Happy: A Quest for Life After Death

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Game 2

When Mat asked on Tuesday last week if he could buy a ticket to the World Series, how could I say no? These are the times to seize the day.

Mat's friend Brandon bought tickets on eBay to game 2 on Thursday. I won't tell you how much he paid, but we sold our 16-year old Saab this morning ... and didn't raise quite enough money to cover one of the two tickets.

I was skeptical about buying World Series tickets on eBay -- would they actually get the tickets? Would they be legit? They did get the tickets, but the seller failed to mention one critical point: the obstructed view.

The view was so obstructed it was comical -- only at Fenway would this seat actually be sold. Fortunately, there was standing room in front of the green girder that completely blocked the view of one of the two seats, where as long as they escaped the notice of security guards, they had a great view of the field.

So there's not too much cause for pity -- it was a great game, the Red Sox won, and it was the World Series!

Mat would, however, like me to point out that Brandon's Harvard MBA and career buying and selling companies for a living were insufficient credentials to complete an entirely satisfactory baseball ticket purchase.

Oh well. Apparently we would have had to sell two Saabs to cover the price of an unobstructed view.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Brown Journal

So there was one downside to the trip to China -- I lost my journal. You should know that this was not just any journal, it was the cancer journal, the one I've been keeping for the last year and a half.

I was devastated when I unpacked my carry-on bag in the hotel room and realized I didn't have it. I had left it on the plane when I landed in Shanghai.

Since we found out Mat's cancer is back (round 3), I have struggled to recall the faith, hope, and energy that I seemed to have at my disposal last summer, during round 2. I was sure that all of these were in my journal.

I cried for a long time.

Then I tried everything I could think of to get it back. A Chinese-speaking coworker of Mat's called the airport and was passed to several people in various airport and airline lost and found departments, but didn't have any luck.

The following week, on my way back to the U.S. I spoke to several people to ask for help, with no luck. During my layover in Chicago, I even recognized a steward from my flight to Shanghai the previous week, and stopped him to ask if he had seen my journal while cleaning the plane. Mat left Shanghai a day after I did, and spent several hours at the Shanghai airport trying to track down my journal in person, also to no avail. Everyone was either unhelpful or didn't speak English well enough to understand.

And then my mom took over. I told her the sad story, and she began calling Shanghai. She also spoke to several different people in several different departments before finding Mason, a very helpful, very polite airport agent who spoke very good English.

He had the journal.

Mason couldn't send it to the U.S., but a colleague of his delivered the journal to Mat's office in Hangzhou the following week. Mat's coworker sent it to him via interoffice mail, and I had it back in my hands last Friday.

Do I believe in miracles?

Actually, I do.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Watchful Waiting

Mat had expected to start on the miracle (fingers crossed) clinical trial drug last week, but learned on Tuesday that the trial is being postponed by a month. The trial, being conducted by Dr. Matthew Kulke of the Dara-Farber Cancer Institute here in Boston is still wending its way through the approval process.

Dr. Dave (Ryan) assures us that the clinical trial is worth waiting for, so we're now in a period of "watchful waiting." This is the hugely anxiety-provoking state of doing nothing about something that demands attention. That's the waiting part. The watchful part is monitoring Mat to make sure he doesn't start losing weight, becoming unusually fatigued, and having (even more) alarming images show up in his MRIs.

Dr. Dave has persuaded us not to treat our "distress" (a technical term, and no, I'm not kidding) with chemotherapy. Apparently this is a very normal response, and one I can sympathize with.

Mat is on board with the watchful waiting, but I'm not so calm.

Where's my chemo?

Monday, October 01, 2007

Hangin' in Hangzhou

Mat's work occasionally takes him to Hangzhou in China (he's been once before), where his company has an office. With Round 3 of cancer getting started, I decided there's no time like the present. With less than three weeks to go before his long-planned trip, I bought my ticket and applied for a visa.

It was ... an interesting vacation. A little more stressful than relaxing, but a great trip nonetheless. Mat took a Friday off from working to spend the day sightseeing with me, and he also had a free weekend that we spent with Mat's friends from the office and at company events.

Hangzhou is a beautiful city -- largely unknown to Americans, but with a population of about 6.5 million. We stayed in a nice hotel on a beautiful lake, where we spent every evening walking and watching dragon boats, karaoke, and concerts. Mat's co-workers took very good care of us. They found an English-speaking guide to show us around on Friday, spent the day with us in a touristy shopping district on Saturday, and included us in their Moon Festival celebration on Sunday.

Most importantly, the trip was a great diversion. There's nothing quite like a fresh-cooked chicken head in the middle of your plate to distract you from life's other problems.