September is intense. Steven went to his first day of middle school; Liv, first day as a fourth grader. I burned through so much energy being annoyingly happy at drop off, I’m beat now. I’ll bet thousands of parents go to bed with visions of their children’s homework dancing through their heads.
1- Nothing says romance like the Prince of Puke. In honor of our 18th wedding anniversary, Brian got us tickets to see John Waters. Can’t even WAIT! The promo says he’ll discuss turning some of his films into seasonal children’s classics. Serial Mom is a no-brainer.
2- All through cancer, Brian and I would go get coffee and check in with each other at Grand Central on Hawthorne. So it was especially cool to walk there today and have coffee with 85% less ringing in my ears and 85% more body hair. The lady behind the counter is a cancer survivor and super nice.
3- Both kids went to school well prepared and happy. They came home excited. If only that feeling would last all year. So proud of them. May they have a year folding in and being just like the kids who don’t have parents with cancer.
The kids went to camp; we went on vacation. We needed a reset and hours of uninterrupted conversation. We took the dog with us. For the first two nights, it was like having a two-year-old jumped up on espresso…in a cage. She calmed down when we let her sleep with us. Very romantic. When we went to pick up the kids at camp, Livvie was all, “No you did-int.” I was all like, “Okay, Miley. Where’s Livvie?” One week and now she’s a teenager? She told me she didn’t cry at Camp Kesem, a camp for kids who have family members with cancer. The kids and counselors cried when they talked about parents with cancer and a three-year-old who had died. I wonder if the emotion of having cancer this year will hit her or me. I keep going and going, then one day something mundane happens and I lose it. One time, I lost it because I got a new haircut and looked like Toni Tennille during the “Muscrat Love” years. My dad needed bypass surgery. That’s why I was really crying. For now, I’m just happy to be a part of my family again.
1- We’re all home together, having a great time as always and getting ready for the hap- happiest time of the year: Back to School!
2- Getting ready to paint my “Cloffice.” Check it out, someone else has a Cloffice! This was in Martha Stewart Living. I’m keeping Clever for a Reason, my freelance copywriting and marketing strategy business going.3- I get to have another birthday soon. I’m more excited about this one than any other and vow to never whine about another birthday again.
Ahhh, summer camping. Deer grazing with no apparent fear of humans. A tiny lizard stretched out on cool concrete. And a post-radiation mom with Maxi-Pads strapped across her chest. Nothing says sexy summer camping like that. There’s no romantic escape from cancer treatment. My chest looks like parchment paper continents in an angry red sea. One false move, and the sea erupts. Unfortunately, that happened right in front of Steven. He was having a great time sitting under a tree talking to Brian and me when blood started seeping through my shirt. He collapsed into tears. I hate that anything happening with me causes either one of my kids or husband grief. I mean I really hate that. “But it’s over,” I kept saying. He wasn’t buying it because he wishes it didn’t happen at all.
1- Thanks to Loree for the Maxi-Pad tip. Best boo boo absorption ever. I’m going to stuff a bunch of them in our first aid kit. Wait, could it absorb Honey Boo Boo? Probably.
2- I’m surprised to say that I’ve gained so much through cancer, I wouldn’t want to go back in time and erase it. My beady brain doesn’t know why yet. I’ll get back to you on that.
3- Shonda came over toting a cool bottle of champagne and snacks! We sat on my back patio and toasted the end of treatment! How sweet is that? XOXOXO, Shonda!
4- Tomorrow, I’ll be on AM Northwest on KATU with the other cancer moms in the Komen posters. Looking forward to seeing how they’re all doing – they were super cool.
My friend Kelly Wilson is one of the funniest people I know. Who else writes a book titled Don’t Punch People in the Junk? She’s walking the Portland-to-Coast Relay in my honor, which is so incredibly nice. Thanks, Kelly! Here are the details:
We went to the wedding of our super-cool friends, Frank and Rosemary. Get this, my hair looked intentional, thanks to Trina. She told me to load it with product and blow dry it. Wha? A blow dryer. What’s that? At the wedding, there were no weird looks. No questions about whether I’m a monk. No tilted heads of concern. Might be on the road to normal looks and bad service.
2- 48 hours from OVER. At 3:30 tomorrow, I can kiss this parking pass good-bye!
3- Looking ahead now. Everything around me feels like cluttered anticipation of back to school, back to work, back to life and it’s all good.
Just FOUR more sessions of radiation. I was cruising along thinking I could beat the radiation system and escape with just burns. After five weeks, my skin broke down all at once. Nothing prepared me for what that would feel and look like (an audition for Walking Dead). The nurses at Good Sam have tried everything. The radiation techs even felt bad seeing me in that much pain. My deepest appreciation goes out to them for helping me. It’s better now, thanks to some new medical pads they got me. Everyone keeps asking what we will do to celebrate. I have no idea. I’d just really like a six pack of new skin cells.
1- Got some new cancer jokes for ya:
2- Narcotics make back-to-school shopping much more tolerable. Check it out, Livvie kicked me out of her dressing room at Old Navy. One minute later, another mom got the boot. Good thing there’s a reject-mom bench at Old Navy. And, good thing Brian was driving that day. Geez, I look like a stoner.
