Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Two Years! And people said it wouldn't last!

In one week John and I will be celebrating out two year wedding anniversary!  Seeing these Daffodils poke their heads up through the ice and snow today is a beautiful sign for me - more than ever.  Two and a half years ago,  I made the hopeful act of planting daffodils thinking it was possible I wouldn't see them bloom.  BUT I DID!  John and I got married and set out to enjoy as much of whatever time we were blessed to have together.  Two years later... we still are!  I am so thankful for each day and the treasures they have brought me.  I continue to be amazed.

John and I just returned from Colombia visiting his Colombian family who circumstances brought into his life some 20 plus years ago.  Out of kindness on both sides,  the relationship of these two families is enviable and beautiful.  John's eldest son joined us for parts of the trip.  The welcome of the two daughters, son and parents was beautiful and the product of many years of close friendship.  I felt fortunate to be included and thrilled to see such warmth and dedication.  Colombia is a country in flux, and right now is a great place to visit.  There is much to learn there. 

The continuation of a long time friendship and family relationship had, frankly, concerned me when I have felt so "temporary" myself.  I felt like the "x".  Not the x-wife,  but the X in algebra - the "place holder."   The closeness of the two families has continued through decades - and there was another woman there with John - who was actually most influential in the creation of the closeness.  As the woman who is now at John's side,  and who felt quite "temporary" in that position,  I felt like the x.  Two plus years after the diagnosis,  I don't feel so much like the "x" and am starting to have a little of my own "history" here.  It was wonderful to be part of another page or chapter in the bond between the families and continued mutual affection that has been built.  It was a great trip - and an amazing reality that I feel much more alive than I have. 

John and I spent a couple of days after the visit with the Gomez's in Cartegena by ourselves.  It was truly a magical time.  We stayed in the Old city at the Casa Saint Augustin.  Our room was amazing and it was tempting to just stay in and Google the history of the area!!!    But we ventured out, learned some history, were amazed at the building outside of the Old Town,  and had some incredible meals. 
our own pool with privacy~

dinner outside of the Old Town using it as a glorious backdrop.

Going forward - I am much more open to looking at a longer horizon that I had been - which sometimes scares me.   I do not think about my "disease" as frequently as before, and am even daring to think farther into the future than three months.  

this continues to be an amazing journey.  

Saturday, March 24, 2018


Thursday morning I had an email from St. Francis informing me that my PET scan results were posted.  At 6 am I signed on to my account with a bit of anxious anticipation.  I carefully read every work looking for key words indicating changes.  But when the last line read "No new abnormal activity in the lung to suggest recurrence" . I was much relieved.  To confirm what I was seeing,  I asked John read it.  Same conclusion.

Then more blood work and a visit to Dr.  Rathman on Friday and all confirmed !!!  Next appointment in 2 months.  Celebrate with me!  wherever you may be.

Thanks for your concern!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Checking in - all is well

Another month passes and I continue to thrive with the chemo regiment.  I count my blessings everyday.  PET scan Friday, Dr visit Monday - quick update will follow, but I foresee no problems based on how I have been feeling.

John and I have taken up pickle ball!  Seems to be the thing to do - wonder if any of you are playing?  John, having played racket sports most of his life,  is much more natural at it than I.  We make a great team - he carries me most of the time, and continues to be patient with me even in the competitive environment!  Of course,  having not done much exercise  recently, and using my left side and arm more than usual - it causes aches as muscles get used…. And this cycles through my brain as strange sensations in my Chest… and the rest is just plain anxiety.  I share this with you only to share how pervasive this situation is even though all indications are positive.  Meanwhile.  Anyone else enjoying this sport?

My last big birthday,  John and I discussed what kind of a party I would like.  After much thought I decided I didn’t want a party,  but what I wanted was  to have time with each person I would have liked to celebrate my birthday with.  I wanted to have a dinner with each one, one at a time.  I wanted to share special time with EACH.  With that goal in mind,  we have successfully spent great one on one time with many friends.  Dallas friends, High school friends, having baby friends….  throughout the last year.  This month was a continuation!

Jim Hancock, Suzan Zeder and ME in Santa Fe
I took a four day run away trip to Santa Fe earlier in the month to visit a dear friend from High School and her husband -  there was some wonderful magic there.  

We just returned from traveling through Florida enjoying  the luxury of friendships.  The time of sharing was defined,  for this trip, as spending an evening, a night and breakfast with someone near and dear from my history.  I was anxiously look forward to this dedicated time of friendship.   I hadn’t seen a few of these friends for over 10 years - but each welcomed us both with open arms and hearts. It was an amazing encapsulation of many facets of my life- and John is still with me!

