· “Who’s in your entourage?” said Susan, the nurse who drew my blood for the BRCA gene test. “That’s my husband Jeff, my son Jordan, my daughter Lauren, and my friend Liz.” She said, “You’re so lucky. You don’t know how many women come in here alone. They arrive and leave in a taxi for their doctor appointments and chemo infusions.” I burst into tears. I hadn’t really thought about it. I was caught up in my own little world worrying about things that no longer matter to me. It’s almost as if cancer was intended to be my wake-up call to take better care of myself and to become more aware of the sick and lonely. Under the best of circumstances (like mine), having cancer feels very lonely. No matter how much love and support I’ve received from my family and friends, I feel alone. Whether it’s to lend a shoulder or to join my pity party of one, I know that they’re here for me, but the “C” word has left a cloud over my head since 6/28. Sometimes the cloud is gray and sometimes it’s black. But it’s always there. I can’t imagine the despair these women must feel in the taxicab rides to the oncologist. The nurse apologized for making me cry and I thanked her for the new perspective.
· Before my mother died in 2003, I couldn’t care less about flowers or gardening. It drove Mom crazy that I had empty flower beds all around the house. We’d visit her in Akron and she’d walk the family around her house beaming with pride while identifying all of her flowers. The flower names all sounded alike and I was anxious to get back inside where there was air conditioning. My sister Gail felt the same way. Digging (sweating), planting (sweating), weeding (more sweating) was just too much trouble and we both knew that we would kill the flowers and waste all of our money and time anyway. Then something very strange happened. Gail said that mom sprinkled some flower dust on us from heaven. The first spring after Mom died, both my sister and I became obsessed with gardening. We planted seeds, transplanted, weeded, then gradually learned enough about horticulture to have gardens with so many flowers and plants, even Martha Stewart would be proud. This spring, I bought at least twice as many as I typically might plant. It was as if God knew that this summer I would need to come home to seven blooming hibiscus bushes, dozens of happy Gerbera daisies, and some 10 ft. tall sunflowers to watch over me. Before and even after D-day (Diagnosis Day), I smile when I come home and see the flowers.
“My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece.” -Claude Monet
· Months ago, I had made an appointment to get my hair highlighted. Despite my upcoming chemo treatments, which might begin next month, I decided to keep the appointment. While there, a few of the staff had commented on my hair and how all my layers had FINALLY grown out. They marveled at my hairdresser Hayley’s highlighted masterpiece and how much better my hair looked since I first met them in September. With the help of the folks at Cha Cha’s in Lexington, I was finally happy with my hair. I cried when Jason, the owner, refused to let me pay for the ‘do “I may or may not have after chemo.” I cried even more when Hayley hugged me and told me she loved me.
· I received an unexpected bonus! It was just enough to buy an Ipad, a new toy I’ve wanted for years but felt too guilty to buy for myself. I asked Lauren and Jordan, my “tech savvy” children to help me with the purchase. We laughed hysterically in the Apple store while using the “PHOTO BOOTH” app. already uploaded on my new tablet. We made goofy faces and laughed at our distorted images until my stomach hurt from laughing. I’m blessed to have children willing to make fools out of themselves in public…just to make me laugh.
· While waiting for a table at The Olde Pink House in Savannah, GA in May, Jeff and I met Debbie and Brian, a lovely couple who lives in Lexington. They were “regulars” at the restaurant and highly recommended the BLT Salad, which had been touted as “the best thing I’ve ever tasted” by a chef on The Food Network. The salad more than lived up to its expectations and a new friendship began. Debbie and Brian invited Jeff and I to their home the night before I meet my surgeon, where she will make The Olde Pink House’s BLT Salad and my favorite summer dessert- key lime pie!
· The KLC sales conference was this week. Many of the employees usually get together at least one night for drinks in the bar downstairs, a hospitality suite in the hotel, or outside by the pool. Sometimes a fellow sales rep named Clay brings his guitar and we all sing along with him to the tunes of Jimmy Buffett, Jason Isbell, Bob Seger, Lyle Lovett, or another artist I happen to love. I’m usually singing off-key and wasting away again in Margaritaville until the party ends around 1:00 a.m. This year, I went to my room at 8:30 and read fourteen pages of a prayer book that my friend Diane gave me last week. When I found one that spoke to me, I read it aloud to make sure that it was heard. I could hear the familiar laughs of my co-workers in the hallway as they walked past my door. I needed to get some sleep and take care of my body…and my soul. My, how things change.
· I knew that our sales force (several dozen of us) was a close knit group and have always looked out for one another. Most of us have worked together and supported each other through illnesses and family tragedies for around 20 years. After word about my diagnosis traveled throughout the lottery I was smothered with warm and genuine bear hugs by the most caring co-workers on earth. If positivity is the key to my healing, I venture to say that after that sales conference, I must be cancer free!