Bright Lights shining in a Lonely Nightmare

It took a global health epidemic and stay at home order to make me start writing again. I have no excuse now, I’ve got plenty of time on my hands! Just want to preface this post with a warning–this is not just a quick blog post, but really it’s more of a short story. I hope you will read it and feel something special. I decided to kick off my reunion with this site by sharing a story that really goes with the theme I’ve created here—things happening for a reason and Duran Duran. Only this time it’s really not about me, but someone I can now call a ‘Friend of Mine’.

If you’ve read my other posts about my cancer journey, you will see why Holly and I were meant to meet… If you have not read them yet, grab a comfy chair and a glass of wine or big cup of joe and read those first– it will help you really understand this amazing story. Hey, you have nowhere else to be right now!

One warm June evening, I was sitting on the patio having a glass of wine and scrolling through Facebook, when I came across a post announcing that Duran Duran would be at Kennedy Space Center on July 16 for a special show to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing. Of course the excitement welled in my belly. Tickets were a bit pricey—$300.00 (ouch) and that was all they offered at that time for general admission. A few months prior in February, I had spent a good chunk of change on the VIP package to see them in New Orleans, but this show was not to be missed! It would truly be something unique and amazing. My husband, who is used to my “habit” didn’t even say a word about me going, he assumed I was already purchasing the tickets. I really didn’t think any of my friends would want to fork over 300 bucks, but to my pleasant surprise they were up for it! My friend Amy, the “Martha Stewart” of our group as we lovingly call her, was always creating amazing things, so I had a feeling she would come up with something great for the show. We immediately started collaborating and came up with some really cute ideas for tees to wear.  Yay, another fun Duran Duran outing to put on my calendar! I was over the moon.

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Holly noticed a lump in her breast in June 2019. She wasn’t too worried because she had a “clear” mammogram in February, just 4 months earlier, that revealed she had dense breasts–something she already knew from previous mammograms. She chalked up this new-found lump as just being more dense tissue. When she went in for her annual well-woman visit and mentioned it, her doctor wasn’t too worried about the lump either, but put her on antibiotics and ordered a 3-D mammogram as a precaution. After completing the mammogram, Holly was advised that she would need to schedule a biopsy. Still, she wasn’t worried—she just assumed the doctors were all erring on the side of caution. She completed the biopsy in early July.

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Paula, Amy and I went for hair appointments before heading over to the coast–something my friend Paula has liked to do before our Duran shows, and has become our little tradition. Since we rarely go out on the town any more, these shows are always a fun night out for us, like old times. The hair had to go up this time, as it was way too hot and sticky to do anything else only to have it destroyed by the humidity. We were having a great time at the salon–Amy had bought us fun space themed hair accessories to put in our hair and we were getting really excited for the show. After our hair was done, we all drove over to the coast, checked in to the hotel, and met up with Jennifer, a friend of Amy’s who was also a Duranie that I hadn’t met in person until this day, though I felt like I had known her forever. I was so thrilled to meet another Duranie like me that could join my tribe of concert-goers! Before we headed over to the Kennedy Space Center, Amy surprised us each with a John, Simon, Nick and Roger head on a stick — all donning astronaut helmets that matched our shirts. These stick guys would eventually become ‘Duran fans’, as it was still sweltering outside even though we were headed into the evening. Summer in Florida! These fans would also have much more meaning, though I didn’t realize it then. The tees Amy made us came out amazing, we would even be asked for pictures at the show and people wanted to know where we got them. Amy could have made a fortune in sales!

