day in the life
the everyday life of a couple living well with a slow-growing cancer.
always easy, and there will certainly be sorrows and losses
along the way. But being alive is good. It is very good.
Monday, July 21,
There is this fine
line that the cancer caregiver walks. Do I
nag encourage Hubby to get outdoors with me? Or
leave him in peace?
There is no such
thing as leaving him in peace in our household, so Ive been
walking Hubby regularly.
One of our favorite
trails is along the Deschutes
River that winds lazily through town. Here the locals and
tourists line up for swimming, tubing and stand-up paddle
the tourist areas, though, there is a southern stretch
thats very wildernessy, although still within city limits.
We hiked a little
more than two miles. I believe its the furthest
Hubby has walked since
the start of radiation.
Radiation zaps the
last shreds of energy from a patient. And when you consider that
Hubby was low energy before starting radiation, well then, you
can see what an accomplishment.
A variety of
flowers colors the trail if you take the time to look for them.
an overlook on the east side of the river that is a gentle climb
from the waters
Maybe its the sound
of river rushing over large boulders. Or the cooling breeze from
this vantage point. Maybe it was the picnic lunch. Or quite possibly all of the
Whatever it is, its
that sneak in to cloud my brain with worries tend to
scatter when Im
here. Or anywhere outdoors. With Hubby.
Thursday, July 17,
This cancer community
Do you know how
difficult it is to return to work after the loveliest of weeks off
with family and surprise friends? Ah, well. If one
has to return to work, it might as well be this work, this
place, these people.
I serve as
Survivorship Coordinator at St. Charles Cancer Center. If
youll remember from the hard-hat-wearing blog, construction has
been an ongoing thing for quite some time now. Remodeling in the
radiation oncology wing. Adding on a medical
So, Im pleased to
report that we settled into our
new digs three weeks ago.
Patients can now
receive radiation and chemo under the same roof. Along with all
the other fabulous support services we offer. (Have I mentioned oncology massage, grocery assistance, a monthly educational dinner meeting? Soaring Spirits camp?)
Charles Cancer Center medical oncology wing
Earlier this weekon the new deck of the new wing with the new windows reflecting
Pilot Buttemy boss did some hair-cutting.
A skill none of us knew she had.
cutting off pony tails in preparation for shaved
A St. Charles
employee from the Community Education Dept was diagnosed with cancer.
Chemo took her hair, so two of her co-workers participated in a
fundraiser that required the shaving of their heads.
Brave women, these.
Professional shaver at work
If I ever have
cancer and chemo, God forbid, I would expect my office roomies to shave
their heads in solidarity. Lizzi? Alycia? Jessica?
support comes in all forms. Since cancer, Hubby
and I have been recipients of so much kindness and compassion.
Which is rather
humbling. But with the background sounds of our daughter lecturingdont
you hate it when your kids lecture you?
and when theyre
right?we are learning to
even begin to add up the value of all the flowers, cards, books,
meals, airline tickets, Starbux gift
cards, Whole Foods gift cards, Barnes & Noble gift cards. And more.
about entering into
it? Because we all need each other. And because every prayer,
every gift, every act of kindness says, Youre
facing some tough things. I care. Here, let my help you carry
funded by a generous community. Awesome survivorship programs
that encourage/assist/educate patients and caregivers on
living well with and beyond cancer. Head-shaving co-workers.
Kindness and compassion.
This is where I
work. This is our central
Monday, July 14,
Return to the real world
Even though its
early, and we dont
have to be out of this vacation home until 10:30, Hubby will
soon begin packing. And loading his things into the car.
And he wont
say anything to me about when Im
going to be ready to go, but hell
be restless and pacing. Because we need to get going. And weve
got a full twelve miles to drive home. And we need to get going.
And who knows how long it will take to drive twelve miles.
I have lived with
this man forty-plus years. I know the routine.
I, on the other
hand, want to relish every last minute in this forested retreat.
a mama deer and her twin fawns feeding just off the back deck.
the clatter of
A cool breeze
blowing in through the open doors.
Sun spilling golden
on the evergreen. Clouds drawing pictures in the water below.
