March 10, 2009


Do you ever hide something so well that you cannot find it, no matter where you look? Whether you’ve blocked it from memory, or hidden it away in a cardboard box in the attic, you just can’t remember where you put it. And right now you really want to find it, because it’s part of a story you have to tell, and are now ready to share. But you can’t remember. The memories are nowhere to be found in the cobwebbed nooks and crannies of your mind. You hid them too well from yourself. I am still looking, but I did find this, written by someone that I once was.


The waiting is the hardest part. It seems that every time you go to Stanford you wait. Patients should be called waiters. That’s what they do. Wait. Sit. Wait. Maybe they should be called patience instead. You watch the clock. They put the clock on the wall next to the television that’s attached to the wall with a bracket. Why is the clock so near the television? It’s torture. Watching the slow moving hands make their way around. One…two…three… Some clocks have a sweeping second hand. Others have the tick, tick, tick of small movements. Either is equally slow. Monotonous to watch. Time passes so slowly. Sigh.
keep reading Skeletons

April 12, 2008

Oh, Happy Day!

Wow. Thank you so much for the awesome support for my dad yesterday. Combined with the kick-assedness of his surgeon, the operation was a complete success. The surgeon was able to remove ALL of the tumor. Prior to his surgery, we all thought that the surgeon would find the cancer had spread all over, and there would be nothing he could do. Even the surgeon gave us little hope. We were all thrilled to learn how well the surgery went. I could have cried.

I got to see my dad real quick in recovery last night around 7:30, and he was in a lot of pain and feeling nauseated. But he still had time to tell me to “Be good,” and throw in a joke or two.

This morning I called my mom to see if she’d called the hospital for an update and she told me that my dad called her. And he was doing great. Today he was sitting up in a chair and tomorrow they plan to get him up and about walking ALREADY. I’m going to visit him tomorrow and will tell him of all the support he got from people he’s never met. The internet is a beautiful thing. Thank you, thank you.

Next, after he’s completely recovered, he’ll begin more chemo and possibly radiation. This will suck. But for now, I am focusing on how incredibly he did in surgery. He has a great spirit and wants to kick cancer’s ass as much as I want him to. Also, I think cancer should be scared shitless of my dad, because it keeps trying to beat him down and he just kills it. I think it’s running away with its tail between its legs, right about now.

April 11, 2008

Positive thinking

Today my dad is having his second surgery in a year to remove a cancerous tumor from his colon. (Cancer, we will have words. Do you hear me, you little @#$%?) The operation is scheduled for just around 2:30 pm Pacific. So, if I could have everyone at that time take a moment to say a prayer, send a positive vibe, think a good thought, sing Kumbaya, bow to Buddha, or chant something Gregorian, he can use all the help he can get.

Thank you for your kind words of support this week too. XOXO.

March 25, 2008


This afternoon at work, as I walked by the coffee pots, I smelled something. Something different and not at all office-like. It wasn’t the scent of fresh-brewed coffee. Or that of a steaming hot mug of Earl Grey tea, or hot chocolate with a dozen miniscule marshmallows bobbing about. I can’t completely describe what the smell was, only that it was familiar. And unpleasant.

Yes. The smell. That smell. Of stale coffee, microwaved Cup-O-Noodles and anti-bacterial hand soap combined with the stench of uneaten hospital food, freezer-burned ice cubes for making ice chips, and pink plastic pitchers. And suddenly I was there. At the oncology floor of Stanford University Hospital in 2002. In an instant I was transported to the kitchen, where caregivers would come to grab a popsicle for their father, mother, sibling or their not-really-a-boyfriend-but-I’m-sticking-by-him-through-this-because-I-love-him. Where caregivers could escape the rhythmic inhale…exhale…inhale…exhale sounds of the pump as it dripped a toxic but necessary concoction into their loved one’s veins. Sometimes I would come into this haven and want to cry. But I never did. Someone might see me and my reputation as “a rock” would be shattered. And we couldn’t have that, could we?

Depending on that day’s menu, I’d often inspect the neglected food trays to see if anyone left their Oreo brownie. (Nearly every day, I’d have nothing to eat but a Nuts Over Chocolate Luna Bar and a grande nonfat latte.) Most of the time I came up empty in my quest for the bland chocolate squares. But the Jello cup was still there. (How is it that hospitals can even make Jello taste worse?) And maybe there would be some mashed potatoes, or a wilted salad left on the plate. No thank you. I avoided the anti-microbial and liquid diet entrees. Nothing exciting on those trays. On the rare occasion that I did find an Oreo brownie or two, I horded them like a Chipmunk storing nuts for the winter. I never ate them though.

