Wednesday, December 26, 2012

My Last Days: Meet Ann, Soul Pancake Production

Sometimes, when you least expect it, life shows you that you have just bowled a strike.


I have posted over 500 blog posts here, and I don't think in all those words I've captured my feelings as accurately as the Soul Pancake crew did in this ten minute video. These are talented people who managed to understand my essence as a mother what a wonderful family I have.

I hope you enjoy watching it as much as we have.

The video speaks for itself and is so beautiful that there isn't much left to say.

 Below I listed all the folks involved and I thank them all, but especially Justin, who led the way, Ahmed, who chatted with this old lady during boring moments, Emily who is as sweet as she is beautiful, and Jordan, who recorded me peeing and never said a word.

Every single one of the people involved in this filming were so kind and gentle with my family that I cannot begin to express my gratitude. Let me just say that I will never forget you and neither will my family. What was supposed to be just a fun, silly thing to do that might be a good blog post turned into something truly special and unforgettable. My family, long after I'm gone, will be able to watch this video and remember the good times we shared and how much we love each other, and that is a true gift.

It's hard to take yourself out of the picture, but I think the video shows that love happens, sadness happens but life will go on. We are but a brief moment in time - all of us.

If you are so moved, feel free to comment here, but please, also take the time to go to YouTube and see the other videos in the series and leave a comment for the people doing thoughtful shows like this. I enjoy watching cute cats online as much as the next person, but people who create the kind of thing that Soul Pancake does, with as much talent as they do, are worthy of being told they are adding to the world..

Thank you:
Director/Producer: Justin Baldoni
Executive Producer: Golriz Gundry
Producer: Ahmed Kolacek
Editor/Associate Producer: Kevin Filippini
Associate Producer: Fouad Elgohari
Production Coordinator: Emily Foxler
DP: Sam Rosenthal
Sound Recordist: Jordon Justice
Music: Jamey Heath Colorist: Bruce Goodman / Hot Pixel Post
Mixed by: Lisa Fowle / Dragonfly Sound Special
Thanks: Sunset Edit

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

Is that picture not one of the most glorious rooms you have ever seen?  As quintessentially Christmas as that looks, it is not as comforting as my home, which is not big, professionally decorated, shining, or luxurious. None of that matters, because it's full of family I love.

Today was our Christmas gathering, a tradition born when I became part of a blended family.  I didn't want my stepchildren to be torn over going to mother's or dad's on Christmas Day, or have any worries during a time that should be special.   So years ago, I decided to change our traditional Christmas morning to an appetizer party on Christmas Eve.  I make a spread, we share news, exchange gifts, and enjoy each other's company.  My family has grown over the years, with marriages and relationships, and my tiny living room is getting crowded - and more full of love.

Today was the best gathering ever.   And happiness caused me to think of all the others who have been involved in my life during these three years with cancer, and who I also wish could be there to share my Christmas cheer.

The best I can do is thank people here.

First, to all my faithful blog readers, (and even those of you who cheat on me with other blogs), and to all who like my page on facebook (or are too lazy to unlike it),  I thank you for your support, your love, your prayers, thoughts, loyalty, and kind words.  I appreciate the regular readers who worry for me but never speak,  and I thank all of you who leave me comments.  I also thank my blogging sisters who repost things I say, who lend their support and allow me to voice my own opinion on their topics.   This li'l ol' blog was born of laziness -  so I could update my family on my condition without having to make dozens of phone calls, but it's turned into something quite different.  You readers have helped me more than you can ever know.

My sister has been amazingly generous and has taken time off work to help my family post-surgery, and she contacts me at least monthly to check in, even when I'm bad at contacting her.   My friend Jodie has put up with me for 25 years.  Together we have been through bad times and good, and she knows me better than anybody.   We were single mothers together, days I remember as joyous rather than hard, probably because of her.  Like with my sister, distance keeps us from visiting often, but she is the one who helped redecorate my room.  Twenty-five years ago, when I met her on the street and she invited a virtual stranger over to her house, saying yes was one of the best decisions I ever made.

To all my other friends who have brought me food, gift certificates, treats, chocolate,  blankets, money, advice, comfort;  who have checked up on me by text or email, and visited me and ignored the state of my house and especially those who have been gracious about the dog noses going where they should not go, I also thank you.  I appreciate former coworkers who update me with gossip, although I am not working and not entitled.  To all those who sent me Christmas cards (although I never send them back) - thank you.    Each of you,  in your own way, has enriched my life,  which is more meaningful knowing that I've made yours scarier.

To my doctors, nurses, the entire staff at my chemo office, and the pharmacy employees; I'm grateful for your professionalism and good cheer.  Having cancer sucks.  I can only imagine how much worse it would be if I went to chemo and my nurses were grouchy, my doctor uncaring, my medical techs rude, or if I picked up my prescriptions and was treated like an addict or like they weren't important.  Instead, I see smiling faces,  kindness, understanding and respect from each and every one of you.  It is amazing.

I also thank my son's teachers, who have not treated him differently because he's the son of a terminal cancer patient.   I appreciate the gift of normality, and the belief that he can live up to high standards in spite of a more nerve-wracking home life.  (Although, B Team in Science Bowl would be nice- just sayin'.)

For the organizations who are there for me and others like me:  Capital Cleaning who does Cleaning for a Reason in my area and really gives me some relief, Mother's Grace who gave me gift certificates for travel, the American Cancer Society who helped with gas and wigs, and many other organizations who have provided small things such as hats or soaps - your generosity is not unnoticed. Making the life of a sick person a little easier is more important than you know.

For my nephew Cody and his wife Steen, who are about to give birth to the first child of the next generation of our family:  you will do this generation proud and will build on the hard work of those who came before.   I hope I can tell my new great-niece or great-nephew stories about Daddy and I making omelets and eating spicy food.  And to Zack, Alex and Kayley. My thoughts and love are with you.

For those who will never know they have made my life easier - for the authors who have written books that have taken me away to different times and places, to the artists who have given me something new to think about, to radio hosts like Armstrong and Getty or Dennis Miller who make me laugh every day, and  to the people who do TV (both well-respected and not, from Duck Dynasty, Hoarders and Intervention to the Walking Dead and Breaking Bad), thank you for giving me something to take my mind off myself.

I started this post by mentioning the people who celebrated Christmas with me today.  Thank you for being the people I love most in this world and even more, thank you for being the kind of people who are worthy of that love.  My children and step-children and someday new relatives:  you are good, wonderful, kind people.  You are my legacy.  I'm so proud of you.

I hope that you all have a Merry Christmas.

Healthline Contest

It is contest season! And, I have been nominated for another "Best Blog" award. Only this one, ladies and gentlemen, has a prize.

 The winner gets $1000.00.

 Yes, $1000.00!

 Remember, I have a child who will be going to college in two years. So, if you could please vote for me, that would be amazing. And, vote often. That's about five schoolbooks - right?  Once you click on the button you have to log in with your twitter or facebook and search for my blog.  Currently, I'm on page 3 alphabetically.
best health blogs 2012

Friday, December 21, 2012

What gives value to life?

