Tag Archive for cancer

Cancer is rude.

Ughhh. I still have another post to write about the amazing 10 to 12 minutes I had last Thursday reading from my first published book OUT LOUD. For the record, I’ve started writing that blog post and it’s saved under “drafts” in my super sneaky behind-the-scenes website dashboard. It’s lonely and waiting to burst with good news, but it will have to wait. Blog posts have feelings, too.

I’m almost two weeks into a Biggest Loser competition at work. I was very good the first week. Only kind of good the second week. I really want to fit into my dresses again. Just a few more pounds to go.

So, at the gym and looking for a new distraction when I’m done trying to read and do cardio at the same time, I checked Netflix for something to watch and found what I thought was a goldmine. GOLD. MINE.

About six seasons of Grey’s Anatomy I absolutely need to catch up on.

I loved that show when it started, and so did my folks. After I left my circus job and moved back into my parents’ house, we continued to watch, and then we stopped: it was just too sad.

Mom was fighting Stage 4 cancer. Lots of people on Grey’s Anatomy die from cancer. And there is always some great indie song playing in the background while it happens, and Drs. McDreamy and McSteamy continue to look too handsome while acting sad and concerned.

I can confirm that does not happen in real life. HOWEVER, there was one really good-looking nurse who was married, sadly. I remember my parents’ good friend was sitting next to Mom’s bed while quizzing this guy’s marital status for me. It was a thumbs down for me. I looked like a slob anyway.

Back to Grey’s, The last episode I remember seeing was the nuclear-level depressing episode where George dies and everyone thinks Izzy has died…from cancer.

Take the one minute to watch this last scene, and you’ll see why we all stopped watching Grey’s Anatomy.

So, I’m on the third episode now of whatever season. Izzy lived. And then something totally unrelated to cancer in this episode reminded me of my mom and this one time I was rude to her and still feel really bad about it.

We were at BJ’s Brewhouse in Roseville near the Galleria. We were in a circular booth with Dad, Ethan, his stupid girlfriend*, Mom and me. The server spilled something and it got onto my mom’s shoe and she gave a look like the server was a stupid idiot.

(*My brother’s girlfriend already knows how I feel about her. She’s rude, coincidentally. And she brings out the “rude” in me apparently.)

My mom was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. I am still of this opinion today. However, we all have our non-princess moments.

I said in a short tone to her, “It was an accident, Mom.” And she looked stung.

The rest of the meal, Mom looked down into her food, playing with it because she didn’t feel well, and she didn’t say another word. I felt terrible. I mean, she had cancer. She could be rude.

This is the reason I can’t eat at the BJ’s in Roseville anymore. It was also the place we ate for lunch the last day she was kind of lucid. I remember she kept just poking at her food, saying that she’d ordered chicken but they gave her something else. It was actually chicken, and I’d said so. She said, “Oh.” And I remember looking at dad and thinking oh my fucking god. The end is starting. This was late in July of 2011.

I had a mini-ugly cry while on the elliptical at my apartment community’s gym while remembering the BJ’s moment and left so the person running next to me wouldn’t think I was spreading my slobbery snot all over the elliptical handle bars. I can’t fake “allergy sniffles” because I don’t have allergies.

And then I started to remember all the other times I was rude to her. One hot summer day, she’d wanted to see a movie, I think. I had too but she hadn’t been feeling well and tried to talk her out of it. She insisted on going and I said okayyyyyy. I was dubious.

We were almost to the destination in Roseville somewhere (not some far away place). I was driving her in her own little Pontiac, the car I now own. Suddenly, she said she really didn’t feel well and needed to go home. I remember making some remark that I’d known she was too ill, some I-told-you-so crap, and it made her feel small. But I really was pissed in that moment at my mom and her cancer. They were a stupid solid unit and had been for the previous eight years. I couldn’t even remember how it felt to have a mom without cancer.

And then the worst. About two weeks before she died. Dad and I had been up about 36 hours together straight, dealing with Mom. She kept walking around the house with her eyes closed and running into things, reminding us over and over again we were conspiring against her for something, refusing to sit down, picking up ceramic things to throw at us, and then finally, she wouldn’t eat a sandwich I’d made for her.