Since I had the 6 pm to 7 am shift, my caregiver uniform was a pair of pajamas. The pants were covered in a tiny leopard print and the black tank top had a cat appliqué made of the same print. I shuffled across miles of that plain white linoleum tile in my puffy leopard Dearfoam slippers. Rawr. Caregiver disguised as fierce feline. Oh, and that fashionable pilly gray fleece I wore. Why are hospitals so cold? How many times I asked that.

Some nights, if he was allowed, I would bring him food from the Outback. A baked potato couldn’t hurt, but stay away from the skin. Most of these fancy Outback dinners, barely picked at, wound up in the fridge on our very own shelf. Inevitably the square Styrofoam boxes wound up in a pile in the garbage can because of his vanishing appetite. But popcorn was always welcome. And it went nicely with American Idol. Some nights were 2 baggers.

For a second today I remembered the feel of the stiff white sheets on my makeshift bed (which was no more than a pink vinyl chair that collapsed flat). I felt the coldness against my shoulders. The unforgiving “mattress” that made slumber nearly impossible was more like a box spring. Those sleepless nights are long gone.

Those days were a lifetime ago. And I have worked to lock these memories in a part of my mind where I am safe from them. But today I was back there. Back in those dark days, all because of my keen sense of smell.

July 18, 2007

An open letter to cancer

(Note to readers: this is uncensored. And these are my honest feelings.)

DearLook, you…you…no words can describe what you are,

So, you targeted my dad this time. I won’t ask why because there is no reason good enough. Nor was there reason to attack Julie, John, Val, or Jamie. With each of them, I tried to find a reason. I came up empty every time.

First, there was Julie, a new mom to a cute baby boy, and you infected her while she was pregnant. Have you no shame at ALL? A mother/wife/friend/aunt/sister/daughter, creating a sweet new life inside her and you poison her. With an innocent baby RIGHT THERE. She tried to kill you with doses and doses of chemo, staying positive and not letting you turn her into a bitter, resentful person because of what you put her through. But you showed no sympathy whatsoever. Instead, you took her. More than 600 people came to say goodbye to her. Did you feel at all guilty? No, of course not. FUCK YOU.

And what about my ex-boyfriend John? Just when he was newly married and the happiest he’d ever been? How long had you festered in his bones? Were you there when he and I went skiing in the 90s and his hip was hurting? Was that you? Did you just lie there waiting to strike until the best time of his life? Well kiss my ass, because despite all the chemo he had to endure to try and kill you, and despite the fears of becoming sterile, he still was able to create a new life…a baby boy. John’s memory lives on in that little boy, and in our hearts. FUCK YOU.

And little Val. How the hell did you find her? Stage IV Lung cancer in a woman who never smoked a day in her life? She didn’t party, or drink, or even eat unhealthy foods. She was the most sincere person with a huge heart of gold. She’d never hurt anyone. Ever. But you struck her body with a force so fierce that no one could handle, let alone a woman just under 5 feet tall. She couldn’t fight you, and she lost. She was my friend. FUCK YOU.

Jamie was there for me when Julie, John, and Val died. In fact, we were dating during some of that time. He consoled me on the loss of my dear friends at the hands of YOU. And then. Then you worked your way into Jamie’s abdomen. At first, you acted like an ulcer, or just a bad stomach ache. But then the sign…the enlarged lymph node near his collarbone. I recognized you right away. I didn’t want to believe it, but I knew it was you. He tried to fight you. Chemo, surgery, radiation, he did it all. But you are a relentless enemy and he finally grew too weary to fight. You won. Again. FUCK YOU.

Four times you won.

There are four people that I loved who I cannot talk to anymore because of YOU. I fucking hate you.

And yet, you persist.

This time, you’ve found my dad. Again.


My dad?

Do you not recall that you’ve been there before? In the prostate? Well, back then he cut you out and told you to fuck off and die, asshole.

Is that why you’re back? Revenge? Could you not have invaded someone evil? A terrorist maybe, or a mass murderer? The doctor got you out of his colon..most of you. But not before you spread your evil nastiness to other places, you sneaking, slithering snake. So now he needs chemo for six months. Followed by radiation for six weeks. And you couldn’t give a shit, could you? Do you enjoy this? Knowing that you are not welcome ANYWHERE. Knowing that everywhere you go, people want you gone. Dead. People will allow themselves to be cut open, just to rid themselves of your despicable presence. This time, you’d better look out, you fuck. Because my dad can kick your ass. And when there are times when he may not feel so much like kicking your ass, I will remind him of what you did to my friends. What you did to my grandmother, for whom I am named, when my mom was just 10 years old. You took my dad’s wife’s mother, and for even more reasons than just that one, my dad will not let you win this time. So just give up. Christ, can’t you just STOP?

If there was a way for you to become something human, someone that could walk on two legs, have a family you loved, and friends you adored…I would find you and I would torture your family. And I would abuse your friends. I would make you watch this, so you could see what you do to people. And I would physically hurt you more than anyone has ever been hurt before. And this, you would feel. You would suffer greatly. Because this is what you do. You ruin lives. But I don’t have to tell you this.

