The Gift

“…I don’t wanna forget the present is a gift; And I don’t wanna take for granted the time you may have here with me . . .”
Alicia Keys

red ink…

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“The Gift” by Drew Richardson

Though I usually don’t answer calls when I’m working, I glanced down and saw that it was pink ink!   We just got off the phone, and I’m feeling grateful . . . See she’s been tied up trying to stay alive … seriously.   Since I left there on Friday, I’ve been wondering how she’s doing and what’s happening with her and her B’s.   Even though I text or call her cell almost every day, I do so not expecting a response.   Mostly, I just want her to know that I’m thinking of her.   I get that she needs all of her energy to focus on getting a little stronger especially following the excitement of last week, with the play and all of the visitors from in and out of town who wanted to lay eyes on her.

After a few minutes, she deftly turned the conversation away from her, and we talked about normal things.  We talked about lil B’s halloween costume, and about the colleges that my #1 son is applying to.   As expected, she told me that I had to at least consider letting my son spread his wings and go to the school of his choice even if it is far away from Chicago!   She wanted my honest feedback about the play, and shared her actual timeline from conception to completion (which is astounding given all that she has been through)!  When she started to sound tired, we brought it to a close.   How I miss these “sharings” . . . Today’s gift was a surprise and truly one that I don’t take for granted and will hold in my heart.   I remember those days when I was “too busy” (she had them, too), and try to remember how precious these moments are when I’m talking to my other special folks.   You should too . . . Remember to savor those moments like you would a sip of really fine wine – and think of pink ink!  Here’s hoping that you recognize and enjoy your gifts today…

Oh What A Night!

red ink…

imageArriving to a receiving line of cameras flashing, smiling faces with headsets on, pink ink had her red carpet moment. At last! Once inside the door of the theatre, a special center seat awaited her where she was surrounded by love in every seat and on every side. The place was packed. Pink ink’s play “Life in the Cancer Lane” debuted last night in Phoenix and she was there to see it all. Now let’s be clear, this was no small feat. She left the hospital yesterday morning, rested for a short while, and rallied to get herself up and ready for her big night! So many of us worried about whether it would be too much for her to make it out because she was still weak following her hospital stay, but she, as always, was determined. The night before, she basically threatened the nurse who was administering her night medications saying “you’re NOT going to stop me from going to my play!” I think the lady was a little scared honestly. Lol! Pink ink’s play has been a labor of love. She has poured her soul and her journey into writing this wonderful series of vingettes that chronicles, not only her journey, but that of many other breast cancer survivors. It’s real talk, full of insightful advice for anyone going through this themselves or with someone they love. She hit every topic imaginable from the expected “diagnosis” and “chemo” to the more sensitive like “hair,” “sex,” and “crazy-ish people say.” I laughed out loud and cried unconsolably recognizing some of our conversations in the play, all within the span of a couple of hours. For me and everyone in the room, it made us think about the effects that breast cancer has on everyone it touches. She took the task of telling this story more seriously than almost anything else I’ve ever seen her do. She was disciplined and precise about her writing process, and deliberate about soliciting and receiving feedback. I don’t know that people, including me, understood how serious she was about this at first, but her commitment made each of us get on board, one by one, so that we became as invested in her achieving her vision as she was. She inspired me and so many others (We started writing at the same time and my book still hasn’t been published BTW.) She wanted to be heard because she had something important to share – and last night all ears were open. There are a whole host of people to acknowledge – to be clear, I don’t know everyone. Just know, whoever you are, that I’m certain that pink ink is eternally grateful for everything, from the smallest thing to the most monumental, to make her dream a reality … from her girls in Phoenix who had the idea to put up the show, secured the backing for the show (Thank you Cox Communications), and laid out the beautiful reception, to those who recorded every bit of revised dialogue and stage direction to those who assisted with props to the unseen narrators, to those who traveled from near and far to fill the house, to her husband who gave her introduction in her stead, and to everyone who inspired one of the monologues. It was a beautiful night. At the end of the night, she had just enough energy to spare to spend a little bit of time at the reception to take photos with the “cast” – those in the play and the rest of us who are in her much larger “supporting cast.” Everyone wanted her to know that they were there to be a part of her vision, and by the looks on every face – we were all SO proud of her. Pink Ink you made your mark! My mother always said that she wanted to “receive her flowers while she could still smell them.” Just before leaving the reception, someone walked up to pink ink and put a single pink rose in her hands. She got into the car, exhausted, and on the way home and held that flower in her lap, and no doubt, took in the scent of sweet success. Now on the to book and the movie!

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Have you had yours?

SONY DSCred ink. . .

