cancer. it's not just an astrological sign anymore.

31.12.05

in the name of new beginnings

later on tonight, hubby and i will be attending a new year's bash with our dear old friends from high school. this is a somewhat regular occurrence as our group always tries to make even the routine get-togethers as festive as possible.

however, this won't be the typical new year's party, for 2005 hasn't been a typical year. no, instead of dick clark and the ball in times sqaure, instead of the old man making way for the brightly smiling babe of 2006, we are going to have fire. a bright, hot, cleansing fire--with 2005 calendars as fuel. the theme for tonight, my friends, is "say goodbye to a shitty year." while we watch the paper slowly return to ash and dust, the many doctors' appointments, hospital stays, tears, and frustrations of 2005 shall dissolve from our minds and hearts. we will start 2006 with renewed strength and determination. this is the year that the world becomes ours. this is the year that we shall beat cancer.

happy new years to you all, and i will burn a calendar for each of you...

posted by amanda @ 7:52 PM 4 comments

28.12.05

marathon update

the preparation for the 2006 honolulu marathon has begun! i start training next week, and i finally found a user-friendly method for leukemia/lymphoma society donations. the donations will not be collected through the "team in training" marathon program, but will instead be directed to the society's national campaign to be distributed to chapters across the country.

oh, and one more obstacle...the marathon begins at 5:00 am hawaiian standard time. 5:00 am?!? i'm usually not out of bed before 8:00, let alone running 26 miles. but if there was ever a cause that was worth hauling my ass outta bed for, this is it.

see the header "running for a cause" in the sidebar for more details.

posted by amanda @ 8:28 AM 1 comments

27.12.05

bah, humbug

i am a mean, heartless, even shocking person.

or at least i was while christmas day was being ushered into north america.

at a friend's house, i was reconnecting with some dear girls from school whom are in fact more like sisters to me. although we don't see each other often anymore, these three are the people in my life with whom i can sit down after months of being apart and immediately pick up where we had left off. no topic of conversation is taboo and we have seen each other through all of the ups and downs of the past 15 years.

we were chatting around a christmas cake in the kitchen. good company, food, and spirits reflected the downright jolly atmosphere. the four of us were taking turns discussing our plans with family for later on that day, when the following exchange brought the gaiety to a grinding halt:

"so, amanda, what are you doing with family for the holiday?"

"well, we are eating at my gram's...i was worried about her hosting a meal for so many when she's not feeling well, but things seem to be falling into place..."

"wait--what's wrong with your gram?"

"oh, i didn't tell you? we found out that she has breast cancer."

(insert various random expressions of disbelief and hopes/wishes for her health to return here)

"well," one friend continued,"i'm sorry that this happened to her after everything else..."

i took a breath and didn't quite know what to say. it's funny how one can travel this road so many times and still feel totally unrehearsed.

"well...what can you say? shit happens."

all three stopped what they were doing and looked at me in disbelief. all of the sudden, the air was heavy with the unspoken...

"that's a hell of a thing to say!"
"how could you say that about your gram?"
etc. etc.

but the more i thought about it, what WAS i supposed to say? yes, it stinks that cancer struck the two people closest to me in one year. yeah, it's not fair. yes, i am very worried for her...her cancer is highly treatable, but she has several other factors working against her that will help to determine the outcome of her treatment. i could have expounded on the fine details of gram's cancer for a half hour or more, but i doubt that any of it would have been what my friends wanted to hear.

since i so egregiously broke the unwritten rules of Discussing Cancer, i have a question to pose to the various friends/acquaintances/family members who haven't travelled this path and expect me to make the same old small talk about how (insert patient's name here) is "doing so well in spite of his/her treatments..."

