A Humorous Look at the Bright Side of Cancer...
And There Is One

Breast Cancer Awareness

February 27, 2014

Another Tradition


Keeping a family tradition alive....

Keeping a family tradition alive….

The other day, I walked into the main bathroom to put my makeup on and there was a piece of paper affixed to the mirror in front of me:

“Why did the cow cross the road?” Jonathan wanted to know.

“To get to the udder side,” he answered himself.

Hey, that’s pretty funny, I thought to myself. Hm. The fact that he took time out of his busy schedule to write me a cheerful note reminds me….

I went to Jonathan’s room—since he was at school—and rummaged around. Finally, I found what I was looking for. It was a multicolored journal with his initial on the front.

When the kids were little, I bought each of them a different book: Adriana’s had flowers, Michael’s a brown puppy, and Jonathan’s his initial.

I wrote a little note to each of them on the first page (making sure to date it) and hid their respective journals underneath their pillows. They all wrote me back and throughout the years, we have (sporadically) kept up this tradition.

I took the journal I had finally discovered on Jonathan’s bookshelf—with a layer of dust on it—and cracked it open. It had been a long time.

I wrote, “2/4/2014: Well, I’m running around trying to get a bunch of stuff done so that I can go to your basketball game at Concrete.  Even Grandma is coming. Woot-woot. Here is some candy I bought a few weeks ago already because you were having a craving. I think it might be the wrong kind, but, YOU’RE WELCOME. Love you, Mumsy.

The way I see it, we have precious time with our kids as it is. Like I said in a post a little ways back, I don’t think people on their deathbed care about not cleaning enough toilets in their lifetime. They care about the relationships they have with family and friends. And, as anyone who has gone through cancer (or any other life-threatening disease, for that matter) knows, we just don’t know when that “deathbed day” will come.

So, what are you still doing here, reading this post? Go buy your kids (or husband) a journal and tell them how much you love them.


By |February 2014|Breast Cancer Awareness|

February 26, 2014

The Importance of Keeping Traditions


Another great creation from my mother

Another great creation from my mother

So, in my last two posts, I talked about the importance of family and the importance of playing games.

I am one of the world’s most sentimental saps, and also firmly believe in the importance of keeping family traditions.

I’ve always been this way, but I do notice that since my brush with breast cancer (Brush? More like being hit by a Mack truck), my traditions have much more meaning. Nothing like a little death scare to make a person realize how precious life really is.

My mom makes these beautiful snowflakes. I could make them if I wanted, but I’m not sure I want to take the time to crochet such tiny thread when she so thoroughly enjoys it and is willing to sell them to me. I have been passing them on to my children and my piano students every Christmas.

It just plain makes me happy to be able to keep up that tradition.


By |February 2014|Breast Cancer Awareness|

February 21, 2014

The Importance of Playing Games


 January 24, 2014 Marie, Jenna, & Tyler playing Squeak on the ferry to Orcas Island, WA Photo by Molli

January 24, 2014
Marie, Jenna, & Tyler playing Squeak on the ferry to Orcas Island, WA
Photo by Molli

I’ve mentioned before how much I adore playing games. (Fun ones, not icky ones.) In fact, I have been known to play games all by myself because I couldn’t twist anyone’s arm hard enough to play with me.
I didn’t even let cancer stop me from this favorite pastime.
About a month ago, I made a phone call. “Hi, Jayson? This is Marie de Haan, Jonathan deHaan’s mother. He goes to school with your daughter, Jenna.”
“I know who you are. You’re the Squeak Lady.”
Maybe I should explain. During my daughter’s “going-away-to-Australia party” back on December 28, I had noticed that people were talking and seemed to be enjoying themselves, but the party needed some… well, some oomph. I got out a few decks of cards and asked if anyone wanted to learn how to play Squeak—a very fun, fast-paced game. The next thing I knew, cards were flying, people were screaming, and the party went on for hours. Jenna, particularly, seemed to take to it very well. She had taught it to her family later and apparently, they were now hopelessly addicted.
“Hm. I’m not sure I want to be known as the Squeak Lady,” I responded to Jayson. “I know I’m getting older and probably do squeak when I walk, but…. Ah, what the heck. I’m glad Jenna is enjoying the game so much.”
Two days after our conversation, I took a ferry to Orcas Island to watch Jonathan’s basketball game. Some of his fellow classmates and I played cards the whole way there and the whole way back. I was in heaven (as is evident by my goofy-looking face here in this picture).
I sometimes feel guilty when I’m playing games (and neglecting housework or some other lofty enterprise), but then I have to remind myself that playing games with others and getting to know them better is what makes the world go ’round.
I’m sure if someone was pressed on their deathbed about any regrets they might have had about their lifetime, that someone would never reply, “I should have cleaned more toilets.”

By |February 2014|Breast Cancer Awareness|

February 21, 2014

The Importance of Being Family

January 22, 2014 Jonathan made me a mug at school bearing my name: Mumsy.

January 22, 2014
Jonathan made me a mug at school bearing my name: Mumsy.

Jonathan made me this mug at school with the inscription of his pet name for me: Mumsy.

That got me to thinking that all three of my kids have different names for me:

1. Adriana calls me MeeMaw and has no qualms about telling me how much she loves me on a regular basis, even publicly.

2. Michael calls me Mama and even though he’s been out of the house since July, he texts me, “Bring me some Dutch soup, Mama,” or “I love you, Mama” quite regularly.

3. Jonathan skips across the gym floor to come hug me after every single one of his basketball games yelling, “Mumsy!” to the amusement of all of his friends.

I am one lucky mother. Not only am I still alive almost five years after my breast cancer diagnosis, I have children who love me unconditionally.



By |February 2014|Breast Cancer Awareness|

February 21, 2014

More Friends All Over The World

January 21, 2014 With Kat West at the Kingston Quilt Shop

January 21, 2014
With Kat West at the Kingston Quilt Shop

Last year, I talked about making friends all over the world, friends whose lives have been affected by cancer in one way or another.

I’ve also talked about wanting to become friends with Fran Drescher.

Recently, I introduced my blog readers to Kat West, who emailed me out of the blue via my contact page wanting to meet.

On January 21, I took the Edmonds ferry over to Kingston. We hugged the minute we met. It wasn’t awkward one single bit. Cancer has a strange way of bringing people close together.

We sat down to eat breakfast together at the Oak Table Cafe there in Kingston. “Before we eat, I wanted to give you this small present,” I told Kat. “I didn’t wrap it very well, because I thought of it right before I had to zip out the door to meet you.”

She removed the wrapping paper. Inside a Stash peppermint tea box, I had placed three tea bags and a roll of Mentos. She looked up at me.

That’s what I used for the nausea caused by chemotherapy. You’ve had one treatment already, right?”

She nodded.

“I hope you don’t have the nausea like I did, but if you do, hopefully, this will help.” All this talk about nausea and chemotherapy gave me shivers up and down my spine. It had been years since I had completed my chemo regimen, but it still gave me the willies just thinking about it.

While we sat at the table getting to know one another, Kat kept swiping at her hair. Crap, her hair is already falling out. It hasn’t even been two weeks yet since she started her chemotherapy. I remember those days. All too vividly.

After we ate our eggs and pancakes, she asked if I wanted to walk down the road to the quilt shop.

Well, quilting and I don’t get along very well, but I don’t mind looking,” I responded.

All in all, we had a great day.

By |February 2014|Breast Cancer Awareness|