Settle down, it’ll all be clear Don’t pay no mind to the demons They fill you with fear “The trouble it might drag you down If you get lost, you can always be found” Phillip Phillips

I thought I was strong enough or could handle “coming home” to UCLA. Wednesday my nurses greeted me with open arms. It is oddly enough like seeing on old family member who you haven’t seem for a while. Even though I had been there often, my nurse ran through important list of questions. My blood numbers came back even stranger than strange. My platelets which are normally eaten by this chemo went up again by 10 points. This is unheard of…my doc laughed and my nurse said I should publish how chicken broth is the home remedy to prevent taking those horrible shots to boost your bone marrow. Now, although my white count just squeezed by the lowest parameters enabling me to get chemo, I am now at high risk for infection. DAMN! This isn’t going to ruin my week off of chemo. I must remain vigilant and smart about being out and about. Plus, I have a plan to drink gallons of chicken broth so I can exit my house.

What happened next made things more difficult. I felt that Margie was with me. The nurses came one by one to express their sympathy and sadness at Margie’s passing. They told me it was difficult for them to see her before she left for Ohio and even at her last visit she was so full of hope, laughter, smiles, and jokes. As the tears began to fall and the tissue box became my new friend, I felt such overwhelming sadness. Each nurse told me to focus on staying strong as Margie would want that and focus on taking care of myself. They also told me that it is patients like Margie and me that make their jobs have purpose, motivation, and even joy. There were nurses who cried with me and wouldn’t let me go. Others joked with me as we talked about the dynamic duo cousins -Margie and me. Also, the fact that we got in trouble for being too loud or happy!  The staff was also equally impacted by Margie’s passing. I also learned that I am famous again. My case was the exciting tumor board case. My doc was practically skipping and smiling ear to ear talking about my low dose weekly chemo which is out of the norm and in a new adventure of treatment. Maybe, this will help others instead of the same one size fits all approach. My fellow doctor who was in my 12 hour surgery commented about my fame. Hey, anything to brighten the days of these docs who work so hard for all their patients. The scientists from the Clearity Foundation are equally excited and explained they will always be in my corner until I get a remission from this disease. They told me I inspire them and motivate them too! All in all with all, the sadness comes a positive motivation for tomorrow. Margie would be proud.

The ride continues as it always does. There cannot be any complacency in my cancer job. Once you think of tomorrow too long, cancer decides to slap you in the face. My tumor marker went up just to mess with us. UCLA’s lab is normally lower than Hoag so the talk of a lab discrepancy gives me zero reassurance. My rock star Jim goes into full speed ahead as he hugs me and tells me he will do everything to find me some time off from the cancer craziness. He spends every free waking and even sleeping moment researching and reaching out to scientists. He keeps this info to himself to not stress me out, but expresses to me his absolute love and devotion that no one can fully appreciate unless you see him in action.  He will not stop and this is what comforts me to live each day to the fullest and stay strong. He is my rock. When I melted down with the news of y tumor marker, my boys told me to focus on how I am feeling now which is a ton better than last summer and just focus on today. Alex kept repeating, “Mom, stay strong and stay positive.” My pity party was short lived as Alex had me focus on our garage sale preparations.

Our garage sale was organized with the help of Tiffany who is queen of multi-tasking and organization. Alex reminded me of this daily when I added my two cents. His comment was that he would just ask Tiffany because I didn’t really know what I was doing. He also told me that he watches enough HGTV to know how to prepare for a garage sale. Lastly, he decided to do his top ten reasons for the breakdown of funds which was 1/3 to charities, 1/3 to his expenses for his mitzvah project for his bar mitzvah, and 1/3 to keep. He changed his mind on the charities which are now the Jessie Rees foundation and the best Ovarian cancer organization dedicated to research which so far may be the OCRF. We also talked about giving the half of our third to South County Outreach since he reminded me that $40 can feed a family of four for a week through SOC. The best was watching him get up with me at 5:30, follow his diagram for “display” and watching him “sell”. His buy a thing get something free goes back to the desk sale of elementary school because he says everyone likes something for free and they may buy more if you give them something. Our garage was nonstop and I stopped to listen of the woes of families, the ailments of people (if they only knew who they were talking to), and talked at great length to parents who were buying books or children who discussed their favorite books. It reminded me of the book fair days, but most of all it reminded me the joy in talking to a stranger. For a moment, I could forget about my own “ride” and focus on their problems big and small. I kept my distance and touched no one (no shaking of hands etc…) and I cannot tell you how fun the morning was. Plus, hangin out with my neighbors is also the best medicine and just reminds me that this is what summer is about.

What came next was the star gazing at UCI with hopes of seeing Saturn and the rings, but the marine layer was following us in our car to UCI. We picked up two of Alex’s friends and established that we are “cool” and wouldn’t listen to their conversations even though we did. There was constant laughter as we glimpsed into the world of a tween boy. We had the best time despite the cloudiness and no visibility to see anything but a great view of Newport and Irvine. The UCI Visitor programs are free and filled with families, astronomers, college students, professors and the unusual strange gnome like people who have an usual odor of not bathing. Besides the professor’s lecture losing most of us which covered dark energy, the speed of your body falling out of the plane, bending light (lost me on this one), and GR (cool way of talking about gravity) and the radius of the earth in KM. I told Alex and his friends I felt an algebra problem coming on, but told them to go adventure around with flashlights in the darkness. I heard their laughter in the distance. Once all was done, we took the walk to the shuttle bus and visited the community center where we witnessed a disco dancing wedding party and an encounter with some lost boy scouts. The laughter continued as we decided that it would be worth another visit for the Perseid showers in August even if we are surrounded by marine layer. Who knows what adventure we would have with stinky gnomes, disco dancers, professor lecture, and walks in the pitch dark with flash lights.

So I will approach each day as I usually do with my philosophy of one day at a time. I will try to avoid the PP (pity party) and continue to make the most of every day. Enjoy your summer as August approaches…it isn’t over yet!



One Response to “Settle down, it’ll all be clear Don’t pay no mind to the demons They fill you with fear “The trouble it might drag you down If you get lost, you can always be found” Phillip Phillips”

  1. Kelly Olshane Says:

    You always inspire and motivate me. I hate that you are my teacher in life. I always think to myself…WWJD…What would Joanie do?

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