Tag Archives: breast cancer

Getting Better (and Other Miscellanea)

Thank you for all the prayers.

My sister, who’s been undergoing chemo treatment for the past few months for breast cancer, had her surgery yesterday and everything seems well.  Please keep the prayers coming.

Last night was another dart-bonanza.  Just another Friday night hanging out with a friend.  He beat me again.  I’ll figure out a technique.  I’m sure there’s something more than just sip and toss but thus far that seems to be the most fun.  But it would be fun to beat him just once.

Also, my wife, sister-in-law, a cousin, and I are headed out tonight to see one of our favorite comedians.  Promises to be a good time.

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Surprise, It’s Dinner!

A benefit of our travels up north was the opportunity to pay a surprise visit to my sister who is nearing the end of her chemo for breast cancer.

Me and my sister clowning around.

Me and my sister clowning around.

Wife made dinner.

Wife made dinner.

Boy, was she surprised.  And I’m so glad we got to see her.

Keep the prayers coming.

Scenes from a Mall with a Demented Elf

In the course of my life so many strange and/or unusual things happen that sometimes even I forget I am not living a “normal” life.  Last night was one of those nights where I had a chance to see just how bizarre the things that happen to me truly are.

I came home from work just in time to gather my family together for a Norman Rockwell-esque family meal around the hearth.  Actually that never happened.  But it sounds nice, right?  What really happened?  Well, my lovely wife was preparing to head out of town for a few days to spend some time with her sister and a friend.  “Girls Weekends” she calls them.  I think that’s adorable.  Who doesn’t like a little R&R?  And who doesn’t deserve that more than the hardest working woman I know?  That’s why I’m pleased to celebrate this milestone in the life of Aretha Franklin.  Wait, sorry.  Seriously, my wife could always use a break so I’m happy for her.

This oddly resembles the elf in question.  Except our elf was wearing a nurse's cap.

This oddly resembles the elf in question. Except our elf was wearing a nurse’s cap.

Let’s delve a little deeper, though, so I can give you some greater perspective.  Our six year-old son had been a little under the weather for a few days.  Last night, however, he was feeling a bit better.  So after coming home, I got back in the car with my kids and my mother-in-law Wilma to drive my wife and her sister to the airport.  From there it was on to a nearby mall.  The purpose of our visit was to bring the kids to something Wilma had seen advertised recently.  This mall offers holiday shoppers a chance to see Santa in a bit of a different fashion.  Instead of the traditional long line, waiting for hours, and jolly obese man in a red suit on a chair; the kids get to wait on a long line for hours to see a jolly obese man in a red suit on a chair by walking through a mock up of a gingerbread house complete with characters from the movie Shrek!  In fact, we had a reservation for 6:58 PM.  That’s not exact, right?

Son was quiet as we sat in traffic driving through the Metroplex.  “How peaceful,” I thought.  Little did I know what was about to go down.  We parked and walked toward the mall.  My daughter jumped up and down.  “Daddy!  Daddy!  Is that the Shrek house?!”  “No sweetheart, that’s a Cheesecake Factory but I certainly understand your confusion.”  We entered the mall and proceeded down a long corridor.  The sounds of an Andy Williams Christmas tune were wafting from overhead speakers.  As we made our way into the cavernous food court I spotted the Shrek house.  That’s when I also spotted my son, looking green and covering his mouth.  “Buddy, are you OK?” I said as I prepared to crouch down.  He took in a breath, coughed, and vomited on everything in sight.

“I do now, Daddy!” he said, dripping.

That was fun.  Wilma took his hoodie and began cleaning up while I flagged down a security officer to call for further assistance.  After checking to see that he really was OK and realizing that there was certainly no harm in proceeding since we were already there, we made our way to the escalator.  And wouldn’t you know that my daughter suddenly developed a fear of escalators?  Guess who had to carry her down the stairs.

We checked in at the Shrek house.  It was quite the spectacular.  The outer walls were all LCD display screens that made it appear that the characters were opening and closing windows and waving to the folks gathered outside.  It’s a good thing we didn’t have to pay for this.  The kids got a kick out of it, though.

