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Cancer Daily Dispatches

A personal daily diary of successful cancer treatment.

Welcome to the story of my cancer journey

I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in 2014 and had chemotherapy, surgery and radiation. I originally wrote these dispatches to help me sort out the impact that cancer diagnosis and treatment had on my feelings of mortality and my sense of myself. Mostly I was just trying to keep it together. Along the way I transformed from a normal middle-aged woman into Furiosa. Not necessarily what I was going for, but I'm okay with it.

Hopefully these stories from my experience will help you feel less alone in yours. 

June 15, Saturday


  • 6 Oct 2018 6:16 AM | Contact Me (Administrator)

    It feels good to be alive in this body. Joyful. Full of life. That is reason enough for me. Keep up the healthy lifestyle. It doesn’t have to prevent cancer, or cure cancer either. 

    Got an email from B, confirming her trip here at the end of the month, and getting into details, like where she should store her luggage if she wanted to walk around the old port with her kids before they came up to our place. Why would I know a thing like that? She makes her living organizing things for people and getting all these details right, and pursuing them. This is who she is and what she does, and we share a similar job and we understand each other, and that’s one of the reasons we are friends. I was annoyed, unfairly because she has no way to know that I might be in cancer treatments when she comes and I don’t know anything about how I will feel then. She didn’t know anything about what I’m going through. If I don’t tell her, how could she know? Can’t blame her for being insensitive if she doesn’t know what is happening in the first place. So I wrote back and I told B about the whole cancer thing, and that I might be starting chemo on the 15th, but I don’t know yet if that will really happen, or anything about what that means for how I will feel at the end of the month if it does.  And of course she reacted with sympathy, concern, kindness and flexibility. 

    I admit it, telling people that I might have cancer has been a way to get people off my back. It has been a way to get rid of petty annoyances. S quit bugging me about the video he wanted me to find for him when I told him about the cancer. B will quit asking where to store her suitcases. P quit asking me to dig up that old recipe for her.

    Right now I am having the advantage of saying I have cancer, without having the disadvantage of actually going through any kind of treatment - yet. So far it’s just been a lot of tests. And they’ve basically been fairly non-invasive tests too. Nothing like the torture-chest-lymph biopsy that lung cancer lady told me about. My straightforward needle biopsy was the worse thing, and it has mostly healed. Even the bruise has mostly healed. And the worst of it was that one guy acting badly and not inherent in that biopsy process itself. 

    I miss the kids. I miss living with pets. I dreamed that I was in the bed downstairs at their house. I kept hearing dogs and cats walking around this house. But it was only my husband. It's just me and my husband here. Just the two of us. Any time I hear footsteps or noises it's not a dog or a cat, it's him. Us two. This journey will be mainly the two of us. 

    Today is Saturday and I’m getting back into my old health routine. I'm going to go to the Y, I'll have that nice long sauna, I'll swim for an hour and it'll feel good to unkink my body. I walked when I was at the kid’s place, but not that much, and I'm sort've stiff, and of course, stressed out. And I'll have a good whirlpool at the Y too. A nice massage on all my joints. They have strong jets at the Y and all of us gals are shameless about contorting ourselves to get our sore joints in front of a good jet. It’s a great way to get a good massage on knees, ankles, elbows - whatever joints could use it. 

    This guilt trip which many cancer patients have been led into (you see, it is a shameful thing because you could have prevented it if only you had been more…) is an extension of the blame-the-victim syndrome.

    Audre Lorde, The Cancer Journals,1980

    How do I feel about this health routine?

     I have been living a healthy lifestyle. Exercise, good food. I lost weight last year. Disciplined. P was doing the same thing, even teaching aerobics at the Y, when she got her cancer. She felt betrayed. She felt that her body had betrayed her. What do you expect from a healthy lifestyle? I knew I had a family history of cancer, I did not think a healthy lifestyle would prevent cancer. Not in me. I just wanted to feel good. Mostly that was it. It feels good. I don’t think it made any or much difference in me getting cancer. But it has made a big difference in how I feel, and how I look, and how strangers and acquantences treat me me on account of how I look. Mostly I just feel good. I look around and see people my age with a lot of chronic health problems and I think my six days a week exercise lifestyle, home cooked, real food meals has spared me some of that. 

    Self scrutiny and an evaluation of our lives, while painful, can be rewarding and strengthening journeys toward a deeper self. 

    Audre Lorde, The Cancer Journals,1980

    But mostly it just feels good. Alive. Energetic. It’s ‘alive’ it’s that fully alive feeling, that’s the reason I have the healthy lifestyle. That’s the reason I take time to exercise six days a week. And that I also just run around a lot generally when I’m not officially ‘exercising’ . I feels alive, and it feels good to be alive, it feels good to be alive in this body. Joyful. Full of life. That is reason enough for me. It doesn’t have to prevent cancer, or cure cancer either. 

    It won’t cure my cancer. Shutting the barn door after the horse is gone. Too late to detox this cancer away even if I did believe in it. 

    But once cancer is present, it cannot be reversed or diminished by a move to a a better (that is less carcinogenic) environment. 

    Susan Sontag, Illness as Metaphor, 1978

    Yesterday I watered all the plants. 

    Today I'll finish off the unpacking. Pack up L’s new clothes and mail them to her. Clean up my office. Find a place to hang the Moose's ashes picture. That'll be enough for today. Getting back into the groove today. My rut. Enjoying it while I can. Before the changes. 

    Dispatched: Oct 6

  • 5 Oct 2018 5:19 AM | Contact Me (Administrator)

    Visible signs of health: clear skin, good teeth, shiny hair. Being madly in love. They have social currency. When you’re sick you don’t just lose your health. You lose social standing too. Luckily for humanity - love is blind. 

    Disease occurs in the Illiad and the Odyssey as supernatural punishment, as demonic possession,

    Susan Sontag, Illness as Metaphor, 1978

    I'm back in Montreal, back in my chair, in my spot. I'm still coughing. I'm still not well, but I'm not so sick I have to stay in bed either. Last night I went to bed and slept from 10pm until around 8 or 9, deeply all night long. Me back in my own bed. Not having to get up for to take kids to school and soccer games. Me not being alone and responsible for kids and pets. I could relax and let it go. 

    While I was gone my husband framed the picture of Moose's ashes going into Lake Superior. It looks really nice. He bought me a  3D gizmo to take 3D pictures on my phone. That's really cool. He bought me cute little gourds instead of flowers and put them around the house. He's happy to have me back again. Even if I do still have a cold, even if I am coughing all the time.

