Tuesday, October 20, 2009

In Sickness and in Health....


Right after Ted and I married, I went on a golf outing with him. He's not much of a golfer, and I'm not much of a golf watcher, so it was an uneventful afternoon. With one exception. While in the golf cart waiting on him to get out of the sand trap, I noticed him doing something other than hitting the ball. When he returned to the cart I inquired about what he was doing. (all newlyweds are interested in everything their new spouse does, aren't they?)

Me: "What were you doing out there, sweetheart?"
Ted: "What do you mean, what was I doing,honey?"
Me: "What was that thing you put down on the side of the bunker?"
Ted: "A rake, dear."
Me: "A rake?" "What were you doing with a rake?"
Ted: "Raking."
Me: "Raking what, sweetie?"
Ted: "Sand."
Me: "Sand?, why would you rake sand, I've never heard of such?" (just a tad sarcastic)
Ted: "Golfers courtesy....."
Me: "What the hey does Golfers courtesy mean, pumpkin?"
Ted: "Just what it says--being considerate of the next golfer and leaving the course in the same condition as when I found it."
Me: "You're kidding right?"
Ted: "Nope."
Me: "Wait a second. You mean to tell me that's for real? You were RAKING SAND? Raking. Sand. So that a total stranger, who we cannot even see, who is not even here yet, will have nice, clean sand for when he too hits a lousy shot into the sand trap?"
Ted: "Yep."
Me: (smirky) "Well, isn't that nice...." (a little more sarcastic) "I can't even get you to
put the lid down on the commode for me but you'll RAKE SAND for a total stranger." "That's just grand."
Ted: "uh huh"
Me: "where's the clubhouse?"

Marriage isn't easy. In fact, with the exception of parenting, it's the hardest job on earth. But if you're fortunate, like I am, the payoff far exceeds the investment. And maybe, without cancer, you'll learn from our mistakes and can rethink and rekindle. (I can write this entry about Ted tonight because he's going to be out of town tomorrow and he won't know.)

The afternoon that I received my diagnosis (over the phone) my heart broke. Not for me, but for my sweet husband Ted (aka, Peter Pan). Just like all caretakers, his job was going to be far more difficult that mine. I can't imagine what he must've been thinking in the following days; a young father (ok, middle aged) of four very young children (yes, one with special needs) with a sick wife who's life is now uncertain. (cue background music.) The breadwinner of our family suddenly has to consider yet another time-consuming role to play (is it just me or is this beginning to sound like a Lifetime movie commercial?...)

I'm sure I'm not easy to live with even on the best of days. I'm a tad bossy, a little moody, and have a tendency to feel resentment towards my husband during hunting season. (Did you know that there is something somewhere that is always in season?) But throw in a stage 3 bout of breast cancer and even Dale Carnegie would get cranky. I've become very focused on my battle and have been completely parenting by proxy. Whatever Ted says, goes. No arguments from me. And even surprising to himself, not so much to me, he's risen to the occasion and completely filled the gap. He cancelled his travel plans for work--and this is his "do-or-die" time of year. Called off his junket to Missouri to hunt that elusive White Tail deer he's been chasin'. (took the big C to do that though) Several times, he's taken the kids out for hours at a time so I could read some junky book about cancer. (I really read Southern Living's new October issue and drank spiced hot tea) And on more than one occasion, after his long day at the office, he'd dive in and sort and wash 4 or 5 loads of laundry. But he didn't stop there, he did the hard part too--HE FOLDED THEM AND PUT THEM UP!!!! That's huuuuuugggge isn't it ladies! (I must confess though that I had to walk away when I saw the way he'd folded the clothes--like a junky needing a fix, I'd grab a shirt or a towel when he wasn't looking and refold it and put it on the bottom of the stack ) Call me crazy, but all of the sudden, he's looking younger to me, maybe a little thinner too. And I think his hair is thicker.....don't tell anyone, but I'm being courted by a new man. Actually, same man. Just new tricks. I think I'm in love. again.

Which reminds me....

