number 13

I have 20 minutes before heading out the door for the trip to Providence and radiation so I thought I’d give you all an update.  I haven’t blogged for more than a week because this process has been really tiring.  All the doctors, nurses and technicians tell me it’s important to rest, to let the body heal from the daily onslaught of radiation, and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.

I haven’t had the energy to put my dirty dishes in the dishwasher or eat anything but yogurt for dinner.  I have a baby quilt to baste but no energy to thread a needle.

But…things are definitely looking up!  This past weekend my energy returned a bit and my appetite revived itself from time to time.

I even drove Saturday morning.  Let me repeat that:  I even drove my car.  Banjo Man didn’t even flinch when I announced I was heading three miles down the road to the gift shop to buy a hostess gift.  I hadn’t driven since MAY.  I even went to the ATM machine.  And then I came home and took a nap, but what the heck.  I DROVE.

Our favorite Austin musician was in town and we had tickets to his show on Friday night.  He was joined by Cindy Cashdollar, dobro and lap steel guitar queen of the universe.  I stayed home–there was no way I could go to a show that starts at 8:30 pm plus I am still leery of being in crowds and getting bumped–but Banjo Man went by himself and had a great time.

On Saturday we went to a dinner party!!!!  A dinner party!!!!  Our Thanksgiving group met at Ken and Ginny’s for a beautiful evening on their deck.  My mother, brother and sister-in-law joined us, so the evening was a very special one.  I drank half a glass of Prosecco.  It was delicious.

I tried to take a picture.


I had to try on four tops before finding one that didn’t aggravate the rash on my chest.  I spread hydrocortisone cream and Calendula salve on my chest throughout the evening and that worked.  I’m starting to itch and blister, but after today there are only seven treatments left.

And now I have to go!  Banjo Man is waiting for yet another drive north.



Posted in family, friends, rhode island, the cancer fight | 2 Comments

number 8

Today is the 8th radiation treatment.  I’d like to announce, “So far so good!” but I’m afraid to jinx it.

Here I am trying to take a selfie in the mirror of the radiation department’s dressing room.  Such a pretty outfit!



Here’s my hero in the radiation waiting room.  He has driven me every day this week.


We’ve made it fun.  Monday we stopped at Cracker Barrel on the way home and pretended it was the Cracker Barrel restaurant in Billings, Montana and we were on a road trip.

Banjo Man was especially happy with the open-faced roast beef sandwich dinner.

On Tuesday we did a little genealogy sleuthing, which I’ll write about tomorrow.  We took the back streets from Providence to Cranston (only got lost twice) and ended up at “The Big Cheese & Pub”, which I’d seen online.

Did Banjo Man like his Italian meatballs and sausage lunch?  Take a wild guess.


I ordered a meatball calzone, which was the biggest calzone I’d ever seen in my life.  I managed to eat 1/4 of it and we took the rest home to freeze for future meals.  Banjo Man cannot wait to go back there next week…and every week for the rest of his life.

Wednesday I was too tired to stop for lunch, so we headed home after a quick stop at Trader Joe’s and little hot fudge sundaes at McDonald’s.  It is painful to hold my right arm over my head for the radiation treatments so when I feel really sorry for myself (and, I admit, a little teary) during those times I try to think of pleasant things.  Wednesday’s “happy thought” was hot fudge sundaes.  They were another road trip snack, around 3 pm, so Banjo Man and I could rally for two or three more hours of driving.

My “happy thought” during yesterday’s treatment had been a particularly embarrassing moment for me at the airport parking exit after picking up Ben, Amber and John in June.  It struck me funny all over again to the point where I had to bite back the giggles while the machine was hovering and beeping and zapping my chest.

Yesterday we stopped at the Rose Point Cafe, near Wickford, for lunch.


Marinated beet Reuben sandwich.

Poor Banjo Man thought the sign said “marinated beef“.  But he enjoyed the sandwich anyway.  I ordered it, too (I love beets) and took 1/2 home.  My appetite (and my energy levels) are dropping daily.

The doctor told me I was to do nothing but rest from now on.  There will be 20 treatments, not 22, so I’ll be done on August 28th, which is also the day I meet with the oncologist to start the next phase: endocrine therapy for five years.  That’s the “good stuff”, folks, that should keep the cancer from returning.

According to the Oncotype statistics, because of my low score, radiation and a future with endocrine therapy, I have a 98.2% chance of surviving nine years.  Let’s give a cheer for medical science!!!




Posted in family, food, rhode island, the cancer fight | 6 Comments

did i do it all wrong?

I just read an article about the birthday of a 107-year old woman, Louise Jean Signore, in the Bronx, New York, on July 31st.  She was born in 1912, the same year of the Titanic disaster.