After about a half-hour and with no one actually waiting in front of us a spry old elf came over to us.  She was 90 if she was a day and as I sized her up I noticed two things.  One, she must be authentic because she’s certainly old enough to know the real Santa Claus.  Two, she was wearing a bow in her hair that made me think of Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?  I could not help but stare at that bow.  In fact she was quite the sight in her red and green tights.  I almost did an impression of my son from a few minutes earlier.

She lead us into the house.  At this point she began reciting a script that required her to interact with the Shrek characters on a video screen.  Unfortunately she was too slow in her delivery and Shrek kept cutting her off.  We played her little game, went into the next room and “designed a sleigh”, went into the room after that and “rode a sleigh”.  Finally we were in the last room where we waited another ten minutes until Santa was ready for us.  And as they called our name, we stood up to go forth and meet the big guy.  I looked at Wilma.  She had her head in her hands and looked distraught.  “Aw, don’t worry Wilma.  It’s only an actor playing Santa.  The real Santa’s still at the North Pole.”

Wilma let out a groan.  “Everything OK?” I asked.  Looking up at me, my mother-in-law simply said “No.”  Indicating she needed some air, she proceeded to rush past Santa and out the door.  I didn’t quite know what was going on so I let the kids do their thing.  They were in a daze.  “What do you want for Christmas, young man?” he asked.  My son thought, the constant talker, waited for about two minutes before saying “a scooter, I guess.”  Me and my daughter both reminded him that he already has one of those.  “Oh, right,” he replied.  Baby Girl was not shy but told Santa she wanted Anna and Elsa dolls.  That’s when I reminded her that she has about five of each after her recent birthday party.  Kids…

We left the Shrek house and I called Wilma since I didn’t see her anywhere.  Turns out she had wandered out the nearest door.  The kids and I stepped outside and there was Wilma, sitting on the cold, hard concrete by the door.  Her jacket was off and she appeared out of breath.  Thinking I might need to call an ambulance I started by asking her some basic questions.  “Oh my God!!!  What’s wrong?!?!?!”  I like to keep a calm composure in these situations.  She and I got quickly to the root of the problem.  She hadn’t eaten since breakfast and had been running around all day.  The wait on that line must have caused her blood sugar to drop.  I was just about to go get the car for her when our nanogenarian elf stepped out to be with us.  With her pointy shoes jingling, she came to a stop and placed her hands on her hips.  “Is everything OK?” she asked.  “I’m also a nurse.”

Wilma and I looked at each other and then back at elf-lady.  We both said in unison “WHERE?!”  Ignoring our obvious disbelief she assessed the situation and skipped off to fetch a bottle of water, her shoes still jingling.  Did I mention that she was 8 feet tall?  She must have gotten distracted because the elf who returned was a much younger woman (in fact, the manager).  Eventually we got Wilma up, back into the food court, and situated with something to eat.

On the ride home she confided “I was really scared for a few moments back there.”  “I know,” I said, “I can only imagine what that’s like.  You were clammy and did NOT look good.”  “No,” she replied, “I was scared the elf-nurse was going to want to do an exam!  Then the lady who brought me water was the one with her boobs hanging out of her dress (it was a bit low cut) and she kept kneeling down right in my face.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, it all reminded me that I left the house this morning without my own boobs!”

On the drive home we laughed at the folly of the evening and how wonderful Christmas-time is and how we should never tell this story to my wife.  Oh, the things Wilma forgot?  She had a mastectomy last year.  But at least she’s not an old elf-nurse who’s day job is so horrendous she has to moonlight at the Shrek house.

What Happened to My Hair!?

I shaved my head again!

I had more hair than I realized.

I had more hair than I realized.

The both of you might remember that almost one year ago I shaved my head in solidarity with my mother-in-law, Wilma, who was going through chemo treatments for breast cancer.  Well we’re still kicking cancer’s bony ass but it seems we have to do it one breast at a time.  No, Wilma’s doing great.  This time it’s my sister Mary Ann.  She’s now my second sister to face down this evil, hateful bitch.  One can never be too harsh in reference to cancer.

