Auld Lang Syne

Auld Lang Syne…What the heck does that mean???  You know how the song goes… “Should old acquaintance be forgot…”  I know it’s sung every New Years Eve when the clock strikes midnight, but the phrase “Auld Lang Syne” makes no sense to me!  Actually, each individual word means nothing to me!  I’ll be completely honest.  Up until recently (10 minutes ago), I actually didn’t know the phrase was “Auld Lang Syne.”  I used to sing it as: “For old ang sigh!”  Come on, admit it, I know many of you are guilty of this!  I’m certain people have sung it as: “For old ang zine”; “For hold ang zyne”; “For old aunt Gzyne”; “For old any sign”; “Foothold and sign”; “For the aunts of mine”! 

I looked each word up in the dictionary.  This is what I came up with:  Auld:  A Scot word for old.  Lang:  A Scot word for long.  Syne:  A Scot word for since.  What???  “Old long since?”  Ok, now I’m totally confused!  I need to keep digging!

I checked through Wikipedia.  Now I’m getting somewhere!  Once you read through all the gobblygoop, Auld Lang Syne is loosely translated as “For the sake of old times!” 

Remember the movie “When Harry met Sally?”  I found that they had a conversation about this.  So I’m not the only one!

Harry: “What does this song mean? My whole life, I don’t know what this song means. It means ‘Should old acquaintance be forgot.’ Does that mean that we should forget old acquaintances or does it mean that if we should happen to forget them, we should remember them which is not possible because we already forgot about them?”

Sally: “Well maybe it just means that maybe we should remember that we forgot them or something. Anyway, it’s about old friends”

Bottom line… It is about old friends who have reunited and celebrating the friendship with a “cup of kindness”.  Booze!  I’m glad we got that straightened out!  That’s your lesson for the day!  If you’re at a New Years Eve party this year, and the conversation runs dry, use this tidbit to keep the party going!

Can you believe that 2010 is nearly over!  Wow, another year under out belt.  I’m pretty confident that 2010, unlike most previous years, will mark a “special” year in our lives.  It’ll definitely go down in the top 3 of “Years I’d never want to relive!”  

For Patty and me, 2010 has had its amazingly great times as well as low’s as low as they can get.  It’s had many challenges and trials that hopefully a lot of people never have to face.  Looking back over this year, I’ve realized that life is full of daily challenges… mental, emotional and physical.  Some challenges are greater than others, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that they’re still challenges. 

Lance Armstrong beat testicular cancer.  When all was said and done, he said that having cancer “Enriched” his life.  I thought long and hard about that statement and how it applied to Patty and me.  It’s so easy to focus on the negatives in life and sometimes it’s difficult to see the positive.  The last thing we’d want to do is give cancer credit for anything positive!  The truth is, dealing with cancer can change your life in positive and encouraging ways.  Here’s some thoughts on how our lives have been “enriched.”

We’ve learned that life is a privilege, not a given!  It can be taken away from you at any time.  Patty has always been in great shape.  Exercise has always been an important part of her life.  She’s the last one you would think would be diagnosed with breast cancer.  But, it happened.  It’s so easy for us to get caught up in our daily ritual and just take life for granted. We’ll never take anyone or anything for granted again!  Patty and I have talked about this many times.  She said her goal is to make the most out of every day and to always tell people how much they mean to her and how much she loves them!  I’m following her lead!  Don’t sweat the small stuff (it’s all mostly small stuff anyway). 

We’ve renewed our faith in God!  Patty and I were both brought up in Catholic families.  We both went through Catechism and everything that goes along with it.  We both drifted from our faith and, as we call it, have been a “work in progress” over the years.  We’d talked about going back to church for a number of years, but I’m embarrassed to admit it, it always seemed like something “more important” got in the way.  It’s interesting how quickly God comes back in your life when you’re faced with a life threatening disease.  We’ve learned how strong the power of prayer can actually be.  In Patty’s case, she went from an initial diagnosis of the cancer having metastasized and being incurable to localized and curable as a result of the power of prayer.  God let us know that Patty having breast cancer “Was not the end, but the start of a new beginning.” Patty and I now have a relationship with God.  We attend church on Sundays, pray regularly and praise God for the blessings he has given us! God has forever changed our lives!

