December 31, 2011

Wrapping Up

I'm backdating this post because I didn't want to end the year on a down note - especially since I'm writing you so few notes these days. Also, 12/31 is Peach's diagnosis anniversary (as well as the day two crazy kids I know went and got married 14 years ago), so I think a more celebratory post is in order, don't you? Yes.

Two years. TWO. Can you believe it? I'm sure I've said it before, but sometimes I feel like we've been doing "this" forever, and other times, I feel like just yesterday, we were sitting in the pediatrician's office and being told to go directly to the children's hospital, do not pay on your way out, do not pass Go, do not collect $200. And then all hell broke loose.

When I think about the sheer amount of information - in all forms - that has passed in front of us since that day, my mind truly boggles. When I think about the physical and mental toll that "this" has taken on Peach, I am in awe of her resilience. And when I see the light at the end of the tunnel getting brighter every day, and our family emerging on the other side of "this" healthy and intact, I am so proud. And grateful beyond measure.

If Peach continues at the rate she's going, we'll be having a big 'ol party on April 29th, her last day of treatment. And you're all invited. Until then, Happy Healthy New Year, y'all. It's gonna be a great one.

August 31, 2011



Papa Turista has leukemia. Stage 0 Chronic Lymphoblastic Leukemia, so we're in "watch and wait" mode until he needs treatment, if ever. It's about as common in adults as Peach's leukemia is in kids, but being that it's chronic vs. acute, many folks live with it for years and years before needing treatment. He's like the poster boy for CLL: White, Male, 70. Looking at past blood work (thankfully, he's very good about going to the doctor), it's likely it started developing in 2009. Again, like Peach. And of course I asked and the answer is: NO. Just a big fat fucking coincidence.

We found out about a month ago, and other than immediate family and about four friends, he hasn't told anyone. We won't tell Peach and Olive either, unless we have to, so keep it under your hat. I think if I hadn't been working on my De Facto Residency in Hematology Oncology over the last year and a half, I would be much more upset. And afraid. But as it is, I'm just really, really mad.

I tell you all this today because Peach is marking 20 months in treatment tomorrow. With, hopefully, about eight more to go. This kid of mine: Amazing. She just keeps plugging along - stiff joints, steroid weepies, and all - smiling every step of the way. Since we last spoke, she brought the house down at GGMS's graduation ceremony (don't get me started), she raised over $3000 for childhood cancer research, and she designed a freaking Hermione Granger video game. She made it through two weeks at sleep-away camp, and last week, she stared down Middle School - and won. Whatever the challenge, she takes it on and does incredible things. And sweet, sweet Olive is her biggest supporter. Truly, I'm about to burst over the both of them.

Which is why I feel guilty when I complain, like when I unloaded on Karla May the night I found out about Papa Turista. Even though cancer has become part of our daily conversation (and that of this neglected blog - I know! I said I was going to ease up on the cancerspeak!), we are still so very blessed. As difficult as it is, especially for Peach, this trial isn't near what some people have to endure every day, forever. And while I wouldn't ever choose it, wish it on anyone, or want to repeat it, we have learned so much, met some unbelievable people, and watched our baby rise to her fullest, best self. So there are some gifts to be had, and things to be thankful for.

But I'm still mad as hell.

April 30, 2011


Really? This is what it's come to? Quarterly reports?! I mean, I told you last time that I wasn't going to be quite as cancer-y going forward, but I certainly didn't mean to leave hanging the teaspoonful (smaller than a handful) of you who actually stop by here every day. My apologies!

That said, it's been five years since I started this blog. Huh.

I scroll through old posts every now and again, making myself laugh. Or cringe. Or just reflect. And I find something new every time. It occurred to me recently that when I wrote this, I neglected to mention that I made it through that MRI by thinking about how many times my friend's daughter had powered through the many MRIs she had - and hated - while battling a brain tumor. Then, when I wrote this, I didn't say that the real impetus for my giving blood for the first time was because of a family friend's recent lymphoma diagnosis. And then, of course, there is the irony of all ironies in this post, where I mourned the loss of both of those precious souls. A post that I revisited at this time last year.

I'm a big believer in The Cosmic Connection, so I look at those events as not only my attempts to pay tribute to Bailey and Sharon, but also as my preparation for what was to follow. I had no idea that nearly a year to the day after that blood drive, I would be encouraging my own family and friends to donate blood in honor of Peach. I could have never dreamed that after following Bailey's family through the world of pediatric cancer, I would be helping Peach navigate her own journey.