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Holly was so excited for the Duran concert. As she was packing up her things to leave work early for the day and head over, her co-worker told her that her doctor was on the phone. She picked up the receiver, now feeling a little worried because it was the actual doctor calling and not a nurse. Holly could tell by her tone of voice that it wasn’t good news. “We got your results back and the biopsy showed malignancy.” Her heart felt like it stopped beating and she was frozen, not believing what she was hearing. “What stage is it and why was my mammogram fine in February?”, she blurted out. She wanted all the answers at that moment, but the doctor just said she would refer her to Moffitt Cancer Center for more information. She hung up the phone and immediately started crying quietly while collecting her things. Another co-worker who happened to be a breast cancer survivor asked her what was wrong and the soft crying turned into sobbing while she told her what she just learned—she has breast cancer. She got in her car and sat there a moment, contemplating not even going to the concert but instead going home and telling her husband immediately. After thinking about it, she realized there was nothing he could really do, and she would just be at home crying, worried and depressed from the news while missing the concert she so looked forward to. She made the decision to wait one day to share the news and proceeded to go to the concert as planned. On the long lonely drive there, she cried and cried, even stopping at one point to get some hard lemonade at a convenience store to calm her down and make her feel better. As she got ready at her hotel, she started to put the cancer in the back of her mind, focusing her thoughts on Duran Duran and the show. But the calls that were coming in from Moffitt eclipsed the euphoria. Still, she moved forward and got ready to go.

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It was scorching  hot at the Kennedy Space Center turnstiles, no breeze and lots of people gathered waiting to get in. Amy, ever so prepared, had bought us battery operated fans to wear around our necks that actually lit up too, perfect for the show. We pretty much wore them out just waiting for admittance, it was so hot. There were many Duranies there of course, all chatting about the band and the upcoming show. I always love meeting other fans, there is a comradery between us that others don’t understand. We snapped some pictures, when we still all looked good before the sweat set in. We chatted with a guy that looked like he was a rock star with his black neatly styled hair, we met a couple girls that were there together and then one girl that seemed to be there alone. I thought to myself “wow, that girl definitely has dedication and devotion to go to a concert alone, I probably couldn’t do it”.  When the gate finally opened, we all ran in to secure our spots up front. Thanks to my new Duranie sister Jennifer, who was sprinting like she was running from a mad bull in Pamplona, we got spots in front on John’s side. I was so eager to get the show started now that we had our spot, but we still had hours before show time! Paula and I decided we would take a walk, find the restroom and get some beverages, while Amy and Jennifer held our places. The lines for drinks were ridiculously long and we realized we would only be doing this once—a little can of cheap wine just wasn’t worth the wait.

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Holly parked and downed another hard lemonade drink to try to calm her nerves, then headed toward the KSC entrance. She saw the Duranies already lined up, all hoping to get a good spot in front to see their guys. She recognized someone she knew from social media but had never met in person, so she started talking to him. She noticed a group of ladies arrive, all dressed in cool tee shirts holding hand held fans with astronaut-themed band member heads on them. Their names, she learned, were Kelly, Jennifer and Amy. Holly chatted with them, and thought they were so nice and friendly. Being there in the excitement of the moment, she forgot all the bad news she had just received earlier and just enjoyed being with the other fans. No way she was going to mention the word cancer to anyone! After the gate opened, Holly ran to the stage in the hopes of getting on the front row on JT’s side. It was so hot but it didn’t slow her down and she ran as fast as she could. Her new Duranie buddies weren’t far behind her and actually ended up right next to her. After settling in, Kelly and Paula left to go to the bathroom and to get drinks. The heat was brutal and Holly noticed the JT astronaut fan sticking out of one of their bags so she asked Amy and Jennifer if she could see it. She started to fan herself, and at that moment a photographer came up to them and asked them all to pose with the stick fans for a picture. Holly had no idea it was actually a photographer for DD’s social media.

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Paula and I returned to our spots with cold drinks in hand, and I noticed that Amy and Jennifer were looking at their phones smiling. I figured they were posting some selfies on Facebook that they took while we were gone, but realized later that a photographer from Duran snapped a photo of them holding the fans and it was posted on Instagram and Facebook. The girl that we had just met in line was also in the picture. I was so upset! How could this happen? Why did it have to be while we were in the bathroom? It became a running joke all night, me whining about missing my big break on Duran’s social media. I mean, we didn’t even really know this other girl and there she was holding my John! Not fair!