Talked to pink ink today and promised I’d post.   With much hesitation, I went to have my annual mammogram today.  It was clear and  I am truly grateful.   Honestly,  given all that has happened to Pink Ink, I was scared to go in and delayed my appointment until after my birthday.   My breasts are lumpy (benign fibrocystic my doctor tells me), and I had to have a biopsy 3 years ago, so I worry maybe more than most.  Pink ink has shown me how your life can change in an instant.   I was just about in full out panic (kind of like the “turbulence on the plane” panic that pink ink and I share) when I reminded myself about the other valuable lessons that pink ink and others have taught me . . .  Lessons about the importance of early detection and how finding out early can extend and save your life.   So I put on my pretty pink bra and matching big girl panties and headed off to my mammogram.  Not knowing is not caring for myself, or my husband or my kids.   I had to do this.   My doctor’s office makes this the best experience possible, but at the end of the day, there you are boobs out in a cool room being smashed to a pulp.   The worst part was waiting for my doctor to read the films and give me the okay to get dressed and come to see her.   I tried to look at magazines, got a cup of tea, and tried to be calmed by the office fountain.  None of it worked.  I exhaled when she came in and told me that I could get dressed.   I knew the routine.   I knew then that I was o.k. today.  I thanked God and posted on Facebook to remind people to get their mammos no matter how scared they are.  As I said there, reach out to me if you’re scared!   Today I celebrate, and  I won’t stop touching these tatas during my regular self-exams, which are just as important (remember pink ink found her lump herself after having a clear mammogram months before)!   Don’t wait another day…make your appointment and by all means, regularly touch your tatas!   We owe it to Pink Ink and to all the survivors out there.  Make it happen!

Post

Pink Ink…

Good Morning! Just a quick interruption of the regular scheduled post.

Some of you are returning to this site after reading about, or hearing about a post RedInk posted last night.  Unfortunately, we had to temporarily take it down.  This is my BRIEF reasoning on why.

My family looking on, as I recuperate! #couldn'tDoItWithoutThem

My family looking on, as I recuperate! #couldn’tDoItWithoutThem

RedInk wrote a WONDERFUL, LOVING, HONEST post about our reconnection this past weekend.  And what a weekend it was! I can’t really begin to describe all the emotions we have experiences.  JUST what I needed and so wonderfully captured by RedInk. Whether it was watching our girls love on each other, my vomit, Red telling me to sit down and shut up, or the true comedy of Red rubbing my feet as the skin slouged off.

Rubbing dry, crusty skin off! #DoneWithLove

Rubbing dry, crusty skin off! #DoneWithLove

But in great moments there are often miscommunications/misunderstandings.  Some we addressed in person, through laughter and tears.  Others we didn’t know existed…until last night.  Unfortunately, the irreplacible memories we created were overshadowed by the “almost correct” health info.  Normally not a big deal…until it effects LIL B.  I will be brief.  We don’t have 100% confirmation of liver presence.  We will find out shortly. The HIGHLIGHT of my stay in hospital was that it was determined that it was NOT in my brain.

This requires a STANDING OVATION!

I carry this to the post, b/c we were immediately deluged by phone, (cell and home), texts, twitter, and, calls to LIL B ( COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE) about my status.  Fortunately, I intercepted these WELL MEANING communications.  But it teaches us all a lesson.

When this type of information comes out in the future, please wait to go into detail of the news or the expression of your support, when you text…only with me or Red INK.  PLEASE don’t call my house. Please don’t contact Lil B, even to say you support her.  WE have entered a new era, where she can’t have EVERY detail w/o direction from Mommy and Daddy. I value EACH & EVERY bit of support, but last night as her head lay in my lap, I felt like I was protecting her from a falling wall.  Thank you to those who did in fact recognized that Red’s presence got the 3Bs through a very difficult reentering society.  Without Red, Mini Red, and Big B’s mom, we would definitely ALL be back at MAYO!  More on that later!

Thank you for listening/reading this.  Please don’t take this as an admonition!  I was floored once again, by all the amazing expressions of love.  Some knew something was off when the post was quickly deleted.  Know, I am GRATEFUL that Red wanted to share our love and experience of the past few days.  But, I did not appreciate people questioning if I was in the hospital a week (like Red said) or a few days longer, (like I instagrammed)  Really?  Most of all, I love each of you, for caring and for understanding that we now must wrap B in even tighter arms of love and be mindful of our responses.

ok, that’s it.  I feel like this will be an epilogue somewhere! So keepy our eyes open.

Now back to your regular scheduled…post.

 

 

Update: That RedInk post will be back with a few tweeks.

You!

Pink Ink…

2008 Throwback picture! 3 generations...

2008 Throwback picture! 3 generations…

Happy New Year!