When our first son, Gray, was born nearly 12 years ago Ted and I both were in our 30's (we'll leave it at that) and were "set in our ways" to put it mildly. And like any Grandmother worth her weight in salt, my Mom had sage advice for me that I should have paid more attention to. On one occasion when Ted had changed number one son's diaper, I openly criticized his "diaper-changing" techniques in front of my parents. My Mom followed me into the kitchen and very firmly told me, "if you continue to correct the way he does things, he'll quit doing things for you." But just like any bull-headed daughter whose mother gave outdated advice, I poo-poo'd her suggestion and continued down my long road of self-righteousness. Three children later, I've wised up. My motto now is "the one who finds it fixes it." Ted has officially changed 1.7 million diapers in the last 12 years and with the exception of a few blow outs and two new rugs, we've survived them all.

Since the beast was found, we've changed. As a couple. We're more respectful of one another, we're kind and considerate to each other. We laugh and flirt with one another. We hold hands a lot now. Like we did when we were newlyweds. And we don't argue over anything. nothing. nada. (ok, the house was a mess when I got back from B'ham, but that was wishful thinkin' on my part.) It all seems trivial when you really think about it. In the scheme of things, what is worth arguing about when you're scheduling chemo and radiation to coordinate with your children's Christmas programs? I can honestly say that I'm thankful, yet again, for one more benefit to having cancer--a new found love interest--my husband. Oh and there's this: when my sweet Teddy asks me to take out the dog, to clean up a Buck mishap, or even to simply get him another cup of coffee, I just lovingly look at his big blue eyes and say, "I can't. I have cancer. (read: Cancer patient courtesy.) Works like a charm. I've got him right where I want him.

I opened the closet in my bathroom yesterday and immediately noticed all the towels were wrinkled like they'd been in the dryer for hours and folded "incorrectly." I stood there, and with tears in my eyes, fell in love all over again with my sweet Teddy. He's going to be fine. We both are. We have each other. Remember, it's not where you travel in life that's important. It's who you travel with that matters.


I'll have my first chemo cocktail party on Friday @ 10 am "with Infusion Nurse 3." I've agreed to participate in a drug study for Avastin, an FDA approved drug that is already being used successfully to treat other types of cancers. (That's why I'm having treatment in B'ham vs. Dothan.) I'm number 29 in this phase II study which has proven to be extremely beneficial to the other breast cancer participants. This drug, Avastin, used in tandem with certain chemotherapy drugs, destroys the blood vessels that feed the cancerous tumors, which ultimately destroys the tumor. The earlier patients in the study have had tumors as large as mine (greater than 5cm/3 inches) completely disappear as if they'd never been there. I'll have 9 treatments, every other week for 18 weeks total. Surgery and radiation will follow accordingly.

Thank you all for the prayers for the spot on my left breast. After I had been in the MRI tank for 45 minutes last week, they pulled me out and said they couldn't see a thing. They were baffled. Not me. Medicine might be a mystery, but God isn't.

Bottoms up!


  1. Hey sweet friend don't forget to let me know when I can help you out with Bibba!!!!! If you lose my phone # you can always call Courtney to get it!!! I will be out of town this Friday :( so I can't help you this week but please please please do not HESITATE to call me...I will help you every time that I can!!!!! love you!!!

  2. I found you through Dona - I am originally from Dothan, live in Tuscaloosa now. You amaze me, with your honesty and humor and love. I am praying for you and thinking of you often.

  3. A merry heart doeth good like a medicine. Oh, Melinda, you are in such good hands (God's and Ted's) and your humor is healing! I'm still praying for you and your family and will continue daily (and I mean it!). Keep the posts coming! You are such a blessing and encourager to all who are fighting this disease!

  4. Hey sweet Melinda!! No, you were not home, went by anyway!!Sorry I missed you. Back at work, will call later! You working on that book yet? You are so amazing and wonderful, and just an inspiration and blessing to everyone!! I just LOVE ya!!

  5. oh melinda you have me crying one minute laughing the next. you are such an inspiration! thank you!!

