Holidays…Hounds…and an Eggnog Snog


dog and treeI definitely look weather-beaten…oh hell, let’s not mince words…I look like shit. To top it off, I can’t feel my hands or feet from the neuropathy and there’s a distinct metallic taste in my mouth. When they unplugged me from the last drip my husband gave me a celebratory kiss and said, “That’s as close as I’ve ever been to heavy metal.” What a guy! I might have spurned the lip-lock myself, but he gets extra points for the snog.

Recently The New York Times ran an article entitled “What Does Cancer Smell Like?” (Subtitle: Tracking The Old Jock Strap In You.) Supposedly research is being done to find out if dogs can detect the disease. It all started back in 1989, when a woman went to see her doctor about a mole. She had no clue it was there until her Collie-Doberman mix became aggressive, trying to bite it off through her pants. (Cancer screening…another reason to buy a violent dog!) The mole turned out to be melanoma, so now they’re calling in the hounds for research. So far Dr. Petri’s canine study is inconclusive, but no matter…I’m on high alert this holiday. You can jolly well believe I’m keeping a close eye out for large slobbering mutts who want to make mincemeat of my pelvis.

I’ve always had an uncanny ability to identify odors. If given the opportunity to dive nose first into my tumor ridden uterus way back in August when it was removed, I could easily have pegged the bouquet of that grisly organ. For all I know my overtaxed womb reeked of granny panties doused in Shalimar…or maybe a downwind Greeley Colorado cow pie. Regardless…there’s no need to pull out those formaldehyde tissue samples for a Pitbull’s second opinion!

As the holidays draw near, I am reminded of many fond memories and blessings. One of my favorite childhood moments took place in Seattle. My mother would sit at the typewriter in my dad’s office as I jumped into his leather chair to tell her stories. I remember we did this on rainy days…and there were many. My imagination ran wild…it was like recess for the brain. I can still hear her fingers on the keys and the buzzing sound of the carriage return as it set up for a new line. The possibilities were endless…where did the characters go?…Whom did they encounter?…and then, depending on my mood, how did they meet their demise? Sometimes they died in quicksand (what happened to quicksand? Did we pave over it?) Maybe eaten by a crocodile?…and sometimes they lived happily ever after. My mom filled a notebook, but unfortunately no one can find it. I do recall one story about not wanting to be a raindrop for fear I’d be like everyone else.

My perspective on motherhood has broadened since being diagnosed with cancer. I know it sounds strange, but this illness reminds me of being pregnant. There are the obvious similarities… watching your diet, feeling sick to your stomach, and the need for more rest. But there is a mental side as well. Small grievances that once got in the way no longer matter. Things that used to send me over the edge don’t even hit my radar. Instead I’m working on letting go of past hurt, and finding forgiveness. The important thing is to live a healthy life (but still have fun), love my family and friends, and pay forward all the incredible support I’ve received.

Of course cancer and pregnancy bring totally different outcomes. One involves birth, and the other rebirth. Either way you are changed forever. The two situations can show you the highest highs and the lowest lows. Each bears a gift, but you may have to search a little harder for the favor from cancer. Both require a tremendous amount of patience, trust, and a sense of humor. Still…A child changes your life forever, whereas cancer only changes the course of your life. One friend likes to remind me that cancer is a temporary condition. Every day will be different. It won’t last forever…just like raising kids. One minute you are submerged in it…and the next, you’re buoyed by newfound wisdom.

Oh my, I’m getting heavy. I’ll stop now and wish you all a healthy happy holiday season and a bright and prosperous New Year. That’s right…Christmas is coming! No stopping the heavy metal hickies under the mistletoe or the dollar store ornaments on display! Sure I’ll be up to my underarm chemo port in a turkey carcass, but at least I won’t smell like Shalimar and fresh cow pies!

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  1. Girl, I do not really believe that you ever smell of granny panties and Shalimar. You are dehydrated most probably and that makes you smell funny to yourself. You’ll feel better when the chemo is over. (That crap is poison. But it doesn’t go on forever.) Keep the faith and things will be all right in the end. If they are not all right yet, that means it’s not the end.

