Wednesday, 12 October 2011


I've posted a self-portrait from today because...

Today I did not throw myself a giant pity-party. Consider that high-five-worthy. Between hospital appointments, never getting through a personal phone call without the call waiting beep (and that's usually the hospital...again), having to make out a Will, read handouts (3" thick) from the Cancer Center (I call these "The Big Book of Cancer) and trying to keep up with answering letters and the more mundane aspects of life like laundry, dishes and housework, it's really easy to find myself with fraying nerves and heading for the big black pit.

It's imperative - and maybe even a literal matter of life and death - to stay out of that pit. And to remember the overwhelming kindnesses that have come my way over the course of the last month. It stuns me to think that on September 13th, I was still clinging to the idea that there was a chance that I had a simple inner ear problem. By the 14th, my life had gone ass over teakettle and suddenly Cancer was my new day job.

As a confirmed hermit and curmudgeon, a phone phobic and avoider of most social events involving more than 2 other people, it also stuns me to see how many friends I have. I'd always thought that if anything awful happened, I would have to locate a good sized cardboard box as my new apartment and find an alley to put it in. Wendy, my friend for 40 years, swore that she'd never let that happen. And it wasn't that I lacked faith in her - but I rather thought that stubborn pride and independence might rear it's foolish head and I'd be unable to accept any offer of help.

Amazing how a person can accept help when suddenly they find they don't have a job or a small business or anything else to pay for luxuries like food. When they are, in fact, attached to IVs and a catheter and can't even get up to close a door. The goodwill and positive energy directed my way boggled my mind. People did everything from buying my groceries to caring for my cat to cleaning my house. Suddenly, there was "Team Linda," a group of friends both local and at a distance, who dedicated themselves to getting me through this - whether it was by bringing me food, paying a bill, driving me to the hundreds of appointments, giving good advice, listening when I'm really down or thinking of all the potential needs I might have - and don't want to face. I'm not going to name my local friends here. You know who you are. I just hope you know how much I appreciate everything. Thanks also to people who write and call themselves "only" Facebook friends. You've been amazing. There's no "only" there at all.

And my dear friend Cate, in Milwaukee, put her board games up for auction and I hear that the auction is rolling right along. Not only that, but strangers have donated their own games to the auction. Hello out there, Board Game Geeks. Talk about the kindness of strangers. Now, I may want to kill Cate for that second pathetic picture she sneaked up on your site, but her heart was definitely in the right place and she's thinking a whole lot more clearly than I am about future expenses - like the price of medications. I'm grateful to her - and to all the BGG folks who pitched in. I'm just amazed at how much power stems from the grass roots. Thank you so much.

(I don't know if this is an original thought or not) but I believe that the opposite of despair is not hope - but gratitude.

I'm so very grateful to all of you. "Thank you," doesn't even come close.



Sam said...

Hi Linda! I found your blog through Cate at BGG - I just want to let you know that a lot of people are pulling for you to make it through this.

It's a crappy hand you've been dealt, but reading your blog has shown me that you are handling this with dignity, grace, and honesty.

Stay Strong - My thoughts are with you.

(lorddillon on BGG)

Cate said...

Hi Linda, I posted this on BGG. I hope people leave some comments.

Love you, Cate

Anonymous said...

I wish you all the best from Norway!


Anonymous said...

Best of wishes from Iceland. I heard about your fight over at Boardgamegeek, and just wanted to drop by and say hi!

I've lost family members to cancer, but more importantly, I've had family members who've recovered from cancer, so keep up your spirits and battle through!

Gudjon (aka Xelforp on BGG)

Howpublic said...

Norway? Iceland? This Board Game thing goes far! Gudjon, Monica, Sam - thanks so much. Gudjon, that last thought was one I'll hang on to, for sure. And Sam, all those positive wishes make a huge difference in how I handle this "crappy hand." Thank you all for commenting. Nice to meet you.
And thanks for posting the link, Cate!

Michael said...

