It's a creekmore world

Week # 13: Does butter help kill cancer?

The dance show was an interactive club/concert scene where the audience gets to dance.
Trish is feeling pretty damn good on Monday (July 19th) because her fourth chemo treatment was the easiest of them all.  It’s still hard to do the dance class on Monday evening, which helps cleanse her body.  It’s even harder to get to the office on Tuesday, which helps restart her brain to shake off the chemical bath it’s been soaking in.

The one-two punch combo of dance class and office work is her show of defiance to the cancer and chemotherapy. She does it even though it hurts.  But she knows it’s more important to do it than to do it perfectly, so she goes and tries her best.   And it helps get her ready for for two more glorious weeks of Cancerpalooza before she takes the poision again.

Boobie cake:

Fuck You Cancer cake!!!    From Kasey and Betty.   Umm,  yummy.
We had so much fun with Betty and Kasey last time that I invited them for a repeat performance on short notice. Inspiried by some of the tasting menus we’ve eaten recently, I’ve been cooking 5 or 6 course meals for friends every week and this one featured summer basil with a great cold borscht, thai red curry with tofu, an heirloom tomato salad, and quesadillas.

But the highlight was dessert a carrot cake decorated with ‘FU Cancer’ on the top and tiny little titties.  Kasey and Betty tell us a hilarious story of a shocked bakery clerk at the Whole Foods who didn’t quite understand their special request for the carrot cake decoration.   The ‘F U Cancer’ lettering was easy enough, but asking her to draw boobies took more time.   HA HA. And she made them sooo small – she obviously doesn’t know the size of Trish’s rack either.

AH HA HA HA HA HA. Kasey, Betty and Trish with the 'Fuck You' cake.
The bakery clerk wasn’t sure whether to be mortified or amused.   I suppose those are both appropriate reactions.

One the one hand, breast cancer is ultra-serious and the consequences possibly tragic. On the other hand, it needs some levity, and there is power in being able to laugh at it.   I found the internet buzz about the ‘I will Survive’ dance by a survivor of the concentration camps to be interesting because, about a much greater tragedy than even breast cancer, it explores the concepts of horror, respect and the power of laughter.

A great check-up from the surgeon.

We roll up to the medical center that has been our second home this summer and walk into the offices of Dr. Katherine Alley, Trish’s cancer surgeon.  We haven’t seen her in a few months. Our last visit was kinda frightening because she grimaced when she felt the lump and said ‘Wow, that’s not good.”

That was also when she instructed Trish to get chemotherapy first, which was not what we wanted because we thought it psychologically comforting to get the lump out as quickly as possible. That visit was depressing.

Trish waits for the Doctor
This time we have high hopes at this check up, because to our eye the lump got smaller over the first four treatments – significantly smaller, in fact. But what matters is her professional opinion, so we hold our breath as the tall doctor places her hand on Trish’s naked breast and feels her up.

After massaging around for a good 30 seconds, she said breathlessly, “this feels really good!.” (Ruh Roh. My boy-brain is having trouble trouble staying focused on the medical procedure.) Dr, Alley went on, “the lump is much softer and smaller.  This will make the surgery so much easier. These are very good results from the first 4 treatments.”

Awesome! At least the horrible poision is doing it’s job. And we still have to more doses to kill it.

Planning for the Mastectomy

in her office, Dr. Alley walks us through the preliminary schedule for the surgery.   Four weeks after the last chemo treatment (the end of September), Trish will have six hours of operation performed by two surgeons, Dr. Alley the cancer surgeon and a plastic surgeon.    Assuming there are no complications, she will need two nights in the hospital followed by 4-6 weeks of recovery (but not bedrest – Trish will be up and about.)

The mastectomy, is a modified radical because they are taking lymph nodes too – perhaps 12-14, but they won’t know for sure how many until they get in there and look during the surgery. Dr. Alley is optimistic that she will not need to take all the nodes in the arm, which dramatically decreases the long term risk of Lymphedema, an uncomfortable, unsightly swelling of the arm or leg because lymphatic fluid can’t drain properly.

