24 January 2009


Yesterday's news shot me out of the bell jar like a bottle rocket. I'm back on top of the ticket; I've pulled my foot out of the grave and James has suspended his eHarmony account (for now.) Before the good news arrived, I was slowly unfurling from the fetal position and regrouping (and thinking about regrouping.) But yesterday, for the first time in several days, I could look at my kids without losing it.

When the wee brown ones are in your presence, you have to fake it like it's your full time job. Acting like nothing is wrong is hard work and most of it's in vain. First, they’re not easily fooled. Second, I'm a horrible actor. Third, my big fat face is a dead give away. Some women can bawl their eyes out of their sockets, then wipe away the tears with a delicate tissue and it's like it never happened. If I even sob a little, my face turns fuschia and swells up; my eyes narrow into coin slots and stay that way, sometimes up to 24 hours. So, every now and then, I catch Caroline or Paulie giving me the hairy eyeball: "You're suspect!"

Organ Thursday:
The CT scan was a blur. I was in a dark mood in the waiting room. James read a Men's Health and tried not to talk to me per my request. I choked down two barium smoothies -- you had to take a full 45 minutes to drink each one. 90 minutes of ass. The scan itself was less than 15 minutes. They injected some dye into my vein and then passed me through this giant donut that checked my organs for the beast. The donut part may have been a cartoon hallucination. I was starving.

On the way out of the hospital, we had a humorous parking lot sighting that wouldn't make sense or be funny so it's futile to describe it. So, we were both in better spirits once we got home. Caroline had drawn me this picture (left) and scotched taped it to the wall next to my bed. "Mommy, I know you don't feel good. I know you have a cold. This will make you feel better when you wake up." (It does.)

On her drawing, there were these little tadpole-looking black squiggly lines in the grass. "What are those," I asked.

She looked at me like I'd just emerged from a pod.


Aside: Both kids have inherited my childhood hobby of keeping earthworms as pets in plastic buckets on the back deck. One time, they caught James dumping one of the buckets off the back deck. They remain traumatized and royally pissed.

I wanted to catch up on Thursday's Lost premiere, and Caroline beat me to the punch: "Let’s snuggle and watch Lost." She doesn't get the show but she's not afraid of it. She watches for Aaron sightings, that's about it. “Oh, Mom, look at him, he’s getting SO big.”

Paulie stood up on the coffee table while we were watching the show and turned around: "Mom, I’m going to shake my booty at you." He did and it was awesome.

That night, the Dell'Olios brought Thai from Wild Ginger over for dinner.

Up, up, up out of the bell jar.

Throw-us-a-Bone Friday:
Friday morning, I woke up feeling good, just wanting to get the bone scan out of the way and move on. I listened to WERS the whole ride into the Brigham and found a new favorite band (or at least favorite song -- "Coming Home"). This hardly ever happens to me anymore. I was car dancing. They're called "The 88" and their name stands for 88 constellations in the sky, 88 keys on the piano, the infinity sign, 88 cities in Los Angeles, 88 mph to get Back to the Future, etc. Love that. I think they've been around awhile. I have to start paying attention again.

I had all of my talismen along for the ride with me: Your emails and Facebook messages, wall posts, and blog comments. I also had Nana Rie's heart. My friend Amy, when I told her about Nana's survival, told me that in order to have survived breast cancer back in th 40s, you had to have had a strong heart. So I was going though some of Nana Rie’s funky jewelry and found a rhinestone-encrusted heart pin. I've been wearing it ever since for some luck.

While I was trying to park my wagon in a teeny tiny compact car spot, I was thinking about what my sister-in-law Paula said to me the day before about not looking online for case studies in my "type" of cancer, about how outcomes are as individual as the person, it's "your" cancer and yours alone. BTW, she told me all of this while she was mainlining chemo at the Dana. Talk about tough.

I met my mom at the Au Bon Pain near the main entrance. She also promised not to talk today and had a whole bag of tricks to avoid chit chat and be there for moral support. So, we went to nuclear medicine where they injected me with a radioactive dye at 9:30, and asked us to please loiter until 12:30. It takes 3-4 hours for the dye to settle into your bones.

For someone who didn't feel like talking, I couldn't shut up. I was talking non-stop - to my mom, the older gent sitting across from us, the cleaning people, everyone in the waiting room. Brandon Fraser was on one of the morning talk shows, jumping around and squealing like a monkey. This was very distracting to everyone.

An old man sitting in wheel chair in the corner barked up out of nowhere. "Who is that? He's obNOXious!!!"

"It's Brandon Fraser. He's an actor," the woman sitting next to me said.

"He's an ASS."

Seriously, there was something wrong with BF. While it's an elderly thing to say, I truly believe he was "on something."

My nervous talking behavior continued during the bone scan, which was the equivalent of being scanned like a photo in a leviathan scanner. I was making lame comments as a picture of my entire skeleton lit up like the night sky on the screen in front of me.

ME: You know, this nuclear dye can’t be good for you. If I didn't have cancer in my bones already, it’s definitely in there now. Har, har, har.

Bone Scanning Lady: (BSL) Yeah, just drink a lot of water and pee it out so it doesn’t stay in your system for too long.