That’s right!  HAPPY NEW YEAR!  Sounds crazy huh?  Well it is my Mini Me’s birthday, and also the 1st day of school!   So in a lot of ways, it’s the beginning of a new year!  Time passes by so quickly.  So much has happened in a month, that I can’t possibly address it today.  It has been filled with a few good times, and LOTS of pain.  Pain I have only seen when I had my mastectomy and last summer when I had the crippling headaches.  But rather than go through all of that…today…I thought I would take a few minutes to honor my Mini Me.

In November of last year, I remember praying and crying and praying and crying that I would MAKE it to see my Mini Me’s 11th birthday.  You see, when it sinks in that you are terminal, at 1st you spend a bit of time wondering “when”.  After a while, after a bit of trial and error, I  learned to focus on the time that we have.  That we have NOW to spend together.  This year has definitely had it’s ups and downs, especially the last few weeks.  But for the most part, it has been as good as can be expected.

They've take out 3 liters s far!

They’ve taken out 3 liters so far!

I am constantly amazed by my daughter’s strength.  I know most parents think their kids are awesome, and I am no different.  But I am also honest.  Sometimes she makes me want to scream.  After all, she is a preteen!  Two weeks ago, she asked me,  AGAIN, why everything has to be about me, when we are planning something.  Big B grabbed my hand because he knew she was about to “catch a loss”.

Or she makes me laugh.  Example….Recently, I asked her why she thought I was writing the play.  Her answer?  TO BE ON TV!!!  Really?  TO. BE. ON. TV.

So imagine me sitting there explaining to her that I was doing it for HER.  So she would be proud of her mom when I was gone.  So she would know that I always fought, always wanted to educate.  So she could be proud of ME!  She turned to me and laughed.  “I thought it was so you could be on TV”.  WOW.

But then I balance that with her incredible strength while on a quick family getaway a few weeks ago.  It was shortly after my 3rd lung drain.  My meds were not working enough.  All I could do is lay there and cry.  My body was shaking from the pain.  I couldn’t speak through the pain.  I did manage to whisper to her NOT to tell Daddy.  He needed to rest!  (It was his vacay too, after all! )  Lil B and my mom sprung into action…into stealth mode.  Next thing I knew, I had more meds, ice packs, Lil B was wiping my nose.  Wet washcloth on my head.  Then she and mom climbed in bed with me and soothed me until I could finally fall asleep. (Side note! HATS OFF to my mother for allowing a 10 year old to take over and guide this process.  She is of the “you’re the child” generation” so I know this was tough!  Thanks mom) All the while, my dad and hubby were out front enjoying a cocktail and catching up!  A lot of kids would freak out in this situation.  Not my little one.  She even pushed my wheelchair through the airport. Head held high.  Gotta love her.

One of the better days of vacay. 3 Generations!

2013! One of the better days of vacay. 3 Generations!

After my play reading, I was surprised by how many audience members appreciated the “caregiver” scene, where characters acknowledge their caregivers.  Many came up to me and shared that they never thought of kids as caregivers until viewing the play.  Well today I salute my caregiver! My Mini me!

Baby girl, one day you will read this, and hopefully you will know how proud I am of you!  Proud to be your mom! Guided everyday by your strength, your laughter, your love.   I hope you will be proud of me, for everything I do is for you, and daddy.  I hope to be around for many more birthdays, many more 1st days of school.  What ever life brings us, know that I will always be with you, as you have been with me during this journey.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MY LOVE!

Unfortunately, I can’t have a cocktail.  (damn meds…)  But today, I celebrate…YOU!

 

UPDATE: I sit with tears streaming down. Typing with one hand. Other hand not working.  I am unable to go to her birthday dinner.  I tried. I stood, I sat back down. No energy. Can’t breathe. Heart. Is. Broken. I saw the heartbreak in her eyes.  She rubbed MY tears.  Told ME to stop crying.  “It’s ok Mommy”. (But it’s not) I apologized through tears. I have never missed one.  She is OF me. Why today of all days?  Transfussion tomorrow…

I PRAY I can make it up to her next year.  Must sign off. #LifeInTheCancerLane

These Chicks

Editor’s note:  It is a day of sadness for many of us across the country.  But I am already tired of the pundits, analysis, commentators, etc.  Even my legal training leaves me speechless. So today, I have turned off my tv, and put down social media.  Need some positivity.  Enjoy your day….

