What is NOT Cancer 13

Erin, running with her pal Kate on the beach at Chrissy Field, what could be better?

Having dear friends visit from Brooklyn for Thanksgiving, my daughter’s best pal from school and her Mom.

Finding the inner strength to let go of my usual Thanksgiving extravaganza. We still had a linen tablecloth, silver and flowers. These are things I wisely didn’t do this year: rendering leaf lard for pie crust, making three or four pies, searching for exotic stuffic ingredients, coming up with fun, not so filling appetizers. Trying things like soup in pumpkin bowls.

Enjoying Thanksgiving afternoon waiting for the turkey to be ready, playing poker and connect 4 in front of a fire with wine and cheese. Ah.

Having friend from Brooklyn completely implode. Just before we were going to serve my stripped-down Thanksgiving dinner, she demands to be driven back to our temporary apartment.

Dealing with fall-out from all this. The whole incident completely perplexes me, and it’s always sad to lose a friendship.

Facing the days after Thanksgiving wrangling over the last renovation details: Finding carpet that looks like sisal but isn’t. Finding carpet not made out of spun gold. Never thought of wall-to-wall carpet as an expensive material. Finding bath enclosure. All this necessitates trips to several Home Depots.

Fussing with contractor over timing of his final payment. Working it out. Getting the work done 36 hours before our move date. Whew.

Spending 24 hours of that pre-move time clearing out the remainder of random things still in the garage: Old appliances. Office shelves. Paintings and furniture that can be used by friends and relatives. Paintings and furniture that cannot be used by friends and relatives. Learning the intricacies of what various thrift shops in San Francisco will and will not take.

Greeting movers pretty unprepared, as is the usual drill in these situations.

Too much stuff! Luckily, the house is large, and great sections of it unused.

Standing on the ramp of the moving truck checking off lot numbers as each box and piece is unloaded off the truck. How can a family of three used to living in 1,000 square feet have so much stuff?

Scott tries to gently corner the bird with a broom, assistant with waiting box. This is above and beyond!

Watching a mover chase a hummingbird around the living room with a broom. Being grateful he didn’t do violence to the crystal chandelier in the middle of the room.

Catching the humming bird. Setting it free feels good.

The humming bird just before we set it free. The poor freaked out thing pooped all over the ceiling.

Cramming all the stuff into the house before the rains.

Spending the 10 days after Thanksgiving doing nothing but unpack. Realizing, again, that I like arranging all of our eclectic stuff in a new frame. I like looking at a book shelf arranged by topic, height and so on. The orderliness is always soothing, and the shelves surround me with the ideas that have made me who I am. Designating sock drawers. Organizing the kitchen. It takes forever, but we’re down to the putting up the pictures stage. Hooray.

During this unpacking, my daughter has discovered that she likes watching TV with grandma. Good for both of them, bad for our no TV during the week rule. Will have to think on that.

One of our BEST buddies from Brooklyn arrives to help with this chemo cycle and makes us smile, for hours, for days. We take her out for great sushi and she had a ball. Best time I’ve had eating out in a long time.

Writing this on our new couch, being able to see the floor, hoping to get pictures up on the walls tomorrow.

We like our new digs. There’s still minor work starting upstairs next week, but it’s going to be OK. We can now turn to the minor stresses of the holdiays, a Christmas Eve open house, continuing to adjust to this move, and, oh yeah, this breast cancer gauntlet that must be run!


About leftbreast

I have had breast cancer. I was diagnosed at 47, and am now 49. I have finished "active treatment," two surgeries, chemo, radiation, monoclonal antibodies. These days, I only take a drug to suppress my uptake of estrogen, since my tumor was highly reactive to that hormone. I have been married to my husband Pete for 21 years. I have a stepdaughter, Maureen, 30, and a daughter, Erin, 10. I've been a freelance magazine journalist for 20-plus years, covering everything from Chinese foreign policy to Catholic nuns to endangered species. I have had a great life. I have lived in Asia and all over the United States. I have spent nights with tree-sitters in Oregon and with astronomers at the Mauna Kea observatory in Hawaii. I've been to a cocktail party on the poopdeck of a British destroyer docked in Shanghai. I've taken the bus to Tibet, and tramped through the cloud forests of Panama with biologists. A magazine sent me on a raft trip down the Colorado through the Grand Canyon; another sent me to cooking school for a week. I have spent time with celebrities, presidents and heroin dealers. I love my work. I have a loving, supportive family and more friends than I probably deserve. I have had the space and time to camp, ski, cycle, garden, cook and spoil my pets (an Australian shepherd, a German shepherd and a tabby cat). If it all ended tomorrow, I would have to say that it has been a really, really good ride. When I was in thick of treatment, I was simply fighting for more time. Now, I'm trying to connect the experience of cancer with the rest of my life, with the time that's been won. I hope the cancer never comes back, but if it does, I'll be ready. That's what this blog is about.
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2 Responses to What is NOT Cancer 13

  1. Glen says:

    Great Heather Millar Thanksgiving moments:

    Thanksgiving dinner at your house in all its turned-up-to-11 splendor. We all sit down to eat and Heather is still fussing in the kitchen. And fussing. Time is passing. (Hey, I’ve been on the OTHER side of this cooking story, so I have no right to whine, but…)

    I whisper to Pete, “What is she doing — making her own aluminum foil?”

    And Pete, in a rare moment of foolishness, says out loud, “Honey, what are you doing — making your own aluminum foil?”

    I think it was only 10 years before he was out of the doghouse on THAT one…



    • leftbreast says:

      No, the one he never lived down was when I was equally busy as people were arriving and he looked up at me expectantly and said, “Honey? Drinks?” We still tease him about that one! Hope your Thanksgiving was fabulous Glen… Send me your recipe for Glug!

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