It's a creekmore world

Week # 7 Big hair and Big emotions: the stress gets to us.

It’s nearing midnight Sunday and I wipe my eyes.  Through the headphones I’m blasting ‘Gotten’ by Slash, from our favorite album of late.  I can’t take the song off – it’s the soundtrack of the moment.

Trish and I had a sad, hurtful, destructive fight earlier today.   We both said things we deeply regret. I guess the stress got to us.

The Caregiver

In a study of women with breast cancer and their male caregivers, the males consistently rated their own care-giving capability lower than their own wives did.  That doesn’t surprise me. We’re completely helpless to do anything besides trivially deal with side-effects.

And people expect us to be the most responsible person. It’s hard to feel like you are doing a good job.

Tink and Mort when they were dating in NYC in the 90's
Trish, the kids, family, and friends look to me every day to make sure things are ‘okay.’  I always answer ‘yes’ so they are reassured. But things aren’t ok, are they?

I know they mean well, but sometimes I wish people would stop asking if things are ‘ok’.  ‘NO!‘ I want to shout. ‘My beautiful young wife, and the mother of my girls has fucking cancer and I CAN’T DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT.’

And Lord knows, Trish isn’t even terminal.   Her re-occurrence raises the risks a lot, but she still stands a decent chance of long-term survival.  How did our friends Dena and Andrea deal with a dying spouse?  I can’t even imagine. And I’m only on week 7.


It’s Monday and the chemo-sickness is almost totally gone.  Trish gets through a whole 90-minute dance-class tonight. It’s an amazing accomplishment only six days after she had the chemo injections.

She’s a little nauseous when she comes out, but the blood flow from exercise helps clean her system and stimulates the brain, which she needs.

Almost everyone undergoing chemotherapy gets Chemo-brain.  (15% suffer it even after chemo stops.)  The symptoms are ‘a mental fogginess that may include problems with memory, word retrieval, concentration, processing numbers, following instructions, multitasking and setting priorities.’ (NYT)  Yep, that sounds like Trish right now.

This is your brain on Chemotherapy
The hardest part about chemo-brain is that the sufferer often doesn’t realize how bad it is.  Trish frequently asks the same question twice, needs to be reminded multiple times, and looses her train of thought.   But she gets frustrated with me if I remind her of something ‘obvious’, or she feels out of the loop.   I just try to bite my tongue.  She can’t help it.

Cancer hates laughter

The PinkforTink race team looks pretty giggly.
Tuesday is a hilarious night with friends Betty and Kasey.  Ostensibly, it’s a thank you for running the Race for the Cure for Trish, but really it’s just an excuse to laugh a lot.  We spend at least an hour dissecting every hilarious comment in this classic 911 call from a cop that thinks he’s going to overdose on pot brownies.

And then in an epic moment, we decide to invite Carol Ryder’s facebook image to the party and grope her boobs.  Carol (A-cup) and Trish (DD-cup) have a running joke about each others tits.

Trish e-gropes Carol.
We laughed so much our abs hurt the next day.  And we all know cancer hates laughter.

Wednesday night, the original ‘Lunch bunch’ from Discovery, Amy M. Allison R. Randi K. Lori W. and Robin B., took Trish to Jackie’s in Silver Spring.

(And it was terrible like I said it would be.  For the love of God, stop going to Jackie’s.)

But Trish came home and giggled all night.  Thank god for friends that take her out and make her laugh!  She stopped laughing at my jokes 10 years ago.

Spa girls

Lily looks pretty blissed out.
Sonja Gregoire has been our stylist since we came to Washington D.C. 15 years ago.  She did Trish’s hair at our wedding, and has been cutting our girls hair since it was long enough to trim.  I mentioned her in another post about Trish’s hair falling out the first time.  She’s been with us through a lot.

Early this week I called Sonja with a plan to bring all the girls together to the Spa/Salon (Tara in Georgetown) for manicure/pedicure and hair cuts. The girls need more events with their Mom.

Somewhat ironically, as we fuss about Trish’s hair falling out, the girls and I have grown shaggy hair that is months overdue for a cut.  I can’t see anything on their faces except braces and missing teeth.

Daddy's girls.
Sonja helps arrange everything and we arrive around 11am for the nail treatments.  On the ride down, Emma talks to Lily  about how it’s so much better to get nails ‘professionally done.’  Lily nods and asks Emma if it’s ok to use different colors on the hands and feet.  ‘Of course’ Emma says, ‘Lots of girls do it that way’.

The nails are painted and Emma and Lily get adorable summer cuts.  Sonja does Lily in a Betty Page that is jaw-droppingly cute.  They think of Sonja like an Aunt.

Sonja styles the wig and Emma touches her nose?

Continued, so read on!

6 thoughts on “Week # 7 Big hair and Big emotions: the stress gets to us.

  1. Juliet Dervin

    I’m grateful to you for sharing the dark emotional impact of cancer (and any other illness, for that matter). It DOES fuck with emotion and it can be hard to forgive ourselves and each other!

    I know exactly what you’re talking about but never could have articulated so well. Thank you and warm, loving vibes your way.


  2. Vicki M


    I’ve known a couple men who were caregivers for their wives fighting the same fight as you. None of them could come close in comparison to the love and support that every thing you say and do provides for Trish and your family. It’s not that they don’t want to be that great caregiver, it’s that they don’t know how. You are truly a one of a kind, amazing person. I know that Trish knows how lucky she is. Please give her my love.


  3. Danielle

    I have been quietly following your struggles here for the past few weeks, having been led here from another gaming site that did a write up about the Pink for Tink event in WAR.

    Every week I check back to see how Trish is doing, and how you are coping with everything. I have to tell you, the things I read here are absolutely amazing. I quite literally tear up in my office at the sweetness, care and thought that you have given everything and at Trish’s braveness. The two of you are so lucky to have each other. (And your girls are absolutely adorable).

    I was saddend a little bit today to see that there were some downs, and I hope that you both hang in there! I have no advice to offer, and I cannot pretend to understand what you are both going through, but I hope it puts a little cheer in your step to know that someone accross the country is rooting for you both. Hang in there! :)

  4. jen

    From reading your blog before the cancer recurrence, your life and family sounded pretty darn awesome (hell, I can’t even plan a family camping trip…to the Santa Cruz mountains 45 minutes away!). Don’t forget you’ll get back to that awesomeness, all together and stronger for it.

    And now for a 20-second cute overload:


  5. Jenn D'Arcy (formerly Crist)


    This entry made me ache for you and I’ve been trying to think about what to say. My first thought was, when someone asks if things are ok, be honest. If they really want to know, they’ll listen. If they are saying it to be polite, they won’t ask again!

    The things you’ve done for Trish are so sweet and thoughtful. It sounds like you are a wonderful caregiver. But, you can’t run on empty so keep doing those things for yourself.

    As to Trish, who I’ve never met, she sounds like me. I broke my leg right before I had my first child. I was insistent on doing things for myself. I crawled up the stairs to our house (never could master crutches and stairs) and across out kitchen floor crying rather than feel helpless and let my husband help me. I’ve gotten better, but I can understand Trish’s need to maybe lash out. Try to separate her feelings about cancer from you. From all the posts and pictures, you look like a happy couple and you’ll get through this.

    And if it is any help, you and Trish have been in my thoughts a lot the last few weeks.

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