Some people must have gotten the wrong end of the turkey over the holiday. By Monday, they were in full road-rage mode. First, I pulled across a lane I thought was one way. An older “gentleman” in a Camry was far enough away to not hit me. Yet, he reacted like I sunk his battleship. Then, he took both hands off the wheel and gave me two, one-finger salutes. Really? One’s good. When I went to meet my client, he came in flustered after calling 911 because some dude jumped out of his car and came after him, fists flying. Whaa? In my mind, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” plays through the drama. I’m staying in my office today. Forget that.
1- Yesterday morning, Liv sobbed in the car: “You’re different since cancer. I miss you.” Holy crap, what do I do with that? Yeah, I’m different. Maybe you didn’t get upset during cancer and you’re getting upset now, I said. “That’s because I didn’t want you to DIE!” she screamed. Maybe it’s safer for her to cry about it now that I’m okay? I quickly slipped into Man Mode. “Let’s fix this,” I said. “We’ll have one mommy-daughter date every week.” She lightened up. To show her I meant it, I bought movie tickets and left a handmade card in her room expressing that we are going to do that starting this week. How is this a positive? Look what she drew on the card.
2- My friend Nicole, who is part of the Abernethy Cancer Mom Dream Team, is going in for surgery this week. So she’s one surgery away from finished! Please send positive her way. She’s a total spitfire, but still! Every positive thought helps.
3- I am looking so hot right now. I’ve got pink eye and a sinus infection. Hot AND sexy. After hitting the disease lottery, this is such small change it almost feels like a relief. Hot damn, I’m getting normal stuff now.
Was there a random weirdo moon out last night? We all woke up out of sorts. Brian and I jumped Steven’s case over his lackluster lunch-eating skills. Liv woke up whimpering and dissolved in a steady string of tears over the same subject. I started to get jumped up about the morning until I saw a bicyclist had been hit by a FedEx truck on Broadway. Suddenly, any problem I thought I had disappeared. All day, I’ve been hoping both people are okay. I would be devastated if I hurt someone in a car or any other way really. Deep breath. Keep moving.
1- Doctor #1: All clear. Everything looks good. Awesome.
2- Doctor #2: What do you mean you’re not taking that medication?I’m going to light up Doctor #3. But still, everything looks good.
3- While at Doctor #2, I ran into Doctor #1’s business partner/surgeon, who is apparently going through treatment. Cancer will pick anyone anytime, even a professional who helps people defeat cancer daily. She looked fab. Suck it, Weird Cancer Guy.
4- Bonus positive: This guy walks up to the table next to be at Starbucks. It’s empty except for some trash the lady before him left. He looks at me and says: “Is this table reserved, or did somebody just leave a mess?” That’s my new line to use at the kitchen table from now on. Feel free to baffle your children with restaurant words in a home environment.
Every time Brian goes out of town for a length of time, I bow down to single parents everywhere. How do you do everything, be everything, all the time? It’s been that kind of week. My car won’t get out of park. Unless you’re making out, it’s not a useful situation. Somehow, we’ve all gotten out of the house…daily. Even the dog’s out of sorts. Today I caught Lazy Dog standing on a side table like a show dog. Meanwhile, her skin allergies are raging. The house is a mess. Blah blah. But still, all of this has only produced a sore neck and stress headache. I heard myself telling my acupuncturist Tracie how happy I am to have normal pain.
1- Check up with radiology/oncologist today. So far, looking good. Really loved seeing everybody at Good Sam radiology. They took such great care of me.
2- Work is still coming in. In another post, I said I got new work. That doesn’t mean full-time employment, mind you. I’m still a freelance copywriter/brand strategist. So that means I am always looking for work from clients who don’t take the word “free” literally.
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.
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.
