No need to panic. We’ve got time.

Man's hand holding stopwatch

You must be dreading my posts lately. How long can I focus on my mortality without a break? I promise you a reprieve from all this seriousness come Friday, but today is only Wednesday. Please understand it’s taking me some time to process the news of my impending demise.

I hadn’t considered how overwhelming sharing this bad health news would be. There have been so many people to tell, and I’m only just beginning. Beware those acquaintances who ask me how I am. They live to regret it.

I find it hard not to cry when I tell my story, yet I try to hold it together for others’ sakes. It’s ridiculous for me to try to shield other people from my distress, but that’s me. As a helper, not a hurter, the last thing I want to do is to cause another person pain. Still, I’m upsetting others wherever I turn, and I can’t do anything to soften the blow. That pain may only escalate as my health deteriorates.

I’ve shed many tears over the outpouring of love and support we’ve received. People near and far are reaching out, eager to help in whatever way they can. I shouldn’t be surprised by these loving responses to my news because we are surrounded by mensches.

Dealing with death is not new to me, although I’m the one dying this time. I’ve experienced that urgency to tell the dying person how much our relationship has meant to me before I lose the opportunity. When the person has died suddenly or unexpectedly, I haven’t always had that chance. In those cases, I could only hope the person knew how I felt, and that I’d found ways to express my affection during our times together.

As the one whose health is failing, my perspective on telling the dying person how I feel has shifted. Since I’ve gotten my news, as much as I appreciate others’ warmth toward me, I’ve been fixated on what I need to say before I die. Would I have the opportunity to tell my people how much they’ve meant to me? If I didn’t get to everyone before I died, would they know?

Why do we wait until death looms to tell others how we feel about them? It would make more sense to affirm our relationships along the way so we didn’t feel the pressure to connect once time got tight. Since I was diagnosed with leukemia several years ago, I’ve tried to share my feelings for others freely out of fear I wouldn’t have the chance later. Maybe you think it’s weird that I tell you I love you before I hang up the phone, or that I close my letters with so many Xs and Os. Think I’m weird if you must, but I’ll hope you’ve gotten the message nonetheless.

Now that this news is sinking in, I’ve realized there’s no need to rush. My death is nearing but not imminent. For all I know, the clock on my final year hasn’t started ticking yet. We’ll have time to say what we need to say to one another. If we don’t, I’ll still know how you felt. I think you’ll know how I felt too.

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This psychologist’s theories of fostering close relationships

Quote: Strangers are just friends waiting to happen. Rod McKuen

You may have thought I was finished talking about last Thursday’s fiasco, but of course I’m not. I spent the weekend reviewing what happened and how I resolved the situation. I’ve decided that, except for driving into a parking lot knee deep in slush, I would not change anything else. This conclusion has nothing to do with getting home in time for my client, nor sparing myself the cost of a tow truck.

I relied on three people that day, two of whom I have an established relationship with, and a third who is a friendly acquaintance. All came through with flying colours. I told them what I needed and they graciously jumped at the chance to help. Shouldn’t that be the way the world works?

I frankly expected Drs. Basset to help me if they could. Our friendship is well established and built on give and take, as is any good relationship. When I first got sick, I realized how extensive our incredible community of support is.

I don’t know Ms. Good Neighbour nearly as well as Drs. Basset. She’s told me her name before but it took last Thursday’s encounter for me to commit it to memory. I’ve never seen her outside the park (that’s often the way with these relationships) but I know she lives in the neighbourhood. She happened to be there when I needed help, and I sensed that she would come through. I asked, and she graciously took 20 or so minutes out of her day to do what she could.

While Ms. Good Neighbour was accepting my thanks (I believe I only thanked her 7 or 8 times over that 20 minutes), she wisely said, likely to shut me up, “If I were in your situation, wouldn’t you do the same for me?” Of course I would, and I have when asked, and sometimes even without asking. Easing another person’s load makes me feel needed, useful, trusted, even happy.

You all know that I’m not the sort to rely on others; in fact, I abhor having to do so. Leukemia has been an excellent teacher here, rendering me without a choice some days. Leukemia had nothing to do with last week’s incident, however, unless the illness has unknowingly interfered with my problem solving. (That’s a distinct possibility.) Let’s say there was a carryover effect from the needy person leukemia has made me some days: I needed help on Thursday because I did something stupid, so I asked for it.

