancer’s over. I’m still writing infrequent tributes to everyone who helped us. So what do you guys want to talk about? In the meantime, check out this cool WordPress report on the blog…prepared by monkeys.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


Play the $50M game

Posing as Livvie, Xena tries to get loaded into the car bound for Timberline.

Well hey! I’m still here, just really busy. In fact,  I’m working on a speech called “Don’t Let Your Sanity Check Bounce” right now. I’m giving that speech as an audition on Friday and ran across this game we love to play. Here’s how it goes: You just won $50 million in the lottery. What are the first three things you would do? How pathetic are mine:

1- Finish the basement so the kids have somewhere to go. Anywhere.
2- Pay off debt.
3- Fix that stupid tear in the kitchen linoleum that the dog made while searching for invisible kibbles. Even better, rip the entire kitchen out and start over.

A list like that means I don’t have any real problems. Real problems are ones that can’t be fixed with money.


1- Just got back from our annual tri-family event at Timberline, where it dumped like 17 inches of snow. Last year, we were frozen in fear from just learning about cancer while our friends rallied around us and gave us warmth. This year, they planted a rubber chicken in our luggage and claimed we owe them a family dancer number.Image

2- The kids got to meet the author of Wimpy Kid yesterday. (Thank you, Jillian!) Image

Lucky for me, they never said, “Hey, you’re a writer, Mom. How come you don’t have a tour bus!”

3- We took the kids to see A Place of Truth, Barrett Rudich’s documentary. Look at the glowing report they gave the film festival.


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!

Hooray, it’s an ordinary day


It just hit me that today was so normal. I took Livvie with me to St. Honore Bakery, where we watched them make bread. Liv said, “It’s like his hands are dancing.” Then, she waited for me at the acupuncture office and drew a “Candyland” girl on the white board. Next stop: The paint and wallpaper store to change her gray walls to pink and aqua. Last: Lunch at Nicola’s with pita as big as the moon. I took Liv home after that, then reluctantly cruised to radiation by myself. It’s not lost on me how lucky I am to have days like this. But more importantly, to have a daughter like Liv. She’s such a cool person and budding designer. I loved her most definite taste while working with the designer at the paint store. Go girl!


1- When I told the radiation nurse that someone said the pain I experienced from only one treatment was in my head, she said, “That’s wrong. Everybody reacts differently.” So I’m not crazy. Today, the hotness cooled down really fast, which was great. I did find out I’ve actually got 33 treatments total, when I thought it was 30. Great, now I’ve only got 30 left.

2- Brian took Steven to a historic car race, the most under-attended, super-cool event in Portland. He saw a restored Studebaker race, which was the highlight.

3- To top off my super-girl day, I met Jackie with an e at Starbucks. Thinking about how Jackie set up two websites to help us just blows me away. The money raised from the sites and the auction Trina headed up added years back to my life. Thinking about that turned my day from ordinary to extraordinary.

Have a swell weekend!

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.

Look, no hands

Arms either. If you’re dreaming of having a new rack, you might to rethink that. Getting breast reconstruction hurts like hell, and I’m one of those people with a pretty decent pain threshold. Plus, you’re not supposed to use your arms. (Don’t tell the doctor I typed this blog. I’m not supposed to do that either.) Every dish, every kid request, every everything has to be handled by Brian, so he’s not happy. I’m on narcotics for pain, so I can’t drive either. I can’t believe I’m yearning to do mundane tasks, like put my own clothes on, much less away. I know people have it way worse. I’m getting a claustrophobic feeling of wanting to escape my own body. No wonder. It’s been under attack since last November. To top it off, I couldn’t get Steven to write another blog. He said, “I don’t want to write about my mom in pain.” I was waiting for him to say, Because that’s so boring.


1- Hey, at least I have hands. Arms too. They’re pretty cool, like how they pick stuff up, drive a car and go all crazy when I get cheesed.

2- Brian dropped me off at Case Study Coffee on his way to a meeting. So I’m watching people with steady paychecks and really cute shoes go to work. One day soon, I hope to have steady pay and cute shoes. Preferably in the fall.

3- Some of my friends who are also dealing with breast cancer have been told they have between 10-20 years to live. None of the medical staff I’ve worked with has said anything like that. If they did, I’d buck that thought off in a second. Seriously, who really knows besides whatever god you believe in?

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!