Tuesday, June 11, 2013


Today I am at peace with a lot of things. Today I decided I want to teach my cat to talk.

Today, three birds sang for me. I watched, in wonderment, as they fluttered around the flowers on my balcony. Happy, happy little birds - happy splashing in the bird bath and dining on morsels of rain soaked seeds.

I am overjoyed by the love that I have deliberately attracted into my life. I am extremely grateful for all your kind thoughts, your generous spirits, your higher beliefs, and most of all, your unconditional love.

I am not alone. I not alone in life, or in my struggles. I am grateful for Ezra.

xo, MOnkeyMe

"It’s being here now that’s important. There’s no past and there’s no future. Time is a very misleading thing. All there is ever, is the now. We can gain experience from the past, but we can’t relive it; and we can hope for the future, but we don’t know if there is one.”

George Harrison

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Pirate Girl

On a sun drenched April afternoon at the French Quarter Festival in New Orleans, we watched a thirty-something women, packed into a pirate costume, parade a jubilant crowd during a performance at an outdoor stage alongside the Mississippi River's edge. She was playful, she was sultry, she was tipsy. As much as we tried to focus on the music, Pirate Girl stole the show. She zigged, she zagged, she twirled, she dipped. Eventually her intoxication level exceeded her limberness, and she fell down. And so my new favorite drinking toast was born, "Pirate Girl Down."

It's fun to say and the visual is slapstick at its best - buxom, peroxide blond crashes to the ground while her crinoline and skirt swirl up, her breasts pop out of her tightly corseted top, and her faux leather, thigh-high, stiletto healed boots point toward the sun.

I've been toasting to Pirate Girl a lot lately. Even with a wrecked tail, the memory still makes me smile.

In between cheers to Pirate Girl, I've been googling obsessively - looking for the slightest bit of hope. As I mentioned in my previous post, 4 out of the 5 blogs I found from women with wrecked tails, are now dead.

And then I found Lesley, aka Pirate Girl.

Lesley is feisty, fun, and adventurous. In 2008 she and her partner sailed around the world on their yacht (she's a real life Pirate Girl). She is my age (okay, she's a bit younger). She was born in England and has lived in Israel for the past 30 years.

In 2012 she was diagnosed with stage 3b wrecked-tail cancer. She's now on the other side of pre-adjuvant therapy (chemo and radiation) and also the surgery and she's doing just fine!  She's got a great attitude (attitude is everything). She's optimistic and grateful and I can't help but think.... if a Pirate Girl can do it, then a monkey can too!

Right now, I need to focus on what can and will go right, not what can go wrong. Right now, Pirate Girl is EXACTLY what I need. Pirate Girl won't let me feel sorry for myself. Pirate Girl won't let me stay down.

Lesley's blog is titled THE BOTTOM LINE - how clever is that! She also has a blog appropriately called, Pirate Girl, but her adventures are minimal and I must encourage her to tell me more tales of her riots and ruckuses on the open sea's.

So lets all lift our glass, or cup, or flask, or stein, to Pirate Girl... Pirate Girl NOT being down. Pirate Girl UP. Pirate Girl healing, thriving, living, loving.

xo, The Pirate in MOnkeyME

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Monkey Me and Pappy

Early this morning, before the birds and the sun sailed, I added the word "blog" to my "rectal cancer" google search. I found five sites from women who were diagnosed with rectal cancer. The first four I clicked on are now dead. The fifth is living with Stage 4 rectal cancer. There is no cure for Stage 4 rectal cancer and yet she looks happy and at peace.

The question on the table now is whether or not I have a condition known as Lynch Syndrome. It would explain a lot. It's not good news, but it would explain a lot. I would love to know WHY?

Many of you want to know what I did wrong. You want to believe it is karma, or my bowls of wine, or ill-placed gerbils, or any number of my lifestyle choices. If you don't rationalize it, the fear of it happening to you is overwhelming. It's normal to do this. I understand. It's okay. But you should know that the odds of you winning the lottery are better than the odds of this happening to you. But then again, the odds of me winning the lottery were better than the odds of this happening to me. So, just to be on the safe side, you might want to schedule that colonoscopy.

I'm not afraid of death. I am afraid of dying - the process of dying. I am afraid of pain and suffering.

My fathers death was very dramatic. I hovered over him, stroked his hair and whispered to him - thanked him for all he did for me. He released a shallow, gargled breath and then slowly closed his eyes, and we all thought, there he goes, until he shot up, with his eyes wide open and sucked in more air.

He fought his death.

I will fight the cancer but I do not want to fight death.

I know I will not be alone. I know I am loved. I don't want to be a burden to anyone.

Which leads me to the topic of GUILT...

A few months back, when I told someone about my cancer (then my second diagnoses of melanoma), he responded by saying, "I feel sorry for the people that have to watch you suffer." I managed to walk away from that conversation without slapping him, mainly because he's an employee of mine, but it wasn't easy. He went on to tell me how much HE suffered watching his mother die of uterine cancer.

The following week, he apologized, saying it was a stupid thing to say. I told him I agreed, it was a stupid thing to say. I also suggested that maybe he has yet to work through the grief of his mothers death. He looked at me clueless, and I let it go at that. It's not my job to heal the emotionally crippled.

What his comment triggered in me is GUILT.

Guilt was the hardest thing for me to let go of after the death of my son. Guilt is suffocating. Guilt is debilitation. I will not let guilt separate me from my greatest source of strength, my husband.

For those of you who do not know our history, Mark and I met in kindergarden. We went to school together and graduated together but didn't have an actual conversation until our 20th High School reunion. My favorite line is, "Mark was still single, and I married just about every man I met."

When we first started dating my fierce, irish temperament mixed with his cool, Perry Como demeanor, was a recipe for disaster. If I would argue with him, he would fall asleep. Ten days after my son's death, he left for vacation and I could not bring myself to ask him to stay. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, his actions and my reactions challenged our marriage to its breaking point.

And now, as we face yet another one of my physical challenges - he is my gallant knight, poised and ready to fight. He is patient, persistent, calm and astute. We share this illness. We welcome this challenge. 


Cancer doesn't make you more likable so why is it that people who have publicly or privately berated, betrayed or abandoned me, are now reaching out to me? Is that about their guilt? If you don't like me, please don't pretend you do. My half-sister and half-brother, both not a fan of monkey me, have kept their distance and I respect them for that.

For the rest of you...

Please do not pity me. Do not restrict your living. Do not linger longer than you can emotionally tolerate. If you need to step away from the blog, from me, I will understand.

Today, I don't have a well scripted story or uplifting wisdom to share, but it's important for me to chronicle the hills and valleys of my journey because, like the other four women I found this morning, it is likely that my blog will out survive me.

With Love, 

and my handsome husband, Pappy

August 17th, 2002

my Dad

If none of this makes sense it means you missed the first two posts:

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Shannon E. Kennedy


Photo by Joan Harrison