The Quiet Time

Most mornings, I am the first one awake. I like that. I have a routine that I follow. I go into the kitchen, turn on the Keurig, put hazelnut creamer in my coffee mug, and while the coffee is brewing, I prepare Bella’s breakfast. The first of her several small meals throughout the day. I grab my coffee, my meds, an “after breakfast” cookie for Bella, and head for the couch. While I check my phone to see what I missed overnight, Bella & her full belly snuggles up next to me & falls asleep.

Morning puggle snuggles

This quiet time is my favorite time of the day. The only sounds that I hear are the clock’s ticking on the dining room wall, the soft whooshing of the traffic below us & Bella snoring. It’s peaceful & relaxing. My Twitter feed is full of tweets about what’s going on in the world & updates from friends sprinkled in between them.

It’s ironic how the brain triggers the memory of events that happened in the past. Songs, smells, places, reading a book, or specific dates. It happens even when we don’t mean to or even want to, depending on the memory it triggers. That happened to me this morning. Not just one memory, but two.

These memories are both exceptional, each in its own way. They are separated by fifteen years. I can recall every last detail of each memory. When I think of them, it’s as if I am back in that moment again. I hear the sounds, what was happening around me, and who was there with me. I even experience the feeling as if it’s happening for the first time. I don’t always remember them in the order in which they occurred. However, one always triggers the other. It’s like being in a time machine but without the “Back to the Future” Delorean. Does this happen to everyone?

This morning it happened backward. My memory placed me back in one of the many waiting rooms at Memorial Sloan Kettering in Manhattan. I was waiting for the nurse to call me for the first of four scans I was having. I was sitting in an armless chair; the bright sun came through the windows on my left. Above me, in the corner of the room, the TV was on. Good Morning America was on. A couple won a contest to be married, live on their show. The hook was that John Legend would also be there to serenade them with his wildly popular love song: “All of Me.” Later that afternoon, I would be in the exam room sitting next to my Oncologist and, on the other, my husband. She read the results of my PET scan. It was the first one I had after I started treatment and the first time I heard: No Evidence of Disease. I was confused. My doctor put her hand on mine, looked me dead in the eyes, and said, “The cancer is not detectable. The Aromatase Inhibitor is working. This is the best possible news.” It took a minute to sink in. I cried & laughed at the same time. That was seven years ago.

GMA 2014, Courtesy of ABC News

I will always be grateful for that memory. It’s probably the only positive, happy experience I’ve had living with cancer. I had hope again. Hope that cancer had taken from me. That feeling is what triggers my next significant memory. It was a snowy day in 1999. I had the ultrasound that every expectant parent looks forward to. I saw my son, for the first time, cramped in my belly. He looked so chill. The tech pointed out his tiny little finger buds, his spine, his legs. She was reassuring that all was well. Did I want her to tell me the sex? she asked me, YES, I wanted to know. She moved the wand back and forth over my stomach. “There it is,” she said. “You’re having a boy” The rest of the story can be read Here

As I sit here remembering these two events, I think about what’s to come this month. My son & future daughter-in-law are graduating from college. They will have commencement ceremonies this year. While the No Visitor policy is still in place, I’ll be watching the live feeds. The following week I will have fully realize a dream I never imagined I would have the honor to attend; my son’s wedding. I am so looking forward to watching his bride walk down the aisle to exchange their vows.

I adore these two

I’m still trying to wrap my brain around all of this. When did he grow up? Most parents who get to this point in their children’s lives want to turn back time to when their kids were little. I honestly don’t. I cherish this time right now as he builds his life with his soon-to-be wife. They both have accomplished a lot in the last four years. I couldn’t have imagined a better future for my little pup.