When asked why she’d lived so long, the article explains:

Proud of her Italian heritage she believes good home food and lots of fruit and vegetables without soda or cake all played a part in her longevity. But above of all all else, Signore who lives alone believes one other key factor has reduced the stress in her life massively and kept her alive. 

‘I think the secret of 107: I never got married. I think that’s the secret,’ Signore told CBS.

Oh, dear.  I ate cake, I drank soda and I’ve been married for almost 49 years.  The only thing I did right on that list was eating good Italian home-cooked food.  I hope that’s enough!!!


I love making my father’s meatballs.


Posted in food, personal female whining, rhode island | 1 Comment

august first, oh happy day

It’s very odd to be celebrating the first day of August.

For the past ten years, the beginning of this month meant that I would be returning home to Rhode Island in three weeks, five weeks, six weeks…and, eventually, two months.  For the past three years, August 1st marked the halfway point of my time at the lake.  I was never all that thrilled with August 1st.

I would then try to cram in as much fun as I could every single day.  My calendar was oh-so-happily filled.

So it is strange to be so happy that August is here and summer is half over.   Bring on September, please!  I need to say goodbye to humidity and the pain it brings.  I want chilly air and pumpkins.  I need radiation to end and college football to begin.  Oh, how I need college football Saturdays!


Speaking of chili, I wonder if Banjo Man remembers last Opening Day when he criticized my chili and I told him that I would never make it again and he could make it himself for the rest of his life?

I shall keep you posted.



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a birthday for banjo man

The mystery gift was a hit!


This is a ZVOX AV155 AccuVoice TV soundbar with 6-level “dialogue booster”.  The “booster” part is the important thing:  it lifts the dialogue louder than the background noise.

Here’s what the description on HSN said:

“ZVOX AV155 AccuVoice TV Soundbar w/6 Level Dialogue Boost and Remote.  Hear every word clearly. This AccuVoice soundbar uses six levels of dialogue boost to make voices clear, even at low volumes — you can actually tailor the sound to match your ears. With three full-range speakers, this soundbar uses hearing-aid technology to isolate voices and amplify them above background noise for greater clarity. It even lowers the volume of loud commercials. One-plug connectivity makes setup a breeze, and you can connect a second audio source, like your smartphone, to listen to music. It’s TV the way you want to hear it.”

And it works!  My husband was amazed and thrilled.  Shock and awe, people!

We celebrated with a strawberry shortcake cake with daughter Nancy and later on watched the finale of “The Bachelorette”.


Yesterday was a busy–and  hot–day.  We’re in the middle of another little heat wave (hey, it’s summer!!) and my first trip to the city for the radiation program started.  It was only a trial run, plus a bunch of x-rays, but I met the staff who will be treating me for the next month and learned the ins and outs of dressing rooms, waiting rooms and treatment areas.  My machine is called the “Trilogy”.

That made me smile.  After all, I’ve written enough of them.


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birthday card for banjo man


I just wanted to share this.


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odds and ends on a quiet day


Laid out on the dining room table.

The baby quilt project is still coming along.  It’s a sweet quilt and I hope it will be loved and used.


“Ruth’s” is a shop deep in the heart of Cranston that has been in business since 1954.  They do everything transaction by paper, with no computers.  It’s quite a process, especially since a huge part of their business deals with women who have had breast surgery and cancer.  A number of very lovely and kind women work here, but I’ve learned to allow extra time for filling out the insurance forms for every purchase.  If they don’t carry what you want, they’ll order it.


These charging stations are everywhere at the hospital and surrounding medical buildings.  It looks like a great idea, but I’ve never seen anyone using them.

Starting tomorrow, things get busy around here until September.  Radiation is daily and I’ll be glad to start, because the sooner it starts the sooner it’s over.

I’ve convinced Banjo Man that I will be well enough by mid-September for him to leave me for a few days and attend his 60th high school reunion in Nebraska.  After that son Will arrives for a week.  Lots to look forward to.

October will be here before we know it and it will be time to unpack the velvet pumpkins and celebrate the fall, my favorite time of year.

Yes, I know it’s only July, but a girl can dream!



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home shopping network and opioids

I’ll bet this morning’s blog post heading caught your attention!

Let’s talk about drugs.  Pain killers.  Opioids that people get addicted to and ruin their lives with…and then they end up broken and alone or in rehab.

This is so not me, in case a little zing of worry just shot through your brain.   The only painkiller I can tolerate is Percocet and it did its best to get me through the worst of the post-surgery pain.  I kept a notebook and wrote down each time I took it, never taking it less than six hours apart even when that final hour was unpleasant.  Several doctors tried to tell me I could manage with Tylenol.

They were full of sh**.

