Sunday, October 31, 2004
My immune system will continue to be susceptible to viruses and infections for up to two years, so I must remain vigilant about what and where I eat, handwashing, and in general, use common sense regarding my health. I will not get a flu vaccine (I haven't in past years either but that's because I didn't want to) because my new immune system cannot handle it at this point, so during the cold and flu season I must take extra precautions. Although my doctors cannot declare me cured until year five, I feel very positive about the future and am making plans.
I feel incredibly blessed because I feel so well and am able to focus on my future so soon after being diagnosed with cancer. I hear many stories of leukemia patients going through years of chemotherapy. I can't imagine. I suppose they are either not good candidates for transplant (not everyone is) or a donor cannot be found. Logistically, everything fell into place for me, and my doctors were aggressive in my treatment, which is what I wanted.
I'm spending MUCH time with my nephews—they're so adorable! Being around these little fellas has done me a world of good—they keep me active and silly. I will be taking somewhat of a break from them in the next couple of months as I venture to the Midwest—Ohio in November and Indiana in December. Then after the New Year it's time to get on with life!
The Power of Love (A Tribute)—
Depending on Family
I don’t know what I’d do without my family. My family is very important to me, and I’ve come to realize how much I want a family of my own some day. My parents, my sisters and their husbands are all so caring. They have tended to my health and emotional needs quite well these past ten months. Family is there for you no matter what—at least my family is and always has been.
I’ve never been very good at asking for help. Fortunately for me, my friends called on me. From the moment they found out I was diagnosed with leukemia, I was receiving phone calls, e-mail messages, letters, cards, etc. I never realized how many people cared about me. It was very eye-opening and humbling. My friend, Robin, wrote to me and said, “Some people never know how much they are loved and cherished, but the gods have elected for you to know.”
I first met Lynn on a kindergarten field trip; we sat next to each other on the bus. I didn’t know her because she was in the afternoon class and I was in the morning one. I recall she had a cold sore on her little mouth and apparently I asked her what it was. I don’t recall asking her that but she says I did.
Karen B (EuroK is her alter-ego that she discovered during her European sabbatical the summer of 2001)
Karen B and I met at a party the summer of 2000, and it only took twenty minutes of talking to this woman to know that she would become a dear friend. We had an immediate connection.
Cindy is my cousin, but she is much more than a cousin. She and I were in the same grade throughout primary and secondary school, and we ran with the same group of people. So not only are we cousins, we’re great friends. When she and her family moved to Lebanon, Ohio, I was overjoyed (I was already living in Cincinnati; Lebanon is about 28 miles north of downtown Cincinnati). I made many trips up I-71 to visit them. I’d spend the entire day at their home, playing with Jake and Megan, eating, drinking, and laughing. Cindy and John are so much fun and I love them and their children.
Nelson & Beckie
Nelson and Beckie just fit together. They are a beautiful couple and their relationship gives me hope for my own romantic possibilities. Nelson started out as an acquaintance. I met him in 1996 through his ex-girlfriend when she was my assistant director in Talley’s Folly, in which I played the role of Sally Talley. I did not become friends with him until I started hanging out with Karen B because they both worked at Procter & Gamble and were good friends. Eventually, he not only became one of my dearest friends, but also a fabulous dance partner! This Latino man has quite the moves when it comes to salsa, meringue, cha-cha, and rumba.
Natalie and I met the winter of 1994 when she came to see Ten Little Indians, a community theatre production that a couple good friends of hers were in with me. This was my debut performance in Cincinnati. However, we didn’t really become close friends until a couple of years later when we started hanging out together and realized how much we had in common. She is someone with whom I can have an interesting conversation about spirituality. Both she and I have dealt with serious losses the past couple of years and that’s strengthened our bond. She lost her father the summer of 2003 and I lost my health December of that same year. Unfortunately, I was not there for her the way she has been here for me. I called, e-mailed, and checked up on her and she did all those things for me, but she actually made the trip out to see me and help transport me to clinic visits. She showed up with two Cincinnati favorites—several flavors of Graeter’s ice cream and Skyline Chili—for which she scored major points with Dan.
I met Lisa in 1995 when I directed her in The Diary of Anne Frank. She portrayed Mrs. Frank with grace and strength. What a performance! As her director I was so proud. Needless to say, she and I became best of friends very quickly. She went on to direct me as the Witch in Into the Woods, I directed her again in The Nerd, and both of us were two of the five founding members of Ovation Theatre Company in Cincinnati. We’ve definitely been through a lot together when it comes to theater, but we’ve also been through much together personally. I had the honor of being a bridesmaid in her wedding on November 13, 1999. Lisa is still one of the people running Ovation, which will be going into its sixth season.
Katie is another friend who visited me to help around the house and transport me to the hospital. This was all the more kind because she was three to four months pregnant and had left husband, Kevin, in Alexandria to fend for himself, while she stayed with me in New Jersey.
My friend, Scott, one of the founding members of Ovation, hooked me up with Dan over e-mail before I moved to the northeast. Dan and I e-mailed each other for months (he’s a very busy man) before we actually met. One Friday night I went to Chelsea and met him at Food Bar. In no time we were talking about everything. No topic was off limits and at times it got a little racy. It was fun! I couldn’t believe how quickly we opened up to each other. The next day I received an e-mail message from him declaring, “Oh, my God, you’re my new best friend!” I’ll never forget it. I told him I felt the same way.
I’ve known Maria since first grade. She, Lynn, and I were in the same class. Maria and I shared lockers all four years of high school and were college roommates all but one semester, so we have been close friends almost our entire lives. Maria lives in Chicago with husband, Aaron, and their three adorable children, Olivia, Eliza, and Nathan. I don’t get to see Maria often nor do we talk on the phone or e-mail that much, but when we are together, it’s as if no time has passed.
Additional acts of kindness
There are so many kind gestures people have bestowed upon me and it is difficult to include them all here. However, there are some additional ideas I feel are worth mentioning because I found them to be clever, useful, and/or surprising.