Today’s Friday photo expresses how I feel as I had my very last round of Chemo this past Wednesday. I know I have 6-8 rough days ahead but who cares…chemo is done!!!!!
Grand canyon trek Summer 2014
After a few weeks to recover from chemo I will start seven weeks of daily radiation. Other than the long daily drive for a ten minute treatment, I am not anticipating the side effects to be nearly as challenging as chemo. Upwards and onward toward perfect health.
Since being diagnosed with Cancer I have felt gratitude every day. I am grateful for good medical care, access to healthy food and a supportive family. Most of all though I am grateful for friends.
I am grateful for all the emails, cards, gifts, and inspirational FB postings. I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t wake up to either an email, text or FB message just checking in asking how I am doing. I read and re-read them on days I am feeling down and they lift my spirits. I am grateful for Facebook friends who have gone through chemo and have shared remedies and tips for coping with the unpleasant side effects.
I honestly believe it is all this support that is helping me get through this without too much difficulty.
Lastly, I am beyond grateful for these lovely ladies. Not only did they willingly give up their Saturday to come and help me shave my head (before it fell out in clumps) but they arrived with a bucket of champagne, food, party hats and my very own tiara. They turned what would have been a traumatic experience into a day of fun.
I don’t think there is anyone on the planet that has more to be grateful more than me.
Have a great weekend everyone and take time to be grateful!
Fair warning: This post is long, completely personal and has absolutely nothing to do with design, decorating, color or trends.
Life as we all know is a cycle of both good times and not so good times. Just recently I was thinking about how at the moment I was in one of the good times. Everything is going so well both with my business and my personal life. My kids are “launched”, busy creating a business of their own, living in Boston and supporting themselves. My husband is employed at a job he likes and has the flexibility to work at home. I have what I consider the world’s best friends and I could not ask for better clients. I have the amount of design projects that feels just right and I was invited on two different BlogTours with Modenus and the awesome Veronika Miller. I had the time of my life on both trips and met some of the most inspiring creative people who I am blessed to say are now my friends. Yup, everything was more or less perfect.
Then in an instant my life was completely derailed. Three weeks ago I was blindsided with a diagnosis of invasive breast Cancer….wait what??? I’ve always been the healthy one. I have been eating “clean” since before it was even a thing. I exercise (at least I try to), I’ve never smoked and I do my best to keep stress to a minimum. I feel great so this must be a mistake, besides, I’m way too busy to deal with Cancer. My mind flashes to two friends, both who died in their 30’s from breast cancer, both leaving toddlers without a mom. I think of my friend Christine who is currently fighting metastatic breast cancer. I think of my Dad who died a slow painful death from lung Cancer exactly 25 years agothis week at the young age of 62, and my Mom who died 17 years later from an equally terrible struggle with brain Cancer. I think, am I going to die? This will destroy my family. I feel like I can’t breath, I feel sick, I cry.
On the drive home I think about all the things I still want to do. I have never been to Italy, I want to attend Maison and Objet in Paris and swim in Caribbean waters again. I want to visit London and I want to tour the wineries in Sonoma. I want to go back to High Point with my friends Kim, Kelly, Casey and Jeffery and see all my long distance designer friends. I think of my kids. I want to see them get married and maybe one day have a grand daughter that I can take to the Ritz for tea, and the ballet. Silly things too, like I need to paint the front door and I still haven’t ordered a new sofa for the family room.
I tell my husband, I tell my boys, I tell my close friends.
We meet with the surgeon a few days later. She is calming and very reassuring. She stresses that my Cancer is small and that I am extremely lucky it was caught early. My Cancer is stage 1 (on a scale of 1-4). The initially pathology report from the needle biopsy shows it is a type 2 Cancer (on a scale of 1-3). Not great, but thank God it is not a 3. As long as my margins and lymph nodes are clear I will not need chemotherapy, only radiation.
I try and stay as busy and distracted as possible waiting for the surgery but the word Cancer, becomes an all present loud voice in my head. I am checking out at Whole Foods and the perky 20 something cashier smiles and asks “how are you today”? I smile back just as perky and say “fine thanks”… the voice inside my head screams “I HAVE CANCER!”. I am at the bank making a deposit and the teller asks, “Anything else I can do for you today?” I smile back, “Nope, all set”. The voice screams “YEAH, CAN YOU CURE MY CANCER?”
I had the surgery two weeks ago and the news was the best it could be. Both the margins and the lymph nodes were clear. No chemo needed!!! I tell EVERYONE the good news. My husband brings home champagne, the boys come with my son’s girlfriend. We all celebrate. I feel like I have dodged a bullet. I don’t need to go public with the news because I know radiation won’t be fun but it will have minimal impact on my life and business. I have four days of bliss thinking I am in the clear.