WHY THE HELL SHOULD I HAVE TO SUGARCOAT ANY OF THIS FOR YOUR BENEFIT!?!?!?

posted by amanda @ 12:34 AM 7 comments

22.12.05

synopsis

2005 was an eventful year, a year full of manic highs and bone-crushing lows. what a difference a year makes: last new year's eve was spent in a carefree haze, watching the fireworks from our 22nd-story apartment in pearl city, oahu, calming down killer and thug (our pet rabbit and kitty, respectively). a year later, we are living in yet another new city, 5,000 miles away from our last hometown; our charming little apartment over pearl harbor belongs to someone else; and killer and thug are no longer with us. the return of hubby's leukemia has influenced every facet of our life in a way that is truly mind-boggling. following is my meager attempt to quantify the sea change that was 2005.


january: after six months of scrimping and waiting, hubby and i finally went on our honeymoon to hawaii volcanoes national park. a truly magical week of hiking, marshmallow roasting, and snuggling together to beat the nighttime temperatures of 30-40 degrees ensued.

february: after ignoring some now-ominous signs, and a misdiagnosis by an idiot of a primary care physician, hubby's relapse was diagnosed on saturday, the 19th. treatment started the following wednesday.

march & april: hubby began a routine of one week inpatient at the hospital, and one week off. it wasn't planned this way, but there were several complications along the way that mandated his hospital stays. when traditional chemotherapy regimens failed to cease the production of blast cells, a marrow transplant was deemed necessary. our wonderful oncologist subsequnetly began the process of enrolling us in the john hopkins transplant program. the pressure of performing at my job, acting as a caregiver and advocate for my husband, making arrangements for the move, finding a new job in the vicinity of johns hopkins, keeping our family members and friends posted on hubby’s condition, and caring for household duties took its toll on me. i struggled to do it all and felt that i was succeeding at nothing.

may: on the third, hubby and i got our official orders to report to a military base near washington, dc. move date was the 30th--we only had 27 days of lead time during the height of pcs season (when most military members and affiliates move to new bases) to make all of the necessary arrangements to move (the standard is 60 days). much hilarity ensued.

june: hubby, thug, and i arrived in maryland, i started my new job, and we met the head of our medical team in baltimore. (killer was adopted by a dear friend of mine on oahu, as many commercial carriers will not allow rabbits to fly.) we also adopted a new kitty from our local humane society, makoa. we spent less than a week in temporary housing, and began patiently waiting for our furniture, clothes, and car to arrive off of the cargo ship. it all came during the last week of the month.

july: after receiving some startling letters from the national bone marrow registry ("there is not a complete match for you in our database at this time"), our medical team decided to go with a non-matched transplant. hubby's older brother, jeremy, agreed to be the tissue donor. i broke the news to my new employer, who was understandably concerned but not too happy. we settled into our new apartment.

august: medical tests, medical tests, medical tests. oh, and when we weren't running back and forth between three medical facilities, i organized my first two major events at work: a week-long theatre camp and a family fitness day. also, hubby and i began making the necessary arrangements for our temporary move to baltimore (our third move since may). thug, the best feline to have ever graced either maryland or hawaii, passed away prematurely from feline infectious peritonitis.

september: with the tranplant date looming in our minds, we did what any responsible adults would do: we ditched town and went to the beach for labor day weekend. hubby and i learned how to pick boiled crabs, got our pictures taken on the boardwalk, swam in the ocean until we were quite happily sunburnt and exhausted, and capped off the whole experience with a hand-in-hand walk up the beach. we moved to baltimore to begin the transplant process the following friday. after two weeks of premeds, september 20 was the apex of our existence: this was the day that we had been preparing for since march. it was also this day that would change our lives forever afterward. the one-liter bag of marrow that dripped into his veins at a maddeningly slow rate was hubby's last chance.

october: hubby spent the entire month in baltimore. i was there as caregiver during the week, and went back to waldorf on the weekends to work and check on our other apartment while his dad watched over him. hubby became neutropenic due to the meds, forcing us to stay inside and sterilize everything we could. the neutropenia proceeded to permanently warp the way we viewed the world.