I think it was dark out and I was exhausted. The most exhausted I’d ever been. No sleep for almost 36 hours and mentally exhausted at watching the slow and strange death process we were experiencing and thinking it couldn’t get any worse. (It sadly did.)

Mom wouldn’t sit down on the couch. Her eyes were closed, and she was smirking. And she was being flip with me, her daughter, who was trying to take care of her and feed her a fucking sandwich.

I’d had it and I just started yelling at her. I also knew it was not my mom anymore, thanks to the cancer and drugs making her that very rude way at that rude moment. I’d already decided she was not Mom anymore. Just some annoying shell who looked like my mom and who wouldn’t eat her sandwich.

“You and your cancer have ruined my life!” Man, I yelled that so hard I was worried the neighbors had heard it.

I went on.

“You’ve ruined my relationships! I can’t enjoy anything! My life exists around your cancer!”

GAWD, I was terrible. I was RUDE. She just kept smirking.

I said something other things. I don’t really remember what. But I’d had it with that fucking cancer.

She didn’t hear it though really. She was out of it. She wasn’t there. I learned later that she was still in there when the drugs to manage her pain wore away. And then I understood why docs give their patients drugs that make them that way for that level of pain. It’s terrible to see anyone in that amount of pain off of those drugs. My poor mom.

Every joyous experience I’d had since her diagnosis was clouded very darkly with that cancer. Every phone call home was about cancer. Every week I had off from work, I was flying home to see her because of that cancer. Every stomach ache was from the cement block sitting there because of the cancer.

CANCER IS RUDE!

It makes you rude, too. My mom had the right to be rude to the server who spilled food on her shoe. I was rude because I was mad at the cancer for invading my mom and then justifying her own rudeness.

Cancer is still rude because it consumed a lot of my day. I wanted to work on my special projects, the reason I take every other Monday off from work, but I kept thinking about those times I was rude to my mama. Just couldn’t shake it today.

I may hold off on watching any more Grey’s Anatomy. Maybe I will try Six Feet Under. ;)

EvR

P.S. This article below is pretty great but sad. I began to read it and was reminded for the 23rd time today how rude DEATH is and wrote this depressing blog post. My favorite author, Cheryl Strayed, shared it on Facebook. I’m grateful (and again sad) to finally know so many others in the “Dead Parent Club.” And it’s why folks write these articles (and rude blog posts) too, you know? So you know you’re not alone.

Good read >>>> Before You Know It, Something’s Over. 

 

 

(Almost) Everything is Gold.

I came home from a long trip up the 101. I’d been wanting to visit Oregon and Washington for awhile…to see if either were a place I’d eventually want to move my life (and cats) to since Sacramento has become so mundane to me these past few years. (It’s my hometown. It’s time to go.)

Mom had always wanted to retire somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. She’d grown up in the Sacramento area and never liked it. She passed away trying to earn a nice retirement working for the State of California, a retirement she never got to enjoy. That will not be me.

I drove Mom’s car up the 101…drove through Avenue of the Giants…towering and overpowering giants of indescribable beauty. Smart phone pics and my amateurish photography skills will never do them justice.

My first day on the road.

My first day on the road.

The 101 was so beautiful, I often found myself driving without the radio on. The 101 is its own soundtrack.

The Oregon Coast was exquisite. Oregon’s beaches are different than California’s, and I can’t quite put my finger on why but maybe it’s because they’re empty. They’re cooler, not hot. No need to worry about tripping over bathing beauties. No, you’ll find readers and meditators bundled up in long sleeves and pants, enjoying everything a beach with no heat has to offer. The scenery is too pretty to lay down on your back in a suit and miss it. The beaches smell different, too…but not in a bad way. The consistent clouds and inconsistent glimmers of sun create a special filter that cheap sunglasses and Instagram cannot duplicate. Seriously, it felt almost alien. I like sci-fi, so that’s a good thing.