So…let’s be clear.  I haven’t taken any prescription drugs in over a week.  I’m looking forward to driving soon, when my arm cooperates, and I want a clear head.  I don’t know where I’d go, though, because trudging across hot parking lots would make the lymphedema worse (and I sure as hell don’t need “worse”).  Still, when radiation starts next week, I would love to be able to drive myself up to the city without hauling Banjo Man away from work or my daughter away from her busy life.

You’re wondering what this has to do with the Home Shopping Network on tv, aren’t you?

Just a bit of history:  about nine years ago was the Year of the Finger Surgeries.  I won’t go into the awful, lawsuit-worthy, pain-filled details, but suffice it to say that I was on antibiotics and pain pills off and on for many months.  The only side affect was an attraction to brightly colored quilting fabric and a tendency to buy a lot of it.  I made some wild quilts during that time (I could use my sewing machine with a bandaged hand, so no problem there), but I still have a lot of that fabric on my shelves.  And I have no idea how to use it up.

Present day:  I already told you about seeing the Geek Pot on HSN.  Of course I ended up buying it.  The demonstration on tv was inspiring, as was the potential for lots of meals.  It arrived a week ago and it is still sitting on the floor of the living room.  I found recipes on Pinterest, but neither Banjo Man nor I have the energy to learn a new trick and cook anything in it.  I’m sure we will eventually and we’ll be thrilled, but we’re not even close right now.

During my last drug-hazed weekend on the couch I ended up dropping in on the HSN network again.  This time I watched a demonstration of a perfect, miraculous product invented just for people like Banjo Man.  I didn’t know such technology existed.  It was something that would change our lives (according to the excited women on HSN) and I believed them.  Oh, how I believed them!

And…it was deeply discounted.  The answer to my prayers.  Easy to use.  Selling like hot cakes.

I couldn’t order it fast enough. 

It’s Banjo Man’s birthday present, so I’m not going to tell you what it is in case he reads the blog between now and the 31st.  I give him one hint a day and he is allowed to ask one question a day.  Today’s question was “Can I plug it in?”


He’ll never guess, because he wouldn’t know that such a thing existed.  Hah!

So today–with no drugs to lower my shopping inhibitions and no HSN to tempt me—I’m going to HOPEFULLY finish stitching 110 blocks together for a baby quilt.  The little one was born a few days ago and I’d like her to have it before she starts walking.

I move so slowly these day.

Turtles are faster.



I think I need this fabric.







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long distance Peach Man

This week I was once again totally overwhelmed.  Can you imagine what arrived by FedEx?

Peaches.  A dozen peaches.  From the Peach Man.


A dozen miraculous, beautiful peaches carefully wrapped in a box from the lake.

I cried.  Banjo Man was totally choked up.  We both ate a peach and laughed at ourselves for the tears.  It was such an unexpected gift.  The neighbors above us at the lake had gone to a great deal of trouble to send such a treat.

So of course I had to make a pie.  A little 7″ pie.  With homemade crust.  I won’t tell you how long it took me to do this (hint: all freakin’ day!), and I had to wear my compression sleeve (when rolling out the crust), hand gauntlet, disposable gloves (to keep the gauntlet and sleeve clean) and rubber gloves (for the dishes).  Banjo Man had to haul the pie in and out of the oven every time I needed to check it (I haven’t found the perfect oven gloves yet).  Sigh.   It was definitely a labor of love.  I’m sure I’ll get used to this new, ultra-careful routine eventually, but yesterday?  Everything took a lot more time to do, plus my brain works very, very slowly these days and I am prone to making lots of stupid mistakes.

And I haven’t been in the kitchen for almost two months.  

Here’s the pretty result:


A rustic peach pie.

Despite the epic failure of the crust–I am clearly out of practice–we ate it with gusto.

And despite how awful this breast cancer experience has been, the kindness and love and caring from family and friends has been overwhelming and wonderful.

I’m going to go eat a peach now…


Posted in family, food, friends, lake, rhode island, the cancer fight | 6 Comments

rain and radiation


What a storm!  We’ve never seen summer rain fill the pit before.  Banjo Man ran out to take pictures from the safety of his shed.

Lightning hit a house a few miles away.  And one of our tomato plants lost the will to live.

Monday was our day to meet with the radiologist and have the “mapping” done for the future radiation treatments.  I learned that I would have 22 treatments (4 weeks +2) instead of 30+.   Eight less trips to the city!  Hurray!

The whole “mapping” process was pain free, stress free and fascinating.  There was a Cat scan and tattoos…and several lovely, funny women taking care of the whole thing.

The real thing starts next week, after a dress rehearsal on Tuesday.  So between physical therapy and radiation, August is going to be a very busy month.  But I could be done with radiation before September…and isn’t that something to look forward to!


Posted in rhode island, the cancer fight | 5 Comments