Archive of ‘musings’ category

TARDIS Blueberry Scones and How The Doctor Helped Me Beat Cancer

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I have never been a big television person. Friends, The Sopranos, Parks & Recreation, Breaking Bad – I’ve watched all of these televisions shows at some point, but they never stuck. I’d start out loving them, but as the weeks went by, I’d lose interest. I did manage to spend several months following Mad Men, but I think that’s just because of Jon Hamm and his slightly scary penchant for going commando.

not mating with me sunshine

I’d like to pretend that my lack of zeal for most televisions shows is because I am intellectually superior to regular television watchers. That reasoning breaks down when you know that I surf the shit out of the internet, like an 80′s Wallstreeter pursues coke.  I do spend quite a bit of potential TV time reading books. As much as I’d like to pretend that these books are written by authors such as Dostoevsky, they’re much more likely to be about Harry Potter . So yeah – I can’t take the moral high ground here. And I don’t want to.

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I’m actually jealous of people who have their show – the TV show they look forward to watching all week, the show they discuss with hashtags on twitter or the show they used to post rabidly about at the now sadly defunct Television Without Pity. I wanted a show like this. I wanted to have a show where I would watch previous episodes so much, that I got all the inside jokes. But nothing kept my interest, and I thought I’d just be stuck reading about a boy wizard for the 8 millionth time while everyone else thrilled to the latest episode of House of Cards.

harry potter who

Then I found The Doctor.

hello the doctor

Marcus had been exposed to Doctor Who much earlier than me. He grew up watching old Doctor Who shows on the local PBS station. I’ve never been a Sci Fi kind of girl, and I thought Doctor Who friends were mainly pudgy, glasses wearing nerds who also spent a lot of time playing Dungeons and Dragons. I want to make it clear that I’m not insinuating that my husband was a ginormous nerd.

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I’m telling you he was a ginormous nerd. But adorkable nerds aside, I had no desire to watch an old British Sci Fi show, especially one that was in fuzzy black and white. Then last year happened.

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A little over a year ago,  I got so sick with gastroparesis that I lost 23 pounds in 3.5 weeks. You need to understand something about this. I never get nauseous. Ever. And when I do, I’m still hungry. Marcus and I once got food poisoning at the same time. I would puke, pull my head out of the garbage can, and declare how hungry I was. At one point, Marcus couldn’t take it any longer. “What the hell is wrong with you? How can you be hungry? How can you want food? I never want to see food again, you freak!”

I dealt with the pain and exhaustion of cancer treatment as best as I could, most days only whining a little. But the persistent feeling of nausea was a whole different ball game. At most, I was only getting about 500 calories a day, most of those coming from Cream of Wheat. I was constantly dizzy because my inner ear was so messed up, and horribly depressed.

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My brain was so fuzzy that I would look at a page of text, read it, and realize I hadn’t comprehended any of it, not even any of my beloved Tamora Pierce Books. So, I went down a rabbit hole of Youtube videos. I got hooked on watching TED talks.

brilliant doctor

I’m kidding. I didn’t watch a single TED talk. Instead I watched X Factor, but not normal X Factor. The US version of X Factor was for peasants. I only watched the CLASSY versions of X Factor, namely the UK and Australian versions. (Let’s not talk about any other reality shows I may have watched last year, ok?)

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It wasn’t all bad. I found the boy band that I wish I could have worshipped in junior high. I got to be horrified by Cheryl Cole’s butt tattoo. I got to watch the Minogue sisters take passive aggressive digs at each other. I began to understand that Louie really is useless, and why Gary Barlow was crush worthy and seemed to be the only judge with any credibility. (Call me, Gary!)

