Thursday, November 26, 2009

Ghosts of Thanksgivings Past

Earlier today, I wrote to a few friends recalling some of the highlights from the Thanksgivings that we spent overseas - among some of our happiest, I must say. There were the North American turkeys that Kathy Gannon and I hunted down in Pakistan and then had delivered to the kitchen door of Pasha's house to be served up to every starving and wayward hack who was passing through Islamabad far from home and looking for a scoop and some sort of understanding of what was going on in Afghanistan - and that was 14 years ago. (They were more likely to come away with a clear understanding of what went into Mushtaq's stuffing when he explained it in Urdu.) There were the folding tables that filled the old Arab house that we rented in Jerusalem that I covered with white bed sheets and then seated 25 - again wayward hacks far from home, as Craig Nelson tried to whip up a gravy in his carefully imported Williams-Sonoma pans and I told him to sacrifice a little gourmet for a little speed as 25 people were watching the turkey get cold. Then there was James Arroyo and Drummond walking out of the Arroyo's East Jerusalem kitchen wearing white aprons and looking like they had just stepped out of a Monty Python sketch, smoke pouring out of the poorly ventilated kitchen. But, boy, did those kosher turkeys taste good after the 3rd bottle of Petit Castel. And there were the wonderful Thanksgiving dinners that Eli ordered up from the American Colony hotel to be delivered to West Jerusalem to our offices in JCS so that the visiting Americans felt at home while still working a two shift schedule :) from the Jerusalem bureau. But perhaps the most significant Thanksgiving was back in South Africa after Greg and I had first started dating and I showed up at his apartment to surprise him with a whole turkey that I had cooked myself - for just me and him. It was a beauty and probably the first and last turkey that I had cooked all by myself.

Thanksgiving Day

Well, the organic Turkey was as juicy as any of the roasters stuffed with extra hormones that we had eaten for years. My Mom even made a separate stuffing out of sprouted Ezekial bread, which because of the Crimini mushrooms, was actually better than the one made with white bread crumbs. My alternative cranberry sauce with persimmons rivalled the one with port. And ok I had to walk away from the table when the Sweet Potato Pie came out (even though it is one of my favorite James Taylor songs). When I sneaked a sip of Cassie's red wine - frankly, it tasted like Apple Cider vinegar - and no, Barry, it wasn't just because it was from my Mom's cellar of "the best wines from Trader Joe's under $5.99 on Special" because I brought it from my cellar and you probably gave it to me. It's just that my tastebuds are that dead....We had a lot to be thankful for and Annalise asked as she tucked into her 10th "Sister Shubert's roll" if we could go around the table and say what we are thankful for. We didn't make it around the horn but bottom line is we have a lot for which to be thankful.
The highlight of the day was teaming up with Annalise to beat my brother John and Amelia in a friendly game of Battle Ship. I thought I would outsmart my brother, as I have done since we shared a bathroom in the 70s, by placing all of the ships in a row on the top and bottom rows. Seems he thought to do the same thing but didn't realize that we had THE SAME strategy so kept dipping into the middle of the board as Annalise sunk one ship after another of his. I guess he forgot that I worked at the Pentagon. Pretty sneaky, sis.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A lot to be thankful for...

Dear Foodies,

And I know who you are - you little devils - I have been meaning to write but wanted to fully capture how yummy and extraordinary the food you have been sending me every week has been and how it has given me so much strength - spiritually - to know how much you care - and physically that, even if "cancer doesn't have an ass, Amelia," I am kicking someone's you know what (poor Greg.) In fact, through your efforts I have a big fat organic Turkey in my outdoor fridge - whose skin has never even been subjected to plastic (carcinogen) - it came straight from the free range farm (was not pardoned by POTUS) and I have been draping it with wet cheesecloth for the past day or two waiting for it to be popped in my mom's oven tomorrow. It's quite a ritual. (And we'll probably die of salmonella.)

