Today should be special…

I haven’t written since Sheiky died.  I should have.  I can’t get the picture out of my mind…he came limping back into the exam room, after the vet had inserted a catheter, to make the infusion of the euthanasia drug easier.  Sheiky was holding out that leg.  To me.  Like I could fix it.  And instead, I gave the nod to kill him.

Yes, I know the lymphoma killed him.  But I gave my assent.

I tried for a few days, and knew that I could not live without a greyhound companion.  A month after precious Sheiky died, Kissy (NB’s Kisstheroad) came into our life.  She’s wonderful in every way, and I will post her picture and write about her in a day or two.

But today…

…is the 5th anniversary of my stem cell transplant.  Transplantees call it a “re-birthday”.  I have beaten every odd as a transplantee for the particular type of lymphoma I had, yet I can’t shake the belief that I made a mistake having it.  I was told I wouldn’t come out of the transplant center alive.  I agreed to the transplant over palliative care because I had a stupid, heroic idea that I could be a lab rat, and give Medicine (yes, the upper case is intentional) a breakthrough in the treatment of anaplastic large-cell non-hodgkins lymphoma.

Instead, I just boringly lived.

I want to be happy about that.  But I’m not.  And then, I am even unhappier that I am an ungrateful bitch because I am not happy.


Flying Sheik

In the early fall of 2011, Bob and I drove down to Tampa to pick up our new dog – who raced three whole maiden races (winning one) – and we call now Sheiky.  Bob flew home, and (the late, greyt) Myke Stewart and I drove back with Sheiky.  I had plans for him.  We would be constant companions.  He would go everywhere with me.  He would even learn to do stairs – something my previous greyhounds had never learned.

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Myke went back to Florida, and fall turned to winter.  I had a cold…or cough…or something that I just couldn’t shake.  Multiple visits to my long-time fancy doctor resulted in assorted antibiotic prescriptions, but no firm diagnosis nor cure.

By spring, not only was I really sick, but I also decided a change in doctors was in order.  On my first visit, he took my history, listened to my chest and my cough, and directly admitted me to the hospital for pneumonia treatment.  I was in and out a couple of times before a pulmonologist did his favorite test, and came back with a diagnosis of untreatable lung cancer.  I was sent home to die.

All I could do was lay on the couch, while Sheiky snuggled with me.  The fascinating thing was that his paws were almost always in the same place on my chest.  Later CT scans showed that he kept his paws on the places of the largest tumors in my lungs and chest.  Almost like a healing minister, laying hands on a supplicant.  Actually…exactly like that.

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A few weeks later, the pulmonologist called to say biopsies had disproved the lung cancer diagnosis, and that I actually had a rare but treatable form of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.  What followed was a long period of chemo, PETscans, remission, remission failure…rinse…repeat.  A stem cell transplant.

Sheiky and I spent a lot of quality couch time together.  Actually, the only time he was stand-offish was when I came home from 5 weeks in the transplant center.  The meds that they used to keep the stem cells fit for transplant made them smell like tomato soup.  That’s what I smelled like when I came home, and it freaked him out.  But only for a couple of days.  Then, we were back on the couch together.

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I worked myself up to walking a 5k in April of 2016.  It was a lot of work, and I was afraid I would embarrass myself…but I finished.  The.  Very.  Next.  Morning.  I saw the unmistakable sign that I had breast cancer.  Thinking back then, I realized that Sheiky had been doing the same “laying on of paws” that he had done with the lymphoma.  And I realized that he was my Cancer Whisperer.

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In early February, We took Sheiky to the vet, to have some swelling checked.  The diagnosis was lymphoma.  We spent a lot of time talking about options.  I asked about chemotherapy, and discovered the regimen for dogs was the same as the regimen I had received, the first time I had lymphoma – CHOP.  It was brutal, and there was no possible way I could do that to him.  We chose palliative care, and knew we would have about two months.


I began writing this post in late March. We have had some quality time.  Sheiky took two trips with us in a new trailer, and he enjoyed them.  He has had more enticements to eat than is probably healthy – but what’s it going to do, kill him????

