Lincoln County News
September 2, 1999

"LifeLines" My journal about living with cancer

by Sandy Labaree

This journal submission describes preparations for our Tour appearance at Corvettes At Carlisle. I receive bad news from my bone scan and tumor marker tests. The restaurant review travels to Old Munich.

August 19, 1999: Today, Dr. Tom calls with the results of my chest x-ray, tumor marker test and bone scan. My chest x-ray is fine, but my bone scan shows a major progression of the cancer into all areas of my bones. In addition, my tumor marker levels have gone from 569 to 861 in one month. I am not surprised as I have had increasing bone pain the past several months. Tom seems quite alarmed by the scan report and the rise in my tumor marker levels and says I should start chemotherapy immediately. He says we should move up my next appointment to Sept. 1st, just after I return from the Carlisle Corvette Show, and I can start my treatment that day. I agree to move my appointment up, but tell Tom I will not start chemotherapy until all my test results are in and I have a chance to discuss the situation fully with him. Next Monday, I will have a CAT scan of my liver and abdomen, plus flat plate x-rays to get a closer look at my tumors in the weight-bearing bones.

I am disappointed by the bad news, but not surprised. I am hoping that my liver scan will show no changes and that the progression of my cancer is limited to the bones. It may make a difference in my course of treatment. I dread going back into chemotherapy knowing that it will definitely drag me down with side effects in addition to my pain problems. I am also concerned that this third regimen of chemotherapy will drop me from most clinical research trials. Obviously, I have many issues to discuss with Tom at my next appointment.

A fun evening offsets today's depressing news. My brother, Ray, my sister-in-law Jo Anne and my niece Laura are taking us to dinner at Robinhood Free Meetinghouse. They are on their way home from a short three day vacation in Bar Harbor. They are accompanied by their friends, John and Marie, and one of Laura's friends, Sarah.

We have an excellent dinner at Robinhood. It's Ray's favorite restaurant and he looks forward to dining at Robinhood during his annual Maine vacation. Robinhood's menu changes daily, though many of the entrees are listed regularly. Our party selected veal in a sauce with artichokes and portabello mushrooms, delmonico prime rib, wiener schnitzel, grilled leg of lamb, and Szechwan delmonico steak. As always, everything was beautifully prepared and presented. I had no room for dessert, but Laura and Sarah shared a delicious looking cream puff with chocolate sauce and strawberries, Ray had fresh berries and Jo Anne had a chocolate mousse.

It was fun to spend some time with Ray and catch up on all his news. His graphics design company keeps him very busy. Laura, now 11, is growing up so quickly and turning into quite a young lady. Her friend, Sarah, will be leaving for France next week as her father has been assigned to a job overseas. Laura will miss her good friend and the two will now have to continue their friendship via e mail.

August 22, 1999: Tonight, Sue and Paul are joining us for a delayed restaurant review. We are returning to the German restaurant we visited with Big Al and Melissa last week. After calling information, I was able to determine the full name of the restaurant and make a reservation. It is called Old Munich Restaurant and Biergarten. It is located in Topsham in the old Cross St. Restaurant building.

As it turns out, we don't need a reservation as it is not too busy this evening. We start out with a basket of warm pretzels. Diners have a choice of pretzels or rolls. Paul and Ben order German beers and Sue and I both choose a glass of dry Riesling wine. For dinner entrees, Paul selects pork chops in a mushroom sauce, Sue and Ben have boiled beef with spinach, and I have veal strips in a white wine and mushroom sauce. Two sides come with dinner and we sample the spaetzel noodles, red cabbage, and German potato salad. Our meals are superb. Paul notes that many of the dishes at the Old Munich Restaurant are less vinegary than many German foods and seem to have more subtle seasonings. For instance, the red cabbage which can be very sweet-sour in taste, is less tangy and has a nice hint of cloves. We save room for dessert and share slices of a German layer cake and a Black Forest cake. All of the entrees are affordably priced, many $12 and under. We plan to make Old Munich a frequent stop.