So here's how it goes for the rest of the week. The lovely Christine Merkle, a Cordon Bleu chef, who is busy UNlearning all of her old tricks, arrives every Monday and Thursday at 5 pm with a variety of dishes straight from her stove (no microwave :). I am usually waiting at the door. Our first encounter was comical because the way she used to cook was the way I used to eat. She would start by saying - and what about "un peu ganache." And I would say, "non, non, non...Comment dit-on '"glycemic index" en francais?" I jest only a bit. Soon we were scouring my new cookbooks: "The Cancer Fighting Kitchen" and "One Bite at a Time" by the same author and FOR chemo patients - foods that help stimulate one's tastebuds as the Chernobyl like effects of the chemotherapy robs all of your tastebuds. As I said to one friend, I might as well eat all this vegan stuff and the stuff that tastes like cardboard right now because frankly it tastes about the same as a Raspberry Tartufo so at least I am going to have a killer bod when this is all done! I know, first it was the wigs - everyone's a little secretly jealous, I've heard. And now the chef at your doorstep and killer abs and the time to do Pilates for the first time. Who said cancer isn't a spa-like experience and a way to become what I always secretly wanted: a lady who lunches?

But I digress...Christine is wonderful and fills each menu with such love and attention that I now am having to tell her to bend the rules a tad - how much bok choy and brussel sprouts can a girl eat? Remember, cancer hates cabbage (Ingrid knows this because I told her how I have been eating her garlicky cole slaw for breakfast)! And that is the chapter of one of these cookbooks: "Cancer hates Cabbage."

Here is a sample menu from Christine, and it always comes in the most lovely Parisian handwriting like any menu du jour:

Brochettes of Wild Alaskan Salmon marinated in Ginger, Soy Sauce, Lime and Lime zest. Toasted sesame seeds and cilantro garnish (eat your hearts out!)
Asparagus with soy and ginger
Farmer's Market Frittata, Leeks, red pepper, broccoli and mushrooms blended with eight organic eggs
Mediterranean Green Lentil Salad, cumin, lemon and fresh mint dressing

I could go on and on and I will in later notes but it is time to pick the girls up from school and I am starting to gnaw on my leaded pencil.

Monday, November 23, 2009

My Horoscope today

This was in the Washington Post this morning:

Nov. 23

TAURUS (April 20 - May 20) "The stress you might be feeling at the moment won't matter in the long run, so don't let it get to you more than is necessary. True, you have looming deadlines, but you are also pretty amazing under pressure."

That's a quote.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Best Medicine

Round 4

Round 4

Well, I couldn’t expect a TKO in the fourth round - but I am an optimist and that is what I was hoping for. And, in my heart, I could picture the final bloody knock-out punch but as 6 year-old Amelia reminded me as she read over my shoulder an e-mail that she perhaps should not have seen because I was simply being flip with a friend and talking about how I am “kicking ass”. She said, with an earnest look on her face: “But, Mom, I don’t think cancer has an ass.”

You may have noticed that it has taken a few days after Round 4 last Tuesday for me to send out an update - perhaps some of the adrenalin has worn off and the reality that this is going to be a long slog this winter set in. I will admit that I fell off the horse a bit - had a bit of a psychological setback when Greg and I saw the doctor and learned that instead of what we had thought were 4 more treatments every other Tuesday that in fact I now begin 12 weekly cycles of two new chemo drugs starting Dec 1 - postponing the end of chemo until about mid-February. Bah humbug. The idea of being in hospital corridors during this holiday period as people start to put on Santa hats and upbeat smiles and schmaltzy “Jingle Bells” start playing on every radio station made me a bit sick to my stomach. Now even if the chemo hadn’t made me nauseous until this point, I really wanted to throw up.

I decided I needed a new anthem. So I reached back about 8 years to an old Eminem riff that had the necessary driving beat to drag me back to reality and drag my running shoes out the door and down Mass Ave. when the anxiety started to build and the tightness in my throat left me gasping for a little more breath. I downloaded “Lose Yourself” from iTunes and had a new mantra - a slightly angry one at that. “You have one shot - do not lose your chance to blow - this opportunity comes once in a lifetime...” Over and over it played as I punched my way down Mass Ave. tears rolling down my face. Angry that I had to waste another minute on this damn disease.

