Thursday, December 5, 2013

Season of Gifts

It's not that I don't have a lot to say, it's just that there is so much more to do and so little energy left at the end of the day. Or dinner time. Sometimes by noon. Or 7 am. Sometimes at 6 am I go back to bed. Somedays I feel good. And by good- I mean I extend my radius away from a bathroom by many yards. Then on these days I tend to overdo it. The following days are tough. But I can not complain. I expected so much worse and I know how bad it can get so I am choosing to enjoy the not so awfulness of it.

People say the damnedest things to you. I know there are books and blogs and lists devoted entirely to the subject of stupid sh!$ people say to you when you have cancer. I have had the honor of  hearing some doozies lately and continue to let it roll off my slightly stubbled bald head.  I think I will make a checklist and send it out to my friends and family- maybe a bingo card. Perhaps the prize will be an extra hour of hydration at the chemo bay or an extra dose of zofran. If you impress me- maybe some ativan. The past week was filled with running around and thankfully feeling ok to do it. Not only preparing for Thanksgiving, Phil's birthday but Christmas as well because I never know when my feeling ok luck will run out.

My mailman honks when he has a package to drop off. I have been doing a lot of online shopping.  A couple days ago was the first time I ventured out to grab the package. I don't wear wigs or hats or anything around the house. More often than not I forget them when I go out. If it's sunny, I try to remember- it would be my luck to get skin cancer on my cranium. The mailman looks at me agape- Did you cut your hair for a reason? Now mind you- I love our mailman- he is a sweet man who generally walks packages to the back door if I don't answer the honk. SO I tell him, I cut it because I am going through chemo and it was falling out. So you're in remission then? No I am in chemo. PEOPLE!! REMISSION means no evidence of disease. It's gone, they don't see it-nada, zilch, zero. It means all signs and symptoms of cancer have disappeared. Remission is a feely buzz word that people want to use with cancer because cancer is scary and means pain and suffering. When someone is standing before you bald- they are not in remission. People who have actually had or lived with cancer fear the word remission - it may as well be called the condition that must not be named for letting it part your lips may bait the nasty cancer gods to spite you.

Later that afternoon- I run to Safeway to get items needed for upcoming feast of Thanksgiving. A woman literally is chasing after me- which is quite amusing considering my pace is snailish at best. What treatment are you on? She asks as she steps in front of my cart. Herceptin, Pertuzumab and Abraxane I tell her. Because apparently a bald head is like a pregnant Belly- your biology becomes fair game for chit chat. No. what NUMBER? she chides me. I sigh. Two. I've only had two. Oh don't worry, it will grow back in! She cheers and starts running her fingers through her short red hair- mine came in gray though. Because that was what I was worried about- not how I'm going to find the effort to make thanksgiving side dishes while piecing together tutus for a drama fundraiser, while wondering what I could possibly get my better but not balder other half for his birthday while online shopping to make sure Christmas is merry and jolly here. Oh Don't worry- it should normalize- I cheer back- My daughter's came back in platinum after her chemo when she was 3, but its dark brown now. That's what my doctor said too and she bolts for the wine aisle. That reminds me- I need wine. But I'll come back for it.

Thanksgiving was amazing with many thanks to my sister and brother in law. I think we are all relishing in the availability and choas of family. It's a luxury we don't often have and really we are so grateful. I made 3 side dishes for dinner and it took me as long as the entire dinner usually does. The best way I can describe it it my brain seems to be wrapped in bubble wrap. I'm a little spacey, a little foggy and my memory is crap. Add on the shakes and minor peripheral neuropathy(when your nerves go on strike due to chemo) - cooking presents a few new challenges. The other night for Phil's birthday we had trebuchet gorgonzola stuffed mushrooms. I prepared everything without even until taking them out of the oven when they became steaming little missiles due to an inapporopriately timed muscle weakeness something or other episode. Fortunately no chemo patients or children were harmed in the making of the birthday dinner or dessert. But for the record- when trying to recreate a yummy butterscotch pudding- egg nog is not a good substitute for whole milk.

Priorities have shifted in this house again. And we lead a pretty centered existence. We don't take each other or time for granted and we do let the occasional little thing get our goat- but all in all we try to do our best. Usually I wait to put up Xmas decorations until after Phil's birthday. Yet on his birthday, he wakes up and says- lets do the tree today. And I say- our tree is puny and all of our glamorous mounds of ornaments won't fit. So he says to throw on clothes- we'll go get a tree. And we stop at Kmart because sometimes I luck out there- because everyone goes to Target or Walmart.  They had trees 50% off.  Our luck isn't always so good- so we snatched that tree and brought her home. And that is how amazing my guy is. For his birthday- he wanted me to be happy. And really what can you give a wookie when he already has a comb? Football and Beer. And a wife who smiles everytime she sees the shiny new tree, with room for this year's new ornaments. He is right- when mom is happy, everyone is happy.

Weekends are packed from now until Christmas with work, performances and obligations and a smattering of fun. Every year I say I'm going to take the girls to the Nutcracker and fortunately this year, one of our drama friends is in a production at her school. Check. We have yet to make it down town for the Christmas lights- so when a friend started a group to do the Jingle Rock Run to benefit Make a Wish- yep I signed us up.  Because a week after chemo #3 sounds like a good time as any to do a 5k. It's now or never. I'm not running. Unless there's a fire downtown in the middle of the Jingle Rock Run or immediate child endangerment, but hopefully we will see the lights while giving back to one of our favorite organizations. So check. And check it out if you are interested!! You can Pledge any one of our Mallory clan...we'll all be there! Jingle Rock Run 2013
Lily Mallory Jingle Rock Run Pledge Page
Jen Mallory Jingle Rock Run Pledge Page

Another friend is in a performance of Elf downtown- can.not. miss that!  Holy theatre fun. I have to say I'm enjoying it- and other than the driving to town and potential crowds of people- sitting and watching performances is just my speed. The activity of that alone wipes me out.  Phil keeps asking me what I want for Christmas. What I want can't be wrapped unless it's those arms around me for a long long time. It seems ridiculous to ask for things. All I want is memories and to share them with my monkeys for a long time to come, so far we are making good progress on that!

Monday the 9th is Round 3 of Chemo. It is time to talk scans to see if it's working. I'm hopeful. I feel good, my cough has gone away and the aches and pains have decreased.  We talked about 6 rounds of chemo, yet it seems to be that if it's working there could be more. An infinite number. It's not appealing yet at the same time so much more appealing than the alternative. It's all about perspective. I'm trying to keep mine. And with the hustle and bustle of the season- I have constant reminders of the gifts I have been given- the gifts that I want and the gifts I hope to share for years to come.


  1. Hi there, I was actually reading through a few of your posts and just had a quick question about your blog. I couldn't find any contact info and was hoping you could email me back when you get the chance, thanks!


  2. Hi Emily- You can reach me at!


Lily Kay Monkey

Lily Kay Monkey
November 2008 Photographed by Shelley Detton (7 Layer Studio)