If someone is needy all the time, that person may burn out the people around her. Recall the energy vampire described in an earlier post. But I believe it is possible to be needy on occasion without breeding resentment and friendship fatigue. According to my newly developed theory of human relationships, Neediness + Reciprocity = True Friendship.

I haven’t been back to the park since that day–I’m a little car shy–but when I do, I’m hoping I’ll bump into Ms. Good Neighbour. Now that I know her name, this friendship may take off, especially once she tastes my baked goods.

Which leads to my second theory of human relationships: Appreciation x Unsolicited Baked Goods = Undying Devotion. You know it’s true.

New Year, Same Old Me

Typewriter with paper typed: New Year, Chapter One

Have you noticed I’ve been quiet on the blogging front? You know my motto: If I don’t have anything to say, I don’t say anything at all. I wanted to come up with a compelling post that would provide inspiration for the year ahead, but I drew a blank. I decided to wait until inspiration struck.

I can’t come up with a decent New Year’s resolution, despite asking everyone around me for their resolutions so I could steal their ideas. I envy people who say, “I don’t make resolutions.” Why do I get caught up in this absurdity every year?

In 2017, I had resolved to be happy with myself the way I was. You’d have to ask J. how successful I was at this goal; I’m not the best judge. Nonetheless, I intend to reinstate the self-acceptance resolution again this year. Let’s assume I am the best me I can be at this time, and that I’ll do what I can to maintain that me going forward. I’ll take care of my body, be kind to myself and others, and stop apologizing for my existence. The third one will be the most challenging for me.

But I can’t merely recycle old resolutions; I have to add something new, so here it is: I hereby resolve to jump off the health-catastrophizing bandwagon. No more making deadly mountains out of molehills. If my body is off, I’ll assume it will right itself rather than concluding my death is imminent. I’ll focus on living rather than dying. It’s only taken me 5 years (18 if we count all those other ugly health issues) to consider addressing this issue.

Rather than viewing bad news as deadly, I’ll consider it a blip. Blips pass. I anticipate setbacks, especially when one of my doctors expresses concern, but I can manage this. I’ve got all the tools in my psychologist’s toolbox; it’s time I apply them more consistently to my own life. My new mantra is, “Who, me? Worry?”

Plus, when my mind turns to the death monologue, I’ll remind myself of all that contradictory evidence. This past year, I’ve been healthier by all objective standards than I have been since my leukemia diagnosis in 2012. I’ve had no hospitalizations, no blood transfusions, and no major medical issues. Even the health challenges I’ve had have been manageable.

I’ve been remarkably stable for someone with leukemia and all that other ugly stuff. I am truly the picture of living well despite cancer. Sure, I brought a virus back from Israel, but it passed. At least the virus had the good sense not to interfere with my trip. I would have been angry if it had.

In the future, when I start thinking of my impending death, I’ll have to remind myself of how strong and healthy I’ve been. I am not going down without a fight. My body is in a good place to overcome whatever health challenges come its way. And if I fall off the anxiety-free horse, I trust you will be there to hoist me back up. Thanks for that.

Happy New Year. May you resolve to be happy in 2018. That’s all that really matters.

 

Sorry you didn’t get my Christmas card

Picture of Ebenezer Scrooge

I think I’ve been a great Jewish sport this Christmas season. I’ve taken in the Christmas lights. I’ve welcomed the tree in our living room, which J. insists on decorating herself. I’ve wrapped J.’s gifts in Christmas paper, and placed them under the tree. Not once did I complain about the Christmas music everywhere. That is a Christmas miracle.

Last night I even participated in the most festive of Christmas events: I attended A Christmas Carol, an annual sold-out play in town. Thanks to the kindness of our dear friends, Mr. and Mrs. Generous, J. and I enjoyed the live production for the first time.

Thankfully J. explained the story to me before we left. As a child, she had watched the movie on television every Christmas Eve. She didn’t believe me when I told her I had no idea who this Scrooge character was, or how he’d gotten so humbuggy.

I’d have been lost without J.’s excellent synopsis. I was captivated by the music and the dancing, and, in this one evening, my Christmas spirit grew three sizes. I was so inspired that next year, I may attend the Calgary Philharmonic’s annual sing-along Messiah. Hallelujah!