I was so hungry at one point on my run - now that I am only eating vegetables - that I even looked at a dandelion growing near Dupont Circle and actually thought - hmmm - phytochemicals - good for starving tumors - I laughed out loud as I pictured a cartoon Lion with a thought bubble and inside it was a big juicy leg of beef. I now literally have dreams about how much bang for my buck can I get from eating something green and that dandelion was in my cartoon thought bubble. You wouldn’t believe the healthy stuff I am eating in an effort to starve these tumors of any sugar or starch that turns to sugar.

In fact I was at a dear friend’s for dinner on Thursday and was horrified to find that to celebrate the occasion and the intimate group that had gathered that our dear hosts had decided to reach deep into their wine cellar and pulled out to share with us a 1969 La Tache from Bourgogne. Now I used to drink a lot of wine but I never knew anything about wine. So when she read the description from Robert Parker describing what a special bottle this was and how it sells at auctions for, and I am not exaggerating, $6000 a bottle, I suddenly faced a dilemma. There I was having forsaken alcohol now in my battle to beat this beast - a mouth filled with chemicals and deadened tastebuds thanks to the last round of chemo - how could I simply politely sip this wine that any oenophile would have given his right arm for? I wanted to choke. I did not want to leave any wine in the glass - thinking what each sip was really worth in real GDP terms and how actually that whole glass could have been that pair of red bottomed Christian Louboutins that I really really wanted but left at Saks. On the other hand, I also felt like drinking wine right now was the equivalent of drinking hemlock given my condition. And the sad reality was that all I really wanted was the ice cream sundae that our dear hostess was serving for dessert - to me that beat the La Tache hands down. What would it do to my glycemic index? I didn’t care anymore (sorry, Lila). I broke down and ate the hot fudge sundae with reckless abandon (and the La Tache).

Back to Round 4 - and yes I am burying the lede again. Sorry, Jim. The doctor is over the moon at the continued shrinkage and so the AC combo in the first 4 rounds has worked beautifully and Dr. Isaacs literally says she really has to check the chart to see which breast the tumor is in because it is now that difficult to feel. So that’s good.

What’s not good is that this roller coaster continues. And there are moments when I want off pretty badly. Take, for instance, the day after chemo when I went back to Georgetown to get my Neulasta shot - that’s the one that forces my bone marrow to start producing more white blood cells so that I don’t pick up every cooty that the kids bring home. I was sitting in the waiting area of the oncology ward - again not the happiest place on earth. I have my W magazine opened and in walks a young Asian woman (about my age) her American husband in tow and her mother and grandmother who had just arrived to be with her from China. They looked like deer caught in the headlights. I could see the tears already welling in her eyes. She sat down next to me and I turned to her knowing she looked fragile and she burst out: “It’s my first time.” She still had her long beautiful black hair loosely pulled back into a casual low ponytail - just the way I used to like to wear mine on the weekends. I was so angry at myself - I had not felt like putting my wig on when I went for my shot. It was just going to be a few minutes and I didn’t feel like putting on make-up and there I was looking like such a cancer patient. I must have looked so scary to this young woman. I immediately dug deep and went into my best salesmanship mode - talking a mile a minute. I grabbed her arm and told her it was going to be alright. That it really wasn’t so bad. Really. I got very practical and asked her if she had gotten her wig yet? And when she solemnly shook her head, ‘no.’ I immediately said, “Here’s what you are going to do tomorrow. You are going to call Hans at Lucien and Eviand up on Wisconsin Ave. near Whole Foods. You are going to go there with your best girlfriends. And he is going to fuss over you and make you feel like a million bucks. Then you are going to go out to lunch and then you are going to make an appointment at your favorite salon in two weeks and take your girlfriends and shave your head. Then you are going to go to Modell’s and ask for the UnderArmor skull caps because they are so comfortable to sleep in and you can’t believe how drafty it is when you are bald.” Her husband had whipped out a pen and was taking down my every word and she was suddenly laughing.

