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Sunday, February 21, 2016

Once more, with attitude


I spent last Friday with Linda, my friend of three decades and change.  The crazy rug weaver I occasionally accompany to shows. Friday I showed up for lunch, and since I won’t eat chipped beef on toast, we went to a breakfast all day diner, and took a booth for the afternoon. We stayed so long the pie delivery came, and I had coconut cream.

Last July, while I was at Ann’s house, I found a missed call message from Linda. “Be in touch.” She’s cryptic at the best and worst of times, so I dismissed it. When I returned, several attempts to get together, including a trip to buy weaving supplies, fell through. In August she called me. “I really wanted to tell you this in person, but it seems that’s not to be, so...”

That was six months ago. Friday I leaned back in the diner booth and said “Can I tell Blogland about you, now?” This from the blogger who has spilled it about everyone she knows, generally without their previous knowledge. I figure by now everyone knows it could be their turn any day. “Cannot believe you even asked,” Linda replied.

Linda and I were friends long before she became a widow. It often turned out she and Dick were staying in the same motel as I was in, and she would come over to “talk shows.” Actually, we smoked the air blue and talked every subject on the face of the earth. I know she went back and blamed the aroma on me. I doubt her former smoker husband believed it.

You could not imagine two more unlike people than Linda and me. Politically, she is right of conservative, believes in guns, but not in taxes or welfare. In her defense, she came by it honestly. She grew up on a farm, where her parents worked hard for their living and put their faith in themselves and friends, not the government. The only person I know who solved an offensive street light problem by shooting it. So, for thirty odd years, we simply agree to disagree. We even don’t talk about it anymore.

That phone call six months ago…Linda has lymphoma. Stage four this, Stage three that. It was discovered during another routine exam. The good news, lymphoma aside, she is a very healthy woman. Her only symptom was tiredness. Her oncologist said that though her insides were a cloud of encroaching disease, she was healthy enough to be aggressive in treatment; he felt he could put her in remission, probably for another ten years.

Linda, formerly a nurse, married many years to a physician, now an artist who works the colors she always heard and smelled and tasted…would you believe is a skeptic. Side effect of rabid Republicanism, but I’ve never told her that. “It’s ATTITUDE!” I preached. Get your attitude on!

She embarked on six months, six rounds of lymphoma kicking chemo attitude. Three or four days one week pumped full of drugs the rest of us hope we never encounter, or never encounter again, then one week of never waking up, except to be sick, then a week of feeling reasonably social, then a good week, then back again to week one.

At the end of the third month Linda had a CAT scan that showed every little lymphoma bastid half its previous size, or smaller. “Woo-Hoo,” from friend Joanne, who announced it half gone. Think about that—within weeks of its final assault to over half gone.

She’s down to the last treatment, in another two weeks, then a PET scan to survey the bodies all over the field of battle. I see all those little dead grey lymp lumps, expired. They used to be big grey balloons, squeezing the bejammers out of her insides, and now they are little expired, pea sized lumps. Ha. Take that.

Linda doesn’t have that confidence. Maybe because she sees everything in color, and cannot imagine grey lumps. Maybe it’s the chemo. “Poison,” she says. Five months on, it’s taken a toll on her body. Worse, on her brain. The stuff banishes color, she says.  She has not made a wild and crazy rug in months, but she has a full show schedule this year to stock for.  What will she do with a full inventory of boring rugs?

Her daughter has been her main support all these months, there that evil first week and checking in the next three weeks. In truth, Linda has a small army moving her down the road. But a few more cheers will certainly help. Linda reads my blog, and frequently comments. You know, the one with the opinion. It would be nice to see thirty comments: One More Time, Linda, with Attitude.

I could not see how to weave in these pictures coherently, so here they are, the attitude sidebar:


Linda, her daughter, Cara and me, thirteen years ago. Linda was month one of defeating breast cancer.


Now, this is the kind of attitude that kicks breast cancer in the butt, wouldn't you agree. It will work on lymphoma, too.


Remember last fall, when we nearly froze to death in our Dollar Store hoodies at Art 'n' Apples. It was the next to last show before chemo began. The oncologist was not pleased, but that didn't stop Linda. I had a long list of possibilities; if any one occurred, I was to shove her in her van and drive straight back to Cleveland. My personal plan was to hire an airplane.


A couple months ago Linda put the color on her head. Whatever works.