november: hubby's white cells came back!! our release date from the transplant program was 23 november. his red cells still were lagging, but arrangements were made to have him monitored at a local facility. after thanksgiving, i returned to work.

december: hubby's new marrow had trouble making the proper amount of red blood cells. (this is still ongoing, but getting gradually better.) his hair is coming back. in three short months, he will be able to start looking for work--and we might start actually being able to pass for a "normal" couple.

one never plans to come down with a life-threatening illness. our lives, as have many others, took many unexpected turns in 2005. leukemia has moved us across the country, changed the direction of our careers, and forced us to postpone or altogether cancel our long-term plans. it challenged the patterns of interaction that had been laid out during the first months of our marriage.

hubby's relapse contested our priorities. i don't equate "what i do" with "who i am" anymore. much to my supervisor's dismay, it's just not worth it to me anymore to put in long, unpaid hours in the name of advancement and success. my success--no, my LIFE--is at home, cozied up under his favorite quilt, getting stronger and healthier every day.

to those of you who are still reading this manifesto, if you carry nothing else away, please remember this: never take anything for granted. although we would like to believe otherwise, human beings' mortality is a fragile thing. there is no guarantee that you will wake up to see tomorrow--and it doesn't matter if you always wear your seatbelt, eat your veggies, or floss. the only way to truly acknowledge this fact is to live each day as fully as you possibly can. eat a cookie for breakfast every once in a while. do something random and crazy at least once a month. reconnect with old friends. challenge your own boundaries, fears, and prejudices. you may not get the opportunity to do this tomorrow, a week, or a year from now.

some say that i now harbor a preoccupation with death. i would argue that i have just begun to live. in the name of new life, happy holidays to you all. may 2006 be a much brighter year than 2005 was.

posted by amanda @ 9:45 AM 3 comments

18.12.05

inspiration

the following is an excerpt from one my favorite poems, "still i rise," by the esteemed maya angelou. although the poem was originally intended to describe the african-american triumph over slavery, the text runs much deeper and serves as a template for the attitude that hubby and i have tried to maintain throughout his treatment. please read, share, and i hope that you may draw the same strength from these words as i have.


You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

posted by amanda @ 11:39 PM 1 comments

16.12.05

acs web badge

you might have noticed the american cancer society web badge that i put up in my profile box earlier this week. the specifics of this particular project is to create an online awareness community. here's the fine details, courtesy of acswebbadge.org.
What does it mean to say "I Fight Cancer"?

"When you display an "I Fight Cancer" badge on your blog, you commit to one or more of the following:

-Write a blog entry on your experience with cancer (click here for ideas)
-Invite 5 bloggers to display the badge
-Talk to your friends and family about getting screened for cancer
-Wear a matching American Cancer Society wrist band
-Get involved in local American Cancer Society events and programs, like Relay For Life or Making Strides Against Breast Cancer.
-Or, make a donation."

since i already have #1 covered, this is my challenge to you: be one of the next five blogs to display this on your site! there are seven different badges to choose from. i chose silver for cancer survivors because there wasn't a leukemia badge.

please consider posting this to you website.

<---end of public service announcement--->

posted by amanda @ 8:27 AM 1 comments

15.12.05

update on gram

my gram had her first appointment with the oncologist who's responsible for her chemotherapy regimen today. she will be on a three-drug cocktail, to be administered once every three weeks for six months. gram either couldn't remember or didn't want to share her medication list, so i don't know exactly what she will be getting.

although i consider hubby and i well-versed in the minutaie of cancer treatment, it amazes me how much treatment regimens can vary for different types of the disease. i feel as this is a whole new experience, and am sorry that i can't answer more of her questions.

she's going into everything with a feisty attitude though. she's already planning a family do-rag decorating contest, and has several wigs picked out in case her hair falls out (one of her top selections is a short, red, curly one; red is not her natural color, but she said she wanted the "lucille ball look.") attitude alone won't be enough to carry her through this journey--but it's a good start.

