Tag Archives: cancer survivor

A brothel in its former life (seen from the bathroom window)

Jerome, AZ

Jerome, AZ

Today I was going to get serious about my book–didn’t I say that yesterday?? What was I thinking? Instead we traveled to Sedona to see Dan, a friend of ours from back in NH who is a snow bird, just like we are now. It’s further up there than we thought–over two hours, and that’s in the HOV lane–and we got a late start (someone had to take a shower and do her hair).

It’s about 15 degrees cooler up there so I was happy I remembered my fleece jacket. We actually ran into some rain on the way up. Rain!

We ventured to Jerome for lunch, with Steve receiving just a warning–no ticket–for speeding and failing to stop at a stop sign. Jerome is an old mining and “ghost” town, about the elevation of Mount Washington, that appears to have most of its original buildings still standing, without any renovations, or if there are any, they are done “tastefully.”

Looking out the window of the bathroom at the restaurant where we had lunch I could see what was obviously a brothel in its former life. And hanging on the walls for decorations were vintage corsets and garters and things I couldn’t identify. Dan will be 90 this July–maybe I should have asked him if he knew what they were?? Without doing any research, I can say unequivocally that Jerome must have been a happening place back in the day!!

Kathy, my Pilates instructor in Vermont, is reading a book that takes place in Jerome. I’ll add it to my list of “must reads.” I can always rely on her recommendations.

In our absence (she must have been afraid I would buy another t-shirt), Joy visited Goodwill and brought home two “new” jigsaw puzzles. While she and Steve were busy carting Tyler to football practice and Haley to gymnastics, I was occupied with setting up one of the puzzles. Although we had vowed not to do another puzzle after the last one, Joy, Haley, and I didn’t hesitate to gather around the dining room table for an hour and work on the new one. We refrained from getting out the head lamps this time but we certainly could have used them. I imagine my writing group members will identify this as creative procrastination. I suppose I could have been out shoveling snow as I know some of them were!!

No word from my doctor on the results of the CT scan or the blood work. Tomorrow I will call as they don’t seem to be the ones to initiate the calls. Did I mention how much I miss DHMC?

2014 is MY year

Words for the New Year

Words for the New Year

My wild and fearless daughter, Joy, has challenged her blog (Chakras in the Suburbs) followers to choose a word for 2014 in lieu of setting any New Year’s resolutions. I’ve been pondering my options for a few days now, especially in light of the fact that I already have failed to keep at least one of my New Year’s resolutions—to post on my blog on a regular basis.

A lot has happened since I last posted. I’m in Virginia, for starters. The polar vortex has come and gone–thank goodness. I’ll soon start the final leg of my journey to Arizona. To warmer temperatures-thank goodness. Though I hate to leave my granddaughters after two short weeks, I am excited about visiting Charleston, the Andersonville prison, New Orleans, San Antonio, and El Paso.

Joy chose two words. I’m not certain I can limit myself this year to just two—so many come to mind.

Gratitude: because I am over a year cancer-free and alive and able to enjoy my family, friends, and life. (Even with the problems the mitotane creates.)

Creativity: because I will write this year. Lots and lots of words.

Focus: because I will live in the here and now of whatever I am doing. Drinking that first cup of coffee in the morning. Listening to my granddaughter read her book at bedtime. Riding eight hours a day in the car until we stop for the night on our trip to Arizona…..what’s eight hours anyway when it took us 15 to get to Virginia?

Embrace: because I will open my arms and welcome whatever comes my way—new situations, new people, new feelings.

Fun: because I deserve it. Because I’ve never been very good at it—even with my best friend Judy’s prodding.

Love: because I will work at doing a better job of opening my heart to those who are close to me. For where would I be without them?

Charity: because, even with my ACC, I have so much more in my life than so many others. Compassion, tolerance, kindness, empathy, all fall within this category. Wow! This is definitely going to be the hardest word for me to work on.

Maybe making resolutions is the easy way out after all……

Gratitude

I can’t think of a better time than the day before Thanksgiving (I’ll be a little busy cooking on the actual day to post) to acknowledge all of the people I am grateful for, can you? It’s been quite a year—I spent Thanksgiving in the hospital last year and I don’t think I was even able to eat anything that day. Unfortunately my family was subjected to eating in the hospital cafeteria (though the food is pretty good there).

Of course, family comes first. My husband’s last day of work is today. Never would have thought I would be retired before him, though only by a few months; after all, he is four years older than I am! I’ve put him through a lot this past year but I can’t remember him complaining once. He’s my hero, my rock. My three daughters have all managed to fit time into their busy schedules to keep track of and support me and if they can’t be here, they and their families keep in touch via FaceTime. My mother’s nightly 7 p.m. phone calls have kept us connected—she keeps me posted on what she ate for lunch at the Senior Center! My extended family has all been there for me as well (sisters, in-laws).

How could I have managed without all of my friends this past year? They were here for me before my surgery and during my six weeks of recovery after the surgery–and they haven’t given up on me. My “work” friends even surprised me with a turkey dinner (a craving related to being deprived of a Thanksgiving dinner last year) to celebrate my birthday this month!

My doctors, Dr. Seigne, Dr. Ernstoff, Dr. BelBruno, Dr. Homan, and all of the many others who made my surgery and stay at DHMC a success (fingers crossed!) are priceless. I’m so appreciative of the wisdom, albeit it remotely, of Dr. Hammer at the University of Michigan, as well as the willingness of my doctors here to value it.

My writing group has helped me focus on what’s important to me. No paycheck comes from the time I invest in writing, and yet it’s the hardest work I’ve ever done in my life. It’s what I do just for myself, it’s my “dream.” Not come true by any means…especially since I will NOT succeed at NaNoWriMo this year.

