Monday, June 30, 2008

Dearest Patrick.....

I still have a few boundaries! You will just have to Love, Ang

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Great news

I had my first colonoscopy as a rectal cancer survivor was yesterday. I had my breakdown in the morning. Practicing for bad news? Maybe - I am not sure. When I arrived for the procedure my blood pressure was 160 over 81....yeah, just a bit high. But by the time I saw my surgeon etc, my blood pressure was way down. I wore my, "What's up your butt?" t-shirt. I got a few looks, but the nurses in GI totally got it and let me wear it into the procedure. The nurse who was prepping me was Canadian. I have a way of knowing these things. smile So, we started talking about that and how it is hard to meet people in Seattle. We talked about her seven month old, how he moves all over the crib, Dr. Brown bottles, etc. I told her not to give up on Seattlites - we are a rare breed but, when the worst comes, loyal beyond comprehension. I told her about all the help I had and how it made all the difference for me and my family. We ended with her saying, "Well, you have had quite enough of all that. It is time for this (the colonoscopy)to be fine and for you and your family to move on." Translation for the Americans, "Well, what a pile of crap - let's get this over with so you can get on with your life!" You may not like it, but you're laughing because it is true! As quickly as I laid down and turned on my side, I was awake, but really groggy, so groggy I was able to pass gas with other people in the room (quite a feat for me). My chart was next to me. I was trying to read it. All I remember was, "Patient took more meds than usual. Everything else fine." What the heck did that mean? The nurse noticed me and asked how I was doing. I said fine, but I was really out of it. She told me that they had to dope me up more than usual. (That Canadian probably gave me the good stuff!) I got dressed and quickly figured out that I was not walking up to the surgeon's office. So, I got a ride. My surgeon wanted to talk to me personally. His Office Administrator had warned me that he would call me to the office - good or bad, so I was prepared. I don't remember a lot of the visit, but my Mom said that he said, "You now have the colon of a 16 year old. I removed two tiny polyps of no consequence. You can't even tell where the tumor was or that you had had radiation. So, I can tell you with certainty, you have nothing up your butt." I managed to get out of chair and I hugged him. I hope it wasn't sloppy like being drunk. My Mom said it fine. We went back down to GI, dropped off the chair, and I walked REALLY slowly to the car. I think I made a crack to Mom about how some people go and get new nose, cheekbones, etc, I went for a new colon, but maybe I dreamt it - who knows. Apparently, I got home, fell asleep, played with the kids, watched CARS, talked to Karissa, and checked email, but all of that is pretty foggy. So, if you send me something yesterday or talked to me on the phone, I may have no memory of it. In the end (yes, I am hilarious), this is very good news. Typically, colon cancer comes back fast and in the same location that it started. So, I have dodged the second most deadly cancer again. I will have a PET scan in the middle of July that will tell me if it has returned anywhere else. It is unlikely, but it was unlikely that I had cancer in the first place. It was unlikely I kept my hair during treatment....see where I am going with this? I take nothing for granted however, I hope for the best because cancer can't take that from me - good or bad. Feeling happy, relieved, and humbled all in the same moment, Ang

