I knew her as Mémé.  Her name was Irene Antoinette Peloquin, and she married my grandfather in the 1930s.  Grandpa, to put it mildly, was not a nice guy.  She stayed married to him, though, until he died in 1980.  She had two children.  She was 101.

I regret that she never met my children.  Ryan and I had fantasies about flying into Florida and driving up the east coast to visit her in Massachusetts.  We’ll never have that opportunity now.  I know she would have been just as patient, loving and kind to them as she was to my brother and I.

She was a beautiful woman.  She attended church every day.  I’m sure that her faith helped her get through the hard times.  She had two young children when Pearl Harbor was attacked and no doubt had trouble making ends meet during the war.

After I got sick, I didn’t reach out to her as often as I should have.  Part of me didn’t really want her to know what was happening.  I wonder now if that was a mistake.

I loved her.  I hope wherever she is, it’s warm and bright.

wait and see

I don’t really believe in New Year’s resolutions.  Why wait until some other day to resolve to do something?  Today is the perfect day to do something.  Having said that, I’ve decided to write every day.  What I have to say might not have anything to do with cancer, but I’ll still write it here.

Instagram - Jan. 8, 2013

Today, I’ve been on Tamoxifen for about ten days.  All of my fears, so far, have been unfounded.  I feel kind of tired occasionally, but otherwise, nothing is happening, which is, I guess, good.  Effexor, which I’m already taking, is given to Tamoxifen users who experience hot flashes, but I’ve had nary a hot flash.  My internal thermostat gets a little weird sometimes, but the sensation is nowhere near what I felt during chemo.

I mentioned my parents’ impending visit a few months ago.  My dad didn’t make it out, for reasons I can’t quite figure out.  I was very angry at him, and I’m still not over it, but I’m more disappointed than anything now.

The myriad ways family members deal with cancer is certainly something they don’t write about in books.  Even the conversations I have with my friends surprise me.  Some friends have never even spoken one word about cancer to me, which, in a way, is comforting.

I’ve slowly gotten back into baking.  I used to bake every week.  In the past year, whenever one of the kids has needed a baked good for a class party or function, I’ve gone to the store.  It made me feel guilty and sort of inadequate.  A few weeks ago, though, Katie needed a dessert for Girl Scouts, so I found my favorite recipe, and started baking, and it felt good.


Before radiation began, my port was unceremoniously removed.  It’s the strangest sensation, to have minor surgery while still awake.  I know I felt disconnected, as if I were outside of myself but unable to watch.  It seems like they had just begun working when someone said, “almost done.  Just closing you up”.  The procedure marked the end of the worst phase of my treatment, and the only evidence left was a small scar that even now is fading fast.

They gave me my port in a small plastic container, but I ended up tossing it.

Driving to Radiation

I was optimistic, so sure, that radiation would be no big deal.  And for the most part, it was.  It was anticlimactic, even.  I looked at it as a way to motivate me to get up and do stuff.  The whole process, from backing out of the driveway to turning back into it, took forty minutes on a bad day.  The fear of the process was the hardest thing to get over, and when I’d been going for a couple of weeks, I decided that I was a big crybaby.

Toward the end of treatment, though, it started to hurt.

At first, it stung in a mildly irritating way, like right after a long beach trip.  Then I noticed the blisters.  Then I woke up one day, and the whole thing looked like a Stephen King story.  It oozed and was a shade of red that should be illegal, all in a perfectly defined square.  It was beyond nasty, and now I know that Ryan is some kind of demigod sent from heaven, because he bandaged me and helped me keep it clean and didn’t ever complain.

It looks fine now.  It healed very quickly.  When I visited Dr. Nguyen when it was its nastiest, he told me that it actually looked good, comparatively speaking.  I felt grateful that he didn’t think it looked bad, and realized that I was probably lucky.  I know that I tend to have amnesia about my body and illnesses and injury, but I think radiation might have been more difficult than my mastectomy.

Radiation Waiting Room

I met some great people in the radiation clinic.  On the first day, in the waiting room, was a man with an autoharp.  He was playing it and singing.  I watched him, and thought about taking his picture, but decided it would be rude.  I didn’t get to find out if he was a patient or family member because I was summoned into the office.

The next day, I saw him again, leaving the office, with his arm around a lady, who was carrying a rose and a certificate.  It was her last day.  The image of them, walking arm and arm, into a new beginning, made me tear up a little.