Then we meet with the Oncologist. She is very sorry to have to tell me some unexpected bad news. The final pathology report comes back and the Cancer I have (had) is clearly type 3 (fast growing highly aggressive form). I need chemo, I will go bald, I will be tired, I will be sick, I will be a Cancer patient. For the second time in just two and a half weeks I feel completely blindsided. I can’t breath, I feel sick, I cry. This time the news seems even more devastating because I had already told EVERYONE the good news. I can’t bring myself to tell anyone the new bad news. I slowly tell people, everyone is shocked and sad.
In ten days I have Pre-Chemo “class” (I find this quit humorous because I always describe myself as a life long learner). I start treatment a few days after that. It seems somewhat surreal because I feel so healthy yet in just a couple weeks I will be bald, tired and sick. After twelve weeks of Chemo I will then have 6 weeks of daily radiation treatments. It will be almost the holidays until I’m done. I have no idea how I will feel since everyone reacts differently to chemo. My Oncologist says she has patients in their 30’s that can barely get off the couch and patients in their 70’s who hardly miss a beat.
My intention is to stay positive and work as much as possible. My friends, family, and clients have been and are, incredibly supportive. I cut my hair short(er) in preparation of what is to come. I am working like a fiend getting some painting, cleaning and house projects finished before chemo begins. I’m already scheming about how I can turn chemo treatments into a design related blog post. It will be interesting to see what colors they use in the treatment room, hopefully they are uplifting.
So my friends, my next step is a trip with my good friend and wardrobe stylist Susan kanoff to pick out a wig. I’m thinking “short and sassy” might be a good look for me.
But then again…life is short!
Enjoy the little things my friends and whatever you do, don’t put off those yearly screening tests!
Although this post is a departure from my usual, I have been wanting to share this very personal holiday story for awhile now. It’s about a woman named Gail Cronin and her holiday cranberry squares. This story actually began over thirty years ago, when I was a newlywed. My husband and I, for a reason I no longer remember, decided to give up our cute but very noisy apartment in Harvard Square and move to an idyllic little coastal town North of Boston called Ipswich.
On one of our very first weekends there we happened to drop by a Christmas fair that was being held at the First Church of Ipswich. While looking over the offerings at the bake table we decided on some yummy looking cranberry squares. They were the best cranberry squares I had ever eaten (actually they were the first cranberry squares I had ever eaten). I asked the woman at the bake table if she knew who had made them and if it was possible to get the recipe. She took my number and said she would inquire. I really didn’t expect to ever hear anything back, but the very next day I received a call from a very sweet elderly lady named Gail Cronin. She not only said she would love to share the recipe but would like it even more if I would come for a visit and have some tea.
The following weekend I paid a visit to Gail. She was the nicest, kindest, woman imaginable. She was well into her eighties and what she told me I have never forgotten. She explained that she was an only child who never married. She had no family whatsoever and most of her friends had either passed on or were very ill and in nursing homes. She told me she was an “unremarkable woman” who had an “unremarkable life”. Her final words struck me profoundly when she said, “when I die, it will be like I never even existed”.
I just couldn’t shake off how sad I felt for her and how very alone she was. I promised to pay her another visit right after the holidays. Well not surprisingly my busy life at the time got in the way. The holidays came and went and I never did contact Gail. Months later, when I did finally reach out to her I learned she had passed away just a few weeks earlier. I barely knew this woman but in some weird way I felt like I had failed her since I broke my promise to visit her right after the holidays. Her final words of “when I die it will be like I never even existed” haunted me. I made a vow that I would never forget her and that I would keep her name and my memory of her alive. I can honestly say, I have done just that. For over thirty years I have been making her cranberry squares every Christmas. Originally my family thought it somewhat strange that I pay tribute to basically a stranger but they know it wouldn’t be Christmas without Gail’s Cronin’s cranberry squares.
Here is the original recipe card she gave me if you too would like to try them. It’s time worn and stained but it is in her handwriting which somehow makes me feel more connected to her.
Gail Cronin’s Cranberry Squares side one
Gail Cronin’s cranberry squares side 2
Within months of our move to Ipswich the novelty of living in a cute little town had worn off. The reality of a 3-4 hour daily commute most likely had something to do with it and we moved back closer to Boston. Now I am not a religious person at all but I am somewhat spiritual. In looking back, I don’t know why we ended up living in Ipswich for only a matter of months but I do know something, or someone guided me to Gail Cronin. I spent less than an hour with her over 30 years ago but she has been a part of our holiday ever since.
