When you're 2, you're supposed to be discovering your world.

I have a little neighbor who's about to turn 2 in a couple of months.  He brings me pieces of branches from his driveway.   He hands them to me with a smile that melts my heart.  Each stick handed -off is like a special treasure, a gift he is sharing with me that is more precious than gold.

This little guy has only one gear and that's forward and fast.  There's no time to look down, it's full speed ahead, so when we walk down his driveway I ask him to hold my hand, so together we can pace ourselves.  It works most of the time. This tiny little hand, holding on so tightly, every once in a while looking up at me with this unspoken bond.

I share this with you because that's what Wilson, the little guy Mully wrote about today should be doing.  He should be inhaling the beauty of his new life.  He shouldn't be poked and scanned and stuck with IV's.  He's 2.

If ever there has been huge strides in actually curing cancer, it's pediatric cancers, but that doesn't help when these little people are forced to go through the hell of treatment to get to the "cured" side.

Wilson, with all our hearts here in this OUR Cancer community, we are sending big thoughts of healing and health to you.

We can't wait to hear good news and stories about how you are barreling down your driveway with a smile on your face.

Cancer and kids...it's just not a fair fight.

Mully, same big thoughts go out to your husband too.

We're all lifting.

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I saw an article that broke down the bio-tech companies around the country.  We've all heard of the big companies like Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson, but there appears to be an explosion of smaller, boutique bio-techs out there , concentrating on specific diseases.

So of course I was interested in the cancer based groups and there a lot of them.  In some cases, they've even narrowed their work to specific kinds of cancers too.

From my corner, there can't be enough new, young investigators out there reaching for the scientific stars.  Give them a lab. Give them all the tools they need to fix this cancer epidemic.  I'm no longer gullible enough to believe there will be one discovery that will cure cancer, but I do believe there will be multiple discoveries that will some day lead to the treatment of cancer as a chronic disease.  That means it can be contained or repressed.  I want to be there when cancer raises the white flag of surrender.

So I'm going to start paying more attention to these small little specialized labs that have focused their fluorescent lights and microscopes on colon cancer, or lung cancer, or breast cancer: any cancer.

I wish someone with a bigger brain than mine would organize a cancer lab stock market, like the NYSE, so we could all watch who's winning the race to find these small victories that will some day lead to bigger achievements.   Maybe that would put more pressure on them and force the process to move a little faster.  When the eyes of investors are watching for discovery of successful new treatments, the urgency to produce is stronger.  Those that don't have the goods would close their doors.  Those who can change cancer world into "chronic cancer treatment world" would thrive.

Those of us who've lived in cancer world would like to see some good come out of what we've already invested in.....and it's been a substantial investment for sure.

 

 

 

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AWKWARD!!

We had a gathering at my house yesterday; six women, all widows and we all got to that place because of cancer.

I looked around the table at one point and I thought about how much each of us has been through in our lives.

Each of our husbands had different types of cancer, so our journeys were different just because the care and the dying was different, but the care giving and the love we felt for each of them was intense.  And there we sat, all connected by this strangling disease, not to mention the way it changed who we were BECAUSE OF  cancer.

We've met many times before and sometimes our conversations gravitate toward our memories.  We talk about trips to the doctor or the highs and lows of the treatment process and how as caregivers we were the advocates for our loved ones.  Some in the group have kids and some do not and that makes all the difference in the world when it comes to healing and grieving and getting through the death and re-inventing of ones life.

What I noticed yesterday is that we didn't talk about "them" this time.  It was more about us and the future.  One of us says she's ready to take the plunge and will try Internet dating. She's done a ton of research, probably too much, but she thinks she's found the website that suits her needs.  We talked about how "dating" is so different now and meeting someone when you've been out of that game for so long, is so awkward.

So there we were, six cancer widows trying to push forward.  We've been through all the stages of care giving, grief, redefining life and now it appears there's another stage some of us are about to enter: the try to meet someone phase.

Did I say "awkward" earlier?  I mean, really, the idea of it just seems so AWKWARD.

Guess I'm not there.....yet!

 

 

 

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It doesn't get easier.  It doesn't get less stressful.  An annual mammogram is always a heartbeat away from being a life changer.

I have a few friends who went for their annual check-up never to imagine they would walk away with a report that would change the course of their lives.

They exercised, ate a healthy diet, did  all the things that the guide lines to a healthy life suggest and yet, when that imagining machine revealed a breast cancer,

their lifestyle took a back seat.

That's why I always get a little queasy walking through the door for my annual appointment.

Nothing in medicine is routine in my book.  I guess I'm forever changed after Leroy's "routine" colonoscopy 13 years ago.  Those results were anything but routine.

That's not to say I skip the yearly visit:I re-up every year.

Today the report was good and the anxiety thermometer is back to normal just like the results.

I'm a lucky girl, today.

 

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Remembering 9/11

On this day...13 years later, we remember and salute them...May they rest in PEACE

The Pentagon

The Twin Towers, NYC

Flight 93, Shanksville, PA

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That’s an APP!!!

My next door neighbor is a smart guy and he's interested in developing app's.  He's in the world of television so he's a techno-wizard and it follows that his app ideas lean toward media technology.  Many of the doctors I know up at Johns Hopkins are trying to develop medical apps that will help advance the treatment and care of patients.

The other day, I got an email from a young woman who has moved up the ladder in television production and she told me she owes it all to Leroy.  His guidance and mentoring gave her the tools she needed to grow in her specialty.  Over the years, since he's been gone, I've received so many emails from former ABC News folks who have said the same thing: without Leroy's guidance, they never would have moved into bigger jobs or taken on tougher assignments had it not been for the Big Guy's presence in their lives.

