Hey, Pizza-face

One of the new medicines I’m taking for this round of chemo is Panitumumab, a lovely concoction that has the regular side-effects (fatigue, diarrhea, wreaking havoc with electrolytes) but it also comes with a nasty case of acne and rash. Which I discovered during the week I traveled to Colorado for what is starting to become an annual skiing clinic. I left on a Thursday, got 3 good days of skiing in at Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, and Breckenridge, and returned home just in time for another round of chemo.

A huge house was acquired to accommodate the large amount of friends gathered, most of whom are locals to the area, just out of college, and participate in white-water rafting together. So they’re very organized when it comes to partying and skiing: some of them got up early to secure a front-row parking spot at A-basin, which borders the bottom of several ski runs so that a skiier can just finish the run and ski right up to a waiting tailgate. Ours had a grill cooking some sort of meat product at all times while a keg of PBR made sure everyone was hydrated (har). As soon as it was time to move out, everyone knew what to do and did it – no bickering, no egos, just a well-oiled machine of logistics. it was a beautiful thing to behold. Gets you right in the feels… love to see a plan come together. And it didn’t stop there – back at the house someone was always working on the next meal. While I went on a couple grocery store runs (one of my favorite chores anyhow) I didn’t have to worry about cooking!

I made some definite headway in my skiing skills: last year, I skiied after 4 full months of chemo and I wasn’t as strong as I was this time, having only had one infusion before I went. I trusted my body a lot more, had more strength. I was able to ski most of the time on blue runs, which opens up the possibilities for more fun. I was faster and in more control. Instead of Ken having to ski down a slope and wait for me on a green run, I was almost able to keep up with him on blue runs. Big difference, for me anyways. My progress made me feel like I wasn’t the “beginner” anymore. Now, the steeper drops I have problems with. I’ll get there at some point.

Chemo tomorrow… let’s do this –

I only have myself to blame

Well, this is no good and it’s all my doing. Apologies for the lack of posts, it was a habit I got into last year when I was off chemo and doing my own thing and everything was on the mend. Now, with my energies down and being back on the chemo, I’m feeling the effects of not sharing. It basically stems from 2 of my personality traits: I probably trend just barely towards being an introvert (especially if i’m not feeling well), and I dislike complaining – either from me or others, I tend to avoid it if i can. Well, it backfires if I just clam up and don’t post, I don’t get the awareness out and I stop receiving the positive energy I need from you if you don’t know what’s going on.

So over the next few days I promise to light this blog up; chemo infusion #3 is on Tuesday, and I need a boost. I might complain a little. Anything to get a post out and get some energy moving, right?

Anyhow, my aunt Kathy called me out of the blue the other week and let me know she was visiting her grand-daughter a couple hours away in Jacksonville NC and wanted to see whether I was available to visit. As this is kin I’ve managed to see only once in the last 30 years, and who was responsible for this and has been constantly sending me cards and letters since this all started, I cleared out the next Saturday, piled the family into the car and spent the afternoon in Wilmington for a wonderful visit. We even made it to the beach. Her knees aren’t what they used to be, so we didn’t do much walking as we just talked and caught up.

2 days after this picture was taken, my face exploded in acne

Mary Kathleen Walker is a few years older than my mother and has been through some tough times recently (lost her husband in 2015, and her oldest son to pancreatic cancer early last year) but you won’t find a more jovial, more positive soul anywhere. Always giggling, her enthusiasm is infectious. The more time I spent with her the more I discovered how much alike we were. I swear I could have spent a week talking with her nonstop. And her hugs – well, they’re the next best thing than my own mother’s, just by definition.

Seeing older relatives as time passes highlights how important sibling relationships are: on my mother’s side of the family, everyone else from their generation is gone – their oldest sister Martha passed in the last year, so the sisters are all that are left. (Grandpa Walker was fifty when he married my grandmother, who was half his age; he died when I was a toddler.) Needless to say my mother and Aunt Kathy are closer than ever. Be kind to your brothers and sisters, over time they’ll be the only other people on this earth who will remember you back when you were just a little squirt, and to have that bridge back to our childhood through blood relatives is a blessing.

Good sturdy Iowan girls – hearts of gold, those Walker sisters.