So this morning, after going to mass, my wife asked me to drive us over to the site of the big fundraiser we had been a part of yesterday.  It’s for my kids’ school.  It was an Oktoberfest and it was a complete success and then some.  I got to emcee.  It was a blast.  But, being the organizers means that we had to clean up the day after.  Hundreds of folding chairs and tables, pumpkins and potted mums had to go somewhere.

“Honey,” I said, “How about I drop you off and while you get started I’ll run back home and start some laundry?”  She was fine with this because we were, as a family, on the verge of running out of… underwear!

That's how we do it.

That’s how we do it.

I went home, started the laundry, and then decided that since I had time I’d also FaceTime my sister and we’d shave our scalps together.  It was actually a fun moment.  At one point, clippers in hand, I started singing Carwash.  “You might not ever get rich… But lemme tell you it’s a-better than diggin’ a ditch…”  Classic.  And my dance to it was even better.

I returned to the festival clean-up, freshly shorn and excited.  And as I was walking across the lawn another one of the dad’s from the school who was carrying some hay bails passed me.

“Hey, heard you’re all cleaned up down below.  You’re wife spilled the beans.”

I nervously laughed and then said “No, I just did the scalp.  Trust me, I’m good.  And, my wife said that?!”

Turns out my precious wife had jokingly related that I was cleaning our laundry so I wouldn’t be without a clean pair of boxers tomorrow but NOT that I was also shaving my head.

Thank God this little girl still loves me (shaved or not).

Thank God this little girl still loves me (shaved or not).

And it only got better folks.  Lots of good natured fun at my expense.  I don’t mind.  I enjoy at least being the center of attention.  There’s no such thing as bad publicity.  But the best line goes to my son.  He spent the day with Wilma on the last day of the State Fair.  Very late this evening they both walked into my kitchen while I was working on a column for another site.  He looked straight at me, paused, and then said:

“Daddy, did you get a haircut?”

If I were feeling like my old man I would have responded:

“No, son, I got ’em all cut.”

 

On a special note, please keep Mary Ann (my sister) in your prayers.  More than anything, the spiritual weapons we possess from God are the real instruments of destruction in this battle (and all our battles).  I greatly appreciate it.  She does too.

Strep, the “Bug”, Spinal Fusion, Mastectomy, Gallstones… Can we catch a break hear?

Over the weekend I got sick.  Not wanting the hassle of an ER visit I decided to hold off and just try to wait it out until Monday morning.  Well, on waking up I decided to get showered, shave my sideburns into perfect mutton chops (I’m a big Grover Cleveland fan), and gel my hair better than Frankie Valli I all so I could be ready to get into the doctor should they have an opening.  Around the time I was grabbing my towel my wife was talking on the phone.  Her mother, my dear mother-in-law Wilma, had apparently had a bad morning of pain and had – ready for this – driven herself to hospital.  We quickly decided that we would both go to drop the kids at school, then I would drop my wife off to be with her mom while I tried to get into my doctor.  I left her at the ER downtown and headed off to have my strep throat verified and receive a prescription.  I could tell you about it but I think it best at this point to include an email I sent to my dearest friend Dan.  He suggested I reblog it unedited.  The thing is we’re two guys.  We’re from New Jersey.  We’ve known each other a long time.  I’ll redact some parts for the pure of heart.

Dear Dan,
Ever have strep throat, Dan?  Have you ever experienced the disgusting hours of feeling like your throat had just been sliced up by a rusty razor blade – the kind you bought because it sounded like an awesome idea at the time to pay $20 for a razor with 7 blades and then your wife started using it on her legs and you were all “WTF?  Get your own damn razor so it just sits on a shelf in the shower because you won’t touch it anymore and she’s totally done with it after one use…”  Where was I?  This **** is nasty.  I mean, really, really nasty.  Yesterday the nurse said to me “Blood pressure is a little high.”  Actually she said “blood pressure’s a little hahh, sweetie.”  She was speaking a particular dialogue of Texan I refer to as Dixie Belle Bimbo.  Told her about my morning, dropping my wife off at the ER to check on her mom.  “Don’t you ****ing lecture me on blood pressure you ******.” I told her.  She looked at me a little confused.  “I’m sorry.  I confused you with another medical professional I used to know.”  She swabbed my throat and left me sitting there.  I had my choice of a magazines sitting in a basket.  Fourteen copies of Cosmo, one Popular Mechanics, and three of WebMD the Magazine.  Not a terrible magazine I just couldn’t search for fun stuff like strep.