    Thursday was a travel day. It was a smooth trip again this time too. Everything was about right, except that there was a funny human moment on the last leg of the flight. There was this woman that I noticed earlier in the waiting area. She was dressed in clothes that were a bit more interesting than most. She even had on the same wild, recycled socks that I buy, I recognized them. But she was also very prissy. Tall thin woman with short man-styled hair, no make up, thin, tight lips. Very proper and contained. 

    Over the top of my book I watched two other couples in the waiting area. They were a theme. One was a man who could not quit smiling. He was a handsome man. Middle aged. Completely, beaming happy, couldn't stop smiling. He was with a plain looking, dowdy middle-aged woman. She was not smiling, but she wasn't grumpy either. She was just - normal. She was just a normal person waiting for a flight. He was a guy in blissful happiness. And she was the reason, he did have a moment where he hugged her head and ruffled her hair, pure joy in her. She smiled. But that was it. This was entirely him being in love/happiness. She was just going along with it. Tolerating it.

    And the other couple was also middle-aged but the exact opposite. Here it was the attractive woman who was beaming and smiling and full of joy. Dressed up, high heels, leopard top, make-up, hair done, but mostly just so happy looking. The man was a geeky, sweater and jeans, skinny, glasses, not much to him guy. And he was okay with being smiled at, and being beamed at. But he wasn't smiling and beaming back. Interesting. 

    There is that saying that in any couple one person is the one who is more in love. You could really see it in those two couples. Is that a middle aged thing? That people are more willing to accept a relationship if the other person is madly in love, and you're just okay with it? And it's also interesting that it was the more attractive person in each of these situations that was the one who was acting smitten. Interesting. Perhaps it’s being smitten and in love that makes you more attractive? 

    On the airplane I did get seated beside the prissy woman. She was chatty at first. The first thing she said was that she guessed that I was going back home. I am dress with the sophistication of my city. Cool. I was wearing my travelling soft pants and t-shirt, with a red one underneath, my green jacket, a long scarf with greens, browns and reds, red shoes. We were friendly enough, but then I fell asleep. And I lost my inhibitions, and my front as a healthy person. I slept with my mouth hanging open, and then I had a coughing fit every time I woke up and had to suck on cough candies to get it under control. That poor woman was so grossed out that she went silent and leaned far away from me. Did not talk to me anymore. And she got up and out of her seat the very first second that she could. That's the second time this fall that I've actually scared somebody with my grossness. 

    This was also because ebola was all over the news in the airport waiting rooms. And I burnt myself cooking pork chops the day before, so I had burn marks and even a big blister on my hand, and little blisters on the bottom of my chin where the grease had splashed up. So, you see that, and then add in the runny eyes, coughing and drooling. Well. I looked sick. And we were stuck on a plane together. 

    It makes a difference if you look sick. 

    Disease, which could be considered as much a part of nature as is health, became the synonym of whatever was “unnatural”. 

    Susan Sontag, Illness as Metaphor, 1978

    Nobody talked to me when I went on that conference to London a few yeas back. They actually shunned me. And I didn’t really understand why, I thought they were just rude, until I looked in the mirror and saw the flat yellow eyeballs that went with my 103 temperature. 

    That’s the thing about illness. It does put people off. Visible signs of health: clear skin, good teeth, shiny hair. Being madly in love. They have social currency. When you’re sick you don’t just lose your health. You lose social standing too. 

    I got over that fever in London. I’ll get over this cold. I wasn’t ever going to die from either of those, and they were still socially off putting. I’ve always thought this whole bald-is-beautiful thing that goes with breast cancer was a bit silly. This focus on appearance in the face of a deadly disease seemed frivolous and a bit embarrassing for womanhood, made us victims of the billion dollar beauty industry. But now I get it. More than before anyway. 

    But it’s not the beauty industry that will save you, it’s your relationships with those special people, those two of us connections, the people who know and love you so well and so deeply that they don’t really see you from the outside anymore. That’s what gets you through it -  just like any other illness. And feeling that connection even when you are far apart, the way it gives you strength even if you are physically in the airplane all by yourself just trying to get home, that’s where you get the extra courage you need to ignore Disgusted Lady sitting up close in the seat beside you and just get home again.

    Dispatched: Oct 5

  • 4 Oct 2018 5:39 AM | Contact Me (Administrator)

    I would glance in the rearview mirror and our eyes would meet and connect, it was always there. Us two. That moment of unique connection in a car full of people.  I will miss you when I go, the two of us, both of us. Us two. 

    These are the last days of my time as part of my bigger family. I am so content just to be. Be with my kids, be with my grandkids. Let the rush and crush of a vigorous multigenerational family life just wash over me. Playing my role as grandmother now, at the head of the line, now that both my parents are gone. Now that all the great-grandparents are gone. 

    L wanted to have grandchildren. She had one daughter and she used to get so mad at her for staying home and doing her homework. How can I get grandkids if she just stays home all the time. Studying. Perfectly healthy young woman, studying all the time. That’s no way to get grandchildren. I don’t know if she has grandchildren now, I don’t know if she knows if she has grandchildren. 

    I remember when my sister had L over for supper that time we did the multi-media training workshop in my sister’s city. My sister’s mother-in-law was the grandmother then, the elder then. How she talked with L about ice cream. They compared recipes. Fat, berries, bits of sea weed to make it smoother. Freeze it, mash it, eat it. Same thing. Really. Except L’s recipe was seal fat instead of cow fat. 

    L explained how you didn’t get to be an elder just by getting old. Some people, most people actually, just get old without ever becoming elders. But some do, every generation there are always some who do become elders. There are signs and stages that they go through, people watch for the signs. One of them is coming to the realization, sometime in your middle age that you don’t actually know anything. You know nothing. That is the first sign of becoming an elder. Sometime in your 50s. That realization. If you don’t go through that stage then you can’t do any of the rest of the stages to becoming an elder. Then you just get old without becoming wise. 

    L was always learning, always curious. She would have become an elder. I remember how we walked around my sister’s backyard after dinner. My sister told her all the trees and plants in the perennial border. L was interested in every one of them, how it grew, why it was there, what you did with it. And then we came to the garden patch. L pointed to the ferny fronds. What is that? Carrots. Carrots? Disbelief. The carrots at the Northern Store are not green and leafy. My sister pulled a carrot out of the ground to prove they were really carrots. L gasped and stepped back.  It’s a root. See. The carrot part is underground. Our southern land with deep soil. Soil deep enough for deep roots. Carrots and trees. 