By last Friday it was fading. To everyone who wonders what Linda will do next, you heard it here first: red, purple and orange won't be on top of her head, they will be all over. But, will it be back to front or side to side? 

32 comments:

  1. Linda, keep on keeping' on. My husband had a stage 4 head and neck cancer with radiation, chemo and surgery. As we learned at MD Anderson, you only get one shot at the cancer, so need to go with the big guns no matter how terrible. I love that you and Joanne have had such a long term friendship. I can only imagine. Best wishes and that hair. I've thought of making mine a light pink.

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  2. Good luck, Linda! Hope you let Joanne post a photo of that new hair.

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  3. Rooting for you Linda!! Love the color you did in your hair :) What a great friendship over the years!!!

    betty

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  4. One More Time, Linda, with Attitude.

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  5. GO LINDA GO!!!
    From the other side of the world I am cheering you on. Loudly.
    And I love, love, love your hair - and want to see the next version too.

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  6. As a nurse Linda knows that attitude is half of successfully fighting any illness. Linda, I wish you the very best. If Joanne says your little gray lumps are dead and waiting to be washed out of your body you can believe her. Have you tried purples and grays in your hair. You could definitely pull it off.

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  7. Your friend Linda sounds like a real scream! Way to go Linda. One more time, Linda with Attitude ♥♥♥

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  8. ONE MORE TIME LINDA, WITH ATTITUDE!! She sounds just like the kind of gal I would love!1 Opinions and all. I have plenty of my own. You paid her a high compliment by writing about her!

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  9. ONE MORE TIME LINDA, WITH ATTITUDE!
    It does sound very much as if Linda's body is working hard to help the chemo do its job.

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  10. One More Time, Linda, with Attitude!
    My respect for a fighter, a strong one, and I wish Linda all the best of the world! Fighters sometimes feel downcast before the last fight - being so strongly involved for such a long time before - and need a little support to take that last step. I adore you, Joanne, that you are such an emphathetic friend and ask for it here on your blog.
    "One More Time, Linda, with Attitude!" You'll make it!
    (And then come to our street, please, and shoot a few very unnerving light-bulbs on street lamps..)

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  11. Hari OM
    Joining, come on, loud and clear... "One More Time, Linda, with Attitude!!!" Show us yer orange............. YAM xx

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  12. Go for it Linda. By golly, hearing your story I don't think that wretched illness has chance against your attitude. Paint the town red!

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  13. Black and white can be just as bold and equally as powerful as color. I'm rooting for you, Linda.

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  14. One more time, Linda WITH THE DAM ATTITUDE!! And I'll go purple red and orange with you!

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  15. You Go Linda! With ATTITUDE! You have a lot of folks in your corner, including me!

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  16. Linda, thank you for letting Joanne tell us your story. I'm rooting for you, from up here in Atlantic Canada. Keep up the good fight. All the best to you.

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  17. Send Linda all my best wishes. We are going through something similar here and my thoughts and prayers are all around her.

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  18. You've got this, Linda! Fight it with all the attitude you can muster!

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  19. What a lady! She sure has attitude, enough to fight and win! God bless her.

    God bless you, too.

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  20. I'm going to even make it into an acronym: OMTLWA!!!

    Keep on keepin' on.

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  21. I know five people with lymphoma. All have survived and all are doing well. It is a battle, but it sounds like Linda has the stuff that it takes to come out a winner. I love her war paint.

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  22. Go Linda! you can beat this thing with your attitude

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  23. I know you will kick this in the butt Linda! -- barbara

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  24. ONE MORE TIME Linda, WITH ATTITUDE!!!!

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  25. "stayed so long the pie delivery came, and I had coconut cream." - that sure makes the wait worthwhile.
    The hair color looks great. I like the idea in a previous comment - war paint. Wishing Linda and her whole support crew the best.

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  26. Wishing you the very best. Keep going with that wonderful attitude and amaze your friends with whatever you do with color! Jan

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  27. Reading this wonderful post, I'm convinced that Linda can take anything on! Way to go Linda!

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  28. Reading this wonderful post, I'm convinced that Linda can take anything on! Way to go Linda!

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  29. Yes, this is the Chemo Linda. I posted on her blog about Mel's jade tree. Have a lot of attitude but also have a lot going on so this is late. Other things to do other than read blogs. So there, Joanne, how much attitude is that?? Thanks to all for encouragement.

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  30. Must add that I believe that I am in God's Hands. I am exactly where I am meant to be and If God brings me to it, HE will see me through it. A Power much larger than myself.

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