” I’ve been reading books of old, the legends and the myths
Achilles and his gold, Hercules and his gifts
Spiderman’s control, and Batman with his fists
And clearly I don’t see myself upon that list…”
The Chainsmokers and ColdPlay
I’m at Patty’s bedside as she receives her 64th chemo dose. To my left is the bag she always brings filled with all the useful chemo tools: the hand lotion we rub on her hands, the tissues. the socks, the pocket for her phone, the extra emesis bags, a jacket, a blanket, her little fanny pack that will be holding the additional medications that will be infused for the next thirty-six hours after we leave.
Patti T and I picked her up at 7:00 am this morning and, as usual, the garage door was up. Patty slowly but yet bravely approached the car. No smile. Just strength.
The chemo is so mean that it makes her feel sick even before it enters her body. She vomited before we’d driven a mile. “I don’t know why you guys sign up for this,” she said. “and I don’t know why YOU sign up for it,” said Patty T. We managed to laugh together as we always do. Cancer cells do not like laughter.
Hours later Patty’s nurse deftly aligns IV bags within the IV pump and briskly walks around the room. She is a tiny scottish woman with efficient strides and quick assessments. I brought a laptop today, and I thought I knew what I’d be writing. Patty’s CA19 tumor marker had gone down at her last visit, and we fully expected more of the same.
Just then I heard the bell down the hall. It’s the chemo bell patients ring when they finish their chemo regimen. Someone is done! The nurses all clap! Patty sleeps through this, and the chemicals continue to drip down the line and into her…searching out cancer cells.
Patty’s tumor marker did not go down today. It went up.
A week ago I flew back to Tampa from Houston. The gals (minus Patti T who was helping a family member with a health issue) met me at the airport in the way that you might expect a Sixtah to meet you…
You’ll recall that I’m the “blogmaster” and have been nicknamed “BM” since the beginning. These gals don’t mess around.
And they informed me that you can, in fact, google “How to draw the poop emoji” with success. It’s a wonderful world.
We headed to Fox 13 for Patty’s interview with Linda Hurtado. Linda is a cancer survivor herself and has a sincere desire to help others. She had heard about Patty from Moffitt Cancer Center and wanted to hear Patty’s story for herself. But first, of course, we needed to eat.
We spoke over fish tacos about what we had learned on our trip across the US almost exactly a year ago. We spoke about how we see things now that were always there. But now we pay attention.
Linda Hurtado spoke to Patty for almost an hour and then talked to us as well. We got a nickel tour around the station and took the photo ops that came our way!
and Linda got to know our Patty…
and Patty got to share her story
and her message of hope for others facing cancer. And we collected famous friends from Fox 13 until we can finally collect Ellen DeGeneres and Melissa McCarthy as well. Linda Hurtado’s story about Patty and the Sixtahs airs in August.
Also in August, Patty’s son heads off to college in North Carolina. This is the same kid whose mom was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer when he was thirteen.
In September Patty and the Sixty Sixtahs head off on another bucket list trip! This time we tackle the Mighty Mississippi. Old Man River. We hope to dip our toes in Lake Itasca in Minnesota (the source of the Mississippi River) and drive the full length of that river to its end in New Orleans stopping at Memphis and donning our Elvis Wigs…
“I’ve been reading books of old, the legends and the myths
The testaments they told, the moon and its eclipse
And Superman unrolls his suit before he lifts
But I’m not the kind of person that it fits.”
–The Chainsmokers and ColdPlay
It was almost 8:00pm when we turned the corner onto Patty’s street tonight. The garage door was open and her husband stood waiting.
It was exactly one year ago today that Patty Virgilio wrote the following letter to those of you who were following along on her trip along Route 66. Because of her bravery she is here and planning another trip. And if you’re really paying attention you’ve figured out that her journey didn’t end in Santa Monica. It didn’t start in Chicago. She’s logged miles and miles with a really difficult diagnosis. It’s there every morning and it’s there every night. And that is remarkably brave.
July 12, 2016
Something very magical is happening along the Mother Road……it’s kind of hard to explain how every town has had people that have embraced us and shown how kind hearted people can be. We left Bradenton with the most warm hearted send off and it hasn’t stopped. Every stop has been filled with surprises and fun. But that’s not what it’s all about, it’s been about more. It’s the running up hugs, like these people have known us for years. Squeezes so tight! Cheeks so wet with tears! They’ve been following us on Facebook, Instagram, twitter and feel like they know us well enough to know why we’re doing this. This trip started out just as a trip…..with some great friends who bought into this bucket list week. Now we’re taking so many people along with us through social media and have made so many new friends. Some have been brought to tears. Many have apologized for crying…….all I can say t them “Don’t apologize…….we get it!” I’ve noticed more that this trip is about human kindness. I think if we all did a little adjustment…..just a little tweak to be kinder and more patient, the world would be full of human kindness. And like my famous pal Marcia Ball says, “when we open up our hearts, the light comes shining through…..human kindness flows from me to you.” That seems to be what we’re getting and receiving on this trip!
Fighting this fight is hard, it stinks. Somedays are harder than others, somedays I just want my life back but then I think about the things I’ve learned and the people I’ve been able to hug more and love more and talk to and encourage and support when they’re having a bad day. All that comes from these cards that I’ve been dealt. The chemo is brutal and makes me vomit. But I’m strong enough to take it….all 40 plus rounds. The payoff is time with my family and friends and trips like this that I never thought I’d get to do. People ask me all the time how I do this and I have to really think about it because there is no easy answer. I know I’m not a quitter or a whiner and I know I want to meet my grandkids and see more of what lies ahead for my family. My kids are amazing, so is my husband. Let’s hold on and ride the ride because I know…..I just know there are more laughs ahead! and cancer HATES laughter! Thanks for following along and experiencing this virtual trip! Your support, love and strength is what I need right now!
You have our support, love and strength…
“You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” —Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne
**Patty T and I saw a double rainbow on our way home from Moffitt.