I have gone back and forth about posting these thoughts. It is obvious that as a mother, my heart is hurting because of what happened  a week ago Friday. Anybody who knows me, knows my main identity is as a mother, and I believe the death of even one innocent child is tragic, and I can't help but relate to the parents' suffering.  I don't want this post taken the wrong way or appear to be minimizing a terrible massacre, so I've  pondered deeply whether to hit "publish" or not.  But, I decided to go ahead.  This is, after all, a blog about my personal experience with terminal breast cancer and the things I think about as I deal with it. This is one of those things.

In light of Friday's shooting, after my brief expression of sympathy, a comment was left on my blog that said, "breast cancer is nothing compared to the slaughter of innocents..." Since then, I have been thinking about that statement,  as well as the value of my life and those who will die from cancer this year.

I admit, I took that comment personally. Because my blog, where the comment was left, is about my living with terminal breast cancer.  For me, breast cancer is something. Something huge and significant.

It is the disease I will die from and sooner rather than later. Before long, my husband will lose his wife, my children will lose their mother. Because of cancer, my sister will grow old without me to reminisce with, my best friend will lose her closest confidante, my step-daughters will lose a person who loves them, and I will just be a story to my grandchildren.  There will be weddings and holidays and graduations, at which I will be just a fading memory.  Tens of thousands of women and their families this year alone will experience the same sad ending.

I can't agree that breast cancer is nothing in comparison, as the poster said.

At the same time, I recognize that the deaths of those 20 children is horrific and heinous and unforgivable.

Here's the thing:  I can't also help but feel that the deaths of the 40,000 women who will die this year from breast cancer is also horrific.  I think the 20 children who die every day from childhood cancer is horrible.

I can't weigh the value of a human life, as that poster could. All loss of innocent life is horrible.  None of it is "nothing."

Of course, I understand that it is different when children die and in a gruesome way. It is, rightly, far more tragic. As a society, we hold the loss of any child to be the loss of potential, of possibility, of dreams - it's the loss of the illusion of safety, and the loss of a future.  This incident represented a breakdown of society.

In contrast, most of us who are dying of breast cancer are not young and our futures have mostly been written. Most of us have lived unexceptional lives.  We die painfully and slowly; and everybody has time to get used to it.  Our deaths are quiet, and even though it may happen 40 years too soon, it's only a tragedy to those who knew us.  We won't be in the media, and we only represent a failure of medicine,  not of society itself.

In a shooting massacre such as the one last Friday, we relate to the suffering of the families, and the shock of it all. It hits us like a freight train blasting through the fabric of society, and we cry "horror!"  We learn the names of the 27 people involved and we rightly cry.

The 40,000 of us who are massacred by breast cancer each year, one by one, are silent raindrops, unseen and unnoticed, sliding down a hidden window to oblivion.  I wonder, if there was time to learn all of our stories, meet our children, see our end days, would you also cry in frustration at the sheer magnitude of the loss?  If you lined up 40,000 middle-aged woman and shot them, would it mean more?

Or, would it still be nothing, comparatively?

I don't know.

What I do know this this:  whether you are slaughtered by cancer, or slaughtered by a gunman - it's a tragedy. None of those things are "nothing."  People have value, whether they are age 5 or 50.   Human experience is full of catastrophe, both great and small.  And, we are all destined to die. Unfortunately, for many of us, it will be before "our time" and when that happens, people suffer.

We are all collectively mourning, as well as trying to explain the explainable.   Why does a crazy man shoot children in a school?  Why do cells in certain people go ballistic and kill their host?

We don't know.

Comparing tragedies ignores the fact that a death that shouldn't occur can happen to any of us, anywhere, of any age.

I'm sorry for anybody who has to lose somebody too soon. And, that includes my family. But it also includes all parents who have to cope of the loss of a child, as that must be an unbearable grief.

Even if that child dies of cancer.

No, it is not "nothing."

Monday, December 17, 2012

Daily Twos

I receive hundreds of sales pitches asking me to promote products on my blog.  Surprisingly, this happens all year long, not just in October. This is because people are requesting that I write about their product whether it has anything to do with cancer or not. Apparently, businesses and charities think I am so desperate for content that I will write - for free - about anything they send me.  Maybe they think I sigh in relief when their promo hits my in-box. "Thank goodness somebody sent me their information about a Healthy Hoo Haw spray. I am running out things to say about myself."

As if.

One of my big pet peeves is that companies tell me about these fabulous products, and expect me to write about it, without ever sending me a sample.   I mean, Healthy Hoo Haw spray might have been right up my alley, had I known it didn't cause itching or smell like pumpkin.  It would be irresponsible for me to tell you about it without previewing it first.

So, imagine my disappointment when this pitch landed in my email with no offer to see it in person:

"A local environmental non-profit organization known for its composting initiatives has created a calendar titled “The Ladies of Manure 2013” as an off-beat way to inspire “greener” living by South Florida’s folks." 

I thought people sat on the potty in their yards in Alabama, not Florida.  My bad.

Aside from asking me to work for free,  this environmental company expected me to do it with a subject that doesn't relate to my topic and is highly local, and therefore has no value to the vast majority of my readers. As I have always said (and done), I will post the very occasional freebies if I believe my readers can be helped and it is within my topic.  

But this is totally unrelated to cancer, so I was about to hit delete.

When I read this:

"Through this calendar we want to try and get you to rethink all your waste, even your daily ones and twos....."

Aha.  Now it makes sense.  A person who has cancer pain and takes painkillers, whose liver is messed up, and who has been doing chemotherapy for three years, definitely has learned to rethink their "daily twos."

Of course, I say "daily" in the loosest possible way.

And, I say "loosest" in the hardest possible way.

Unless I have c.diff, in which case, it is looser than you can imagine.

Our cancerish #2 rethinking has more to do with getting on a good laxative/softener schedule than what to do with the culminating product afterwards.  Usually, we are just so happy to have a product at all that we get giddy with delight, and the resulting flush is music to our ears.  

Now, I suppose, this calendar could give us ideas on how to cherish those Terrible Twos forever, and turn a mean cancer side effect into beautiful flowers.

So now I can see why they want me to promote their poop and pee composting calendar on my cancer website.

But they didn't give me a calendar.  

"Ah!" you are saying. "But, Ann, this is a non-profit.  They should not be sending out free things.  You, out of the kindness of your heart, should be posting about composting your poop for free anyway."  And, maybe you are right.  We all know that non-profits never send out anything for free. No mailing labels.  No stationary.  No four color publications.  No rubber bracelets.  No pens or any kind of costly trinket.  Nope, they never give anything away in the hopes of gaining a little more.  If I want a free calendar, I will have to get a plain, undecorated one from my pharmacy, like everybody else.

So, in spirit of the season, and with the hope of Daily Two Good Karma  - while I won't mention the name of the non-profit - there are enough hints in here that if you are an environmentalist, compost-interested, green loving, poop-saving, chicks on toilets fetishist, you can figure out how to buy this calendar and give to the cause.

To those who want to send me pitches:  

My hard work building this blog should not go unrewarded. I have spent years trying to come up with content people want to read.  I've shared my personal experiences in the hopes that readers will be comforted by the fact that if I can do this cancer thing, even when metastatic, they can too.  If  you want your product noticed, then do what I did. Spend 3 years building a blog, pouring your heart out, thinking of jokes and trying your best to help people feel better in some way.  Then you won't need me.   Don't be that coat-tail rider on Survivor. Even if they win, they are despised.  (They may have a million dollars, but nobody likes them.)