A whole lotta boot.
Our next step is to choose a plastic surgeon.  We get the business cards of several that Dr. Alley recommends.  We do know a few things about the reconstructive surgery already.  A) They will take out the nipple on the cancer side, and B) that a tattooed nipple usually looks better than a ‘fake’ one (my boy-brain is wondering what kind of confusion a tattoo that will cause me) and C) that our insurance will cover only symmetrical reconstruction.

So for those of you that suggested she get one B-cup and one DD-cup to accommodate different needs, or a trio of boobs (if two are good, three must be better, right?) – you are out of luck. Insurance will only cover symmetrical boob replacements. We are still investigating if four boobs would be covered, one DD-set for my boy-brain and one B set that needs no bra ever.

Symmetrical appearance only?

Please register your vote for the size of her new rack on our facebook page ‘Trish’s Boob Page – Go big or Go home’

We celebrate the great news by buying some awesome knee-high. suede purple boots and a swimsuit (above).  I know right? It takes a lotta’ woman to pull those boots off, but if she is anything, she is a lotta’ woman.   Naturally she gets all the attention from the male help as she tries them on.

Mother-daughter dance with Helen Hayes.

The Creekmore girls and Helen Hayes from Joy of Motion
 I’ve talked a lot about how dance has been important to this family and Trish’s cancer recovery this time and last.  Early on in the treatment, we went to Lily’s hip-hop recital from her joy-of-motion dance class.  At that show, we won a silent auction for an hour of private lessons with Trish’s favorite dance teacher/choreographer from JoM, Helen Hayes.

Helen and I arranged to use the time for a monther/daughter dance session that is finally here! Everyone has been excited to do this,

The Joy of Motion new Bethesday studios are mostly empty this evening and we pick the biggest room. Helen takes the girls and Trish through some warm-ups. True to their personalities, Emma stays tightly focused and Lily is a little distracted. But both settle in once the initial stretching is done and the dances start.

Emma watches herself jump.

There are three or four routines they do, each one displays different techniques that Emma and Lily pick up with ease. They are all so beautiful. Trish is beaming broadly the entire time, and is thrilled and touched to be doing modern dance with her girls. And Helen is completely enjoying herself.

At the end, they did a tiny improvised performance for me and there are hugs and a few tears. I’m proud that the girls saw how strong their mom is, and got a glimpse of the connection between art and life through dance.

There have been a lot of things in Cancerpalooza that Trish has liked, but she was really appreciative and graetful for this one. It was special, not just because of the activity, but because of Helen, who made this a really touching, meaningful event. Helen does some amazing work with kids at Joy of Motion, and was recently featured at the White House with her kids doing a great piece from Hairspray.

Ten thousand calories of butter

This look gets a ton of attention from everyone.
Babysitters have been pretty flakey on us this summer. We keep getting passed on to different girls, all of whom are delightful and good, but it can be difficult to nail down a guaranteed time.

Tonight I’ve struck out entirely, and we have reservations at Citronelle, which have to be made a month in advance.  I bargain with the parents of Emma and Lily’s best friend from down the street to swap sleep-overs.  It works out and we quickly get dressed.

Citronelle is supposed to be one of the best restaurants in DC.   We’ve been meaning to go for years, and it’s testament to Michael Richard’s determination that it has remained great for a decade or maybe more.

Outside it’s bright and hot, but the inside is dark even at 6pm.  There are no windows, it’s a basement dining room.   Trish looks amazing in her gold Louboutins and her flapper costume jewelry.  The jaded hostess tells her she looks hot.

The first plate of the 10 course degustation comes served in a carved eggshell with a little egg salad, and a cool, creamy asparagus soup (right). Tasting menu courses that follow include pea and crab soup, soft-shell crab, seared halibut, a lobster slider, shortribs and a few others plus cheese and dessert.

Glowing food at Citronelle.
Unlike most of the other tasting menu’s we’ve had, everything tastes fantastic.  The fresh pea soup with crab displays the essence of both perfectly.  The lamb with jalapeño sauce, in which they managed to capture the bright flavor of jalapeño without any of the spicy heat was amazing.

