Lincoln County News
November 11, 1999

"LifeLines" My journal about living with cancer

by Sandy Labaree

October 27, 1999: Today is my visit with Dr. Tom, and my family is invited to join me. Tom examines me, reviews my abdominal and back pain and discusses my medications. Then he invites my Dad, Mom and sister, Peg, in to meet and talk with him. I allow them some time to ask questions privately while I get my CBC and tumor marker level blood tests done by Cindy before joining the group session. My Dad the Dr. and my entire family were impressed with Tom and his candor and expertise. I think it was a tremendous relief for my family to finally meet the Dr. who has been treating me for five years.

October 28, 1999: Ben and I continue to mourn the loss of our beloved Lurk. This past Monday while Lurk was undergoing surgery and I was awaiting the results, I was interviewed by Fox 51 10 o'clock News for a story on breast cancer. I told the neurology center to please not call me with the news of Lurk until I finished my interview. I knew I would only break down in tears on the air. The stress of Lurk's condition, surgery and the decision to put him to sleep have set me back both emotionally and physically. My stomach and back pain are continuing, and healing is slow in coming.

My inclination is to have a period of mourning for Lurk before considering getting another cat. Ben is already ready for a new kitty. My parents are urging me to adopt a cat now as they think I need a companion.

Today, my parents are driving me to Profiles in Waldoboro where my hair stylist, June, is re-styling one of my new wigs. My hair is rapidly falling out from the chemo and will be completely gone by next week. June does a fabulous job and as much as I hate losing my hair, I am looking forward to wearing this wig. It is the same color as my frosted blond "New Jersey Shore look" wig which brought me many compliments last year. I've decided that blondes definitely have more fun.

After leaving Profiles and lunch at Moody's, my parents drive me straight to the Lincoln County Animal Shelter. They are determined to get me back on the feline track. Hobbling around on my cane, I check the kitty room before moving on to the mature cat area. Nothing meets my high Lurk standards, but a mature cat named Telly catches my eye. A remote possibility, so I fill out an application for adoption and tell the desk folks that I will return with Ben tomorrow so he can conduct his own cat review. My heart is not into this as I feel like I am betraying Lurk.

October 29, 1999: Ben and I drive to the shelter to check out the felines. Telly who is in the atrium, ignores me and is in the midst of a tussle with two mature cats. Not a good sign. We walk back through the mature cat room and a little tiny white paw comes out of a basket and softly touches both Ben and me. With a little cry sounding more like a small kitten than a mature cat, out steps a male white and gray tiger cat. He is much smaller than the other mature cats and he's been at the shelter for less than 2 weeks. They estimate his age at 6-8 months. Little history is known about him, so they are only calling him "Kitty". Kitty immediately climbs into our arms and begins purring. Ben looks at me and says this is the one.

With quick approval from our vet, we are soon headed home with Kitty in our carrier box. He cries pathetically the entire way. Once inside the house, we open the carrier and Kitty stops crying and steps out. He immediately begins to purr loudly and explore the entire house. He is purring so loudly, we can hear him from the far end of the house. Obviously, his new home meets his approval. Within half an hour he is eating and using his litter box. It's amazing how quickly cats adapt to new surroundings.

We quickly discover that Kitty has many of Lurk's mannerisms and behavior. He loves to be picked up and nuzzled and alternates between Ben's and my lap. Like Lurk, he enjoys having his stomach rubbed and touching his feet doesn't bother him in the least. Tonight, he even climbs into bed and sleeps with us, just like Lurk. I am beginning to wonder if Lurk has sent us this little guardian angel who so much resembles him in temperament and demeanor.

October 30, 1999: Tonight, is my annual Halloween costume party. Most of my family and friends thought I should cancel the party due to my health, but my daughter Christy came up with a brilliant idea. She suggested I scale it back to about 15-17 people (I usually invite 30) and do a pot luck supper with everyone bringing a food item. My friend Cheryl offered to do all the planning and invitations, and assist with the party decorations.

It was the easiest party I have ever put on as I never moved from my recliner. I decided to dress in a mummy costume, perfect for a body that was going to be lying out pretty much flat. Ben wrapped me up in strips of a white sheet donated by Melissa. The only missing item to complete this perfect costume was a sarcophagus.

Everyone had a great time and it was so good to invite all of my friends who have so kindly helped me out during my illness. The party was a good distraction for me, taking my mind off my aches and pains. Tonight, was also a true test for Kitty facing a roomful of strangers dressed in scary costumes. He cheerfully visited everyone and spent the evening playing with Gary and Cheryl's six year old daughter, Taylor, who brought a bag of cat toys. By the end of the evening, Kitty was too pooped to come to bed and fell asleep in one of our living room chairs.

October 31, 1999: Yesterday, we purchased a beautiful carved stone cat statue that we have placed on Lurk's grave site under our picture window. Kitty has taken to perching in Lurk's favorite chair and staring out at the statue. Kitty wraps his arms over the chair in exactly the same way Lurk used to sit and look out that window. I'd like to believe that our beloved Lurk has been reincarnated in Kitty.

- - -

(Click here to go directly to the next column)