From the category archives:


Hey, Karl here.

After a couple of voicemails left for Lisa and not hearing back, which is unusual for her, I called the Dude a little bit ago and found out the reason. She’s not going to be returning phone calls any more, nor emails. No more Tweets from her.

She’s in the final, final stages now, people. So out of her mind with pain and drugs that she often doesn’t even recognize her husband or children. Dude says it’ll be “lucky” if she makes it through the weekend, though he also says it’ll be luckier if God takes her away sooner. She’s that bad.

I’d been riding her to get a “last post” done, but it doesn’t look like that happened. There’s a fragment of a post she was working on, which I’ll post here soon, but there won’t be any more posts from Lisa beyond that.

Those of you that live locally to Lisa and her fam, I know Dude and the kids would appreciate any meals brought over, since the last thing on Dude’s mind is cooking dinner right now. Everything is on hold now, just waiting for the final moment, and Dude is doing everything he can just to keep it together.

He says that the kids are taking it much better than he is.

My heart is just breaking. From here on out, I won’t be posting updates about Lisa on my blog…I’ll keep you posted here, of course. I’ve been getting an inordinate amount of traffic and email from you folks hoping to hear news. I answer it all, but it may not be instantaneous.

If you’re of the praying sort, pray that Lisa doesn’t suffer much more. Pray for her family.


Life in hospice is going well. I can’t say enough about how nice the hospice nurses and other hospice workers are. The social worker has been a Godsend in helping Dude and in helping us tell the girls what’s going on.

Telling Cam and Teeny the truth, that I’m not going to get better, was the most heart breaking things I’ve ever had to do. It is NOT easy to tell your children that you are dying. Listening to them cry was one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. Not being able to fix it is the worst feeling in the world.

Dude and I decided to deliver the news to the girls last Saturday afternoon, a few hours before they had to go to church. Teeny has been consistently lighting a candle for me every week and she finds a lot of comfort in going to mass with Dude. Cam doesn’t complain about going nor does she get real excited. Dude and I thought they might find some extra comfort in going to church after talking to us earlier in the afternoon.

I’ve been too sick to go to mass for a while so Dude takes the girls by himself. He said that each girl was snuggled up as close and as tight to his side as they could be during mass. And of course, Teeny lit a candle as she always does. When she got home she told me that she still believes in the hope that I’m going to get better. God, how I wish that little ray of sunshine was right.

It’s not that I’ve given up hope but I’ve accepted my situation. I still take it day by day because I don’t know how I’m going to feel day by day. Take today for example. I might sleep all day long like I did on Tuesday OR I might feel fantastic and full of energy like I did on Friday. Every day is a crap shoot and I’ve just got to roll with it.

During the week the kids asked questions and spent more time “taking care” of me. In fact there were arguments over who was going to take care of me so I had to schedule their time out. They’ve also been busy cleaning and helping around the house.

My kids are strong but they have been dealing with cancer in their lives for five years. I hope the lessons they’ve learned and continue to learn make them stronger and don’t scar them. Although how do you tell an 8 and 11 year old there’s a lesson to be learned when their mom dies?

Well, I’ve got them surrounded by great people and a good support system that I hope pulls through for them. That’s how you do it.


A Note For Santa

by Lisa on December 24, 2008

in Cancer Sucks, Dude, Kidz

My youngest daughter is eight years old and in the third grade.  Going by those statistics I’d wage a bet that this is the last year she’s going to believe in Santa Claus.  In order to prove that he exists she tests him every year by throwing  in a monkey wrench on her list.  This year is no different.

I dragged my sick body out of bed and just spent the past hour and a half on her monkey wrench of 2008.

This year she crafted a list of gifts for Dude and I to give her and a separate list of gifts for Santa to give her…along with “A Note For Santa”.

Santa, please may I have a picture of your reindeer, the North Pole, you, Mrs. Claus, and all the Elfs.

Can you please take me on a trip to the North Pole before you leave?

You can wake me up, I promise I won’t tell anyone except my dad, mom and my sister!!  I will just show the pictures to them, no one else!!

I took care of the pictures by using Google and printing them out and putting them in frames.  I wrote a letter to her like I was Santa and explained that I just didn’t have the time to take her to the North Pole with all the gifts I have to deliver.  Of course I let her know that it didn’t mean I, Santa, didn’t love her…maybe we could do the ride another night.

I hope she buys that.

I’ve never seen her so excited about Christmas as she is this year.  At 7:00 am this morning she couldn’t sit still and said, “Mom I’m just too excited to sit still…this is going to be the longest day ever!!!”

