End of an Era

I’m usually the one with all the words. This time, Mama wanted them to share this news. She’s done it beautifully, so I will leave it to her:

We’ve loved these days…

Many of you, our dear customers and friends, know that the younger partner in our mother daughter partnership was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015. Some of you know that the cancer has returned. Unfortunately, Allegra will be in treatment for quite a while and the treatment is no picnic.

The older partner in this arrangement wants to be able to drop everything at a moment’s notice to be available for Allegra. All of the mothers who read this will understand. It is for this reason that we have decided to close our shop, Joli Home Accents.

To paraphrase an old Billy Joel song, we’ve loved these days. We have loved being a part of our charming Bay Street shopping district. We have loved our fellow business owners. We have especially loved you, our customers. You have made Joli a joy to own and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Joli’s last day of operation in 2017 will be Saturday December 23. We will reopen for a five day clearance sale in January. Please check our Facebook page and Eat Sleep Play Beaufort for dates and further information.

Again we want to thank you all for your loyalty and patronage. It has been a privilege and “We’ve loved these days”.

Cheryl and Allegra, The Shopgirls

Advertisements

Bucket List

I’ve been thinking about a bucket list lately. It wasn’t something I gave much thought to until I got this diagnosis and started to realize I have a finite period of time left.

November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, and I was doing a basic knowledge quiz. The average life expectancy for pancreatic cancer patients is five years. Does that mean that I should compile a bucket list? Is a bucket list even a reasonable list to make?

Do people really make bucket lists and cross off all their items? I don’t know that I can think of enough items to make a list. I can’t think of a whole lot in this life that is excessively important to accomplish I have travel goals, of course. And I have famous people I’d like to meet. I guess there are things I want to try, but because of my future hope, I’m not overly anxious to make sure these things happen before I die.

Then there is the concern of how realistic my bucket list items are. Seeing the Grand Canyon isn’t unreasonable in and of itself, but taking the summer to drive cross-country, spending time in various national parks may not be realistic. Meeting Johnny Depp is definitely not realistic. Writing a book is a reasonable and excellent bucket list item, but writing a book that is published nationally may be too lofty.

Not being a risk taker, I don’t have goals like bungee jumping or sky diving. I don’t want to train for a marathon or even a 5K. I want to become a published travel writer and commune with nature in Glacier National Park for a couple of weeks. I want my book to reach a spot on the Bestseller List. I want a blog post or essay to garner national attention.

Clearly my bucket list items don’t follow the S.M.A.R.T. guideline for goals. I’ve got the Specific and Measurable down, but things fall apart after that.

I think I’ve drawn my own conclusion about making a bucket list — though I fully intended to ask your opinion. It’s better for me to keep my dreams and goals quiet but lofty. A bucket list is not necessary for this girl.

On the contrary, I’ll be thankful for any experiences I get to enjoy over the next few years. Like the once-in-a-lifetime trip to Alaska this coming June with my family. Or the visit later this month from my kindred spirit and soul sister (and her husband). And the visit from my mother-in-law and sister-in-law who I’m anxious to see since my diagnosis. Even the simple sleepovers with my niece (24) and great-niece (3), where we tend to stay up late and talk about everything and nothing at the same time.

I can think back over recent experiences, too, like when my big sister came for two weeks to take care of me and we both picked new projects to work on at Hobby Lobby. My sister learned how to draw butterflies and birds, but I’m no better at my hand-lettering. And how she worked with my son every day after school on his homework, so I could rest.

Bucket lists may be important to some people, but at the risk of sounding obnoxious or over-privileged, I feel like I get to experience bucket-list sized events regularly. Either that, or my definition skews between overly simple and ridiculously unrealistic. But I always receive support when I need it, and I get to experience some pretty cool things in my life.

The Chemo Aftermath

EM_GC264_One_More_Chemo_Down_Empathy_2_1024x1024

I got through my first chemo. Fortunately, I didn’t have to deal with the side effect mentioned above (side note: these cards are from the amazingly talented Emily McDowell. She created a line of Empathy cards specifically for cancer patients. Please check her out). In fact, I made out pretty well the first couple days. Tuesday and Wednesday were pretty good, thanks to Steroids in my pre-meds (pre-meds are medications given before the chemo that help to eliminate and/or reduce side effects of the chemo).

Thursday was a different story. I had the flu-like symptoms I was warned I might have. My fever topped out at somewhere 103.4, staying in the high 102s Thursday and most of Friday. By Saturday morning, my fever had broken, and while I was still experiencing chills, sweats, and body aches, I was able to attend a very special meeting via live stream.  I’m hugely relieved about that.

Hopefully this flu-type side effect will improve with each dose of chemo, but for this week, I expect Monday-Wednesday to be pretty good, and then to be down for the count from Thursday through Saturday. Knowing what to expect is more than half the battle. It helps me to schedule chores around the house early in the week with the Steroids kicked in, and then to be able to rest without feeling like I’ve accomplished nothing.

It may seem silly to read that I would be worried about chores or about accomplishing things, but trust me. Chemo makes a patient feel useless enough — she doesn’t need her self-imposed guilt to get out of control. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not steam cleaning my curtains or scrubbing my floors each week, but making sure the bathrooms get cleaned gives me some control over my out-of-control life.

