Pancreatic Pixie Cut

I don’t value my hair nearly as much as most women. Truth be told, I think it’s a pain. Oh, and I’m terrible at fixing it into a consistent style. The past few days, I’ve looked through some old pictures and realized there aren’t a whole lot of me with my hair down–mostly because I’m terrible at doing it! I’m a pony tail and braid kinda girl. I mean, I didn’t really figure out how to apply make up until my 30s.

Years ago I figured out that I had the good fortune of a lot of hair and it grew quite fast. Since then, I’ve been growing it out and donating it to Locks of Love on a regular basis. I was on the tail end of a ‘grow’ cycle for Locks of Love in January. As I prepared to cut off my hair for donation, I went as far as to set up a consultation and then schedule my appointment. But the week of my appointment, I felt so sick, I cancelled it. The following week, I was diagnosed with the damn pan can. Once I saw my long locks flash before my eyes, I decided to hang on to them as long as I could.

From my understanding, chemotherapy has come a long way the past few decades. So far, in fact, that not everyone actually loses their hair. I thought I might have a chance to keep mine during my therapy. But once I saw my fellow chemo patients at the cancer center didn’t actually believe that mine would last. Everyone in the room was bald, except for the newbies. My hair hung on for almost three weeks.

Right after my diagnosis I asked my bonus mom to take family pictures while I still had a full head of hair. Even though I don’t fuss with my hair as much as other women, it doesn’t mean I’m not just the teeniest bit vain. So please humor me by taking a moment to walk down memory lane with me while we remember my mop. I feel like there should be music in the background. Pick your favorite tune.
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It’s high school graduation with Christopher in 1998.

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With Ashly at a birthday party.

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In Napa Valley with an awesome nosh platter to go with my wine.

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My bonus mom took this one of me and Jeremiah.

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With Nicole at a family dance party.

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With Jeremiah a few weeks ago.

Now this week, my thick hair started to fall out. It got to be so bad, I had to schedule an appointment to cut it off. My girlfriend Tenniel was nice enough to help me on her day off and deal with my mess of a head. She convinced me to go with a pixie cut since I didn’t have any bald spots. This is probably just an in between phase before being bald, but at this moment I dig my new do. Thanks for the wonderful advice and killer skills, T!

And Bridget, thank you for holding my hand through what could have been a heartbreaking moment, but wasn’t at all.

So tell me guys, what do you think of the pixie cut?

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Perfection

I often joke that every parent in the world believes that their child is perfect.  I’m no different.  But to really prove my point about my Jeremiah Cole, I’ve listed the reasons below.

  1. He is kind.  At a Christmas exchange at school he got a gift that wasn’t quite for him, but he knew the neighbor kid would like it so he walked over and left in on his doorstep.  He didn’t tell me.  He didn’t tell the other kid. The kid’s Dad and I put it together weeks later.
  2. He’s funny.
  3. When he gets excited he’s a Mexican jumping bean.  Bounce, bounce, bounce.
  4. He loves music and has a heck of a memory remembering lyrics.
  5. He is smart but humble.  The kid has an IQ of 127.  He scored a 155 on the numeric operation section.
  6. He likes to cuddle with his mommy.
  7. He’s an athlete.  He’s a lefty and a switch hitter.
  8. He sings in the shower.
  9. He’s so dang cute!
  10. He can watch fashion police with me and critique dresses and then change the channel to a football game and call out a nice stiff arm.
  11. He loves food, cooking and culinary adventure.  You would be amazed at what he had eaten and enjoyed by age three.
  12. He’s a dancer.
  13. His biggest objective in life is to have fun.
  14. His smile lights up the room.
  15. When he sees flowers growing, he always picks one and give it to me.
  16. He has made the job of raising him easy and a privilege.

I love you, Jeremiah.

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My Silent Soliders

I have the good fortune of working as the marketing director for St. Clair Winery.  My husband has worked there about nine years and I’ve been there about six.  Over the years we’ve had a bird’s eye view of the company’s growth. We’ve watched it grow from a small family business in a sleepy southern New Mexico town, to a thriving and competitive corporation.  Due to the diversity of its portfolio, the winery’s umbrella casts a shadow not only in New Mexico but nationwide.

If the body of St. Clair’s business is wine, then its soul is made up of the people who work there.  As cliché as it sounds, I really do feel part of a team. In spending so much time with one company; I’ve built relationships that will last a lifetime.  Before working in marketing I worked in sales and many of my customers became like family to me.  I’m still close with them.  A few of them were even guests at my wedding. Now, does our extended wine family get along perfectly every day? Of course not. But in the course of my absence from work, I’ve found myself missing my St. Clair team more and more.