Pink Ink…

Quick update: I start my day by saying “I am health”.  This is the mantra that I am now saying each day when I wake up, or when I am feeling particularly bad.  (Thanks Oprah!) Medically speaking, we are back in it. Cancer is growing. Started a new chemo last week. In terms of a drug, it is relatively easy breezy.  The side effects are new.  Instead of pain in my fingers, I now have crushing pain throughout my body.  Immediately after chemo, I felt like my vertebrae were all collapsing. B had to turn around and run into Mayo for more drugs, b/c I didn’t think I would make it home.  My jawbones hurt, as do my ear drums.  I am feeling the undercurrent of nausea again.  A feeling I had long forgotten.  I have a lung drain on Wednesday.  The coughing got worse…then better.  So hopefully this will be the last one for a while.  The fluid, while non cancerous, is weighing heavy on my lung.  It makes walking a block, or up the stairs VERY difficult.   On the upside, I am sleeping at night.  Thank you percoset.  The last few days has had me stealing away for tears of pain and frustration. Yes, I know I am entitled.  Doesn’t make it easier.  I have begun to hear new rumblings of “…but she doesn’t look sick.” Or “if she is so sick, how could she go to LA,… go out with her girls,… go out with B”.  Sorry.  I am not going to just lie down…and wait. I will do what I CAN or want.  I WILL do.  In my pain, sadness, or frustration,  I am strengthened/held up by prayer, positive thoughts, friends and family.

Today, I am strengthened by…these chicks.

THESE chicks!

THESE chicks! Look how happy I was. Can’t tell my lung was on fire!

These chicks who have had my back from 2000 miles away from the beginning!  I could list off all the ways.  Chemo bags, calls, texts, cards.  Something,  EVERY week. Sermon messages sent across the miles on Sundays. Gifts, hotel stays…more gifts. But it’s so much more than that.

It’s flying across the country to see me.  REALLY see me.  It’s not being scared when I looked really sick or told them I didn’t feel well.  It’s loving me enough to carry bad news with me.  It’s 3 hours of convo in an LA restaurant that brought laughter and tears, and questions I didn’t see coming.  It’s holding my hand, holding me up when I literally thought I was going to have to call an ambulance on a busy Beverly Hills street because I couldn’t breathe.  It’s letting my Mini Me play with her hair for HOURS because she misses playing with mine.  It’s the pushing me to fulfill my dream, even if it’s from a hospital bed.(#Can’tStopWon’tStop)

Brandy!

Brandy!

It’s stopping Brandy in the bathroom to remind her of me, and then standing to the side as Brandy and I connect and talk about my journey.  Or introducing me to Richard Roundtree, a MALE breast cancer survivor. For one chick, it’s the joy of sitting back for hours and talking mindless pop culture, a shared passion.  The other chick…HATES pop culture….but loves me enough to listen…and be educated on the most current music.  (she needs help!)

It could be that one lost her mom at a young age, and also a child.  It could be that the other has a mom who is a 10-year survivor.

But, I believe it’s that they are special, giving, loving sisters.  Sisters who I have laughed, loved, disagreed, cried with.

A new book just came out called “How to be a Friend to a Friend who’s Sick”.  I am so fortunate to be surrounded by several people who know how to do this!

But today, I draw strength from…these chicks.

blog from bed…again

Pink Ink..

Just a quick update. I made it through the lung drain. Evidently people get these frequently. It’s not supposed to be “that bad”. Hmm…

The doc sticks a few needles in your back, up through your ribs in order to put in the anesthesia.  The drugs include lidocaine…which burns.  Then a catheter is inserted in between the ribs into the lung, with the other end in a bottle.  The Doc says hold your breath,…then you cough.  The liquid flows out.  It’s pretty gross, but goes pretty quickly.  But be clear, it hurts!  The doctor drained a liter…as in a big soda bottle’s worth of liquid from me, before he stopped.  Any more, and my lung may have collapsed.

a liter's worth of fluid

a liter’s worth of fluid

Now we wait for the results.  We wait to see if there is cancer in the liquid.  In the meantime, I can’t do much.  I can’t lie down, so I sleep sitting up with pillows around me.  I breathe a bit better.  BUT, whenever I take a deep breath,  yawn, burp, cough, move, I am crippled with pain.

The pain is my lung getting used to expanding again.

The pain is my lung, and ribs being aggravated.

The pain is my muscles readjusting after caring around an extra 2 pounds on one lung.

Tomorrow I have a CT scan, to see what my spots are up to.  So basically, we wait.

To top it all off, I am missing my Links conference in Houston.  The conference where I was going to present a workshop on listening to, and taking care of your body.  THAT is what causes me the most pain.  I am so disappointed !  I hope there will be other chances to speak to my Link sisters, from around the country. We spend so much time taking care of our families, and serving the community, that we often ignore the cues of our own bodies.  I was looking forward to sharing my story and ideas on how to take better care of ourselves!

The irony is not lost on me, that I had to stay at home, because… I am listening to my body.  I even  offered to Skype in.  Oh well.

Instead, I will just blog from bed…again!

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