Some little children worry about the monster under their bed. The monster I worry about is cancer. I learned today that a colleague has a large malignancy in her breast. An otherwise healthy mom in her forties, she will now face rounds of blood tests, CAT scans, MRIs, chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. Her life will never be quite the same, nor will her family's. I feel heartsick.
When I was in my thirties, a half dozen friends with no family history were diagnosed with breast cancer within a few months. For a while, I couldn't figure out why I felt so depressed. Then I realized I was not only sad for them, but scared to death for myself. One friend succumbed to the disease. Thankfully, the others survived and thrived after having mastectomies and treatment. I know it took a toll on their lives. One woman was so distraught by the thought of missing her daughter's wedding, she bought an entire set of china for her and put it away. A dear friend lives with the knowledge that every female member of her family (except her) has had breast cancer.
That's just the women I have known and cared about. In the space of just a few months, my younger brother died of pancreatic cancer, our closest friend in the world lost his battle with lung cancer, another dear friend died of multiple myeloma. A former colleague, one I adored for his wicked sense of humor, took his own life when he saw no hope.
The good news is that science is making rapid progress toward successfully treating some cancers. Years ago, leukemia was a death sentence for children. Now more than 85 percent survive. Three years ago, my son-in-law, Matt, was terribly sick with a stage 4 lymphoma. After a successful stem cell transplant, he is now in complete remission.
In the meantime, take care of yourself! Ladies, get a yearly mammogram. Don't wait around if there is something suspicious going on in your body. I hope that someday, no one will have to face the evil that is cancer. Support cancer research! It's what will defeat the monster.
Is It Just Me?
I'll gladly admit it. I am a spelling and grammar nerd. It drives me crazy when I see words spelled incorrectly, grammar mistakes or murder of the English language being committed. That being said, I never claimed to be a punctuation or usage diva, but some things just jump out at me. On Saturday, we were at Ham's Orchard, a great place in the Texas countryside where you can buy peaches and all kinds of jams and jellies. Sure enough, I was waiting in line to pay, when I noticed a shiny gold label that said "Chocolate Sheath Cake." Last time I checked, a sheath was something a size 4 person would wear to a cocktail party. Of course, these girls wouldn't be consuming chocolate sheath cake on a regular basis, now would they?
When we lived in the suburbs of Denver years ago, there was a supermarket chain called King Soopers. I would drive a few extra miles so I wouldn't have to shop there. In our town, we have Fantastik Hair and De'lectable De'signs. There's also an oil change place called Kwik Kar. I know they are trying to be cute and eye-catching, but in my mind, I'm hearing fingernails on a blackboard.
Then there's the matter of servers in restaurants. They take your order efficiently, but let's say you ask for your salad dressing on the side. Invariably, they say with a smile, "No problem." Of course it's no problem. Putting salad dressing on the side is part of their job. This drives my husband crazy, too. It's become kind of a game. As soon as the server gets out of earshot, we explode in laughter.
One final thing - and I know I'm most likely in the minority here, but I was taught that "crispy" wasn't actually a word. "Crisp" was the correct form. So when I see menu items for "crispy shrimp" or "crispy french fries, I tend to wince. I guess it has come to mean something fried. We still refer to fresh vegetables or starched linen as crisp, don't we?
So that's it - the rant of a 74-year-old grammar nerd. Feel free to share the things that drive you crazy.
The Rites of Spring
Note: Sorry for my recent absence from the blogosphere, but my cast didn't come off until last week. I'm wearing a Velcro brace until the fracture heals completely, but now I can type and use the mouse with my right hand!
Spring brought lots of events for our family and some important changes for our grandchildren. Booker graduated from elementary school and will move onto middle school in the fall. Noah graduated from The Primrose School and will start kindergarten. His class of five-year-olds put on an adorable program including two songs. Lena scored in the top 25th percentile in the state of Texas on her standardized test!
Lena's hip-hop class was featured in a dance recital. Sporting blue sequined tops, her group did a great number. Not to be outdone, Booker's tap class at the Dallas Ballet Center danced to Greased Lightning, with the girls wearing pink poodle skirts and the two boys black sequined tops (channeling John Travolta). Their dance ended with the boys sliding across the stage toward each other, as if into second base. The recitals showed off the hard work these young dancers had put in over the course of many months.
With summer vacation underway, Hannah and her family plus Booker flew to San Antonio for a short break in a beautiful rented house with a pool. We were invited to tag along, but drove there instead. A highlight of the visit was a party recognizing the 90th birthday of Mildred Johnson (known as Mudear to the family, and Dear-Dear to the kids). She played an important role in my son-in-law Reagan's life, having him join her kids every summer in Albuquerque while his mom worked. The birthday girl enjoyed every moment of a celebration at the Little Red Steakhouse. It was a great opportunity to be together with family and friends.
With the kids out of school, our pool is getting a workout when they arrive home from their various summer camps and activities. My planters are ablaze with summer flowers and the raised garden is full of basil, rosemary and tomatoes. Life is good!
I'm Chris Barabasz, retired from a 35-year career managing communications for health care development (that's fundraising for you civilians). I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and freelance writer. My husband Andy and I moved from Delaware to Texas to be closer to our daughters and three adorable grandchildren.