Saturday, October 26, 2013

Your mother was a 'amster

In DC with Patrick Bruce Jordan (third from left) and Tom Wahl (far right)
I'm engaged to King Arthur. That's right...some day, some day I shall be Queen! 
No, that's not quite right. But Patrick flew down to Sarasota this week to start rehearsals for Spamalot. It's directed by the incomparable Bruce Jordan who does comedy, farce and hilarity with crowd-pleasing precision.

I am so incredibly proud of Patrick and can't wait to see him in it when I go down there at Thanksgiving time.

Since Patrick and I have been together I've discovered all the heart and soul that goes into in his craft and it's made me appreciate how much dedication goes into the entire spectrum of every actor's life. And if ever there was a production that was tailor-made for my guy, I have to say this one is the pick. I can't wait to see him prance around the stage in full Monty Python glory. 

For every practical and understandable reason, I miss my fiance. Yet I delight each day with Patrick's new stories of his adventures fine tuning the role of King Arthur. Monty Python is simply whimsical non-sensical fun. Though he's more of the straight man in a cast of sillies...the whole world of Spamalot is the ultimate playground for an actor whose comedic chops just totally send me into snickering fits. You must remember, before we ever met in person I laughed my butt off watching him fall and laugh like a hyena on stage.

Last night I was treated to a little behind-the-scenes fun as we chatted on the phone. "Do you feel like reading my lines with me," he asked. My mouth dropped open.
Patrick has never before had me rehearse lines with him and he's always insisted that it was something he's just does better at solo.

But last night I read the role of the 'French Taunter'.
There's nothing quite as silly as reading back and forth to your fiance calling him an 'English bed wetter' and to go 'boil his bottom' under the guise of a script, of course.

Patrick has always laughed at my faux accents. None of them are of the accuracy of a classically trained linguist. But with silly Monthy Python I could almost be passable...maybe. 

I'm gonna try my French taunter out around town perhaps. Or maybe not. I'll leave that to the professionals.

So proud of my guy. If you happen to be in or around Florida the show opens up in 3 weeks. GO SEE it. Yet, I wouldn't wait to buy tickets. According to Patrick the house is selling out fast. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

She lit the way in uncertainty

The flow of tears yesterday was both a celebration and a mourning. Yesterday was the ninth anniversary of my first cancer diagnosis. It's a day I'll never forget.

In the nine years since I was first diagnosed I've felt tears fall for many reasons...but yesterday was a profound mix of gratitude and guilt. Gratitude for so many things...but a sense of profound sadness triggered by someone else's journey's end.

Yesterday I found out that a woman who was a tremendous resource to me during my darkest hours passed away just two weeks ago...from cancer. I didn't even get to say goodbye.
Coleen Jones was a classy woman. Her voice was instant comfort from the very first time her it came on the other end of the line in my call to the Western NY chapter of the Leukemia Lymphoma Society. In 2006 when my whole world felt uprooted and shaken, Coleen provided comfort and hope. She helped guide me through several application processes and was always charming and sweet. I first met her at a support group that I felt totally out of place at - as the only twenty something in a room full of older ladies, golf buddies and retirees. I returned only when I knew Coleen would be there moderating.

Coleen became in many ways so much more than a service provider in my life. Her sincere interest in my life (the one beyond my disease) and her casual banter with that charming chuckle made calls with Coleen a delight.

 In 2007 she nominated me as the Spokesperson for the Rochester Light the Night Walk. She gave me a huge hug when I walked off the stage that night. Our connections didn't end there...when we worked together on a cancer conference for young adults in Rochester in 2010. She told me how much she admired what I was doing in Rochester and never failed to make me feel truly special. I'm grateful that I always told her how much I appreciated her in return. I always reminded her how much of a difference she made to me during those days of complete chaos.

Remembering my cancerversary yesterday...I thought of her. I meant to find a way to call her yesterday- to schedule that lunch we'd meant to set up. Instead I found her obituary.

A true hero to so many cancer patients, Coleen herself became a patient when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Though she made it through...her disease returned. I wish I could say that I learned of her recurrence from that obituary, but I didn't. I learned of it after I called her work number a year ago, only to find she had resigned and soon after learned the reason why.

I had her cell number and texted her a message of support. We exchanged a few lines and I made a plan to set up a lunch the next time I was near Buffalo. But time got away. It never seemed to be the right time. Perhaps it's too short notice for her, I thought. Yesterday I felt a lump of regret in my throat for all that procrastinating.

Coleen was special to so many. I can be sure that I'm not the only patient who felt the golden touch of her care and kindness. In the past nine years I have survived two different cancers. That was hard.

Saying goodbye to such wonderful people I've met on this journey is harder.

There are challenging bits of knowledge in the bright unfiltered light of survivorship. It's where the recognition of life's fragility meets our capacity to acknowledge it head on. It's a shattered faith in happy endings. Some run from it. It's easy to see why many desperately try to avoid the reminders of this finite and bitter reality. Damn right it's hard.

Yet people like Coleen should not be forgotten. And so if remembering her means knowing a little bit of life's unfairness... I chose to remember. Thank you Coleen.