I’d like to give a shout-out to one of my dearest friends — I’ve known her since I was about my son’s age. Our relationship grew out of writing and we now each have a blog. Stop on over at her blog Stand Up and Live Your Life. I am honored to be the subject of her most recent post, and I encourage you to read more.

I don’t know what this week will bring along with it, but if I can find humor in it, it will be shared. Thank you so much for the prayers, cards, flowers, texts, messages, and posts. I read each and every one, even if I don’t respond. I am making every effort to respond to each of you, so please bear with me.

xoxo

Introspection

A word before I begin: I’ll be completely honest. I feel a bit silly blogging about my life this evening when Paris is still reeling from a terrorist attack, and the number of states that will refuse Syrian refugees cotinues to grow. To be honest, I scan by the majority of these articles and statistics, because what is being done is so far the opposite of what I know to be true and loving. The opposite of Jesus’ example. However, I do know that a future exists where there will be no terrorism and no need for countries to decide whether or not to accept refugees.

For the past few days, my vision has been blurry when looking at things closely. I’m writing this blog right now, and the letters are blurry. I don’t know why. I think I noticed it on Saturday for the first time. It comes and goes, but I don’t know what caused it. Anthesthesia maybe?

Let me back up. Thursday morning I had a sentinel node biopsy (Doc removed three nodes) and my porto-cath implanted. That afternoon I took my Percocet and slept. Friday was a little better … except that the skin around my incisions (and especially under the adhesive bandages) was really red and quite itchy. By Sunday, a rash had spread down my left arm, across my chest, and on my neck. Evidently I am also allergic to the surgical soap they typically use during operations.

So, I’m on steroids, but I am still good to go tomorrow morning for my first chemotherapy appointment. Question to my small readership … should I take a picture each time, noting the countdown to the final chemo? Part of me wants to photograph each step so I can see for myself how I am affected. But the other part of me thinks that it could contribute to making cancer my whole life, rather than it being something I schedule my life around. Plus, aren’t we over-run with images like this on social media? Please provide your thoughts.

Since chemo is taxing on the liver, I am not allowed to drink alcohol for two days leading up to and after my chemo treatment. Oh the horror! No wine. No bourbon. This is stressful on the already stressed Ladybug (me). Therefore, I am turning to herbal teas for my relaxation. I have already gotten some great recommendations, but feel free to suggest more. I have eight months to go … I cannot receive enough suggestions.

As I got comfortable in my bed tonight, I had the Voice on tv. I wasn’t entirely watching it, but I tuned in as Madi Davis was getting ready to sing “Who Will Save Your Soul,” by Jewel. Please do take a moment to watch the video.

Good! You’re back. Did you like it? I did. Now get this: she is only 16 years old! Sixteen! At 16 did I know what I wanted to do with my life? Was I that sure of myself? How about you? Were your goals at 16 in line with what your goals are now?

My immediate thought was, “I am nothing like that 16-year-old child.” But, as I look back in detail, maybe I’m not so different …

Sixteen-year-old me wanted to be a Journalist. I wanted to write for a living … preferably as a travel writer. I dreamed of being sought after by large travel book publishers or sophisticated newspapers that would pay me to review the most exotic locales and resorts.

Thirty-eight year-old me still loves to write. I never got a phone call from Lonely Planet or The New York Times, but I write. And I write real life. And sometimes people even like what I write.

The Cure was my favorite band at 16. While I never fully embraced the gothic lifestyle (I wasn’t nearly macabre enough), Robert Smith sang to my soul. I loved him, and fantasized about somehow winning backstage tickets. But then I worried I was too happy for him, and I didn’t want to ruin the illusion.

Today, The Cure is still my favorite  band. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy lots of other music (especially since The Cure hasn’t released anything in years; and their later music didn’t touch me like the earlier stuff), but The Cure still gets me everytime. In fact, they’re going on tour in 2016, and if I can land tickets, I will go with a red-lipstick-stained mask and a Robert Smith wig.

I had my first boyfriend at 16. I think I’ve mentioned before that it was a typical teenage romance: poetry, parents who didn’t approve, mystery, and after a year-and-a-half romance, a broken heart.

This is one area that I am in no way like my 16-year-0ld self. My husband of 15 years is not particularly romantic, and he definitely doesn’t write poetry, but I wouldn’t choose anyone else to be my best friend and life partner. I am so glad I went with someone who made me feel loved and safe.

My junior and senior years were when I first took an interested in psychology, a hobby of mine down to this day. I still love fashion and edgy trends (love my Doc Martens), like I did at 16. And while I’ve learned to compensate for my introversion since 16, I still need some downtime to myself.

I don’t go to concerts nearly as often as I did as  teenager and young adult; but I think part of that is due to living in a small town, where the nearest decent performing space is over an hour away; and the only decent arena is about five hours away. But I still love to write, and I love music, and I’m still a bit too happy for Robert Smith.

The changes I’ve made in the last 20-plus years are good. My faith is stronger than it was; I have a beautiful child; and I have a husband I love and trust infinitely. Plus, I am part owner of a shop, where I get to make people happy every day. And, I still get to write.

xoxo