The nurse practitioner came in.  She says “I understand you have high blood pressure.”  I shot her a death stare.  “Don’t even start with me.  I’m here because of my throat.”  “Well, first, let’s check you out.  She proceeded to listen to my lungs and my heart.  I think she was just feeling me up.  Still not sure why she had to check my *****.  When she finally got around to looking in my mouth she just said “Oh my God that’s the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen!”  Why thank you.  “I’m sorry,” she added, “It’s just…  I’ve never seen this many large pus pockets in one place before.”  I looked at her.  “You’ve obviously never been to DC.”  In the distance I could here a rimshot.  Then she sent me off with a prescription for a bottle of pills larger than an old brick phone.
Bottom line.  Don’t ever get this *****.
What am I looking for again?

What am I looking for again?

Now then, Wilma’s problem turned out to be a gallstone.  Do we forget that I recently had a spinal fusion and she recently had a double mastectomy after several months of chemo?  My wife spent last night at the hospital and I had a wonderful time with the kittens.  I woke up this morning already feeling better from those horse pills, got ’em dressed, and drove them off to school.  Well, Sonny Boy requested that “free day” that Mommy had promised him so after walking Baby Girl to the door, Sonny Boy and I headed back home.  We were in the middle of a History Channel show when I suddenly started to feel ill.  No, this wasn’t the strep making a nasty resurgence.  It was something different.  This, my friends was a stomach bug.  Just as I was getting up to head to the bathroom my wife and her mom returned home.  I passed off my son and found my way to my bed where I slept for the next six hours.

Spent the rest of the day just feeling queazy, not myself.  Good news, I didn’t have to take too many pain pills since I wasn’t in too much pain.  Bad news, I couldn’t have kept them down anyway.  Now at 11:22 at night I seem to be feeling a little better and I hope it’s all gone by the morning.
As Wilma was getting ready to leave tonight I went to help her to her car.  “Hun, can you grab that back off the floor for me.”  I grunted as I bent over.  We laughed.  “Oh, I’m sorry.”  “No,” I replied, “It’s OK.  Gotta get back to this sooner or later.  Hey, do you think you could help me change the trash bag so I can take it out to the curb?”  Again, we laughed.  She looked back as we were both struggling with a 13 gallon bag and said “We’re like a couple of broken toys here!”  We laughed some more.  “Except I’m probably more broken than you.”  Well, I’m not competitive but I had to reply “Listen lady, you may have lost your boobs and a gallbladder but I had my spine cut in half.  Twice!  And now I have strep and a damn flu!”
We’ll call it a draw.
Keep praying for us both.  As Wilma would say, “Love to all!”

B-9… BINGO! (Benign)

Amen!

Amen!

I left the hospital around 11PM last night so I could relieve the babysitter (my wife’s cousin who had work the next morning).  Around an hour and a half later, my lovely wife, Mrs. Harvey, texted to tell me:

“She’s out of  surgery and doing OK and her lymph nodes are benign!”

Well there’s some happy news, right?  Please continue to pray for her recovery.  The next few weeks will probably be difficult.

Also, please share this post if you like.  Perhaps others will see it and share it and the prayers will spread around.  Thank you!

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Celebrating Life

While we’re at it; a very happy birthday to everybody’s favorite cancer warrior, Wilma!  Many happy returns to the world’s greatest mother-in-law!  Please remember to keep her in your prayers.  The chemo’s done.  Surgery is up next.  God has been so good to us.

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