Lincoln County News
March 11, 1999

"LifeLines" My journal about living with cancer

by Sandy Labaree

This journal submission describes our combined restaurant review/ Ben's birthday celebration, and my debut as a writer for a car magazine. I am winning the battle against my back pain, but losing the war against a mounting pile of peeps.

February 26, 1999: Earlier this week in the mail, I received an advance copy of Corvette Quarterly Magazine. Spread across pages 31 and 32 is my story about loving Corvettes and how the Corvettes Conquer Cancer Tour came about. In a typeface that looks like hand-lettering, the article is laid out against a colorful backdrop of some of my trip photos and memorabilia. On the index page is a photo of me and my car in front of the Indianapolis Speedway. The article represents my writing debut for a national car magazine. Corvette Quarterly is an official GM publiction for Corvette owners and the magazine is not sold on newsstands. Subscriptions can be obtained through Chevrolet dealerships or of course, by purchasing a Corvette. A few of my Corvette friends have already called to say that they received their magazines and were thrilled to see the article.

As much as I love cars, I never imagined I would be writing stories for car magazines. Well, for that matter, I never thought I'd be writing a newspaper column. On my "down" days, I picture myself as an unemployed cancer patient. On my "up" days, I picture myself as an unpaid newspaper columnist. I guess we all have a mission and purpose in life, and writing has become mine by a mixture of fate and circumstance.

February 27, 1999: Today is Ben's birthday and to celebrate the occasion, we have scheduled the restaurant review for this evening. We are dining at Robinhood Free Meetinghouse and using a dinner certificate that our daughter Christy gave us for Christmas. Paul and Sue have never been to Robinhood and I have been there only for business functions.

Robinhood's menu is extensive and we have so many choices it is difficult to decide. After much agonizing, we all choose filet of beef. I order the filet stuffed with crabmeat, Paul selects the same with a Roquefort stuffing, and Sue and Ben order filets with a peppercorn topping. All were superb and cooked exactly to order. Salads are extra and we ordered them as appetizers. Ben had a Caesar salad and Sue, Paul and I had endive salads with mango and avocado. Our dinners were accompanied by a delicious assortment of homemade rolls and biscuits. We managed to save room for desserts which included profiteroles with cinnamon apple filling, an orange creme brulee, Mexican chocolate mousse and a devil's food cake. We had a most enjoyable evening, and Paul and Sue say they are ready for a return visit.

March 1, 1999: I am still struggling with back aches and pains. Most of the problem seems to be along my spine and middle back, with pain radiating out to areas where my rib fractures are located. I have been using a heating pad daily and restricting my activities. I am also trying some anti-inflammatory medication which seems to relieve the muscle spasms and nerve irritation. Last night, I woke up at 2 am. in pain. I got up and took a pain pill, but was unable to fall back asleep because of a raging wind and rain storm outside. So today, I am operating on very little sleep and walking around like a zombie. I vow to take a nap, but instead I manage maybe half an hour resting with my heating pad. I have two business meetings today, one this morning and one tonight. I probably should skip the meeting tonight, but as a compromise, I have Ben drop me off at the meeting for one hour, then return to pick me up. That way I can control my time and energy.

Today, I am also contemplating what to do with the mounting pile of peeps in my living room. I received a shipment last week of 75 peeps in assorted colors from a reader in MA, and another package of 15 yellow peeps arrived on Saturday from a reader, Jinny, in CT. Thank you, Jinny, but this certainly must be creating a New England shortage of peeps. Sue brought her camera over and photographed the peeps. Perhaps, I could stack them up like the world's record snowman in Bethel, and be eligible for entry in the Guinness Book of Records for having the largest pile of peeps.

Knowing that it would not be wise to attempt to set a world's record by consuming these peeps, I am thinking of humane ways to eradicate the peep population. I will suggest to my editor that we have a peep auction at the newspaper. Peeps will go up on the auction block by box size and color. Readers can submit bids by mail or e mail. The highest bidders will have their choice of keeping the peeps or donating them to a local food bank for Easter. All proceeds will be given to charity.

March 3, 1999: Today, it's Lurk's turn to visit his Dr. and cancer specialist. Lurk seems resigned to being gently nudged into his carrier box. I reassure him that today's trip will be relatively quick and painless. He will be having a follow-up sonogram of his kidney, and a thyroid level test which will require taking a blood sample. When I return about an hour and a half later, he is boxed up ready to go and smells of rubbing alcohol. Dr. Gail will call me later with his test results. I was very encouraged to see that Lurk has gained weight, nearly 1 lb. since his visit a month ago. He is now up to 12 1/2 lbs. I have been feeding him high calorie gourmet cat food, and two small servings of Ben and Jerry's vanilla ice cream daily. Lurk is bulking out just like me, except my weight gain is from the wretched Megace pills, and not from ice cream.

Good news comes late in the afternoon when one of Dr. Gail's assistants calls to report no change in Lurk's sonogram. His thyroid level is also normal. His creatinin level, indicating kidney function, is slightly off. I am told to monitor Lurk's fluid intake, and if it suddenly increases, to call them. Lurk will return in a month to have his kidney function re-tested, but aside from that, he is doing just fine for a senior feline who will be 15 next month.

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