The Couples

ImageI would like to share with you some of the many faces of colon cancer and the families that it effects.  From our small gathering, it was readily apparent that colon cancer does not discriminate along racial, socioeconomic, educational, or gender boundaries.  It certainly doesn’t skip over families that already have “enough on their plates.”

K&F – If you met this couple at a party, you would probably think that they have it all.  They are gorgeous, well spoken, and recently engaged.  Their biggest worry should be how many guests are coming to their wedding.  Instead, K. has been battling colon cancer for 2 1/2 years.

W&A – W. has been through the ringer with his colon cancer since being diagnosed last February.  A. spent most of Saturday in tears.  Partly due to the subject matter but also largely because she just had her first baby a month ago and her hormones are all over the place.  A. shared that they had fertility issues.

J&R – J. was the only female patient in our group.  She has been battling her cancer for 2 1/2 years.  At one point her 18 tumors, were beaten down to 2.  Now, the doctors won’t give her a tumor count.  Her cancer has also spread to her bones.  R. drove home each night to relieve the babysitter and stay with their 12 year old who has autism.

D&D – D. has been battling colon cancer for 8 1/2 years.  He had most of his plumbing removed since his cancer was so widespread.  He has beaten it three times and is now battling for the fourth time.  His wife, D., has recently discovered that she may have breast cancer.

D&E – D. ended up in the emergency room in March where they discovered that he not only had metastatic colon cancer, but he also had kidney cancer.  He had one kidney removed, part of his colon removed and part of his liver removed that night.  His wife battles crippling depression.  They are both on disability now.

With all of these amazing couples, there was not a word of self pity.  There was definitely a fighting optimistic spirit and an openness that was at many times heartbreaking.  On first sight, all of the “patients” look healthy.  You would never know what inner battles they are going through.



I Did it!

There is SO much to say about the retreat this weekend, but I am far too tired physically and emotionally to give it the proper reflection it deserves.  Sharing the details is important to me, so that will happen in the days to come.

For now, I share some of the basic facts.  There were 6 couples in attendance.  5 of the patients were male.  2 out of 6 were minorities.  4 were in their 40s or younger.  The sole woman was about 50.  All of the stories were so so hard.

The location of the retreat was isolated.  The rooms did not have televisions so at the end of the day there was not that mindless distraction.  The beds were tiny – Dave and I haven’t slept that close together since ever.  And to quote City Slickers, “Food’s brown, hot, and plenty of it.”  But none of that mattered.

For now, I leave you with this advice.  1) If you enter a room and there are chairs set up each with its own box of tissues, fasten your seatbelt because you are in for a hell of a ride.  2) Should you find yourself attending a couples retreat at any point in your life, do not for a minute consider wearing mascara unless you want to channel Tammy Faye Baker.



What are YOU doing this weekend?

Things I Love:

My family

My friends

Laughing so hard that you cry

Deep hearty discussions

My job

The One by Dolce and Gabbana

A book so good you lose track of time

Basset Hounds

Things I Don’t Love:

Crickets – this is a full blown phobia




Weird bumpy textures

Check engine lights

People who brag

Being pushed out of my bubble

This weekend we are heading off to our “Metastatic Colon Cancer Couples Retreat” which should have me facing the last item on my “Don’t Love” list head on.  I am dreading it.  Dreading.  But after a solid pep talk from my sister-in-law (and a pep email from my friend, lexy), I am going to try to be open in mind and heart.  I’ll let you know how it goes.




ImageI don’t buy myself many things.  Unless you include coffee.  I buy myself lots and lots of coffee.   For my birthday, I did treat myself to this amazing necklace.   The amazing and gorgeous Kate, a friend from the lake, sent me a certificate for my birthday to put towards something from Stella and Dot.  I combed the website, and as soon as I saw this necklace, I knew I had to have it.  It is called the “tree of life”.  It couldn’t be more perfect.  To me the tree of life symbolizes healing.  I wear it every day and am constantly playing with it and thinking strong healing thoughts.  Also, Dave’s closest friends call him Tree so it seemed to be made for me.

ImageMy friend, Meredith, of “Meredith Made Me Cry” fame, gave me this little charm last year during Diwali.  I believe this is the Hindu goddess, Lakshmi, who is said to bring good luck.  I think we could all use a little of that time and again.

ImageWhen we were in Disney this summer, we found these little fellows in the Japanese Pavillion at Epcot.  The black lucky owl is said to protect you from illness and evil spirits, and the gold lucky owl will make your dreams come true.

To me, little charms like these are symbols of hope and positive energy and remind me to do my best to be the same.



Fight or Flight

ImageFight or flight?  If I am being honest (why stop now!), I am definitely more the “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking.  The tower has cleared us for take off” type.  When the going gets tough, I get going.  I can overcome this innate instinct, face my anxieties, and hunker down for the fight, but I don’t like it.

My natural avian tendencies have not kicked in when you think they might have. When Dave was diagnosed, during both surgeries, and after the recurrence of tumors, I was a rock.  It is during other times that I find my mind wandering wondering how the weather might be in the south of France.

Those of you who know Dave well won’t be surprised to learn that his natural tendency is fight.  Fight, fight, fight.  This comes in handy when facing a daunting diagnosis like metastatic colon cancer.  However, it becomes a liability when asking your family how a home project is coming along.

Having two such opposing personalities can be a huge asset.  We balance each other out for the most part.  But we both struggle with it too.  This weekend Dave wasn’t feeling especially well.  His sister got married so he was determined to suck it up and have a good time.  This worked marvelously well when we were around other people.  But when we were alone, and he could let his hair down, so to speak, it was armageddon.  I believe most people are like this – you show your true emotions to your “safe” people.  So, I listened, TRIED not to take things personally, and kept my big mouth shut.  But it was hard.  So so hard.  And this morning I’ve been wondering how far I can get on a couple of tanks of gas….