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But I found myself reading the Mirror UK, trying to find out if Matt Cardle and his dulcet tones were still going out with Sporty Spice. I wanted to know what latest dick move James Arthur had done in his quest to prove himself a giant asshole. I knew I had hit rock bottom when I found myself reading an article that discussed whether the love between Perrie from Little Mix and Zayn from One Direction would endure.

kylie and the doctor  One out of two Minogue sisters recommend The Doctor

Luckily, The Doctor saved me from adding to the revenue stream of the deep V-neck wearing, tangerine colored, manboobed pelt that is Simon Cowell. I’ll always be grateful to The Doctor for that.

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How did my Who obsession start? With this video:

Marcus and I own a rowing machine, and we bribe ourselves by watching certain shows on Netflix while we row. Marcus had run out of Archer episodes, so he started watching the new reboot of Doctor Who. He really enjoyed it. He knew I was bored out of mind and thought I might like the show. He showed me the above video.

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After he explained a little bit about Doctor Who and who River Song was, I watched a few more YouTube videos. Then I realized I really liked this show. I really did.

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And I was done. The conversion to Whovian was complete.

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I watched a couple of season seven episodes online at a site that is totally and completely legal. Thank god for Netflix. I started at the beginning and got sucked in.

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Before I go any further, let me answer some questions for those of you who already watch Doctor Who:

  • How can you consider yourself a Who fan if you haven’t watched Classic Who? I’m a fraud. Now run along and play Magic: The Gathering.
  • Who’s my Doctor? The Eleventh, but I like all of them.
  • Who’s my favorite companion? Donna Noble. Forever.
  • Which character would I most like to have sex with? Captain Jack, of course. And Paul McGann’s doctor from The Night of the Doctor. Preferably at the same time.
  • Do you ship Ten and Rose? I’d like to kill that shipping with fire. And then kill it again, just to make sure it doesn’t pull a Rory and come back.
  • My favorite episode? This is always changing, but right now it’s Silence in the Library and Forest of the Dead.
  • How much do you hate Stephen Moffat? Sometimes I feel like I’m the only Moffat fan out there, but most of my favorite stories have been written by him.

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I love that I’ve actually signed up at an online forum that discusses the show. And I love that when I told my husband I had not only signed up, but chosen a very Whovian username, he looked at me and said “It’s like I don’t even know you anymore. By the way, did anyone there read/watch the leaked episodes? Did they like them?” WONDER NERD POWERS, ACTIVATE! Form of a sonic screwdriver! Shape of a fez!

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I love that people discuss the merits of each Doctor. I love that the fellow Whovians among my friends rejoiced when Rose & The Tenth Doctor’s budding love was dashed, but still cried when they were separated. I love that most of them think Donna is the best companion ever, and that Amy is only at her best when Rory is traveling with her.

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I love the the statue in my garden now scares me a bit. I love that there is Doctor Who nail art. I love that we have a crack in our plaster and that Marcus and I are pretty sure it’s a crack in time and space. I love that I’ve started a Doctor Who Pinterest board. I love that this summer, Marcus and I rewatched all of the episodes so we could be ready for the premier of The Twelfth Doctor.

cake crack in time and space

I love the debate over whether or not the New Doctor, Peter Capaldi, will be any good. In my opinion, any man who’s been in Dangerous Liaisons and can swear as brilliantly as Malcolm Tucker is going to be fantastic.

So what will I be doing tonight? I’ll be at the movie theatre, watching the premier for the new season of Doctor Who. I will not be wearing a bowtie or sonicing the popcorn machine with my screwdriver. If I had a fez or Jammy dodgers, I’d bring them. But I will be bringing scones.

I hope the TARDIS is ready.

team tardis

When I was trying to figure out what I could make to celebrate Doctor Who, I had several options (This tumblr full of ideas is amazing!). I could have made homemade Jammie Dodgers. I could have made anything with a banana in it. I could have made fish fingers and custard. There are even Doctor Who cake pops! Bless. Instead, I decided on scones. Blueberry scones to be exact. Tardis blueberry scones to be even more exact.

