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Birthday girl

I almost began this post with an image from a recent maternity session, but then realized that it—along with the title of this post—would probably give you the wrong idea. So I’ll save that photo for later.

Things are good and bad here in Sharkeyville. J.P. and I went to Disney World with Character Builder and her family recently. That’s CB’s daughter above—she turned five while we were there, and was very excited to wear her new Cinderella dress when we had breakfast with the princesses on her birthday.

Vacation was lots of fun. As you may know, WDW is J.P.’s favorite place on the face of the earth. And it was fun to experience it through the kids’ eyes. For a blow-by-blow recap (and tons of photos), click on over to J.P.’s place.

I’ve been experiencing a little flurry of activity with my photography biz. I did two maternity sessions in March, and have already completed one of the newborn sessions. Now I’m just waiting for the little girl below to arrive so I can go spend some time with her.

So that’s the good stuff. Unfortunately, there’s some not-so-good stuff too. I know Character Builder has been planning a post about this, so I *think* it’s okay to mention it here. Last month, her nine-year-old daughter went flying off her scooter and got a concussion. As part of the treatment and diagnosis process, they did a CT scan and discovered a cyst on her brain. It’s not life-threatening, but she will need surgery this summer to drain it. UPDATE: Read the full story over at CB’s.

And speaking of surgery, it sounds like my mom may be in for some more. We learned yesterday that her ovarian cancer has returned. We’re waiting for the results of her CT scan to know the full extent of it.

So if you have some extra good thoughts or prayers that you could send along on my family’s behalf, we’d really appreciate it.

Pomp & Circumstance

I saw my radiation oncologist today for a routine checkup. I hadn’t seen him in a year, and he said that since he’s not really doing anything for me anymore, I don’t have to see him again. WOOHOO!! I’ve graduated!

Five!

Five

I did it! I survived! No, no . . . not that five year thing. I survived the re-birthday party we had on Saturday to celebrate the five year thing. I think we had about 55 people total, and thanks to your suggestions I think everyone had a good time.

The celebration actually started on Wednesday, when my co-workers sent me a video (link removed) that they’d made. It was so cool!

My mom arrived on Thursday, and we were able to have some fun in the midst of the party prep chaos. Shoe shopping and pedicures were involved, and my broken toe (which I stubbed again on Saturday) is now painted a lovely shade of pink. It’s a nice complement to the purple bruise.

Friends from Chicago arrived on Friday, and we met them and some other mutual friends for dinner on Friday night. Then we all came back to our place for dessert, games, and waaaaayy too much Ninja Warrior. They must’ve been having a marathon this weekend, because that show was on EVERY time we turned on the TV. And it’s oh-so-easy to get sucked into it.

Oh, so you want to hear about the PARTY! Let’s see . . .

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Party time

Birthday cake

Okay, internets, I need your help! We’re having a shindig next month to celebrate my five years of cancer-freeness. Tonight J.P. and I put down a deposit on a hall, and now it’s time to figure out a few details. I’m working on the guest list and invitation angle, but we need to figure out the food, drink, and entertainment. I *think* I have a theme to work around, and I’m curious to hear your ideas on how to pull it off.

Since we’re celebrating five years, I’m leaning toward a Five-year-old Birthday Party theme. I have a few ideas already . . . what do you think?

  1. Pink. It’s a cancer party—gotta have pink. But no pink ribbons! I draw the line there. I’m thinking of asking people to wear something pink.
  2. Games. When I was a kid, we played games at birthday parties. So what “kid” games would you play with a bunch of grown-ups (despite the theme, I would prefer not to have children there)? My idea was Pin the Boobs on the Sharkey, but I’m not sure how that would go over with J.P.’s aunts. He thought Hoots and Ladders would be fun, but it’s not really practical since it’s a board game. So what other game ideas do you have? A pinata? Musical chairs? Relay races—what kind?
  3. Food. Now here’s where I’m kinda stuck. What kind of food to serve? I’m thinking we’ll start around 7:30 or 8:00, because I don’t want to have to serve dinner. Would you serve kid food? If so, what kind? PB&J, mac & cheese, and hot dogs seem a little too casual. And they don’t necessarily go well with mixed drinks (we’ll have a bartender).
  4. Cotton candy? I’m thinking of renting a cotton candy machine. Because kids love it AND it’s pink. But will adults love it? One bite is generally enough for me. What do you think?
  5. A “signature drink.” You know how when Oprah and Rachael Ray are talking about parties, they always say you should have one fun drink and then beer and wine so you don’t have to worry about stocking a full bar. We will have a full bar, but I’d still like to have a signature drink. Something pink, of course. What would be good?
  6. Decorations & favors. So far, I’ve got nothin’ here other than the color scheme.
  7. What else? What are some things I’m forgetting?