  2. Good advice, Linda. A little funk won’t kill me…and I’ve been called metal mouth before so I’m working with it. Nearing the end of this chemo trail. December 31st I’ll be unplugged. I might not stay awake until the ball drops in Time Square, but I’ll definitely see the chemo drop.

  3. Happy Holidays! Here’s to a 2014 0f light & joy!

  4. Thank you, Bridget! Right back at you!

  5. Yay! You’re almost there, Annie.

    Wishing you and your loved ones a very merry Christmas and a totally kickass New Year.

    Rock on!

  6. 18 days and counting! Despite all, your humor and wisdom are in fine form. 🙂

  7. Tracey, I sure do appreciate the countdown. I feel like Dick Clark with a whole lot more wrinkles!

  8. dearest girl, i cannot tell you how happy and pleased i am for you. i think about you everyday. i am an expert on monkey funk. my mother, bless her heart, washes just the cotton gusset of her drawers and then air dries them on the furnace vents in my house.
    merry christmas to you and yours xxxx bev

    • Bev, I am so happy to hear from you. I thinking of you daily. I hope you are doing okay.

      I don’t know if I’d run out and make business cards that your an expert on monkey funk, but it sure would spice up your resume. Not sure about venting them on the furnace, but everyone has got to do whats they got to do. 🙂 Merry Christmas to you and your family, dear Bev.

  9. Merry Christmas to you Annie and your family…..

    We have the countdown here even though I don’t celebrate it I still buy the wife a present and she buys me one.

    Christmas dinner will be me, the wife and my mum. There the problems start, one likes turkey, one likes pork and my favourite is lamb. So we have small amounts of all three available. It’s like the UN sorting out what we have!!!

    The wife is working boxing day so a one day christmas here. I will make the 26th a normal working day.

    We have the normal junk on television so I will settle back in the evening to watch something on the computer from my collection and have a mental regret that yet again I had eaten too much.

    So enjoy the holiday season and just spend a second to think of us with cloudy sky terrible television and most likely rain!!! Oh the joys of a British Christmas.

  10. Oh, Robert…I like that you can visualize Christmas…even if it’s three separate meals, rain, and bad TV. It sounds like you have your role, a gift exchange, and a job waiting on the other side. Have a lovely holiday season with your family. So glad your mom is out of the hospital and back on her feet. That’s something to be thankful for. All the best to the three of you! Merry Christmas!

  11. I always thought the smell out of Greeley was Sugar beets….cowpies smell much better. LOL

  12. My husband remembers riding in a big truck full of sugar beets to be turned into pulp for cattle feed. He said there was a pungent smell…and if you add a cow pie or two, it was almost hallucinogenic. Thanks, Terry. Happy Holidays!

  13. Ok my dearest friend… still have that Annie “snap” and “tap”!! Thinking of you everyday and in between the seconds. Wish I was closer to you and give you a “sister-hug” and a big one at that. But you may bat me away….well a few laughs anyway–you know like we like to laugh?? I have been sitting beside my dear Robert as he is in his final days…99 yrs. old and resting peacefully at Northwest Hospital. I know he adored you and is sending his strength your way too!! I will check in soon-you are in our thoughts always!!
    Love you so much, beth, robyn, claire, margaret, ellen, and robert ♥

  14. Oh Beth, I am so sorry to hear about your dear dad. He is truly a wonderful man. He loves all of you so! Give Robert a hug for me. Take good care, Beth. Love to you all.

  15. love your writing, love your writing voice and inner spirit, love your self-deprecating humour and love the hop and joy you inspire in others

  16. Thank you, Melanie. I truly appreciate it! Have a great holiday with your family!

  17. Greetings Annie.
    As always, nice to hear your voice. Interesting that dog stuff…read something a few years ago. Hate to think of someone exchanging cancer for rabies though.

    All the best for Christmas! Nice to have you back.
    Cheers, ic

  18. Hey Ian,
    I also heard a story about two dogs who attacked a woman’s chest after she’d just had a double mastectomy. Poor thing! Don’t know if the dog’s smelled cancer, but it was back to the reconstructive room for her. I’m keeping a low profile. It would be just like me to finish chemo and be attacked by rabid dogs. On the upside, look at the endless blog posts as I recovered! (That’s just sick.) Happy holidays…and a big cheers to you!

