Kingsfoil Socks and Strawberry Pinot Jam

I had a lovely weekend away seeing my sister and her family and my niece. A bit of a whirlwind trip, which ended with some lovely person asking if I would trade seats with her mother who was flying in First Class. It was my first encounter with the fancier snacks and real glassware, and now I fear I am spoiled for life. 🙂

There has been some knitting around here, first off I am proud to introduce my Kingsfoil socks. These are just the sort of socks I like to knit and to wear. The knitting is interesting, but not too involved that they take too long to knit. A classic style, and one that would look good in plenty of colors besides this basic grey.

Kingsfoil Socks
Kingsfoil Socks

I also finished the latest Kieran Foley Mystery Shawl, which was great fun to knit. Sometimes these mysteries make choosing colors challenging, but it seems like a good exercise.

Kieran Foley MKAL3

We have had some lovely weather this week, unseasonably warm. Dan has been loving being able to bike to work again. It has me in the mind for spring cleaning. In that spirit we decided to make some Strawberry Pinot jam with the last of last year’s organic strawberries we had in the freezer.

Strawberry Pinot Noir Jam
My friend Jean shared her delicious recipe and I can’t wait to try it out!

Strawberry Pinot Noir Jam

This weekend is a poignant one for us here, 6 years and 6 months ago my mother passed away and it’s her birthday on Tuesday, St. Patrick’s Day. It’s also 6 years since Dan’s Leukemia diagnosis. We are pretty grateful to be where we are now, happy, healthy and enjoying this good weather.

Almos spring
*These are store tulips, the weather isn’t quite that good yet.

Two Years

I invite you to commemorate my second anniversary of being diagnosed with cancer by making a conscious effort today to limit your exposure to cancer-causing agents and activities and increase those activities that fight it. So, maybe spring for organic produce at the market, take a long walk, choose a vegetarian option at dinner, and stop by the library to check out this book.

Have a happy, healthy day!

One Year

A year ago (almost to the hour) I listened to a man, whom I had met only a couple of hours earlier, quietly tell me over the phone that I should stop what I was doing (I think I was eating some leftover pizza) and check myself in to Regions Hospital. The month or so of mysterious bone pain, abnormal (though seemingly inconclusive) blood tests and plenty of head scratching finally “made sense.” What didn’t make sense was the fact that my body was malfunctioning. The body that I had known and (for the most part) cared for, was in need of some outside intervention if it was going to continue to function.

Virginia was teaching her yoga classes when I received that call. And, as I scrambled to look for the phone number to the building she was teaching in, I could feel myself coming undone. It’s a feeling I’ve never quite felt to that intensity before, and is one I’d rather not repeat. I ran up and down the stairs, not fully aware of my surroundings, still looking for that damn phone number. I remember telling myself out loud to calm down, my frantic search was just that – frantic. But, the search for the phone number, the packing of the bags, the waiting for Virginia to arrive all distracted me from the new reality that I could feel starting to take hold – I had cancer.

Once at the hospital, it only took a matter of minutes to make the unnerving transition from being in control of my own actions, my schedule, my life to that of cancer patient. I was now a case with a medical id number (which, if I think about long enough, might even be able to recall by memory). One minute I was walking around in civilian clothes, the next I was sitting on a bed in a gown, an I.V. already dripping, telemetry device hooked up to monitor my heart and the oncologist (no longer a guy that I met earlier in the day, but now someone who had my life in his hands) was discussing the procedure to insert a hickman line in order to start chemotherapy the next day. Waiting for treatment was not an option (let alone discussing alternative treatments), as my blood was quickly becoming less and less useful to my body.

Through this whirlwind of craziness, Virginia stood next to me taking in what my mind could not (which was basically everything). She was my rock, my partner through every single day that I was either in the hospital, or at the cancer care center undergoing additional treatments and receiving transfusions.

We looked back over the year and marveled at how much happened in just a short amount of time. I remember asking my oncologist (back when he was just the guy on the phone) how many days would I be in the hospital (thinking about my projects at work, about Spring quickly approaching), and being completely shocked when I heard “this will take months.” I had a really hard time coming to terms with the length required to treat and then to heal from the treatments. But, heal I did.

And, now it’s Spring again.

Tomato seedling

And, I have a chance to live again. (Not to mention, the chance to also get my hands dirty again.)

Best possible outcome

Those where the oncologist’s words. I just received a phone call from him with my PCR test results—a big fat “0” in the 10,000 cells that were analyzed. In other words, the results were resoundingly and unmistakably negative. I wish I had a photo of some fireworks, or something. This will have to do:


My cancer card has been revoked, and I happily hand it back to the universe.

Biopsy no. 4

My oncologist phoned us up on Wednesday to ask that I come to the clinic for another bone marrow biopsy. My platelet count had dropped (unexpectedly) which prompted him to schedule the biopsy sooner rather than wait 2 months for a follow-up. So, we went in yesterday (bright and earlier) to add a fourth scar to my lower back. I am getting the hang of these things, but I am very thankful for the availability of drugs like Ativan and Dilaudid (although, Virginia might argue differently, knowing that the stronger the dose, the cornier my jokes become, and they doubled my dose yesterday).

The test that they will use on this biopsy is something called a polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Even though the last biopsy showed molecular remission, it only analyzed 500 cells. From what I understand, this test allows for greater accuracy, and will determine to what extent the remission has occurred. The Mayo Clinic labs have a pretty good explanation of the test. My oncologist, in theory, will be able to determine the course of treatment based on the results of this test, if their indeed is a change. Analyzing the marrow this way can allow for early detection of relapse, which will mean quicker treatment. The results, unfortunately, take a week. So, we won’t know anything until Wednesday.

In the meantime, life goes on. I’m feeling better and better, the hole in my chest is healing nicely, and since our bikes are fixed up, we’ve already been out several times. And, what better way to illustrate a return to “normal” than by showing some scratchcrafty goodness…

Keefely Mittens

…like, these Keefely Mittens that Virginia made (pattern by JoLene Treace):

Keefely Mittens

…or, this apricot pie I baked for a friend’s birthday:

Apricot Pie

Normal is good. We like normal.