  6. My favorite post thus far! I'm laughing out loud!!! Speak the truth Sista! I'm so blessed to have such a wonderful friend! Lovin you - Courtney

  7. Hey, it has taken me this long to figure out how to leave a comment! (What's wrong with me?) So, don't feel so bad that you've just learned to text! Ha! Cocoa

  8. Balling and laughing at the same time! And now going to go love on my hubby! This is twice you've encouraged and challenged us as wives! Keep em coming, friend! Love you tons!!! Kelli

  9. Melinda, I have always thought you were beautiful, buy never more so than now. When I first heard about your diagnosis, I thought how unfair life has been to your family. Now, I think that God has a purpose for you and that purpose is now affecting the lives of so many people. Like a pebble in a pool, your experience will touch from those closest to the pebble to those far away. Thank you for your honesty and strength. I know in my heart that we are seeing the miracle unfold before us and will continue to see that miracle unfold. Just as our prayers were answered for Buck (with his surgery right after birth), I believe our prayers will be answered for you. I love you.

  10. Girl, you are so cracking me up! I was getting ready this morning and ran across those black sweat bands with the little white dot on them from the Disney Cruise. They made me think about you and that night the big red boat was a rockin. I sent up a little prayer for you this morning. I moved them to a place that would remind me every morning to pray for you. I know what you mean about that hunting, it is some "serious" stuff. David had me read "Wild at Heart" to help understand his passion. Thanks for sharing your journey with us. You are very inspiring.

  11. Mel--Love that wedding picture! Sometimes it seems not so long ago but then add in kids, houses, careers, and now cancer and it seems ages ago! I was there when Ted entered the picture--and I can vouch that you were meant for each other! I am thinking about you this morning--saying a little prayer. Love you my friend.

  12. Melinda,
    Wow! I just finished reading your blogs. You are amazing and so funny!!! I had so many emotions reading these and so many giggles too! My name is Cindi Saliba. I am Van's wife. I have been praying for you. We saw Tommy and Donna at the Bama game last week (Roll Tide!)and Donna told me about your blog. Well tonight I took the time to look you up and boy was I blessed!!!! Thank you for being so real and sharing. What encouragement! Keep sharing. I feel so honored to be praying for you, my sister in Christ!!!

  13. Hi, new to your blog and related; my dad is your cousin (Sam Whatley). I really love your writing style and am glad to have found your blog b/c it's a big part of my life as well. I guess I want to say good luck with everything, though that sounds insincere. I will keep reading now though!

  14. I just found your blog - through your sister's (I was unable to leave her a comment, I think the comments might be turned off?). When I read that you were battling the disease, I wanted to drop by and offer you my best wishes and prayers for a speedy recovery.

    Next week (11/20), I'll be completing the 3-Day Breast Cancer Walk (60 miles!) with four of my fellow triplet mothers. Even though we all have triplets under the age of six, for the past several months, we've been committed to raising as much money and awareness as we can for research, treatment and education.

    To help with fundraising - our little ones have helped us with lemonade stands that we've held at various locations. We offered two cup sizes, an "A" cup and a "D" cup and we'd ask people to pick their cup size - which always got a good laugh!

    I can't tell you how awesome this experience has been thus far, and we haven't even done the walk yet. But it is my hope and prayer that whatever money is raised from these events - will go fuel the research necessary to find a cure that will heal YOU and the millions of other women, who are fighting this disease. Including my sister who was diagnosed last May.


  15. Good morning! I'm new to your blog and so glad I've found it! Your attitude and faith through this situation is so amazing and inspiring.

    This particular blog happens to be my favorite so far. My mom battled breast cancer 6 years ago and is thankfully and officially cancer free now. This blog reminds me of how my dad had to step up his game a little after mom's diagnosis and chemo. I don't know that I had ever seen my dad cook anything other than Pizza Hut pizza (straight out of the delivery box) before mom's treatments, but he did more than just step up to the plate. I can remember thinking how it seemed like he simply took care of everything. I know that wasn't exactly true, but like your husband, he even did laundry which shocked us all. :) I think it surprised us all a little at how much he did for my mom. I gained so much more respect for him after seeing how he treated my mom and the rest of our family during that time.

    You seem to have such an amazing effect on those in your life, and I know that your husband is and will have the same effect- especially on your kids. This blog was just so sweet to me because it reminded me so much of my parents.

    Thanks for sharing your journey and doing it so openly and honestly!