But if you want a short-cut?  At least send me a freaking calendar.

Friday, December 14, 2012


My regularly scheduled post has been cancelled.  My heart, mind, thoughts, and deep love go out to all who are suffering from today's horrific event.    Those of us who work in schools know that this kind of thing is possible, but we never believe it will happen to us.  And, today, sadly, our myths were shattered once again.

News is still chaotic but I hear that teachers and staff protected and saved some children, and for that, I am thankful and proud.  But still, my heart goes out to all the children who died, their futures snuffed, in this senseless killing.  

We will grieve together as a nation for all the children lost.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Myths about Living with Terminal Cancer


You realize the importance of life and set about making dreams happen.


You play The Simpsons Tapped Out for 8 hours a day.


You make sure your insurance/retirement/SSDI/IRA's are set up properly for your death.


You chat on Facebook about how cute your greyhound looks with fabric antlers.


You leave stories of your life for your children, complete scrapbooks, and do all those things that you always thought you'd finish in your free time.


What free time? A Hoarders marathon is on.


Cancer causes depression.


Your only depression is because you can no longer aspire to be on Survivor.  You know in your heart you would have Outwitted, Outplayed and Outlasted.

Well, maybe not outlasted.


You are more understanding of the faults of others, and a lot nicer to people who annoy you.


You are every bit as exasperated as always, but now people feel guilty if they upset you. Bonus: you can use their guilt to get chocolate.


You downsize so that nobody will have troubles dealing with your stuff upon your death.


Isn't that iPad/cappuccino machine/sweater just darling? You can never have too many.


You travel to all those places you always wanted to see.


Airports suck.  Let's just go have a double tall mocha. Your treat.


You become more focused, organized, and spiritual.


You are the same disorganized, sloppy, easily amused, distracted .....okay, I'm bored now.

See what I mean?

Friday, November 30, 2012

Lasso the Stars - Book Review

I was given a book called Lasso the Stars by L. L. Neilsen to review for TLC Book Tours and today is my review date.   So, my review:  The main character is Dina, dying of cancer, who meets Gil, a handsome cowboy, who helps her  Die?  Lasso the Stars?

Positives: I read it all.   It kept my interest.

Negatives:  I just needed to be a different, less cynical, less atheistic person in order to actually enjoy it.

Positives:  It was well-written and edited, with one or two really thoughtful paragraphs.  It was a fast read;  I believe I read it in just a couple of hours.

Negatives:  It was a love story that included angels.  I can't stress that enough.  Angels.
*shhhh ...and they had sex*

Positives:  It showed death as a beautiful transition instead of an end.

Negative:  I believe death is the ultimate end.

Positive:  It is a very romantic book.

Negative:  It is a very romantic book.

Speaking as a woman who is actually living with a terminal illness, I just need to say that taking long walks and meeting attractive new men to have sex with is not on my list of things to do.  Neither the walks, nor the men - none has made it to Bucket List Status.  A good day for me is one in which my laxatives and painkillers both work.   So, if the story didn't have angels in it, I still would have found it unrealistic.

If you like romances, and you like angels, and are spiritual, and think cliche'd cowboys with dusty jeans and aviator glasses who say y'all all the time are hot,  I promise you that you will like this book. If you believe in angels that are sent from God to help dying people, you will like the way it is portrayed here.  If you are all those things and know somebody who has died of cancer, it might even be comforting for you to look at death in this light.   It might be the perfect book for you.

If you are like me, snarky, realistic, unromantic, skeptical, and cowboy and angel hating, you probably shouldn't bother.

I was just absolutely the wrong person to review it as it hit on every genre that I don't like. Obviously,  death and cancer are not my favorite light reading materials these days: I'm more in the "how to" section with those.  And angels and romance have never been on the list either. It was, to me, drivel.  Not badly written drivel, but still...not my thing.

Which means, it will probably be made into a movie.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

I was hit by a big rig - need your help

(Update:  Gallegher Bassett contacted me and stated the client, PFG Transco,  offered to pay me my money.  In return, I am removing the contact information for the people involved.  However, I am not removing the story.  This should be a warning to companies who do unethical things - in the age of social media, we consumers do have ways to state our case.  We don't have no choice but to take it when a company decides to cheat us, thinking that we have no recourse.  Denying an insurance claim without investigating any of the facts is unethical, as is putting truckers on the road who are dangerous.  I can't do much about the second thing, but I at least got the money I was out due to that driver's lack of skill. 

I want to thank those of you who made calls, who tweeted, and who worked to right this wrong on my behalf.  You are fantastic and I appreciate every one of you.)

Facebook readers will know I was hit by a big rig the other day, a truck by PFG Transco, Inc. HR's email address is the only one I can find:  (deleted upon request).

It was November 19th and I was driving home from a doctor's appointment (where else would I be going?) and I was stopped at a red light, waiting to go straight. A big rig, an 18 wheeler, pulled into the turn lane left of me.  The light was green so he went. He was too close and he hit me, knocking off my side mirror, and I might add, scaring the crap out of me. (You who have been on chemo for a few years might not think that's such a bad thing.....).

I was shocked and slightly terrified.  I'm not supposed to die in a car accident, but of cancer!  How dare this truck take away my remaining months!  The scraping noises it made sounded like he had taken off the entire side of the car and not just the side mirror, and in fact, we have noticed bumper damage since.  I jumped to the right to get away in case the back of his truck came in through the window as he completed the turn, but fortunately, it didn't.  He drove off down the street. Stunned,  I honked and honked, trying to make him take notice, my back aching from the sudden movements.  He didn't stop, so all the cars had gone and I was in the front at a red, and his lane was still green, so I jumped over and followed.

At a red light, I hopped out of the car, banged on his window, and yelled "Hey!  You just hit me."  


And him right before I knocked:


We chatted a bit.  He apologized, hadn't realized, seemed very nice and wanted to pay himself so he didn't get fired, which I was willing to do if if wasn't too much money. (I wasn't going to trust him with a check.)   He said it would be cheap, and pulled out his wallet, but I wasn't so sure.  But, if my husband agreed, than I would too.   He then said then said to follow up to Outback Steakhouse up the street.  I asked him why, and he said he had to make a drop there.  So, I called my husband, explained to meet us at Outback .

As he began driving into Outback, I saw that he was hitting their sign.  I grabbed my camera!  

He seemed to be stuck.  I backed up although he had plenty of room.  He eventually gave up and drove away:.

You can't see it in this video but he cut off a blue car to the left, and he straddled lines several times to make turns.  I had no idea where he was going and so I put down the phone and called the 800 number on the back of his truck for "safety" and reported that he had just hit me.  Then I saw him make a couple more driving errors and since I had no idea where he was going I called 9-11.  While I'd agreed to meet with him and my husband to see if we could handle this privately, he was not demonstrating good driving and I thought it was best to do the right thing and for all I knew, he was going to leave town.

I was on the phone with CHP the whole time -they were calling it a hit and run and they were telling me to be careful.  I told them not to worry, he was a nice guy.  Hah!  

He finally pulled over behind a gas station.  Hindsight says he was trying to get away from me, but at the time I thought he was just looking for a place to park.  So, I told him (with CHP listening) that because of his bad driving and crossing lines and almost hitting somebody else, and hitting the Outback sign, I felt I needed to handle this properly so I'd called the authorities.