I want to wish you all a very Happy New Year and if you have any inclination, please say a little toast to the memory of “an unremarkable woman” who had an “unremarkable life” named Gail Cronin. I have never forgotten her, and I never will.
I am so excited! I feel like a little girl going to Disney for the first time because in just five days I will be flying out to attend what is simply referred to as “High Point” or “Market”. Held in High Point NC, this event is the largest industry trade show in the world. All the top furniture, accessory, and lighting companies introduce their newest products to the trade, while celebrity designers host parties, seminars and “meet and greets” throughout the thousands of show rooms.
Social media is all abuzz with which parties to attend and which vendors are “must see” however the number one question is “what are you wearing?“ Yes, crazy I know but hey, this is the design world equivalent to attending the Oscars and one must “dress”. Of course this whole wardrobe dilemma is complicated that by fact that the hotels are all far away (45 mins. drive) so once you leave in the morning there is no going back to change. This means, walking through show rooms for 6-10 hours a day, followed by evening cocktail parties. SOOO what’s a girl to do?
In my case, I made a call to my good friend and wardrobe stylist Susan Kanoff, the owner of A great New Look . Susan is down to earth, kind, and somehow makes what could be a very unpleasant experience for someone like myself (who is not confident in either my looks or body) actually feel good about clothes. I don’t know how she does it but she does.
Susan Kanoff of A Great New Look
Susan worked her magic last week and now all my stress about what to wear is completely gone. Before we met (in my closet) Susan had “pre-shopped” for me and sent me a number of online links to dresses, jackets and shoes that she thought would be good for the trip. I ordered most of them so we started out our session with me trying on everything and Susan either giving her approval or disapproval of fit and over all look. Luckily everything Susan had me order was free shipping and return so I ordered WAY more than I needed and we had plenty to choose from.
We spent the morning putting together all my outfits and Susan accessorized everything with shoes, bags and jewelry. So that I wouldn’t forget what goes with what, she photographed everything for a style book right on my cell phone. At High Point, all I have to do is scroll through my cell phone and choose an outfit. So easy!
These are a few possibilities Susan put together for me.
I loved how she made it so easy for me by accessorizing everything.
So in five days I will be there soaking it all in and sharing all my exciting new discoveries of trends and products with my clients and my readers. If you want to see a bit of High Point for yourself be sure to follow me on Instagram and Facebook where I will be posting photos and updates throughout the week.
How about you? have you heard of or been to Market at High Point?
This little guy has had quite a first year. Given away by his first family, then heartlessly abandoned by the side of the interstate in Tennessee by his second family. Rescued by a good Samaritan and shipped to The Pixel Fund in Maine, he was adopted by a third family only to be returned a few weeks later (their existing dog kept biting him). He was then fostered by a fourth family for a few weeks until my husband and I saw his photo on Petfinder last Saturday. Sunday we filled out the adoption application, Monday we found out we were approved, and on Tuesday we drove to Maine to give this guy his fifth but permanent home. I still can’t believe I said yes to getting another dog after loosing Tucker but here we go again!!!
He is sweet, loving, full of energy and most surprisingly; house broken and knows “sit”. The one thing this guy doesn’t know is his new name: T. NEVERS (Nevey for short). T. Nevers is a reference to where we used to vacation on Nantucket (Tom Nevers) as well as a reference to me saying over and over “I will NEVER get another dog”.
I am not one of those New Englander’s who is constantly complaining about the snow. I actually LIKE the snow. There comes a point though (late March) when one more storm is just enough to push me over the edge. So today, rather than spending the day as planned with clients, I am snowed in at home while we get another 12″ of snow.
To give myself a little lift and to remember to be grateful for the beauty of the snow and not focus on the inconvenience of it all, I wanted to share some of my favorite snow photos with you. All were taken near my home over the past few Winters.
This was taken at sunrise and the fresh covering of snow was so beautiful.
Aren’t these colors gorgeous! I could design a whole room around this Color palette.
The snow was actually this pink when I took this photo just as the sun was rising.
I have “a thing” for old barns in the snow..what else can I say?
I Love how these Apple trees became snow sculptures after the storm.
yes, that is a Stop sign under there.
Traditional horse drawn carts waiting for Spring and all the families that will soon descend upon the Farm.
This is my street just after the snow ended. I love the little pop of blue in the corner. It reminds me of accessorizing a White sofa with a bright Blue throw pillow.
Even though the snow is indeed beautiful, what has really cheered me up today during the storm is this beautiful Yellow Orchid sitting on my kitchen counter. I really feel like Spring is so close….oh wait…what was that they said about this weekend??…more snow!!!
How about you, love the snow or ready for Spring?
If you would like a Spring pick me up for your home give me a call and ask about my Designer for the Day services.