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Holly asked Kelly to hold her spot at the front so she could get a drink. The line was so long and she waited there for what seemed an eternity. Her phone wasn’t getting a signal so she couldn’t look at it, so she started chatting with another fan and it passed the time. The concert was going to start soon and she was so worried her great spot would be taken so after she got her drinks she headed back right away. By this time, the field was so crowded but she squeezed her way back in. She got a signal and noticed her phone was blowing up with messages from other fans telling her to check DD’s Instagram. She pulled it up and there it was– a picture of her with Kelly’s JT fan, along with Jennifer and Amy and their fans!! She was so excited, but immediately felt bad after thinking about how Kelly missed out on that photo. It was, after all, her fan and those were her friends. She felt it ruined the dynamic between the other girls and her, and bothered her a bit, taking away from the excitement. She soon forgot about all of that. The drones twinkling in the sky, the sound of The Universe Alone, the orchestra. She forgot about all the events that weighed heavily on her mind and immersed herself in the music from the band she has loved since 1984.

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The show was amazing, to say the least. Not only were we right up front, but just being part of this celebration with my favorite band was unforgettable. The moon was full and the weather, while hotter than the sun’s surface, was clear and rain free. The orchestra and choir just added richness to the songs that I already love so much. This one would go down in the books for sure, right up there with the Miami Sirius show. The heat was on for sure, but we didn’t stop dancing and singing. It was over way too quickly and we headed back to the car and sat in the endless stream of traffic trying to get out. I was still mad about the picture, but happy for my friends that they were in it. For days after the show, I would see that picture pop up on Facebook and Instagram. It haunted me, but it was silly to be upset about something so trivial. The girl that was in the picture, Holly, had friend requested me and one day I noticed it and accepted it. One of the first posts I saw on her page caught my eye and made me stop. She was checked in at Moffitt Cancer Center getting some tests done. Cancer. Something I know all too well. I sent her a quick reply that I wasn’t sure what she was dealing with, but that I was a breast cancer survivor so if she needed anything to let me know. We started chatting and I just could not believe what she told me. Her story was so much like mine–from the way she found out and being in disbelief, the type she had, her treatment plan, all of it! I just knew right there that this was not a chance meeting between 2 Duranies at a concert. It was so much more. We were meant to connect. When she told me that she found out that day of the show, I got chills.

It was at that moment I realized something bigger was at play here.

That picture of her holding the JT fan on social media was meant for her, not for me. She was meant to be in that photo, it was a little pick-me-up gift from the universe to her on that emotional day. Any feelings I still had over that picture evaporated at that moment, and turned into complete and utter happiness for my new friend. Just like when I bumped into John at a lunch work meeting while still recovering from one of my many surgeries, she had the picture. And I couldn’t stop smiling!

Holly and I have chatted often and we’ve met since then. Amy made Holly her very own JT on a stick that I gave to her one night at dinner. I was going to give her mine, but it was starting to fall apart from all the fanning and waving it had been through, so Amy offered to make her one. We keep in touch and she keeps me posted on her treatments and journey. I hope I am helpful to her, as I know so many helped me. Our paths are so similar and Duran really did bring us together in friendship. It was through our favorite band we met, which is so amazing to me.

This story, like one of Aesop’s Fables, has an important moral too. We never know what someone else is going through, so we need to be kind to each other. It’s that simple. You never know what impact you are making on someone’s life. We’ve heard all of this before, but sometimes it takes a really special moment to make you realize it.

Thank you to Holly Rouse for contributing her side of the story for this post.