All of that should be recorded as it was a 9-11 call.  

I contacted my husband and told him where we were.  

The man was extremely apologetic, said he was a family man, was just supporting his wife and kids and he would get fired for hitting me.  He was very sorry, he said it numerous times.  I felt terrible and said I was sorry too, I even patted him on the shoulder.  His name is Fernando, and he'd been driving a truck for 6 months.   We talked until the CHP arrived.  I shared with him my own son's struggle to find a job and I knew how tough it was.

Well, the CHP arrived and then my husband.  The CHP helped us exchange information.  But, they said that the accident was actually in Sacramento City Police Boundaries and the police don't come out to take reports.  So, we would handle this through our insurance company.  I told Fernando that I would get an estimate and call him that night with the costs and we could still handle it off-book if he wanted - I really did feel terrible.  So, we got an estimate that day, for only $200.00 (still hadn't noticed the bumper) and I called Fernando on his company phone and left a message saying it was only $200.00 and if he would call me back, we'd take care of it that way.

He didn't call back, so we dealt with it through insurance.

This morning, I got a phone call, waking me up, from their insurance company, Gallagher Bassett, who hilariously bill themselves as the most ethical company in the world.  They took my statement and then told me they immediately ruled in favor of the driver. 


Apparently, he said he hadn't hit me, he didn't know me, there was no damage and he had no idea what I was talking about.  He lied to me about being a good man and about wanting to do the right thing.  My side of the story didn't matter at all, as I had no proof he did it so why they called me?   I have no idea. 

The fact that I'd called their company hot line immediately saying he'd hit me, that I followed him halfway around town, that I'd called the CHP - none of that means he hit me,  according to them. I'm just a crazy lady, I guess, following big rigs around and making up accidents and calling 800 numbers and the CHP for no reason.    That is just what this terminally ill woman does for fun in her spare time. Follow trucks and pretend they hit her.  Because, I don't have enough problems  in my life, clearly, I need to create more.

Here is a screenshot of the calls I made.  You can see that I was nervous and messed up dialing the truck's reporting number a couple of times, called my husband (Doug) in between and then called 9-11.

$200.00 is nothing for the "most ethical company in the world" to do the right thing but it is a lot for me at Christmas time.  Apparently there is no justice in this world, especially for me.

Maybe you should call  Gallagher/Basset and leave a message for (name and number deleted upon request) and let her know what you think about calling a terminally ill lady and pretending to get a statement when it has already been decided.   Or, you  may want to call the trucking company and let them know how you feel about having drivers of that caliber on the road with your children: (number deleted upon request).  They might also be interested in this post.

If you would like to tell Fernando  what you think about his lies, his company line is: (number deleted upon request.)  Feel free to leave a message - I called him and he hung up on me.  He's a good, family man, after all.  I'm sure he would like a letter telling him what an honorable person he is.

After all, I'm sure he immediately reported the accident I caught on video at Outback, which is is probably required to do.  Oh wait, he didn't, the insurance company told me they had no knowledge of it (but wanted me to send them the video.)  So, they could cover it up?  No chance.

Outback will have it with my testimony today.

If you have any advice for getting my rightful $200.00 from these people, I would be happy to hear it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Meet 'n Grunt

Regular readers will know that I have two greyhounds, which to me are the most beautiful animals in the world.

I have Cherry, who is 4, and Trista who just turned 9 months old.  Right after I got her, we took puppy classes where she impressed me with her eagerness to learn and ability to understand quickly.  She even sits on command, a rare greyhound trait.  Three months ago, I was on the road to a well-trained dog.

But, I never did sign up for the next set of lessons. I had started a new chemo which made me even more tired, and I stopped practicing with her because Cherry got in the way. Trista sits when told and my husband walks her twice a day and she seemed obedient enough to me.  We are working on her jumping on people, but aside from that problem, I thought she was doing well for a puppy her age.

More importantly, she keeps me company; I am alone a lot.

My days are spent in expressive conversations like this:

                    Mom, Timmy is in the well!

Because I don't speak her language, I joined a Facebook Group for Greyhound owners to help translate, and was pleased to discover that Trista's brother, Petie, was a member of this group.

Okay, wait.  I'm a dog-lover but am not (yet) nutty enough to think dogs can join facebook groups.  I still have a child at home so I haven't yet confused my dogs with my babies (although I did buy the dogs Christmas clothes).  So, I mean to say it was Petie's mother who joined the group.  (Yes, mother, not owner. I am a little crazy.)

A couple weeks ago, somebody posted about a Greyhound Meet and Greet that was happening right near my house, at Whole Foods, from 11:00 to 1:00 -  and Petie was going to be there.

Although stomach pain and fatigue makes leaving the house harder these days, I wanted to meet Trista's brother.  (And, mother, of course.)  So, I decided to go.

Sunday, I set my alarm for early in the morning, 10:00 am, so I could be ready.  I had promised to be there by noon.  I decided to take just Trista and not both dogs. Dad was putting up Christmas lights and was too busy to go, and I couldn't manage both.  To fool Cherry, he took her for a walk while I put Trista in the car.

Trista behaved beautifully during the ride, sitting in the center of the back seat and not trying to get into my lap as I drove, unlike when I'm watching TV, when my lap is fair game.   I parked a bit away, and walked my dog calmly to Whole Foods.  She walked by my left side, as she had been taught.

Then we saw the greyhound pack.

Trista exploded.    "Dogs!   Dogs and Dogs!  Greyhound Dogs!!!  People too!  More Dogs! Food!  Dogs!  Yay!!! Yay!!!! People and Dogs!"  She started dragging me to the group, tail whipping around like a helicopter, tongue hanging out.  I realized that I had put on the shoes I'd been wearing when I stepped on the bug, and they were a bit slippery, probably from leftover bug guts.  I tried to be super cool and let people think I was so eager to get there that I was running and sliding on my own.  What, a dog pull me?

We reached the pack and jerked to a stop, and then Trista had a wonderful time sniffing butts and showing off her tallness and meeting her even taller brother.  Petie is a fawn beauty, and disturbingly, very well-behaved, although he is the same age as Trista.

Now, in my defense, my managing with an exuberant teenage puppy is not like you doing so. Remember, I am dealing with cancer, pain and some pretty odd chemotherapy side effects.  Yes, it's an excuse, and I'm playing the cancer card.  It is also true.

My first problem is my continually runny nose and eyes, caused by herceptin.  When I say runny, I mean running like you have a vacation home in North Dakota and leave the bathroom faucet on in the winter so your pipes don't freeze. There is a constant, thin stream that can't be shut off.   I must have a tissue in one hand at all times, or I end up looking like a toddler with a slimy upper lip who sprinkles little nose drops that splat on the sidewalk.

When I'm outside, my eyes run too, even when I have lashes, as I do now.  So half a tissue is used for my eyes and half is for my nose and I have to juggle that while holding a dog and leash.

As I arrived, I began talking to a woman who was telling me a story about a greyhound, and my eyes were tearing and my nose was running and she looked at me with serious concern, not thinking her story had been that sad,  "Are you all right?"  I had to explain that it was medication side effects,  that I was not crying over a re-homed dog.

I suppose that wetness could come in handy if I should ever need to fake it though.

