Hello Everybody, It’s spring; so let’s make it a good one, a spring that’s springing with love and happiness! Does that sound optimistic and cheery? I guess so; but, you know, I’m really not positive every single second. In fact, lately, I’ve had more down days than up; but May has long been my month of celebrations — there’s Mother’s Day, there’s my Anniversary and Paul’s, there’s my Birthday, and then there’s the start of nice weather. Believe me, it’s no fun to have cancer — but it’s even less fun to get eaten up with gloom and doom — so remind me from time to time to look over my gratitude list.
For starters, I’m grateful to be mother to a beautiful, brilliant and compassionate daughter. When Angelique was a girl, I would often find myself wondering how ever found myself with a child who was so sweet and so loving. Now that she’s a young woman, I’m blown away by how supportive she can be. What better reason could a mother have to smile than to see a smile like hers? Have I ever told you, Liqa, that you’re the best? Well, have I told you today?
Secondly, I’m grateful to be married to one of the greatest human beings on the planet (he swears he is from this planet!). Paul’s caregiver role has extended, not only to me and his clients, but to many of the cancer patients we meet on a daily basis. For example, last night I hosted my women’s cancer group — the magnificent ‘Benson Babes’ — and, after the party broke up, Paul drove all over the city making sure nobody had to rely on public transportation to get home. Earlier this month another friend of ours, a parishioner at our church, needed transportation for her cancer treatment. Paul found time in his busy day to drive her to Dana Farber and then back again. That’s the kind of guy he is.
My own treatment keeps changing because my doctors keep trying to find new ways to stop the cancer from spreading. These days I’m getting infusions of Avastin (Bevacizumab) which is a form of chemotherapy that affects angiogenesis. Simply put, the idea is to starve the tumor by making it impossible to develop the blood vessels that feed it. I only have to get treatments every other week and the infusions only last twenty or thirty minutes. Paul sits with me during my infusions. The staff is friendly and helpful. The other patients are easy to chat with. We all hang out and eat lunch. Many of the patients distract themselves by talking on the cell phone or watching television. Paul swears I’m dreaming this up, but I know that one day we were sitting near a woman who was speaking loudly on her cellphone. She was in tears because she couldn’t afford to buy groceries. What did Paul do? He opened up his wallet and gave her all the cash he had. How blessed am I to have this generous wonderful partner — to keep me company during this horrible experience?
As I said, I’ve got a birthday coming up. I’ll turn fifty-eight on the twenty fifth. We’re celebrating with a trip to New York City over the Memorial Day Weekend and we’re both looking forward to the chance to get away. New York is the city that never sleeps. New York is overflowing with life and life is what I want. I intend to get a big dose of New York and come back ready to beat the cancer into submission.
Birthdays. So many people complain about getting old. Not me, though. I’m praying for the chance to get old — very, very old. Cancer has taught me that every day is a blessing and I’m more grateful than I can say to be getting another year older. People have asked me whether I have a ‘Birthday Wish’. Actually, I have two. First of all, I’m wishing and hoping and praying that the brilliant researchers who are working to find a cure to this horrible disease continue to get the funding they need. That’s my wish and I hope it will be your wish too. Funding only happens when we, as a society, decide that health is something worth paying for — something to remind you that we all pay taxes for a good reason. It’s intolerable for our government to slash funds for research which, sadly, is exactly what is happening. The National Institutes of Health (NIH), one of the world’s leading medical research facilities, will have to wave goodbye to $1.6 billion dollars over the next seven months, leaving top researchers without necessary grants and these doctors’ worst-off patients without the care they need to survive.
We’ve got to do something! You’ve got to do something. Write to Congress. Tell your husband or wife to write to congress. Tell your neighbors to write to congress. When you’re waiting for the lights to change, tell the person in the car next to you to write to congress. We’re insane to leave research undone for lack of funds. How much is health worth to you? How much is life worth to you??
My second wish is that on May 25th you honor me by doing something to celebrate life. Something that will show everyone else how glad you are to be here. Have a refreshing beverage and toast me; pick out a dessert you like and enjoy yourself; hug someone you love; wear a smile on your face. I’m really not courageous enough to face this deadly disease alone. If I’m brave it’s because I’m inspired by friends and family. It gets me through each and every day. Life is good. Act like you understand that.
I’ve started to work on the garden. I’ve gotten annuals in the ground — so I’ve got something beautiful to look at every time I walk in the front door. Next on the list is getting a landscaper to make our lawn something better than a field of crabgrass. A ratty lawn is depressing, and I can’t afford to be depressed.
Perhaps recent events have made you curious about our little town of Watertown. If you happen by, you may want Angelique to give you a ‘scooter tour’ of the all terrorist sites. Well, somebody has to do it ….
As always, thank you for your prayers and support and love. You keep me upright whenever I feel as if I’m going to fall.
God bless you all.