    Years later when we were at a children’s television conference in Germany  a producer from PBS who lived in California sat down with us and said to L, I hear that your people have 40 words for ‘snow’. Why would you have that? L answered right off the bat, I hear that your people have more than a hundred words for ‘tree’. Why would you have that? I loved L for the look on that producers face. 

    We don’t have tress in the Arctic one word is enough for us. 

    In Inuktitut there are specific words for specific relationships and feelings. A single well known word to simply name an experience that we need to describe with a whole bunch of words in English. There are similar words in English that we lost when the printing press forced us to move a piece of lead for every letter. English had to economize at that point in it's history. I have always thought those ideas around words and feelings and relationships were way more interesting than the multiple words for snow and trees. 

    The two of us, us two, you two.  

    A whole series of words for the two of us. The special bond between two people that is also recognized and appreciated by everyone outside that little unit. 

    The two of us: young husband and bride. 

    The two of us: best friend cousins at eight years old. 

    The two of us: old men hunting buddies. 

    The two of us grandmother and grandson - a pair, a special closeness that deserves it’s own name. And not every grandmother and grandson have that relationship. Me and my grandson. Also you two - you two, grandmother and grandson. 

    I miss you. 

    I miss you the way a wife misses her husband when he dies after he has walked beside her for all their adult lifetime. I miss you the way a child misses his mother while he's in daycare. I miss you the way a grandmother misses her grandson when she has to leave again. 

    But us two - grandmother and grandson - we always stay close even at a distance. When he was very little, barely talking, he would watch the weather for my city on TV and then speed dial me with his dad’s phone, let me know if it would be okay for me to go outside without a coat that day. The two of us used to play video games together online, on Saturday mornings while the rest of our two different households in two different cities slept-in. Now he’s becoming a teenager, and that means he’s sleeping in himself these days. 

    But we still have that easy closeness and understanding. Ever since he was a tiny baby in his car-seat, I would glance in the rearview mirror and our eyes would meet and connect, it was always there. Us two. I will miss you when I go, but this us two, grandmother and grandson relationship will still be there when we see each other again. Relationship. 

    My son. 

    My granddaughter. 

    My daughter-in-law.

    This cat, this dog, this family bursting with life all around me. My family. 

    L and I. Us two friends. Us two Career women. Family women.  I am afraid to go back to the hospital for more tests or treatment. I am afraid of treatment that might rob me of my brain. 

    Living with Cancer? Changes in thinking.

    Dispatched: Oct 4

  • 3 Oct 2018 5:32 AM | Contact Me (Administrator)

    My friend L took me on a marvellous adventure into her world. She saved me when I couldn’t keep up. I wasn’t able to save her when she came into my world. Hospitals. This modern medical world. I couldn’t help her. I couldn’t save her. 

    Sometimes you can’t convince the powers that be that you are human no matter what you do. That biopsy guy was never going to come around no matter how much I bested him in our battle of wits. No matter how many times I made him laugh. Not even if I had still been in my younger, more beautiful days, those days when I commanded respect from men simply by looking young and beautiful, slightly exotic. Nothing would have helped me with that biopsy guy expect for more testosterone and the physical acrutements that go with that. 

    L’s family in Iqaluit were not so sure about me either. There was muttering when she brought me down to the boat for our day’s excursion ‘on the land’. She didn’t translate everything for me, but I got the gist of it. They thought I would die. Qallunaat are weak and die like new-born babies when you take them out on the land. They didn’t have anything against me personally except for my peoples’ proclivity for dying, and how it would be bad for them if they had to bring me back dead. And in my mind, knowing how everybody has to do their share, nobody can be along ‘just for the ride’  I was a bit worried that I would not be able shoulder my share of the work. 

    I had the wrong kind of boots. To start with I was so stupid that I wore the wrong kind of boots. Hiking boots. Not gum boots. There are no docks in the Arctic where the ocean itself freezes into a big grinding wall of ice every year. To get into a boat you have to wade out into the Arctic Ocean and then climb over the side of the boat. L found me a rock, I could step from the shore to the rock and from there into the boat. I could do it without getting my feet wet. Even I knew that it would be a bad thing to get my feet wet. My dad taught survival courses. My dad was in the war. Keep your feet dry. It was a big rule of my childhood. 

    I tried not to be a new-born baby. I really tried. But L did have to cover for me when I was wasn’t strong enough, she pulled the whole canvas tent, and made it look like the two of us were doing it together, they couldn’t see from the other side of the boat that is was all her, half my size, but I just wasn’t strong enough to do it. And the best I made it to on that day was ‘toddler’. No where near adult and doing my share. I couldn’t pick clams, the young girls they sent me out with scoped them up from the sand like they were cans on the shelf at the grocery store. But those darn clams always knew the second I looked at them and they dove deep for cover. Nobody can dig fast enough to get them from their deep sand hiding spots. 

    In my defence I will also say that I was born a prairie girl, lived all my life on the prairies, and so had no clue about tides. And although I knew that Frobisher Bay had the second highest tide in the world after the Bay of Fundy I had no clue what that meant. I didn’t think I’d been out that long. I didn’t pay enough attention to the group around me, and didn’t notice where I was in relation to them until I noticed a river running in front of me blocking my path. That’s when I looked up from the devious little clams and I saw that I was far from everyone, surrounded by rapidly rising rivers on all sides of my little sand bar. Keep your feet dry. I was all alone, by myself, in the Arctic. With the ocean eating away at my little sand island. It’s a cold ocean up there in the Arctic. 

    L saved me. She appeared out of nowhere, told me to stay put and that help was on the way. Her uncle was going to come and get me. Don’t worry, he’s really strong, he’s used to carrying dead caribou all the time and he won’t drop you. And that is what happened, he showed up, slung me over his shoulder, indicated I needed to keep my feet up out of the water and he carried me all the way back to the boat and tossed me in over the edge just as if I was a dead caribou. 

    That was humiliating. But while some people smiled to themselves, and quietly to each other, nobody laughed or pointed or made fun of me. I like to think they did like me a bit better after that. Because I accepted my humiliation. I knew I’d acted dumb as a child, dumber, even a child knows to stick with the group, and it was probably really funny to see me being carried in like a dead caribou. By a seventy year old man. 