The next problem that interferes with my dog-control is my frozen shoulders, which still have not healed, especially the left which is getting worse again. Compounding the problem is some sort of pain I am having in my midsection, which might be cancer or might be chemo or might be the return of c-diff, but whatever it is, it feels like I've been kicked in the gut.

Needless to say, putting a muscled animal like Trista in a pack of ten greyhounds in front of a grocery store where people were leaving with delicious smelling bags of food did not do my shoulder and stomach any favors.   She pulled my arms right out of their sockets trying to stick her nose into the green cloth bags, or worse, the crotches, of the Whole Foods customer while I winced in agony trying to pull her back, a drop on the end of my nose,  continually sparkling in the sunshine.

My shoulder also came into play when a greyhound mommy decided to walk her shy dog around the back of the store, either to get away or have some privacy.   Trista decided this walk was a fine idea, that she needed a walk too, and with this particular dog and this particular time, thank you very much.     As soon as they walked away, Trista followed, me slipping and sliding behind her.  I had a choice: follow Trista on my feet, or follow her on my butt.  I chose feet.   That poor woman got our company whether she wanted it or not.  She was, of course, quite gracious.

After our unexpected walk, I went back to the group.  It seemed that Trista had relaxed, so I began chatting with another dog owner, petting her beautiful animal while mistakenly taking my eyes off my own dog.  That  moment of quiet proved to be treacherous.  While I was happily chatting away, tissue to my face, my dog snuck to the very end of her leash, where a man had unknowingly sat at a nearby table to enjoy his lunch.

And, Trista licked his bread.

The only reason I chose the word "licked" instead of ate, was the length of the leash.

The man, to say the least, was not happy.  I apologized profusely and asked somebody to hold my dog and went in to get him an entire loaf of gourmet, expensive, Whole Foods bread to make up for the roll she had ruined, but when I came out, he was gone.  Some of the people thought he went to the store to complain, which I hope won't affect future meet and greets.  Because of that, the woman who had arranged the gathering had to go in and explain the situation to the store staff.

There were at least ten other dogs there, all behaving like greyhounds do: sitting or standing calmly, beautifully posed and behaved, slightly aloof but friendly when approached, regal and composed,  impressing everybody who passed by with their beauty and quiet personalities, their owners rightfully proud.

Then there was me and my dog.  Me being dragged around uncontrollably, "crying" and snotting everywhere, trying to hang on for dear life, while Trista demonstrated her eagerness to sniff a crotch, stick her nose into somebody's full (and expensive) grocery bag, and participate in uninvited food tastings and walks.

I adore my energetic, enthusiastic, friendly, and brash puppy.  She gives me a lot of joy and her zest for life is a lesson for us all.

But next time?  I'm taking Cherry.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Cyber Monday

Quick reminder:  if you are shopping for Amazon items on Cyber Monday, please use my box to the right
----> to start your shopping.  Any search you do starting from my box gives me a teeny referral.  It can add up so please remember to do that.  Thank you!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Question for Cancer Patient:  "How are you doing this year?"

Answer:  "Better than the turkey!"

Once again, it is time to gather around the table with a thankful heart.  Thanksgiving in our family is still about sharing life's bounty with those we feel closest to; with our friends and our family; it is not about buying low-end electronics at a cheap price.  At least, not yet, and I hope it never is.

This year, my biggest thanks is that Kurt is receiving a marrow transplant. Yes folks, he found a donor. He has a second shot at life and living many Happy Thanksgivings with his family and loved ones.  That is #1 on my gratitude list.

I'm also thankful that my friend James' dog is on the road to recovery.  The poor pup has been sick for three months and had a surgery and is now doing well.   As a dog lover, I know how hard it is to have an animal in distress and I'm glad he's healing.  My dogs, obnoxious as they may be, bring me lots of joy.

And I am thankful for my many friends and family who have come through for me during this difficult year, in big ways and small ones.  The meals, the cards, the emails, the texts, the small gifts, the understanding, the knowledge that I may not been seen daily but am not forgotten  - I am thankful for all of it.  I am thankful to you who read my blog, who have come to know me, who care. When I started this blog, I never thought anybody but immediate family would see it.  Now I have friends from all over the world.

I am thankful for having a wonderful husband who takes on my duties without complaint, and listens to my many complaints without getting annoyed (or at least, sharing with me that annoyance.)  And, for my wonderful sons, who changed my life.  I am thankful for the people they are, and who I know they will become.  I don't have to be there to know that they will be honorable, good men for as long as their lives last.

Thanksgiving has always been special to me.  I remember my early days as a mom with a young baby, trying my hand at some of these dishes for the first time, eventually being able to cook our traditional feast expertly.  By the time I married and had my second child, I was feeding 20 people from a tiny kitchen in an easy bake oven-sized oven, and people patted their swelling stomachs and asked for thirds.  Although I had some stressful moments during the preparation,  I was always grateful for the family who surrounded me, for the ability I had to cook this meal, for being able to provide it,  for the sound of squealing children clamoring for more pie.  Unless I had no choice and no room at all, there was no kids table - everybody got a seat at the main table.

This year, my energy is down and pain is up.  I will have fewer people, and I will only make a few dishes, but I am still having family over.  I am buying most of the meal, turkey and sides, from Whole Foods, but will make things special to our family:  a coleslaw that was my mother's recipe,  a chocolate pie, that green bean casserole which is my son's favorite.  While it feels like cheating to buy a turkey, stuffing, gravy and yams, there is no chance that I can stand on my feet and cook for two days as in years past, so instead, I am grateful that I live near a store like Whole Foods that sells these delicious meals that taste like homemade, and can do most of the work for me.

When you have my illness, thoughts cross your mind like shadows: "Is this my last Thanksgiving?"  You have to push those thoughts away because they will crowd out the reason for the day.  It doesn't matter if I am here next year, all that matters is that I am here now.

Last year looked like my last too.  This time last year, c-diff was bubbling in my intestines, making me sick.  I managed to get a meal on the table and even smile, but inside I was deathly ill, and the minute people left I went to bed and that night I had gone septic.  I ended up in the ICU, with pseudomembraneous colitis, almost losing my colon and my life.  Recovery was very long and very difficult - it took months for any normality to return.

But I recovered.  Here I am, celebrating yet another Thanksgiving.  I will once again see my younger son choose dark meat, my older son will kiss his girl and crack up the table with his quick wit, and my step-daughter will talk about something esoteric.  We may play a board game, or sit at the table two hours past the pie and coffee, chatting.   We will will be, yet again, a family. Although not all will be with us, all will be remembered.

And so it will be with me, someday, when I am gone.  I imagine that the family will still gather, that a glass will be lifted to my memory.  I hope they don't all float off  in different directions, like dandelion seeds.  But, I suppose that is inevitable when the matriarch is gone.

But, enough of that.  I am so thankful for that I am still here to enjoy this glorious sunshiney day.

Happy Thanksgiving to you.

Back to making that pie.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Parenthood - the TV show

One of my favorite TV shows is the family drama Parenthood.  I love the characters.  The actors in the show are fantastic, and I find the story arcs interesting. (Bravo, writers.)   If I could join any fake family, I think I'd choose that one, and for the record,  I, like Sarah, also would really find it hard to choose between Jason Ritter and Ray Romano. (I'd have to pick Ray because I had a crush on Jason's father back in the 80s and that would just be too weird.)