There is one Christmas task I have utterly failed this year, however. Early in December, J. began writing out our Christmas cards. Antiprocrastinator that she is, she set a clear deadline for me to contribute my good wishes before sending them off. Otherwise, she’d mail them without my contribution.

If I’m honest with you, I dread the Christmas card ritual every year. As a Jew, I hadn’t had a lot of practice with this task. Completing the cards was last on my list this December. That fateful weekend, I had Christmas baking to do and you know, from a recent post, how much mental energy that involves. We were celebrating Hanukah, and that involved latkes and menorahs and gifts. I was busy with other things that mattered to me, and the cards slipped my mind.

The day after the deadline, I remembered and asked J. for the cards. Of course, she’d already sent them. That’s fair. (Parenting 101: Set an expectation only if you plan to follow through.) Frankly I was relieved. I’ve decided my Christmas gift to myself is never writing another Christmas card.

I’ve done a lot of soul searching since that fateful day (not really, but I am trying to sound remorseful here). Am I a bad person? Do I not nurture my friendships enough? Of course I care about all of you, but a Christmas card is not my preferred way of communicating this. I never know what to say, so I write the same trite thing on every card.

As it is, three or so times per week all year, I burden you with the endless minutiae of my life. You are kind enough to follow along. You must know I’m grateful for your friendship now and always, but whatever I write in a Christmas card won’t convey that adequately. Trust your value to me.

And so, because this is the best I can do, I wish you a Merry Christmas x 3, and a Happy New Year. Be healthy, be happy, and find joy in the every day. I plan to.

On the first night of Hanukah, my true love gave to me….

Tray of unbaked chocolate chip cookies with cookie scoop alongside

So far this year, except for burning my baked latkes, Hanukah has been fantastic. Not only am I receiving daily gifts from J. but two friends have hopped on the Hanukah-gifting bandwagon. When I think about what I’ve received thus far, a thoughtful and inspiring cornucopia of gifts, I realize I must be completely one dimensional. At least others view me that way.

Almost every single gift has been related to food or eating in some way. There are chocolates, including real gelt imprinted with a menorah, and other edible treats, and there are kitchen implements and other things I don’t know how I lived without. J. has included a number of garden-relevant gifts. Keep in mind I had no interest in gardening until I realized I could grow food. Every single gift comes back to food.

I’m sure it’s my fault, though. For example, I’d put in a special request for baking scoops.  I figured that, with baking scoops, instead of obsessively weighing each cookie to ensure the batch would bake evenly, I could scoop out the same amount of dough for each. Think of the time I might save!

On the first night of Hanukah, J. gifted me two scoops of different sizes which I’ll use diligently in my baking. Imagine a whole batch of cookies that look the same size and shape without the help of a kitchen scale. I’ve even considered the scoops’ potential uses for cooking as well. Falafel anyone (of course they’ll be baked, not fried), or how about spaghetti and perfectly round meatballs? These new tools will not sit idle at the back of the utensil drawer.

New scoops notwithstanding, we all know my baking speed will improve only negligibly. The scooping may save a few minutes, but it will still take me hours to bake simple chocolate chip cookies. That’s because I funnel all of my obsessive tendencies into my baking. No hand-washing (if only) or lock-checking rituals for me. Place a recipe in front of me and I’ll be at it for hours, overthinking every step and conducting endless internet research along the way. I don’t consider this a disabling problem unless your need for my baked cookies is urgent.

While I bake, I’ll still be online checking the number of grams in a cup of sugar, or flour, or butter. I’ll wonder how the temperature of the butter will affect the texture. I’ll question why my light and fluffy butter-sugar mixture curdles when I add my eggs. I’ll question what kind of cookie sheet to use (light or dark, rimless or rimmed), whether the dough can be frozen, or if I should bake the cookies and then freeze them instead. Of course I’ll have no idea where to place the oven rack for even baking. By the time I’m done, the cookies may taste excellent (assuming my attention doesn’t lapse, causing them to burn), but I’ll need a nap from all the mental exertion.

Despite my obsessiveness, I do love baking. J. loves eating what I bake, but the long process drives her crazy. No wonder she bought me those scoops. Oh, the hopes she had for those scoops. Sadly, I may let her down.