You are a sadistic piece of shit asshole motherfucker. Stay the hell away from people I love.

I hate you.

June 22, 2007

I will not take these things for granted

My dad’s surgery went well. The surgeon was a little surprised that his tumor was as large as it was (about grapefruit-sized and weighing in at 4 lbs), but he got the entire tumor out, and sealed him back up. Thankfully, my dad will not need to walk around with a colostomy bag during his recovery. This made him very happy when he found out and I think that alone will be a boost to his morale during this…to be able to go about his daily “business” as normally as possible.

When he was in recovery, I went in to see him. He was groggy, of course, but he was coherent enough to hold a conversation, and to mention something about calling Britney Spears (they have similar hairdos, since my dad recently shaved his entire head…and his bearded face. I do not think Brit suffers from excessive facial hair, but some believe she did play the “beard” in her relationship with Justin).

Pre-surgery, the tumor must have been causing him immense pain, because he feels awesome now. He needed almost no pain meds the first day after surgery, and the only time he hit his pain meds button was when the nurses suggested he do so because they were going to get him up out of bed. On a scale of 1 to 10 pain-wise, he said the highest he got was a 2.

He’s already been walking around. Without pain. Dude, my dad rules!

He wants to go home, of course, but I’m sure he’s entertaining his nurses with his crazy stories. I talked to him tonight and he said he’d been telling his new nurse about my wedding.

His surgeon removed some lymph nodes to biopsy and the results will tell us whether he will need chemo, and how much. Obviously I’m hoping he won’t have to deal with chemotherapy, but I think now, after the surgery was so successful, my dad will opt to do whatever comes next. His morale is great. He’s still got a long road ahead of him, but it’s hard to be depressed around such a cheerful patient. Plus, he kind of looks a lot like Don Rickles now, with his bald head and shaved face.

We’re hoping he comes home by Sunday, and we’ll have a big celebration, complete with his favorite foods. Pureed, of course. Yummy! If he’s not home yet, we’ll visit him in his sterile hospital room, and listen to his machines beep. That will also be fun. Because my dad will be there.

Thank you all for your kind words, thoughts, and prayers. My family and I really appreciate it, and if you could keep it coming, that’d be cool. Look for an open letter to cancer coming soon. I’m warning you right now, you with virgin ears (or eyes, I guess) might want to rent Reservoir Dogs to acquaint yourselves with the language.

June 18, 2007


Our wedding was near perfection. The weather was sunny and not too warm. While getting ready, everything (for me) went swimmingly. The hair appointments ended early, which was great, since my florist delivered my flowers early, and my make-up artist was early. The photographers? Early. I had no stress at all.

Except for one thing. The thing I didn’t want to think about. When we were first planning our Big Day, this was far from my thoughts, like galaxies away.

But a couple of weeks before the wedding, I learned that this uninvited guest, who I detest, would be at my wedding. This asshole has destroyed the lives of people I love, and the bastard had NO PLACE at my wedding, or anywhere near anyone I love. Not on that day, or any other day. Just leave people the hell alone.

But cancer doesn’t care that it’s not invited. And it doesn’t discriminate in choosing where it infests. This time, it is in my father’s colon. Never mind that my father already had prostate cancer, and beat it. (Take that, @#$%er!) Cancer couldn’t care less if and when it returns. It’s evil, hateful, and persistent and I wish it would stay the f@#$ away from my family and friends.

Before he knew what was making him feel so sick, my dad told doctors that no matter what it turned out to be, he didn’t want to do anything surgical until after May 25. He would walk me down the aisle. He has looked forward to that fatherly duty for years, and nothing was going to get in the way of that, despite my telling him he should do whatever he needed to medically, no matter when he needed to do it.

He was tired on my wedding day, and sat to rest quite a bit throughout the festivities. But you couldn’t wipe the smile off his face. He gave a toast that made me cry and made me laugh. He danced with me to Neil Diamond singing When You Wish Upon a Star, and smiled. My friend June took about 30 pictures of him that day, just to capture his emotions. Those are some of my favorite shots. I gave him a frame with these two, for Father’s Day.

Father/Daughter DanceFather/Daughter Dance

Tomorrow he goes in for surgery, to remove the cancerous tumor from his colon. A tumor that has NO PLACE being anywhere near my father. His recovery will be long and difficult, and he may have to endure chemotherapy. I will not tell him what he should or should not do regarding treatment. Whatever he chooses, it is his decision. But personally, I would like him to kick cancer’s ass so hard, it will never come near him again.

He could use your prayers, good vibes, positive thoughts, and/or whatever special wishes you can offer. I am hoping for a surgery that is as uneventful as possible. And I can’t wait to see his smile again.

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