And back home is
unpacking and laundry and getting ready to go back to work and
returning all the items that we borrowed to turn our garage into
Hubby just now
spoke those ten magical words that made my heart beat faster.
want to stop for a Chai tea in town?
That does it. Im
Saturday, July 12,
Rah-rahs in town
Turning sixty isnt
quite as painful as one might imagine. Especially if youre
surprised by these lovely young women.
affectionately referred to them as rah-rahs. And when one came
back to visit campus as an alum, he called them ex-rah-rahs. Or
still they loved him and put up with him.
In a former life, I
was a cheerleading coach. Competitive squads, these girls.
Trophies and trips around the world.
fundraising and practicing. Lifting weights. Cheering at games. Throwing stunts.
Dancing. Tumbling. Learning the importance of teamwork. Of conflict
resolution. Of commitment.
taken cheerleaders to Hawaii and Florida. To Australia. To
France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Austria and England.
happy to report that I never once lost a teenager. Although I
came close a couple times. (Sarah, in Paris when you left
your insulin in the hotel room. Adriana, in Frankfurt
when they didnt
let you back on the plane to America.) But those are stories for
a different time.
mothers, nowcame from
Arizona, BC, Washington, Oregon and California. To Bend. To have lunch together
and help ease me into this next decade.
Add in kids and
grandkids celebrating my birthday before they returned to the east
coast; Hubby and I still in this lovely resort village of
SunRiver; and well wishes from family and friends.
Best birthday ever.
Wednesday, July 9,
We are with the New JerseyitesDaughter
Summer, SIL Josh and grandkidletsin the beautiful forested village of SunRiver.
re-reading Ann Voskamps book, One Thousand Gifts.
And counting gifts.
1. Journaling on a
sun-drenched, tree-top deck.
2. Hubby right
here. One more day with Hubby.
3. Hot, honeyed tea.
4. A sassy squirrel
playing on a nearby limb.
Cheering on miniature
6. Still able to keep
up with the grandkids (this will not always be the case).
7. Rest stop
along a lazy river.
8. Wildlife in a
9. Card games
with the little people.
princesses on the big screen with my own 6-year-old princess singing along.
11. Our personal chef for the past month. Tonight:
Grilled apple chicken sausages.
Homemade mac n
cheese with smoked gouda, cheddar and mozzarella. Uhmmnhn.
On paper, all may
not seem well in our world. Hubbys cancer is spreading. To hard
grandchildren live an entire continent away.
unemployed for two years just before the cancer diagnosis, which
greatly affected our finances.
On paper, not so good. But heres the truth: All is well in our world. For
we are held in the strong and capable hands of a loving Father
God who sees the bigger picture.
It doesnt matter
that I cant see around the
bend in the road up ahead, that I dont understand why these
It matters that I
count all the ways God loves me.
This day of life, of freedom.
This day of sunny
decks and wildlife and lazy rivers.
This day with these incredibly precious people.
All is well in our
Saturday, July 5,
The kids and
grandkids from New Jersey are here. The most densely populated
state in the U.S. (Oregon being 39th most densely
population, but there are other major differences between these two states,
and between our hometown and theirs.
For starters, Bend
hosts a pet parade. Has been doing this for 65 years. Not sure
that Hamilton, NJ, can make that same boast.
not just talking dogs here.
If you dont
have a dog, bring your pet lion.
Your chickens and
lizards and ponies pulling carts. Your flying dogs (which I
suspect Jersey doesnt
have many of).
And if you have no
ponies or chickens or flying dogs, bring your goat and walk in
let just about anyone in. Including these New Jerseyites (New
pulling his pet Lydia in a wagon
Fifth of July
picnic at Todd Lake. Im
also pretty sure
Jersey doesnt have wild birds that eat off the top of grandkids
Or even out of
And Im pretty sure
Jersey doesnt have mountains with snow on them
bomber at Todd Lake
But heres what
Jersey has that Oregon doesnt have. These particular
Sunday, June 29,
In addition to our
American daughter and son, Hubby and I have two Japanese
Shihoko lived with
us during her eleventh and twelfth grades of high school. And
Yuki lived with us her freshman year of college.
