Sunday, April 27, 2008


I am so psyched that my mom is going to be supplementing her chemo with some holistic therapies. One of her friends - and fellow college alum - is certified in the art of Reiki. She is going to be receiving treatments regularly. I am still in the process of finding a good meditation class for her.

I am thinking of getting her this as part of her Mother's Day gift:

Isn't it awesome?

Kris Carr, author of Crazy, Sexy Cancer, says, "Why, when we are challenged to survive, do we give ourselves permission to truly live?" I think this is brilliant.

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Hodge Podge

Well, the Celtics lost their 3rd game in the series last night, despite a late rally. Garnett had 32 points. That man is a machine! On to game 4 (also in Atlanta).

Also, have you ever noticed that Jacoby Ellsbury looks a lot like Julianna Margulies?

So, my mother had her first chemo treatment last week and it went very well. She is experiencing some slight nausea, despite the anti-nausea meds they've given her. But we suspected as much since the oncologist's nurse had said that her kind of chemo would be especially nauseating. Nice. Thanks a lot. She's enjoying the Crazy, Sexy, Cancer Tips book I gave her, too. I think she is finding that she can relate to the author somewhat because she is also stage 4 (liver cancer = a total m*ther f*cker).

Oh, I forgot to report - our bad news bears-style softball team finally captured a win last week! We shocked ourselves to the core. We went through the entire frostbite season winless, and we even started out the spring that way (We lost our 1st game. Bonus: one of our best players fractured her index finger while trying to catch a line drive. She's on the DL for a few weeks.). We pulled a come-from-behind win out of thin air in the last inning! We screamed like a pack of little girls. The other team must have thought we were a bunch of pathetic morons. I wanted to let them know how huge this was for us, but decided it wasn't a good idea to inform them that they were the first team that stunk enough for us to beat. It was actually their pitcher's fault. She was a former fast pitch softball player and she just lost it in the bottom of the last inning. She was throwing shit way over people's heads and what-have-you. She walked a lot of batters. My proudest moment in the game was catching a high pop-up foul behind the plate (I am catching, still, until I get over the fear of blowing out the quads).

Switching gears: I had another successful spa party with my small soap business. The girls really enjoy complimentary facials! I was invited to a lovely home in Acushnet, MA and the turnout was sizable, so I did pretty well. My mom is hosting one for me in 2 weeks. And a gal from Raynham from the last party wants one, too. I feel really comfortable with the format now. Arrive, set up, mingle while people arrive, introduce myself and talk about my biz, allow the ladies to sample products while I make fresh facials (avocado/yogurt and oatmeal/honey), do the facials, set up the raffle (I raffle off draining soap dishes, loofahs, spa-style eye masks, a few of my products, pumice stones, etc), then do the money thing. It usually lasts 3-4 hours, but it goes by so fast. And all the girls usually know each other, so it's a nice way to spend an evening. Plus, I get to lower some of my prices a bit since there is no shipping involved and Yahoo/Paypal do not get their commission (I do the same at shows).

Speaking of my soap biz - I will be taking part in Somerville's Art Beat festival in July. Details to follow.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Ladies, Please Take Note

Like so many women, I've got a shy bladder. I'm working on it. I hear that in Japan, background noise is piped into public restrooms to help people deal with this. There's nothing like a wasted trip to the ladies room. I've always admired people who can just open the flood gates the second they sit down. Some people have very forceful equipment. Sadly, I do not. When there are other women mucking around in there, I have this kind of pathetic stop-go trickle. I've tried to meditate and block out noises. I've tried to visualize large bodies of water. Not much works.

To add insult to injury, there is always some woman who, after exiting the stall, decides that she's going to futz with her appearance, indefinitely. You hear the sounds of someone smoothing out their clothes, heels clicking and shuffling, hair accessories snapping and unsnapping, zippers, etc. Sometimes, women are moved to brush their teeth after exiting the stall. Or give themselves a huge makeover, complete with vigorous hair brushing and foundation application. Or stare at a side view of themselves. Come on! What's more important? The way your ass looks in those pants or my poor bladder? If you didn't get it right before you left the house, chances are, fifteen minutes of ladies room futzing isn't going to help you.

I urge you to think about this the next time you decide to set up camp in there, people! The kidneys are very precious organs.

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Monday, April 21, 2008

This Weekend Wrap

Well, the project from hell is officially over, save for a few minor details. I was able to take Friday off to spend time with Mom and prepare for Saturday's soap show. Check out the pics here.

After the show, we played kickball with friends of ours in Danbury, CT. I haven't down this since the 6th grade, but I must tell you that it was a lot of fun. I guess you just never really forget how to play and that pang of anxiety still hits you right before you kick the ball. I am still sore from playing. I'd better get over it quick, though, 'cause we start softball this week and we've got 2 games to play. Hope the quads hold up for me this year.

We also watched an awesome documentary called, "King of Kong" about 2 dudes competing against each other for the Donkey Kong record. I encourage you to rent this - it was very compelling. I remember when my parents bought me a ColecoVision. DK was a big time obsession in the house for many months. Video games sort of bore me now.