Notes: These make scones that are on the more biscuity side of scones. I prefer these rather than dryer scones, but keep that in mind. If you’d like them dryer, use less fresh fruit and cook a bit longer. I think the amount of sugar is fine for plain scones, but if you want to add a glaze or sprinkle them with sugar before baking, use only 1/2 cups of sugar. I don’t have A/C in my kitchen, so in order to keep these from being a sloppy mess, I put my butter in the freezer for a couple of hours, and use chilled bowls when mixing.

Tardis Blueberry Scones
Loosely adapted from Epicurious
Yields 12 scones

3 cups flour
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup (which is 1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter
1 cup blueberries
1/4 – 1/2 cup dried blueberries
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon heavy cream (not vital, but good)
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon rind

Make sure the oven rack is in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 400 degrees F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Using a whisk, mix flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Add to large bowl of food processor.

Mix buttermilk, vanilla, cream and lemon rind in a small bowl. Place in fridge.

Cut butter into 1/2-inch cubes. Place in food processor. Pulse just until the flour and the butter are in pieces about the size of small peas. Pour mixture into a large chilled bowl. Add fresh and dried blueberries and toss to coat.

Make three wells in dough. Pour the buttermilk mixture into each well. Stir just until the dough begins to form. That means some of the flour will not be incorporated into the dough. That’s ok.

Flour your work surface and transfer your dough there. Knead about 8 turns. Divide ball of dough into half. Re-flour your work surface and form each dough half into a disk about one inch high. Cut each disk into six wedges.

Place six wedges onto each prepared baking sheet. Put one baking sheet in the fridge until first batch is done baking. Bake scones until they’re golden brown and toothpick inserted into the middle is clean. This takes around 15-20 minutes.

IMG_2274  This is what the flour mixture should look like after pulsing. Enjoy!

Bourbon, Boobs, Cancer and Dates You’d Rather Forget

There are lots of ways cancer survivors mark the time that passes after their diagnosis and/or treatment for cancer. I know one lady who gets a tattoo on her leg every year. They’re all moths, and the effect is stunning. Another woman I know gets a boudoir shot done every year on her diagnosis date. I think showing a little tits and ass on the anniversary of being diagnosed with breast cancer is a pretty badass way to celebrate the occasion.

I’ve always been a big proponent of letting cancer survivors do whatever they need to do to make it through treatment and the fear that they’ll carry with them the rest of their lives. Whatever gets us through the day, as long as the day doesn’t end in the ER with a diagnosis of alcohol poisoning.

How am I getting through the day today? It’s a snoozefest, and I’m pretty psyched about that. Personally, I have no desire to celebrate the yearly anniversary of the day I was told that I had cancer. I remember my cancer diagnosis and treatment way too much as it is, and any part of it that I can keep to a blur is fine by me.

Therein lies the reason why I’m pissed that I got my cancer diagnosis on a holiday. I have no idea what the actual date was when I got the phone call telling me my biopsy was positive (Unfortunately, the date is seared in my husband’s brain). I don’t remember the day of any of my surgeries or when radiation started. I do remember when I finished radiation, but that’s only because it was two days before our wedding anniversary. The day of our anniversary started with another cancer scare, but the evening ended with bourbon and friends, so I’ll remember it as a good night.

I could figure out the date out if I looked at a 2013 calendar, but beyond burning a copy of one, I’ve stayed far away. What I can’t escape is the fact that I got the phone call on Good Friday. It’s a very long story best told another time, but Good Friday marks the day when my little sister who was in neonatal intensive care started to turn the corner. As solemn a day as Good Friday is, it’s always had a good connotation for me. That kind of got screwed up last year.

Last year, I spent the afternoon at my parents’ house waiting for the call. The entire day was nerve-wracking for my loved ones, but not so much for me. I’ve mentioned it in previous posts, but I already knew I had cancer. I wasn’t trying to be fatalistic, but when I got the first letter telling me I needed to get another mammogram, I knew. I don’t remember anything but the call, my mom and husband crying, and texting and calling my friends. Facebook seemed like a horrible and inappropriate way to give my loved ones the news. “I just had the yummiest dinner. Oh, and I have cancer”.