    They laugh at me but they also didn’t let me out of the boat after that. I was left behind in the boat with a very old lady and a toddler, the next time we made for shore. L’s mother was so old even back then, before she became bedridden that she needed to be carried into the boat at the beginning when we loaded up. She did not have a word of English, but she showed the toddler and me the little flying angels in the tide pools you could see over the side of the boat. They amazed me, and she was delighted just as if I was a toddler who got it when she pointed and I saw what she wanted me to see, and appreciate. And then she fed them bits of hamburger and I was even more amazed. Those tiny angels were voracious predators! Fighting over bits of hamburger. She earned her place on the boat because she knew where everything would be. And the best route to get there. Seals first all from the boat, we didn’t get one, then clams in the right place when the tide was just right, they got pails and pails of clams. I got stranded. And now my friend L, the uncle and a teenaged girl were in the hills hunting caribou and the rest of the middle aged women, children and nursing babies were on the land near the boat picking berries. When we saw the hunters coming over the hill carrying a dressed and wrapped caribou everybody congratulated the old woman, not the hunters. She knew the caribou would be right there. 

    After that I fell below even toddler status. Those metal boats sitting in the Arctic Ocean are cold. It’s colder in one of those boats than being out on the land. I got chilled and I could not warm up. I started to shiver. Having dry feet and big socks and long underwear did not help me. I still shivered. I had goose bumps. This caused consternation. This is what they were afraid of, that I would simply die of cold like a new born baby. 

    Again my friend L had to save me. She convinced them to use some of their precious caribou fat. The middle-aged mother with the actual baby agreed to melt half a cup of the fat for me to drink. L said it would warm me up from the inside and that I would probably be okay for the rest of the day and mainly for the cold trip, fast trip, home as it got dark if I drank it. I drank it. I drank it for L so that her family would be able to continue to trust her judgement about me even after it seemed so wrong to bring me along on this trip. 

    I was not going to freeze to death like a new born baby on that boat. 

    And the caribou fat worked! It did warm me from the inside and I did stay warm all the way back to town even though the trip was fast and windy, the salt spray got us all soaked, and it got dark and the air got colder as we traveled. 

    The rest of the family including her sister was on the shore waiting for us. Afraid we would not arrive. Hoping we were bringing lot’s of food. Two completely different reasons for us to be out so late after dark. We arrived and it was lot’s of food, pails of clams, pails of berries and a whole caribou. The old lady was loved and ‘lucky’. And I became lucky too, because it was such a productive trip. Me and the old lady, neither of us the best physically, but each with our own contribution to make. That luck factor is why you bring old ladies and new born strangers when you go out to get food. 

    My friend L took me on a marvellous adventure into her world. My friend L. saved me when I couldn’t help myself, when I couldn’t keep up. I wasn’t able to save her when she came into my world. Hospitals. This modern medical world. I couldn’t help her. I couldn’t save her. 

    But she was still happy to see me. Somewhere in that scrambled mind she saw me and was happy. 

    Dispatched: Oct 3

  • 2 Oct 2018 5:56 AM | Contact Me (Administrator)

    These hospital personnel have life and death power over us. But they are only human. It’s not just vanity to try to make a good impression on them. It could save you. 

    Iqaluit, view from the beach, summer 1995

    The kids are safely back, relaxed and happy from their little holiday together, and I am feeling glad of my part in helping to make that happen for them, and I can enjoy my coffee and writing time while they deliver the grandkids to school in the mornings. 

    Lately I have been thinking of my friend L from Iqaluit as my own life has taken this turn towards the medical. I’m fiercely trying to make sure I stay human, in myself, and also in the eyes of each medical professional whose hands I pass through: from the receptionist, to the nurse, to the technician, to the doctor. Why? 

    Why get a haircut before you walk through that first door? Why spend time picking out your outfit when you know they are just going to stick you in a hospital gown anyway. This is not like going out on a date, this is not a job interview. Who are you trying to impress? Why are you trying to impress them? 

    Because it makes a difference. Because they are just as affected by your ‘first impressions’ appearance as any potential mate, or a potential employer. They are only human too even if they work hard to even the playing field by reducing you to the everyone-wears-the-same-crummy-hospital-gown look. 

    The last time I saw L from Iqaluit she was in the hospital in Ottawa. When I walked into her room she was jumping up and down on the bed, like a little kid, her IV line swinging around her like some sort of medical skip-rope. Her head wrapped in white bandage. Pointing at me. "Janice!" Bouncing down on her butt and then up again on her feet as if the hospital bed was a trampoline. "Thirty-two! Fish for me! And fish for you!" Waving her arms in the air, all happy. All less-than-five-feet, less-than-one-hundred-pounds of her, happy and jumping around on the hospital bed. This is not what I expected to see when I walked into the room. 

    I sat with her sister in the waiting room for a long time before they let us in to see L. Brain surgery. Twice. Her sister is in Ottawa as her medical translator, and as her next of kin. Her job is to translate doctor speak to Inuktitut for her sister and her sister’s family. She is L’s only family this far from home. She told me that L’s mind will probably never come all the way back. 

    Her sister doesn’t know how their family will manage if L can’t function or take care of herself. Their mother is old now and completely bedridden. There is no room for their mother in any of the care facilities in Iqaluit so the family has to take care of her themselves at home. The family does it in shifts. Everyone has their shift. My friend L did two shifts a day. She did the hardest shifts; the morning shift to get mother washed and dressed for the day, and the evening shift to feed her and put her to bed. The family was barely making it even with L doing so much of the caregiving on top of her full time job as a producer at the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation. She won’t be able to do all that when they go home from the hospital. Not only that, now they’ll need someone to take care of L herself. You can see how she is. In some ways this is worse than their mother, their mother can’t move around like that, you don’t have to watch her like a toddler to make sure she doesn’t hurt herself. 

    It took me seven days to find out that L was medevaced down south and to get myself to this hospital. 

    Her sister told me that L was at work when it happened. It happened in the coffee room. I spent six years of getting coffee and hanging out with L in that room. L was talking away like normal when half her face started to slide down and her words started to slur. Then she couldn’t move her arm on that side. They called for help, and they called for her sister to be the medical translator at the same time. And luckily her sister was able to get away from her own work, and get herself to the airport before the medical emergency plane took off. They thought it was a stroke. They were taking L down south for emergency medical treatment that she couldn’t get in Iqaluit. It's a long flight, it takes hours.  

    They took her to the hospital and left the two sisters in emergency in Ottawa. 