Hi Linda,

I also found your blog through Kate's post on BGG and wanted to come over and wish you well.

Good Luck,

Jack said...

Hi Linda,

You said: "Now, I may want to kill Cate for that second pathetic picture she sneaked up on your site."

Please don't kill Cate - that was my fault. Cate showed me pictures of you and I picked them out, so I should be the target of the hitman you hire with the proceeds of the auction, not her. :)

I did love that first picture we used though - so full of love.

Over the years, the BGG community has come to know Cate for the wonderful, caring person that she is. I have had the good fortune to become her friend in the real world too. It's clear to us that anyone she cares about this much must be someone really special and worthy of our support, good wishes, prayers and love.

We love you Linda and will be sending our strength your way in the hopes that it will help you in your fight. As a survivor, I know how important support and love is. Please remember that yours now extends far beyond the people immediately around you.

- Jack (aka anglotiger)

Matt said...

Hey Linda,

I consider myself a friend to Cate and Jack at BGG and want to pass on a word of encouragement to you! Whether you like it or not, I'll be praying for you!! :)


Matt said...

Hello Linda,

I'm Matt from Indiana who has heard of your plight on (I consider myself a friend to Cate and Jack at BGG) and would like to pass along a word of encouragement. Whether you like it or not, I'll be praying for you! :)

Get well soon!


Christian said...

Hello Linda,

I love your attitude. As a confessed curmudgeon, dungeon-dweller I appreciate your words and your pragmatism.

I wanted to encourage you to keep that attitude working for ya, stubbornly. My Mom is a cancer survivor from 1983, and at that time she was given a 20% chance of living 4 years.

Her cancer had reached her lymph system (breast cancer) and it looked bad.

Well my Mom comes from a long line of stubborn Germans who will not do what they're told to do, so she wasn't going to die on any Doctor's schedule.

In fact, I was 12 and my Mom and I would often head up to the golf course in the middle of the hot summer and she'd tough out 18 holes of golf with me just hours after doing chemotherapy. She was told to go home an rest.

She had friends who did that and died on schedule. It was sad to see them give up to the disease.

But my Mom was a person who kicked cancer in the balls, so to speak. She employed positve thinking/imagery while doing chemo and radiation (imagining the meds as little pac-men chomping away at the cancer cells).

She also surrounded herself with support group folks, all the while avoiding the folks with horrible attitudes. They sucked the vigor from her, and she wasn't going to allow that.

She had an aunt who lived for 20 years with major illnesses/cancer on what we as a family considered was SPITE ALONE. I mean, she was a bi***, and her family found it hard to deal with her but she did eke out a life that way.

I'm not saying that you need to become a full-fledged beyotch. But employing some of that fiery self-confidence and 'tude will put some gasoline in your tank.

It sounds like you're already pretty good at that. But I do pray that you'll find your own particular narrative and your own unique way to kick this illness where it hurts.

I'm helping in small ways with the auction, but wish I could do more. I hope these words give you some oomph to face tomorrow.

Remember, it's only fun in the basement for about an hour. Then, really, it's better upstairs with those who love you.

A basement-dwelling curmudgeon...
- Christian

Christian E. Vettrus said...

Hello Linda,

I hope my comment from yesterday wasn't too much. I see that it hasn't been posted.

I apologize if I offended you in any way.

Be blessed,

Howpublic said...

First, Christian - Certainly NOT "too much" I'm a lot better off when I find my inner bitch! And the story of your mother is very inspiring. Thank you so much for telling me.
Be aware, everyone...of time differences and my hospital schedule. Sometimes it's half a day or more before I check comments.
Jack! You're the culprit!Well, I guess I have to forgive you, don't I? And I'm glad you appreciate Cate like you do - and by the way, she is my friend in the real world too! We just don't get to see each other enough. Thank you for your wishes of you will see in the next entry, I do get a little weary at time. And Matt - believe me, I would NEVER discourage anyone from praying for me. I have my times of flagging faith of course, and so it's good to have backup.
What lovely people you BGGers are!