As sick as I feeling right now, I’m just as excited about this Christmas as she is.  If I had to write a note to Santa I’d just thank him for giving me a child like Teenie and Cam, and a husband like Dude to spend the holiday with.

Happy Holidays,



So today we started another school year. Teenie started third grade. Cam started sixth grade. Cam was the tough one to let go of today. The image of her face is still burning in my mind.

I know, I know…I talked about this yesterday but I sent my baby off to Junior High with teenagers and she’s just 11 years old. If I wasn’t sick, then I’m sure I’d be drinking vodka martinis at 11:00 am in the morning. Well, maybe that’s extreme but I’m worried sick over how she’s doing. Don’t tell me she’s fine either…it’s my job to worry about her.

This morning Teenie was throwing a fit over what to wear as it was time for Cam to leave for the bus. Earlier I had agreed to drive her up the street to the bus stop and hang out in my car until the bus came. I asked Cam if Dude could take her so that I could avert Teenie’s fashion crisis and she said, “No, I want you to take me.” She wanted her mom…she wanted me.

We drove up the street to the bus stop and Cam got out of the car. She looked across the street. She started walking over to the bus stop and then turned around. She came back to the car so, I unrolled my window. I looked at her face and there were tears in her eyes. I could see how scared she was too. She didn’t know any of the older kids at the bus stop.

Just as I was reassuring her that it was O.K. one of the girls in her grade was walking up the street. Cam turned around and ran across the street to be with her. Still, I can’t get the image of her teary eyes out of my mind.

For me it’s bigger than just the first day of school. It’s about being sick and the real possibility that I won’t be here when Cam graduates from high school in six years. Or that I won’t be here to see her off to college. What if she has those same doubts and fears? Dude can’t fix it like I can.

I realize that I’m making it a bigger issue than it needs to be but I’ve been walking around the house with a huge lump in my throat all morning. So to me it is a big issue.

I don’t want to have cancer anymore. I just want it to go away. I’m sorry that I’m not very inspirational today. I think getting up at 5:30 am in order to get two children ready for school has me a little cranky.

Send candy corn.


The Open House From Hell

by Lisa on August 21, 2008

in Kidz

What the teacher is, is more important than what he teaches. ~Karl Menninger

Every year since Cam has been in school I go through the annual Open House at the elementary school which happens at the end of August.  Cam is attending Junior High this year so I only had to attend the third grade Open House for Teenie.  Well, last night was the 2008-2009 Open House.

When the notice came home with Teenie’s class assignment she was a little disappointed by the teacher she was assigned to.  I asked her why and she told me the teacher yells at her students a lot and she is a very loud yeller.  Teenie also told me this teacher could be heard yelling not only from the halls but from other classrooms…she is that loud.

Knowing that my child hates to be yelled out and is pretty sensitive about yelling, I wasn’t feeling warm and fuzzy about this teacher and I hadn’t even met her yet.  Yet I went to the Open House with an open mind.

Then I met the teacher…Mrs. K.  I introduced myself to her and she immediately directed me to a bunch of sign-up sheets.  Like, “Hi Mrs. Kelly…please go to the sign up sheets and sign up for A, B and C.”  O.K. whatever.  Then I looked at the first sign-up sheet.  It listed dates and times for Parent-Teacher conferences at the end of the first quarter…that take place in NOVEMBER!

Hello?  November?  How am I supposed to know what my schedule will be the week of Thanksgiving?  We didn’t even start school yet.  So, she’s a little anal retentive I thought.  On to the next sign-up sheet.

The next sign-up sheet was for the Christmas party.  The CHRISTMAS PARTY that takes place the third week of DECEMBER, like when we have the possibility of having snow on the ground.  There I am standing there in shorts and a T-shirt, trying to decide what my child is going to bring in for the class Christmas party that takes place in DECEMBER.

I really wanted to make a scene and tell the teacher my kid is Jewish but considering we just had her baptized Catholic I realized that would have be really wrong but come on.  Planning the Christmas party before the school year has even started is a little extreme, isn’t it???

So, then there was one last sign-up sheet and I thought “oh dear God, is this going to make my head spin?” Sure enough, it not only made my head spin but I think my head actually lifted up off my shoulders and rotated.  This sign-up sheet was for the VALENTINE’S DAY party that take place in FEBRUARY 2009.  Here I was signing my child up for an event that takes place next year!  I don’t even know if I’ll be here next year and I’m committing my child to bringing in potato chips!!!

After I finished making all of these commitments for the year I found a chair and waited for the teacher’s presentation which she made all nice and neat in Power Point.  She gave us her classroom rules and explained that she would spend two weeks on the rules because she must CONTROL our children.  She said it like they are mutant savages that we have failed to discipline.