Still waiting.... it's hot!
Waiting to get in
Hot Duranies!
The shirts!
The shirts that made us famous! Looking at Planet Earth and Leaving with an Astronaut!
The famous DD post!
The picture that was seen ’round the world

 

 

Hold back the rain– I’m hungry like the wolf and ready to take the pressure off! Duran Duran, Faena, December 9

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My name is Bon. Simon LeBon
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That voice.
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Courtesy of Richard Blade. That’s me in the corner!
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Richard!!!
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Erin is so much fun!
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Me just living the moment.
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This was the swag we got. Cocktail nappies with Duran Duran on them. Had to take them from the bar!
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More “swag”
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Special Guest!

Duran Duran. They mean so much to me for so many reasons. I know for sure now that my guardian angel is orchestrating the events that have happened for me. I thought meeting JT and Roger was it for me, the cherry ice cream on my cake. Nothing surely could beat that day.

Well I was wrong.

I’ve seen Duran 3 times on their Paper Gods tour, which was not nearly enough for me. I could see them every week with the same exact set list and never tire of them. Unless you are a Duranie, you won’t get it. After the Hollywood FL show in April,  the tour was winding down and there were only a few shows left. I knew I probably wouldn’t make any of them since they were very far away, and I was sad. I had so much fun looking forward to the shows, to the dancing and signing the night and my fears away. It was depressing, to say the least that this chapter was over. Yes, I have other things in my life that bring me joy, my kids, husband, family, friends, building a new house, etc. But Duran really comforts me and brings me happiness in a way that nothing else does. It’s what I do for ME. Like sports fanatics with season tickets, or people that have hobbies like gaming. Mine is Duran. So what would I do now to fill that void? Take up knitting??

The events leading up to the show.

When I heard a while ago Duran were going to do another show in Vegas on December 30, I wanted in. I tried desperately to make it work, searching flights, rooms, calling friends to come with me. But being the holidays, I would have been on a plane all day barely making it for the show, then turning around to come back home for NYE with my kids. And spending a lot of money when we are saving for our new house. It just wouldn’t work. Then I saw something one day about them being in Miami for a show. Holy shit that’s in my state! I can drive there! Just as the excitement washed over me and I started to plot and plan, I saw the small print. Private Invitation Only.

DAMN.

Okay so unless I was getting a private invite from JT himself, I guess it wasn’t meant to be for me this time. I was disappointed to say the least. I couldn’t even enter the contest because my Sirius subscription ran out and I kept forgetting to renew. Not like I win many contests anyway. Other than my Ulta gift bag, and a gift card at a work meeting once, I really hadn’t won anything.

A few days later, I was scrolling through a blog and happened to notice something about fan club members being able to enter the contest. I was on my way out when I saw it and was in a hurry so I quickly pulled up my email on my phone and frantically sent the message with my login info as they requested, Durandipity. I also added a photo of my Duranie license plate to the message. I couldn’t resist. Hey, anything that might help, right?

After Thanksgiving dinner, my bestie (who with me at the Vegas and Hollywood shows and at the Power Station and Strange Behaviour shows in the 80s) and I were sitting around chatting and I laughed and said if I won this contest I would either need to move my mom’s birthday plans, or she could come to Miami with me. My mom, not really being a concert-going type, said she’d pass. Paula raised her hand, she said she had dibs. We had a good chat about the what ifs and hypotheticals if I won, making imaginary plans and giggling.

Shortly after Thanksgiving I was checking my email on my phone at work. We are building a house and I was waiting for an important document to come through so I was checking it often. I was scrolling really fast looking for that specific email through the endless sea of store emails announcing their Christmas sales. I hadn’t really given the contest another thought because I never thought in a million years I would win. As I was scrolling, I caught a glimpse of the words “DD VIP Customer Service”. I seriously almost missed it, since I get so much junk. I wondered what that could be, maybe it was an email saying something like “well, you didn’t win but thanks for being a member”. It didn’t dawn on me it might be the winning email. I clicked on it and couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

Congrats!