August 23, 1999: Today, I am having a CAT scan of my liver and abdomen at Midcoast Hospital. I barely manage to swallow the three bottles of scan liquid. I dread this part of the test because the liquid is disgusting. I have added lots of chocolate syrup, but it still doesn't mask the peculiar taste of the barium.

Ben drops me off at the hospital. I sign in and am met by Linda, the CAT lady. I haven't seen her in a year, and she is curious about how I am doing. She says I look great. I tell her that looks are deceiving as I am having a lot of bone pain, much of which I attribute to lying on the bone scan table for an hour last week. I ask Linda if she can pad the table today. She comes back with a large blue pad and sheets to use as a cushion.

Knowing that I don't want to be lying down any longer than necessary, Linda and her associate whip through the scan in no time. Next, it is down to the x-ray department for flat plate x-rays that Tom ordered to study my bone tumors in more detail. Linda follows me with the sheets and blue pad and tells the x-ray technician to use these on the table. She gives me a hug and tells me to hang in there. Tom has ordered a complete set of flat plate x-rays from head to toe. The x-rays go quickly, and mercifully, I am able to get off the table and walk when all is done.

Ben returns to pick me up and then I go home to recover. Drinking all the scan liquid does a number on my stomach and intestines, so I need to rest and recuperate. I am also in the midst of packing for the Carlisle Corvette Show. This is the biggest show of the season and our most important Tour appearance. We will be leaving this Wednesday and making the ten hour trip to Carlisle in one day.

August 25, 1999: My Corvette is packed to overflowing and ready for our nearly 600 mile trip to Carlisle, PA. We will be making a Tour appearance at Corvettes At Carlisle, arguably the largest Corvette event in the country. Thousands of people will attend the 3 day show and walk the 20 plus miles of booth and exhibit space at the Carlisle Fairgrounds. I have a very special appearance this year. First, my car and I have been chosen to be part of the prestigious Chip's Choice, usually a group of highly valuable and collectible Corvettes. This year, in addition to several collectible cars, Chip has chosen 8 well-known Corvette women and their cars. I am honored to be chosen and my car will represent the most recent model Corvette (the 5th Generation or in Corvette terminology, the C-5). Also I will participate in the Celebrity Luncheon, be a guest and speaker at the Fashion Show, a Celebrity Judge, and attend the Special Auction to benefit the American Cancer Society. I am particularly excited about the Auction. I had written Carlisle Productions last October to request that they consider the American Cancer Society as their special charity this year at Corvettes At Carlisle. I got my wish and now Carlisle's huge auction will offer a wide variety of special Corvette items and memorabilia to be auctioned off with all proceeds to benefit the Society.

We leave the house around 6:15 this am. Poor Lurk had seen the hand-writing on the walls: suitcases. Lurk knows that suitcases mean he will be alone for a couple of days, or he'll go to camp at the kennel, or he'll visit Aunt Mary Ann and Uncle Rich. Since we will be gone for only a few days, Sue has agreed to feed and check up on him. Lurk will be much happier in his own house. It is less of an interruption of his feline routine of sleeping and eating.

Today, was a long drive especially since I felt car sick. I usually don't have this problem unless I am reading or working on my laptop computer. I worked for maybe an hour on my computer before I felt ill. I still felt queasy and dizzy after we arrived which makes me think I might be sick with a stomach flu or perhaps I haven't fully recovered from the scan test on Monday.

August 26, 1999: I got nearly 12 hours of sleep last night, hoping to throw off what must be a stomach flu. I have a shaky start this morning, but manage to help set up my car and our booth in the Exhibition Hall at the Fairgrounds. Ben has quite a cleaning job as we came through rain last night and drove through the muddy Fairgrounds today. We have a most prominent display spot and everyone on the Corvettes At Carlisle staff is very helpful. It is obvious that we and our Tour are very special guests. A few folks ask me if I have seen the Show program. When I finally got a chance to open the goody bag and leaf through the program, I know why they have asked. There are several wonderful references to the Tour and my cancer awareness mission, and a special invitation from Chip to support the Benefit Auction for the American Cancer Society. I am looking forward to what will undoubtedly be the biggest fundraising effort of our entire Tour.

- - -

(Click here to go directly to the next column)