Like any good team, I know they’ve got my back.  Without a shadow of a doubt, it would take just one phone call, one text message, or one passenger pigeon telling the team I need them and they would come running.  Fortunately it hasn’t come to that. Right now they are my silent soldiers.

So dear friends at the winery, please know that I think of you every single day.  Your silent strength is real.  It’s almost tangible.  It motivates me.  Once this is all behind us and I am back to the grind, I promise to roll my eyes less and smile more.  Oh, and I promise to make you even more sweet treats than usual.  With me not around, I wonder if you’re all getting skinny?

 

It’s Three O’Clock Somewhere

My good friend Dee Dee told me that she and a group of friends have started a prayer circle for me.  She warned me that this wasn’t just any ol’ prayer circle.  She’s an action kinda gal!  If you know Dee Dee then you know exactly what I am talking about.  She and her group of friends have set alarms on their phones for three o’clock every afternoon, so matter where they are or what they are doing, they can stop for a second to say a little prayer.  The thought is that by everyone taking action at the same time, the effect of the prayers will be multiplied.

Since it’s such a sweet and genuine act of kindness I could not help but share.  If you are so inclined to join Dee Dee and friends at three o’clock, I’m happy to scoop up all the love, kindness and positive energy for my journey.  If prayer ain’t your gig, then positive vibes?  Pour a li’l out for your home girl?  Burn a candle or some sage?

Now, Dee Dee is also one of my (many) friends to proclaim, “It’s five o’clock somewhere,” when cracking open a cold beer on a hot day, no matter the time. It cracks me up, that in this journey, the phrase, “it’s three o’clock somewhere” now means something too.  It’s too fun not to post.

Thank you sweet Dee Dee.

Chemo: Week One. Check!

Hello friends. I wanted to give everyone a quick medical update.

I started chemotherapy on Monday.  I was there for about eight hours.  One of the chemo meds and I didn’t get along so well, but after some other meds and slowing down the rate of infusion, all went well.  My wonderful and patient husband was by my side.  I left a little jittery but slept well that night.

Tuesday was a shorter day.  I was only there for about four hours.  I felt really good after the shorter treatment.  I felt so good, that with the assistance of my mother in law, I made two pies.  One of the chemo nurses is a baker and talking with her brought out my competitive spirit, so I had to make the two.  I took one to the cancer center the next day; my hungry family devoured the other.  

Wednesday was a short day like Tuesday, and my mother in law came with me that day.  Of course, there was a delicious pie in the room.

I took a few selfies during each day of chemo, which was unusual for me because I’m not a huge selfie taker. Then again, the chemo is unusual for me.  Anyway, I sent them to a few friends, and the response was so positive, I decided to post them here. So here they are!

Day One:

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Day Two:

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Day Three:

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On another note, a young woman I coached on a high school dance to about ten years ago, Erin (Wright) Turner, passed away yesterday after two battles with malignant melanoma cancer.  All I can hope is that Erin is dancing with an umbrella to Michael Jackson right now. It’s by far my favorite memory of her, and how I want to remember her.  Besos sweet girl.

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My Secret Weapon

In the cast of characters of my life there is one you almost never hear about. Her job isn’t sexy. She doesn’t make a ton of money. She certainly doesn’t get all the credit she deserves.  She is my babysitter. And she is my secret weapon.

She was my roommate’s babysitter / housekeeper / nanny while I was in college. About the time I got pregnant, my friend’s kids had grown up enough and were at the age they didn’t need her as much.  So I asked her to help me with Jeremiah, and now she has been a part of my household for the last seven and a half years.  I went back to work when my baby was four weeks old.  I worked long days, but felt completely comfortable with her around.

After about four years in my last career, I was over worked, over stressed and over that particular job. But for some reason I didn’t have the courage to leave. One Thursday morning my babysitter had arrived and I was about to leave when my 18 month old came in the kitchen and mumbled something like, “Momma, I hungee”.  I replied, “No problem baby, what do you want?”  He looked at me with his finger pointed at his babysitter and said, “Not you Momma. That one.” My babysitter looked at me with big watery eyes and told me she had been meaning to tell me that he starred calling her mom but didn’t know how to do it.

I grabbed my purse with my tears held back and got in my car. I cried ALL the way to work.  After pulling myself together enough to get through the morning, I texted a friend to go to lunch and then cried all the way to the restaurant.  Joshua (one of my Gomez gems) met me, and within a few minutes I was in tears again.  When the waiter came by, he ordered a bottle of wine. Joshua made me laugh and I started to feel better–partly because of the laughter and partly because of my little lunch buzz.  For a split second I thought to myself that I might be able to continue in my crazy job.  But as I looked into my glass, I realized the only way I could would be to drink a bottle of wine at lunch everyday.  I knew I wasn’t in a healthy situation and I needed to leave.