Mom starts chemo this week. She's getting "prepped" on Tuesday, then goes in for her first treatment on Thursday. I bought her a book called, Crazy, Sexy Cancer Tips. She's a take charge type person, so I think that she will find this to be helpful. It's a real, "kick serious cancer butt" type book.

Speaking of butt kicking, both the Celtics AND the Red Sox were victorious yesterday. The C's made the Hawks look like a bunch of Strawberry Shortcake dolls in their 104-81 finish. And the Red Sox pulled the win out of thin air.

I can't believe the next Sox game starts in, like, an hour and a half.

Go Marathoners!

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Kara Muise: Fiber Artist Extraordinare

Nest, 2008

Solitary, 2008

I am thoroughly impressed with the results of Kara's artistic journey this semester. It started out with a few sheets of paper that she dyed with tea and covered with wax. A small experiment. The next thing you know, she was making little houses out of the material. And then - POOF! - she's built huge structures and installations with them. She's sewn them together to construct the pieces you see above. She also created a sprawling village of miniature houses. The texture is very inviting - its warm color and encaustic-like smoothness emit a kind of serenity. The subjects, though, are about solitude. I think it could be "intentional solitude." An only child thing, possibly. She hasn't shared her concepts with me yet.

Kara's work is currently on display at UMass Dartmouth, Start Store, 715 Purchase Street, New Bedford, MA. Exhibit ends May 13th. Check it out!


Average is Underrated. Fo' Shizzle.

Man, the celebrity life has to blow. Just like the next sucker, I get drawn into these outrageous tabloid stories. I love a good train-wreck. It makes me feel grateful for this thing we called anonymity. It's nice to have privacy. I take great comfort in the fact that I can schlep to the laundromat in my Target yoga pants and Bikini Kill t-shirt - unshowered - and no one gives a damn. Do you think any of these celebs wish, just for a day, that they could blend into the crowd? I'll bet some of them do.

You can argue that it's all worth it somehow because the money makes up for it. What if, though, you could attach a real price tag to anonymity? Say that a person's anonymity is worth $50 million, tax free. That's a lot of money. It could even be more. Imagine how much money a celebrity doles out for security, private rooms, special covert services, etc. It's an ongoing expense. The bigger the star, the more expensive it is. And the paparazzi still manage to squeeze into their private moments and snap pictures of their disgusting, flabby butts on the beach. If you miss a spot shaving, people all over the globe are going to know about it.

And what about trust? Most of us have a few shifty people in our lives. It's unavoidable. But, the majority of the people we know and interact with are pretty honest and relatively trust-worthy. Because you can't offer them much except for the same treatment in return, most people are, "real." On the other hand, if you were an A-lister, there's a lot that the average person might want from you. Money, opportunities, exploitation. They aren't interested in the person as much as what the person can do for them. Pretty soon, you don't know who you can trust. You don't know who is going to stab you in the back next. You don't know which writer is going to tear your album or movie to shreds. It's no wonder these people all turn to drugs!

If you are a woman of average height, you'd better not weigh more than 95 pounds. If you are a man, you'd better start making some lady friends - fast! You don't want the media to start wondering about you.

There are so many problems and stresses with this kind of life, I don't think I could ever live it. I like my $50 million tax-free anonymity. I keep it in a perfectly-lit display case, right next to my Charlie Card and pictures of my friends, family and pets. Ah, to be average.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Notes from Today

I wrote this to my mother when I got home from the hospital today. She asked me to forward my notes to her. I am embarrassed by my phonetically-spelled medications. Remember: I am not a doctor.

Hi, Mom -

Here is a summary of the notes I took today.

Prognosis: Too early to say. Will have a better idea after the wave of chemo.

It is possible to have no jaundice and still have pancreatic, gall bladder or liver cancer.

It is possible to have an unknown primary site. This represents up to 10% of all cancers.

You will need to take Zometa for bone strengthening. Like Boniva, but much stronger.

Cancer was found in the lymph nodes and a cancer mass was found under the rib (explaining the discomfort you've been feeling there).

Check you blood sugar the next time you are feeling faint, sweaty, shaky or like you are going to pass out. (Please keep a snack in your pocketbook, Mom, in case you have low blood sugar).

You should stop taking Lipotor. This will reduce the amount of medication you are on and the doctor said that it is the one that you are receiving the least benefit from.

The doctor mentioned adenocarcinoma.

There are a broad spectrum of chemotherapies, but he would like to start you on (something I can't spell, but it will NOT cause you to lose your hair). I spelled it: "gysinimine splantim" in my notepad. Good thing I didn't go to medical school, huh? You will receive a scan after your first cycle to see how you do. If you respond well, you will continue onto another cycle. If not, you will be switched to Fulfox (again, my bad spelling). I wrote that one cycle is 4 weeks (1X a week, with a week off in the middle).

The doctor will supplement you with Amend, which will allow you to reduce the amount of Decatron you have to take. So, on days 1 and 2, you will take 4 mm of decatron, and on days 3 and 4, you will take 2 mm each day.