    Three days. My friend L was on a gurney in the hallway for three days. Her sister kept trying to get her moved to the front of the line. L was thirsty the whole time, she kept asking for something to drink, she slurred her words. Her sister thinks the nurses thought she was just another drunk eskimo. L wanted to go out and smoke too. She was a smoker. The nurses didn’t like that either. Her sister thinks they left her on the gurney for so long because they assumed she was drunk and would just sober up and be okay. Three days. 

    When they finally wheeled her out for some tests they found an aneurysm. They gave her brain surgery. But she was just the same. She didn’t really get better. Turns out she had another one on the other side of her brain. They had to give her a second brain surgery. Two. And she still lived. One tough Inuk, my friend L. 

    I knew that. 

    I remember how she hauled the big white canvas tent out of the boat all by herself when I couldn’t even lift my side of it that time her family took me out boating for the day. Tiny little L. Super strong woman. Most men can’t haul one of those old style canvas tents around like that. Super strong woman jumping around on the hospital bed like a maniac after three days with her brain bleeding in a hospital hallway calling out for water. After two brain surgeries. She recognized me. She remembered me. She was still happy to see me, but she was never going to be right again. 

    It’s not just about the clean underwear in case you’re in an accident and have to go to the hospital. It’s also better to have a nice haircut, it’s better to have nice clothes on top of your underwear. Don’t look poor. Don’t look homeless. I joke about my homeless look, but it’s not a joke when you’re in the hospital, they will act on it. They are not different from all the people who look away from homeless people on the street. In fact they are the very same people. As are most of us. 

    And even if your haircut is good, and your clothes are nice, it’s better not to be Inuk. They will think you are ‘homeless’ and drunk anyway. That's our society's general opinion. Doesn't matter if you win international awards for your television programs. Doesn't matter if you win an Aboriginal Achievement Award. And it doesn't  matter if your sister is a trained medical translator, she can’t really speak for you, because she also tends to get downgraded on the humanity scale as homeless and probably drunk too, no matter how sweet and kind she is. 

    Three days in the hallway in the hospital. They probably could have saved more of her mind if they had acted quickly. It just took too long. 

    I got my haircut, I got my eyebrows done. I actually picked out an outfit to wear every time  I went into the hospital. I made jokes. I imagined what it must be like for them; shuffling us humans through their testing and treatment factory and tried to think of the jokes that would make them smile, that would make them notice me and register me as a human being and not just another piece of meat to be injected, thrown up against their machine and told not to move. 

    Flight, fight - or freeze. As patients, clients, that is our main job. Freeze. Don’t move. No wonder that old lady was afraid of the CT scan.  Freeze. 

    They have power over us. But they are only human. It’s not just vanity to try to make a good impression on them. It could save your life. 

    Dispatched: Oct 2

  • 1 Oct 2018 6:40 AM | Contact Me (Administrator)

    Life is change. Life goes on. Both things are equally true.  This is my second time experiencing  the wonder of 'babies to people'. What a privilege. 

    Monday 8:30am, I'm sitting in the screened in porch. It's a beautiful, summer-like, morning here. And I've got a lot done already. Got my granddaughter up and successfully off to school. Got my grandson up and successfully off to school. Re-scheduled my bone scan until Oct 24. And that's a big relief off my mind. Now I can relax and not worry. It was very easy, she didn't even ask why, I just said I needed to re-schedule and she did it. No problem. I'll just get on the return flight as originally scheduled. I've had no word from any doctors. All of a sudden it really is as if I have my life back. And life is good. 

    Yesterday was a bit of an odd day, with some adventures and my first taste of teenage moods since I've been the one in charge this trip.

    It started off nice and calm. I was up early and the grandkids slept in and I had the place all to myself for a while. I did all my laundry, including my sheets that were all sweated up from this cold and me having fevers every night. And then a shower. The boys got up mid-morning and started playing video games. I got dressed and started doing everybody's laundry. We were all settled in for our planned day. My granddaughter was doing her homework, the boys were playing video games and we had plans to go to the mall sometime after 3:00pm when my grandson’s friend’s grandmother was scheduled to pick him up. 

    Then my daughter-in-law called from California. 

    We had to take my grandson to a Scouts fitness evaluation, in one hour - a bit last minute that. 

    And then the grandmother called and said she was coming to get my grandson's friend right now, so we had to wait for her before we rushed off to the Scout's fitness test.

     Then it was the nightmare of being late, not being able to find the High School where the fitness test was being conducted, and then not being able to find the scout troupe when we did find the school. We all started to stress out. And got grumpy. 

    When we finally did find it my poor grandson had to run around an asphalt track five times in blazing mid-afternoon Baltimore heat, then do push ups, sit ups and pull ups. I felt horrible for being part of making him do all that in that heat. I couldn't believe the Scouts didn't cancel and wait for a cooler day or do it at some time in the morning or evening when the sun wasn't blazing directly down on the poor kids. I was not impressed. And I felt bad about my part in it. I should have not been so obedient myself. I should have just pulled him out of it right then and there when I saw the way it was set up and given those scout leaders a piece of my mind while I was at it. But I didn't. I'm not the mom and I don't have to get along with those scout leaders for the rest of the season. 

    Eventually the schedule got back on track and we went to the mall. My granddaughter and I split up right at the entrance and met again forty-five minutes later. I shopped. She shopped. We met in the middle when we were both done. We admired each other's purchases. My grandson made supper. Pasta with steak, fresh tomatoes, onions and garlic. My granddaughter finished her homework. 

    Life was on track again. These kids are growing up, getting grown up before my very eyes. This is my second time experiencing  the wonder of 'babies to people'. What a privilege. Their growing up is part of the same process as me getting older and dying. Parents are willing to sacrifice their lives for their children. Grandparents are willing to sacrifice their lives for their grandchildren. And in fact we do just that whether we are willing or not. That is what life is. I know 'they' spend a lot of time trying to define life. What is life? For me it is death. Life is death. If it's something that can die. Then it is something that is alive. In my opinion life and death  are locked together like two sides of the same coin. 

    We built a gingerbread Haunted House together. Everybody got along, nobody got into any big fights, and it was calming and soothing for us to do it. It was a connection to all the gingerbread houses that we've made together over the years. And all the little craft projects we used to do together when the grandkids were little. I remember sitting with the kids out here in the screened-in porch spending whole afternoons making sculpty clay projects together. Yesterday’s trip down memory lane was good for everybody. All three of us. The kids aren't at that making-crafts-with-grandma stage in their lives anymore. The kids and their parents, my kids - they are all passed that stage now. I loved that stage. I used to make Christmas tree ornaments with my sons every year when they were young, a different project, chosen for their level of ability each year. I loved that time of making those ornaments together, I still have the ornaments too. And it's still nice to take that step back and spend some time together as if it was back then enjoying that shared past. 