There was one story told to me by a former "Nightliner" that really made me smile.  As a young journalist, he was witness to Leroy in action one night when the broadcast was going through late changes and it was getting very close to airtime.  High anxiety and probably high voltage energy crackled through the control room, but in full "Leroy-mode" the show went off without a hitch.  He was very good under pressure.

So fast-forward a few years and this same journalist, in a better job, now making similar decisions, found himself in a dilemma.  He solved the issue but emailed my friend to tell her the way he solved the problem was to ask himself, "What would Leroy do?"

I can't tell you how many times I've asked myself that same question.  It just makes it easier to solve things if I stop and think, what would Leroy do?

In todays world, he would be my "answer app."

The perfect app: the first app on my smart phone ready with an answer or suggestion that could solve simple and not so simple issues of the day.

The "Leroy App" ....

 

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There's something about the end of summer, the thought of Fall just around the corner and the need for cleaning out corners of rooms that have collected odds and ends over the last few months.  In my house, one sheet of paper turns into a pile over night.  At least it seems that way.  So I bought some big plastic containers and started to sort through those piles.

I found a small, hard bound, black book with the words "Travel Journal" on the cover.

Inside, on page one, I had written "Leroy's Journey" and dated the page, August 10, 2001.

That was the day of his "routine colonoscopy."  The day he heard the words, "You have cancer."  The day it all changed.

I've been sitting here reading my words and remembering that day and the many days that followed.  The journal covers the first 29 days of our cancer journey.  How Leroy, in his drug haze from the colonoscopy, kept asking the doctor "Am I going to make it?"  I wrote about watching all the other people in the waiting room who were there to drive home their loved ones and one by one, they left the room, and life went on as before, but not me.  The nurse called me back to where Leroy was waiting.  The doctor eventually showed up to tell us he'd found a large cancerous tumor in the lower part of the colon.

The day it all changed.

There are many pages devoted, day by day, to the wonderful family and friends, so concerned about his condition. I remember how hard it was for him to made so many calls, repeating over and over again, that he was now a cancer patient.

And I was so excited, but still reserved, when the scans came back clean and the lymph nodes came back clean after his surgery and he was told to go home, heal and have a good life.

No one said "Go home, heal and have a good life for four years."

I was surprised, as I read through my thoughts of those 29 days, that I had doubts about his full recovery.  I mentioned many times how sad I felt and wondered what would I do without him, if the cancer wasn't stopped.

So here it is, this little journal of memories.  A life changing event 13 years ago, almost to the very day.

Once upon a time.....

 

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My friend Bruce has been gone 3 years now.  He died from complications that followed his bone marrow transplant.  He had leukemia.

Following his transplant, there were so many, lets call them issues, that accompanied his new marrow.  The body, even when matched for transplant, doesn't just welcome it's new and improved marrow. There are so many complications.

He had a batch of them and as good as medicine is now with transplant, there are still problems medicine isn't prepared to handle.

Bruce died on September 6th, three years ago.

I miss him.

I'm sad that he isn't here to be a part of his wonderful family and the milestones they have reached.

His daughter is a little over a week into her new and exciting life as a college coed.  He missed the gathering of the college dorm gear.  The multiple trips to the various stores that carry every type of dorm room product made to make a coed's existence manageable.

He didn't get to pack the car or should I say stuff the car full of duffle's, boxes, CD's, books and anything that said "HOME" on it.

He was a scientist and a guy so he would have marveled at how much stuff she fit into her small little dorm room.  No question, it would have challenged his keen mathematical mind!

And, I promise you he didn't have half the stuff his daughter HAD TO HAVE, when he went to school and yet he excelled and became a renown Infectious Disease doctor.

Bruce's son loves sports and I know he would have loved sharing that part of his life.  Golf is the new attraction for this school year, at least until Spring when baseball will reign supreme again.  He's a huge Washington National's fan and every time I sit next to him at a game, I wish Bruce was there to share a Dad/son baseball day.

That's how it was supposed to be.

So many "supposed to be" moments,  not quite the same without you Bruce.

I miss you,  my friend.

 

 

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He had no signs of cancer.  He was N-E-D for the longest time.  Along with his cancer-free status came the freedom from chemotherapy and radiation.

He was a full-on Dad again and a husband and sitting in the mower, riding around the yard was fun! Life was almost back to normal.

We all know it never really gets back to what it was before that "You have cancer" day, but it can get pretty darn close.

So now it's changed again, because that sneaky, stealth-like disease has shown itself in places that are not good.

The smiles and laughter and good-life times have been replaced by those cancer-lines that run across the forehead.

The doctors are on it.  They've found the latest meds that are showing decent results, but it's too early to tell if these drugs can hunt down and destroy enough of these bad cells.

The whistle has blown and the support team that has always been by his side has rallied once again, so the family is being cared for: can't beat the "lifting."

I cringe when I hear this: we all know how hard these whiplashes in cancer are on a patient and family.

Hope is what keeps us together.  Hope is our co-pilot.

 

 

 

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There is nothing like a sea breeze and a beautiful ocean wave.  They wrap themselves around your soul and squeeze.

The embrace results in a liberating deep breath of peacefulness.  Who can't benefit from that?

The beautiful Pacific, with her deep blue hues, is such a welcoming invitation to sit back and think good thoughts about the years gone by.  It's almost like the memories float on her shimmering surface. 

When the breeze off the swells catches my breath, it's the perfect combination of ocean and sea breeze. 

Let me linger here a while longer and take it all in and realize what calm and peaceful really means.

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