Dr. Enzinger will dictate a note to Dr. Matelski. He will get this by next Tuesday (4/15). This will contain all of his recommendations. And probably a better summary than mine. At least he'll spell the meds correctly!

I love you, Mom. You did great today!



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Please don't leave me to remain ...

Today, we embark on a day full of tests, waiting, filling out paperwork and talking to new doctors.
I am meeting my mother and her husband at Falkner Hospital in Jamaica Plain this morning - I am hoping that we know more when we come out.

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Sunday, April 6, 2008

The C's!

The Celtics have made history! The greatest 1- year turn around in NBA history!


Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting

I am reading a book that a friend of mine has lent me about facing death and caring for the dying. It has a lot of good information in it, particularly the teachings and philosophies of Sogyal Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhist who specializes in the area of death and dying. This doesn't mean that I am giving up hope for my mother, but I think it is necessary to prepare a little part of you for something bad. This book is all about the "making every moment count" stuff I complained about in my last post, but in a different way. Just that even the littlest acts of kindness are so meaningful.

Mom's feet and ankles have started to swell. This worries me. The oncologist appointment is Friday, so hopefully we will know a lot more at this time. I am going to ask if they are going to do a PET scan or a PTC. We don't think that either of these has been performed yet and I suspect that the results of these two types of tests would be helpful in diagnosis.

We had dinner out with my mom and Bill last night. It was less than pleasant. My mom's condition has caused her to become easily irritated (understandable to me, but to a person who doesn't know what is going on and is just trying to do their job, it could be taken personally). Bill had had a lot to drink and embarrassed me greatly. Again, the waiter doesn't know that poor Bill lost his first wife to cancer and that he's now having to go through this all over again. All he knows is that there's a guy acting jerky and slurring his words, egging him on in a fancy restaurant full of people. At one point, I reached over to hold my mother's hand and spilled my ice water all over the place. Then, Jere took 2 bites of his food and became ill. All the entrees were between 15 and 20 bucks. Oh, well, the restaurant was a little too stuffy for my taste, anyway.

Like yesterday's Red Sox game, the day started out with promise. My best friend, Kara Muise (who I've written about before here) is nearing the end of graduate school and we went to her senior show. Amazing work! I will do a formal post/review when I can get my hands on some pictures.

Going to spend the day making soap. Ah, a break from all the insanity.

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Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Mystery Continues

Well, the cancer mystery continues. My mom went in for a colonoscopy yesterday and it is confirmed that there is no cancer there. Her doctor was very thorough. She had a precancerous tumor removed from her colon several years ago and he was worried that he missed some microscopic cells. I guess he didn't since she checks out fine.

This means that the primary cancer is either liver, pancreatic, gall bladder, or adrenal. The weird thing is, my mother has none of the symptoms consistent with any of these cancers. The first sign of them is weight loss and loss of appetite. My mother has gained several pounds since her surgery and eats very well. Jaundice is another big indicator of these types of cancer. She is not jaundiced. As the cancer has metastasized, I find it hard to believe that she wouldn't present any of these signs and symptoms during this advanced stage.

She and I talked for a long time last night. She said that the first thing she did when she got home was throw away all of the "get well" cards she received. She wants to try to have a normal life, despite what is going on. The cards, though well-intentioned, are depressing reminders of her illness. I don't blame her one bit. Speaking of well-intentioned sentiments, it really bothers me when people say, "Well, you'd better enjoy your time with your mother. Make every moment count." I don't think that people understand how that comes across. First of all, it's a lot of pressure. Hurry up and have those good times! The end is near! Secondly, it suggests that we've wasted lots of time in the past, but NOW it has to start counting. Get your watches ready! I know people mean well, and I know that words don't come easy in these situations, but this one doesn't help me.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

4.1.08 Top Five

1. Got a cute April Fool's Day e-card from a friend.

2. My poor and brave mom, who is battling cancer, is now battling a sinus infection. But, she's been taking antibiotics and is beginning to feel better. She goes in for a very glamorous colonoscopy and endoscopy this week. I speak to her daily and see her every weekend, trying to be positive and uplifting. I probably sound like a total idiot to her. You know, the old "it's easy to say that from where you stand" sort of thing. I just wish I could take it all away.

3. Project woes continue at work, but some of the pressure is getting taken off, as we are raking in all of our off-shore vendor's files and seeing them through to finish, in-house. This should really help us make our deadline with the least amount of stress. That isn't to say that it isn't going to suck. Just suck less.

4. One of my soap carriers just place a sizable repeat order.

5. I was contacted by a wonderful woman on Cape Anne about a wholesale soap order. She is opening a shop with a "sweets" theme and is interested in selling my stuff. She called me a fellow "quirky bird," which really made me smile. Free ads on craigslist really pay off.

I actually have a few more today. Call them honorable mentions.

6. It was in the 60's today.

7. Kevin Garnett. Kevin Garnett. Kevin Garnett. *Sigh*