What am I doing this year? At first, I had no plans. Then I decided that sitting around my house was probably not the best option for my mental health. I do too much of that as it is. When I get overwhelmed, I go to ground. I turn into a hermit and tend to shut as many things as I can out of my life. Since I’m not feeling well (yay for kidney stones!), it becomes even easier. Not really the best way to process or deal with any of the things that happened last year, but it’s the truth. I didn’t want to spend today in my cave, talking to my cats.

So what am I doing today? I got up late and made myself a healthy breakfast. Then I ate 3/4 of a carton of Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food. I needed the calcium. I decided greasy hair was not a good look for me, so I took a shower. People of Knoxville? You’re welcome.

I’m went outside and tried to figure out how to wrest my vegetable garden from the jungle that’s supposed to be a backyard. Nothing was done to it last year, and the Bermuda grass and privet are currently eating it. It’s a hot mess. I didn’t actually do anything about it, but looking at it and assessing it made me feel like I accomplished something. Now I can procrastinate pulling out my machete and hacking through it for another few days.

I’m sitting here at our local coffee shop, ingesting more coffee than is kind to my neighbors sitting around me. As soon as it opens, I plan on parking myself at my favorite watering hole with a book and my computer. I’m going to get a bourbon, edit this post and chill. I’ve got a friend and my brother joining me later. My husband will join us when he leaves work.

At some point today, I’ll watch Dr Who. I got hooked on it when I was stuck in bed so much last year. I am now a full on Whovian, and It’s one of the fantastic things that came out of last year (sorry – I couldn’t post this without one Doctor Who reference).

I’ll eat some bacon because any excuse to eat bacon is a good one.

I wanted to write something about today, so you all get to read this post which is boring as shit and not profound at all. I love that. In a few years, I might decide to mark this day in a different way. I might find some profound meaning to this date. But the fact that today isn’t exciting or “special” seems so appropriate and wonderful to me.

I’m raising a glass. Bourbon & bacon toasts to you all.

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Unrealistic Expectations and Why Pies are Assholes

“You have pretty high expectations of yourself, don’t you?”

We were at a dinner party, and a man I had just met asked me this question. Let’s call this man, Bob.

It was hard to answer Bob, especially because Marcus spent the next five minutes making strangling & choking noises, not at all dissimilar to the sounds a pug would make straining against its collar. I turned to my husband, looked at him lovingly and whispered “Fuck off!” Some of you may think that’s a horrible way to talk to your spouse, but it’s our love language.

I stammered out a reply. I don’t remember how I answered this question, but I do remember Marcus mentioning the time I got a 95 on a paper for a college horticulture class. I was upset because it wasn’t an 100.

My husband reminded me of this conversation Wednesday night when he came home to find me, hysterically crying over a pie.

I had come up with a brilliant idea. The success of my marmalade had blown up my ego and given me the notion that I, too, could be a recipe developer. Pioneer Woman posting your link on her site makes you feel like you made it as a food blogger. The only thing that makes your feel more accomplished is Williams Sonoma publishing your recipe for Early Spring Pea Pesto. (I think recipe developers are amazing. My comments are made in jest. I’m posting this because I still have people strangely upset over my “hate” for baking twine.)

My idea for a pie was brilliant. I’m not going to write about it here. Food bloggers are sneaky bastards, and someone will steal my original idea that is probably posted on 100 blogs already.

Instead, I fucking created a buttermilk chess pie.

“But Kristina – chess pies are awesome!” I can hear you all saying that now. Yes. Yes, they are. There is only one problem: I did not mean to make a buttermilk chess pie. I can’t pretend I’m awesome and post it on my blog, telling you all that I meant to do this. Why? Because I already have a buttermilk chess pie on my blog, and I already have enough Joe Biden references in my posts.

