Category Archives: cancer

The sweetest book – Survival Lessons by Alice Hoffman

This title arrived in a recent order and I immediately wanted to touch it, to pick it up and carry it.  It charmed with its cover alone and I borrowed it for the recent holiday break.  I carried it in my 48.5 lb luggage to New Orleans and back without cracking its spine, but yesterday, after finally finishing Allegiant (Roth), I opened this little gem as a reward.  I read the preface.  Twice.  Who does that?

The individual chapters, intensely small like a fine truffle, captivated me with their sincere and simple words – choose your hero, choose how to spend your time, choose to love.  The story Alice Hoffman shares with readers is her own, a story on the surface about her experience with cancer.  But that’s not really what it’s about – it’s about choosing.  One would never choose cancer, but I think what Hoffman is suggesting is that we choose how we handle an obstacle like cancer or war or heartbreak.  She is inspiring.

Survival Lessons is the kind of book word lovers, and those who celebrate beauty every day, should have on their bedside table.  Get an extra one for a friend.

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Filed under Books, cancer, favorites

Taking a punch

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I began my day on the floor, next to Cassidy, my tears dripping on the softest fur a dog has ever had.  That’s why we picked her, you know.  In a litter of 11 beautiful black labs, she was different, wearing a lavender ribbon around her neck with fur that could only be described as fluffy. A dozen years later, her coat remains a marvel of softness.

Cassidy has been the only dog my boys have known.  In her younger years, she was my cross-country skiing buddy, joyfully covering miles of the golf course with me each winter.  For a number of years, we rented a house on the Cape which welcomed pets and Cassidy was a regular at the nearby pond, diving under the water to retrieve rocks.  She has been a wonderful, wonderful pet.

In recent days, she has not been herself.  There have been messy episodes which have required copious amounts of Nature’s Miracle to eliminate.  Her appetite has been compromised and I scheduled a visit for the vet.  My youngest, Q, asked to accompany me to the appointment.  I hesitated, not knowing what the diagnosis might be, nor how he would respond to the bad news I anticipated.  He earnestly told me this: “I’ve taken some punches, Mom.  I’ve had up times and down times.  I’ll be ok.” He came with me.

The visit was as expected.  It seems that our girl has a tumor in her abdomen, more than likely cancer.  She probably is experiencing some internal bleeding.  I’m crying now.  The vet gave me some medication to help with her bowels.  He said to feed her whatever she wants to eat and to take her home any enjoy her.  We’ll know when she needs us to let her go.

I made Cassidy turkey risotto this morning.  I can’t stop looking at her resting peacefully and wondering how many more mornings I’ll awake to find her sleeping on the stained carpet at the foot of my bed.

No matter how hard you prepare yourself, the punch to the gut of losing a beloved pet always hurts.  Even when your child dries your tears and tells you everything is going to be fine.

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Filed under aging, Boys, cancer, family, love, Normanskill, x-country skiing

In case of emergency

I’m in the midst of my annual array of wellness visits.  You know, the semi-annual dental hygienist appointment, my mammogram, a check in with the endocrinologist, a general physical.   I appreciate these practitioners and medical experts in my life for the peace of mind they provide that I am healthy.

I’ve grown accustomed to the fact that the physician’s assistant, who I’ve seen for the past three years, can’t be a day over thirty and has no firsthand knowledge of what I can expect from menopause.  That’s fine, I can read about that topic on my own.  The two-part experience of having my breast compressed and then covered with goop and wanded over, is an embarrassing indignity I can live with for the sake of early detection and my dental visit has been made far more comfortable with some topical stuff on my sensitive teeth.  All good.

No, the issue I have with each of these visits is with a simple consistent question on the intake form: Emergency Contact.  I don’t really have one.  Now, please, I have lots of contacts in my phone.  There are plenty of people I can call for various things – to meet for a drink, to take a run, to give one of the boys a ride home from a game.  But, there isn’t a single person who is close enough to me, physically and emotionally, to call if something really bad happens.

I don’t have a parent.  Or a spouse.  My only sibling lives 2+ hours away and my teenaged children wouldn’t be appropriate recipients of a dreadful call about me, their mom.  So, who to call?  I can’t put myself down, right?

I guess the 411 on my own 911 is this – I’d better not get hurt, sick or in an accident.  The thought of having no one to call is almost enough to make me sick.

See?  Being independent and single isn’t always rainbows and unicorns, after all.

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Filed under aging, cancer, medical

October recap – Moms@Work

image:timesunion.com

image:timesunion.com

I can’t believe another month has flown by!  Here’s some of what I’ve been up to over at the timesunion.com.

