Monthly Archives: June 2011

Blog blog blog blog blah

Last week I felt as if I could see some light at the end of the tunnel; we would not spend the rest of our lives moving from one house to another, and I before long I would once again be able to honor other commitments and pastimes (such as composing blogs). Although I believe that ultimately nothing but good would come of all this, there have been moments in which I have regretted ever setting this ball into motion.

Relocating is painful on so many levels. Disruption of routine, domestic chaos, and the cosmic joke that now that you are leaving, all that was broken is finally being fixed. And then there is everything that literally comes tumbling out of the closets.

A lifetime of being acquisitive is exposed and I find myself in a state of atonement. Privately, I am glad that most of my collection has been culled from thrift stores, (recycled goods, money to a good cause, and the fact that much of it will go back to where it came from), and that books are my greatest vice.  I am seriously considering the virtues of minimalism but remind myself that even Donald Judd had a capacious library.

The dust will settle.

A week ago I took a break from this process for an appointment at the Benson Henry Mind Body Institute with Dr. Ann Webster. In two weeks I will begin the program she leads to help patients cope with their cancer diagnosis. It is my expectation that I will learn some new techniques for derailing stress.

I also had a very special date with a new friend, Jackie, who had served as a member of a panel at the same conference where I’d first encountered Dr. Webster. I had been taken by Jackie’s words and presence, and contacted her through the site on Etsy, belle hattie, where she sells handcrafted bags.

Jackie and I went out for a late lunch (pancakes, actually) and chatted about, well, everything. We have an astounding number of commonalities. Curious stuff such as a shared belief in certain rituals…we were meant to meet each other and I’m only surprised it took so long.

And now (see above photo) I have truly taken a break from it all to come to Bethesda for a few days in honor of my friend Sally’s birthday. Sally picked me up at the airport in Baltimore on Sunday morning and we stopped at a farmer’s market in Dupont Circle. Dinner was margaritas and fish tacos (she is one of those people who just whips up terrific food like it’s no big deal) . Yesterday we went out for a pan asian lunch, shopped at Ikea and had a treat of ‘tropical’ ice cream at a little cafe in Silver Spring where I had my first saffron and soursap cone.

After a delicious meal of grilled chicken, we took a walk on the historic Towpath along the C & O Canal and the Potomac. Fireflies were winking on and off and cicadas buzzed overhead. We spotted two beavers in the canal and heard an owl. Nature in the midst of a densely populated urban area: I love it.

Last night was movie night with popcorn and The Swiss Family Robinson as Sally’s daughter Ella struggled to stay awake (so did the grown ups) . We succumbed shortly before midnight. They left the house early this morning for a doctor’s appointment, but I slept in and am now finishing this blog far from the pressure of unopened boxes and my own calendar. Luxury!

Sally and Ella will arrive home shortly, and we will wish my friend her official Happy Birthday. And then a few short hours later, I will be back on a plane to New Hampshire. What a lovely break it has been.


The lost teddy bear and netflix movie have been found. I received an all-clear on my brain MRI on Tuesday, and the process of unpacking and settling in continues. We’re getting our ducks in order.

Jamie, Jemesii, and Olive spent the weekend here with me. It was oh so good for heart and head to spend some leisure time with my dear daughter, her husband and their wee dog.

While we were kicking back, David was auditioning for father of the year, by hosting Peter’s airsoft (toy guns with plastic pellets) party all by himself at the house on Blueberry Hill. Twenty four hours with nine boys and their arsenal. Lots of food, rainy weather, two pockmarks on the wall after one of the guests accidently discharged his firearm indoors…a big red welt on Peter’s face from a stray shot…so many unclaimed dirty socks at the end of the party that David and Peter simply threw them in the garbage. I am so glad I wasn’t there. Thank you, thank you, thank you David. Not only an incredible father but a dear husband as well. Next year maybe I’ll host a tea party for Pete’s birthday.

At my appointment in Boston, head trial nurse Marguerite surprised me with a half dozen  of her homemade red velvet cupcakes. I gave one to Irene after my acupuncture (because I love her) and topped off my hospital lunch with another. Thank you Marguerite!

There was yet another treat for me on Tuesday, as my friend, Yuki, was paying a visit to MGH: she has spent the past two years living with her parents in Japan and traveling to Korea to participate in the crizotinib trial. This has been a real hardship, as her husband and two young sons live in St. Vincent, where Yuki doesn’t have access to the medical care she requires. Her current plan is to participate in the Boston cohort of the trial so that she may rejoin her family.

I met up with her in the reception area for international patients, and after registering, she came home with me. David was away on business, but Peter, Yuki and I went out to dinner together. In the morning, Yuki and I had red velvet cupcakes for breakfast (the best cupcake she’s ever had, Marguerite!) and then I took her back to Boston for her appointment with Dr. Shaw. It was wonderful to finally meet my long distance friend.