You know the old saying “you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family!”  You’d think that we’d hand-picked each and every one of them!  Patty’s battle has brought us closer to both.    We’re so blessed to have such a great family.   I made mention of this in my Christmas post… We’re so lucky to have such a close relationship with our kids!  All the kids have been so supportive through this trial.  They’ve not only brought us support, but also love and when needed, laughter!  Then take it a step further… our sisters, Patty’s brother, father, aunts and uncles have also been very supportive and given me a hand when times got a little tough!  There’s a bond between sisters that goes far beyond the “Secret order of Women” which I described in an early post.  These three (Patty, Kathy and Dottie) are quite the team!   We’ve learned that life is about people; love them and spend time with them while you can.  If you can’t love them then gently move on. Work at your most important relationships.

Last, but definitely not least, is how this disease has brought Patty and I so much closer.  It hasn’t been easy in the least.  It’s been a drain on both of us.  She’s my best friend and I know I’m hers!  There’s nothing that I wouldn’t do for her and I know there’s nothing she wouldn’t do for me!  In the big scheme of things, I now know that God put us together for a reason.  We have so much love and respect for each other.  That love and respect has grown ten fold over the past nine months.  Who would have thought! 

So, using the “glass half full” theory, I guess there was a lot of positives that came from this trial! 

Here’s to a “quiet” and “uneventful” 2011!  We have so much to look forward to!  Come midnight tomorrow night (if we’re awake) Patty and I will raise a glass to each other as well as Auld Lang Syne!

Merry Christmas

As Andy Williams sang… “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” You know what? It really is!

I realized this morning just how much I’ve missed over the past ten years, living in Northern Ca. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a catch-22. In a way, I wouldn’t trade the experiences and friends we’ve made in Northern Ca. for anything in the world. On the other hand, this was the first Christmas in 10 years that I’ve been able to spend with our kids! It’s also the first Christmas in 10 years that I haven’t worked! Let me tell you, I’ve loved every minute of the past 24 hours! Let me recap…

You know how our life has been… go, go, go! Between work and Patty’s “Adventures in Chemo” and just life in general, (plus the main fact that I’m a guy!) I hadn’t had much time to Christmas shop for Patty! So I got up early yesterday morning and blasted over to North County Fair, the closest shopping mall to our house. They opened early on Christmas Eve so I was on their doorstep at 7 a.m. when they opened. I discovered this was the perfect time to Christmas shop! There was me and probably 20 other “last minute husbands” with a whole shopping mall to ourselves! Fortunately, I already knew what I wanted to get, so I was in and out, with bags in hand, within a half hour! (I may just consider shopping like this every year! Too easy!) The next stop was at the grocery store to pick up things for our Christmas dinner with the kids. I was at Ralphs by 7:45 a.m. armed with my shopping list that Patty wrote for me. I could have been in-and-out within 20 minutes, but after 16 years of marriage to Patty, I still have a real difficult time reading her handwriting! I was home by 8:30 a.m., still not bad.

The plan for Christmas Eve was dinner in our little condo with the kids… Kristi and Ryan, Nic and Joey, Steven and his girlfriend, Acacia. I had picked up a 9 pound prime rib earlier in the week and we were having that with scalloped potatoes and some kind of vegetable. I spent the day, not just cleaning and prepping dinner, but trying to keep Patty under check so she wouldn’t do too much and be tired when everyone got here at 6:30 p.m. The day went smooth. I was able to convince Patty to take a nap around 2:30 p.m. She took a good two hour nap!!!

By the way, Patty is doing just great! Her “taster” is starting to come back. She’s feeling physically stronger, but still get’s tired easily. Overall, we’re close to two weeks since her last infusion and I couldn’t be happier with how she’s progressing. I’d guess she’s at about 75% – 80% right now. Another week and she’ll be around 90%. By mid January, she should be well on her way back to being her-old-self! (I probably shouldn’t use the word “old” in that description!)

Our little condo looked great… Christmas tree lit… lights up and lit on the deck and mantle… Christmas CD’s playing… the condo had the aroma of prime rib in the oven… I had a cocktail in hand… life is good!

