Quitting our full-time, part-time job

Thursday, May 3, 2018 was a good day. 85 days before this pic was taken, we received the diagnosis I wouldn’t wish on anyone. To say that these weeks have been challenging is the understatement of understatements. Unless you’ve lived with it, you have no idea… I count myself as one of those who had no idea.

It’s cancer.

Not a cold.

Not a broken bone.

It’s f—ing cancer.

After the initial panic, depression, denial and anger, you realize that from diagnosis point on, you have a new roommate. They won’t chip in for the mortgage or groceries… they sure as hell won’t clean up after themselves.  They’re there.  They’re ALWAYS there.  It becomes your full-time part-time job to get them the hell out of your body and life.

That job, for lack of a better description, sucks.

  • Doctor appointment
  • Tests
  • Diagnosis
  • Tests
  • Appointments for tests
  • Surgery
  • Post-surgery
  • Pre-radiology
  • Oncology
  • Radiology
  • Mapping
  • Tests
  • Treatments

The order may have been a little different, but you get the idea.  Any one of the last 85 days can fall into one of these bullet points.  There was a space of about 7-10 days… in between the mapping and the first ration appointment where it felt like life felt more pre-diagnosis. As treatment number one came close, we remembered we still had that roommate to deal with.  But we dealt with it.  Lez, while feeling bent several times… never broke.  She came close.  I did too.

They don’t talk much about the bending or breaking part in any of those appointments. Everyone bends differently.  Some break.

From beginning to end, the medical teams we’ve dealt with have been outstanding. Outstanding. Lez and I would like to extend a special thanks to the doctors, nurses, techs and staff at Radiation/Oncology of Upstate Cancer Center in Oneida. Especially Lisa and Rachel.  They made the daily treatments bearable… for both me and Lez. All the state-of-the-art medical technology in the world at your fingertips is great… but no technology can do what a kind, genuine smile and feeling of safeness can. They’re damn good at what they do. Doctors and surgeons may get all the glory… and justifiably.  But, they can only do what they do with help from outstanding nurses and outstanding support staff.  Period.

I’m not just saying that because my mother has been a nurse for 40+ years. It’s just a fact.

So we start May 4 by taking a different type of breath. A good breath.  A breath not attached by my counting the days since diagnosis or number of treatments remaining.

And by the way… Lauren?  Whatever we did right with that kid I hope we keep doing.  She’s been another rock for us. Whatever that kid ends up doing in life she’ll be unbelievably amazing at it.

My family, Lez’s family (especially Art and Roxanne) all of our friends and every single fan of Bob the Squirrel… thank you for your support and concern.  Lez and I will be pricing storage facilities this weekend to have a place to keep all the good vibes, thoughts and prayers sent our way.

Lez will never be the same. Even though the roommate has been evicted, you never know if or when it’ll come knocking again.  We can’t live our lives waiting for that knock.

We just live.

Thank you all again.

 

 

Better than a museum

Apologies on the lack of updates.  Breast cancer treatment becomes a part-time job very quickly.

This week’s strip go into Lez’s daily radiation treatments. Lez started treatments on April 9.  She is set to have 19 total.  Five days a week.  Like I said, part-time job.  The first five were rough.  Her skin was burning, not on fire, more like an uncomfortable sunburn. We were told that after the treatment, she’d feel fatigued.  That was totally accurate.  After treatment on the first day, I took her back to work.  She wanted to see if she could do it.  She couldn’t.  She was home less than an hour later and slept for two.

But, we got into a groove… growing accustomed to the weekday cut up by treatment.  Yesterday was treatment #13… the home stretch is within sight.

Lez let the Radiology office know that I was doing strips with them in the background this week.  They loved it so much they printed them out and taped them to the patient welcome window. (See image)

As a cartoonist, anytime anyone loves your stuff enough to cut it out and tape, tack or staple it to a wall, window, refrigerator or bulletin board… it’s a good feeling.  To me, it’s better than if my stuff were hanging in a museum.  The people who see those day after day are the people I’m writing about.  They’re going through what my family is going through.  We’re them and they’re us.  It’s them in the strip.  How can that not be special?

What the nurses, doctors and staff at  Upstate Cancer Center – Oneida do can not be understated.  They save lives.  Day in and day out.  More importantly, they make us feel comfortable…despite the overall stress of the situation.  There’s always a smile.  They always help.  We cannot thank them enough.

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Bob and Rachael Ray – a one-sided love affair, part one

(via rachaelray.com)

Rachael Ray, celebrity chef, guru and overall dynamo,  has been the object of Bob’s desire for over a decade.

As Bob likes to say: “Rachael Ray is awesome. I love the fact that she’s pint sized. I love that she smiles a lot. I love that she can take ingredients and MacGyver it into dinner in less than 30 minutes.

I love that even though it seems like she’s not real, she is real. I love that she’s goofy in a very smart way. I love that I can turn on the TV at pretty much any point of the day and be able to find at least one show she’s on.

I can always count on Rachael to be there when I need something familiar.”

But where and when did this all begin?  We’re going to have to go back a long way.


The beginning:

February 13, 2006 – When Bob met Rachael.

To be fair, I myself have always had a soft spot for Rachael Ray.  When I was a student at the University at Albany in the early 90’s, she was working at a gourmet shop not that far from where I lived.  Of course, I didn’t know that until much later.  As a freshman art student I never did any gourmet grocery shopping, but I did frequent the shopping plaza where that store was.  I’d like to think we crossed paths once or twice.  If she saw me then, her path may have crossed the street.

It was hard to miss Rachael in the early 2000’s.  The strip was about four years in when I decided that Bob needed a celebrity crush (don’t we all?).  Rachael was an easy choice…not much explaining was needed.

A one-sided love affair was born.  A love affair that, at last count, has spanned 12 years and 102 strips.

February 16, 2006 – When ego begins to match perception.

Bob heard nothing from Rachael in 2006.  He was determined to change that the following year.  To that end, he commissioned me to paint her a portrait.

February 13, 2007 – always a critic, even when it’s free.

He waited and waited and waited… nothing. Not so much as a mention or a cease and desist order.  But squirrels are stubborn.

Coming tomorrow: A glimmer of hope and ultimate disappointment.