They called me in for my shot and I sat in the chair and I simply burst into tears. Another woman from the waiting area who had looked happy a minute before rounded the corner and overcome with emotion just begged the nurse to call her doctor and bring the orders up so she didn’t have to go downstairs again. I caught my breath and asked the nurse to excuse my emotion but there were just so many sad people there today. I got my shot and then went into the ladies room and threw cold water on my face so that the nice young Asian woman would not see that I had been crying. I thought if I smiled broadly enough it would hide my red eyes. So I did. And I walked out into the corridor and hugged her goodbye as the oncology nurse called her. I decided I would never not wear my wig and make-up to the hospital again. I had let my armor down.

Tickets to Kaleidoscope

And lo and behold Monday while I am at Pilates I get a call from Greta who is interviewing Olivia Newton John and Dorothy Hamill about their breast cancer survivorship. Kaleidoscope was taping at the Verizon Center that night and Greta was offering me 6 tickets. My mom and Juliette and Cecilia joined us. It was a fabulous ice skating event and the girls kept wanting me to take my wig off hoping that the camera would make its way toward us and they would have their moment of fame. The show is airing after the football games on Fox on Thanksgiving Day. Look for our mugs!

Getting Ready with Rhonda

Thursday, November 12, 2009

CAUSE Gala speech

When I got my diagnosis on Sept 28 – stage 3 breast cancer – a tumor that was growing faster than an Al Qaeda cell in Somalia – 9 cm in length – masked by my pregnancy. I did two things – I cleared my deck of obligations – started a new calendar with my chemo dates and added just one more – Nov 11 Veteran’s Day. For the past three years I had committed to be here with CAUSE to help raise awareness of what our Wounded Warriors are going through – and that date, along with my doctor’s appointments, was the only thing on my calendar.

After my first doctor session – my oncologist told me my hair would fall out and wrote me a prescription for a “cranial prosthetic” – a clinical way of saying – wig. Pretty soon I’ll have another pair of prosthetics – favored by some B-grade Hollywood actresses – they’ve learned to walk with them and so will I.

Anyway, calling this wig a prosthetic actually helped because some of the most inspirational people I have met in my life – some of you out in the audience tonight – have prosthetics. And you wear them with dignity and grace and you work out everyday and you run marathons. You blow my mind in terms of what you do and what you accomplish and how you keep your head in the game even with some pretty tough setbacks.

When I got my diagnosis, I also remembered a conversation I had had with my good friend Kimberly Dozier of CBS two weeks before at a cocktail party for the Secretary of the Navy. She told me about a guy up at Bethesda Naval who had just been brought in – a member of SEAL team 1 – Lt Dan Cnossen – injured in Afghanistan on September 6 of this year - double amputee and I remember her telling me how one of the first things he said when they brought him out of surgery and Admiral Winters came to visit was ‘Sir – can I have some hand grips?” He may have lost his legs but he was going to strengthen every bit of him that was left. He and his mom and sister, Leslie, are here tonight. Leslie left grad school to care for him. Lt Dan is already –two months later - an outpatient from Walter Reed just two months after his injury – it’s unheard of.

That image of Lt Dan doing pull ups on his iv bag drips inspired me and made me mentally tough. A lot of people told me to “visualize” my chemotherapy attacking the cancer cells in my body – some said Pacmen worked for them – or little butterflies carrying away the cancer cells. Not me – I wrote to LTG Frank Kearney – at SOCOM – who flew up today from Tampa to be with us tonight – and told him I preferred to visualize Navy Seals – and asked for a little back-up – I set myself up as Commander in Chief and gave the execute order and those little Al Qaeda cells in my breast have been taking a beating ever since.