    So I have this whole day now.  The grandkids are in school. I'll have a mess of running around later on to deal with; her field hockey, and his soccer practice. But for now I have a whole day to myself. And this is my last day on my own with the grandkids. The kids get home late tonight.

    Still no word from any of the doctors on the results of my biopsy. They must still be waiting for results, and deciding what to do. Just keep living my own life, enjoying it. There is no sense reading anything into anything. Period. 

    So, today. A walk to the book store. Some cooking. I think I might even sit in the hot tub this afternoon, for a while, just to feel better. Read, maybe knit. Relax. Enjoy life. Be happy. It's been good being with the grandkids. It's been a super good mental health break for me. And a super good recovery from the medical shit so far. It'll help me mentally and physically for whatever comes next. 

    Dispatched: Oct 1

  • 30 Sep 2018 6:11 AM | Contact Me (Administrator)

    Seeing what happened to my parents I believe the recovery and mental health parts are as important as the physical treatments. You are not recovered until you are recovered in your mind, your emotions, and your relationships with other people even if your body is still working. 

    Sunday morning in the basement guest room in Baltimore. The grandkids are all deep asleep upstairs. I went to bed around 11:30 last night. My granddaughter and I  were binge watching The Last Airbender series together when I started to doze off.  My grandson and his best friend who was here on a sleep over were still up playing video games in the side room. My granddaughter said it would be okay if I just went to bed even if both kids were still up, her parents do it all the time. So I did just go to bed and apparently it was okay. When I woke up this morning it was all quiet - and there were no fights in the night to wake me up either. 

    Life is change. We've come a long way from the old days when the two old dogs were so difficult and the kids were little and needed a lot of care and supervision. Now everybody pretty much takes care of themselves and Toolips the new pup is a very easy going dog. 

    The grandchildren have been taking turns making supper. Last night my granddaughter made egg drop soup. It was good. Simple, but good and healthy. They are growing up fast and it's different every time I come to visit, but there are still a few lessons one can learn from Grandma. When trying a new dish perhaps one should say, "interesting" instead of "weird". Even if it's your sister that makes it. Especially when it's something like egg drop soup that is a classic that could hardly be called weird. 

    I'm enjoying my time with the grandkids. I'm confident enough now that we're taking the rules and routines of the schedule and I'm remaking them to suite me, while staying within the overall framework. When I'm alone with the grandkids I'm more comfortable doing it this way compared to trying to guess what their parents would do over every little daily decision. 

    So, while I am here the kids take turns making supper, and I do the dishes. Normally their parents make supper and they do the dishes. I think it's important to learn to cook too, and important to learn to cook for other people on a schedule and not just yourself when you feel like it. So they still do have a household chore for every meal. But it's not the exactly they way it happens when their parents are around. And I've taken to driving out to the recreation complex by the back road. I like it. I have zero interest in the Beltway, so I get them to all the pre-scheduled events, but I do it my way. The kids comment that this is not the route their parents use.  I guess I am one of those ornery, do-it-my-way grandmothers, mother-in-laws after all. 

    Yesterday was the first day I felt free of all the cancer stuff. It was the time alone with the grandkids who don't really know enough to worry. It was time away from hospitals and their schedules. It was physical recovery from the stuff they did to me in the hospital. It finally just dropped off me yesterday. 

    And I had a nice strong morning, being in control, driving my grandson to soccer on my own route. Making mini-apple pies when we got home. The fun of my granddaughter coming downstairs and asking what smelled so good. "These are amazing" Nice. We all took Toolips and some of their friends to the park for a walk.  My granddaughter texted pictures of the pies, and her recipe, and was in contact with her friends (and maybe tattling on me to her parents too?) all day. It was a good day. 

    The three of us had some laughs together yesterday. There was a funny moment driving home from the park when we all started watching this hand sticking out of the window in the car in front of us. We were right behind them in the turning lane of a four lane road. First the hand was out the window dancing, waving around to unheard music. Creative, artistic, expressive. That caught our eye. Then when our lane started up, the hand began waving 'goodbye suckers' to all the still stopped cars in the other lanes, and then just before the actual turn, the hand switched to the "queen" wave as the car left the stopped cars completely behind. I started laughing, and that started me coughing, and we barely made that left turn ourselves as the light went from yellow to red. 

    My granddaughter is watching the road and my driving differently now that she knows she'll be driving soon. She got a big kick out of me laughing and coughing so hard that I almost missed the turn, and actually did hit a bit of the curb with the back wheel of the car. Not the most perfect example of how to drive. But it was pretty fun, and a nice little bonding moment for the three of us.

    These kids are very kind and gentle with me. I like to think that it's because I am kind and gentle with them too. I think Toolips the new pup has brought something else into their lives, because she is so timid and gentle. She's just naturally that way, all their other old dogs were dominant males, you had to stand firm with them, and they were territorial and aggressive with outsiders. That changed the tone of the household generally, all that barking. There was all this drama and excitement every time someone showed up at the door, every time a dog walked passed outside. It's calm now. I was really fond of those two old dogs, but I like this atmosphere better. 

    It feels good to be mentally and emotionally free of the whole cancer thing for a while. And I'm paying attention to how long it takes to recover mentally, and really also how much you have to work at it too. And what things work. It's an important part of it. Seeing what happened to my parents I believe the recovery and mental health parts are as important as the physical treatments. You are not recovered until you are recovered in your mind, your emotions, and your relationships with other people even if your body is still working. 

    So today. It's Sunday. My grandson's friend's grandmother is coming to get him around 3:00 this afternoon. My granddaughter has homework. And we have a haunted house to build today too. We don't have to be anywhere, go anywhere. 

    And then tomorrow is a full on run around day. And that's the last one. My son and daughter-in-law get back late tomorrow night.  I've decided to simply rebook the bone scan. Skip the hassle of changing my tickets and paying the change fees. Keep that money for something else. Enjoy some extra time with the kids and grandkids. While I'm here. And while the world won't end if I'm away for a while longer.

    That's where I'm at now. 

    On Friday I walked to the mall while the kids were in school. I walked there and back, and around the mall while I was there. It was a three hour walk in total, comparable one of my mountain walks back home. When I had the pedometer on my last trip here I tried it out on the nearby walks. Panera Bread is 5,000 steps. Barnes & Nobles is 10,000 steps. And J.Jill at the far end of  the mall is 15,000 steps there and back. 

