Tag Archives: sunscreen

Having Good Cancer

I studied the painting on the wall of the cold exam room. A jazz musician playing a shiny saxophone. I’d seen it before, but never gave it much attention. Today, though, I needed my thoughts to be focused on something other than my reason for being there.

My mind flashed back to a day nine years ago. I sat in the same room, paying no attention to the artwork. Probably planning the rest of my afternoon. Not knowing what would come next.

That day, when the doctor entered the room with a serious face, I didn’t notice. When she sat across from me, I thought nothing of it. Not until she spoke the word “cancer” did I have the faintest idea there was anything wrong.

“But this is the good kind of cancer,” she said in response to my shocked expression. I had no concept of good or bad at that moment. All I heard was “cancer.”

She said a few things I don’t remember. The words “surgeon” and “pathology” were the only ones that stuck. Her assistant would call me with more details. I figured I would ask questions then.

I just wanted to leave.

In the stillness of my car I cried. “Good cancer,” she said. I’ll focus on that. She didn’t have a sense of urgency getting me to the surgeon. That was another good sign. I’ve heard stories of people being sent straight to the hospital. I was going to wait for a phone call. I tried to convince myself that it really was “good.”

I don’t remember how long I sat there. My husband was out of town, so I picked up the phone and called one of my nurse friends. She repeated what the doctor said, that it was the good kind of cancer, and that I was going to be OK. But isn’t that what anyone would say to a sobbing friend?

My mind raced through so many different scenarios. What would happen to my four-year old son if I died before he grew up? He didn’t yet know what cancer was, so he wouldn’t understand what was happening. But at ten and thirteen, my other boys would. I would have to hold myself together, even though what I wanted to do was to curl up in a ball and cry.

“Please, God, let this be a mistake,” was the first stage of processing the news. But my conscience intervened. “Lisha, people get cancer diagnoses every day. Why should you be spared?”

“Then please, God, don’t let it be bad. No chemo, no disfiguring scars on my face.” My conscience again piped in. “Lisha, people have to go through chemo every day. Why should you be different? As for scars, vanity has no place here. This is about your life.”

I hung my head a little lower.

“Then God, just please don’t let me die. I want to grow old. I want to grow old with my husband, watching our sons grow up, playing with the grandchildren I dream about.”



I decided at that moment that I would not ask God for terms. I would pray to grow old. An old woman with scars to tell her tale.

My mind returned to the present as I heard footsteps approaching. I had time for one quick prayer before the doctor entered the room to deliver the results of yet another biopsy.

No terms this time. No conditions. Just please, God, let me grow old.


Have you been diagnosed with a “Good Cancer?” I’d like to hear from you. 


I’m in the company of some fabulous writers and bloggers over at Yeah Write this week. Click on over see for yourself!


Not in my Job Description

There are a couple of things I just don’t do.  I don’t cut grass.  I don’t climb on the two-story ladder.  And I don’t buy cups.  I’m talking about athletic cups, not the kind you drink out of.

The only illustration I'm using for this post.

One of my kids returned home from a week at the beach with a friend’s family last night.  He looked exhausted and had a beautiful tan (obviously no SPF 100+ sunscreen applied).  I knew exactly what would happen without my intervention, so to avert crisis this morning, I gave him two tasks:  unpack your bag from the beach, and get your lacrosse bag packed and in the foyer.  (Lax camp began this morning.)  I even gave a deadline.  9:00 P.M.  I was very proud when (a few minutes before 9:00) he went out to the garage to gather his gear.

He returns with the bag, then goes to his room, and begins making noise that indicates he’s looking for something.  Soon thereafter, he appears downstairs and asks if anyone knows where his cup is.

Now, as his mother, I feel it’s my job to stay on top of certain things.  I make sure he has clean underwear and socks with no holes no more than a few holes.  I keep shampoo and soap available, and provide meals.  But I will not be responsible for his cup.  I just won’t.

Mr. Wonderful remembers seeing one in his closet, so goes to help him look.  I’m having no part of this search — just shaking my head and fetching a wine glass to be an observer.  They find one.  My son announces that it’s too small.