Mrs. K. then explained the Agenda Books our children will bring home on a daily basis that contain our children’s daily homework assignments.  If our children do not have a “good behavior” stamp in their agenda book we are to ask them “why” and we are to call the teacher.  As parents we are to sign the agenda book and as a reward we get a smiley stamp as a “thank you”.  Oh boy, I’m excited.

The school year hasn’t even started and I HATE this teacher.  Thank GOD my child is very well behaved, extremely smart, has an IEP in place because she is in the gifted program, follows rules to the “T” and has always been liked by her teachers.  Otherwise I would dread this school year.  The amount of homework she will have to do as a third grader is INSANE but she’s a good student so it won’t be a problem.

Why does a teacher feel the need to be such an insane bitch to a class of third graders?  Unfortunately for her she’s got the parent from hell in her classroom…that would be me.

She wanted all of the parents to stay and fill out a bunch of paperwork before they left but I wasn’t feeling good so I told her I had to leave.  She said, “Oh, let me get you some water!”  I thought, “Lady, if water can cure cancer then you are in the WRONG profession!”  I mean, I was only standing there in front of her with a turban on my head, pale as a ghost.

Don’t get me wrong, I am very, very, very supportive of teachers but this one, this one?  This one is completely off her nut!


What A Day

by Lisa on August 4, 2008

in Dude, Kidz

Sunday was more than I could have imagined it to be, more than I could have dreamed and every thing I hoped it would be. There aren’t words to describe what happened to the four of us but it was extremely powerful. I’m still soaking it all up today.

Thank you for all your well wishes. It was truly an amazing experience to renew our wedding vows in the church and to have our children baptized at the same time. At the end of the ceremony the Monsignor said a healing prayer that left me in tears.

So, today I’ve been relaxing and thinking about what a wonderful day our family had.  One that brought us closer to God. One that we will never forget.


Clusterfook Mom

by Lisa on July 14, 2008

in Kidz

The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new. ~Rajneesh

The other day I found myself starting to have writer’s block which is unusual because I never run out of things to say. My life has been focused around one thing for the past few months that everything else seems like fluff. However, life is going on around me despite what I’ve been focused on. Do you know what I mean?

So what do you do when you have writer’s block? You announce it on Twitter to let everyone know you can’t think of a thing to write about. That builds expectations high. I mean really, I know that there is nothing more interesting than reading a post that someone writes just for the sake of writing a post.

Then Karen came to my rescue with two topics she was interested in:

I’d be interested to know if you always wanted to be a mom…and what career did you want when you were in grade school?

Today, I’ll answer the part about wanting to be a mom…

Some women can say they were born to be a mom but I’m not one of those women. I know women that grew up wanting nothing more than to get married and become a mom but I can honestly say I was not one of those women. That maternal clock that some women talk about? I don’t think I ever felt any of that tick-tocking from within.

I’ve been married three times. The first marriage happened in my early 20’s. The wedding was gorgeous and I had 16 people in my wedding party. Unfortunately, the marriage lasted five months but fortunately we didn’t have any children. I don’t even remember discussing children with my first husband.

My second marriage also happened in my 20’s. My second husband was adamant about not having children and I was fine with that. I spent so much of my 20’s in therapy dealing with my own childhood that the thought of having a child was too overwhelming anyway. Our marriage ended after two years when my second husband discovered he was a born again Christian and I was fighting for my right to party.

Then came Dude. Right before I turned 30 we started dating. One afternoon in October 2006 we went to Stoudt’s Oktoberfest. We drank our share of bier from the Bier Garten that day. A month later I woke up one morning feeling very ill. Dude joked around and said, “maybe you’re pregnant.” Sure enough the pregnancy test was positive and he was right.

Right away Dude wanted to get married even though we had been dating for three months. I thought it was a recipe for disaster. Then he agreed. I knew there was no way I wanted to be a mother. I had just returned to college and had visions of spending a year in Heidelberg, Germany. I wanted to finish my degree and become a German teacher. I wanted a classroom of kids to call me “Frau”.

I didn’t want to lose Dude either…

So we got married.

I hated pregnancy. Hated it. I hated pregnancy with both Cam and Teenie. Pregnancy never agreed with my body either. WIth Cam I had severe preeclampsia and almost died. With Teenie I went into pre-term labor at 16 weeks and was on bed rest from week 27 to week 32. Both of them were born prematurely. Cam came 17 weeks early and Teenie came six weeks early.

When Cam was born I didn’t get to hold her for the first six weeks of her life. When I finally did get to hold her there were so many tubes and wires attached to her that it was like holding some sort of mechanical robot baby. To be honest, it made bonding with her very difficult and it made motherhood very confusing.