Alarmed woman looking at burnt cookies out of oven

A Hanukah Miracle

Two reindeer visiting with people on sidewalk

This time of year, everyone focuses on the Christmas miracle. So what if a baby was born of a virgin? There are many other miracles happening all around us. Take the miracle of Hanukah: the Maccabees lit the smidgen of oil found in the desecrated Temple and it lasted for 8 days! If that’s not a miracle, what is? Who’s the wondrous one who thought of making coins out of chocolate? Yet another Hanukah miracle.

Then there are the many local miracles that happen this time of year. Imagine being a visitor at our local children’s hospital this week, only to look out a window and spy four local real live reindeer walking by. Nifty.

J. has been a busy little elf this past while performing Christmas miracles in support of the children at the hospital. She helped Santa dole out gifts to the inpatients, and sold gifts at a gala in support of the hospital. If she asked you, after purchasing your $250 ticket to attend this gala, “Would you like to buy a $40 gift for a child who will be hospitalised over Christmas?” Only a scrooge would say no.

Last Sunday she co-opted our special friend to volunteer with her at the Teddy Bear Toss, an annual Calgary Hitmen hockey game. Each year, attendees throw teddy bears onto the ice following the first Calgary Hitmen goal. The bears (or other stuffies, including two dreidels that J. saw) then need to be sorted into bags to be distributed to the children at 60 recipient agencies, including the hospital.

Our special friend is always dressed to the nines whenever she goes out, so let’s call her Ms. Glam. After hours of sorting stuffies, Ms. Glam realized she had lost the precious watch she had worn to complement her outfit that day. The watch was a beloved Christmas gift from her adoring husband last year. By the time she realized her wrist was bare, the watch could have been anywhere, including the garbage or amongst the bags of 24,605 stuffies. She figured it was lost forever. She accepted that perhaps she hadn’t made the best choice of accessories that day. She was not happy.

J. emailed her volunteer coordinator, described the lost watch as best she could, and figured that would probably be the end of it. J. firmly believes that, however unlikely the outcome, she always has to ask. Had the watch been found and J. had not alerted her coordinator to the loss, how could it ever make its way back to Ms. Glam?

Miracle of miracles, J. received notice last night. “I think we’ve found the missing watch.” An employee at one of the stuffie-recipient agencies found the watch when she unpacked a bag, and let someone know who let someone know who…you know how this story ends.

Ms. Glam couldn’t believe her luck. She’d thought it so unlikely that the watch would be returned that she had already replaced it. This afternoon, Ms. Glam is returning her purchase since it turns out she doesn’t need a new watch after all.

So be sure to ask, even if the outcome is unlikely, and then don’t give up hope. And don’t forget that people are basically good at heart. You already knew that, but the occasional reminder won’t hurt. Oh, and leave your special watch at home if you’ll be sorting stuffies.

 

A story without a fairy tale ending

Cover of Hunger by Roxane Gay

As the year nears its end, I become excited about the publication of the Top 100 book lists. One book on every list I’ve seen is Hunger: A memoir of my body by Roxane Gay. When I am a grown-up writer, I want to be Roxane Gay. (Sorry Gabrielle Zevin, you’ve been usurped for now. I still love The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, though.) If you’re interested in reading Hunger, know that it’s not an easy book to get through. The author bares all in her writing.

I hadn’t known of her previously, but Roxane Gay is a respected author of both fiction and nonfiction. She is also morbidly obese in what she justly calls a fat-phobic society. She was gang raped at age 12, after which she gained weight to keep herself physically and sexually safe from others. Dr. Gay views herself as a victim rather than a survivor of her rape, and acknowledges she has not healed from the trauma. She suggests people stop judging the obese without knowing their story, and realize that fat [her word] people have other attributes too.

Dr. Gay, who has a Ph.D. in technical writing and is currently a professor at Purdue University, acknowledges years of self-loathing, challenged relationships, and discomfort in her own body. Her frankness about her life is both uncomfortable and enlightening. She described the profound effects of an emotionally abusive relationship in a way that still haunts me.

She speaks of the all-too-frequent judgement and the difficult situations that she experiences. Strangers censure what she places in her grocery cart and deride her as she walks down the street. Well-meaning friends patronize her by sharing their insights about food, nutrition, and weight loss. Professional colleagues cannot hide their surprise when, after corresponding on line, they first encounter her in her physical glory. Imagine realizing you’ve been provided a chair for a reading that will not comfortably support your body, and worrying the whole time that that chair could break.