So let’s say you were invited to a party like this (maybe you will be!). Would you bring a gift? Because you know that’s the only reason I’m doing this, right? Okay, okay. Not really. But I am curious about your answer to this question because I DON’T want gifts. If people are thinking of getting me something, I would rather have them donate the money to cancer research. I’m thinking about putting that on the invitation, but I don’t want people to think I’m expecting gifts. If I received an invitation like this, I’m not sure it would even occur to me to bring a gift. Opinions?

All right, please get your creative juices flowing. Talk to your five-year-old (or your husband!)—what does he think would be fun?

Neglect – for good reason

Afternoon light

The blog neglect continues at Sharkey Malarkey, this time because I’m focused on other things. Like having a CT scan last Friday to find out if my cancer has returned. It hasn’t!! I’m not officially at the five-year mark yet, but it’s close enough for me.

They say you’re considered “cured” at five years. But when does the clock start? On the day of diagnosis? The day you have surgery to get rid of the tumor? The day you finish treatment? I don’t remember hearing the starting gun, so I’m not sure when you’d say the actual day is. My second tumor was found on April 23, 2002, so that’s the day I’m using.

But ultimately, I don’t think it matters. It’s not like the anniversary date is some magic threshold to be crossed, and beyond it there’s no more cancer. It doesn’t work that way. While my risk is a lot lower now, it could still happen–at five years and one day, at seven years, or even after 10 years. Worrying about a recurrence won’t prevent it, so I don’t plan to spend much time worrying. Life’s too short!

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Face of Hope

msn

You know, for some reason I really hate it when bloggers write posts to tell me to go read a post they’ve written on another site. Occasionally I’ll click the link and read the story, but I usually don’t.

Today the shoe is on the other foot, and I’m pointing you to a site where I’ve written something.

A few weeks ago, Sarcastic Journalist sent me an email to let me know that MSN was looking for women to tell their breast cancer stories. I emailed the contact person, she sent me some questions, and I sent my answers back along with some photos.

They selected my story along with seven other women’s, and they’re all featured in the Lifestyle section as part of the Breast Cancer Awareness Month coverage. I’m not telling which one is mine because you should read all the stories. Besides, if you’ve spent any time around here, it won’t take you long to figure it out.

If you’ve ever wondered what my first name really is, or if you’ve wondered what I look like, now’s your chance to find out!

What is it with September 12?

Do you remember when you were a kid, and your parents would say things that would make you mad or unhappy? You know, “parent” things:

  • When complaining that my sister was doing something to bug me: “She’s only doing that because she knows it annoys you. Ignore her, and she’ll quit.”
  • At a relative’s house for Sunday dinner: “I don’t care if you’re not very hungry. You’d better eat now, because I’m not fixing anything when we get home.”
  • “Well at least eat the meat.”
  • “Because I said so.”
  • “Life isn’t fair.”

Back then, I vowed never to say such things to my future children. But there’s a reason why these phrases have survived the test of time. Either because A) they’re true, or B) parents don’t know what else to say in those moments of frustration, and their own parents’ words slip out of their mouths before they can stop themselves.

My mom’s favorite phrase was the last one: Life isn’t fair. We learned that one early, and we heard it often. Those words haven’t been far from my mind in the last week or so.

Mom called last Tuesday night. They think her (ovarian) cancer is back. She’s having surgery today, and will be in the hospital for 5-7 days. Depending on what they find, they may want to do more chemo and/or radiation.

She had plans for this fall. She was going to come out for a visit with me and J.P. She was going to take a trip to Salt Lake City with her sisters to visit some longtime family friends. She had all kinds of plans. Plans that will have to be scrapped, or at least put off temporarily.

If you’re so inclined, I’d really appreciate it if you’d send up a few prayers, good thoughts, vibes . . . whatever you want to call it . . . for Lurking Lucy* today. Because life isn’t fair.

*Click here if you want to read the post that goes with her comment.

***UPDATE***
Mom came through the surgery pretty well. The suspicious spot on the CT scan did turn out to be cancer. But they got it all, and they didn’t find any anywhere else. So the news was as good as could be expected. Thanks for your good thoughts and prayers today. Stay tuned, and please keep ’em coming—chemo and/or radiation are probably in her future.