Today it is May 3 – my birthday.  Sheiky has told us it’s time.  Selfishly, I can’t bear to send him to the Rainbow Bridge on my birthday.  We have an appointment for tomorrow at noon.  We are in the last few hours of Flying Sheik.

My heart is broken.  Godspeed, Sheiky.




No Illuminati

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.  (Maya Angelou)

Just last week I was trying to find a way to express this pain, and Maya Angelou said it for me.  It was a serendipitous discovery, while looking for her exact wording on believing people when they tell you who they are.

I guess there are things I will never say.  Some, to specific people like my kids, husband, or friends.  Other thoughts, feelings, and events would be to the world in general.  While Angelou is completely correct about the agony of that, my filters tell me I’m not up for the intense emotion required of me to actually have these discussions and deal in turn with the emotions, or worse: the lack of others’ emotions, that telling my truth may cause.

I don’t have any delusions that I am some great mystic or prophet.  I know those in my sphere will live their lives without any grand illumination from me.  Actually, I know my untold story has no grand illumination at all, for anyone.  Maybe not even me.

And yet, biting my tongue gets really old.


More about me

I like this:

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and this:

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and this:

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and this:

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I love this:

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with the help of her:

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and especially, him:

I wish I could spend much more time with her:

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I want to finish this, this year:

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I want to spend a long weekend here:

Hotel Walloon Lake Winter

and two weeks here:

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with a side trip here:

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I am a huge supporter of:

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as well as:

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Logo

And I can, because of him:

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I’m counting on strong women like these:

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and her:

I like:

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And I love:

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Now for a cheat sheet:

Pierogi, Sever Yzerman with the Stanley Cup, pink velvet shoes from Anthropologie, a Cosmopolitan

Lady Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, PRESIDENT Barack Obama


Son Bob’s unfinished quilt

Walloon Hotel (Walloon Lake, MI), the pyramids at Giza, Petra

DKMS (international blood donor registry), Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (big sponsors of blood cancer research), Dr. Hanna (my oncologist)

Clair and Sophie, Malala

A random goat – I love them all, Sophie reading to Bella, Sheiky


The more things stay the same…

At one point I heard myself saying “I’m tired of being a disease. I want my self back again”.

…the more they change.

Yes, I know I said that backwards.

Living in the Detroit area, a lot of our news coverage the past few days has been of the plea-bargain sentencing of the doctor who, in the guise of medical treatment, sexually abused hundreds (at least) of young girls.  After days of victim impact statements, the Assistant Attorney General (who was the Prosecutor) and then the Judge had their turn.  And one phrase that came up over and over again was about owning one’s truth.

While people don’t own their truth often enough, for women it is a notion that is associated most often with sexual harassment/molestation, or domestic violence.  Think of the Me Too Movement, then hold that thought through a corkscrew turn I am about to make.  Trust me.  This will connect.

With the cancers and treatments, I have been bald three times in the past five and a half years.  I mean: bald as a cue ball.  Each time was at least in part during the winter.  Even with a knit hat, do you have any idea how cold a bald head gets outside in a Michigan winter?  Woo!  And it would grow back to an awkward length, and then – boom! – another cancer, more chemo, and bald again.

It got old.

My last chemo was in early fall of 2016.  Bald.  Then my hair started to grow.  Every now and then I would have it trimmed, just to even out the ragged look.  But never much, because there was never much.  A few more months.  Repeat.

In the past several months, I have made a couple of appointments with the woman who has styled my hair for years.  I was not able to keep either of those appointments.  Although not as robustly as my BC (Before Cancer) hair, it did continue to grow.  Erratically.  Unevenly.  I looked like a bag lady.

Finally, today, all the life elements came together, and I was able to go across town to my stylist’s house, for a trim.

I had no firm idea what I wanted her to do.  She has done my hair for a long time, and has always been on top of trends, so I trusted her to listen to me, then translate that into a better look.  (MDs…learn a lesson from her!)    So I talked.  She asked questions and made comments.  At one point I heard myself saying “I’m tired of being a disease.  I want my self back again”.

And there it was.

I’m tired of being a disease.  I’m tired of being a disease.  Of being perceived as the diseases I have had.  Of living a limited life because of a disease.  Of fearing a government that sees me as a disease and hence, a draw on the bottom line.