Mainly I’m grateful that I am still alive, and cancer-free, after one year, and here to enjoy cooking another Thanksgiving dinner, surrounded by family and friends and food.

Betsy Ross Reincarnated??

One year ago today was a momentous day for me–I was operated on for adrenal cortical cancer. My CT scan this October was stable. I met with my oncologist yesterday and my endocrinologist on Monday and everything appears to be fine. I guess that means I am one year with no evidence of disease (NED)!

The only issue is that damn mitotane that I am taking to try and keep any possible microscopic cancer cells from growing. It’s nasty stuff! And the long-term side effects are of major concern. But I’ve reconciled myself to the mitotane being the lesser of two evils.

Unfortunately, I don’t really know if the mitotane is working. It is effective in only 20-30% of those who subject themselves to it. Would I still be NED at this point without taking the mitotane? If only there were more than 350-500 new ACC patients a year, if only ACC were not an ultra-rare cancer…yet given all that, there is ongoing research for new treatments, for which I am extremely grateful.

And with Thanksgiving a week from today, it’s a good time to think about everything I am thankful for. (Why wait for a holiday to do that?) More on that to come….

Betsy Ross

Betsy Ross

To celebrate my one-year anniversary, I have spent the morning doing something just for me. I submitted my initial contact to the Daughters of the American Revolution. My fourth great-grandfather, Edmund Welch, served in the Revolutionary War. He was in the battle of Lexington/Concord on April 19, 1775, the battle that started the war, and served for various periods of time after that. I know this not from ancestry.com but from a genealogy book that has been in the family for years. This is a fact I seem to have missed all of these years yet I have always felt an affinity for the Revolutionary War (even thinking at one point that I was Betsy Ross reincarnated—really!). I know the process for being accepted into the DAR requires a lot of work so it may take me some time to complete it. I am hopeful that the fact that the genealogy book is on file in the library of the Daughters of the American Revolution in Washington, D.C. will expedite the process.

Update on NaNoWriMo: I don’t think I will hit 50,000 words by the end of the month as I am currently at just under 10,000. I have no explanation or excuses unless laziness qualifies….

Enjoying the ride

Taking a breakAt the end of Steve’s workday last week, we were out the door and on the motorcycle within five minutes. It was 87, blue skies all around us, hot, and humid. Storms were expected but by the looks of the sky they wouldn’t be here for some time. We rode up through Easton, stopped in Franconia and split a grinder then noticed the sky looked ominous toward the west. We headed for home via Sugar Hill then back the way we came on Route 112. It was obvious it was going to be close if we would make it home before the storm hit.

I was tense sitting on the back of the Harley, wondering if I would get hit by lightning or a falling tree. Suddenly I relaxed, realizing that if it was meant for me to go tonight—by go I mean die, of course—then so be it. Even when I saw the lightning and the rain drops on my helmet visor, I wasn’t overly concerned. I did spend some time thinking about possible places to shelter but left it up to Steve to decide what to do. Go for it was his decision, taking us on the dirt road by what my family calls “Pig Cemetery.” (A lifetime ago there were three pink baby pigs running around the cemetery!)

I actually stopped trying to control things twice that night. First I let Steve decide on the best approach for getting us home during the storm—hard to communicate anyway when you are wearing helmets!

The second time was when I just sat back and said “whatever.” If my time is up then no amount of worrying is going to change it. The girls will figure out the finances. Someone will take the cats. (But who will finish my novels??)

I wouldn’t have felt this way before my cancer diagnosis. Sure, now that I’ve had to endure the surgery and treatment, I certainly hope to live a lot longer. I want to see my grandchildren grow up to have children. But I can accept it if I don’t. What choice do I have?

That night I basically turned myself over to my higher power and enjoyed the ride. That’s pretty much what riding a motorcycle is all about anyway. As is living with cancer.

S is for Survivor

It’s mid-July and farmers are trying to get in a second haying. Trying because we’ve had rain every day for about the last month, with some rainfall significant. This is their window of opportunity as we’re promised a dry spell for a few days.

I always feel like getting back into finishing my book about Anne whenever I smell the freshly mown hay and see the rows lying in the fields, waiting to be bundled into bales or rolled into those gigantic marshmallows that have become the norm. In the book, that’s when Anne feels close to Christian. After “Fifty Shades of Grey,” I’m not certain his name will remain Christian but that’s what happens when it takes you 27 years to complete a project—someone else steals your characters’ names–even your ideas.

Not to imply that I am anywhere near completion. Actually have no idea how much more work it will take for me to finish it but I certainly won’t be able to write “The End” (and mean it) without spending time every day working on it. I keep saying once I get the Chamber tax information to the accountant and all of the visiting family has returned home and the books are closed on the sold apartment building I will have entire days spreading out before me in which I will be able to attack Anne. Sounds so violent. But at least it implies expending energy, which I’ve been lacking. Or is it simply motivation?

Saturday was the Prouty, the Dartmouth-Hitchcock event to raise money for the Norris Cotton Cancer Center—my cancer clinic. Visited the SAG (Stop and Go) site in Newbury that’s sponsored by Wells River Savings Bank for the bicyclists. Katie, herself a breast cancer survivor, had written my name at the top of the memory board. In large letters with an “S” next to it for survivor. Not something I ever expected to see. I don’t mean the “S” of course just my name on display as a victim of cancer.

I was proud to be standing there as a survivor. Weird.

Why should I be proud? I’ve really done nothing to be where I am at this point. It’s the doctors and other health professionals who have gotten me here. And they are the ones we should be honoring.

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