First, there was the politics of pasta.

Then, I fell in love!

Alas, my ship sailed.

I put some pieces together.

And recognized that I couldn’t always do it myself.

But, I can drive a standard shift.  Lefthanded, too.

Which is a good thing because sometimes, I want to get away from my picky-eating children.

It wasn’t my knickers that got bunched up – it was my breasts which got squeezed!

Soccer season wrapped up leaving  lessons on the field that should last a lifetime.

We got more treats than tricks.

 

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Filed under Albany, beauty, Boys, cancer, Cooking, Events, family, holidays, house, Moms@Work, politics

Breasts and beers

image: rlv.zcache.com

What are you doing October 5th? Nothing?  Well, I’ve got a couple of ideas for you to consider. First – there’s the Komen Race for the Cure. This annual event is a fundraiser for breast cancer research and, although I haven’t participated, I’ve always heard the vibe is incredibly positive and empowering.  Maybe get some friends together and do the run or the walk?

20130920-112012.jpgI would have loved to have accepted the invitation I received this year to join a team, but I already had made a commitment to volunteering to help out at Wolff’s Biergarten’s 4th annual Oktoberfest downtown. And, you know what? So can you! Email beervolunteer2013@gmail.com for your chance to lend a hand (the one which isn’t holding a stein) at one of the best parties of the year. There will be music, food, dachshund races and a selection of beers which would make my Opa weep.

Last year’s weather left a little something to be desired, but Matt promised that if I wear an authentic, low-cut dirndl the sun will shine! (Actually, he never said that at all. It is a conversation which occurred completely in my own head.). Whatever – put a sweater on, if necessary and get yourself there. It’s going to be wunderbar!

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Filed under Albany, beer, cancer, Events, Exercise, ideas, Recommendations, running, upstate New York

Are you my mother? And who’s my daddy?

image: http://blog.schoollibraryjournal.com
It’s been a weird weekend…I kind of hit the wall on a number of levels, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say, hit the wall  with numerous body parts.  Truth be told, I probably used my head the most.  I had so many options available to me; concerts, and old friends, and art and strawberries, yet I kind of shrugged it all off.  Unlike many decisions in life, I didn’t get that immediate tingling sensation that confirms many of my choices.  I’m thinking maybe I’m a bit numb.  Summer vacation can’t come soon enough.

Despite feeling less than great (I’m about to pop my 3rd Aleve in 2 days!) I’ve maintained my commitment to running 20 miles this week and it has been a struggle.  The music hasn’t been quite right, and even if it were perfect, my right glute is screaming louder than any song playing.  Not tremendously fun or satisfying.

On my run Friday, I passed two elder(ly?) women walking.  They were on the opposite side of the street and I was wearing contacts, which don’t do all they should to improve my vision.  I was taken aback by one of the women – she looked like my mother.  I think.  The last time I spoke to my mother in person was when she attempted a “scar-off” to prove that her heart surgery was way worse than my cancer surgery could have ever been.  Ok, you win and what have we proven?  That you have a heart and I can cut malignant things from my life and prosper? Fine.

Well, it is a little disconcerting to not be certain whether a person is, or is not, your parent. You’d think this would be a familiar sensation for me, growing up as I did wondering if every single man with a brogue was my father, but it was still weird.  I had a familiar train of thought ride through my head.  What will it be like when she’s gone?  Will I stop seeing her everywhere the way I stopped imagining every Irishman to be my father once I knew he was gone?

I’m getting ready to be a stay at home mom for 10 weeks and I plan to slow down, enjoy my boys and try really hard to make sure that they always know who their parents are, two people who love them dearly.

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Filed under aging, Boys, cancer, Exercise, family, medical, moms, musings, relationships, running, stress, Summer

Pink Party 2012

You’d think that after attending the last three of these events I’d know precisely what to expect – attractive men and women clad in various shades of pink having a good time for a good cause.  I always see someone I haven’t seen in years, the beverages usually lean more to vodka than cava and the night would be incomplete without a smooch from Tom Moore.  Yet, despite the predictability of this annual event, there’s always room for a surprise – like last night’s, and I hope this term isn’t offensive, drag queens.  How fun!  And I have never seen as many swingers in one room as I did last night.  I mean, that’s what you would call the folks taking liberties with the rope swing at Matt Baumgartner’s house, right?  

A great host, a beautiful crowd and good cause = a fun night.  Thanks for always being a gracious host, Matt.  You really know how to throw a party!  More pics here.

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Filed under Albany, beauty, cancer, drinking, Events, favorites