But by course five we are feeling a little heavy.  The protein with cream/butter sauce pattern is too repetitive and too much.   Every dish is a piece of fish or meat with a cream and butter sauce.  I wonder if the dinner comes with a complimentary angioplasty.

I know it’s French, but it’s also contemporary cuisine and in 10 courses there is easily space for a vegetable or two, even a (shocker!) a salad to break up the heavy.  In truth, for the money, we probably won’t go back soon but it is certainly a fine restaurant and we’ve enjoyed every one of the ten thousand calories we ingested.

Yowza, Loubitons in action.
The butter is making me sleepy and we are watching a long, late-night movie about dreaming. I find my eyes fluttering throughout the two and a half hours of Inception.  Inception is a fun film, exactly what we like to watch, but it is long. Afterward we stay up way too late figuring out what happened and playfully arguing the philosophical implications.

It’s 3 am and Trish says she has to get some sleep. As the birds begin their morning chirp and i doze off, I think about how much I love my wife. She’s my best friend.

Corduroy and Dance Place

Woot, another saturday night of CancerPalooza.
After another Saturday trapeze session with the kids, we dress up in our clubbiest outfits for a dance performance from Next Reflex dance Company at Dance Place that is a simulated nightclub concert experience. But first we stop across from the DC convention center for some dinner at Corduroy.
Corduroy is exactly the kind of restaurant DC needs more of, great food that isn’t a gimmick or themed or stylized beyond recognition. Maybe Trish and I are food exhausted after eating at so many places. Maybe last nights’ butter and cream orgy is still slowing our thoughts. But when we eat a simple corn soup or grilled pork loin au jus, it seems perfect and delicious and exactly what we want.

Courduroy is the kind of place that would fit any occasion, high-brow or low, fussy or not. You won’t be challenged by the food though.  It’s accessable and fantastic to any palatte. We will definitely come back.

Trish under the club lights.
The dance performance is a crowd-participatory show that simulates a nightclub and concert performance. Next Reflex is a semi-pro dance company and Trish recognizes a few of them on stage and in the audience from her dance community. The dancers, mostly young, seem to be having a ton of fun and she gets pulled in to dance frequently.

Kids and Cancer

Emma struggles a little this week. She is uncharacteristically angry (punching Lily, who probably deserved it) and having tiny tantrums, both things she never does.  When I talk with her, she can’t put words to her feelings, and I don’t press her.  It could be a number of things; the cancer, her best friend is moving away, or tween hormones.

Emma moves fluidly.
With some encouragement, she agrees to come get more hugs from me when she needs it.  The next morning she comes right up, arms outstretched, and asks to be held.  Of course!  It seems to help.

Our family event for the week is Mary Poppins at the Kennedy Center.  This was one of the hardest tickets to get in DC and we are fairly far back, but good enough to see.  I won’t spend a long time on the review.  We all thought it was terrible.  Oh well, not everything is great, and we have a huge week of fun ahead of us to look forward to.

101 surprises

56)    Citronelle: Beautiful, delicious and too much of a good thing.

57)   Mary Poppins: Um, yeah.  Sorry about that kids.

58)   Contribution to JoM: I made a thousand dollar contribution to Joy of Motion in honor of Trish and Helen.  Supporting local arts is so worthwhile.

59)   Sam Edelman Purple Boots: Can’t wait to see how she wears these.

60)   Dance Place performance and Corduroy: Local DC people do great stuff.  Will go back to both definitely.

3 thoughts on “Week # 13: Does butter help kill cancer?

  1. Dave

    I actually said “Wahoo!” out loud when I read that the lump was smaller. In a time where life is taken way too seriously, it is so wonderful to see people celebrate all things. It’s great to see the two of you work together to get through all of this, and to also see the almost therapeutic way you give your insights for us to read. I have found that writing things out gives me a sense of relaxation and focus, and it seems to be doing the same for you.

    Always awesome to read these posts. Just two more treatments guys! Almost done!

  2. David Post author

    Thanks Dave! We love the comments and that you’ve supported Tink/Trish throughout this. Rock on.

  3. Helen Hayes

    Working with Trisha and her daughters was an incredible gift to ME! Knowing them makes me a better teacher and person and I am so blessed to have the Creekmores in my life.

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