It was a little past nine when I arrived home.  I awakened Peter and offered him a cupcake for breakfast as well (he just kept saying, oh my god…they really are that good).  After lunch we devoured the last of the six with a cup of strawberry vanilla green tea from Yuki (yummy). Pete and I chatted about her brief visit and how we hope that someday we can meet Yuki’s family in the Caribbean.

Small world; big plans.

As Guillermo would say (has said), time to travel.

I’m going to try to remember…

I have been so topsy turvy moving, that A. I’ve not written a blog for too long and B. that means I’ve likely forgotten at least half of what I meant to write about. Perhaps if I start with the most recent events and work backwards…

Most of our possessions are now at the new house. Keep in mind this has been strictly a do it yourself job. As a result my forearms are developing muscles I’d not known I had but my back is in sorry need of a massage. Much is yet in boxes and bags and we can’t find Pete’s treasured teddy bear or the last netflix we viewed.

Yesterday some guys came for the ‘opening’ of the pool. It basically entailed pulling off the cover, turning on the filter and throwing in some chemicals. Removing a winter’s worth of leaves, pine needles, dead worms and debris is left to us, so I just spent an hour swatting mosquitoes and fishing. We’ve got our work cut out for us.

I spent yesterday at the house on Blueberry Hill; packing up a few final items and doing some housekeeping. The robins under the deck have fledged. I also paid a visit to Mary and Raleigh’s and enjoyed a cold glass of well water and a delicious piece of homemade rhubarb pie. Mary took me out to her garden and showed me a beautiful little nest beneath the grape vines; one sky blue egg now abandoned.

This past weekend I attended a conference in Quincy, The Art of Living, Life Beyond Cancer, graciously put on by the Friends of Mel Foundation.

My friend and fellow lung cancer survivor,  Diane Legg was there and it was super to have a chance to spend a day with her. I gained some useful knowledge and met a few people I’d really like to get to know better. And…I felt sort of out of place. My first clue should have been the title of the conference. The byline was A conference for people facing life after cancer treatment. That’s not me.

There was talk of life ‘beyond’ cancer and plenty of stories from people whose cancer was a harrowing but distant memory. I had that uncomfortable sensation of being the bad news at the good news party. And then I did something really ridiculous: I signed up for a zumba class. I love to dance, but my style is rather…interpretive (not scarves or anything; more like this). I am hopeless when it comes to following a lead, and can barely clap (my hands don’t meet squarely in the middle). However, I have an immense capacity for humiliation so was all for trying, but after a few minutes I just couldn’t catch my breath. I mean, what was I thinking?

When I got home to the ‘new house’ that night, I poured myself a glass of wine, drew a bath, and decided to take a jacuzzi. This is my first jacuzzi and I learned something. Evidently you need to make certain the level of the tub is well above the jets; which I neglected to do. When I turned the jacuzzi on, water began shooting out of the tub like a geyser. Frantic, I kept overshooting off and unintentionally turning it back on. Three times I did this and the tub was half empty and the bathroom soaked before I finally found the sweet spot. Oy vey.

On Friday Peter graduated from eighth grade. Brief little ceremony followed by a reception and dessert. Someone pointed out a big mess on the floor; it looked as if a child had strewn around a brownie (not inconceivable). Mysteriously, more and more of this ‘chocolate’ began to appear and at just about the same time I personally became aware of a sinking sensation. At that moment Peter picked up a large wedge shaped section of, not chocolate, but foam. Kinda looked like the heel of a shoe; which in fact it was. The soles of my sandals were completely disintegrating and (to quote from my favorite movie yet again, “that was me all over” (think Scarecrow in Wizard of Oz). The sandals were tossed in the trash and I left the celebration barefoot, apologetic for the mess, but amused.

On Wednesday David and I attended a production of Peter’s school play, which was a variation on Alice in Wonderland. Peter performed two roles admirably: the March Hare and Tweedle Dee. His classmates all did a fine job as well and the costumes were superb.

On Tuesday I traveled to Chelsea for a brain MRI. Karen, who has been tapping my veins for six years now, was the IV nurse on duty, and it was great to see her and get/give updates on our respective lives and children.

Afterwards I made a quick detour to MGH in Boston where I joined Leslie, her husband Rob and Rob’s sister Marnie. I met Leslie at the NLCP conference in Denver, and they had travelled from the west coast for a consult at MGH with Dr. Lecia Sequist. Rob also has ALK positive lung cancer, and is actively searching for the next best treatment post crizotinib.

Following his appointment, the four of us went out to lunch and chatted as if we’d been friends our entire lives. It’s been a surprising ‘side effect’ of lung cancer; the number of wonderful people I have come into contact with because of my diagnosis. We parted with plans to reunite at some point and just yesterday I got a wonderful package in the mail from my new friends: freshly roasted french beans from Peet’s Coffee. Two cups of joe down, and I think I’m up to speed.