My first year of motherhood was all about doctor’s appointments, hospitals and interventional therapies to prevent developmental delays. I couldn’t relate to “normal” moms with “normal” babies. I was on alert to see if my child was going to have cerebral palsy or mental retardation because she was at very high risk due to her extreme prematurity.

Although it’s all how Cam’s life began and how motherhood began for me it’s still a very painful time in my life to remember. It’s still painful to talk about. There is no way to describe the tornado I felt like I was in going from dating Dude…to marrying Dude…to becoming the mother of a critically ill, 15 ounce baby in less than eight months. Living in crisis mode for the following year was pretty brutal too.

It wasn’t how I envisioned motherhood but you deal with what you are handed. After spending her first four months of life in the hospital I didn’t want anything to happen to Cam. I didn’t think twice about staying home with Cam during her first few years of life. Sure it meant giving up my career dreams of finishing my college degree and becoming a teacher but her health was more important. She was more important.

I am who I am today because of Cam. I’m blessed to be her mother because she is a miracle child. Life with her got easier and then we had Teenie. When I had two children in diapers at the same time I thought I was going to lose my mind. Now that they are 11 and eight I love being a mom. They are a great ages right now. Just old enough yet not too old.

I still have days where I’m not sure if I want to be a mom but I guess it’s too late for that, isn’t it? That’s the thing with kids…I’m “Mommy” whether I want to be or not. Whether they are killing each other over the remote control or hugging each other to death I love them both and I’m glad they made me a mother.


The Four of UsYou have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism. ~Erma Bombeck

This is a picture of the four of us at my mother’s picnic yesterday where there was a ton of great food, great company and plenty of patriotism. My mother gave everyone party bags full of red, white and blue…flip flops, hats (as shown by Dude and I), fans, decks of cards, and other items to commemorate the Fourth of July holiday. If there’s one thing my mother knows how to do, it’s throw a party.

Before we ate dinner all of us gathered in a circle and held hands. My mother’s way of say grace for this holiday was to play “God Bless America” as song by Kate Smith and have all of us sing along. Every single one of us sang our hearts out. Two of us hit the high note at the end of the song too…one of the two was me!

As we were singing I looked around at everyone and looked at my children with a lump in my throat. I find that at every family gathering and every holiday the same thoughts go through my mind. Thoughts that bring me to tears…tears that I have to fight back every single time. So as we were all singing I was soaking it in wondering, is this the last Fourth of July holiday I will spend with my family?

At every holiday, family gathering or event I push myself as hard as I can so that the four of us can have a great time. Inevitably I reach a point where my body just STOPS and I feel so sick that we have to go home. This leads Teenie to have meltdowns every single time because she doesn’t want the good time to end.

Yesterday was no different as she had a nuclear meltdown. As her mother I wonder if she has the same thoughts too. She might be eight but she’s wise beyond her years.

I realize that I sound morose, but there are times when I feel incredibly sad and realistic about my situation. There’s a high probability that those two wonderful girls are going to grow up without me and I don’t know how to make it easier for them to prepare for that reality without interfering with a regular sense of normalcy.

Sure, I’m always RAH! RAH! RAH! I’m the big cancer bad ass. That’s the spirit I fight with every day and that’s what I want to be surrounded by. It’s just that sometimes I need to have serious conversations, uncomfortable conversations, conversations about the things no one wants to talk about. If we don’t talk about it and pretend there’s a chance that I’m not going to die then we are in denial.

I just don’t know how to explain that to my children without destroying their childhood or the times we have together. I’m not even sure how to convey it to my family and friends.

Does it matter today though? I mean I’m here. Will I be here tomorrow? Most likely. I hope I’m not going anywhere in the next month but beyond that I don’t know. I think I have enough in me to keep kicking cancer’s ass for another month and then we will talk about the next month. Does that sound reasonable?

Of course this doesn’t answer my question on what to do about my kids and of course my question is a rhetorical one. I’m sure I’ll find an answer when I need to. I guess it’s just that the best of times brings up the worst of times.

I hope you enjoyed your Fourth of July celebrations.

Hello Ha Ha Narf and Me

On a brighter note I want to wish Becky a Happy Birthday today. I had the pleasure of hanging out with her at TequilaCon a couple of months ago when she was in Philadelphia. She is not only a lot of fun but she is incredibly down to earth.

I actually thought I was going to NOT like her before I met her in person. Seriously, I have NO idea why I thought such a thing because she is absolutely lovely. Not only that she sent me some ginger candy that has saved my nauseated butt on several occasions.

Please go wish Becky a Happy Birthday!