posted by amanda @ 12:22 AM 1 comments

14.12.05

good news!

cary over at cancer news watch has just given my husband and i the best xmas present ever--the national cancer institute just announced a plan to map the entire cancer genome. this could mean prevention and improved treatment for all types of cancer, but is especially meaningful for acute leukemia patients, as that cancer is almost entirely genetic in cause. finding the genetic aberration that results in marrow spewing out blast cells could mean an END to leukemia for good. maybe we'll see the eradication of leukemia in our lifetimes--what an incredible idea to think about.

read more here.

posted by amanda @ 9:22 AM 0 comments

11.12.05

real cancer, real lives #9


real cancer, real lives #9 is up over at a woman of many parts--and this one is a doozy. please go and check out the humorous, angry, and poignant posts that make up this week's carnival. and if you'd like to submit for next week, you may do so here.

update: today is the first day that hubby was able to wash his hair with shampoo! after being bald since march, this is a major accomplishment. :)

posted by amanda @ 9:48 AM 2 comments

10.12.05

run amanda run

my plans to conquer the 2006 honolulu marathon in the name of leukemia research and patient support has hit a bit of a snag. after a few days of playing phone tag with the wonderful directors of the maryland team in training chapter, i finally got the news that my chapter does not have a team to go to hawaii. the only winter 2006 events that the maryland chapter sponsors are in arizona and florida (neither of them shabby places, but i don't have good friends to visit in phoenix or orlando).

since i am determined to run this marathon to benefit the leukemia/lymphoma society, i now have several options to explore: i could try to sign up with either the virginia or washington d.c. chapters, if they have a team going to honolulu, i could try to sign up with the honolulu team and not meet them till the week of the race, or i can run as a community fundraiser. although the latter is the least attractive option, i think that it may be the course that i end up taking. don't get me wrong--fundraising for this cause in any capacity would be an honor--but if i go as a community fundraiser, i wouldn't get to train with any of the teams. running that much by myself might get a bit lonesome.

i am currently indulging in one last bacchanalian holiday season before i start training 3 january. there's a treadmill (a hand-me-down) and a bathroom scale waiting for me under the tree. after these last days of eating what i want, when i want, on day one of training i switch to the big breakfasts, 50/50 carb-protein combos, and mini-meals of the runner. i'm starting with one mile/day, with a starting mix of 50/50 running/walking. (yeah, i know that's nothing...but i really let myself go this year.) the goal is to be at a five-mile running clip by 1 july. weekly progress will be posted here each weekend.

more to come...

posted by amanda @ 9:59 PM 0 comments

7.12.05

if you read it on the internet, it must be true

in the midst of late, LATE-night baking for a potluck at work later today, i came across this article on msn. granted, the site's credibility as a newsource is somewhat questionable-it's devolved over the years from featuring mostly news articles to currently being very heavy on soft content. as such, i very prudently usually only read the "celebrity gossip" articles at the bottom of the page (every girl has to have her guilty pleasures).

then i saw the link, "trying mind over cancer." my curiosity sufficiently piqued, i gave the write-up a quick read, then read it again to make sure that i didn't misunderstand it. oh yes...it's another one of those nbc news/msn/newsweek features about how if you just put your mind to it and have a good attitude, you too can beat cancer!!!

this "mind-over-tumor" attitude is discouraging when it's regurgitated by some average-joe acquantance who's never dealt with cancer--but for a major american news organization to be perpetuating the myth that 'if you just have a positive attitude, YOU CAN BEAT CANCER,' is downright irresponsible. what's even worse is that the article in question is from a popular psychology journal.

positive attitudes and humor are both important coping skills, and coping with stress is an important part of dealing with cancer. but the article, and so many others like it, fails to mention that you need to fall into one of two categories in the united states to beat this disease: most survivors are either upper-to-higher-middle class, or they fall into the other category, which is "damn lucky". it's no secret that the wealthy have better access to a wide range of many healthcare services in this country. when the media publishes work like "mind over cancer," the facts become obscured in the perpetuated attitude that everyone is ultimately responsible for his own health. the fact that a fat wad of cash can buy a person better-than-average healthcare is hidden by the sentiment that if someone just tries their hardest and has a positive attitude, they'll be triumphant over cancer.

