Judging a Book By It’s Cover

One of my very favorite things in life is when the unexpected twist happens in human form.  It’s that tongue in cheek moment.  It’s when a predisposition you unknowingly have reaches out and smacks you in the face.

It’s the cholla with painted on eyebrows that’s crazy smart, loyal, patient and kind.

My favorite example has been getting to know the football players that come over for dinner. It’s when the biggest guy at the table has the largest heart, or when the soft spoken one has volumes of hardship but remains humble, gracious and when under a ton of pressure, surprisingly calm.

There are two of my co-workers who started off in entry level jobs ten years ago and have worked their way up.  All along the way, they did their jobs patiently and made their spokes in the wheel necessary to keep the company rolling.  I’m so proud of them because a) you would never know it by looking at them and b) all the odds were against them.  Bravo!

It’s sizing someone up wearing head to toe Burberry and driving a Porsche who, when I first met 17 years ago, worked as the night janitor at Wal-Mart. Yes, Robert, I’m talking about you.

It’s the gay male doctor that most female nurses had a crush on because he’s so sweet, nice and caring.  But he doesn’t fit the “stereotype” of being gay.  Not every gay man is gonna “hey girl” you and wear pink shirts with his collar flipped up.

It’s the homeless man that can quote Oscar Wilde.

It’s the 63 year old woman and her 73 year old boyfriend that ride their horses thousands of miles a year. Yes, you Mom.  Literally thousands of miles. People, this isn’t by no means an exaggeration.

It’s the muscular, Harley motorcycle dude who sits with his wife while getting chemo and is almost in tears over how strong his wife has to be.  He says, “I wish it was me rather than my beautiful wife,” who sits there bald, exhausted and slightly gray.  “I would take it on myself any day rather see her have to go through this.” Ernesto and Rosa. She’s now cancer free, by the way.

It’s the dyslexic hyper kid that no one believes will succeed who is now an electrical engineer with a 911 Porsche turbo in the garage.  How come my friends have such fancy cars?  I wanna poke fun at them, but they’ve both worked their asses off to get them so I have a hard time doing that. Pretty boys (still got in a zinger!).

Or the “cool guys” in their “cool trucks” that look at homeless man and say, “I feel so bad for that guy.  What happened in his life to put him in that situation?”

I just love that head snap reaction when you meet the single mom who is able to take care of herself, her children, be gainfully employed and is <gasp> happy.  Good for her!!

Nothing makes me more happy than when a prim and proper lady has the vocabulary of a sailor. Yes you, Vicki.

It’s the 6’10” dude that didn’t play high school basketball, but is an incredibly smart businessman and respected leader. (Wayne)

Or the beauty queen (Nicole) who’s witty, smart, sassy and has impeccable timing.  It doesn’t hurt that the bitch has a banging body and is one of sweetest people ever.Can we all just throw tomatoes at her already?

I am a fan of the underdog and underrated and the people that others passed over and make it.  Yessssss!!!  There are few things that tickle me so.

I noticed and appreciated “this type of person” before my diagnosis and now, ironically, I am one of “them”.  Random medical folks will notice my port scar, size me up and then tilt their head.  I know exactly what they are thinking.  A few brave ones will ask about it. Most of the time, I tell them the truth and then they stand there with their jaw hanging wide open.  I also get the random, “Lori, I heard of your diagnosis, but you look great so everything must be fine, right?”  A random stranger could size me up and NEVER know the fight I’m in; mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally.

I guess the old saying is true… Never ever judge a book by its cover!

Psst… I added the extra ever. 😉


Buckle Up Baby. Welcome to My Roller Coaster.

About two months ago, I realized that I should probably post a medical update as I was getting a lot of questions as to “where I was” medically.  Valid question. I created this blog to quickly keep my buddies informed of my medical condition, but somehow I’ve to taken it in another direction.  A.D.D. at its finest.

It was about that time I wanted to tell you everything was great, but then I started getting pain.  And although I’ve successfully managed the pain itself (mostly thanks to medical cannabis) a side effect is fear.  Fear my tumors were growing. Fear of the unknown. Fear that one day I would start to throw up and then do nothing from that point on but manage it.  But, with a lot of help and a lot of love, I’ve coped and patiently waited.