When I found out they were going to do a story line where one of the women gets breast cancer, my heart sank.  I live breast cancer every day, and don't really want to see it in my entertainment, much less one of my favorite shows.   TV is one way I escape my reality.

Although, if one of the guys from the Deadliest Catch got it, I might feel differently.  Can't you just see Captain Keith deal with a mastectomy?

The entertainment industry has an atrocious record for truth-telling when it comes to cancer treatment.  On TV and in the movies, all chemo patients puke, they all look continually miserable, they lose their hair but not their lashes or brows, they never have mastectomies,  they get huge circles under their eyes, get skinny,  and generally look very bad.

The exception was Samantha in Sex and the City, where reality was bent too far towards the other end of the bell curve - she wore a different fabulous wig to every party and had great sex with a hot young stud while on chemo.

Both can happen - miserable puking or hot young sex -  but the truth for nearly everybody lies somewhere in the middle.

Nobody on TV demonstrates the real side effects that make us miserable, like constipation and a constantly runny nose. And, that's a shame because all the Kleenex and Miralax I use would make for fantastic product placement.

I understand that having cancer would not be an interesting or dramatic story without some suffering, and Hollywood needs that conflict and they need to show it visibly.  Having somebody look okay but sleep for 18 hours a day would not for interesting TV make - I get it.  But, one of the reasons the over-dramatization of nausea and vomiting and misery bothers me is because I have been going to the infusion room for 3 years, and I see so many new people who are terrified because of what they've seen on TV.  That chemo makes you puke and miserable is now in our collective zeitgeist and it's hard to change it.    Despite what their doctors and nurses tell them - that the premeds are likely to handle their nausea, that they will be able to function and even work,  most people don't believe it.  When they hear it from me, they feel better because they know I've been there, and I've talked more than one newbie down off the ledge in my day.  I just wish they weren't on that ledge to begin with.

Back to Parenthood:  I know that Maura Tierney was supposed to be on the show and had to back out because she was diagnosed with breast cancer - the same kind I have, HER2+.  She has been public about the fact that chemo is not portrayed realistically on TV.    So, I had hopes the people involved in that show knew her and had some sort of investment in showing the truth, or at least, the common truth,  which is that chemo is hard but it's worse to think about then do.  Most go to work, manage their family obligations,  and incorporate going to chemo into their lives.

Chemo (at least, early on)  is really an anti-climax, although tell that to Samantha.

Last week's Parenthood was pretty good.  They did touch on something all of us experience - people wanting to give us health advice.  I can't tell you how many times people have told me what to eat, or what supplement to take.  They showed kind people bringing food, which is also true for most of us (or I hope it is).   I never had six chickens in my fridge but I've been saved with meals more than once.

Then, they exposed difficult family relationships, which don't get better in a health crisis.  Christina's mother has been absent and uncaring, and once again, would not come when her daughter is facing this very scary time in her life, something which hit close to home for me.  Christina's quote was, "I want my mom, my own mom, to consider me important enough to get on a plane and come see me."  I felt the same, but the difference for me was I never expected it so was not disappointed when it never happened.  Christina is still hoping that the seriousness of her disease will fix a broken relationship.   If the story stays true to reality, she will learn that cancer does not make people love you, and it does not change them into being caring if they were not to begin with.  She will find that certain people she thought loved her will just disappear - but she will also learn to appreciate the people she does have, the ones who provide support.  She will learn they are her true family.

She also says something we all feel,  "I sometimes wish that things were back to normal, and I wish I could curl up into a ball and cry forever, but I can't."

So, with those moments, with Christina speaking a real truth, with the reactions of people around her reflecting what actually happens,  I was hopeful that as this story arc plays out, they would get most of it right.

Then I saw this scene:

And, I realized how exactly right he was and how honest this show is.

I mean, look at me now:


I am a bit squeamish to continue watching, and "scenes from next week" seem to show her puking and looking bad, doing the entire cliche chemo bit.  But the show is good so I will stick with it.  Writers, if you come across this post,  feel free to do me a favor and end this part of your story by the season finale.  While those with breast cancer know it never truly ends, I will forgive a small untruth - just once.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Follea Wigs and Giveaway

The Follea Wigs are considered the Porche of the wig world. They are expensive, but this is the wig that women with permanent hair loss, those with alopecia or those whose hair never returns after cancer treatment (rare) choose. They don't come off, they are comfortable and they are made with upscale product linings as well as natural hair.

I was very excited to be offered a (returnable) sample to try, and I must say, the wig is gorgeous and exceeded my expectations. I hadn't specified color or style though, and it was long and blonde, which was so not me that I wouldn't be doing the company any good by showing a photo of me in it - it would generate laughs, not awe.  Because I liked it so much, I want to give the best presentation.

The hair was soft and brushable, felt better than any head of hair that has ever grown out of me, or any I have bought. The hairline and part looked completely natural and you really could not tell it was a wig.  And, you could swirl your head around like a kindergarten girl, and the wig stayed on.

While I have hair again, it seemed so very comfortable - like a cloud. I will inline photos of the cap for you at the end of this post so you can see the very visible difference.  I think that the comfort and beauty this wig provides is what any cancer patient needs. When I think of all the miserable times I had in my shiny wig, (which were actually few because I couldn't stand to wear it) I know that I would have loved to have a Follea wig for my bald periods. The inside cap was so soft, that I think it could be worn all day without wanting to rip it off and throw it into the nearest fire. I recommend this wig for anybody who is going to do chemo who can afford it. And, if you are Stage IV, this might be a good investment as we do lose our hair numerous times.

But wait! They are having a contest and you have until November 18 to win. Here is what they say:

Follea is hosting a Breast Cancer Wig Giveaway on Facebook that will give women with breast cancer the chance to win great prizes. The grand prize winner will receive a wig from Follea’s luxurious Gripper Collection, five second place winners will receive Tres Chic MM6 wigs, and 50 third place winners will receive one of Follea’s super-soft bamboo sleep caps. Women with breast cancer can submit a video about their personal journey, or a family member or friend can submit a video about why their loved one with breast cancer inspires them. Also, every Friday, ending December 14, Follea will conduct a random drawing of all of the contestants’ names, giving all participants the chance to win one of Follea’s bamboo sleep caps every week. Like Follea on Facebook and enter the contest. If anybody deserves a beautiful wig, it's a woman whose lost a boob or two! Here are my photos of this great wig:

On the left is my best wig, Henry Margu.  On the right, the Follea.  See the difference?
Turned inside out.  Look at the soft fabric, and what appear to be hand-tied hairs that look completely natural.
I just brushed the wig.  Even on a fake head, it looks soft and natural.  You could put this wig up in a pony tail too.

Quick!  Enter the contest and get yourself one of these fantastic wigs!  

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Another Video for You

Mmmmmhmmm. Glorybe, I ain't dead yet.

Although, it does speak to my age that I found Dr. Rothaford the sexiest. :)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Video for You

Grab your tissues (I always have mine handy, damn herceptin) and watch a remarkable young man live out his bucket list.  This is by the same people who filmed me.