I was introduced to CAUSE by my brother Conor – a high school student who for the last 3 years has volunteered every Sunday up at Walter Reed with CAUSE – working in the video library – watching football games with the guys as they recuperate. I asked him what have been some of the standout moments? He said, “Some people may think that renting videogames to soldiers is trite and insignificant. I suspect they’ve never seen anybody learning to use a prosthetic arm by playing a videogame after their own arm has been blown off in an IED explosion.”

But he also said the toughest part was telling some of the guys – wounded and all – that they are blacklisted from the video library because they had late rentals – no pity!! No mercy. No excuses. Tough love.

There’s a lot of research right now suggesting that video game therapy is just what helps patients who are bedridden – used to going from 100 to zero in a flash – from adrenalin high to adrenalin high. There are studies that the repetitiveness of playing those games helps the mind unwind without going into boredom or depression. Now CAUSE has a new toy – to bring the games and videos to the bedside – they are game carts and each and everyone of you can sponsor one – we’ll put your name on it - it’s just 2500 dollars – you can see a prototype in the corner. I challenge each of you tonight to do so.

And if you’ll indulge me one last thought – we have some pretty special people here tonight. Whether it is Sarah and Ted Wade – who back in 2002 no one thought he would live. Sarah has been a dogged advocate for TBI research. Sgt Ryan Major and his mom Lorrie. Wendy Hoffman – President of the Blue Star Moms – Bill Hanbury CEO of the United Way here in DC – Medal of Honor recipient Barney Barnum – Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, LTG Jack Stultz – CG US Army Reserve, MG Ray Carpentar – acting director Army National Guard – my Fox family including Jane Skinner and her husband NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell – whom I first met on a USO tour of Afghanistan – the NFL is doing so much to help the troops. And General James Cartwright – no one is more dedicated to doing right by these troops – and if I may General David Petraeus – who was among the first to write to me to say, “I hear you have an extra rock in your rucksack right now.” This was a day before he announced that he had quietly and with typical grace and dignity been treated for prostate cancer at Walter Reed earlier this year. All the while helping to coordinate 2 wars.

Well, for many of us, there is a 3rd War going on. For most of us, it’s very personal.

We’ve all got an extra rock in our rucksack tonight – please do what you can to help this wonderful organization and help our troops.

If you are interested in learning more about CAUSE:


Well, I wasn't quite sure that we could pull it off - but it's amazing what sheer force of will, some deep breathing, make-up by Fox's magical Rhonda, a pair of Stuart Weitzman's (I'm going back for the Louboutin's, Mom), and most importantly knowing that there is a certain crowd out there facing a much rougher road than I. In the end we pulled off a beautiful evening and raised a lot of money and awareness for Wounded Warriors. For the past 3 years, I have emceed a gala organized by 4 West Point wives who started an organization called CAUSE to help our troops at Walter Reed as they rehabilitate. Last night we had an amazing array of speakers (Dean Kamen - inventor of the Segway, Lt Jay Redmon - injured Navy SEAL, CBS' Kimberly Dozier - herself put back together at Walter Reed after being injured in Iraq, and a pretty impressive group of 4 stars including General David Petraeus and General James Cartwright, the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, as well as Eric Shinseki, the current Veterans' Affairs Secretary. I am attaching some photos courtesy of Kyle Sampleton/Washington Life and Ashley Estill. And I will post my speech if I can figure out how to cut and paste on this thing. Highlight: meeting Lt Dan Cnossen - SEAL team 1 - double amputee - stepped on a landmine in Afghanistan at beginning of September. We are going to start working out together (though I am not sure I can keep up with a SEAL - even with the Chia seeds.)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The "Miley"

The Catherine Zeta Jones in Chicago redhead - sort of

And then a few tears

Hair Today... Gone Tomorrow

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Round 3

There are some of you on this list who may be hearing about this for the first time and for that I am sorry - it's been a bit of a whirlwind the last month - with this ridiculous diagnosis - Stage 3 Triple Negative breast cancer - the triple negative says it all - as my Dad used to say: the Trifecta! Yesterday was Round 3 of chemo and my only fear going into it was the cold that my kids had passed along might delay treatment. So I put on my best wig (think Catherine Zeta Jones in Chicago as a redhead) and a little extra Mac Tech foundation (NC30) and some blush - which I never wear - and a big smile and hoped my counts were high enough and that I could charm my doctor if she thought for a second about delaying treatment. There was no way I was going home empty handed. And besides I had gotten a pedicure the week before and my Opi color was "Don't wine, Yukon do it!) - no joke.