According to Yukiwho
is visiting this weekend from Dubai where she is stationed as a
flight attendant for Emirates AirlinesHubby taught her two
How to drive. And
She says that her
family wonders what happened to her after she came to America.
was never sarcastic until I met Gary,
Yuki was pleased to
learn that Summer and Lilly were going to be here. Even though
Lilly was three years old at the time, she remembers Yuki
who appears in family videos.
So, Summer has a
Japanese sister, and Lilly has a Japanese aunt. And we couldnt
be more pleased that our Japanese daughter came for a visit
while Hubby slipped effortlessly back into his picking-on-Yuki
More good medicine.
Friday, June 27,
Every morning for
the past few weeks a rather handsome man has been coming to see
me at work. And some mornings he brings Chai tea.
I rather like this
Well, except my
seem to keep their hands off him.
And really, you cant
blame them because the rather handsome mans
hair is growing back in after chemo. And its
And to rub your
hands across the top of his head is like petting a puppy.
treatments completed. Five more to go.
Thursday, June 26,
Hubby has been
badgering Granddaughter Lilly to bake a German Chocolate
Cake for him. He finally wore her and her mother out. Sort of like
Chinese Water Torture
one drip at a time.
brought home one piece of GC cake, but as it turned out, one of
neph tubes fell out, and they squeezed him in for replacement
surgery late yesterday afternoon, which meant he couldnt
eat anything from that point on.
Both tubes were
replaced, and I brought him home several hours later and tucked him
though, I found a suspicious-looking plate in the sink. Youre
noticing what Im
investigation, I found this container in the fridge. Hidden
under the blueberries. As if I wouldnt
And this in the
garbage. Smeared with something chocolate-y.
I have fabulous
Hubby-sitters during the day while Im
at workthe girls have been such good medicinebut it seems Im
going to need to hire a night-time sitter.
Monday, June 21,
A day at Camp Sherman
Im taking a chance
here and handing over my laptop to a 13-year-old. I know, I know
... not very smart of me.
* * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Hey! My name is
Lilly and I am writing a guest blog for Cancer Adventures. (I
guess my Grandma asked because people were bored of her. Dont
Anyways, after some
thinking I decided to write about my visit to Camp Sherman
today. Filled with fish, geese, chipmunks and so much more!
So... here we go!
First stop was at
because Grandpa wanted some snacks (like we dont
have enough in the fridge). And what Grandpa wants, Grandpa
through Camp Sherman, this tiny resort town in the mountains, we
stopped at the fish hatchery with all sorts of fish - salmon,
Rainbow trout, krill, etc.
We bought fish food
for 25 cents a handful (a bit pricey, dont you think?). As we
threw the 25 cents in the water, the fish all scrambled like mad
men as if a million dollars were just lying there. Kind of
My Grandpa spotted
a bald eagle at the fish hatchery. Not bad discovery for an old
It was very majestic. In fact, that eagle could eat
as much as he wanted considering how many fish were inside the
fish hatchery! Heaven for an eagle... dont you think?
We ate our snacks
at some picnic tables. As we were eating, we looked across and
saw some geese headed our way. And you know my sensitive
Grandma, she just had to feed the geese. We fed them some
peanuts from our trail mix and they loved it!
After my grandma
was done feeding them. I gave it a go. They loved me (probably
better than my grandma)! In fact, these geese were not
completely adults but more teenager geese. I guess we teens just connect like that.
Hungry teenaged geese
We were getting a
bit tired, so we headed home over the bridge and the beautiful turquoise blue Metolius River.
Try saying that five times fast!
Metolius River, Metolius River, Metolius Riv ...
After we stopped to
gawk at the river, we saw some Ponderosa pines, which had a
gentle scent of pineapple. Very calming, if you ask me. See how
tall these beautiful trees are.