This book helped me to imagine what being obese would feel like in a society where thinness equals beauty. Is anyone truly above judging people based on their outward appearances? I know I’m not.

Near the end of the book, Dr. Gay described an ankle break that resulted in a hospital stay, and her community of support’s unexpected rallying around her. Despite all her self-loathing, she realized how many people love her and would miss her if something were to happen to her. I was reminded of how moved I was by my own troops’ tremendous support of both me and J. when I was deathly ill in the ICU. I also recall how much I appreciated the teary hugs I received when I was finally sent home. I too felt that I would have been missed had I not survived.

I can’t say reading this book will be fun, but you too could scratch an insightful read off your Top 100 list. Like me, you may find that Dr. Gay’s insights stay with you. When I’m next on an airplane and the fattest person walking down the aisle takes the seat next to me, I’ll think about this book, and I’ll make as much room as I can. Do unto others and all….

 

Introducing the emotional hangover

Have I ever defined the post-Bar Mitzvah (Bat Mitzvah, in my case) blues? When someone gears up for something for so long, and it’s fantastic, but then it’s over? That’s what today feels like for me.

After months of anticipating yesterday’s Light the Night Walk in downtown Calgary on a beautiful fall evening, it’s over. My special support team walked the full five kilometres with me–a kilometre for every year–to celebrate my enduring good health. The evening was perfect.

I’ve described the walk before but allow me a medically inaccurate and absurd analogy. Imagine each walker as a blood cell. There are the white blood cells, the largest in size but fewest in number. Those are the leukemia (and other bloody disordered) survivors holding our little white lanterns. Then there are the red blood cells, which are smaller but more plentiful than the white cells. The red-lanterners are those walking in support of the white lanterners.

Platelets are small fragments of blood cells. They are represented by the gold lantern holders, who are survivors in their own way, walking in memory of someone who has died. They may feel they’ve lost a part of themselves.

Finally, let’s not forget the plasma, which carries nutrients, hormones, and proteins through the body. Consider the plasma all the amazing volunteers who registered all the walkers, distributed t-shirts and lanterns and coffee and hotdogs, and lined the pathway cheering us on.

We of many lanterns walked along a narrow pathway, clustered together but hopefully not clotting. We white lanterns were surrounded by our devoted red-lanterned supporters. One group followed after another, each its own community of red-lanterened support for one little white lantern. The gold-lanterned folks formed their own groups or were sprinkled amongst the whites and reds (we had two golds on our team) because blood disorders touch too many people. Along this narrow pathway–an artery? a vein?–walked all these blood cells, supporting one another, guided by our plasma support staff.

At moments during the walk, I looked around me and saw my little group, distinguished by their absurd team attire–perhaps next year you too could look sharp in a multicoloured Dr. Seuss hat–and I realized how not alone I am. While I searched for my own team, I saw so many similar groups ahead of and behind me, reminding me that we’re all in this together.

I’m blessed by the people who walked with me and the people who sent their regrets and wished me well. To the team members who hunted down my ridiculous 5-year pin, which I finally received from a kind volunteer, a 5-year survivor himself. To the two very handsome firefighters, the retired one who appeared on site unexpectedly with his beloved partner, the other one in uniform who handed me my survivor’s rose at the end.

Today I am spent, drained, hungover, but in a good way. You must know this feeling. I look forward to next year’s event. If you too aspire to be a red blood cell in colourful clown attire, know there’s always next year.

Crowd picture at Light the Night Calgary 2017

A microscope may help you see our team.

Celebrate your milestones, whatever they are

3 Light the Night walkers with their Survivor t-shirts

We leave on our big vacation in 12 sleeps. When we were first planning this vacation, J. told me her rush of fall weddings would end immediately following Thanksgiving. We could be on the plane already, except I didn’t want to miss the annual leukemia walk. Which would you choose, a trip to Israel or a leukemia walk? Don’t answer that.

This decision to delay the vacation may not make sense to you; I’m a little bewildered by it myself. Going on this annual walk, hanging out with my fellow leukemics, wearing my guest-of-honour SURVIVOR t-shirt, has become a significant event in my year. I’ll try to explain.

My definition of a milestone has changed over my five years with leukemia. After I became so sick, I was proud of being able to walk unassisted and to tie my shoes without falling over. I vividly recall my first post-diagnosis yoga class, which I survived despite falling over a few times. I remember cooking my first real dinner post diagnosis, and seeing my first client. Being alert enough to drive again was another milestone.