hubby and i are part of the latter group: my job as a Fed has afforded us many opportunities that the average american cancer patient does not have. when we were stuck in a part of the country where the necessary treatment was not locally available, my government agency transferred us to a new base close to several great hospitals. all united states federal employees have the ability to acculmulate sick leave year after year, a perk which proved invaluable when hubby was required to have a caregiver with him at all times during the transplant. most private-sector employees simply don't have 2.5 months of paid sick leave sitting around in case of an emergency. the health insurance that the federal government provides is also more comprehensive than what is afforded to most other employees--hubby and i met too many people at johns hopkins who were struggling to have medically-necessary treatment paid for. while other insurance plans deem certain bone marrow transplant procedures "experimental," hubby and i were able to have the security of knowing that anything deemed medically necessary would be covered. we've had A LARGE amount of copays, but the total amount that we are responsible for paying is still a VERY small portion of the overall hospital bill.

the myth that positive thinking can have a significant affect on cancer needs to be stopped. the real heroes in this journey are not those who walk around saying, "cancer is the best thing that ever happened to me," but the men and women who are going to cut-rate rural county hospitals for their treatment because their insurance won't cover another facility. those who try to keep on working their blue collar jobs throughout treatment because they can't afford to take time off are of far greater mettle than those who daze along through treatment with a beatific smile on their face.

shame on msn for publishing another article that insinuates that one's attitude determines the outcome of their cancer therapy. this fictitious idea has received far too much press already.

posted by amanda @ 11:17 PM 1 comments

the soft spot

just when i thought i was wizened and hardened and impervious to all shocks, comes a phone call that just about brought me to my knees.

12:15 am...hubby is lying peacefully in bed, oblivious to the world, and i'm doing my usual late-night web surfing. at that late hour, the ringing of his cell phone was definitely enough to snap me out of complacency. i got up off of my duff and looked at the caller i.d...."unknown." ok, probably just a wrong number, a drunk dial, or both.

as soon as i set the phone back down it rang again. i opened the phone, fully ready to let the poor person on the other end HAVE IT. when the unthinkable words come out of the receiver...

"hello?"

"yes, this is a nurse from kaiser...is [hubby] there?"

"well, no, he's asleep, it IS a quarter past twelve here." (we have recently been getting calls from the billing department of kaiser hawaii, and i thought that maybe it was someone who wasn't aware of the time difference.)

"this is his wife," i continued, "can i help you?"

and then the nurse spoke those words that have plagued my nightmares ever since the bone marrow transplant. "no, i need to speak with mr. shaffer, it's an emergency situation."

all of my "how-dare-you-call-us-this-late-at-night" bravado disappeared like a popped balloon. deflated, i took the phone back to the bedroom and fought the old feelings of panic and dread.

"how bad is it?" i whined.

"ma'am, i really can't discuss this with you unless i have his permission...you are aware of HIPPA, aren't you?"

(at this point i became convinced that this nurse is the biggest bitch this side of the atlantic.) woke hubby up and told him "oh-my-god-it's-a-nurse-from-kaiser-and-she-says-it's-an-emergency-and-she-won't-tell-me-
what's-wrong-i-don't-know-why-we've-signed-so-many-fucking-release-forms--"
hubby snatched the phone, and after a whole lot of sleepy "yeahs," "nos," and "i don't knows," he snapped the phone shut and gave me the biggest eye roll EVER.

"my red cell counts were a little low, and the nurse called before she looked at my medical history. no worries, babe."

that's it?!? his red cell counts a little low?!? i know that many people would expect me to be outraged at the nurse who saw fit to call about a medical condition before she got the context...

