August 2011

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For Keeps

I love this birthday card Christina gave me. The woman’s eyes say it all. She is loved.

Two birds, like best friends, flutter to her side, and she is adorned: flowers tucked behind her ears, necklaces layered on her collar bone. She is celebrating her birthday. There is nothing more optimistic than celebrating a birthday, nothing more hopeful than believing in the ritual of celebration, of adornment, of friendship.

Carolyn flew in on Friday.

Whether Carolyn swoops in at a time of crisis or  flies in for a celebration, I feel so lucky to be one she comes to see.

On Saturday, Mari joined us. And then the circle was complete.

It’s all we need, really. Just to be together for hours of magazine flipping, chatting, laughing and adding logs to the bonfire of hope we’ve been stoking for almost three years now. You can call a shaman to your house to heal you. Or you can nestle in with your closest friends, the ones who know and evoke your authentic power, who know (for instance) the 20-yr-old you, the one with strength and confidence, the one who would not stand for something as ludicrous as cancer. Time spent with them in my nest shores me up for challenges ahead, and reminds me that there is a part of me that will never be reached by any disease.

I think of all the time the three of us spent together when we three lived within blocks of each other in San Francisco, or all the time I spent with Carolyn when we were 20, traveling by train through the UK. And now that we live in different cities and states, any time  we can spend together is  precious.

On Sunday, I was surprised by a gathering at the Left Bank in Larkspur.  I felt so lucky to be surrounded by the kind of women who inspire me to love, create, and live with my heart wide open. I was so tired from staying up late the night before, but felt energized by my amazing friends. Thank you, ladies:

This birthday was all about nesting with my loved ones and adornment.


There is nothing that inspires me more than the love of my friends and my family, except perhaps, learning how and what they see in me. Thank you for giving me strength and inspiration.

My biggest birthday wish must remain a secret of course. May all the love in my life give my wish wings.




Before I could talk very well, I thought a typewriter was called a commentary. My dad sat at his desk in the Hollywood Hills with maybe this view:

I heard him click-clacking away. I was supposed to be napping, but I would chatter and chatter.

“Shhh….” my mom would say. “You’re dad’s working on his commentary.”

Happy belated birthday, Dad. You are 81. That is old. Good for you.

Today is Uncle Mike’s birthday. Little J calls him Mike-asaurus. It has nothing to do with his age, which I will not disclose.

Happy birthday, Mike-a-saurus.



Diving In

Sandra picked me up from LAX early last week in a black, 50′s-inspired cotton dress, deep v in the front and back, billowy skirt. And why not? It was cocktail hour. In fact, both of us were dressed for a drink at Hal’s or another cute haunt in her stomping grounds.

But it was not to be that sort of trip. I had only 22 hours of sandals-on-the-ground on this visit. I was there mostly to see Doc. Beth, to see if she had any news, information, or promising trials to offer me. She did not. However, she did second Doc. G’s opinion that I should start on Avastin every three weeks through my port and daily 50 mg of oral  Cytoxin. The Cytoxin kills the tumors and the Avastin cuts out the roots. Or is it the other way around? Either way, it’s a one-two-punch system that proves very promising in other patients.

With fingers and toes crossed, Sandra whisked me off to the airport. As the landing gear came up, and plane nosed through the clouds, I marveled over the sweet time spent at Sandra’s adorable abode by the sea: The ordering in of Thai Food and staying up until two am (yes, me!) talking, crying, psychoanalyzing the Real Housewives of New York (of course). And naturally, we squeezed in a latte and croissant at my favorite French Market cafe just before the appointment.

I started the Avastin two days after I got back. It went in smoothly and seemed to yield no side effects. On Saturday morning, I started to take the Cytoxin. Sunday I felt fatigued and lethargic. Monday I couldn’t raise my arms over my head and was weak and exhausted beyond belief. Dennis dragged me into the cancer center at Kim’s bidding (thank you) and I got the once-over by the Doc and a liter of fluids.

There is no telling what was causing the exhaustion. The chemo, at the low doses I’d gotten, couldn’t have been the culprit behind my near stupor. Dennis and I have been holding our breath. No one wants to say it, but we partly fear it’s the cancer gaining ground.

I’d also had crushing headaches, but MD Debbie, our neighbor, asked if I’d given up coffee. I had, unintentionally, just stopped drinking it. She immediately drove to Starbucks to get me a latte. Headache is gone and hasn’t come back. Hey Deb, if you could figure out the exhaustion part too, let me know.

Mari came up yesterday and we spent my birthday resting and watching Mighty B. We were going to go out to dinner, the whole family, but I was just too pooped. But don’t worry, I did have a great birthday morning with everyone, including Virgil, snuggling in to open presents and sing.

Today, I’m a bit better and am planning, as Doc G. suggested, to try half of a Cytoxin tomorrow to see how it goes. I was considering taking a few days off of it, but Doc’s orders, and after all, there’s a battle going on. I don’t supposed we can let the C gain any more ground than it has.

And don’t worry about Little J, by the way. He is having the BEST summer of his life! The kid is on fire. I’ll post some pictures of him and his buddies tomorrow.



Ready to Lead the Luminaria Lap

I’m still floating on the positive energy from the Relay for Life. There were so many priceless moments. One of the most precious was when Little J carried the torch for the silent lap.

He held the little torch high, like a little Statue of Liberty. We, and hundreds of our community members, followed him around the track in the silent darkness. Thank you so much, Kandi, for giving Little J that honor. I don’t think he’ll ever forget it. I know we won’t.

I don’t think anyone in our group will forget Leigh’s fancy lighting gear either.


Fancy AND Practical

I’m headed to Los Angeles today. Sandra will pick me up from the airport and keep me in stitches, I’m sure, until my appointment with OC genius, Beth K, tomorrow. We’ll discuss my next treatment plan, which will start Thursday.

It’s hard to leave the guys in Sugartown right now, but I have lots of good memories to take with me and hold me over until I’m back tomorrow afternoon, like this one:

Thank you again to all of my friends who were able to come out yesterday. It meant the world to see you there: Mari, Leigh, Ronnie, Paul, Miguel, Linda, Julie, Matt, Wendy, Kathy, Heather, Carrie, Irene, Mary, Jeff, Janet, John, Jessica, Cathy, Ryan, Paul, Amy, Larry and Dave. And if you couldn’t make it this year, there will be many more years, and many more relays to come…

And to everyone else in Sugartown who was at the Relay this weekend, we are truly in this together, and we are SO lucky to be a part of such a supportive community.