Soul Pancake is a production company started by Rainn Wilson (yes, the guy from The Office) to tackle some of life's big questions.  And, how we prepare to die is one of those questions.  It is not talked about in our society much, and I have no idea why.  People approach me with kid gloves when they have any questions about being diagnosed with an incurable cancer, but it's unnecessary.  It's as natural as being born.  That doesn't mean it isn't sad, or unfair, or any of those things.  I wish this wasn't happening to this young man, and I, of course, relate to his mother, who must be going through hell.  I am so glad I am the sick one in my family, rather than one of my children.

Link to it on YouTube:

Monday, November 5, 2012

Soul Pancake Production

So, I am going to be on an online show called "My Last Days," by a production company called Soul Pancake.  And, funny story about that - I don't have a lot of Soul, being a middle-aged white chick and all, but I used to have an avatar on a TiVo forum - it was a photo of me with a pancake on my head.  (Like the old pancake bunny, remember?)  And, I was talking with Ahmed,  the assistant producer, about my interest in tech and his interest in home theater systems and I asked him if he knew about AVS Forums, and he said he did.  Well, the forum where I had the pancake bunny avatar was under the umbrella of the AVS Forums and that means we both know Mike Lang, a mod on both forums.

Small world.  It all came together, didn't it?

So, this camera crew had been out filming with me at my house, with my family and they even went with me to pick up a prescription and grabbed one of my chemo nurses and my doctor's assistant for an interview, which was a big surprise for them, I'm sure.    They had been interviewing us all day and above is a picture of what the house looked like with them here, talking to my husband.   It was an amazing experience having a crew in the house asking us questions about death, and I think it really made my family think about the experience and what it meant to them for me to have a life-limiting illness, as we say.  We have talked about it a lot but in a more practical way, and this got them to thinking about it in a new way.

I want to thank Justin Baldoni, the director, Ahmed, the Asst. Producer and the entire crew, who were so sensitive and caring while they were filming (and some who have names I can't spell so won't try).   Please note:  there was one shot when I was sound asleep in bed and had that feeling that somebody was staring at me, you know?  I starting waking thinking it was the dog then I remembered, there is a camera crew in the house.  I opened my eyes and there was a camera, inches from my face, probably capturing a slo-mo of my drooling.

The power of cancer is such that I turned over and slept a couple more hours.

So, maybe my thanks should be reserved for after I see that scene, and if you noticed the crumbling grout in the bathroom, sorry but it can't be fixed right now and who are you to judge anyway?  I have a broken refrigerator that needs to be replaced first.

They were cool people and I think they are going to handle my situation sensitively and with care.  Watch the first episode.  It's short so won't take a lot of your time but you will be amazed at the wonderful family you see and the bravery of these young people is truly inspiring.  Sadly,  Ryan is now in hospice and their family is struggling financially so if you are moved to do so, please donate to them.

I also was treated to the second episode (I will be the third) and it was so beautiful we just sat stunned for a minute when it ended.   I have no idea how they are going to make my story as touching as those other two - they are young people dying before their time, and a lot of people will see my gray hair and go, "Girl, your time was over long ago, whatchu complainin' about?"

I said yes to this because I don't say no to new experiences any more if I can physically do them.  And, it was kind of hard having a crew in the house for two full days filming every thing you do and you know what?  You really don't want to be on a reality TV show, especially if you have dogs that want to steal every scene. But, I'm glad I did it and all of these people were wonderful and made it seem easy and not like an intrusion. And, they have the magic to turn night into day, it was really amazing.

All I have to say until I see it is Justin and Emily, you are perfect for each other.  You will make beautiful babies and if one is a girl, you can give her the middle name of Ann.

Not even after me.   Everybody's middle name is Ann.  Ask around.  :)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Capital Cleaning and Cleaning for a Reason

No, I didn't clean before they came.  :)

I'd heard about Cleaning for a Reason over the years.    It is a charity that partners with a cleaning company and will come help clean the house of somebody who is in active cancer treatment.  Back when I was first diagnosed and was doing my first round of chemo, I looked into it, but nobody in Sacramento was doing it.  At the time I thought chemo would end so I wasn't that disappointed, I knew I'd soon get my energy back and be able to do my normal Saturday cleaning.

Well, we know my story didn't turn out that way.

Three years of chemo and a few surgeries later, and my house is in full decline.  My husband and son are pretty good at keeping the bigger chunks picked up, but neither of them understand that windows need to be cleaned, baseboards need dusting, and counters and tables need wiping and both are in the "ew" category when I mention that the toilets need to be scrubbed.   As time goes by, I can do less and less, and I want to nag less and less.  It's not only my frozen shoulders and my painful stomach that keep me from cleaning things, but also my energy level.  I just can't get get physical in any way these days and the menfolk just don't see it the way I do -  so the house was looking dirty.

I fear what will happen when I'm gone.

Surfing the net one day, I saw Cleaning for a Reason mentioned again they now had partnered with Capital Cleaning, a family-owned business that uses all green products.  I applied and sure enough, they were able to come and clean my house.

They asked if I minded a film crew from TV coming to show what they can do.  I felt that if it will help another sick woman know this is out there, I'd be happy to let my messy house be shown.  

I get four free cleanings, of which one was that one. I'm going to try to schedule the rest before holidays, which will really ease my mind; it's always so stressful to have people come over when the house is messy.   They were so kind and understanding of the condition the house was in - they had a crew of three women cleaning and one who just spoke to me and told me her personal story.  They did a great job, and it was wonderful to wake up this morning and have a clean house.  I don't know if men really understand how a dirty house can cause stress in a woman - at least, my men don't.   I will probably try to convince my husband to hire them when my free ones are over.  It will be money well-spent and it really eases my mind to know that the house is clean.

If you are not sick but are looking for a housecleaning service in Sacramento, I can recommend Capital Cleaning.  They did a very good job.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Op-Ed in Sacramento Bee

I am very pleased to announce the the Bee printed an opinion piece by little 'ol me.  My regular readers will know how difficult it was for me to write something in a mere 750 words, but I managed.  My basic point?  Don't pink, donate marrow instead.

I want to remind everybody that the marrow donation for Kurt is tomorrow, Monday, from 2-7 at Mira Loma High School, 4000 Edison Avenue Sacramento.   I will definitely be there, at least at the beginning.  I don't promise to have the health or energy to stay until the end as I will have already had a very busy day.  Cleaning for a Reason will be coming to my house, and a TV film crew is supposed to film me as they clean.  This is very cool but it means getting up 3 hours earlier than I normally do.    I believe it will be on channel 10 for you locals.
Also, did I forget to mention that iTriage did an interview with me?

There is your reading for the day.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Bedroom Remodel and Friendship

Me and my closest friend
One of the kindest things somebody has done for me was to help me remodel my bedroom. My bedroom, to say the least, was a mess. I once heard a decorator say that most people never do their bedroom - it's the place with all the leftover furniture, and a space where you throw all that old junk you don't know what to do with when you are picking up the house.

Mine was like that, only at some point years ago, I got it in my head that I should paint an "accent wall" a dark raisin color. Let's just say, it made a dark room even darker and there is a reason I didn't go into interior design. But I lived with it,  as a bedroom isn't a priority - nobody sees it.

Then, my oldest and dearest friend proposed a visit to see me, but not just any visit. She, who has electrical, construction, carpentry and design skills, was going to do a room makeover on that room.  She acknowledges what is hard to say: I likely will die in that room, and she wanted it to be a peaceful space for me.  And, she said she could do it in three days.

