So I went to what I thought would be my March “Parole Hearing,” and it sort of was. I mean, I got to meet with Dr. Carson, my “parole officer,” (oncological surgeon), but I didn’t have a mammogram. Dr. Carson has me back on yearly mammograms, apparently, even though I will still see him every six months.
I’m not sure I’m at all comfortable with this.
I am of the school of thought that knowledge is power, and I don’t know if only being informed once a year, rather than twice a year, goes along with my need to know NOW! I am so used to gearing up for, dreading, looking forward to, being a nervous wreck, anticipating, etc., this event every six months.
I guess I should be glad I only have to go through this traumatic lead-up to the event once a year now, but I’m still not sure I’m at all comfortable with it. I should really trust Dr. Carson. After all, he’s brilliant, and if he seems to think I’m okay going back to yearly, then I should take it as a good sign, yes?
At any rate – I have been given another six-month reprieve and, as usual, I plan to make them the absolutely best six months of my life yet!
Thank you for all the prayers and good thoughts! I love you all!
I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and lived there until 4 years old; we moved to Dayton, Ohio and lived there until I was 10 years old; then we moved out into the absolute country to Jamestown, Ohio, and lived there until my mid-20s.
I consider myself a country girl!
It started at an early age – even when I lived in the “big cities” of Cincinnati and Dayton, some of my favorite memories were visiting my Uncle Eddie and Aunt Lila’s 350 acre farm in Lebanon, Ohio.
I would follow the peacocks around in hopes that they would drop a tail feather. I absolutely adored the morning ritual of collecting eggs in the chicken coop with Aunt Lila. I would brush the horses, Big King and Little King. I would watch the calves being born and nursing from their mothers. I climbed the wooden slat ladders to the hay mow and ran deftly along the giant beam rafters in the top of the bank barn. I took naps in the straw, played in the crick (again, creek for all you non-Ohioans), chased butterflies in the meadow, dug worms as “treats” to hand fed to the chickens, and helped move the cattle herd down the road to the alternate grazing pastures.
I started taking horseback riding lessons at six years old while we still lived the city life.
Going to the riding stables was the absolute highlight of my week. I trained with English tack and my discipline was hunter/jumpers. Riding the school horses around the outdoor arena and learning the nuances of riding and how to interact with the horses was always great. But, on the days when our riding instructor Frances Steinohrt would take us trail riding – any shred of my existence that didn’t take place on the back of my horse du ‘jour disappeared like a mere wisp.
Communing with nature from the back of a horse is the best feeling in the world. Strolling along the trails in the meadows, your horse deftly picking its way through the brush and subsequently the wooded trails; the birds calling out; the sound of the babbling brook in the distance; wading across the river on horseback – these are some of the most defining moments of my childhood.
Once we moved to Jamestown – and specifically, Grape Grove – my fate was sealed.
Jamestown, Ohio, was a little town with one stop light smack dab in the middle, and I lived five miles out of town. Legend has it that the crossroads of Route 35 and Route 72 was where two Native Americans cross paths. Who knows.
We moved to the parsonage beside the little country church in June of 1974, which gave me the entire summer to explore my new surroundings and become acclimated to the country life before I would have to start at a new school in the fall.
It felt like the entire world had opened up to me and there were no limitations or borders.
I was used to riding my bike up to the five and dime store up on Salem Avenue in Dayton, and that was freedom to a 9-year-old girl in the city. I’d take my allowance and go buy a candy bar or a new stuffed toy, or a treat from my dog Bootsie.
But this … the wide expanse of the country was something completely different. When they refer to a “country mile,” they aren’t kidding. In linear terms, a mile is a mile, but a mile out there on my bike or the back of my horse seemed to stretch on for days!
Unlike the rolling hills of the eastern portion of the state of Ohio, southwest Ohio is very flat (until you hit Cincinnati).
Most days you could see clear past Ritenour’s farm all the way to the end of the road, which was literally a mile away. And you could hear everything — the screech owl pair that lived in the old, abandoned one-room school house just past Watkins Road; the mower running all the way down at the cemetery across from Thompson’s farm, and combines – lots of tractors and combines – all hours of the day and night.
And the smells are some of the most near and dear to my heart.
The smell of a hundred worms on the wet pavement after a storm is a smell I will never forget. People make fun of me because I can tell you the difference between cow and pig poop just by the smell. And, I’ve always said, my favorite smell in the world is my dirty horse. There is nothing like that smell anywhere.