There’s a new color where I’ve been getting radiated on one side of my chest and under my arm. It’s like busted-up plum/got fried in a microwave. The worst part is it itches like crazy. But if you succumb to going all Wolverine and scratching it, the entire thing erupts in burning. I put the cream I’m supposed to be putting on it. But in social situations, I contort my body in embarrassing ways to scratch the burn. Since it’s strategically located on my BOOB, this is not an easy task. Tonight I’m going to a Komen BBQ. The other women there will no doubt understand when I look like I’m dirty dancing with art-less walls, unsuspecting pencils and possibly hot grills. Not sure if fighting fire with fire works in this case.
1- People are signing up for our Race for the Cure Team, AC/DT (Abernethy Cancer Dream Team). Steven says he’s going to run. I say run in place, it will be so crowded.
2- Livvie is in survivor camp. Now we’re TOTALLY ready for a zombie apocalypse.
3- Got denied from two jobs I applied for which feels like the universe saying: Keep your own business going, you fool!
It was a swell day for bike riding to the river. All four of us saddle up, get overheated and end up in a Burgerville parking lot. While Brian and the kids go in to fetch lemonades, I stand under a tree and watch our bikes. Around here, an unlocked bike is a stolen one. I notice as I get near the tree, a bunch of crows squawks at me. When I back up, they quiet. To amuse myself, I get closer, then back up…about 20 times. Then, I see a teenage crow on the ground. Oh, thinks the near fail-out biology student. They were protecting this poor guy. Did he fall out of the nest? He looks too big. Did he break something? We tell a guy at the front counter, who responds flatly: “Want me to put it out of its misery?” Clearly, an avid bird passionate. We call a guy at the Audubon Society, who says: “If it’s awkward looking and has scruffy feathers, it probably jumped out of the nest and will live on the ground for a while. The family will take care of it.” Crap, is he talking about the crow or me? I look closer. With half-fluffed feathers, wings folded in about-to-go-nowhere position and one eye slammed shut pirate-style, we look a lot alike. Just like me, I have to trust the family will take care of it and some jackleg won’t try to “rescue” it and get all Alfred Hitchcocked.
1- Week five of radiation. My last session I think is August 12. Now the beams are really starting to leave a mark. A new guy showed up yesterday and said, “What are all these doors for?” So I answered: “Pick a door and get a prize!” That’d be a backless gown.
2- Kids are making signs for an epic lemonade stand and the debut of PIE FACE tomorrow at our house. Hoping to get that action on video.
3- Xena is sleeping and not eating wood chips today. Awesome.
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?
KATU is working on feature stories to air for Race for the Cure. So they’ve been interviewing me and other survivors. Today, we did a quick interview in the studio. I bribed the kids that if they were good in the studio, I’d buy them all milkshakes. I didn’t really have to bribe them – they’re well behaved on their own. The producer, Kelly, was nice enough to give us a studio tour. If you wait until the last minute and thrive on stress, a career in news is just for you, he said. That means you, Josson and Livvie. Thanks, KATU! We had a really great time and all-new appreciation for what you guys do. Kelly says being a producer means you get paid to be curious. I love that.
1- Radiation #2 went much better. My boob was not on fire today. I was surprised when one of the nurses said my pain yesterday was in my head because they don’t give you enough radiation to cause pain. Okay, my boob was hot to the touch like it was running a fever, even when I woke up this morning. Who “imagines” crazy fire boob? Fire on the Mountain!
2- The kids ran around playing tag and tried to do flips in the grass with their friends. That’s what I’m talking about! Neighborhood fun, ya’ll! Why can’t they be “free-range children” like we were every day?
3- Brian came home from Seattle, and Livvie threw herself into his arms. I didn’t go all drama-like. Brian’s dad sent me roses. When I called to say thanks, I couldn’t help but apologize to him that his son has to go through this cancer nightmare, not that I signed up for it. But STILL, it’s been tough. Brian brought home a lemon tart, so everybody’s happy about that!
Just coming out of a blissful week of no cancer treatment. Getting a vacation at Neskowin Beach with nothing but beach, birds and beauty did the trick. We all went kayaking together for the first time. Steven said, “This is one of the best days of my life.” He probably said that because he was steering the kayak – one thing he could control. Now it’s back to cancer treatment. I had my first radiation treatment today. It’s a little alarming at the safety precautions between you and the radiation staff – like a metal door the size of Kansas. The beams zipped across my skin and viola! Instant sunburn. I was also alarmed at how much that little beam freaking hurt and how hot my skin was. Not sure what I was expecting, spa day? If the first one hurt, how am I going to make it for six weeks of treatments?
1- Hanging out at Maria’s today with Shonda, Kari and Rea while the kids pummeled each other with rubber bouncy toys made me feel much less lonely about summer. We’re all in the same boat with minimal camps and cruise director status.
2- KATU News has been interviewing me and other breast cancer survivors for Race for the Cure. Tomorrow, they’re interviewing me in the studio. Wish I could grow some Chia Hair.
3- The kids have been so appreciative and sweet to me. I took them to see a movie last night and had the best time. Soon, they won’t want to hang out with their parents like that. So I’m taking it all in while I can.