    It was a fun shopping trip for me. I don't really like shopping all that much. But it was successful shopping. I spent money, but all of it was a good deal and money well spent. And then I Face-timed with my sister from the screened in porch until nearly 3:00 pm, we had a great visit, it was just like she was there with me, hearing the Baltimore Orioles calling ‘wiener, wiener’ in the back ground, and laughing along with me because they answer back if I call out ‘wiener, wiener’ to them, keeping me company and chatting away about knitting projects, and shopping, and family life. It was a good distraction. It was good to laugh. And then it was time to start up the whole run around and pick up kids from school and take them to their after school programs routine. And laugh with them too. 

    I'm still sick. I cough like crazy and I can feel that it's thick bad phlegm at the top of my lungs that's rolling around there. Yuck. Stage two of this cold. I don't want this stage to last too long because that's when it turns into bronchitis. And I remember that you don't want to take cough suppressants anymore than is absolutely necessary, because then you don't cough enough to clear your poor lungs and that's how I got my first bout of bronchitis. I was part of a medical trial in Calgary with that one. And then I got bronchitis again when I lived in Iqaluit on Baffin Island in the Arctic. It was winter. The doctor said it was bronchitis, but he wasn't going to treat me because at that time of year you didn't know if the planes would be able to get in and there was a chance of running out of medical supplies. So, they save the antibiotics for the 90 year old ladies with full on pneumonia and don't treat middle-aged healthy women in the prime of their lives. Go home, rest, do the best you can, and if you are worse in six weeks come see me again. 

    It feels good to have my usual, coffee, read the papers, write for a while routine start to the day. Now I'm ready have a shower, and gradually enjoy this lovely early fall day here in Baltimore. Life is good. Loving my time here with the grandkids! And the pets.

    Leeloo and I are having some special bonding. I really love having at cat in my life, sitting on my lap, purring, just hanging out independently the way that cats do. Nice.

    Dispatched: Sept 30

  • 29 Sep 2018 6:21 AM | Contact Me (Administrator)

    It is a dangerous game. It will take me close to some kind of death or it won’t work. I want a better cure.

    I get my early mornings back now that it’s the weekend and the kids like to sleep in. Today is take my grandson to soccer and then the rest of the day off to just hang out with the kids. Look at me! I’m a soccer mom, who would have thought it - temporarily. I’m a fill-in soccer mom. Understudy soccer mom. I am not the main soccer mom. A few years ago I was a dive mom for a couple of weeks while these two little grandchildren learned to jump off of diving boards. I wasn’t so good at that. It scared me too much. I was afraid they would hit their heads on the board with every jump. I read my book and did not look up unless there was the thunk of a little head or other body part hitting the board. Luckily it was never one of my grandchildren. I didn’t want to scare them, so I always just put my head back into my book and waited until the grandmother ordeal was over and it was time to pack up and take them back home. 

    Soccer is easy compared to that. 

    I don’t have to do this cancer thing. I can just say no. I don’t have to take any treatment. I can just stick my head in a book instead. Wait until it turns into whatever it’s going to turn into on it’s own. Who knows it might be years and years before it did anything to really hurt me. It doesn’t hurt now. It’s been there for years already without doing much. Right now I don’t believe in it. It will take all these tests, and especially the biopsy results to convince me. 

    Of course I believe in it - that’s why I got out an old mammogram form and hoped no one would notice the old date and just went into the clinic that day. 

    I get why people go for alternative treatments. The official medical treatment is not so perfect. Couldn’t we just sacrifice a chicken and read the entrails? I’d be okay with that. If it worked. If I believed it worked. None of the alternative treatments work. They are all get rich schemes set up to take money from vulnerable, desperate people. Even what little I know about real traditional medicine tells me that it doesn’t work so simply. A handful of herbs here, a bit of tea there. Some kind of crazy diet to follow. Perhaps an enema or two. And a lot of promises. Yes, tell me lies. Sweet, sweet lies about how it won’t hurt, how I will be saved so easily as that. Drink this tea. I will pay for it. I’m willing to pay with my money. Am I also willing to pay with my life? I’d love to believe, believe even in the power of belief enough so that just that - my own belief in a cure, any cure, would cure me. 

    How they all craved to hear of such a wonder working doctor, of a medicine unknown to the doctors here! These people might have admitted or denied that they believed in such a thing, but all of them, to a man, felt, deep in their hearts, that there really was such a doctor, such a dispenser of herbs or such an old village woman living somewhere, and they only had to learn where, take that medicine and they would be saved. 

    Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Cancer Ward,1966

    Well there’s the rub. And my family would be really mad if I just let myself die. I would have to give them a super good reason. Afraid of ‘a bit of discomfort’ would probably not cut it with them. And some of the alternative treatments are just as bad, if not worse than the regular medical ‘protocols’ You can suffer from the side effects of an alternate treatment too. Only then it’s all for naught. They don’t work. If they did work we would all be cured. All the rich people for sure would be cured. We wouldn’t see them dying from cancer. George Harrison. Steve Jobs. If you could buy your way out of this with an alternate treatment they would surely show us the way. And they haven’t. 

    “Ah, sacred science!” he sighed. “If it were all so unquestionable it wouldn’t have to be revised every ten years. What should I believe in? These injections of yours?” 

    Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Cancer Ward,1966

    My choice would be - no treatment. Or accept the conventional medical treatment. Even if I don’t really believe in it. There are no other options. And even at 75%, my odds are pretty good with treatment. That is more than 50/50. All I can do is hope that treatments have improved a lot since my mother’s day. I know a few things already. I will not let them remove the muscles on my chest. I saw what that meant. I would rather die of cancer in how many years I have left to die ‘naturally’ of this cancer than go through that. Hair grows back, cut away muscles don’t. 

    But could one do such a thing? Question the doctor’s right to heal? If one thought that way, doubting every scientific method in use today, for fear it might be discredited or refuted in the future, there was no telling where one would end up! (Deaths had even been recorded from aspirin: A person took the first aspirin tablet in his life and died!) In that case healing was wrong in general. In that case conferring daily benefits was wrong in general.

    It is probably a universal law that one who takes any action brings about both good and evil; but some acts bring more good, some more evil. 

    Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Cancer Ward,1966

    The game is to try to kill the cancer without killing me. It is a dangerous game. It will take me close to death or it won’t work. If I had to do this then my best shot would be to go for broke. Go through everything on schedule without a break and without having to quit early. I would have to really do it, or else I might just be ‘aggravating’ the cancer, cause it to mutate even more in order to save itself.  