Congrats. Congrats. Why would it say congrats? I couldn’t even read the rest right away because I was in shock. Did this mean I actually won the tickets?

You are a winner of two tickets to our private Sirius Radio Event.

No. This. Can’t. Be. Happening. My stomach flipped around and my heart started pounding. Since my office is quiet and I am in a cube, I had to keep it together.

I immediately texted Paula.

Holy shit I won.

She did not believe me at first, thought I was kidding. It took a few texts flying back and forth for her to realize I was serious.

I was in a frenzy. What do I do now? There are plans to make! I took a break and walked outside for some air. I texted my husband to let him know, then my mom to give her the news that her weekend would be on hold for a week. For the record, no I am not a horrible daughter. The plans were very easily changed, so it really was fine. In hindsight, it actually worked out because this weekend’s weather is supposed to be perfect vs. last Saturday’s windy cold damp conditions.

The days that followed were nerve-wracking to say the least. I was on pins and needles, worried about getting sick or something happening to one of my kids preventing me from going. I just had to get through this next several days in tact. I was also nervous about the whole thing. Not knowing what to expect, what this would be like. I figured we would be in the back on the balcony and all of the VIPs would get the front spots. Which was fine, just to be there was going to be amazing. I was also nervous I wouldn’t be on the list, even though they sent me names to mention and I had emails to prove it. I just didn’t want anything to mess this up.

I had no idea what was in store. And that’s probably a good thing. It felt like the week leading up to the event would never ever end.

December 9, the day of the show.

Waking up that morning, I had a migraine headache. The changes in the barometer always mess with me and this day was no different. I sat in a dimly lit room and closed my eyes, willing it away. I knew it wouldn’t stop me, I would plow through. We got a later start than we planned and it took us much longer to get to Miami then we thought, so by the time we got there, we barely had time for our hair appts., quick check in to the hotel, a fast touch-up on our makeup (forget having it done like we wanted) and getting an Uber. No food in our stomachs either, who had time for eating??? Hopefully that sandwich at the rest area would hold us over! When we arrived right at 7:00, it was so cold, drizzly and windy, and we were hungry. But we held strong. We had gotten our hair done, but you wouldn’t know it, the wind was just whipping it around and no amount of hairspray would help. Forget about looking my best for my band, that was out the window. We were outside in that line for an hour, chattering and clamoring to get in, huddled with other Duran winners sharing stories. There is something about the bonding that you do with others that share in your insanity, they actually GET IT. The highlight of this never-ending hour was meeting Richard Blade, the Sirius First Wave DJ that I just love. I knew he would be there and thought about bringing his book to have signed, but didn’t think I’d really get to meet him. What a treat that was. He and his wife (wifey) have to be the nicest people I’ve ever met, just over the top friendly. He was more than happy to stop and get a picture, even made his wife take it. Richard, I am more of a fan now!!!  And he allowed me to touch the hoodie he had on, saying Simon had it on earlier. I laughed and thought he was kidding, but I guess that really happened because he posted a pic of Simon wearing it on his site! As we stood waiting, I heard rumblings of this being general admission, but I just didn’t know still what that meant.

The rest of this night is just one big blur of amazement. It’s like when you get married, it’s so overwhelming and awesome that you just can’t take everything in while you are in the thick of it, so you look back at the pictures and videos to remember the key moments. I will never forget when those doors opened, walking into that little red, gold and crystal adorned room that looked like a posh club with a dance floor, a bar and a tiny low stage. And the floor was practically empty. EMPTY. No one was even down there yet except for a few fans that were ahead of us in line who already claimed the John side. They had open bar, but rather than be excited about that my eyes were zoned in on the stage. I made a beeline to an open spot toward the right and planted myself. OHMYGOD I was going to be this close. I never imagined it would be like this. I knew I needed to go to the restroom before the show, but I was very hesitant to leave my spot. Getting a drink was out, my poor bestie had to get them for us. Kind of wish I hadn’t even had any of the open bar offerings, because with an empty stomach a drink hits you a little more than usual… The other Duranies finally talked me into going to the restroom, assuring me that my spot would be there. I didn’t think they would let me down, I trust anyone that is a Duranie, so I ran to the bathroom so fast in a frenzied panic. While washing my hands reality started to set in and I squealed to Paula that I couldn’t believe it and that I didn’t think I could handle it. We had a little breakdown meltdown moment because it was hitting us how close we were going to be.