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Everyone keeps asking me

..."How are YOOOOUUUU d-o-i-n-g?!?!?" I am starting to look to the side and say, "Are you talking to me?", but I respond with, "I a-m are YOOOUUU d-o-i-n-g???" Apparently, this is because I didn't say much about my last exam with my oncologist. Well, here is how it went. Oncologist sees me one hour after my appointment and I am STARVING. Enter Oncologist, "How are you????" "I am fine. How are you?" "I am good." "Great, how am I?" "Great!" "Great!" (We are like cheerleaders at this point.) Both look around and say, "What you are doing this summer????" We chat for a little bit and I finally say, "Okay, so I am getting a colonoscopy on the 28th of this month, when do you want the PET/CT scan?" He tells me in the middle of July and then I say, "If it comes back, I will be really pissed." He replies, "I will too." and he looks at me. It is just him and me in the office and I start to cry. He says, "You have been so good about all of this. It is natural to be nervous about the scans and if it comes back." I reply, "But I have nothing to be sad for - my story is a happy one - I have friends that...." He replies to me saying, "I have a guy that is seven years out - never had it come back and he still is a wreck every time he comes." I am thinking, "I am not a wreck - I am just crying - you want to see a wreck, stay tuned!", but I didn't say anything. I got myself together and finished the exam. He told me that he would be on vacation returning the Monday after my colonoscopy, so if anything comes up. I looked at him and said, "Nothing is going to come up, so I HAVE NO IDEA WHY YOU ARE SAYING THAT." He looked at me with a straight face and said, "Clearly you are right - my mistake." And, with a hug, I leave, go home, eat at 2:00, start to exhale and relax, get spots in front of my eyes, and get a migraine. Clearly, I am still effected. Such is life cancer free. So, here is the status.....I am three months cancer free. By my next appointment, I will have had a colonoscopy and a PET/CT scan. If those are clear, God willing, I will be four months cancer free. If I get to six months and remain cancer free, my odds go way up and I mean WAY UP. So, as I walk this road with people that are beside me (some cancer free, some not, and some not with us anymore), I still have fear, I still wonder, and I still cherish every moment because what if? So, I am fine, but I not, but I am - make sense? :) Ang

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Of those that are still reading my blog, many of you have asked me, "Who is Pat and Mag?" You love their posts, laugh out loud, and praise me for having them in my life. I take no credit on the last one. They chose me. I had NO IDEA what an honor that would be until way after it happened. I was that naive. I have always prided myself on be a good judge of character, but I missed them completely. They sneak up on you or something - I am still not sure that is how sneaky they are! Anyway, enough about me. Here is your answer.....Patrick and Maggie are are quite simply, two amazing people. They make you laugh when you want to cry and make sure the tissue is available when you do want to cry, because everyone needs to cry even if it is from laughing. I adore them both, but for ENTIRELY different reasons. For those of you who know them, you know EXACTLY what I am talking about and for those of you that don't, may you meet them someday. I have been thinking about them a lot this past week because, unfortunately, even amazing people are not exempt from the pain of cancer. They recently lost a family member to it. So, while they were fighting cancer in their family, they made time to post on my blog religiously, follow my progress, and cook meals that they delivered from over a hour away. You see how amazing they are? So, for all of you that loved pat&mag posts, say a prayer for them tonight - they are in mine. Love, Ang

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Tonight we had dinner at my parents to celebrate Father's Day. My parents live on a good size property especially for the Seattle Area - the house sits on the hill and their pasture goes down to the street. My favorite time of day there is just before the sun goes over the next hill. The house glows with afternoon light as the sun comes through the trees. It is just beautiful. Around that time, I could not see or hear Mason, so I went to look for him. I went where I would be and I found him in the pasture at the top of the hill looking at the trees the way I do. I just watched him for a few seconds. When he saw me he smiled and said, "Mommy, you play with me?" The timing wasn't great, but I couldn't resist and said, "Yes, baby, I will." He rolled down the hill and ran to the trees that filter the sunlight in the summer. He looked back up at the house and said, "My ball is so far away. So is Grandma and Grandpa's house!" We climbed a tree, or should I say, he did and I spotted him. Then, when I was time to go back, he didn't want to climb the hill, so I dared him to run. "You run with me?" he asked smiling up at me. I looked down at his amazing little face, "GO!" And we ran all the way back. Enjoy your week, Ang

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Life at warp speed....