I pulled that pie out of the oven, noticing that it did not appear to be what I wanted it to be. My pie crust also looked like shit, but that’s to be expected. I let it cool, cut a piece and tasted it. Then, I burst into tears. This is when Marcus came home and found me weeping.

I will not deny that I am prone to histrionics. I will not deny that Marcus has to live with a lot of these moments. He usually manages not to laugh at me or roll his eyes while he’s consoling me. I’ve tried fighting this part of me and have never been successful. I’m left trying to mute that tendency as best I can. I’m pretty successful, especially when it comes to checking my anger. I’ll throw a hissy over some overly pretentious thing that someone says or wrote in a blog post, but when it comes to the ones I love, I’ve learned to bite my tongue.

I’m usually not so ridiculous that I let a pie break me. But I wanted that pie to work. This week was going to be the week that I POSTED TWO RECIPES IN A WEEK ON MY BLOG!!! It’s also Pi day. I know some other bloggers try to make Pie Day happen on another, lesser day, but Pie Day is Pi Day. Period. It’s in the Bible.

I went to bed, making a plan to cram a frantic pie session into today. It’s not that I’m overly busy. I’m not. I’m a bit of a housewife right now, except without the wrapping myself in saran wrap part and meeting Marcus at the door with a cocktail. I think it’s because I usually drink the cocktail.

But I’m done. I am so done.

I’m not sleeping. I’m exhausted. I’m so anxious that I’m crawling out of my skin. My brain feels like I’m thinking through quicksand. I’m dealing with ongoing nausea that sent me to the doctor on Tuesday crying, asking them to do anything to fix it.There’s a myriad of health issues that I’m not listing that are making me miserable.

I’m trying to manage as best as I can. I’m taking medication to counter some of the above (I want to gay marry Zofran). It’s not enough. I can’t take pride in a day where my main source of accomplishment is taking a shower and doing two loads of dishes.

Marcus tries to tell me that it’s OK not to be at the top of my game. I always point out that I’m not just screwing up the top of my game; I’m wallowing in the bottom. He tells me that I’ll get “me” back, that it’s just going to take time. Sometimes I believe him.

I cry and rage at everything. I’m crying right now. My emotions are a tidal wave, and I’m drowning. I know this is normal. My brain was concerned with dealing with the physical problems I had, not the emotional ones. These emotions randomly hit me now. I do not like this.

Part of the problem is that I never feel that I am enough. I felt like that before I was diagnosed with cancer. I feel like that now. There are so many things that I want to do. There are so many projects I want to take on. There are so many ways I want to make a difference in this world. There are so many ways I want to show people how awesome I can be. These rarely happen.

I know I’m not alone.. We are an elite bunch. We spend hours creating something. People tell us how awesome it is, and we know we could have made it better. That’s preferable to our other option: trying to create something and quitting out of frustration because it’s not good enough. We chain ourselves to the limitations that only exist in our brains.The dialog in our heads is full of self-loathing. We even loathe ourselves for loathing ourselves. It’s not a fun way to live.

I’d love to finish this post with some amazingly, insightful answer. I don’t have one. If I did, I wouldn’t be struggling.

I’m also not posting this, so you can all feel sorry for me. I was too overwhelmed last year by pain and exhaustion to post about most of my “Fun trip with cancer” journey, so posting this is a self-centered thing to do. When someone comments or emails me telling me that one of my blog posts helped them, that critical part of my brain shuts up and lets me feel happy and useful.

The best answer I can come up for me right now? I am not going to make a pie today. I’m going to get up and take a shower. I may even get fancy and put some lipgloss on. I’m going to try to not spend the day loathing myself for something I can’t control. I have no control over how tired I am. I do have control over the shade I throw myself. I will feel proud of myself for getting a post up. I may get some laundry done. I may even go crazy and get one of my garden beds weeded. This may be the day I succeed at taking a nap. Or it might not. .