The kids showed up around 6:30 p.m. I couldn’t have felt closer to my family once there all arrived! We all laughed and joked. Once dinner was served and we all sat at the table, I looked around at each and every one and just couldn’t have been prouder! We have such a great family! We finished dinner and played a game called “Apples to Apples.” It was a lot of fun. Patty begrudgingly hit the wall a little after 10 p.m. and went to bed. The rest of us continued to play the game until around midnight. Wow, midnight! I normally have a good three hours of sleep under my belt when midnight hits!

Patty and I woke up around 8 this morning. We stayed in bed for a while and had our morning coffee. We got up around 9 and exchanged presents… just the two of us. I looked at Patty at one point (she didn’t catch me)… I just thought to myself how in love I am with her! We’ve been through so much these past 9 months and here we are… together… celebrating Christmas. Patty (we) are so fortunate to have discovered this disease early on.  There are too many women who aren’t that fortunate.  But, Patty is alive and well!  We have so much to look forward to! We have such a great family! There is no drama and we all get along so well!

The past 24 hours have been awesome!  “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”

Merry Christmas!

Adventures in chemo… the final saga!

We had really hoped that the “Adventures in Chemo” were over!  It’s turned out that three days after Patty’s infusion is her wost day.  So, she has her chemo every 21 days on a Tuesday and we can expect the worst on that following Friday.  This came true to form… again! 

Patty got up yesterday morning feeling ok.  Not great, but ok.  I had taken the day off from work expecting a potential problem.  She slept in late getting up after 10 a.m.  She had some oatmeal for breakfast and I made her a protein shake as a breakfast chaser.  I’ve realized that I’m turning into the “caretaker from hell.”  I’m all over her to make sure she drinking plenty of fluids and at least two protein shakes during the day.  My goal is to keep her hydrated and push as many calories into her as I can.  She’s a good patient and doesn’t complain too much.  Anyway, yesterday was going pretty well.  You could see she was pretty fatigued but she parked herself on the couch and we put on a movie.  Half way through the movie patty said she needed to go to the bathroom.  Ok… from past experience, I KNOW this is not good on “day three!”  I wish we could just put off any bathroom runs for one day, but Mother Nature doesn’t see things this way.  If you recall, last time I ended up removing the bathroom door because she kept fainting in the bathroom and lodging herself against the door and I couldn’t get in.  This time she promised to keep the door open.  So, off we went to the bathroom.  I stood out-of-sight outside the bathroom and let her do what she needed to do in “somewhat” of a private setting.  Not 15 seconds passed and I heard that oh so familiar “thump!”  I looked in and there was poor Patty on the floor!  Like in earlier posts, I won’t get into any details other than she had passed out and hit her head on the bathtub opening the incision on her forehead from weeks prior!!!  So, here we go again, back to urgent care.  Once there, the doctor took great care of her.  They immediately hooked her up to an IV which brought life and color back into her immediately. The poor thing had a pretty good goose egg on her forehead which she said hurt as well as she said her neck and shoulder hurt from the fall.  The doctor put a little “something special” into her IV which immediately took away any pain!  He then stitched up her forehead (only 9 stitches this time instead of 10) and we were on our way.  We only spent three hours at Urgent Care which was in and out in record time!

Patty had a good night sleep last night!  She needed the rest.  Today, she’s feeling pretty good.  Nowhere close to 100%, may 60% at best.  But, compared to yesterday, she’s feeling really good!

“Adventures in Chemo” as just that!  We kind of know what to expect, but it’s the “surprise in every package” that keeps us on our toes.  I thank God that this is it.  No future chemo’s mean no future bumps and knocks to her head!  Sometimes I ask myself: “Is chemo a friend or foe?”  I guess it’s both!


She made it!!!  Yes, she made it!!!  December 14th… the day we’ve been looking forward to for what seemed like an eternity, finally came!  Patty’s 6th and final chemo infusion!  What a big day for Patty!

Patty told me she was a little nervous this time around.  Nervous about how the side effects were going to be.  We had both been fighting colds the past week… hey, the family that has colds together… (can’t think of an appropriate ending for that phrase right now.)  We were both a little concerned that her cold could interfere with this last infusion.  We met with our Oncologist at 9:30 a.m. and everything from her blood work looked great!  She had the green light for this last treatment.  Everyone in the Oncologist’s office were so excited that this was Patty’s last treatment!