At my monthly visit with my oncologist last week we discovered that my tumor markers (a blood test that measures the protein my tumor produces) had doubled.  My physician ordered another set of blood tests and scheduled a CT scan.  Unfortunately, the second round of blood work came back and my tumor marker have doubled again.  So it’s now clear that my body is no longer responding to my current chemo regimen.

We thought my only next option was to find a clinical trial in which I could participate.  As my luck would have it, there isn’t a single clinical trial in country for my type of cancer.

So I was confronted with another moment that time stood still.  Could I go to Ruidoso for the baseball tournament this weekend?  Can I go to Canada next month?  Am I out of options?  Do I run to Europe to see what options are there?  Liver transplant in Mexico City?  If I happen to find a clinical trial in South Carolina, who can come with me?

But the good news–and thank goodness there is good news–is that we found another treatment regimen that is an FDA approved chemo that I can get here.  I don’t understand the ins and outs of it yet, but I’ll let you know more of those details once I do.  This is what I do know: the average life expectancy is 20 months.

Now, that might sadden some of you, but it doesn’t sadden me. Not at all.  I’ve been diagnosed for 15 months.  By the time I got diagnosed, I was so sick I felt like I was knocking on Death’s door.  After my fourth round of IV chemo the Grim Reaper was standing behind me.  When I came back from Boston I had no idea how much time I was guaranteed, and I really only lived about six months at a time.  I was terrified that from that moment forward I may never feel “normal” again.  But since then, it’s been quite the contrary.  I’ve felt great!  Look at everything I’ve been able to accomplish, see and experience!

Twenty months buys me the most important gift of all… Time.  Time to research all of the stem cell, polio virus, proton therapy, CBD oil, sage burning, new medicine and old medicine. Time to wait for “options that aren’t even options today” time. Time to love and be loved.  Time to get back to my job which I love, value and appreciate more everyday.  Time to watch more baseball and football.  Time to travel, cook, taste and drink.  More time to kiss my baby and harass my husband.  This is MY time.  And, I will try my damnedest not to take it for granted.

The Exceptional & Then Everyone Else

I’ve almost always have two classifications of people in my life.  Those in the circle and those outside of it.  I’ve never really been able to name this class system so I would sometimes refer to it as the good and the bad, but that never felt right.  In a few heartfelt conversations with my husband and a friend I finally found the terms to describe my thoughts.

In my mind there are two types of people: the exceptional and then everyone else.

There are no set traits or skills that you have possess to be included in my exceptional circle.  It does not matter where you grew up, how much money is your pocket, you political opinions, religious views, the color of your skin or sexual orientation. All that crap really does not matter to me. What matters to me is, “Are you exceptional?”  Are you an exceptional artist, friend, humanitarian, business owner, coach, wife, dad, doctor or just an all-around exceptional person?

Now, judging people to be exceptional (or not) might be both my greatest strength AND my greatest weakness.  I hold high, “exceptional” standards for those around me, both professionally and personally.  It’s not the easiest thing to do, and I don’t always succeed, but being exceptional is important to me. I expect for those around me to be as exceptional as I try to be myself. To be candid, I think that drive to be exceptional is one of the reasons for my success in my profession.

But, when it comes to my personal relationships… well, I decide pretty quickly which circle you are in.  If I pull you into the exceptional circle then the bar gets set high.  Now, expecting my friends to be exceptional isn’t necessarily all about me, because ultimately, I want them to achieve only the best. But when expectations are set so high, it’s easy for me to be disappointed in those who don’t reach them.

My therapist–yes, I have one, and thank you for the recommendation Karin–told me about an AA saying,  “Today’s expectations are tomorrow’s disappointments.”  Because I have such high standards for people around me, it’s easy for me to become disappointed.  So her advice is to have no expectations.  Needless to say, it’s been difficult for me to adopt her advice (but I’m trying!).  So far, it’s been an interesting way to look at things.

At the end of the day, if the standards in my mind are set high it’s really because I want you to be your best self.  For you.  Not for me.

Now… go be exceptional.  Dammit.