    Into the damp depression in the dark soil he poured the muddy-brown liquid, someone’s death. Or someone’s muddy-brown recovery.

    Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Cancer Ward,1966

    But I have to say, all the conventional medical cancer treatments sound at least as far fetched and dangerous as any of the alternative cures. I want a better cure. I am going through this with the idea that either it is a small problem easily fixed. Or a modern cancer suitable for a modern targeted treatment that just attacks the cancer and leaves the rest of me alone and unharmed. I fought to get myself into the best hospital for that reason. If it comes to that then I want to have the newest least damaging treatment there is, even if I have to be a guinea pig to get it. 

    Tell me lies

    Tell me sweet little lies

    (Tell me, tell me lies)

    Fleetwood Mac, Little Lies,1987, Songwriters: Christine Mcvie / Eddy Quintela Mendonca,Little Lies lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

    Dispatched: Sept 29

  • 28 Sep 2018 6:17 AM | Contact Me (Administrator)

    It's the potential to be a killer without even knowing, without being able to see it coming. The chance of a dog or cat running out in front of you. Low and close so you can’t see them in time. Or a kid.  Maybe I should let the doctors decide, just go along for the ride. Maybe I don’t have to drive this particular bus the whole way. 


    Friday morning in the basement. I just got both kids to school. No big hassles over it today, everybody was in a good mood. Everything went fine. No tempers or attitude. Barely had time for my two cups of coffee. And now I desperately need a shower. So it's back to early morning stuff even though I've already been outside. And I'm sick. 

    The fever is mostly gone now, it was a low fever anyway, but now the snot has thickened up and instead of sneezing I'm coughing up thick, bad phlem from the top of my lungs. Bleech. 

    Yesterday was okay. It was a day off school. Both the kids have been sick, and also harassed by these busy schedules. So we just stayed home and hung out. My grandson made supper - chicken quesadilla’s. My granddaughter listened to her audio book, Fahrenheit 451 and made notes. It's due on Monday. And I read my Neanderthal book. 

    My cold progressed from sneezing and achy bones fever to coughing and sore throat, slight fever last night. 

    I took my grandson to scouts and picked him up and hour later. It's a dark drive though residental neighbourhoods with big lawns, few streetlights and no sidewalks. I'm driving around a lot this trip. I hate driving. 

    I thought about it while driving home after dropping my grandson at scouts last night. It's the potential to kill another being that I hate. It stems from the time I ran over that cute little dog and killed it. Well I didn't kill it instantly, it died slowly overnight. I never saw the dog at all. I felt the thump and I saw the look of horror on the kids’ faces standing on the sidewalk. That's why I hate driving. It's the potential to be a killer without even knowing, without being able to see it coming. And it's actually these quiet residential streets at night that freak me out the most. The Beltway six lane freeway was not such an issue for me. 

    Driving gives you a power that I don’t really want. Sometimes it’s better to just be in the passenger seat, it still gets you there, but you don’t have all that weight of decision and choice on your head. Let the doctors decide. Just go along for the ride. Maybe I don’t have to drive this particular bus the whole way. 

    Tonight will be a lot of driving. And it will be in Friday rush hour, and residential streets after dark. But after this it's only my grandson's soccer game on Saturday morning, that's it for the driving part until Monday. 

    Dispatched: Sept 28

  • 27 Sep 2018 5:57 AM | Contact Me (Administrator)

    I'm ready to find out that I can get back to work. I guess that means I'm feeling better. And less in shock. And less like taking advantage of the spoil yourself benefits that being sick can bring. I'd rather not be sick. But of course, life does not work that way. This is not a deal that I can make with life. I know that. 

    Thursday morning. My mornings have changed. They are busy and social.  It's up at 6:00 make coffee, make sure the granddaughter is up by 6:30, make sure the grandson is up, then drive the granddaughter to school for 7:15, come back, pick up the grandson back at the house, drive him to school for 7:30 and back to the house. Take the dog for a walk. The day has begun and there is no place in there for me to be savouring my two cups of coffee and writing. If I want a shower I get undressed again after I've done the whole driving the kids around to school. 

    But today is different. Today we are taking my son to the airport to catch a flight out to California for a holiday with his wife after her big conference there. Like right now! 

    So - I am just back from a mad rush to the airport. My son slept in. I forgot. We had to rush through pouring rain and rush hour traffic to get him to the airport, I threw him out of the car and then I drove back home through pouring rain, rush hour traffic, having to pee all the way. I think my son made his plane. I sent him a text message and he didn't answer. So that's good. And I gained confidence every minute driving blindly through that traffic, remembering doing it in the snow and blizzard twice a day taking kids and dogs to daycare and back when this house was being fixed after the big flood. I can do it. 

    And it is so much easier these days. The kids are big enough that you just leave them home alone. In fact they were, and are, still sleeping. So it was just me and my son awake and all the drama about getting him to the airport. And me getting home alone without incident. And now of course all the local driving back and forth to the schools and soccer field seems so much easier after I've done the hairy run to and from the airport in rush hour in the rain.

    I'm getting over this cold, or settling into it. Last night I gave into the fever side of it, piled on all the blankets that I could find and went to bed like that. I woke up around 3:00am in a complete and total sweat but it felt better, it felt like the fever part was done. Now it's just a cold; sore throat, sneezing, running nose, coughing, but the fever bit seems to have played itself out. And I feel better for that. 

    I had a big love-in with the cat this morning. She curled up in my lap and just purred away, kneading on the edge of the couch and my arm. I enjoyed it. Felt good. This mental health break is really working. The work, and the family, and the animals, and worrying about all these other things like driving around in a strange -big- city in the rain have been good for me. 

    Today is a day with the grandkids. They have the day off school. It's pouring rain though so I don't know what we're going to do. I'm happy to have a hang out day, everybody has been sick. Maybe put a pot of stew or something in the slow cooker, bake some bread so it smells good and homey in here all day long, and just hang out reading, playing video games and watching TV. 

    Tomorrow is back to school for them. And back to running around for me. My temporary soccer mom life. 

    I am ready for this whole cancer scare to be a scare. I'm ready to find out that we don't have to really do anything more and I can get back to work, and work hard at all my jobs. I guess that means I'm feeling better. And less in shock. And less like taking advantage of the benefits that being sick can bring. I'd rather not be sick. 

    But of course, life does not work that way. This is not a deal that I can make with life. 

    I know that. 

    Dispatched: Sept 27

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