So, again, I’m a little belated in sharing some updates but instead of just random ramblings about life, cancer, and whatever else crosses my mind, I decided I’d send some pictures that capture February updates and news. So, here are a few highlights and pictures to go with them …
1. A clear mammogram! I had another mammogram last week and it seemed a world away from my experience almost exactly a year ago. Very boring and uneventful. Which was fabulous. I will have mammograms on my right breast every six months and follow up on the left side in a year.
2. I’m back on the wagon. Or is it ‘off the wagon’? I’ve never really understood the origin of that or used it correctly. I’m back on drugs. Oral chemotherapy started again and I take it twice/day every other week for 4 more months. They want a total of 6 months and I had about 6 weeks under my belt with radiation before they pulled me off of it because of the burns. Medicine-taking is a serious challenge for me. I’m working on it. I am also on an aromatase inhibitor which inhibits the production of estrogen. This will likely change to the more common drug of tamoxifen once I finish oral chemo. I also take several other things to help offset the menopause side effects so, really, my regimen is medicine and the hardest part is remembering. And I’ll continue the monthly shots to keep my ovaries shut off.
3. 2 weeks ago, I went to San Antonio to celebrate my college roommate, Melanie Shankle, and the fact that dreams come true. And that grades don’t really matter. I met her and Gulley as “Diamond Darlings” (another story for another time) my freshman year and we were fast fun friends and lived together the next 2 years. Mel and Gulley are here for a conference so I spent the night with them last night and Mel recounted the story of our friendship with her way-cool-blog-world-famous-friends (Angie Smith and Sophie Hudson, y’all are some fine peeps and Gulley and I know why our Mel and a zillion readers love you so much!) by describing a friendship of contrasts: I studied and she did not. I cared and she did not. I got up early and she did not. I exercised and she did not. I graduated with honors and she did not. HOWEVER, one fact she overlooked as she told the story … she has a book released that made it to #27 on NYT Bestseller’s list last week … and I do not! I am so stinkin’ proud of her that I can’t stand it. Proud enough to get in the car with B on a Friday afternoon a couple weeks ago, drive to San Antonio for her book release party, and drive back home at 7am the next morning. And, this weekend, proud enough to go to Frisco to the Dot Mom conference to watch her emcee the event and then watch her sign books for over an hour and a half with a long long line of fans and friends. My favorite quote from one lady in line: “I feel like I just met Taylor Swift … I’m shaking.” She’s not Taylor Swift. Just my Mel. And she and Gulley have been faithful, dear, loving friends through college, my dad’s death, marriages, babies, cancer … and now a book! And I’m crazy proud. If you haven’t bought her book, Sparkly Green Earrings, you should. And you’ll soon know why I love her so much – raw, real and FUNNY! Or, you could come join me at Barnes&Noble at Northpark on Tuesday, March 12th, at 7pm to buy a copy then and meet her for yourself. And, if you’re so inclined, she’d be happy to sign your book.
4. With a birthday last week, I’m now 41. It was super fun with calls, texts, messages on FB, cards, and love … birthdays are a good thing. We celebrated at the Mavericks game with friends and my mom. Again, cancer has its perks. And I had my 15 seconds of Jumbotron fame. Texas Oncology (the practice of my surgeon, oncologist and radiologist) sponsors the game ball delivery. So, thanks to the nomination of my surgeon, Dr. Lamont, I had the honor of being courtside before the game, passing a loose ball to Vince Carter (Scott did also and, in his words, “made him wait for it…” while I awkwardly acted like I’d never held a basketball in my life and fumbled it back to him), bumping up against Shawn Marion and resisting the urge to ask Dirk for a picture during his pre-game warmup. Then, after the national anthem, I sported my “I Can Fight Cancer” shirt (not a fan of cancer-wear but thankful for a ‘uniform’ and not having to decide what to wear for my 15 seconds of prime time) and walked the game ball onto center court to give to the referee. It was fun. I think there may have been an announcement but I was too busy concentrating on holding the ball with “Spalding” facing outwards, shaking hands with the referee, and smiling for the photographer and video. Scott was too busy staring at the players so I am not even sure he watched. When I looked at the pictures he took, I noticed there were far more of the Mavericks than of his wife. I also loved that friends that have walked hand in hand with us over the last year wanted to spend $75 each on tickets to go to the game with us and watch my 15 seconds of Jumbotron fame.
5. And, for a little levity, I have to share about a photo my community group submitted for Watermark’s marriage conference last weekend. We were told there would be a prize for the most creative kiss and the 6 of us are rather competitive types so we spent over an hour of our community group time brainstorming what “creative kiss” might win. As we are Watermark COMMUNITY church, we thought we might could get some extra credit for doing it as community – and why not in our baptismal pond? So, we found our way into the baptismal pond and created a scene that fits our personalities – the Rhodes were in the water on a mattress as if it was a waterbed, the Laniers who love the beach brought their beach chairs and toys and pulled up to the edge like they were at the beach, and the Clouses, true to Scott’s passion, donned his fly fishing clothes and poles and went fishin’. The conference was called “Uncommon” so we titled it “Uncommon Kiss.” Our friend Jenn took a dozen pictures, we debated which was the best and then we submitted – with ridiculous confidence that we might win. We planned our “Price is Right” run to the stage and waited for the announcements at the conference. We won. Sort of. But not really. We got credit, as expected, for the community creativity so we won our own category – but only because there was no one else in it! But our real bragging rights came on Sunday when Todd used it as a visual and said it was his favorite because we showed marriage done in community (he’s in a great series on marriage and family) and yada yada yada about marriages need the help of friends and community (… I don’t disagree!). Anyways, we were happy with our conference prize and surprised by Sunday props. However, as I suspected, there was one problem. I’d told the group, after we submitted the photo, that what might be “uncommon” about the picture is the potential for it to look like we submitted a picture of 2 heterosexual couples and their gay friends. I believe my actual words were – this raises the question of “when did Scott go gay?” My friends completely dismissed my concern and humor. However, at church on Sunday, my friend Sarah Ruth sees our picture appear, is proud, and then hears from behind her, “is that two dudes?” I find this absolutely hysterical. And I have included the picture so you can see for yourself. She, in fine friend form, proceeded to shame that man profusely when she turned around said, “no, it’s not too guys – it’s my friend and she’s wearing her husband’s fishing clothes AND she’s had cancer …” Poor guys may not be back. I love my friends. And am still amused by my short hair and the confusion it creates – either because people don’t recognize me OR think I’m a dude. At least with a bald head there was less confusion. Cancer has provided many laughs along the way.
So, as promised, here are some pics that capture some fun times this last month: fun times at Wildcatter Ranch with Scott for our one year “cancer anniversary”, Lincoln and I in the bloodwork chair at the lab before my oncology appointment last week, celebrating Mel’s book with friends at her release party in San Antonio, dinner with friends before the Mavericks game, courtside fun and my 15 seconds of fame, and then the infamous “is that 2 dudes?” picture from church. When the choice is to laugh or cry, I prefer the former. Thanks for sharing in our lives, laughs, stories, and pictures…