In my early 20s, I moved back to the “big city” of Dayton, Ohio, went to college, got a job, reveled in the fact that I lived less than a mile away from the Dayton Mall.
Heck, I even lived in New Orleans, Louisiana for a year in 1989-90, before moving back to Ohio. Columbus, this time. I lived with my parents, who had retired to Columbus while I was in New Orleans; got married the first time and bought a house with my first husband; got divorced and lived with a really cool co-worker and roommate, Heidi, up in Dublin, Ohio; and even purchased my own home back in Columbus and lived the single life there for several years.
But once I got up on my own two feet again, there was no way to ignore the tug of the fresh country air.
In 2005, I bought myself a little 5 acre farm up in Morrow County, Ohio. There were no farm provisions at the time, but I managed (with the help of a couple friends) to build my own pasture fences, install gates and water troughs and a run-in shed for the horses. I turned an existing tool shed into a chicken coop and was happy as a lark. I knew it was official when I bought myself a brand new John Deere tractor to keep up with the grounds on my little slice of heaven.
I would wake up in the morning to my horses staring into my bedroom window from pasture 2. And, just like the morning routine with Aunt Lila back when I was little, I would go outside and gather the fresh chicken eggs every morning. My two spoiled hand-raised peacocks would trounce around the yard and make the craziest noises. I rode my horses up and down our unpaved road and across the expanse of freshly cut fields (with permission, of course), and watched as Amish buggies would pass my little ranch on a daily basis.
Unfortunately, a year later, cancer struck me for the first time and I lost it all.
Lost the farm and my car and my truck and my tractor. I had to find homes for all my horses and chickens and cats and rabbits. It was awful. But, that’s one of the things about the disease – it just doesn’t care!
Since that time, I’ve been back in the city. Columbus, Ohio, to be exact.
City life absolutely has its conveniences, as I am well aware of still today, where I live a little over a mile from Polaris Fashion Place (mall) in north Columbus, Ohio. We have shopping galore, convenience stores on nearly every corner, and every type of restaurant imaginable. And it’s nice. I’m close to my office and my Mom and my nieces, and it is nice to be able to make a Taco Bell run at all hours of the night whenever the mood hits.
But, am I a country girl or a city girl? Maybe a little of both.
Photo collage of me in my teens, 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s.
Age never bothered me until my mid-40s.
My 20s literally rocked!!!
I spent most of the decade going with Holly to local, regional, and national heavy metal concerts.
My Friend Holly – 1987-ish
My 30s was the absolute BEST decade of my entire life.
I was beautiful, healthy, had just bought my own house after my first divorce, and spent most of the decade hanging out with Amys3 at hockey games and was having an absolute ball!
Me (left) and two of the three Amys – 1998-ish
My 40s is when it all became too real for me.
I had just bought my own little 5 acre farm and had put up pasture fences, moved my horses in from London, Ohio, built a chicken shed and added a bunch of really awesome chickens, hand-raised two day-old peacocks, bought myself a John Deere tractor and was living the dream life I had always wanted since I was a little girl.
Life was beautiful.
I could wake up and see my horses through my bedroom window every morning. My two peacocks – Pete and RePete – were growing like crazy and were so spoiled that they would come peck on the sliding glass patio doors when they wanted to come into the house. My hens were laying stellar eggs, which I collected every morning, and my dogs could run free as the wind and were also having the time of their lives.
I have to tell you, the chemotherapy and other treatments were absolutely preferable to the financial disaster the disease caused. I lost my farm because I couldn’t keep up with my mortgage. I had to find homes for my horses, my chickens, my peacocks, and my dogs, and it was so terribly upsetting to lose everything I had worked for since I was a child. Then I moved back to the city to live with my second husband at his sister’s home until we got back on our feet financially. Ugh!
All of that has come to pass.
I got divorced, had a great job, and was once again becoming financially stable.
Then, cancer again!
Fortunately, this time I had much better health insurance, was on my own, and had three wonderful nieces that took excellent care of me while I was laid up for six weeks. Once again, I’m in remission.
So, here I am having just turned 54 years old yesterday. I don’t know what the future holds as far as any recurrence, but it is more than likely to happen. So, I am making a huge, conscious effort to not miss another minute of my life. Thanks to my awesome job, I am now financially secure and I have been travelling a lot, having tons of fun with my nieces and my friends, and enjoying the finer things in life!