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Monday, May 11, 2009

Back from a road trip in the Cheeky Scion

I took off and drove with my mom to St Louis this past weekend. We had a great time together, save for 4 young inebriated gentlemen in the hotel room next to us that got us up by wrestling and yelling at 4am on Saturday morning. We gave serious consideration to knocking at their door at 6:30am, 7:00am, and 7:30am, but went to the St. Louis Art Museum instead (they have the best url ever!). After refreshing our sleep-deprived eyes with great art (I was able to see my favorite: Monet's "Water Lilies"), we watched the new movie "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past", then had dinner at Cheesecake Factory. Driving east back to the downtown Hilton, Market Street was EMPTY, a wonderful experience as we drove towards the Gateway Arch, shining in the setting sun. The brunch yesterday at the Missouri Botanical Gardens was another wonderful experience - tables full of cheese grits, barley risotto, roasted green beans, and hummus (yes, they had many other goodies that regular people would like, but I was concentrating on my type of food this time!). Even though the menu wasn't a surprise (I had even called ahead to ask if there were spices in the different dishes), I was in heaven. The beautiful flowers and plants, the great weather (Saturday and Sunday, at least), a buffet with no food issues, and being with my mom - a magical day. I am a mom also, and my kids had honored me outside of the weekend - also magical experiences. I figure none of us get many more of these days, so I want to make them all count.
On the way back to Omaha, I get to drive by Worlds of Fun in Kansas City. I saw cars heading up the Mamba, the last roller coaster I will ever ride (probably not a good thing to get on thrill rides with radiated bones and that titanium screen door on my skull). I am proud to say that I was over 40 when I road that thing with the mister, shocking my nephew when I did so. After reflecting on how great it was that the lucky riders were on a roller coaster in early May on a Monday (has to be a good thing, right?), it came to me that the ride is a fairly good metaphor for what I have experienced since the testing began in May 2006 that led up to the cancer diagnosis, and treatment/recovery that followed. I pulled out of the station, went around the first bend, then up that great big hill, slogging through every physical test they came up with, ending with a parotidectomy. At the very top of the hill, the doctor told me it was cancer, kicking me and my family and my friends loose on that first stomach-losing drop. My support team have watched me go around the track many times, and have met me each time I have pulled into the station to get off the ride until the next scan/test/lump shows up and I have to go strap myself into the coaster again. Years ago, each of the people that rode the Mamba with me had different experiences while on the same ride as I was on. Now I know that all the people that have been diagnosed with cancer (AdCC and all other kinds) have different experiences than I have had during their treatment, recovery, and learning how to cope with this new addition to all of our lives. I wish we all had good experiences, but that just doesn't happen. By recording my experiences, even 3 long years later, I hope this blog may let someone else know a bit more of what to expect or plan for when they find themselves at the top of that diagnosis hill. Hang on tight - you are not alone in this. And if you are diagnosed with Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma, please let me know if I can be of any help.

1 comment:

Dee said...

A wonderful tribute to your mother - sounds like a wonderful week-end. How funny - I was just telling my colleagues at this indigenous placenames workshop about you and your cancer (I was talking about blogging and the different cancer blogs I read). Glad to hear that buffet had food you liked to eat.

Also, I really liked how you elaborated on the roller coaster metaphor for the cancer experience. That's exactly how it feels. I love roller coasters - when you get off (before it starts again), it is exhilarating. Your trip with your mom mimics that exhilarated feeling, eh?

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