The next day I texted my OMLO that I was having a terrible day and needed to talk.  She sat me down on her back porch, and gave with a bottle of Corona and an open ear.  After listening to me whine and cry about my job, how much I worked, and how this particular breakdown had started, she wrote me a prescription for Xanax and told me to take the weekend to get my shit together.

I did. I walked into work on Monday morning and quit, all without another job lined up or much of a savings account.  It was the best thing I could have done.

Despite my son starting to call the babysitter “Mom,” I never got jealous of her. Instead, I felt lucky that my son had two women he loved enough to call mom.  It’s a term of endearment and if he wanted to use it, who was I to stop him?

Now my poor babysitter has had more than her fair share of grief.  In 2009 her middle child was shot and killed.  In 2012 her youngest child was in an altercation which ended with him shooting and killing another young man.  As devastated as we all were by the news of her tragedies, they really gave me a different perspective. When we hear news like what happened to her sons, we never really think about the mothers of those kids–at least, I hadn’t up to that point. One might think it’s just about thugs killing thugs.  But more than likely there are moms behind those kids who end up with broken hearts and their lives turned upside down.  But even with a broken heart (times two), she was strong. She continued to come to work, to keep my house picked up, to be a part of our household, and to help raise my son.  For that, I’m so grateful.

Just a few months ago my son called her mom in front of me again.  I gave him a hard time about it, like I do most times.  He looked right at me and said, “I’m never going to stop calling her that. So you might as well just get over it.” Point taken little boy. I often say that my life’s biggest lessons come from a forty pound person.

I was reminded today how important she is in my life while she washed my hair.  Like she has been for the past seven and a half years, she will be in the shadows on the journey I’m taking. I’m a lucky girl to have such a great secret weapon.

I believe…

I believe…
… I am strong
… I am loved
… I am a fighter
… in standing up for my convictions
… in paying it forward
… in being kind
… in choosing my battles
… that friends are the family you choose
… I am extremely lucky to have the job I have with a company that has opened not only their doors but their hearts to my family
… it took me a decade to truly realize how grateful I am for my husband
… my son is perfect
… most of the world’s problems can be solved over a bowl of chips and salsa
… that feeding hungry boys not only feeds their bellies but their souls
… that if above prayer doesn’t work, to resort to booze (preferably New Mexico wine).

And I believe I will beat this.

Port! Wait, not that kind…

When one says Port, I say, “Hell yeah!”  I can tell you ALL about it.  Port is a kind of wine that originated in Portugal.  It’s a high alcohol, generally very sweet red wine. American wineries can no longer call their fortified wine “Port” unless it’s been grandfathered in by the Tax and Trade Bureau.  I can tell you all about the stemware needed to serve Port properly, and I’ve got lists of foods to enjoy along side it.  My fondest memory of Port was when a group of gals and I were at a wine and cheese pairing.  Let’s just say a co-worker of mine fell in love with the sweet elixir and then one of the hosts feel in love with her–thanks for the memory M!

Within the last week people started talking to me about another kind of port. One of my doctors told me, “Lori, we’ve scheduled you for a port.”

Hold on just one second.  They scheduled a time for me to go to the hospital and drink Port? I thought booze was out of the picture.  But YES, I’d take some Port drinking about now.  What??? Not the case?

The kind of port they’re talking about is really called a portacath.  Tuesday, I underwent a procedure where a small device was placed under my collar bone. Medication (such as chemotherapy) can be administered and blood can be drawn via my port.  With it, there is no need for my arm, hand or wrist to be pricked over and over again.

I woke up the next day feeling so good I drug my family to NMSU football pro day.  But that, my friends, is another post for another day.  Take care until then.

Liar, Liar chemo pants on fire

After many tests, consultations and lots of consideration from both my team of physicians and family, we’ve decided to hit this pan can hard with a round of aggressive chemo.  Originally, we were all optimistic that it the cancer was very slow moving, but now know that’s not necessarily the case. I’m obviously nervous about chemo, but still optimistic.  I have A LOT going for me.  I’m young and besides this damn pan can, I’m very healthy.

It was so easy to tell my friends and family, “Look at how good I look and feel. I’ve got this!”  Beyond friends, it was easiest to deliver that message to my son.  My sweet baby shouldn’t have to deal with nonsense like chemotherapy.  He should only be worrying about which bat he is going to use at baseball practice, not his Momma. 

But when I start worrying about him, I remember that he and I are cut from the same cloth.  We are strong beyond our own expectations.  What my son has had to endure in his seven short years is more than most people face in a lifetime.  But again, he’s not just anyone.  He’s my tough, strong, perfect baby boy.

On a much lighter note, for the first time in my life I’m glad to have a little extra junk in my trunk.  It should help me avoid getting too thin from the chemo.