My lil pup

At the last minute, I chose to have my PET scan last Friday. I wasn’t going to do any significant medical stuff this month as I didn’t want anything to put a cloud over these monuments occasions, but in the end, I knowledge is power. I didn’t post anything about it or the “look at me; I’m having a scan” picture on social media. Many of my friends are dealing with their health that it just didn’t feel right. I realize it shouldn’t stop me from talking about what’s happening with my own health. It’s separate, but I guess I’m becoming more empathetic now that I’m in my 50’s. Is this what happened to the Grinch?

May 2021 will be the most fantastic month. I am going to take in every second & enjoy it to the fullest. I feel so, so fortunate, and I thank the universe for keeping me No Evidence of Disease for now.

Purr

I have been blogging for 5 years and I’ve never had a guest blogger. Not because I didn’t want to but more so in that, I didn’t realize it was a thing. Whelp, it is and today I have invited a longtime Twitter friend to take over. I introduce you all to Michael. He hates cancer as much as I do but for different reasons; he’s also a solid blogger in his own right.   

Without further adieu……


It’s 2:25 pm

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This is the first time that I have been invited to share a blog post and I have been wondering what to write about. Our gracious hostess Susan said I could write about anything and so inspired by my fellow writer Radha, I decided to share this:

My wife Lori Ann and I loved cats, during our time together we shared our house with 4 cats and her nickname was Kitty.  I had given her that nickname even before we first met and it fitted Lori perfectly. What made this so much fun and fitting is that Lori didn’t see herself as a cat person, she had always had dogs growing up.

But after graduating from Western Michigan University, she went to work for a big department store and rented a cute little one apartment from an older couple, the Caves.

It was here that Lori discovered her inner cat so to speak when she first inherited Carolyn Cave’s moms’ cat, Geraldine. It was supposed to be a short term foster but Geri and Lori bonded very quickly and so Lori owned her very first cat. That went well and Lori enjoyed coming home to see a happy face welcoming her home. Of course, Geri had issues whenever Lori had to travel for her job for weeks on end. While Geri knew Carolyn, she really missed Lori when she was gone and soon whenever Lori pulled out her suitcase, Geri would hop in and wouldn’t want to leave.

Then Lori started seeing another cat that would be slinking around looking for for some food. It turned out that this was Junior and when his human had passed away, the son basically tossed Junior out on his own. I met this man sometime later and had the pleasure of telling him what an asshole he was in no uncertain terms.

Well, Lori being Lori felt really bad for Junior and renaming him OSK, began a campaign to give OSK a home again. This was much easier said than done as we later on suspected OSK had been abused by the son and had his trust broken.

Lori, aided by her dad, built a warm shelter for OSK in her garage and put food out. Winters are brutal in Michigan and a small cat outside, well they don’t do so well. Add in the fact that Lori learned OSK was declawed on his front paws and you can understand the urgency in which Lori had in trying to rescue him.

Slowly OSK started to trust her and she remembered the moment he let her pick him up and was able to hold him in her jacket for 10 minutes. She told she cried so many tears that they froze on her cheeks. Then as spring popped up, OSK decided to trust Lori fully and came into the house on his own. He curled up next to Geri and fell asleep for hours.

OSK was nicknamed “the ghost cat” because no one ever saw him, he always hid when Lori had company. When I visited Lori from California, I had told her I was a “cat whisperer” and by the end of my 10-day visit, OSK and I would be pals. It wasn’t until the 9th day when she came home and found OSK sleeping on my chest.

Now while I called her Kitty and she loved the nickname, she was a bit shy about the name when she was at work or with her peers. So we came up with “purr”. It was our word when we were out and about. We had a hand signal that we flash (cat gang members, yo!!) across a crowded store of family function and it meant “Purr”. The other person would shrug their shoulders in acknowledgment. Soon “Purrs” became so automatic that when the word was said, shoulders here shrugged, even when she was asleep during chemotherapy. Chemotherapy?? Why of course, this is a cancer blog, isn’t it?

I would whisper “Purrs” in her ear after her chemo was done and while most of the time when I or one of her angels would nudge her awake, Lori was sluggish and sleepy, whenever I would say “Purrs” her eyes would open wide and she would smile the most beautiful smile.