...but THANK GOD that's all she had to call us about. THANK GOD it is not back. THANK GOD he is still OK.

posted by amanda @ 12:36 AM 5 comments

6.12.05

seven things tag

this post is not cancer-related per say but ties in with my earlier post about living each day to the fullest. thanks to hope for including me with this.

seven things to do before i die:

1. run and finish a marathon
2. learn how to cook fancy and impossibly rich desserts
3. travel outside of the united states
4. hike in denali national park, alaska
5. find a job/career that is challenging and fulfilling
6. renew vows with my hubby
7. move back to hawaii

seven things i cannot do:

1. make a "poker face"
2. deal with being lied to
3. eat red meat (i grew up on a dairy farm and had many cows as 4h projects/pets as a child)
4. sing, although i like to pretend that i can
5. see an animal in a shelter or rescue without wanting to adopt it
6. deal with overly excitable people
7. listen to those who tell me that i can't or shouldn't do something that i want to do

seven things that attract me to my husband:

1. his eyes and the emotion that they show
2. his strength
3. his willingness to support me on whatever crazy mission i'm on at the moment
4. his hands
5. his warm and strong bear-hugs
6. he's always honest with me, even when the honest answer is not the one that i may want to hear
7. through his journey with leukemia, he and i have learned a little about what is and is not important in life. and i feel lucky for that every single day.


seven things i say most often:

1. "no worries"
2. "i love you"
3. "that is not ok!!" (to my kids at work, when they are being slightly less than angelic)
4. "whatever we gotta do"
5. "ok...what now?"
6. "how ya doin'?"
7. "no worries" (this is spoken often enough in one day that it warrants having two places on the list.)

seven books or series i love:

1. "lullaby" by chuck palahniuk
2. "god bless you, dr. kevorkian" by kurt vonnegut
3. "diary" by chuck palahniuk
4. "america: the book" by the daily show writers
5. "the kid" by dan savage
6. "i want to grow hair, i want to grow up, i want to go to boise," by erma bombeck
7. "the prince of tides" by pat conroy

seven movies i would watch over and over again:

1. eternal sunshine of the spotless mind
2. kill bill #1
3. kill bill #2
4. silence of the lambs
5. dogma
6. chasing amy
7. clerks

seven bloggers to tag:
minerva, being made, and lori, who are all remarkable women. and anyone else who is inspired to write their own list after seeing mine, if there's anyone out there.

posted by amanda @ 9:57 AM 3 comments

real cancer, real lives


real cancer, real lives is a continuing effort of patients, caregivers, and medical bloggers to document what living with cancer is really like. the goal? to bust through the misconceptions about this bitch of a disease that are perpetuated by the media and those who've been lucky enough to have never had to deal with it.
this week's edition is up over at meaty, beaty, big and bouncy. please go and check it out.

posted by amanda @ 9:22 AM 0 comments

sentimental...or maudlin?

this past weekend, hubby and i attempted to get our place looking somewhat appropriate for the upcoming holidays. we spent the better part of our time decorating, baking, and listening to elvis' "if everyday was christmas" album.

we also purchased the first real xmas tree of our marriage. (we were still living on oahu for xmas '04. to make a long story short, there was a tree shortage in hawaii last year and we ended up with a white pine potted sapling from our local department store's floral section as our first tree--it was the only tree-resembling object that we could find.) to make up for last year, we wanted the full experience this year. so hubby and i found a tree farm back in the sticks near our town, and trudged out to the fields saturday morning with saw in hand. we found the perfect little tree and i now have experienced a brief spell of what it must be like to be a lumberjack.

during the drive to the farm, the two of us were sitting in the car making small talk, when i felt the usual sting in my throat and prickle in my eyes. i hid my emotional moment rather effectively as hubby didn't even notice. i was embarrassed--i've been extremely emotional since we've left baltimore, and now i was about to cry for no good reason?!? then it hit me. saturday morning was the first time in over three months that hubby and i have gone somewhere with the sole intention of being frivolous and having fun. this trip didn't involve a doctor's office or a stop at the pharmacy. our jaunt to the tree farm was just a short trip to buy something that we ultimately didn't need, but it was the first thing that we've done together in a long time that wasn't overshadowed by the transplant.

