Lincoln County News
May 20, 1999

"LifeLines" My journal about living with cancer

by Sandy Labaree

This journal submission describes how two weeks of non-stop activities have sapped my energy. Spring days and a visit from my sister and daughter boost my spirits. The restaurant review team returns to Beale St.

May 7, 1999: Today, I am joining my sister, Mary Ann, and my daughter, Christy, on a brief shopping expedition to Damariscotta. Mary Ann wants to check out a few items she noticed in store windows when we were up in Damariscotta last evening at King Eider's Pub. Christy wanted to treat me to an early Mother's Day dinner and celebration before she returned home to MA. She decided on King Eider's because their restaurant review sounded interesting. Eider's was very busy and the wait staff seemed short-handed. Larry was doing double-duty and did a great job filling in. He advised me that raw brown sugar packets are no longer being offered. Despite this drawback, we still gave Eider's five stars for the crab cakes and the chocolate mousse pie. Larry also gave me tips on other restaurants for possible review. I always trust a restaurant owner's recommendation as to what is a good restaurant.

Mary Ann and Christy are headed back to Boston today, but Mary Ann said she cannot leave without having a Canfield's lobster roll. I take lobster rolls for granted, but New Jerseyites like my mother and sister, dream about Maine lobster rolls and fish chowder. After shopping, we stop at Canfield's so Mary Ann can have her lobster roll. I am sad to see Christy and Mary Ann leave. Our visit was short, but just seeing them has boosted my spirits.

Tonight, the restaurant review travels to Beale St. Restaurant in Bath. Paul and Sue have brought along their friends, Art and Jeanette. We are all in the mood for barbecue and we order a variety of barbecue plates or platters with spareribs or pulled pork. I always order the pulled pork plate as the platter is too huge. The very inexpensively priced plate comes with jalapeno cornbread, and your choice of two of the following items: French fries, rice, barbecued beans and cole slaw. We all order the house salad which comes with a nice mix of fresh greens, sliced Bermuda onion, mandarin orange slices and slivered almonds. Though the salad is not included with the meal, it is well-worth the small extra charge. To accompany the meal, Beale St.'s giant Margaritas are a very popular choice as well as lemonade, and their huge selection of local brews.

May 11, 1999: I am still trying to recover from my hectic schedule of the past two weeks. I am exhausted and dragging, and battling an on-going sore throat and low-grade fever. I also have a pulled muscle and nerve pain in my arm and shoulder. In testament to how tired I have been, I took a 1 1/2 hour nap today. I never take naps because it makes me very groggy and hampers my sleeping at night. True to form, after my nap I spend the rest of the day in a fog.

Yesterday, I called Tom's office and spoke to Cindy about my sore throat and other problems. I had a long list of items to discuss with Tom and he called me today to review my "list". We decided to wait a few more days to see if the sore throat will clear up before starting an antibiotic. I am reluctant to go on antibiotics now as that could screw up my entry into the cancer vaccine trial. Antibiotics can't be given during the trial and they must be out of your system for 6-8 weeks prior. In terms of my shoulder pain, I can take 2-3 Aleve a day and combine this with my pain pill as needed. I should take my pain medication more regularly, rather than toughing it out.

The cancer vaccine trial is currently on hold for 1-2 months because the gamma globulin antidote for the vaccine is temporarily unavailable. The drug company that manufactures it, has stopped production. I hope to get the details on this from Dr. Bunnell, but I also need to know what I should be doing in the interim. Tom says he thinks I should continue on the hormonal drug regimen of Megace. I tell Tom that I noticed a significant improvement in my pain problems and energy level when I stopped the Megace for two weeks and then re-started it. Tom said there is a study underway of prostate cancer patients who are taking a hormonal drug for two months, then going off it for two months. According to this study, the effect of stopping and starting hormonal drugs seems to enhance their effect. Tom says that what I am observing may be this effect, so going on and off the Megace may be worth considering.

May 12, 1999: It appears that the mouse invasion has ended with just the slaughter of two innocent field mice. Lurk still dutifully checks the basement door a few times a day. Paul said that their cat, Tyler, caught two mice in their living room last week. Like us, Paul and Sue do not have a regular mouse problem. Ben suggested that maybe the drought had driven the mice inside in search of water. That is a very likely possibility. In any case, thanks to Lurk or the much needed rain we received, the mice are gone. Ben took a few photos of Lurk holding his coveted mice. I gave the photos to Sue to run with my column, but she thought readers might be turned off by photos of Lurk with dead mice. Instead, Sue chose a photo of Karen's restaurant sign.

Ben took a photo of Karen's restaurant sign thanking me for mentioning the restaurant in a recent column. Karen's will be re-opening on May 14th, nearly one month after the fire, and I bet everyone in town will be eagerly lined up at her door. I plan to stop in this weekend and wish her well. It is everyone's nightmare to have a fire. In just seconds, your lifelong possessions and livelihood can be taken from you. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but it is one of those traumatic events that you never forget.

May 13, 1999: I have especially been enjoying this Spring. Maybe it is because I have been cooped up so long in the house this winter. There were many days when I was in too much pain or too tired to venture out. Spring came early this year and seems warmer than usual. Spending as much time as I do at home, I have had the pleasure of watching the sights, sounds and colors of Spring unfold right in my own yard.

Our yard has become home to an ever increasing number of birds. Of course, I probably have the best birdie restaurant in the neighborhood since I have seven different well-stocked feeders. Something for everybody. We also have a variety of bushes and shrubs that make perfect nesting sites. This year, we have robins, catbirds and tree, chipping, song and house sparrows nesting in the bushes. Next to our garage, a pair of feisty killdeer are nesting on a pile of stones. Over the garage doors, is a nest of cliff swallows. It must be a communal home as four or five of them have managed to stuff themselves into an incredibly small mud nest.

Every day, we have a constant parade of bird visitors. This week alone, we had orioles, a white crowned sparrow, an indigo bunting, and flickers, in addition to our many regulars. So, on days that I don't feel like venturing out, Lurk and I enjoy watching the birdie parade and the wonders of Spring from our living room window.

- - -

(Click here to go directly to the next column)