We headed over to
exactly where the headwaters of the Metolius River come out of
the side of a mountain. As we walked along the trail, these cute
and adorable chipmunks greeted us. We fed them some peanuts and
took a lot of pictures. And when I say a lot of pictures, I mean
calls me the chipmunk whisperer
On the way home, my
Grandma said that it would be un-American to not stop for
ice cream when your granddaughter is in the car.
I had a root beer
float and Grandma dropped her ice cream on the ground. (I cant
take her anywhere, can I?)
Cascade Blackberry ice cream
I overall had a fun
and enjoyable day.
As you know, my
Grandpa has cancer. I am worried for him but also very inspired
about it. He has lived a lot longer than we expected and doesnt
let himself worry about it. He lives his life to the fullest.
Life is short but we cant live it in fear.
Thanks for reading
my guest blog! hope you enjoyed it!
Friday, June 20,
a favorite genre of mine, but when you have a 13-year-old
granddaughter in town, you take her to see Maleficent.
And what would a fairy tale be without fairies and dragons and a
faithful crow named Diaval?
so much about Sleeping Beauty
as it is about the villains and how they got that way. Which
could really be any
one of us if we start hankering after castles and princesses
hands at any cost.
Top two reasons why
I liked this movie: 1)
I was with Lilly;
the ending wasnt
absolute favorite part of the movie, though, happened on the
ride home listening to Lillys insights and observations.
had a more dark premise,
She liked the twist
in the end, and she liked that it wasnt
your typical Disney princess movie. In fact, nowhere in this
movie do animals or fairies break out into song and dance. Darn.
The message was
about redemption and love, says Lilly. Im
going to add loyalty to that list. And this:
loves kiss was truly what it was.
A good book or
movie is even better if theres
discussion afterward, right? Especially with a 13-year-old.
if you dont have
a 13-, 14- or 15-year-old handy, borrow one.
And then take her to see Maleficent.
Sunday, June 15,
Mountain lakes, snowball-throwing and cupcakes. I think we wore
Hubby/Dad/Grandpa out today. But we girls sure had fun in the
Elk Lake. 4,900
feet in elevation.
You got your elk
chili at the lodge ...
... and this rather
crazed girl out front.
Sparks Lake. 5,433
feet in elevation.
You got your
grandmother/daughter selfie, which has absolutely
nothing to do with Fathers Day ...
... except that
the father captured the daughter shooting the grandma and
granddaughter taking a selfie.
And then you got
your snowball throwing. Just so it could be said that she played
in the snow in June.
And, as if that
enough fun for one day,
your cupcakes from Idas.
for Hubby, strawberry for the girls,
Happy Fathers Day
to the love of my life, wise father of our children, adored grandpa to our grandkidlets.
Saturday, June 14,
Il Divo is singing
from the kitchen even as we speak. In Italian. Because everyone knows you cant
make a really great pasta dish without Il Divo providing vocal
taken by Hubby
shooed us all out of the kitchen.
she said ... or
something like that.
Can you say, Stuffed shells
with arrabbiata sauce?
Pasta shells stuffed with
pancetta, garlic, ricotta,
fresh parsley, basil and mint;
arrabbiata sauce and topped
We are being
treated like royalty in our own home.
Friday, June 13,
We made a quick
trip downtown with Daughter Summer and Granddaughter Lilly where
Summer made Lilly pose with the Guy-on-a-Bench. A very touristy
thing to do.
So of course I had
to take a picture of Daughter and
Granddaughter being tourists.
And of course,
Summer had to take a picture of me taking a picture of her
taking a picture of Lilly. (Did you follow all that?)
And of course we
had fun acting like tourists in our own hometown.
Speaking of our
hometown: Notice the drinking fountains. One for adults. One for
children. One for dogs.
in this dog-loving town.
Hubby drinking out of
correct water fountain
notice cute runner in
Wednesday, June 11,
Look who came to
dinner this evening. All the way from New Jersey.
Daughter and granddaughter
We get this call.
prices are reasonable.
They said theyd
clean house, grocery shop, cook meals, make sure their Dad/Grandpa behaved
himself while Im
You think Im
not one to let Hubby get away with much; wait until you meet
these girls. Their first assignment is to find the 10 lbs Hubby
And actually, I
say Look who came to dinner, but rather, Look who
Pie. New Jersey-style and delicious. I could get used to this.