I just walked away.

If any other male made that statement I’d have been on it like gravy on rice. There are sooo many punch lines.  But this is my kid, so it’s a little creepy going there.

As it was now too late to go buy a “bigger one” I listened as his dad asked him if he could manage for the first day of camp with the one we found.  He said he could.  This afternoon I’ll hand him some cash and send him in to Academy Sports to go resolve this issue.  By himself.  Because I’m not going to get into a discussion about what size cup he needs.  Ever.

P.S.  For the love of all things sacred, please don’t tell him I wrote this. 

It’s a Good Thing I Drive a Big SUV

Yesterday, we went to the beach.  I’m so sorry I didn’t have my camera — because the visual image of us going to the beach speaks volumes about my family.  As there are no photos, I’ll just have to give it the thousand-word description it deserves.

For most people, going to the beach would conjure up images of a tote bag, a bottle of sunscreen and a floppy hat.  For us, it’s more like moving a 1-bedroom apartment out to the shoreline.  Mr. Wonderful is called Mr. Wonderful for many reasons, but chiefly because NOTHING is too much trouble for that man to do for his family.  So when we go to the beach, he hauls enough crap equipment for us to spend the rest of our natural lives in comfort at the water’s edge.

As we pulled out of the driveway, the back of my SUV was packed tightly with all the necessities, barely leaving room for our three kids + one more.  We have shelter from the sun for me (I’ve had malignant skin cancer), chairs, a table to keep our shirts and towels out of the sand, food, beverages, skim boards, boogie boards, goggles, towels, shovels… I think you’re getting the picture.  The hour-and-fifteen-minute ride was relatively pleasant, thanks to a couple of fully charged iPods and an air conditioner that reaches back to the third row.

We met our friends en route and arrived at the beach just before noon.  Out pops my BFF, a feisty Cuban-American schoolteacher who has skin that is genetically perfect for tanning.  (Her dark brown eyes make her the lowest possible risk for skin cancer.  I hate that about her.)  She’s holding a tote bag and a bottle of SPF 4 sunscreen, and her skin begins turning a shade of golden bronze the moment she steps out of the car.

My group starts hauling crap equipment through the sand, setting up Base Camp in a lovely spot.  20 minutes later, while my friend has already turned over twice and taken a walk, we’re ready to sit back and “relax.”  I let the kids shed their shirts (so I can apply Neutrogena SPF 100+ sunscreen to their pasty white skin) and let them play, because by this time I’m needing a drink and a chair.

The weather was perfect.  (90-ish degrees is a lovely day for us on the Gulf Coast.)  There was a gentle breeze, and the sun sparkling on the water was mesmerizing.  The kids played in the sand and swam out to the pilings where piers once roosted (before Hurricane Katrina).  At various times they were throwing baseballs and lacrosse balls, digging holes, and burying The Little Guy in the sand (because he’s the only one who still thinks it’s fun to get sand in every orifice of his body).

Then, when everyone was tired, and the spots where we missed putting sunscreen were starting to sting, it was time to pack it all up and haul it home.  This is where it gets tricky, because it never goes back in the car the same way it came out, and inevitably, something gets pitched so we can see out of the back window.  (This time it was a blanket that we didn’t use…)

Today I’ll pull it all out and clean everything, because a lifetime of going to the beach has taught me NEVER to put things away without cleaning them, lest you be surprised by the Most Horrific Smell Ever next time you want to use any of that crap equipment.

So the images of this day at the beach exist only in our memories.  Next time I’ll try to remember the camera, to record it for posterity.  For a day at the beach is definitely a metaphor for The Lucky Mom’s life:  be safe, have fun.  Then blog about it.

As our children grow older, it’s really hard to find activities that everyone can get excited about.  With kids ranging in age from 10 to 19, someone is usually being dragged against their will to family outings.  But the beach is a great equalizer.  Everyone acts 10 years old at the beach.  Some of us just bring more equipment.

The Clean Up.

The Clean Up: Those boogie boards have been to beaches from Florida to Hawaii. Really. We've actually checked them as luggage.

My preferred sunscreen. {http://www.neutrogena.com}