Lincoln County News
May 27, 1999

"LifeLines" My journal about living with cancer

by Sandy Labaree

This journal submission describes a wacky week of weird dreams, yard sale mania and a long-overdue restaurant review of Country Farms. On hold for the cancer vaccine trial, my schedule is filling up with speaking appearances.

May 14, 1999: Today, I awoke this morning after a crazy dream. Last Fall, I detailed in my column a wacky dream about a floating VW bus party my brother was hosting. Today's dream was far more serious and one that dream interpreters would love to analyze. I would have to describe this as a "survival against all odds" dream. In my dream, I am watching an airliner come down through dense fog, off course from an airport and attempting a crash landing. Though I seem to be watching from the outside, I am actually a passenger on the plane. Next, I am lying on the ground in the middle of all the wreckage. I watch rescue workers carrying body bags sifting through the wreckage. Oddly, I am watching this drama unfold calmly and without fear or pain. A worker walks by me and I call out to him for help. He seems incredulous to find a survivor. He hesitates, almost as if I'm a mirage, before he rushes over to help. A year later, I am standing on the same site of the crash with three others who survived the horrifying ordeal. I listen as two women and one man describe what they have been through emotionally in the past year, and how the crash has changed their lives. The odds that anyone could have survived the crash were minute, yet four of us did.

Strangely, this dream didn't disturb me or even seem like a nightmare. As I thought about it, I realized that I was seeing myself as a survivor of a life-threatening experience. Sometimes, be it fate or miracle, people survive almost certain death circumstances. There are many cancer survivors who can attest to this same feeling of having overcome the odds. Maybe it's optimistic thinking on my part, but I choose to view my dream as prophesy or wish-fulfillment.

Tonight's restaurant review is Country Farms in Whitefield. We have been saying for months that we had to review Country Farms, and even my readers have written to suggest we check it out. I ordered the haddock with crabmeat stuffing which was recommended by a friend. Sue had the seafood casserole with the same delicious slightly sweet Ritz cracker stuffing. Paul and Ben both opted for the steak Tuscany which was marinated in olive oil and spices. The desserts were excellent and all homemade. The chocolate cream pie and the apple crisp were superb. You'll find something for everyone on the Farm's huge menu that includes chicken, pork, beef, pasta and seafood items. A couple of years ago, the restaurant more than doubled in size by building a new facility next door to their former cramped quarters. The restaurant caters to families and the menu prices are very affordable. Plan on a short wait at peak times as reservations are not taken. We comfortably waited only 20 minutes in Paul and Sue's car with a restaurant pager.

May 15, 1999: I am not an early riser, but this morning I looked at the clock and thinking it said 8:15 am., I got up. I was getting dressed before I realized the clock said 6:15, not 8:15! Too late, I was already up and functioning, so we went to Karen's Restaurant for breakfast. I am not a morning person, so this was the earliest I have ever been in Karen's. The restaurant re-opened yesterday, after being closed for one month due to fire. Karen has re-arranged the tables and added booths on one side. It's a very comfortable layout and actually makes the place look larger.

I am on a mission today to sort through boxes filled with potential yard sale items that have been stored in my basement and garage. I am getting ready for the sale of the century. I have told Sue to go through her stuff and bring things over and we'll do a joint sale maybe in June. I am also hoping that Ben will go through his car magazines and miscellaneous collection of "I might need this someday" stuff, so I can add this to the sale. By the end of the day, I have enough junk to hold a preliminary sale. I figure I will open up shop tomorrow for a few hours while Ben waxes my car.

May 16, 1999: Today, I am holding what I call a preview yard sale, in advance of what I hope will be a future giant combined garage sale with Paul and Sue. Ben has put up signs on Route One and within minutes, I have several customers. I really enjoy doing a yard sale because of the people you meet. Generally, folks are very friendly and some you can tell are regular yard sale shoppers. I am always amazed at what people will buy. Obviously, one man's junk is another man's treasure. Yet, it's hard to predict what will sell. I had a couple of boxes filled with items priced at five or ten cents, as well as a box of free items. Interestingly, people were reluctant to take any of the free items. Finally, when one person asked me if the items were really free and selected one, other shoppers followed suit. I guess not many garage sales offer free merchandise. I took in about $70 today, which was amazing considering most items were priced at $1.00 or less.

May 20, 1999: I have had a busy week assisting with the final review and proofing of the Wiscasset Regional Business Assn.'s 1999 Guide before it goes to press. No sooner is that finished, then I have to turn my attention to the Wiscasset Fair Program Booklet. It seems strange to be selling advertising again, which I did for ten years in a former life. Actually, I am only handling a few sales myself, and supervising a small team of dedicated volunteers. In addition, I am assisting with the layout and content of the Booklet itself. Doing page layout and design, and combining editorial copy with photos and ads is like putting together a giant puzzle. I love the challenge. There can be many combinations of pieces, some fitting better than others, but once you find the best combination, it all comes together and looks right.

Today, I am seeing Dr. Tom for an examination. My sore throat and low-grade fever haven't completely disappeared and nurse Cindy thought I better come in to the office. Tom examines me and says that I probably have a low-grade viral infection. He thinks that it will eventually run its course. Tom also asks about my pain. My back pain from my bone tumors has become an everyday occurrence, an annoyance that I am gradually learning to live with and manage. Tom orders a CBC to check my white blood cell count as well as tests to check my tumor marker levels. I will go to MidCoast Hospital later this week to get these lab tests done.

No update yet on the status of the cancer vaccine clinical trial which was put on hold. Dr. Bunnell is on vacation this week, so I left a message for him to call me. I plan to ask him about the new clinical trial beginning this Fall at Dana Farber to test the drug, Endostatin, a very promising break-through in cancer research. In preliminary studies with mice, the drug blocked the blood supply to tumors, effectively stopping their growth. I would love to get into this Trial and am anxious to see if I might be a candidate.

Meanwhile, my Keynote Speech at the Living With Cancer Conference has sparked a number of requests for me to speak to other audiences or be involved with important cancer-related Conferences or Symposiums. I have agreed to address the Maine Assn. of Mammography Technicians at their state-wide conference in Portland on June 19th. It is the day Ben and I leave for a Corvettes Conquer Cancer Tour appearance at a huge five day national Corvette Show in Bloomington, Illinois. The conference coordinator re-arranged the schedule to slot me in at 8:15 am. for a 45 min. speech with a 15 minute question and answer session to follow. I am looking forward to setting the tone for the Conference. I will be talking from the perspective of a breast cancer patient, one whose cancer was found by mammography. Mammography and a thorough film exam done properly by experienced technicians can detect pre-cancers or early cancers. In the hands of these technicians is the awesome power of technology that can save women's lives.

Note: For those of my readers who are country music fans and want to support cancer research and control, Maine singer, Kelly Parker and her Cross Country Band will be performing at the Atrium in Brunswick on Sat. May 29, 1999 at 9 pm. A portion of her show's proceeds will benefit the American Cancer Society. For more info, call 781-2083.

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