We had a little briefing about some ground rules (don’t put drinks on the stage, only take video for the first few minutes then enjoy the show — YEAH RIGHT I had to video this amazing night, come on now). It was getting close, and the excitement welled up in me so much I thought my sparkly shirt was going to explode into a million stars. When the lights went down and Simon came on, I really felt shaky and overwhelmed. He was right in front of me. Like so close it was nothing at all to reach out and touch him. And I have to admit at one point I did. His arm was right there so I went for it. And the neck of JT’s bass. At least it wasn’t inappropriate. Sorry guys, I really am, if it threw you off, but I just couldn’t be that close and refrain from reaching up. Please forgive me. Hopefully I wasn’t the only one. At one point Simon’s sweat flew when he shook and it rained down on me. The spray of his spit also got on me when he took a slug of his water. And this was not at all gross to me. Just added to the experience. The funniest was when he tossed his pick and I tried to get it, but it landed right in the girl’s cleavage next to me. You couldn’t have planned that. Simon laughed and we all did. She will have that memory forever.

I will say, Dom Brown is one fun guy to watch up close. He is the guitarist that has been in the band for years, in place of Andy.  He was making a lot of eye contact with me and laughing at my antics. With no food in my stomach and a few glasses of white wine, and the band that I absolutely adore right in front of me, I was not in my right mind. Not at all. Yelling things at the band about how f’ing great they are and pretending to zip the little decorative zippers on Dom’s pants (not his fly mind you, just the little decorative ones), and singing way off key, I was having the time of my life. And I think he appreciated it. Or found me amusing. I will take it either way.

The one thing about being that close is you can see and feel everything. It is like nothing I will ever experience again. Simon is really serious when he performs, Dom is really engaging, John is all over the place and his faces are so fun to watch as he plays. He did give me a smile when I yelled out “play that F’ing bass John” (a chant that is yelled at their shows) at a quiet moment in a song, so I will remember that. Erin’s (the backup singer) yellow dress was whirling around nearly hitting me in the face. I could feel the breeze when Simon ran by. See the tiny mistakes they made. See every line in their faces, scuffs on their shoes, the wrinkles on their clothes. It was just surreal. The music was not as loud as a typical concert and I really enjoyed the sound of being in that small room. It felt like seeing a local band at a bar. Not MY BAND.

After the show, we had the pleasure of meeting the backup singers, and boy were they nice and FUN! I also chatted with Roger about meeting him in San Antonio. No pictures this time, my phone and Paula’s were both dead. Thankfully another concert goer shared his.

It was amazing and fun to meet other Duranies that almost put me to shame. Some of these girls have multiple tattoos, have seen them live over 20 times, or have met them several times. Me, well I have my meeting in SA and my John meeting at his book signing but that’s it. But now I have this. And this cannot ever be topped, I don’t think.

I wish everyone could see their favorite band that close and personal. I am in that sad lull now, knowing it is over and any show I go to now won’t ever be that special. I am sure I will enjoy future shows, but I will always think back to this and my heart will skip a beat.

Durandipity.

(more…)

None of the Above.

