Thursday, January 24, 2008

I should not read about cancer

if I don't want to pop an anxiety pill. So here's the way I got to the cancer Web site. An author of a book called Compassionate Caregiving wants our magazine to review her book or let her write an article about caregiving. So I was looking through the book, and the Caregiving Web sites chapter caught my eye. I turned to those pages. There I saw the reference to I logged on and saw Cancer Facts and Figures 2007. Well, of course I'm going to look at that.

I scroll down to the section on colon cancer (naturally). I looked at the survival rate (and the fact that eating a lot of red or processed meats [I AM a member of the SPAM fan club] can cause colon cancer). The one and five year survival rates for colon (and rectal) cancer are 84 percent and 64 percent, respectively. OK, that's respectable. Detected at an early, localized stage, the five year survival rate is 90 percent. Really good. However, when it is discovered in the lymph nodes (me) or adjacent organs, the five-year rate drops back to 68 percent. OK OK, that's better than half, I guess. But if it has a distant metastases (I'm not sure how distant, preferably in a nearby swine), the five-year survival rate drops to 10 percent. Really bad.

You see, an acquaintance in Nashville has just died of colorectal cancer, and she was only 41. I've been keeping up with her on her Caring Bridge Web site. One month, she was back teaching school and the next month (or so) she was dead. I didn't know her well, but her death has really affected me. I don't think it's because she also had colon cancer, but maybe. It's just that she was so loved and seemed to be a happy person. She was not going to let this cancer get her. And yet it did.

I was looking at the photos of her they used at her memorial service and tears came to my eyes. I prayed for her a lot. Lots of people did. Once when I was praying for her complete healing, the question popped into my head (from God?), "But would you trade your life for hers?" And guiltily I must admit, the answer was no.

I'm no Jesus.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

What a great holiday

I spent a wonderful two weeks away from the office. We had a nice Christmas, then my sister and her partner (my sister in law) Jana came to visit. We ate and ate and drank and drank and visited downtown Chicago. They saw the ice skaters and we even got some snow. Jana got to build a snowman. For Decatur, Alabamians, snow is rare.

In addition to their visit, my favorite part of time off was sleeping until 7:30. That's late! Then ambling downstairs to the living room to get my coffee (with a squirt of holiday whip cream in it) and reading the paper. Puttering around the house (learning a new video program) and then taking a nap around 1 or 2. Man, that's the life. I hate to add years to my age, but retirement looks pretty good. A couple of times I got bored, so when I do get to retire, I'll have to have some daily goals, I guess. But for now, I think resting and taking it easy is just fine.

I sure am back to eating. I knew this would happen of course. I can taste food again and it is heaven. We blew our dining budget in December. And the numbers on my scales are rising (I have to put my body on it first, of course). But it's the new year, so I can make some resolutions. Like eating my fruits and vegetables and staying away from all the sweets that tasted so good during chemo. And going back to the gym with a vengeance.

My aunt Margene died over the holidays. She was my mother's younger sister. (She was in her mid 70s.) She got pneumonia and never recovered. Terrible. She was part of the reason I like cowgirls. When I was a kid, I used to visit her family on the "farm" in Oklahoma. That's where I rode (and fell off) my first horse. What was that white horse's name....I can't remember. Anyway, Margene, I hope you're having a great time. It's really cold here.

I'm still racking in the presents. Bob got me a computer, which I didn't expect!, and a DVD recorder, among lots of other things. My friend Teresa from Nashville sent me an unexpected gift she picked up at a yard sale. A Kate Spade cowgirl purse!

The photo above is Bob and me wishing you a happy 2008. We've taken this picture every year since 2000, when it was easy to hold up our fingers. One of us would hold up a two and zero; the other would do two zeros, forming an "O" with our fingers. But as we moved into 2006, we didn't have enough fingers. So we had to move to the Roman numeral system. That's me holding up two "M"s for 2000 and Bob holding up two and three fingers for "eight." That makes 2008, right?

Happy New Year!