Monday, October 6, 2008

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Every October I brace myself for the networks dragging out the experts to talk on the subject. They share old and new insights (if they have any) and then end with the same bottom line - early detection. I brace myself for the pink merchandise with a percentage of the sales going to cancer research. Seriously, how many pink toasters do we have to buy before cancer is cured? If someone could tell me, I would do whatever it takes to buy that number of them. And I seriously hate the color pink.

On Sunday, October 15, 1995 Chuck and I headed for the Tall Stacks event along the Cincinnati riverfront. Chuck was in a Cajun band at the time called "Lagniappe" and they were scheduled to play on the Covington side of the river. The weather was perfect. The steamboats and period costumes transformed the riverfront to a different time as all that the city skyline represented seemed to move further and further into the background. The music and dancing celebrated the memory of a slower pace of life. I can still remember the relaxed and quiet atmosphere that made us want every Sunday afternoon to be such a peaceful escape.

I stopped by the store on the way home from Tall Stacks for a few things and picked up cans of Healthy Choice soup for my mom. Yes, ironically, Healthy Choice was the brand and nothing from that moment on had anything to do with healthy choices. She had been getting weaker and had a chronic cough. She told us that the doctor had been treating her for pneumonia. I thought hot soup would certainly help with fighting an infection. I went in her house with no idea what I was walking into. I gave her the soup and then she told me what she should have told me months ago. She was certain that she had breast cancer. I asked her how she knew and she said she had a lump that had changed. Changed? I would find out later that the lump had ulcerated clear through her skin. I asked, really begged her to take her to the hospital. My mother did things her way and so I had to wait three days to take her to a doctor's appointment that she had made. Three days. Three of the longest days of my life when all I could think of was my mother and deal with the anger because I could not get the help she needed any sooner. When I finally got her to the doctor she was in the room with him not more than five minutes when he came out and told me to get her to the hospital. In a way, I was relieved just to be able to get her to a place where she had less control which is exactly why she didn't want to go to the hospital.

She survived three months because the cancer had metastasized from head to toe. Chemo slowed the killer down but couldn't stop it. She actually died from a heart attack because the chemo had damaged her heart. The only reason early detection works is because you don't need as much chemo and radiation to kill the cancer. Less chemo means less damage to the good cells. It's that simple.

My mother lived her life with the simple goal of making people laugh and found moments to make that happen even through her treatment. I admired her strength and courage in light of such a ruthless enemy. I will always be so proud of the way she lived out her last three months of life. She had a inner energy that few people have and yet she was still no match for cancer. She did it her way. She let us in on her secret battle when she was ready but her timing was off and the battle had already been lost.

Every year I am painfully aware that it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I hate the word, "Awareness", because it is such a pitiful word and so far from the word or words that would give us hope. Pink is much too mild a color for all the grieving cancer has wrought. I'm sorry. I know full well that I'm wrong for feeling this way but all the pink ribbons, marathons, and Oprahesque talk show experts are about as effective as a pink toaster. The only hope I have is that I know my mother's spirit could not be conquered by cancer. She lives on in the hearts of many people and in another dimension that cancer cannot reach.

Friday, October 3, 2008


Contrary to hurricane winds, we were invited to join our gracious friends, Yvan and Martine, on a riverboat cruise. The cruise was a thank you to musicians for playing at an event and we got to go along for the ride. As you can tell by the last two pictures, Yvan and Chuck were in their element. Yvan and a few of the other musicians who are in Lagniappe which Chuck was also in for awhile played great tunes while we coasted up and down the river. So peaceful and what seemed to be so far away from Fairfield. Our friend, Cortney, joined us and took the first two pics with my camera. Every Sunday afternoon should be so pleasant!

Ike Blew Through Sept. 14, 2008

Tree on the house.
Tree in the pool.
Tree in front of the garage - just missed it.

Chuck watched as the neighbor's tree fell into our pool while the dogs and I ran for the living room. I wasn't sure it was going to miss the house so I wanted to be in the part of the house that had two levels. When the tree fell it took down two utility poles so we were without electricity until Monday, September 22nd. The repairmen were actually from North Carolina and we were grateful for their work. We had cable but didn't have internet until Friday, Sept. 26th. Yes, twelve days without internet. Our neighbors, Jeff and Cyndi, helped us get our "fix" by using our computers at their house. Cyndi also made coffee for me on her camp stove when neither of us had electricity. Then she continued to make coffee for me when she had electricity and I didn't. Guess she didn't want to find out what would have happened if I didn't get my caffeine in the morning. It was great having morning coffee with her and spending time talking. I hope we can do our "coffee chat" again sometime minus the hurricane.

It's been almost three weeks since Ike blew through town and I was out in the yard today picking up limbs so the yard could be mowed. We are still waiting to talk to the insurance adjuster for the damage to the pool, etc. Ike has been long gone but we'll be dealing with the aftermath for quite some time. I did enjoy playing Scrabble by candlelight with Chuck. He had to sleep at Jeff and Cyndi's because of his sleep apnea. I stayed here with the dogs at night. They had already been disturbed enough all day long by strange men outside with loud chainsaws. Micah, Jadon, Noah and Carolyn were over on the day they pulled the tree out of the pool. It was quite a feat.

During all this I heard what Galveston was going through and realized this was nothing compared to their devastation. We certainly have no complaints - just fewer trees.