He Takes the Cake

Max Up Close & Comical

Max Up Close & Comical

The room was filled with tabletops and stools and held our parents and many relatives and friends of the family who were attending the luncheon following the funeral of my late much-loved Grandma Arlene Belsley. Wearing a blue and orange striped shirt with a blue collar under a brown zip-up sweatshirt, Max spent the majority of lunchtime on my lap.

The midday meal was buffet style and a kind lady named Judy carried my plate to my seat. I only ate the mixed vegetables and mashed potatoes with gravy. The white Styrofoam bowl of salad along with two pieces of cornbread on my plate with a chunk of butter and two packets of honey were never touched, abandoned for a greater cause. My lunch food was sacrificed for something much sweeter. Max wanted to eat my red cake.

So while trying to juggle my coat and Max on my lap with my purse at my feet and only one napkin to wipe both our faces, I learned that my nephew was very particular about utensil cleanliness. He refused several bites of cake due to the spoon and fork we were using interchangeably not meeting his standards of neatness. I therefore tried to carefully pick up pieces of the dessert without getting white frosting, which he didn’t care for, anywhere on the instrument I used.

Inside the mausoleum before lunch with a pack of people standing around the perimeter, Max was held in the arms of his Mother and then his Grandma. I tried unsuccessfully to catch his eye where I sat in one of three folding chairs a few feet away to his left. Then during a prayer I peaked and was delighted to see Max flashing a huge smile across his 12-days-shy-of-2-years-old face as he strolled the short distance to join me.

The women singing hymns in shrill tones inside the stone building caught the boy’s attention and curiosity. He twisted in my lap to get a better look at the high-pitched voices behind him.

“Do you want some lotion?” I whispered to Max as the rest of the filled room remained quiet.

He unscrewed the lid to the small bottle of Japanese Cherry Blossom body lotion – with the container now holding the remnants of that plus Jergens Soothing Aloe lotion to soften my dry hands – in my purse. I quickly grabbed it before the top came off, trying to avoid a cream catastrophe.

Max’s unceasing exploration into the contents of my purse finally led him to something useful. In my purse’s inside pocket was a round pink black-spotted ladybug that slid open to reveal a small circular mirror underneath. His parents’ continual efforts to teach their little son ideal interactions with people he meets were obviously paying off. Politeness prevailed as the young student of social skills kissed his reflection and greeted the image before him:

“Hi Max!”

There’s No Time Like the Present

Just Because You Have Two Feet It Doesn't Mean Easy Moving!

Just Because You Have Two Feet It Doesn’t Mean Easy Moving!

As I was swirling Biotene mouthwash inside my chronic dry mouth a few minutes ago, my brain lit up with this idea: Now’s as good of a time as any to post an infamous true saying of mine post-cancer treatment, once Avascular Necrosis, which damages some of my joints, and the necessity for using a four-point cane to walk around, arose as burdensome belated side effects. My signature saying can be associated with my earlier post today about issues relating to cancer patients.

“Walking is overrated.”

And it is.

Lighten Things Up

I came up with the following piece after literally praying to God for some new material exactly 534 days ago.

The Top 10 Slightly Altered Clichés that Apply to

Cancer Patients

10. There’s no business like chemo business.

9. If you’re nauseous & you know it, let it out!

8. If at first you don’t know your way to the hospital, soon, soon you will. 

7. The patient never falls far from the IV pole. 

6. Keep your nurses close & your doctors closer.

5. Hair today, gone tomorrow.

4. Another day, another doctor.

3. Sick happens.

2. I swear to wear the gown, the whole gown, & nothing but the gown. 

1. Put your best vein forward.

Cliché Number Seven in Full Swing

Cliché Number Seven in Full Swing

This Thing Called Life

The progression of me: Illness can change how you look but not WHO YOU ARE.

Little Did I Know I Was Seven Months Away from Losing My Full Head of Thick Hair, FOREVER

As a high school sophomore, little did I know I was just seven months away from                 Losing My Full Head of Thick Hair, FOREVER.

Above is my school picture in 1999, a mere two years after receiving my first three rounds of chemotherapy. The following photo is me at college graduation on a date forever stamped on my mind: April 29, 2007. By this time in my successful war against leukemia, I’d had two unrelated bone marrow transplants, sixty rounds of the investigational drug arsenic in the time I relapsed in between the two transplants, a grand total of four relapses, brain surgery, lots of grueling cancer treatment and innumerable lengthy hospital admissions, and enough chemo and radiation for a lifetime. In other words, I COMPLETELY CRUSHED my eight-year fight with cancer by using up all of the medicine humanly possible, so let’s pray I never relapse for a fifth time.

Graduating college, with high honors & a shiny bald head

Graduating college, with high honors & a shiny bald head

Many irreversible side effects, including neurotoxicity on my brain stem causing imbalance and requiring the use of a four-point cane; facial paralysis which prevents me from breaking into a smile like I did as a high school student; and many more conditions unseen like damaged eyesight and chronic pancreatitis, popped up in later years after cancer treatment was finished. I can expect the unexpected for the rest of the life God has blessed me with.

Take it or leave it, this is Me Now

Take it or leave it, this is Me Now

Water Works

I'm Talking About Drinking Water

I’m Talking About Drinking Water

Negotiate with your doctor to lessen the rate of your IV fluid by promising to drink a lot more water. Most of the times when people receive IV fluid, they need it all and alternatives aren’t an option; but an occasional break from what seemed like ALWAYS using the bathroom due to endless IV fluid dripping at high-speed into me was a huge treat. For example, I’d promise to drink 64 ounces (or whatever number of ounces the doctor required of me) of water in order for my nurse to temporarily slow down how fast IV fluid ran through my line. This not only decreased the rapid rate of IV fluid streaming continuously into my system and filling my bladder, but also lessened all of my frequent and annoying trips to the bathroom (although you will still use the bathroom often, it’s not as bad when you have more control on the situation of how many times you visit the “throne” by drinking water yourself).

Sticking with the topic of water, which also happens to be my Favorite Drink In The Whole World, anyone and everyone daily drinking several cups of water helps your body feel and work better. Another palindrome (something that is the same backward and forward): W.I.W. or Water Is WONDERFUL!

Another True Tale

No Rhyme or Reason to this Photo, Just a Pig

No Rhyme or Reason to this Photo, just a Pig

I was at my oldest sister’s house one afternoon while her oldest son was in preschool. Her middle son was supposed to be napping, but often doesn’t. So while her baby was upstairs napping and she was resting on the couch, the notoriously mischievous 3-year-old child sneaked out of his room.

I joined him in the playroom and tried to keep him quiet. After making silly
faces at each other that we looked at through binoculars, my young nephew started singing a song and slamming his guitar on the floor.

“I don’t play with boys who throw their toys,” I said as I rose to leave.

Most kids would stumble over themselves and plead with me to stay, saying things like “I’ll stop” or “I promise I won’t do that again.” Not this fiery little fella.

“Get out,” the boy willfully replied in a matter of fact tone. “I throw toys.”