 We covered Florida from Fort Lauderdale through Naples and Sarasota, across Sebring area  and Jacksonville.  Even found a smidgen of time for ourselves to quick check in on St. Augustine and Amelia Island.  We have a pretty well rounded view of the state. and a great appreciation for the strength of friendships.  I didn’t get pictures as each of our stops - too busy talking!  There are a few below to share. 

John with Dougie Schlicher in Fort Lauderdale
Me and Barbie Ludwig at Pine Island
with Maria Johnson at Boca Grande
at Bob Vasko's place in Sarasota
with Charlotte and Gary Ehlig in Ponte Vedra

One lesson I learned - and there are many - is that almost ALL of us have some serious situations we are and have faced.  Health, finances, family... but the strength of getting through it has made many a friend stronger.  Remission is a very important word.  Within my small circle there are a lot of barely known diseases and a number of miraculous new findings in these fields.  I now can listen and hear much more of the individual stories.  There is a lot of hope out there.  

I was greatly encouraged for my own journey realizing that I am far from alone.  Non of us are,  sometimes we just feel that way.  John was surprised with the planning of the trip - partly because i had the "courage" to ask friends if we could visit.  I am so glad I did,  and encourage you to do the same,  You will be surprised as the welcome you get.   Come visit us!!

By the way,  If WE haven't had that time together,  I might be uncomfortable asking you - so call ME!!

Of course,  I missed seeing my new man for over a week and am anxious to see him when the snow stops falling.  William makes it extra special to get back home.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Oncology Appointment

Almost two and a half years have passed since Diagnosis Day.  I am reflective - reflecting - pondering the time and maybe the meaning - but certainly the blessing I have had and realize more than ever.  Nothing has changed - at least that I know of - I am about to have my appointment after 2 months of time off.  It's the longest between appointments.  They said it was because I was doing so well.  I'll go with that.

Two and a half years - intense awareness of each moment.  Appreciation for the opportunities that have been given to me.  The time with my boys - the ability to entertain them here and to go visit them there.  And of course the most recent addition!   Who knew how much fun that would be?  OK - You ALL knew but I couldn't let myself go there until...   Suffice it to say that I have never been so focused and in the moment as when I get to spend time with that sweet little boy who is just learning how to laugh.  What a skill!

OK - I digress.

The opportunity to  visit with and spend special time with friends, near and far.  A wonderful week with Dallas friends, upcoming second attempt at visiting Florida friends,  catching up with California friends in California and in Longmeadow.

Travel to areas of great intrigue, experience different cultures, histories, vistas - what a beautiful world.  And then to come home, recharge relax enjoy John's company and cooking and cozy down into our home.  I am one lucky girl.

then WHY do I feel depressed sometimes?  Reality of the loss of David Sr.  Missing my precious Gracie.  Sadness of passing of dear friends...

  and then there is  this cloud looming over my head.  I don't look like sick (stage four sick whatever that looks like), I don't feel like it,  and I am beating the odds.  How long will that be true?  My friends tell me I am going to be around a long time.  But I still feel there is some kind of race with the clock.  And I feel it most strongly before PET scans and before Oncology appointments.  Anticipation - Carly Simon - of another appointment, concerned that I don't ask all the questions I want to (maybe out of fear), that HE hears something different in my chest,  concern that there is a change somewhere else in my body that triggers an alarm.  This is the time the changes are noticed.  So I get depressed, scared, shut down my feelings, go under a rock, shut out my friends... - and then it will be over - the appointment that is.

I'll get back to you - just wanted share - it helps me.

Returned from the Dr. and all seems well - Pet Scan and next appointment scheduled for 2 months out!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas... Again

Merry Christmas to all...so glad to be here for another one.

I can't believe it's been two months since I last wrote.  My new status as Grandmother has been joyfully preoccupying.  Should I bore you with pictures?  He is ADORABLE and a beautiful blend of Will and KA - maybe a little more Will right now!

We also have taken some time to take Johnny and a Alex Coker - a friend from Dallas now in NYC -  to the Met to see the Magic Flute - a great treat and fun to share.

Each milestone makes me more thankful, and, a little scared.  As my "situation" has made me concentrate more on enjoying each day as much as I can,  each person as dearly as I can,  each moment as candidly as I can - the milestones also make me wary of how fast time is passing. I am being blessed with many days, weeks, even years, through the efforts of our medical world.  Each morning when I take my chemo, every night when I take it again, I am conscious of the reality of where I am.  I am not dwelling on it, just acknowledging it.  In fact, many mornings I get ready for the day and have forgotten to put on the support hose that keep my feet from swelling out of my shoes.  I retrench and start that process over,  again reminded.  So it goes and I am thankful.  Another Christmas.

