• Don Rearden

Name That Tune!


Sunshine in Seward

My apologies for the delay in updates on how I’m dealing with Annette’s cancer treatments. You know Annette is fine, but I realize the time between posts may have had you worried or curious as to how I’m managing her chemotherapy. Worry not, friends and family, I’m getting by (with Annette’s help!).


I can’t believe it, but I’ve sat through seven chemotherapy treatments now, and next week will mark the last one. Initially I was worried I wouldn’t be able to handle sitting through the treatments. I’ve never dealt with medical things well. You know the drill, blood pressure skyrockets, palms sweat, and I get dizzy. I just didn’t think I’d be able to sit there and see Annette hooked up to the machines delivering the chemotherapy. Now, after nearly three months, I’ve gotten fairly comfortable; however, after treatments I’m exhausted and need to go home and take a long nap. It seems like it takes me a good week to recover, and by then it’s time to do it again. I can keep up with Annette when we hike and walk, but it can be a struggle.

Blueberry Rhubarb pie for my birthday! 2020 a year to remember?

Naturally the initial diagnosis brought stress and even some weight loss, for me. Nothing noticeable, and that quickly dissipated with all the food and goodies people brought. I’ve also worked hard to make sure Annette eats almost as well as myself. For instance, every Saturday night after her treatments, I make some pretty awesome homemade caramel corn (and then reluctantly force myself to eat a fair share of it). It’s a struggle, but I manage. Also: ice cream.

The boys playing wouldn't get out of the water. 50 degree water. Wimhof for kids!

As far as my hair… You may have caught my essay that made the local news about Annette butchering the mess on my head, but our friend Brooke visited and worked a little magic with the trimmer. My hair isn’t so bad now, but Annette’s somehow still looks better. The nurses have made a pretty big deal about how great she looks and how she still has her hair, but they don’t say anything about me, which is a little suspect.

We’ve gone camping only twice this summer so far, which is a far cry from our normal routine, but those outings have been fun and worthwhile. The pandemic has made our camping excursions strange. We’re avoiding the crowds and normal camp spots and going on non-weekend days. Last week we camped at Lowell Point outside of Seward for my birthday and took my nephew. The kids played in the frigid ocean water endlessly, and we got a great hike in. I realize how ridiculously fortunate we are that we have the open space and ability to escape like that --- those trips have been really therapeutic for me and I’m glad Annette insists on getting us out. She knows I’d love to escape out into the wilderness with my buddy Seth or head out to our family cabin on the Takotna River, but for now camping with the family will get me through this.

She's rocking this....

Next Thursday will be the last chemo treatment and at her second to last one the nurse asked Annette what song she wanted them to play so that she can dance her way out of there. Apparently, I don’t warrant a song as well – which I might have to take up with clinic administrators – though for the record Annette has floated a few songs by me. She also asked that I ask YOU what song you think she should dance out to. It’s a fair enough question since you’ve stuck through this with us to this point. So, feel free to submit some song suggestions. I’m sure she’ll consider them all.

After her last chemotherapy treatment and subsequent dance, she’ll have a month of radiation. We’re looking at a few options and one of them could land us in Seattle in August for a special proton therapy --- which sounds cool, but Annette has zero interest in Star Trek or anything sci-fi, outside of making sure this tumor is all kinds of dead. The cool thing about proton therapy is that it will reduce possible radiation damage to her heart and lungs. We’ll know more about that possibility of the Seattle treatment in a week or so. Of course, we’d prefer to stay home, but I’ll feel more comfortable knowing Annette’s heart will keep beating for me alone without added radiation. I do better here than in the big city, but I think I’ll be okay for a short visit. After all, this is about me and how I’m handing this…

That’s the news for now. Funny how a cancer update can be a little breath of fresh air with all the other news happening in the world, isn’t it? Stay well everyone. Love hard and live hard and wear your damn mask!

Oh --- and send your music suggestions. If it’s good enough, I might dance my ass out of there, too. (Ironically, Annette and I fell in love breakdancing in Bethel, but that is another story.)



















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