The infusion was scheduled for 10:00 a.m. and everything went smooth as possible.  You could tell that Margarita, our oncology nurse, was happy for Patty but also sad in the same sense that this was the end of our dealing with her.  We’re hoping to stay connected with her in the future! 

I couldn’t let this day go by without some recognition.  Her last chemo was just too big to let slip through the cracks!  So, over the past week or so, I’ve been sending emails and calling friends and family to come over and help celebrate this big day.  Nicole helped me arrange a surprise party for Patty.  nothing too big, but just close friends and family.  Like I said, Patty’s infusion started on time.  I waited about 15 minutes then made up some lame excuse to leave for a short while.  (I said I had to return a cable box to the company before we got charged for it.)  So I flew home.  I stopped by Party Plus and picked up some pink balloons and pink streamers etc.  Once home I zoomed around decorating the condo.  I should have taken a picture of it, it turned out pretty good!  I then zoomed back to the hospital within a short time.  (Wow… a lot of zooming going on!)  Patty’s treatment ended around 1:30.  I had told everyone to be at our house by 1:45.  It was great!  We got home around 2:00.  Patty had no clue that our friends and family were inside.  I opened the door… I had a “Congratulations” sign just inside with balloons around it.  Patty saw the sign and said “Oh how sweet!”  then everyone jumped from their hiding place yelling “Surprise!!!”  It was awesome.  Patty was very touched that everyone came to congratulate her!  She loved it.  We had 14 people crammed into our little place… it was perfect!

So, she made it!  No more chemo!  What a milestone and this woman of mine did such a great job going through it.  I’m so proud of her!   We’re going to have a challenge from the side effects for the next two weeks or so.  Then after that… she’ll get stronger and stronger.  Her hair, eyelashes and eyebrows will begin to grow back.  Yesterday represented a day that marked the beginning of our new life!  We’re both excited to bring in 2011 because it’s going to be such a great new year for us! 

This morning when I left for work, Patty was still in bed.  I leaned over to give her a kiss and she was crying.  I asked if those were good tears or bad tears.  She said they were good tears!  Good tears because she’s done with her treatments and has so much to look forward to in the future!!!

  Another “Mirror Message.”  It’s a little hard to read but it says:

                “You did it!”



When I started this blog back in early August, I titled it “What a Ride.”  When you set up a blog one question they ask is “what’s the title of this blog?”  It’s hard to come up with a title on-the-spot, but “What a Ride” was first to come to mind so I went with it.  The second reason I used it was because What A Ride has the acronym of WAR!  Since we were in the midst of a battle of some sort, it just seemed too easy and so appropriate! 

As I said in my first blog, I had wished that I started “blogging” when Patty was first diagnosed, but there was so much going on at the time, blogging was the last thing on my mind.  So I had to play catchup for the previous 3 1/2 months in my first post.  I’m sure I left some things out, but I did my best to try to remember the highlights, or lowlights!

So here we are… this nightmare started in late April 2010 and here it is December.  In one sense, the time just flew by, but in other respects, it took forever.  This past weekend was very quiet for both of us.  Patty was far from feeling even 80% so we stayed pretty close to home.  Since we had “quiet time” without any “Adventures in Chemo” going on, I took some time and read my entire blog, from start to present time.  I’m really glad I’ve been doing this because I found there was so much I had forgotten.  Let me recap the last 8 months in bullet form:

  • Patty found the “lump” in late April
  • June 22nd – the biopsy confirmed she had breast cancer
  • June 23rd – we met with the crackpot surgeon who was totally rude
  • June 27th – Patty had the notorious PET Scan
  • The “Black Cloud” accompanied by the “Elephant in the room” keep hanging around!
  • June 28th – We booted the rude surgeon and changed care providers to Scripps
  • July 2nd – Patty had her first appointment at Scripps
  • July 2nd – We were given the devastating news that the results of the PET scan showed that the cancer had spread to Patty’s chest wall.  We were told the cancer was incurable and surgery was NOT an option!
  • July 2nd – Our nurse practitioner from Heaven told us that she was not sold that the cancer had spread and she needed proof that it had, otherwise, her experience tells her that the cancer was localized in Patty’s breast.
  • July 22nd through July 14th – Patty went through countless tests.
  • July 14th – The Pulmonary Specialist confirmed the cancer had NOT spread and the doctors were going to “treat for cure!”
  • July 14th – Patty did a “Happy Dance” on the outside deck of the Beach House Restaurant scaring most of the patrons on the deck!  Moments later the patrons are giving Patty words of encouragement and congratulating her for only having breast cancer!
  • The “Elephant in the room” pokes his ugly head out.
  • July 29th – Patty had the mastectomy.
  • July 29th through August 5th – back in “waiting game” for the lymph node results.
  • July 31 – Patty’s sister, Kathy, came out from Az to help out!  (What a huge help she was!)
  • August 5th – One in twelve lymph nodes biopsied were positive for cancer. 
  • August 5th – Patty did another “Happy Dance!”
  • August 10th – Faith, Family & Friends!
  • August 11th – “Hey cancer!  You picked the wrong broad!”
  • August 11th – I learned of the “Secret order of Women!”
  • August 14th – Patty spoke at the National City Relay for Life event!  She was amazing!
  • The “Elephant in the room” is still here!
  • August 16th through 27th – Countless blood tests, ultra-sound, biopsy, chest x-rays, PET Scan, CT Scan, Marker scans, Bone scan, Heart scan etc…
  • August 31st – with all the test finally completed where the doctors literally know every inch of Patty’s body, Patty declared: “ok I’m ready to kick this cancer’s ass!”  (that’s my girl!)
  • Sept 1st – Patty’s first chemo
  • Sept 8th – Patty took some control of the situation and shaved her head before the chemo took her hair!
  • Sept 22nd – Patty’s 2nd chemo infusion
  • Oct 1st – We learned Patty will NOT need Radiation therapy after chemo!  HUGE NEWS!
  • The side effects from the chemo were a little tougher on Patty than before.
  • October 3rd – Avery Nicole Cox, our newest granddaughter, was born!
  • October 12th – Chemo infusion #3 is done!
  • October 18th – Patty had a 2nd surgery related to the reconstruction.
  • October 16th – We learned what Adventures in Chemo are!  Patty passed out in the bathroom, lodging herself against the closed bathroom door!  Kinda tough to open when she’s passed out against it!
  • November 3rd – Chemo #4 done!
  • The chemo side effects are really getting tough for Patty, but only two more to go!
  • November 6th – We learned that Patty’s office in Placerville held a “Pink Party Day” to raise money for the Susan Komen Race for the Cure.  The money was donated in Patty’s name!!!
  • November 6th – Adventures in Chemo have returned as Patty passed out in the middle of the night while returning from the bathroom, striking her head on the nightstand.  We spent nearly 7 hours in the middle of the night at the emergency room!
  • The side effects from the chemo keep intensifying!
  • November 23rd – chemo #5 is done!!!
  • November 26th – Adventures in Chemo return!

So here we are… One week away from Chemo#6!  Can you believe it??? Number 6!!!  The last one… final… finito… done… over… no more!  The side effects keep getting stronger with each infusion.  They really knock her for a loop!  I will admit, there were a couple of times from this last infusion that I really debated in my mind whether or not to take her to the hospital.  She was sooooo weak! 

This last chemo is somewhat of a Catch 22 for Patty.  In one sense, she’s looking forward to having her last one.  In another sense, she’s dreading having to go through the side effects again, even knowing it’s the last time!  I’ll take all the necessary precautions to avoid another episode of Adventures in Chemo even if that means removing the bathroom door again!  She’ll have the last infusion on Tuesday, Dec 14th.  The side effects will be tough for the first week and then she’ll start getting stronger.  Unfortunately my guess is that she’ll be pretty fatigued on Christmas Day as that’s only 11 days after the infusion.  She should be feeling pretty good by New Years.  My guess is that her taster should be around by then and she’ll be able to bring in the new year with a glass of champagne!  Plus, we’ll also be able to celebrate Patty’s new sprouts of hair growing in around that time also!!!

There you have it!  What a Ride it’s been!  Just one more to go!