I ate a piece of my pie this morning. It was delicious.

If your day would be incomplete without a pie recipe, this is the link to the chess pie that is supposed to be a chess pie. Also Joe Biden! This is a recipe for the worst pie I ever made on one of the worst days I ever had. This is a pie recipe for something that you could easily turn into a pie. Happy Pi Day, everyone!

The Fixing of the Knee – Take Two

By the time most of you read this, I will be in the pre-op area about to get my knee fixed. My husband and I have been self-employed and tried to get health insurance coverage for over five years. Since breast cancer automatically qualifies me for our state’s version of Medicare, I now have insurance coverage until at least one year after my diagnosis. As my doctor put it, my car is in the shop, so I might as well get everything taken care of.

I have a mildly torn lateral meniscus. I have no idea how it happened. I was in San Francisco, and I would love to say that I slipped on stage during my first ever drag king show tune. Or that I did it breakdancing. Or that I was helping to protect the rebel headquarters. Or that I tore it doing something unspeakable while at the Folsom Street Fair. But no – I have no story.

My knee has been messed up for over two years. It’s kept me from doing things to stay fit like running or walking, and it’s kept me from doing things I love like yoga, hiking and dancing. I would normally be thrilled by the fact that I was finally going to have my knee fixed, but I’ve been having mini panic attacks since this past Tuesday about this surgery. Rationally I know I’ll be fine. It’s a quick and easy procedure being done by a good doctor in a nice hospital. But irrationally, I’m terrified.

I’ll explain in more detail later, but this is the second time I’ve been in for this surgery. The last time I was in the pre-op area, my lumpectomy incision popped open because I had a huge abscess in my breast. My knee surgery was cancelled last minute while my family rushed me over to UT. I ended up having to have emergency surgery that evening, and the complications that have ensued have been awful. All of this was caused by a shitty luck set of dominoes, not by any care that I received at UT.

I desperately want this surgery to be done before my first appointment for radiation. Otherwise I’ll have to wait at least two more months to attempt it again. So as irrational as it may be any prayers, good thoughts, mojo, juju or voodoo magic that you can send would be greatly appreciated. See you on the other side. Don’t worry. Hugh’s riding shotgun on this one as well. He’s even brought a friend along for the ride.

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Good Samaritans, Bourbon and Kittens

This is a speech I gave recently at our church. Our associate pastor had asked people to contribute stories of good Samaritans in our lives since that was the reading for the week. I edited it down for a time limit for our Church, but this is the unedited version. I mean, why try for brevity when I don’t have to?

Writing this speech was hard. Really hard. Not because I lacked examples; I was overwhelmed with examples. I just wanted to do the speech justice because of all the ways my husband and I have been showered with love and support this year.

I also wanted to feel competent. There has not been a surfeit of that in my life lately. I felt so out of control that I almost didn’t write it. Procrastination through perfectionism – my specialty. But I made myself do it. I wanted to feel like I had given something back to all the people who have helped us. I’ve been dealing with some ongoing vertigo and balance issues, so Marcus went up to the podium with me.

As soon as I started, I just got this wonderful feeling running through my veins. I’m pretty damn good at giving speeches or talks, and that adrenaline rushed over me. As I walked back to my chair, it was actually hard not to give a big fist pump and shout a “Hell yeah!”. I sat down thinking “I totally kicked ass on that speech”. Then I realized that probably wasn’t what Jesus would have done and asked God to forgive me for being so awful. I do kind of feel like He was down with me feeling like I had kicked ass.

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On Good Friday of this year, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. 2013 had been pretty awful up to that point, but this seemed like a particularly cruel twist. Rationally, I know there is an end game in sight.  I have a very good prognosis. Things could be much worse.