  19. Another thought provoking, and relevant post. More than anything, I’m wishing you and yours a happy and healthy holiday. I look forward to more fun and reads in 2014.

  20. Thank you, Dani. Have a nice healthy holiday season. I need to catch up on some of your latest blog posts!

  21. Annie, you forever amaze and inspire me.

    “Of course cancer and pregnancy bring totally different outcomes. One involves birth, and the other rebirth. Either way you are changed forever. The two situations can show you the highest highs and the lowest lows. Each bears a gift, but you may have to search a little harder for the favor from cancer. Both require a tremendous amount of patience, trust, and a sense of humor. Still…A child changes your life forever, whereas cancer only changes the course of your life. One friend likes to remind me that cancer is a temporary condition. Every day will be different. It won’t last forever…just like raising kids. One minute you are submerged in it…and the next, you’re buoyed by newfound wisdom.”

    That is beautifully written. I never would have made the connection between those two.

    Happy holidays, my friend!

  22. Such a wonderful memory, Annie, of you and your mom and the stories shared. Hope you find her book. And by the way, I happen to like the scent of Shalimar. It’s what I wore in high school.

    Happy Holidays!

  23. Monica, I love that memory too. It was such a nice time. I felt so grownup and important…a feeling I haven’t felt much since then! Happy Holidays to you!

  24. Your upbeat spirit and dry wit continue to inspire. Much healing to you in the New Year!

  25. Bloody hell Annie ……. I took a few months out and came back to find you have suffered cancer. That shocked me, chick …….. I am properly rooting for you and will be back to find out how you are getting on. How’s things there?

    • Annie, I went through withdrawals when you stopped blogging. Glad to hear that you might be back at the writing desk. Always a lot of fun adventures at your house. Happy New Year to you!

  26. Wishing you joy and healing, Annie. Merry Christmas.

  27. Dearest…..thinking of you today–how is the count down mood going??? When you are done with this round of chemo infusion….what is the next step? I know you did not prepare for this “thing” to attack you–and you are faced with many choices to make…..and it must be quite challenging for you to comprehend what you are faced with and feel daily. Even if you don’t feel it…I am right by your side cheering you on and celebrating YOU every step of the way!!!!!!
    My philosophy is: life is like being on a beach. You get knocked down by a mother of a wave and you can either lie there and drown, or you can get up and move……YOU are moving forward and can beat this “thing”. I am here to celebrate your every victory!!!! With love and huge hugs for you!!! xoxo beth

    • Beth,
      You are always so sweet to check in. I think your philosophy on life is quite fitting. The last chemo sort of knocked me down like a mother of a wave (mainly due to anemia) but I’m back up and tap dancing again! There are a few more tests to take in the near future…a colonoscopy, CT scans, blood work, and an operation to take out the port. That’s all good. I’m healing, getting stronger each day and I do believe there might be the beginnings of a crop circle growing on my head. I may have to post the sweeping takeover of the follicles! Happy New Year, Beth. I know you must miss Robert terribly. He was such an incredible man with the best smile ever.

  28. Wishing you a very Happy and successful New Year. I hope this year gives you the desires of your heart, a massive improvement on your health and many blessings. Take Care.

  29. Hie Anne

    How are you now?? I guess you must be done with your chemos by now and must be enjoying and loving your new Year?? Wish you a Very Happy New Year! 🙂 I’m so proud of you and your approach towards your life. Keep writing! Keep smiling! Love u. 🙂

    • Esabella,

      Yes, I am done with chemo. Sometimes it’s hard to believe. Thanks so much for staying in touch and again, I want to thank you for writing your wonderful poem. I have it on my wall above my writing desk. Hope you are having a great New Year. All the best to you, Esabella!

  30. Checking in and cheering for you!!!

    xo, beth-robyn-claire-margaret, and beauty ♥

  31. Just checking in to see how you are doing. It snowed in Seattle last night so the city is covered in a white blanket, cold as hell and slippery everywhere. A stay at home moment. We are leaving for Mexico to attend Evan’s (youngest son) wedding. Should be a lot of laughs and margaritas. Are you planning any trips up north? Would love to see you and catch up. Hope you are recovering and the circle crop of hair on your head is becoming a full field of wheat ; )

    Miss you,


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