The Oregon 101

The Oregon 101

I found the place my little family enjoyed a week-long vacation at in the early 1980s. It’s still there. My dad remembered the name, Cape Code Cottages, and said, “It’s between two little towns called Yachats and Waldport.” And he was exactly right. The cottages were exactly halfway between the Yachats and Waldport “Welcome!” signs. And management still provides VCRs and have updated their VHS collection to the 1990s…at no additional charge.

While they didn’t have room for me to stay on my way up the 101, they had room for me on the way back down. They gave me their best cottage: on the beach with the best view.

The Cape Cod cottages have been in Waldport Oregon for decades.

The Cape Cod cottages have been in Waldport Oregon for decades.

 

My cottage. Includes VCR.

My cottage. Includes VCR.

The view from my cottage.
The view from my cottage.

Another view from my cottage.

Another view from my cottage.

The 2,000-year-old stump.

The 2,000-year-old stump.

Walk on my beach.

Walk on my beach.

After my walk.

After my walk.

During my walk.

During my walk.

Tide pools.

Tide pools.

Spent a day in Portland. Bought many books and ate some funny doughnuts. Left the next day for Seattle.

LOVED Seattle.

Ferris wheel.

Ferris wheel.

Seattle. On the way to Bainbridge Island.

Seattle. On the way to Bainbridge Island.

I loved Seattle. To live, it might be perfect.

I met the male version of myself there, as well. I learned I enjoyed hanging out with someone…much like myself, for once. I have looked long and hard for that in Sacramento and have yet to find it. He told me he had never met anyone like me before. I hadn’t met anyone like him. He asked me write about him, so here is his 15-second-reference. And that is all everyone is going to get on that subject. ;)

I stopped at Cannon Beach, as well. Here is Haystack Rock, or as Generation X-ers know as the key to One-Eyed Willy.

Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach.

Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach.

Stopped at some other Goonies hot spots, too.

The Walshes.

The Walshes.

 

The jail.

The jail.

 

The Baby Ruths.

The Baby Ruths.

 

And The David.

And The David.

The last two nights were spent back at the cottages in Waldport. On my way up the 101, the second I stepped onto the beach, I cried. Hard. I had remembered it exactly as it was 30 years earlier. I called my dad, and we cried on the phone. Mom loved that beach, and it was one of the happiest memories I had with my family. My dad said I had an impressive memory.

Mom.

Mom.

When I came back to the cottages at the end of my trip, I wasn’t sad. I was happy. I got to read a mystery book I picked up at the famous Powell’s bookstore in Portland on my mom’s favorite beach near that ugly stump.

Reading.

Reading.

And then it was time to go.

Entrance to the beach.

Entrance to the beach.

Bye, Big Stump.

Bye, Big Stump.

My trip was almost everything it could have been. A friend said I *won* at vacation.

I arrived home last Sunday. I had Monday off to pick up these jerks at the kennel. Their caretaker sent me this while I was away.

Clowns.

Clowns.

A good friend came over and we swam in the pool. And the reality of my returning to the insidious working environment I am currently experiencing was overwhelming. It was the one thing that took away from enjoying my trip completely, sadly. I’d pulled over at a rest stop my second day on the 101 to compose an email to the deputy director (again) about management. I couldn’t fully enjoy the 101 until I had my grievances in writing. I am still waiting for a response.

During this last day of vacation, I received a message: my little dating book that I published for kicks won an award. A GOLD AWARD…from the Nonfiction Authors Association.

I hadn’t been expecting it. Maybe a bronze…but I got GOLD. And I officially became an award-winning author.

BIG GOLD SEAL.

BIG GOLD SEAL.

It reminded me I have *other* things going on. And it validated these projects I’ve been working on, not making money, trying to get out of a situation not meant for me. And…this isn’t even the *big* project.

The dating book was never supposed to win anything. I have this other book I’ve been working on for a few years that I believe in and keeps me going. Trying to achieve that golden life I’ve worked a little hard for. I also promised my mom I would publish that *big* book, no matter what. This award helps tremendously, though. People I don’t know have read the book and enjoyed it. I not only needed this nudge to keep working on the other one, but a nudge to include in my query letters to compel some strangers my books might be worth representing and publishing.