My blood counts were verging on perfect - so I suppressed my cough and kept smiling. (I know it was the Chia seeds, Lila!) But the real smiles came - and no I won't bury the lede this time - when the doctor was searching for the tumor (the one that started off dare I forget at a whopping 9 cm). She turned to her assistant and said if I didn't know which breast had been affected I am not sure I could tell which had the tumor. It had shrunk that much. Literally melting away after just two rounds. My doctor's assistant kept asking if I had any pain, nausea - I said no - just a runny nose that was KILLING me. She declared I should be a poster child for chemo (I told her about the Chia seeds. She looked at me like I was a kook.)

Anyhow - after stopping for a sandwich at Cosi, Greg and I literally danced up to the chemo ward, which is not a place where a lot of dancing takes place. In fact it's usually pretty sad. Everyone's eyes downturned with that distant gaze that reminds you of a hospital on Christmas Eve - with all the bald patients wearing some sort of "cranial prosthetic" or those who have just given up who don't give a damn and don't bother anymore.

We sat down and low and behold a friend of his from college was just finishing up with her father - it seems EVERYONE has cancer these days. We sat next to them and chatted. Then when the chemo nurse brought over the Adriamycin (known as the Red Devil) because it is blood red and comes in two vials that look like they should be in Frankenstein's lab and instead of dripping them into your veins from a bag on a pole - the nurse has to carefully and slowly at a specific rate inject you with a huge vial of this red stuff - the stuff that makes your hair fall out on day 17 - but that's another story that I'll save for a bit later.

To take my mind off things AND because I was again a captive audience, Greg focused on finishing his (our) book on our time in Israel. I was a tad groggy from the meds but he pushed on and said, "OK. Tell me about what it was like in Kiryat Shmona during the Lebanon war (summer of 2006).....I recalled Eli running up to the roof when the katyushas began falling while all of our visitors did the sensible thing and ran DOWN the stairs to shelter. And how we ate some of the best meals of our lives because Mark had catered from a nearby fish restaurant - so as the katyushas began lighting up the night sky - those of us between live shots ate the best surf and turf with red wine from the Golan Heights by candlelight that would have put Cirque 2000 to shame (avert your eyes Fox management and don't tell Rupert!)

It was much the same story this weekend when Greg and I celebrated Halloween with a trip to the ER because my doctors thought I had pneumonia. (5 hours fortunately before the Halloween crowd in Georgetown started to come in to have their stomachs pumped. ) No pneumonia but again Greg had me captive and had me start dictating my part of the chapter about Gaza and friends who had been kidnapped ... I was lying on the stretcher feeling a bit sorry for myself until I began retelling the story and suddenly - because Greg had never heard my side of the story - he had heard Steve and Olaf tell what they had remembered in their two by 4 apartment cell. I became more and more animated as I recalled some of the details. My mind back in Israel and Gaza to some of my favorite times - even the tough ones - the adrenalin surged I was sitting up and was talking with my hands so animatedly that I looked around and realized that I didn't FEEL sick - and I knew I didn't have pneumonia so I called the nurse over and told her I was going home. I told Greg to get me out of there. Too many sick people.
They wanted to put me in a wheelchair - I waved them off and told them I had 3 kids waiting at home to trick or treat and I didn't have time to wait for the doctor's signature. Suddenly the doctor appeared as did the signature as the ER automated doors were about to shut on them as they tried to keep up.

Sadly some poor little trick or treaters came to the door a little early that night - and because - at that point I didn't give a damn - I was standing there bald in all my glory, pale and resembling a member of the Adams Family. The look on the face of the father of these little 4 year olds face said it all - he knew it wasn't a costume - the kids were none the wiser. Sadly, I didn't care.