Lori entered hospice in May of 2013 and even as she faded, her long journey complete, she still would make the signal for “Purrs” and I would laugh and shrug my shoulders, we had done this so long it had become an automatic shoulder shrug. I still will whisper it once in a while, mostly when I see Lori in my mind’s eye as we were doing a fun activity or shopping, living life. Its a reminder of a wonderful soulmate and I hope you enjoyed reading it.

My thanks to Susan for allowing me to share this with her readers.

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Paladin the House Cheetah

You can follow Michael at The Inner Circle and I hope you do.

Reflections & The Future

It’s the last week of September and there is no denying that Summer is definitely over. I’ve been in a deep denial over it. Deep. I could ignore it with the temps still tickling the 80’s but that’s changing now and it’s getting serious with helping Adam get college applications and necessary paperwork in before the end of October.

There were no big vacations this summer. Instead, Adam and I went on a few college visits that included a trip to NYC  where we killed two birds with one stone with an appointment at Sloan Kettering for me and a tour of NYU for him. The other college visits included University of Buffalo and University of Rochester, although since we live in Rochester I don’t know if you can technically consider it a ‘visit’.

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University of Rochester

The high-light of the summer was absolutely our trip to NYC. We packed a lot in those 2 days. I even managed to squeeze in something from my bucket list: Serendipity 3!  If you don’t know, Serendipity is this tiny, eclectic restaurant that is most noted for their desserts, specifically the Frozen Hot Chocolate. Reservations usually need to be made weeks in advance BUT if you are willing and able you can take a chance at walking in and waiting for a table. Adam and I went by what Google said were their slow vs. busy times of day and decided to just go and see what would happen. It was 4:30pm so a little bit of a wait wouldn’t be THAT tragic. At 6:20pm we FINALLY got a table! Our waiter told us that the table we were seated at happened to be Marilyn Monroe’s favorite table. Sure – I bet he says that to everyone he serves! We intentionally didn’t get stuffed on dinner so we could enjoy a decadent desert. Let me warn you now – they do not skimp on the dessert portions – AT ALL. The ice cream creations are served on top of a separate plate because they are literally overflowing and spilling everywhere. Let’s just say that experience didn’t do me any favors. I was absolutely miserable the rest of the night but it was totally worth it.

The next day we toured NYU. Wow. I absolutely understand why Adam wants to go to school here. Besides the obvious – being in Manhattan – the ‘campus’ includes buildings all around Washington Square Park. It’s a very different college experience but one that also affords so many more opportunities to do and see things not accessible or available anywhere else.

I’ve tried to pin Adam down on where his heart is with regard to his first choice. He won’t give me a straight answer. I guess we will just have to wait and see when the acceptance letters come and he has to make a decision.

I’m hoping that he and I can still squeeze in one last trip before he goes off to ‘wherever he’s going off to’ after graduation. A lot depends on how far away he’s going to be. If we don’t, he does have a class trip to Italy in April so that will just have to do!

This week I’m headed back to Sloan to meet with a GI Doc to see if we can start to figure out what is causing my ongoing weight loss and nausea. I’ve stopped one of my Cancer meds – Ibrance. I’ve weaned myself off the Gabapentin I was taking for pain and most recently I cut my dose of Topimax (anti-seizure med for migraines) in half. I’m basically down Faslodex for the Cancer and the bare minimum for everything else. The next person who tries to tell me this is a ‘med issue’ is going to get a black eye because so far – I still feel pretty gross and the weight is still coming off. At my Dr appointment on Thursday I was down another 6lbs.

And finally – stay tuned for October. I’ll be headed back to DC to join my fellow advocates on October 13th – Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day to March and participate in the 2nd Annual Die-In for Metastatic Research. I promise you, this year will be epic. I’ll have more information soon but we hope to be able to stream live!!

I invite you to check out a new endeavor I’m part of that I’m wildly proud of:

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www.theunderbelly.org