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Sunday, November 14, 2010


I haven't run since Thursday. I've been sidelined with the shin splints from hell. Friday, while hiking around in the Opal Creek Wilderness, I noticed that my left leg was pretty sore and achy. By yesterday morning it was just plain painful. This is pretty much what my weekend has looked like since:

I picked up a couple bags of frozen peas from the grocery store on my way home from the Portland Art Museum yesterday and have had one or the other strapped to my leg with an ace bandage ever since. On the up side, it's given me a chance to write the Christmas cards - purchased at the art museum and hitting mail boxes next week - that will beg support for my marathon from my family.

While cleaning out some boxes in my closet today, in search of thank you cards to send my supporters, I came across my journal from last year. I remembered distinctly writing about Uncle Jeff's leukemia when it was first diagnosed and was curious to see what I'd said. Here's what I found, unedited, forgive my ignorance:

October 25th, 2009

A while ago I was watching "Brothers and Sisters" and Kitty was diagnosed with cancer and the thought came to me, (and it's horrible and I hope no one ever reads this) "I wish I had cancer. What a great way to get some real perspective. All my ridiculous, petty unhappiness would vanish under the enormity of being faced with my mortality." Yikes. So I've been, in the back of my mind, trying to prioritize my life ever since. What do I waste precious thoughts on? What do I allow myself to become preoccupied with?

December 7th, 2009

On October 25th I admitted to "wishing" for cancer in some inane capacity believing it would render a carpe diem mentality, unshakable, that would catapult me into an entirely new phase in life (but not of course without first having a dramatic brush with death that would garner lots and lots of otherwise unsolicited attention) in which I succeeded in fulfilling all my less practical ambitions, ones that in this reality (the non-cancer one) just seem like pipe dreams.

Well, I sincerely hope that my wish did not in some way affect reality somehow - the Friday before Thanksgiving we got word that Uncle Jeff has leukemia. And I am not okay. Actually, the strange thing is, life is going on. I'm still trying to live by the principles of positive affirmations, both for myself, and now for Uncle Jeff, although I'm not sure how I can finagle things to positively think things into someone else's reality.

He's not well. He's been in the hospital since Thanksgiving, so ill and weak that he can't feed himself. He's on round two of chemo, which will end with tomorrow's treatment, but Aunt Linda told me today they'll be in the hospital for a few weeks more according to the doctors. Linda's taken a leave of absence from work and spends her days in the hospital with him. They've been so close for years, really to the exclusion of other friends, and Linda told Mom that if Jeff dies she'll have no one. And this breaks my heart and makes it soar at the same time. It breaks because while Uncle Jeff is miserable now, I fear Linda, if she ends up alone after having to muster patience and joy while caring for him while he's dying will be utterly broken. It soars because they are proof that what I long for is possible - a relationship so close that you need no one else.

Alek apparently has a better idea than Ani of the severity of the situation. He looks things up and researches and worries and if I know Alek at all, probably feels a huge amount of the most excruciating sympathy that borders on guilt.

Ani is trying to finish her semester and just wants to hear that he's doing okay when she checks in. And I understand that too. Because what will worrying do for her? It will make her perform poorly in her finals, make her not want to complete her last semester beginning in January.

I wish I were still in Chicago so I could clean their apartment and collect their mail and cook for Aunt Linda when she doesn't stay with the Stewarts.

Family is so precious to me and I have such a love for Uncle Jeff, especially after how wonderful he was when Opa died - I'll never forget that. Or how supportive he was when I lived a few blocks from them. Why do people move so far away from their families?

I'm sure everyone has a story like this. Death is a universal experience. Everyone knows someone who has battled with, won or lost, against cancer. And blood cancers are some of the deadliest. So here it comes again - The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society aims to cure blood cancers! That's an ambitious goal and I've really grappled with my own cynicism since signing up for this program. Do I even believe there is a cure for cancer? But there is - I have to just believe that, and I have to believe that my involvement in this small capacity will make a difference.

And did I mention that if you donate to my fundraising efforts you will receive a card, snail-mail delivered in Kristina font, chock-a-block full of effusive thanks, gratitude and unsolicited flattery? I brag about few things, but Kristina font is pretty stellar. Your card might look something like this:



Well, that's all for now. I'm going to swap out pea bags and take some ibuprofin and call it a night. Thanks for your support.

You can give online here:

In a Nutshell:

I am still pumped, despite this set-back

Listening to It'll Happen, also a Punch Brothers song, and a very good one at that - timely, considering my current frustration.

Feeling sore, yet satisfied.

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