As I get stronger and stronger, we go faster and faster. In the past few weeks, we have started upgrading the kitchen, assembled a cedar shed, assembled a swing set, and gone to DISNEYLAND. Yep, Disneyland - more on that in a bit. I wonder if we are trying get back the year I was sick, or maybe it is that we are not waiting for anything anymore. Maybe it is we are thinking that we must do everything right now right this very minute so that we don't have to worry about it if I get sick again. Or, maybe this how normal people are who feel well. I am not sure I will ever know for sure, but what I know is that everyday I wake up, I look at the clock and think, "One more day.....thank you." As for all the house projects, Grant and I decided two things. The first, to stay in our house instead of moving (which was the original plan before cancer) and, the second, was to do what we always wanted to the house and not stress so much about spending the money. Hence, PROJECTS. Will they never end?????? On to Disneyland - that is a happier topic! What a place! What I think is funny is that only one person asked me why I was going like it was a crazy idea and I responded with, "Doesn't everyone go to Disneyland when something goes extremely wrong or, in my case, extremely right?" Yes, my kids are too young, but this trip was for me and so they had pictures with their Mom at Disneyland - just in case. Mason loved everything I thought he wouldn't like and didn't like everything I thought he would. Favorite part? For me, there were two things. First, it was Nolan staying awake in the long line for Nemo and then falling asleep during the ride. Second, it was Mason asking to go on Autopia with me and insisting that I drive. HUGE COMPLIMENT FROM A KID WITH A TRUCK. For Mason, Tigger, Lighthing McQueen, and Donald Duck - HANDS DOWN. For Nolan, was there anything he didn't like? When Mason would get scared on a ride, Nolan was like, "BRING IT ON DUDE!!!" The weird part was, Grant, Mason, and I all got sick for 12 hours. Luckily, it went in a line so that we were not all sick at the same time. WEIRD. Well, it is back to reality and I have my oncologist appointment tomorrow. Hopefully, I get clearance for another 30 days cause we have camping booked, bark to spread, etc. etc. etc.! ;) Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

My first Relay for Life

as a survivor was on Friday with my buddy Bob. Funny thing is I am not ready to call myself a survivor. I think it is just too soon, but Bob kicked me in the butt and told me I was. I have learned that whatever Bob says is usually true. If it isn't, I am not going to do the research to prove him wrong. He is way too into research. I have been invited to a lot of Relays and I am trying to contribute in every way I can - money, time, etc. as I appreciate the Relay for Life so much. I always did, but now, well you know, cutting edge drugs have, thus far, saved my there anything else to say? But this Relay was the most important to me. This was Bob's baby and I wanted more than anything to walk the survivor lap with him. Remember, Bob bugged me until I opened up at the beginning. He encouraged me, he listened to me, and he made me laugh like only a co-rectal cancer patient can. I dressed his chemo "tree" with ornaments during Christmas and I listened to the pros and cons of all the schools his daughter was considering for college, both while in chemo. I was walking with Bob and everyone in my world supported that. Grant picked up the kids from daycare AND took them to a birthday party for me. While it pulled at me to not be at the birthday party from the beginning (some of the greatest people I know were there), I didn't want my boys at the Relay. It is just too soon. I still cry and get weepy and I just don't want that for them. Some advice that I got at the beginning was don't let cancer take their time. So, Daddy took care of them, and I joined them a little late. In the end, no biggy. Anyway, I digress.....the Relay was good. I got caught up with Bob and walked with him. So, as with all my life stories these days, there was a funny part. I didn't want to spend $10 and register as a "survivor". Remember, I didn't think I was one yet and I wanted all my money to go to Bob's team, so I brought EVERY T-SHIRT y'all bought and sent me and let Bob pick which one he liked. Of course, being the rule follower that I am, I asked permission to wear something different than the standard "survivor" shirt and was granted. Of all my T-shirts, Bob liked, "What is up your butt???" with the blue (remember - should be brown) suvivor ribbon. So, on it went and off we went. At the end of the lap, they have a microphone where you could, if you wanted to, state your name, cancer, and years of remission. I wasn't going to do it, and then I thought (and said aloud), "I don't think I can waste this T-shirt." For most of you who know me, you are probably thinking, "That woman used to fight over the bull horn" and you are right, but cancer changes everything about you. So, I was the last person in line and when my turn came up I said, and I quote, "Angela Clarno, Stage Four Rectal Cancer hence the shirt...pause....audience laugh...., remission three months." Audience clap and laugh. When I left the mic, I said, "You gotta have a sense of humor with rectal cancer!" I got my picture in the the Kent Reporter. The photographer said, "You wear a shirt like that, you want attention." and I think....maybe cancer didn't change me so much...."Here let me spell my name for you..." I had some time to take pictures of Bob and his family during the survivor and caretaker lap, I shared my story with a few that approached me, and cried. Then, it was time to leave and be Mommy again. I welcomed it, but when I looked back on the field exiting to the parking lot, I was so happy that I had that time, that moment and that amazing weather. How truly lucky I am - I am a survivor. Happy Sunday, Ang