That takes me back to the hair issue...on day 17 - the day that Hans, my wigmaker, assured me my hair would fall out. I ran my brush through my long overly processed and highlighted hair one last time - but this time the whole back chunk pulled out (Amelia said she'd like to keep it for her scrapbook). I knew it was time - fortunately I had planned and had my appointment with Onder at my old stomping grounds _ George at the Four Seasons. (Greg reminded me I DID work at the Pentagon and that it would be a heck of a lot cheaper to have one of their expert stylists shave my head.) But Onder was the only one I trusted. So Lila flew in from San Francisco and Andrea ("The Rock" - I didn't cry until I saw her eyes fill with tears) and Eve and 6 year-old Amelia marched in to the Four Seasons - I hugged Onder. I didn't bother getting my hair washed (I do keep grabbing for a brush when I am heading out or packing a bag - some habits die hard.) Amelia filmed the whole ordeal - mostly we laughed - but there were a few tears as you'll see from the video - it really says it all.

Annalise has been a bit scared of my bald head - she tells me so - and has reverted to having me read her childrens' stories at night - usually about Christmas - something she had given up long ago - favoring her chapter books. But the bedtime stories have helped her cuddle up to me - even when she is scared. And she insists that I wear the same wig if I see her friends at school so that they might not notice. So I wear the one they dubbed "the Miley".

Overall, we are doing great. The emotional roller coaster has begun but it can be managed with a few more endorphins as soon as this cold is over. My family is my rock, particularly my sister Caitlin who has born the brunt of this wild ride and my mom and Cass and Barry and then there is Greg - who I dare say is secretly gleeful that I am a bit immobilized right now because we are finally having a lot of fun collaborating on this book which is very close to being done. I can't go onto thank everyone. You know who you are - you are all on this extraordinary list of close friends.

My only advice: Keep on, keepin' on.


Terrorist Virus

Written October 29, 2009

Ah ha! Well now I know who you are (each of you little devils)….One of the reasons that I didn’t write back yesterday to chide you all further was that 2 of the 3 kids were sick with some terrorist virus that they brought back from school and gave it to me, Luke and perhaps most importantly, Rose. Alas, I have decided that the common cold is by far worse than cancer. In fact chemo I am finding is better than botox – my skin is as soft as a baby’s butt and I really hadn’t been feeling the ill effects (Chia seeds, I know, Lila) – but this cold – it’s nearly killed me.

One thing I forgot to mention in my last note to you guys – and really I am more than touched by this crazy e-mail list - but I failed to mention “Souper Girl”. She arrives each Tuesday evening just when the chemical taste in my mouth starts to nudge me to start looking through the freezer for some mint chocolate chip ice cream. She rings the doorbell twice (like only a superhero would) and without saying a word passes off two large steamy quarts of homemade soup – each better than the next (we won’t mention the vegan brownies). Inside is a little note. This week, for instance, it read: Soup 1: “Souperneice’s White Bean and Pumpkin Soup” and then begins a little story: “My three year old Souperneice and I were walking the other day when she paused, looked up at me, and said, “Aunt Soupergirl, I have a soup idea!...I took out my notebook to humor her and pretend to write down my concoction. “OK, so everybody likes pumpkin these days…” Souperneice continues… Then there is Soup #2 “The Carrot Squash Vaccine Soup”… “Dare I say, it would be unpatriotic NOT to make this soup, Souper Girl concludes in the typed note.

Anyway, just to say I am relishing the soups and sending you all big hugs and a huge thanks for the love that went into all of this. I promise to get well.

Love, Jennifer

PS The only people not choked up by our new regime are Annalise and Amelia. They declared today at breakfast: “Mom, no more organic pancakes or waffles!” They are sick of picking out the flax seeds. Annalise said, “There are certain things that just shouldn’t be organic!” I relented on that one item (not that I touch that stuff anymore :)