hubby's condition has improved remarkably since we left my parents' house, and we are trying to find our way back into the mundane day-to-day routine of the working stiff. but there are times when it feels almost as if we are starting our relationship all over again, which is an exciting and terrifying experience. as hubby's tastes in food, energy level, and general life perspective have all changed dramatically in recent months, sometimes it feels as if i have a whole new man in my life.

whatever happens, i hope that this new man and i hit it off as good as hubby and i did before the relapse.

posted by amanda @ 1:17 AM 1 comments

3.12.05

ink and other crazy ideas

be forewarned: i have something to say that some of you may not want to hear.

our experience with cancer has not been all bad.

now, i will never be one of those people who get up on their soapbox and say, "cancer is the best thing that every happened to me." those people make me rather cranky, and to be honest, if cancer is the best thing that ever happened to them they must have had a pretty shitty life pre-diagnosis! but there have been lessons learned throughout this whole experience that i'm not sure i would've gotten without being up-close-and-personal with our mortality. i've gained a new and better life perspective through cancer, and for that, i am thankful.

i plan to live my life with no regrets and to pack each day with as many new experiences as i can. in the past seven years, hubby and/or i have tandem-jumped out of an airplane at 13500 ft, hiked through a rain forest, helicoptered over an active volcano, hiked over a recently cooled lava lake (50 years--but geothermally speaking, recent), jumped off of a three-story tall rock into the ocean, swam with sea turtles, and moved 5000 miles away to hawaii for the first two years after college with no place to live and no acquaintances. i wouldn't call us thrill-seekers, and we are far from wealthy, but when the opportunity comes to do something, we rarely turn it down. you just never know if you'll get that opportunity again (or if you'll be around the next time the opportunity comes around). because of cancer, hubby and i have gained the ability to live each day to the fullest, and our lives have become more interesting for it.

one of my more recent "no regrets" moments (some would call them impetuous) happened in baltimore right after the bone marrow transplant. hubby still had his normal appetite and sweet tooth and had asked me to walk to a candy store a few blocks away to pick up a small box of chocolates. i took advantage of the walk to explore the area around our building (this was shortly after we moved to baltimore) and found a tattoo studio. hubby was (and still is) quite excited about getting his first tattoo, a phoenix rising out of the ash, on his right shoulder (we have to get the OK from our chief oncologist first, which may take a while). i decided to walk in and check the place out for hubby's sake. fast forward about forty-five minutes and i'm leaving with my second tattoo on the base of my neck. the text is "Na Pukaua" which translates to "The Fighters" in english, for hubby and i.

three months later, i've come up with one more crazy idea: i am going to run in the honolulu marathon, and finish it. before you kind souls defend this plan to me with your encouragement, please keep the following facts in mind: 1. i have never been a runner, much less an athlete, in my entire life. 2. i'm currently five-foot-four and 220 lbs. i'm smaller than this sounds, as even when i am working out and fit, i am five-foot-four and 170-175 lbs. but taking such good care of hubby since february has resulted in me neglecting myself a bit (ok, a lot). 3. the race is on oahu and i am in maryland.

i am writing this here, as a matter of public record, so that i can't back out. i'm not sure about whether i will aim for the december 2006 or 2007 marathon--it will depend on how my first few months of training go. i plan to run with the leukemia/lymphoma society's team in training and raise money to support leukemia research. i must also admit, while i'm laying everything on the line, that i have two other, more selfish goals; namely, that i'll start taking care of myself again and get healthier, and that hubby and i will get to go and visit our dear friends (and beaches) in hawaii.

let the craziness begin.

posted by amanda @ 12:18 AM 4 comments

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