I wanted to see her and I really doubted we'd get any work done as it has been about a decade since we've managed to fly to each other's city, and there was a lot to catch up on in the short time I'm awake.   But it was fun to plan and dream. I set up a pinterest board with the style I wanted - Hollywood Glam. Because the room is so dark, I wanted to add lots of light and sparkle with mirrored furnishings, sheen on the bed, and crystal accents. And, because my husband's favorite color is purple, I decided that it would be the accent color. After all, he's going to have to live with it a lot longer than I will.

My friend came out and to my surprise - we worked! Actually, she and my oldest son and husband did most of the work, but I still managed to paint some trim. So, here are photos (testing the new panarama feature of the iPhone)  of the before and after on the bedroom.

Ugly raisin red colored back wall, fake brass bedrailing, red and gold colored bedding- some clutter is because we were moving things out and putting boxes in before the remodel, but also - it was cluttered.  

After.  gorgeous silver and mirrored furniture, bedding with plum, we spraypainted the headboard silver.!

Look at the panels she did on the wall, with wall paper that I painted purple.  The chair was a later find and now there are two of them, which is a story unto itself.  We spray painted an old chest of my husbands's and she put that fabric on it.

What you can't see is the crystal light fixture above the bed. It is just drops of crystal and she put it on a dimmer switch. At night, we leave it on the lowest setting and I look up and see beautiful firework colors. During the day, it throws light around in rainbows, just the way I'd hoped.

Because we were so successful, my friend found her passion. She is going to start a non-profit, fixing up rooms for the terminally ill. She will need to get materials and companies on board with her (I paid for the materials myself but she wants to do this for people for free or minimal costs), and I think it's a fantastic idea. (Her initial website is  I find such beauty and peace every time I go in there.  It's clean and calm and pretty.  As soon as the non-profit is in place, I'll include it in my links of charities to give to.

In the meantime, I have the bedroom of my dreams, to match the friend of my life.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Me on NPR!

I was invited to be on NPR's Tell Me More radio program, with the topic being "Beyond the Pink." You can listen to me here:

Me in the studio
Thanks to the other ladies I was interviewed with, the producer who found me,  and special thanks to Michel Martin who was very sensitive in her questions.  Of course, you can always "go there" with me.  :) Here is the bugs post that Michel mentioned.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Kurt Strong and your chance to help

I posted before about Kurt and his struggle.  Let me tell you about Kurt.  Not only is he my son's friend, but he's a very smart young man.  He is the kind of kid you meet and you go, "Wow, there is hope for this generation yet."  He is a good student, and he likes science, technology and soccer, but he's not perfect, he's a kid.  He also has fun.  He likes Facebook and YouTube and games, and the same things all 16 year old kids like.  But, he's been trapped in a hospital, in an illness - one that might kill him,  for well over a year now.  The good news, is somebody out there can fix it.

Let me tell you about his mom.  Despite a busy career, she was always first to volunteer for school things.  She brought in food for teachers, and gave her time and energy.  She did this even after Kurt was diagnosed, although she had to give up her career to take care of him full time.   She brought me a plate of delicious chocolate brownie goodie things, because I had cancer. While her son was sick.

Can you imagine his mom's worry?

A 16 year old boy is fighting for his life, and you have the power to save him.  It's in your hands.  You can give a mother her son back, and a son his life.   What an honor that would be.  That would be karma points enough to get you into heaven.

After my last post about him, many of you have said that you ordered marrow donation kits in honor of Kurt  and boy, do I thank you for that.   But now I'm asking for more.

First, like his page on facebook:

His family finds comfort in religion so if you swing that way, send them your prayers.

Then, I'm calling on everybody in the Sacramento region age 18 and up to come to Mira Loma High School on Monday, October 29th to show your support.  From 2:00 to 7:00 pm, in the Library, we will be having a marrow drive to try to save this young man's life.

I will be there.  I am actually going to take off my PJs and get dressed. I'll up my pain meds if I have to, but I will volunteer.  I will do whatever is necessary, including swabbing cheeks or filling out paperwork.  I am, my friends, in pain these days. Halaven is causing my tumor to hurt - I can feel it in the liver; it's very weird.  I can't breathe well.  I'm tired.  I sleep, a lot.

You know what that means?  It means, your excuse is gone.

If I am going, you can't say "Oh, I'm too tired."  You aren't as tired as me.  Is it too far away?  No, it's not.  If I can go, you can too.  You can take off early from work, you can take a late lunch - surely you have done that for less.  State Workers, I'm talking to you.  I know there are lots of you who are Asian, and I know you have furlough days.  Why not take one on Monday?

You can go immediately after work; the event will go to 7:00 and if people are in line, we'll wait.  This isn't about time.  It's about saving somebody who has a long, productive life ahead of him.  Somebody who will do good in the world.

Have to get home and cook?  Here's a hint:  There is a Raley's grocery 1/4 mile away so you can stop, get swabbed, buy a bracelet to show support, hit the store for dinner, pop on the freeway,  and you are done. The take-out chickens are great.

The entire Mira Loma school community will be out in force to help, and I challenge you to join that community. Become a Matador and fight the Bullshit that is cancer.

It's easy.  They will swab your cheek.  No needles, no pain.  That's it.  Then I will give you a hug.   If you are Asian, I'll give you two. If you are Chinese, I will give you three!

There will be a shirt that you can sign that will be presented to Kurt, so he knows that everybody is pulling for him.  There will be bracelets for sale that go to the Leukemia Society (to help pay for all of this) and other things we are working on, including getting the press involved.  Do you hear that Sacramento Bee, Sacramento Connect, SacTown Magazine?  Time to put this in your publications, tweet it out,  and get the word out.  You have a responsibility to save a life too.

I realize most of my readers don't live in Sacramento.  But, maybe you have a friend who does.  Maybe a friend of a friend does.  You don't know who knows who and who lives where. The world is small.  I met a a person who became a friend in Chicago,  and it turns out her cousin used to sit next to me in the infusion room in CA.

So, share this post.  Like Kurt's page on Facebook.  Make sure your friends share too.

How many dumb things have I seen passed along on facebook?  A silly joke by George Takai can reach millions. A kitten jumping can get the world to smile.   So, why not this be the thing that goes across the nation?

Here is a minor hitch.  If you are over 44, you have to sign up (on site, we will have computers there) and pay $100.00.  That is to cover the costs.  Everybody 44 and under is free.   I'm guessing that since you can only donate until you are 61, they can't afford to sign everybody up for free.  Your donation time is lessened so you have to pay.  You know what?  Do it anyway. If you are 45 and of Chinese descent   $100.00 is nothing for this young man's life.  Alternatively, if you have $100.00 to give and are already on the registry, bring it by to pay for somebody else.

I'm warning you, this is going to turn into a nag.  I will blog this again and again.  And, my husband will attest, I'm a pretty damn fine nagger!

Bottom line:   My life will not be saved.  I want Kurt's to be saved in my place.  You can make that happen.

I will see you from 2:00 to 7:00 on October 28th at Mira Loma High School's Library.  The address is 4000 Edison Avenue, 95821.

I'll be the one in the scarf.

(You can still donate at home.  Read my previous post on how to do it, linked at the top)