ME: What do you see? Can you see anything?

BSL: I just see beautiful bones.

ME: I know you can’t tell me anything. You don’t say have to say anything. Just knock something off your desk if you see something.

BSL: (smiles at me like I'm an insane)

ME: I'm sorry. I've had three weekends in a row of waiting for tests to come back. They've all had shitty results. Three weeks is not a lot of time in the grand scheme but when you’re waiting for answers that could predict how much longer you may have to live, it’s a lifetime. I need to prepare myself for the worst.

When I was walking out, BSL grabbed my arm and whispered. "Between you and me, I don't think you have anything to worry about. I didn't see anything light up. It usually lights up. Don't tell anyone I said this, I could lose my job. Have a great weekend, ok?"

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I wanted to hug her.

I was all set to hang onto that piece of news all weekend but then the doctor called and kicked it up a notch with the "all clear" across the board. I wasn't supposed to get the results until next Tuesday or Wednesday. Needless to say, "faith" has replaced "fuck" as the F word of the weekend.

We'll take it. Even the doctor said she was surprised by the results and had expected to see more widespread disease. Before they scheduled the scans, they'd told me to prepare for that. I still can't even write what they'd originally predicted. I don't want to jinx this gift. I still have a locally advanced disease and it's still a serious situation with all kinds of ugly treatments and surgeries ahead, but wow, perspective is really everything, isn't it?


Anonymous said...

Cancer is tough, but you are tougher! Keep positive thoughts, my friend beat it, so can you!

Take care,
Michelle and Larry

Anonymous said...

KJ-Your incredible inner strength is shown in your amazing ability to somehow put this all into words in a time when many of us don't know what to say...We'll keep the prayers coming!!! --Mama G.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

big smile and a hug from Seattle :) g.

Paula said...


Today... tears of happiness, relief and humor filled my eyes as I read your post... So beautifully written...

I am hoping that karma has finally figured out what it has been ignoring for the past few weeks... The good ones need to be around to inspire the ones who need inspiring!!!!!!

Love and more karma being tossed your way!


Roving Lemon said...

Go KJ - that's one HUGE hurdle you're over. So glad and relieved and thankful for those results. We're sending more love and prayers from Oz!

N, D & B

PS BTW, we saw BF on TV here a few weeks ago, and had the same reaction--definitely on something.

Anonymous said...


Having never met Nana Rie, it is with great confidence and a good guess that I can say...I know you share the same heart.

Keep the faith!


Anonymous said...

Kate -
You are such an amazing person, so strong and so courageous. Keep those positive thoughts and stay off the web !
Be strong and call on your friends when you need them. We are here for you !

Anonymous said...

KJ, Keep doing whatever you're doing. Keep the faith. and let the music in!

La la love you. K.R

Michelle said...

KJ - I am SO happy for you. I am bawling my eyes out at your news.

You are the second coming of your Nana!!!!

Thinking of you.


Anonymous said...

Keep it in high gear! Stay positive! Hopefully, you'll have your surgery, go through chemo and in June, you'll be sitting by your pool, tanning your head (!), enjoying your kids and thinking you had a crappy winter, but a wonderful life ahead!!!

Looking forward to reading your blog for a long time to come!! So happy for your good news!

Anonymous said...

Kate -

Awesome news. Now, let's start a trend. Stay positive, stay focused, we're going to beat this thing one step at a time.

Before you go to the docs next time, I'd suggest you take that beautiful picture and rub it all over yourself - it can only help.

And I'm sure that the pin on that rhinestone pin is long and sharp. If anyone doctor, nurse or admin suggests that your next appointment should be delayed, use that pin liberally. I'm quite confident that Nana Rie could not have thought of a better use for it. I know I cant.

You can do this Kate. You will do this Kate.

Pete, Jackie, Sara, Allison, Emily, & Chuckster

Anonymous said...

Great news Kate!! We'll keep the prayers headed your way and don't let go of that pin. Strong hearts and strong love will get you through each day. So happy you celebrated, you deserved it.

T, Beave & the girls

jal said...

Amazing news!!! We're rooting for you Mama, every day. You can and will knock it.

Anonymous said...

What great news!!! I can't tell you how happy we are to hear that!! Stay strong and remember that we are right there with you!!

Lots of big hugs from Virginia,

Dayna and Billy

Pubey said...

"Faith"in' A right that's fantastic news!!!! Keep fighting

Anonymous said...

Kate -

What great news! For the record, I too have a "lovely" rhinestone pin that I inherited from Nana Rie. I am busting it out to wear every day until I hear the "all clear".

On an ironic note, my middle kid - Joey was knocked out of the spelling be semi-finals last Friday, missing on the word CANCEROUS. It may have beat him, but it won't you!

Love to you and the rest of your gang.


cbasoli said...


I spent the weekend thinking up pithy comments to help inspire you, but reading your exchange with the bonescan lady, somehow made them all seem trivial. Great news! I lift my coffee in her general direction for putting you, a person, ahead of her job.

Reading everybody's comments, I see you have quite an Army of supporters. That said... Private Basoli reporting for duty!

Peace, love, and respect, 'Soli