I had never thought of it quite that way before, but it’s true.  For the past five and a half years, even I have identified myself as…a disease.

My truth.

This is new for me.  New thinking.  And I have no idea where it will lead, if anywhere.  I considered including a picture of my new hairstyle, but right now that is not the relevant piece of this blog.

My new truth is…itchy.  It’s like a fresh cut, and healing may or may not leave a scar.  But it is my truth, and I am working to own it.

Time to get moving

In April of 2016, due to some serious arm twisting done by my daughter, I walked a 5k with her.  She thought I needed a push, to restart recovery from a stem cell transplant.  I was afraid I couldn’t do it, despite months of walking as training.  I was afraid I would make a fool of myself or embarrass her.  I was afraid race officials would take down the finish line before I reached it.

I was afraid.

But, in one hour and one minute, I finished.

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The next morning I saw the unmistakable dimple of breast cancer.

Mammogram, ultrasound, and biopsy confirmed what I already knew.  And I was amazingly calm, probably because of the two previous cancers.  So I methodically went from surgery to chemo (and attendant hair and fingernail loss) to radiation.  But I was out of commission for six months for the walking that had become a habit.  And a year later, I haven’t regained that mojo.


I keep seeing television commercials for a 5k run/walk to be held in late April.  I took a chance and asked my son if he would walk it with me, and he said “Yes”!  Now it’s time for me to crank up the walking again.  Because I’m already feeling the twinges of the fears from the last time.

I’ll keep you posted.

Here we go again?

Recently my body has been telling me things that my doctors won’t believe.  And it gets more and more frustrating that they put their complete trust in their tests, while ignoring what my actual body is telling them, through conversations with me that are short and perfunctory, disbelieved and ignored.

I want to scream!

It calls to mind an incident with my son when he was a toddler.  I don’t remember the offense, but I do remember yelling and not listening to him.  A diatribe, not a give-and-take conversation.  Finally I asked why he had done…whatever…and his tearful, frantic response was “I’m trying to tell you”.  To this day, when I clearly hear his sweet voice in my memory…my tears flow.  (I love you, Bob!)

I am currently waiting for a return call from the nurse at my breast surgeon’s office, to tell her of new physical developments and see if other tests should be added to my scheduled diagnostic mammogram on Friday.  I have no confidence that I will receive this call prior to the appointment.

Please read the following article, from NPR.  I wish my doctor would.  Everything she says as a patient is true.  If the body is treated, but the spirit is ignored, healing can never be complete.

{Note:  I have just spent a half an hour on chat with a tech for WordPress, trying to paste more than just a link.  Since the tech sees no reason why I would need to do that…and WP does not seem to have the capacity, anyway…I will try to copy and paste a few paragraphs, followed by the url.  Wish me luck.}

“Brush With Death Leads Doctor To Focus On Patient Perspective

The searing abdominal pain came on suddenly while Dr. Rana Awdish was having dinner with a friend. Soon she was lying in the back seat of the car racing to Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, where Awdish was completing a fellowship in critical care.

On that night nearly a decade ago, a benign tumor in Awdish’s liver burst, causing a cascade of medical catastrophes that almost killed her. She nearly bled to death. She was seven months pregnant at the time, and the baby did not survive. She had a stroke and, over the days and weeks to come, suffered multiple organ failures. She required several surgeries and months of rehabilitation to learn to walk and speak again.

Helpless, lying on a gurney in the hospital’s labor and delivery area that first night, Awdish willed the medical staff to see her as a person rather than an interesting case of what she termed “Abdominal Pain and Fetal Demise.” But their medical training to remain clinically detached worked against her. Later, in the intensive care unit, she overheard her case being discussed by the surgical resident during morning rounds.

I had a hospitalist literally stamp his feet at me, when I got tired of his inability to listen and told him I was going home.
I know that there are people who are getting tired of me still talking about health issues after 5+ years.  My body is working ( or so I will say, unless Friday’s test(s) prove otherwise), so I should be acting well.  But my spirit has been disbelieved, and I continue to suffer the consequences.