But here we are, on the eve of another blood drive in honor of Peach, and nearly one year away from the end of her treatment protocol. And we are so grateful. This child continues to amaze and inspire all of us with her attitude and her fortitude. Not only is she tolerating her ever-fluctuating med schedule without complaint, she's even been "reminiscing" about different moments from the past year - like, "Remember that time after my 13th spinal tap, and we got yogurt in the rain? That was so fun!" And because her ticket did in fact get pulled for The Most Awesome Secondary School for Girls in the History of the World, I'm sure world domination is imminent.

No, I couldn't have predicted any of this, but we landed here just the same. And we're doing great. So thank you, Bailey. Thank you, Sharon. Thank you, Universe.

January 30, 2011

In Which I Go to 11

I think y’all have a pretty good handle on all of that for now, so let’s start anew.

Since we last spoke, the family and I thoroughly enjoyed the holidays and our trip to Florida. Again, I am amazed at how many “Pooh size” folks there are in Mouse World. I don’t even know how they make it from the parking lot to the gate, not to mention through acres and acres of parks for days at a time. It’s quite painful to watch, actually. I did notice, though, that Mouse World and its progeny seem to have revamped their menus so there were many “healthy” options available, and I had at least one good salad a day. Lots of fruit, too. Of course, they also added something that, in all my years, I have never seen at Mouse World – turkey legs. Eight dollar turkey legs. The sight of someone eating one always unnerves me, but it’s that much more upsetting to see a 3-year-old in a princess costume gnawing away on one right in front of It’s a Small World. Yech.

On the home front, Peach and Olive are happily ensconced in their beloved GGMS, while all hell breaks loose around them in the AISD. Thanks to Governor Hairdo and a host of other factors, public education in the Great State of Texas is in a world of hurt, and the Capital City is facing a major, major school budget crisis – one that the brain trust in residence thinks could be solved by closing some of the most successful, most active elementary schools in town. One of which Peach and Olive would be happily ensconced in were they not at GGMS. My limited faith in the AISD is rapidly disappearing, even as we help Peach apply for The Most Awesome Secondary School for Girls in the History of the World – which is public. Gulp. And where class spots are determined by lottery. Double gulp. If she doesn’t get the golden ticket this year, we have the wonderful option of having her stay one more year at GGMS, the symmetry of which I rather like, and we can try again next year. But the lottery pool is weighted 75% for girls coming from Title I schools and 25% for everyone else, including us, so either way, it’s a long shot. That said, I seem to recall Peach’s ticket being pulled from the smallest percentage for a lottery we never even signed up for, so I think karmic justice requires that she gets something she actually wants and deserves this time. Thank you, Universe.

On the job front, I’m still at The Job, for better or worse. Everyone was incredibly supportive the past year, allowing me to work from home when I needed to and adding a ton of paid sick time to my tally. But, but, but, I’m still pushing paper, which, especially now, seems so mind-suckingly(?) insignificant, I really really need a change. Since the day I started The Job, I’ve been looking for another one. I’m not even sure I want to practice law (was I ever?), and after seeing what I’ve seen this year, I’m just embarrassed to get paid for what I do. I’m not knocking The Law, just The Job. Rah rah rah, Atticus Finch and all that, I love him. Really. But I doubt Atticus ever got Employment Manual updates clarifying that t-shirts, caps, and shorts are not appropriate work attire and that colored ink, bouncing emoticons, and pictures of pets are not to be included in the signature block of work emails. REALLY. We have to put this shit in writing, y’all. Now with all the budget mess, even historically secure state jobs may have to be cut, and maybe mine will be one of them. And maybe I wouldn’t be too broken up about it. For now, I’ve got about seven different versions of my resume being sent to the four winds, and we’ll see what turns up.

Finally, it’s official – I Kick Ass. Earlier this month, the lovely Karla May (and her evil minions) set me up for a big surprise in the form of a 2011 Spike Gillespie Kick Ass Award, commemorating the helluva journey we Turistas have recently been on (did I mention?). I was shocked, very moved, and very appreciative. I love the award and what it stands for, but I love the gal that gave it to me – and the rest of y’all – immeasurably more.

Now let's get out there and have a Kick Ass New Year, y'all! Hi - YAH!