I never thought I’d say this, but I actually look forward to going to meetings and hitting deadlines now. It’s what healthy people do. So I met with the communications director of Komen this morning to talk about writing survivor profiles, and it was great. Plus, I got a sneak peak of the “Who Will You Race For?” campaign marketing. (I’m the egghead in the middle.) I’m excited to walk in the race since I’m such a lame-o runner. Apparently, survivors are treated all special-like. Anyone want to walk it with me?
1- Tomorrow, my bud Steve is getting a drink named after him called “The Reverend.” That’s a whole new level of special.
2- Rolled around on the floor laughing with the kids and the dog for the best hour of my day.
Livvie got a gift card for Ben & Jerry’s for her birthday. Of COURSE she wanted a funnel cone the size of a dunce cap drenched in chocolate and sprinkles. I said YES! That’s something my grandmother would have done. I love spoiling the kids once in a while and making dinner “art” with spray cheese. We also found a house to rent on the Oregon Coast. It’s a quiet modern house with a view. Steven’s face changed when he saw it. “That’s exactly what I imagined, Mom,” he said. There’s a catch though – the kids are going to have to share a queen-sized bed. The house is so cool, they actually agreed to that. Yes! A plan. Finally.
1- Steven got some color back in his face and had a good day at school. Livvie said, “Oh Mom” and hugged me when I apologized for missing her field trip since Steven was sick. I beat myself up over disappointing her.
2- I met with a counselor today and agree with what she said: Dealing with cancer this summer is a full-time job. I didn’t know exhaustion sets in at about four weeks and continues after you’re done with radiation. At least I can plan.
3- I ran into my nurse navigator Annette today, who complimented me about this blog again. I don’t know where it will go after cancer. But I’m so happy to hear from Annette that it’s helpful.
Somewhere in shouldering the weight of my cancer, Steven’s immune system let him down. Now he’s got mono. I told his doctor everything about how, since he was born, he took responsibility for things he shouldn’t. How he joined Brian and me in fighting cancer instead of staying a kid bystander. How he stayed so strong around me, then fell apart at school. I feel so bad about the amount of stress the cancer situation has caused. Then, he envisioned a summer of regaining fun only to find out that radiation could send him back into cancer duty. I realize we can’t hand him tools to deal with all of this. I’m hoping we can find the right person to help equip him for now and the rest of his life. Because this is just the first level of suck. Other sucky things will happen. I can only hope he gets better prepared because of this.
1- Really looking forward to helping Steven return to the world of kids. Soon.
2- The radiologist/oncologist needs at least a week to plan radiation. That means we can go somewhere, but probably not somewhere sunny. As long as somewhere is not my house, I’ll be happy.
3- Brian set up a ping pong table Barrett loaned us. Dreaming of epic ping pong battles to come!
In case you were wondering if I was still obsessed with going to Hawaii…why yes. Yes I am. Now my plan is to score a speaking gig there so we can physically go. But it seems like we can’t plan anything without messing up the radiation schedule. In the meantime, my friend Sharon made me this super-rad terrarium. I love it so much. (Thank you, Sharon!)
Livvie loved it so much, she wanted to make her own sea world in a bowl. So I took her to Artemisia (artemisiaon28th.blogspot.com). She’s got such a designer mind, she reorganized her globe several times before announcing, “Perfect!” Nothing thrills me like doing something fun with my girl. When I looked around, the store was filled with moms and daughters – all lit up with excitement about their mini worlds in a bowl. Everyone should make one of these.
1- Brian and I made it through a few rough emotional days trying to figure out where we’ll find the energy to go the entire summer through radiation without a true escape of a trip. We’ll have to carve out smaller ones before my energy gives way.
2- Can’t stop thinking about going on stage last weekend. When I got introduced as a cancer survivor, people yelled out: “F*&k cancer!” So funny that CANCER got heckled.
3- There are now two little hummingbirds buzzing our yard. One has an iridescent red patch under its beak. Watching them do a full aerial chase makes my day. Livvie put her hummingbird feeder out loaded with sugar water. But now I worry that they’ll get all fat and be lying around fanning their bellies instead of flying.