Saturday, April 26, 2008

Some Back Story

Many of you have known me for a long time. Some of you, however, only know me through this blog. Before Cancer walked into my life, I was living a fairly conventional middle-class middle-aged life in suburban Rhode Island. You know the deal: loving husband, 2.5 smart, adorable kids (okay, 3), 2 dogs, 4-bedroom colonial, minivan. Busy shepherding our children through the local public schools, shivering at soccer and baseball games, overwhelmed by the voracious demands of lawn care, we more or less lived your average American dream with its ordinary cares and joys. We had our health, our marbles, and most of our self esteem. If the world wasn't exactly our oyster, we were at least living where you could cheaply buy good seafood.

That life changed two years ago. I was diagnosed with leukemia, which had somehow found a chink in my otherwise healthy body and was churning out evil clones. It was all pretty surreal, since I didn't feel sick. A swollen finger had prompted me to see my internist who ordered a routine cbc and voila, I had a deadly disease and needed to go directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200. Instead of attending a wedding in Princeton, NJ, I was admitted to Roger Williams Hospital in Providence where a shock and awe chemotherapy campaign awaited. It was a perfectly good waste of a manicure/pedicure.

That's how it started. I'll spare you the grisly details for now, and end with 10 things you may or may not know about me.

1. Surprise! I was an English major.
2. I have 4 younger brothers, none of whom are good HLA matches.
3. Reading = breathing.
4. I have an extra dry Beefeater martini every Friday evening whether I need it or not. Don't be alarmed, I've curtailed this habit for the nonce.
5. When I was 10, I announced plans to become a psychiatrist.
6. I have a dozen or so fine china demi-tasse cups for which I have no use.
7. My father taught me how to handicap race horses when I was a teenager.
8. My first job post college was in the Equitable Life Assurance Building in midtown Manhattan where my grandfather had worked until his retirement, 10 years earlier.
9. I lived in Costa Rica from 1996 to 2002.
10. I hate onions.


Dori Brown said...

PJ .. I am glad that I found your blog. I look to your blog for laughs and insight. I love your comment, "If I eventually do relapse, then I'm wasting this precious healthy time living in the dark ages. And relapse may not be in my future at all. This is just another challenge I'm going to have to face and manage." Those are words to live by!
Like you, before my diagnosis, I was a healthy individual. From where in the world did that cancer come???? What an absolute shock. It is great that we are both beneficiaries of medical advances and supportive families.
These are five things about me:
1. Economics major
2. Wanted to be an archaeologist when I was young.
3. My husband's grandparents and my grandmother went to the same high school in Brooklyn, NY.
4. I hate bananas.
5. Love my family!
Dori Brown (Jim's wife in Nashville)

Kunal said...

You really should write a book. You are so gosh darned good. What was the phrase that Didion used "in that instant, life as you know ends" or something like that. What is it with weddings and AML. Sari was dx the day before a wedding and relapsed a week before another wedding.
P.S. I love a Maritini and onions are fine too.

pj said...

Thank you for reading. If you tell me your grandparents went to Erasmus HS, I'll scream. That's my husband's alma mater.

Jim said...


Turns out the grandparents went to Richmond HS in Queens. We can all now exhale.