Monday, May 30, 2005

A memorable Memorial Day weekend…. Friday morning we flew to Grand Rapids to visit Karl and Stacy and see their new house. It was a wonderful weekend – absolutely perfect weather – sunny and 70 degrees and the house is truly a dream house. Bob and Karl played golf, while Stacy and I took the kids for a “bear hunt” in the woods – lots of fun exploring pits of the “bear dens”, speculating on what critters might be living in what holes, etc. East Grand Rapids is a rather idyllic place to bring up children – the kids walk to school and they have so many similar aged kids in the neighborhood that the house is always open with various kids and dogs continually coming in and out. And it’s an easy walk/ bike ride to the school playground, the ice cream store, for lunch, or whatever. On Saturday night Karl and Stacy treated us to a performance of “Les Miserables” – one of our favorite musicals. The most poignant moment for me came when Morgan (now 8) asked me if I thought I would live long enough to tell her stories about the time when I had cancer and she liked to stroke my soft new growth of hair. That was a tough one to answer.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Superstitious?? This has been a busy week clinically with chemo on Tuesday, getting my 48 hr 5-FU pump detached on Thursday, and then a CT scan on FRIDAY the 13th!! I was scheduled for that day because the “schedule was very light”! Of course! Who in their right mind would elect to have a scan on such an ominous date! I am not superstitious – but, for every clinical procedure, I do carry around a special bag of symbolic tokens that people have given me. With my high spirits of late and my optimism for the future, I’m beginning to wonder whether these items might in fact have some power. The bag is an embroidered sac given to me by Greg and it contains a pull-string on which are hanging a special Indian ring symbolizing attainment of desired goals and an Ankh, a cross with a loop in the place of the upper arm. The Ankh originated in Egypt and is a hieroglyphic symbol of life, supposedly associated with magical protection. Inside the bag is a wealth of special items from around the world – a little charm from a Chinese temple, a stone from the lake at my niece Kathy’s wedding this past July, a Zuni bear fetish in warm tones of beige and grey from Suzanne (thought to bestow healing abilities) , a Chinese dragon given to me by two of my grandsons, Mikey and Matthew, a frog from a Japanese shrine given to me by two colleagues, a little mouse doctor figurine from Mike Sporn, a silver replica of a forcole, the special oarlock used in Venetian gondolas, from Kitte Sporn (Kitte has already had this with her through many significant health problems so this already has a proven aura of good luck), a bison incisor given to me by Greg, a piece of unspun cotton from the Manchester, UK mills brought back by me on my last visit before this great saga began, and a few other assorted charms. I hope that someday this can be passed on to someone else who needs it with the knowledge that it does indeed have mysterious powers – certainly not even I can doubt that it has proven magical for me.

The good news is that I handled this round of chemo very well – Dr. Marshall dropped the 5-FU bolus administered before the 2-day infusion and that helped a lot. The even better news is that the CT scan again showed “stable disease” with no significant changes other than an increase in the ascites which could be expected since the last scan in February was just 10 days after a “tap”. My energy level has been high and I’ve been doing a lot of gardening, so life is good.

Monday, May 09, 2005

A weekend to remember – this weekend, as last year, my sister Dorrie came to join me for a spring orgy of flower planting. Bob and his brother were at the Kentucky Derby so we were unfettered by any ominous warnings of “where are you going to put all these plants”. We shopped for flowers with abandon, planted and planted, dined on lobster, and had a ball. This has become a very special event for Dorrie and me that hopefully can become an annual ritual of spring. As Dorrie and I chimed in with “My Old Kentucky home” watching the Kentucky Derby on TV, Bob and Cecil also did their part to make it a memorable weekend in that they bet on Closing Argument – a 70-1 longshot – and walked away with over a $1000 take on the Derby race! By my reckoning, it means my flowers were paid for. Can’t ask for more!

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The renewal rites of springtime – It’s hard to believe that spring has again arrived in its full glory. Last year, joined by my sister, I went into overdrive at this time of year planting flowers, thinking that it would be my last spring. Now unexpectedly here I am again – excitedly watching plants pop their heads out of the barren soil and then exploding in the colors of daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, bleeding hearts, etc, not to mention the cherry blossoms, azaleas, dogwoods, and redbuds. Spring in Washington is a truly glorious and almost raucous celebration of life and of renewal. Even my hair is sensing the season and starting to grow again! Sometimes I amuse myself wondering what would happen if I put Miracle Gro on my head. Would it turn green? Is there any commonality between the renewing cells at the base of the hair follicle and the plant cells in those bulbs that emerge from their dormancy to produce such beautiful specimens? Regardless, my hair will eventually grow and life will continue to be something to treasure.

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