As time passes, the goals have shifted. There’s the annual Cancer Centre’s Christmas gift-basket draw, which means I’m alive to lose my money again for a good cause. I don’t hate my birthday anymore, and the importance of cancerversaries is self-explanatory. For whatever reason, this leukemia walk has taken on an odd significance in my annual calendar. It’s my prize for getting leukemia and not dying from it.

This year’s will be all the more special because I will finally receive my 5-year pin. Now you know the real reason I delayed my vacation: I wanted a silly little commemorative pin. Frankly, I could have lied about how many years I’d had the illness and received this pin anytime–no one asks for a doctor’s letter–but I’m too honest for such deception.

This coveted pin is nothing to speak of. It’s the shape and colour of a drop of blood with a 5 on it. The blood-drop symbol is almost identical to that used by Canadian Blood Services. When I wear my pin proudly, people may well assume I am a blood donor (I selfishly only take blood), and not a leukemia survivor.

Does it matter that the pin will have meaning only to me? Of course not. If anyone asks, I can always set them straight. (Ha ha. “Gay person sets unknowing one straight.” And they say we’re out [no pun intended, truly] to convert people!)

When I was first diagnosed with cancer, I never envisioned reaching goals like these. Now, planning for my next milestone keeps me hopeful that leukemia is not going to take my life. No wonder cancer-related goals, however insignificant, have become so important to me.

Then, two days later, J. and I will leave for Israel. Who ever thought I’d get any doctor’s blessing to travel so far? Yet another cause for celebration. That and anticipation of the best hummus and falafel anywhere. I can almost taste it….

A plate of hummus with falafel balls in the middle

Sometimes it’s best not to keep score

Newspaper on doorstep

First, let’s get the Facebook page out of the way. To those of you who have kindly sent me Friend requests, I am not ignoring you; I am simply paralyzed by my ineptness. I learned the hard way that there is a difference between a Facebook account and a Facebook page, and had to shut my first attempts down. I will get back to you when I manage to sort my page out.

Now a question for those of you who have your paper delivered: did your newspaper arrive at your doorstep this morning? If it did not, I think I can explain. I received it. Ever since I left those stale banana chocolate chip muffins out for Mr. RAK, we have awoken to one or sometimes even two newspapers on our doorstep. I may have to rename Mr. RAK Mr. DAK (as in “Daily Acts of Kindness”) because he has been so generous with us.

You can imagine that I, who am prone to guilt in much lesser circumstances, am overwhelmed with this current situation. This man receives no financial compensation for his generosity toward us, and I genuinely believe he is not trying to encourage us to reinitiate our subscription. My gratitude is killing me.

Of course I keep a mental tally of the give and take in any relationship. If I feel I’m giving too much over time, either I try to address the inequity with the person directly (when I’m in a grown-up mood) or, if I’m feeling more child like, I withdraw from that person. According to my usual tally system, I’m always in the red. Always. So a situation like the one with Mr. DAK, where I’m getting a lot more than I’m giving, torments me.

I am trying to practice allowing someone–in this case, Mr. DAK, to be kind to me. But in order to rebalance things just a bit, as soon as I finish this post, I will be baking a batch of oatmeal cranberry cookies to leave for him tomorrow morning, when he will be dropping by with an extra newspaper for us. I give thanks to you, Mr. DAK.

I was discussing the newspaper situation with a neighbourhood friend who happens to pay for her daily paper delivery. She mentioned that every so often, maybe once a month, her newspaper does not arrive. As she was discussing this with me, she said, “Hey, wait a minute….” We agreed that maybe Mr. DAK, in a Robin-Hoodish manner, is stealing from the subscribers and giving to the nonsubscribers. So if you’re my neighbour and your newspaper doesn’t arrive, feel free to take ours. God knows we haven’t paid for it. Consider it your way of assuaging my guilt.

Happy Thanksgiving. May you all have much to be grateful for this weekend.

 

P.S. I’ve had a few enquiries about this year’s Light the Night Walk for Leukemia on Saturday, October 21. You are more than welcome to join us. The team name is Annie’s Anemic Leukemics, and the registration link is here. If you are interested in celebrating my fifth cancerversary with me, come on out. All the better if you’re an Olympic weightlifter: you can carry me over the finish line if I get too pooped to walk.