I learned a few days later I get to read from my AWARD-WINNING book out loud in July. I got picked to be a featured reader. This little dating book based on a dating blog I wrote while working for the State of California because they had no work for me to do. Who’d have thunk it.

I guess I owe some credit to California taxpayers and the manager who didn’t have enough work for her analysts.

This award also made me incredibly annoying at work last week. Anytime the insidious managers would say something stupid or start some drama, I would remind them I am an award-winning author and that I write about everything. EVERYTHING.

Being a blogger might prove more useful than calling my union.

I miss my ethereal Oregon beaches, Seattle, and Mom.

Yes, I was.

Yes, I was.

 

Dating in a Post-Mom World.

I was going to call this “A World Without Mom,” but that is a popular title online already. Great minds think alike.

I’m not exactly sure where I want to go with this post, but though I miss my mom every minute of every day, some days are harder than others.

I know I’m having a bad time when I go online to buy shirts with cats on them. Yeah, I did that.

My mom loved cats because her dad loved cats. I will always have them.

Dating has been interesting. I don’t date much. This is obvious because I rarely post on here. I’m not getting material, and I don’t want to write garbage (arguably). There are also some guys I have respected enough to not post about when it didn’t work out. And I am picky, so picky, much to my dad’s delight. I’ve only ever introduced one guy to him. That lying ex o’mine.

I no longer feel a rush to date anyone, because I no longer have my mom. I don’t have to worry if she will get to meet the person I want to be with before she dies. I wanted that person, if they exist, to know my mom and how wonderful she was. They will still know this through me, but it’s still not the same.

They will not get to play cards with her and see what a sore loser she is. Or experience her wicked writing style, the notes she’d send me, how she tended to her beautiful enviable garden. How dedicated she was to her daughter, driving her to piano lessons, making all the costumes for her dance recitals, attending ALL high school basketball games, no matter how far. How just one month before she died, she helped me sweep the kitchen floor of the Folsom apartment I was about to leave for my new adventure in beauty college, even though she thought I was nuts. How she took care of her mom’s mean sister who was diagnosed with cancer weeks after her, both fighting incurable cancers. My mom’s pretty red hair and freckles and toothy smile. The beauty mark on her cheek. And her perfect upturned nose. It was really perfect, even after she broke it. It was so tiny.

They would never see how strong she was and see her smile still through her cancer pain. For eight years.

And I knew the cancer would take her eventually.

I remember sitting by my mom in the hospital not long before she passed. It was in the evening, and my brother and I were watching some television. We were sitting on either side of her bed. She’d stopped speaking and waking up a few days earlier, and we didn’t think she could hear us anymore. We were just waiting.

My brother said he was talking with his girlfriend about how sad they were she only got to meet Mom four times (in two-and-a-half years; they only live in San Francisco).

I glared at my brother. He was clueless. Insensitive. Rude. And he’d been largely uninvolved.

And it showed how little they thought of me.

I told him that had been one of my worst nightmares, for Mom never to meet my love, to be alone when Mom went, and thank you for reminding me.

But the rest of my attention was on Mom. I had been the most clingy of my dad, brother and me. I rarely left the hospital, and I went to sleep in her room very late every night, wondering if she’d still be there when I woke up.

And it went on for two weeks. She wouldn’t let go, and I couldn’t let go.

Dating. Back to dating. I was undateable for a very long time after that. While my mother was not young when she died, she was still only 63. She’d fought for eight, very long years.

And so while I am picky when it comes to dating, I’m also often just not in the mood. Still. I love my dad. We have our ups and downs. But he’s pretty much all I have left. And I enjoy spending time with him.

However, I do not feel the rush to find anyone anymore. It’s just different with my dad. Or maybe I’m just tired of putting deadlines on my life.

I also can’t talk to my dad about dating. He’s my dad. And I’m the only female left in the family. It’s actually rough because he and my brother often don’t get me.

My mom did, though. We were more alike than any two people I know. I wish she were here to complain to or cry to about guys who are jerks or to share good dating news. I know she wanted me to be happy.

I never thought EVER though that my parents would not know my partner. That is something only people who have lost parents at a young age can truly understand, especially if you were close to your parents.

