Friday, December 28, 2012

Holiday Wrap-Up 2012

By the light of the tree
Ah, Christmas. It was a beautiful whirlwind of food, loud family gatherings, quiet moments lit only by the tiny white lights of our tree, giving, receiving and downtime. The time span is the same each year, but I can never believe how fast the season goes by. The parties will spill into January with New Year’s Eve celebrations and post-holiday gatherings, but all the hype and sparkles of the season have begun to fade.

We did get a white Christmas here in Connecticut and the snow has continued. Today the sun is shining on a beautiful blanket of white, so it finally feels like legitimate wintertime. Sammy Dog has already managed to slice her foot open on some ice – an annual sacrifice to the season’s new terrain.

This year felt somewhat surreal to me – just a little off. Maybe it was the milder than usual weather leading up to Christmas. Maybe it was the tragedies of the Newtown Elementary School shootings and the tangible sadness felt for those beautiful families. Maybe it was because we rekindled some old traditions and tried to start some new ones, which can bring on a slew of emotions. Maybe it was because I was suffering painful and nauseating constipation from my treatment or that my back and hip pain is again severe. Maybe it was because I continually find myself dumbfounded to have been here for it: my fourth Christmas with cancer. Not sure what that means. I took it all in in a very quiet way, sitting back and observing and appreciating.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Holiday Wishes

Sending you all warm wishes of love, peace and laughs this holiday season. I hope that your days have been filled with family, friends, cookies and naps. That's what's been keeping me busy lately. I'll be back to a regular blogging schedule starting Friday.

Have a very Merry Christmas! Or, if it's another holiday you celebrate, I hope it's fantastically joyous as well.

Lots of love.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Reflections on Tragedy

Photo credit:

Every parent and every educator, everyone who works with children in any capacity, is no doubt projecting the unfathomable tragedy of Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings into their own lives, deeply aching for those reeling from their losses or the devastation they witnessed.

But the reverberation of sympathy doesn’t stop there. There are also those – like me – who are not yet a parent or don’t work with kids on a daily basis, but are still marred by this tragedy, our hearts saddened for the suffering of others. Though we don’t share the same circumstance, we are all still human. We can relate and feel each other’s pain. It is a natural reaction to want to dissipate it, to spread the hurt among us hoping that maybe it’ll make it just a little easier for those central to this horror.

Connecticut is my state. My husband is a teacher. Many of our friends are teachers, one a second grade teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary who survived the shootings and is suffering the loss of her colleagues and so many students. My sister-in-law was good friends with the heroic Vicki Soto who died protecting her students. Another friend studied with and was very close with the special education teacher who was killed. There are many connections to this tragedy that hits very close to home.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Desperately Seeking Relevance: A Story

A story to share that has nothing at all to do with me or the c-word. It's a piece I wrote for a writing class I am taking that asked us to observe a stranger and surmise about their life. Hope you enjoy:

(c) colourbox
His air of importance contrasts sharply with his obvious lack of clout. This man’s influence departed some years ago. It shows in his hair, snow-white and styled in a forgotten fashion that can only be accomplished with that old-man staple: the miniature plastic comb. The unruly strands that spike at his scalp prove the comb was dunked in water, not hair gel. Product is for girly men.
The thread of his heather grey pants that once held a perfect cuff has surrendered over time, leaving his pant bottoms hanging with the weight of the years.
His morning scent of Listerine and Barbasol is a stark contrast to the spicy, sexy fragrances from the young men surrounding us, fingers scrolling down their iPad screens or flurrying across their Blackberry keyboards. Their slim-cut pea coats make his boxy trench look that much more dated.
Balanced on one knee is his first generation laptop. From my vantage point across the train aisle, I can see that his smudged screen holds a game of solitaire, in which he was struggling to find the Aces.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Generation WHY

For all young adult cancer survivors out there – and those that love us. 

The Huffington Post has put together a HuffPost Healthy Living series called "Generation WHY." It is putting the spotlight on young adult cancer patients and survivors between the ages of 15 and 39. 

There are tips, resources, patient stories and perspectives gathered in one place to help bring the young adult cancer movement to a mainstream audience. 

Check it out here:

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Pain, Puppy, and Phlegmy Tissues

Annual Christmas tree hunt on the farm. 
The pain got to be very severe, setting in seethingly Thanksgiving Day night and increasing through that weekend. I talked with my Columbia team, and it was decided to put me on a little pop dose of 50mg Prednisone for a couple of days. If the pain responded to the steroid, it was safe to assume that it was being caused by a tumor flare (a good sign). If the pain did not respond to the increased steroid, it may be lymphoma growth (a bad sign).

With one dose, the seething pain in my back and left side completely dissipated. I’ve  been off the 50mg for a week now and the pain has remained gone. It was likely my body once again getting used to the Revlimid ramping things up after being off of it for a week while my rash cleared.

The perfect tree.
I am pain-free and nearly ache-free as well. However, I have the glassy-eyed, manly voice, and piles of full tissues that are tell-tale signs of a full-blown winter cold. I blame my husband who was sick the week prior for passing it along to me – we share everything, cute, huh? It started with a raging sore throat Sunday morning, moved to head fullness and pressure to crazy sneeze attacks and constant nasal dripping and nose blowing. This morning a rumbly chest cough has joined the scene. ‘Tis the season.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Between a Food Processor and a Popover Pan

Thursday marked one year since Craig’s mom, Linda’s, passing. On that day, the sky literally opened up. I was in New York City by myself – without an umbrella – when an unexpected rainstorm started pouring sheets. Nothing I was wearing was waterproof.

By the time I walked the blocks to my emergency MRI, the rain had soaked through my clothes to my skin, leaving me pruned and chilled. That’s when I got the call from Craig that his mom had passed, that he and his brother were with her when it happened. The skies were crying their own goodbyes.

This year, on that same day, the sky was a vivid, crystal blue and the sun was shining strongly, matching up to the strength of the winter-cold air. Everything smelt fresh, anew, a tangible sense of healing.

We spent many days clearing out Craig’s childhood home and setting it up for sale. On one of many trips between Harwinton and our home, we filled the car with items to keep. This time, we had both his parents in the back seat: his father in the mantle clock he had rested in for the past seven years, his mother packed within a thin cardboard box, nestled inside a nondescript gray paper-handled bag.

Together they rested, wedged between a steel popover pan and a food processor, its bag of attachments spilling onto the seat when we hit the first bump. Watching them teetering at each turn, supported by such mundane objects, I wondered, how can life be so wildly complicated and so achingly simple all at once?