Sunday, June 8,
weekend. The most work I did yesterday was clean bathrooms and
plant a couple of outdoor flower bowls.
Freshly-planted flower bowls
Oh, and I fed
Hubby. Although he had a hard time keeping food down.
Poor guy. And unfortunately the anti-nausea meds make him
Today, the washing
machine is humming and I made a run to our local grocer. Hubby
said that quick oats, eaten like a bowl of cold cereal, sounds
Hubby says sounds
good, Hubby gets
this man who has lost 10 pounds in the last few weeks.
This afternoon, I
coaxed him out to Drake Park with homemade fruit smoothies
strawberries, bananas, apple juice and a little bit of ice cream
for added calories (he declined the protein powder, which Im
letting him get away with until his stomach settles ... but
not much I let him get away with).
A Drake Park,
And so this lovely, lazy
going by in an enjoyment of life: reading and writing and family
phone calls and Skyping with the grandkids and knitting
working on Christmas gifts because Christmas will be here in
exactly 200 days and one can never be too prepared.
Fingerless mittens in a
yellow shade that makes me
How many years of
days have Hubby and I had together, many of them sliding past
unnoticed as we lived them?
For those of us who
my hand is raiseda
lot of think time has been spent in the future: Someday,
it be great to (fill in the blank)
and this is what it
would look like ... and Im off in the future while the
present minutes quietly tick away.
This is not to say
that we shouldnt
envision and plan for our tomorrows. But if youre
like me, there can be a tendency to live there.
So, today. Pull out your
knitting needles or your garden gloves, your cookbooks
or your water colors, your hiking boots or your hula hoop. Or
your lawn chairs. And
plan to do something that nourishes your soul. With the people
you love. While you have them.
And while youre
at it, intentionally notice the incredible scenery, the good pain
of muscles being worked, the mix of garden colors that never
seem to clash, the smell of spices
blending with food over a fire.
This from Ralph
One of the
illusions of life is that the present hour is not the critical
decisive hour. Write it on your heart that every day is the best
day of the year.
Yes, today. Duly
Wednesday, June 4,
Move over, Walter
We finally watched
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty this past weekend.
Stiller as Walter Mitty
It carries a great
message: Do something about your dreams. Take a few chances.
Live full out.
Oh, and by the way,
living fully doesnt include an empty travel journal.
had some incredible opportunities to travel more during these
cancer years than the rest of the years of our marriage
combined. We established a 501(c)(3) non-profit and set about
the country sharing what were
doing to live well with a metastatic disease.
And then because
we were having so much fun exploring new places we booked some
trips just for the pure fun of it.
One of my favorites:
road trip last fall to the Tetons, through Yellowstone, over to
Cody, south through Steamboat Springs and down to Arches, Canyonlands and Moab.
Just for the fun of
And the beauty of
And the great
And to be together
So, hmmm ... future
travel plans? Well, were
hanging close to home while Hubby has daily radiation treatments
(three days down; twenty-one to go).
And then kids and
grandkidlets are coming to town.
And then were
doing a *siblings escape* at SunRiver the end of August
mom, four sibs and their spouses.
And then ... maybe
some gentle hiking in the Swiss Alps?
If Hubby can get
those darn nephrostomy tubes removed, and if hes
feeling up to it this fall, Swiss Alps hiking is definitely on
the dance card.
Move over, Walter
Mitty ... here we come.
Sunday, June 1,
Heaven Can Wait for
Heaven Can Wait 5K. Last year, more than 4,200 participants,
with proceeds going to the St. Charles Cancer Center to assist
local families dealing with breast cancer.
After the week we
just had, my
roomies made it very clear about my coming to work the Heaven
Can Wait event:
want to see your face down at the park on Sunday. We got this
from Drake Park and a friend who is at this very moment running
in honor of Hubby.
One of those lovely
Wait ... for sure
The fact that my office roomies didnt
want to see my face at Drake Park do you think I should read
anything into that?