Dad has diabetes and Stage 2b melanoma. I am tired of illness, and I’m not even the one fighting.

When I have days, weeks like these, dating is blah. I am not even in the mood. I’ve had worse times, though. I think March is just starting to stress me out.

And on the eve of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, I find myself missing my mom a lot more. Next month, I will be flying to Washington, D.C., for the third time to meet with other colorectal cancer prevention advocates to speak to our Members of Congress and U.S. Senators to try and convince them to support colorectal cancer prevention and awareness. I have to talk about Mom. No, I GET to talk about Mom.

It’s been difficult to convince some. If it’s not breast cancer awareness, they seem to not want anything to do with it, or if they’re Republican, they think it’s not government’s job to get involved.

I also resent walking into Safeway and other huge retailers to find no royal blue or blue ribbons anywhere. Folks who have had any cancer or know someone with any cancer besides breast cancer will know what I mean.

I’d like to compel the few folks who read this blog to beg your parents and grandparents, any people you love, to get screened for colorectal cancer. I would never wish what happened to my family to happen to yours. Had my mom been screened sooner, she might still be here today.

She would actually very likely be here today.

Colorectal cancer is one of the easiest cancers to cure if caught EARLY. Yet, it’s still the second-deadliest form of cancer between men and women in the United States. WHY is that.

I mostly just wish you all could have met my mom. In April, it will have been 10 years since she was diagnosed. Ten years since I last remember her healthy. It will have been 11 years since she had the cancer, though. Docs said it had been growing a year…and caught too late.

She was sweet. And she suffered greatly. Cancer is cruel.

Brace yourselves for endless posts about your colon next month. The butt cancer is not funny.

But it’s all for Mom. Her name was Diane.

Mom.

Where the Boys Are.

Where are the boys, rather.

Actually, where are the men?

(This is starting to sound like some sad geometry proof. Or not. I had a tutor for geometry because IT’S NOT MATH.)

I rarely get messages anymore. I think the guys are on to me. I know my profiles say “replies selectively” which designates my inbox as a black hole for “heys.”

I still get a few messages from guys wearing Affliction or Tap Out, even though I tell them those shirts are not allowed in my inbox. But some magical powers attached to those sparkly shirts make them bold enough to challenge the black hole.

I’m going to add to the top of my profile I’m allergic to something in the paint used in the making of those shirts and see how well that goes over. I need new material anyway.

I’ve done a few things over the years to try and expand my horizons so I don’t have to use online dating as a way to meet other do-gooder singles. I volunteered for political campaigns and made some good friends. I worked at a polling booth in a conservative area and saw how stupid people act on Election Day when they know their candidate is going to lose. Those volunteers were mostly old women. An abundance of retired librarians, actually.

I joined several groups for writers. Mostly women. The lone guy at the last meeting for marathon writing was writing an essay on bridges.

I used to volunteer for a group that cared for injured birds and squirrels. MOSTLY women. One of those women was married to the lone male, the veterinarian of the group.

I’m a Legislative Ambassador for the American Cancer Society. ALL women. Mostly survivors. Most of the young folks volunteering at an annual event in DC for colorectal cancer awareness I attend…are female. My brother went a few times but I told him about it; he didn’t seek it out.

And the annual 5K I do for colorectal cancer awareness? Do I really have to say it?

Where are the men?!

The gym? The bar? The club?

I see a lot of them doing those Tough Mudders. I dated an Iron Man briefly. Those events are fun but self-serving.

That group for writers…well, I suppose that is self-serving, too.

I know some dress up for Renaissance Faires. Those are not guys I want to know biblically.

And NO, I’m not going to church to meet a guy, as I’ve been told I should do many times. Because I don’t go to church.

But guys…do you volunteer? I know you’re busy, but so am I.

You want to meet quality women? Dudes, volunteer.

Because we need some eye candy.

You just might feel good at the end of the day, too.

EvR

P.S. If you’re 50 and over, get a colonoscopy. Not the poop test or a sigmoidoscopy. A full on colonoscopy. And if you’re black, go at 45. Colorectal cancer is the second-deadliest form of cancer in the U.S. between men AND women yet one of the easiest to cure if caught early.