For us, there are some adjustments and changes from last year.   David is no longer part of it,  which adds much sadness and emptiness.  The first year without him - especially tough on our boys.  David and Tyler are not making it home because of job commitments.  Will and KA are staying in Suffield - it's "our" turn.  Johnny has come in from Boston.  We will be a small group Christmas Eve - but it will be good.  Dr. John has his family traditions of Christmas Eve, equally important to his group - so we are dividing to conquer.  It will be strange not to be with him - but it's only for a night.

I was lucky enough to carve out three days last week and visit with David Jr in Austin.  John and I will head to Steamboat for a quick visit with Tyler and J'mie early January - so I will celebrate Christmas with all the boys!  A well worked series of compromises.

Happy Holidays to you all and maybe our paths will cross in the new year.  I sure hope so.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

i have to share

It's halloween.  My friend Meryl wrote this and I have to share.


All that distinguished October for so many years, was Halloween. The last day was the goal, the prior thirty spent considering and concocting a costume.  The day itself an exuberant tumbling of rules…out in the evening, collecting candy, school-night expectations on pause.  It was an event for the children, and back then, a fun and benign one.

But benign isn’t how I think of October now.  Almost forty years ago when I met Jan, it changed. Her mother had died on a Halloween; her discovery not benign. Since then, the ghoulish apparitions of the season have always felt cruel. And since then, more deaths. Of course, those happen in other months, as well, but the tenth month holds the sad record. My father; our nephew; our Norwegian Viking; my mother-in-law; Jan’s mom.

This year, it also claimed Jan’s Gracie.  What a harsh echo, this through thick-and-thin curly-furred companion felled by malignant cells. They were discovered almost precisely two years after Jan’s own diagnosis. An unwelcomed symmetry. She has been through much, my friend Jan.  This year the father of her sons died…a hundred years to the day her father was born. Further symmetry.

But there is more to October.  Against all odds, Jan lives, survives, thrives.  Her chapter, she dares imagine now, could become a book.  And she has achieved goals, roles she couldn’t imagine two years ago. There are two more men in her life to cherish:  her husband as of a year and a half ago.  Her grandson, as of a week ago. Birth in October. Living.



Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Summer's End - Already

How fast it has flown by.  One more week till Labor Day and Two years since diagnosis day! Amazing.  I am continuing to enjoy a very blessed life full of friends, new adventures, and cherishing memories of the past.  Most of the summer has been spent at the lake - enjoying the Adirondacks and friends and family.  The "cabin" is being well used and enjoyed.  John's family, my family, friends, a wonderful blending of people and reuniting of families.  So fortunate to have this little bit of heaven in the wilderness.

Last week we had ALL of my KIDS - all the boys, a daughter in law, and a significant other!  So much fun.  The boys reverted to adirondack adventures from yesteryears - summers at Lake George.  Having two ladies to "observe" the antics with enriched my enjoyment.  Dr. John watched it all go by preparing incredible dinners every night.  The differences in our families was apparant!  SOO much fun and more memories to add the books.  My heart warms when I realize how fortunate we are to have had that time together - to PLAY.

My health continues to be good, and I wish this cancer thing would just go away.  The heavy cloud covers everything I do - it does makes me enjoy more intensely and this is good.  It is hard to think of the "next" time to "do it again"  when I feel some limitation of time - but I don't really know and wish I didn't worry.  Two years is longer than we expected,  and it doesn't seem to be turning yet!  We are making more plans for adventures - but the time frame is shorter.

a weekend trip to the Cape with Will, KA and  their friends Victor and Victoria 

at the Lake with all the boys and more.

  Johnny and I on the sunfish - he caught on quickly!

David taking the sailfish over the sandbar.

KA, Will and Baby Anderson!!
Tyler and J'mie

This week is truly a highlight of my MY summer.

Of course, life is not full of just bliss and reunions - although we would all like it to be.  Sadness has befallen me with the news that my trusted companion of the past 12 years - through thick and thin - Gracie has Cancer herself.  Signs came on quickly.  She is walking slowly, has difficulties with steps, and reminds me so much of exactly where I was two years ago - almost to the day.  Sadly, her prognosis is about what mine was originally,  Hers has little likelihood of changing.  

Two Years! And people said it wouldn't last!

In one week John and I will be celebrating out two year wedding anniversary!  Seeing these Daffodils poke their heads up throu...