But it’s hard to be rational when you’re in the middle of the storm. Marcus and I are both relieved that my cancer was caught in a very early stage, but the way we found out about it was personally heartbreaking to us both. I’ve had one complication after another. If I had to pick one adjective right now to describe myself, it would be defeated. I know I’m not, but I sure feel that way.

I’m still too new and rubbed raw into this journey to even attempt to make sense of why this has happened to me, why cancer happens to anyone & how to sift the wheat from the chaff from this whole experience.

The one thing I have learned from having cancer is the incredible power of unexpected kindnesses, big and small, from strangers, acquaintances and loved ones.

It’s a friend who sends you a stuffed manatee to make you laugh – a manatee that has been named Hugh and who comes to every doctor’s appointment with me. He’s had his picture taken with every member of my medical team at UT. After my lumpectomy, I woke up to him lying next to me dressed in a surgical outfit.

It’s a voice teacher who helps put your confidence back together after two awful choir teachers stole the joy of singing from you.

It’s a woman I don’t know very well from the internet who commiserates with me about well-meaning people who say stupid things about cancer and/or your health and who makes and sends you a t-shirt that has a manatee on it and says “Leave me Alone – I Have Cancer”.

It’s a Facebook or twitter message from a friend checking in on you. A friend posting a picture on your timeline of the most ridiculous use of baking twine yet. A kind reply on a status that you’ve posted from someone that you really admire.

It’s the cards from people telling me they’re praying for me. It’s multiple encouraging cards from a woman here who just held me one day when I cried, telling me it was going to be ok.

It’s the nurse and the nurse practioner who have answered every call, helped me through every setback, hugged me each time they see me. It’s a nurse that hugs you and gently wipes the band-aid smegma off your wrist and arm. It’s a doctor that’s done surgery on you who ends a personal phone call because he sees you in a walkway and wants to know how you’re doing. It’s a nurse practitioner who waits around after his workday is done, so he can get a prescription for you to your husband.

It’s the local Young Survivors group leader whose closed door you can knock on just so she can comfort you, love you and get you the help you need. It’s the UT Cancer Center social worker who has a safe place to melt down when you’ve needed it.

It’s the neighbors who have helped your husband scrape the rest of the paint off of your house and the big bunch of them who showed up one Saturday to paint most of your house with primer.

It’s a text message from someone who wants you to know they love you. It’s a call from a friend telling you that you can get through this. It’s a post card of a pigeon shit covered statue from a friend who tells you that no matter how shitty life may feel, at least you’re not a statue covered in pigeon shit.

It’s the neighbors and friends who make stealth deliveries of food, bourbon, duck eggs & crayon pictures.

It’s the 4 women at my yoga studio who insisted you take their classes for free and who are eagerly awaiting the time when they can help you get stronger again.

It’s friends and church members who know you’re struggling financially right now, and have offered to help you by letting your husband know about job opportunities and hiring him to do odd jobs so you both can make ends meet. It’s a pastor and friend who visits you in the hospital.

It’s the man you meet in the cancer center parking lot who volunteers at the Norris Animal Shelter and offers to take the scrawny kitten, who has just run up to you and climbed into your arms purring, to the shelter and make sure she gets a good home.

It’s a group of church members who buy you a birthday pastry cake and sing happy birthday to you , especially because they wanted to bring some joy to an unjoyful 40th birthday.

It’s a husband who holds your hair back when you vomit. It’s a husband who sits there and strokes your hair while you dry-heave for 20 minutes. It’s a husband who has taken the wedding vow of ‘in sickness and in health’ and who has proven that he meant that in every way possible, no matter how disgusting or hard or how strong he’s had to be for you. It’s a husband who tells you every day how beautiful you are.

When Marcus and I went looking for a church, we had two very simple requirements. One – that they loved and accepted people no matter what gender, race or sexual orientation they might be. The second was that we wanted a church that focused on Jesus’ teachings about love and kindness. We wanted a church that walked the talk. Marcus and I felt very honored to become members here. Because we’ve also found a church full of Good Samaritans.

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