I haven’t  written for a while. I will admit I’ve felt somewhat discouraged lately about my writing, so I stopped. No excuses, other than I am having a hard time getting this blog thing to take off. I’ve tried Tweeting the link, posting it on Duran’s FB page, sharing on FB, and tagging with every word I can think of to attract people, but I just am not getting the readers I envisioned. I am not a very patient person, anyone that knows me knows that, so after several posts and no real followers, I started thinking maybe I needed to focus on something that really mattered, something that could help people. When I had the idea of this blog and shared with my mom, she questioned the idea of incorporating Duran Duran into my story, saying that it might limit my audience. But, I held true to my vision and soldiered on for a while. Sadly though, the discouraged feelings really started setting in and that itch and excitement I felt at the beginning faded. I started to believe that maybe this WAS not the best idea, that maybe my writing just isn’t that great and blogging is a waste of time.

A couple weeks ago, I did some heavy soul searching, asking myself what it is that truly makes me happy and fulfilled. Of course spending time with my family and my kids is number one, but also listening to my favorite band and helping others and writing were top on my list. I realized at that moment that I am not writing to become famous or get thousands of readers,  I am doing it for ME. If just one person reads it and likes it, that’s all I need. And I decided I am not going to change a thing about this blog, especially the Duran Duran references. This is my way of saying thanks to a band that has brought me joy in so many dark times. I just wish they could read it. Or at least another Duranie. Someone. Anyone. Is there anyone out there, anyone out there…

My blog is unique and won’t be everyone’s cup of English Breakfast.  But if I touch at least one person, then I have done my job. And writing is good therapy. So here I am back at it.

On Wednesday, I was able to see my favorite band for the 3rd time this tour. It doesn’t get old. I was dancing my ass off the entire show, while I saw other fans sitting! Not sure how you could spend that much on floor tickets and sit still while there is such energy all around. Duran makes me forget about anything negative and stressful and I am in another world for 2 hours. What a great way to spend an evening with good friends I don’t often see. I want to go again. And again. And again.

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I am at a point in my life where I want to make some changes. But that’s not always easy– I’m not 20 years old and single, able to do whatever I want whenever I want. I can’t just pick up and move to the beach, or quit my job to write full time. I realize this, but I also realize that life is too short and you need to be happy. There are a couple of things that are up in the air right now for me and the family, and I have been really hoping and praying this one ‘big thing’ happens for us. I know in my heart it’s right, but life has a way of going in directions that you can’t control. Of course if you’ve read my posts, you know that I really believe in signs and guardian angels. Once again, the other day I was headed to work and I had no idea what song was in queue on my shuffle to play. I was in one of those moods where I just want this so much that it exhausts me just thinking about it. None of the Above is a song from the Wedding Album–the album that brought Duran and I back together after a short break (sorry boys, I can’t imagine life without you now, but for a time I was forced into being a Stones and Zeppelin fan, not that there is anything wrong with that, but they aren’t you). The song never really had any meaning to me other than it was a catchy tune, but on this day as I was sitting in the usual rush hour traffic, I heard some lyrics that summed it all up perfectly. No matter what happens, I am enjoying myself right now and leaving it all up to the universe. Shouldn’t take a health scare to make you do that, but for me that is exactly what needed to happen. I know things will work out they way they should. And I am no longer afraid to be myself. I don’t care so much what others might think like I used to.  And it feels amazing.

 

There was a time I was so afraid
Of everything people around me said
That I wanted to hide my face in the shadows

There was a time on a bed of nails
I was dreaming a plan I thought could not fail
But no power under the sun could pull it together

I can’t take this attitude
Got to show now I got to move on
God knows where I’m going to
Its a lonely burning question…

 

 

Happy Last Year

Cancer. It is something ugly that I dealt with in 2014. But that was then and this is now.

When the big C hit me in January 2014, there was still a Happy New Year Balloon dancing around the house, all cheery and colorful. When I bought it for the kids, it was with the belief and hope the new year would be an even better year than the one before. When that ball drops at midnight and you kiss your loved ones  while clinking your glasses, you never think that maybe the new year won’t be that awesome and happy. You want it to be a great one, better than the last.  But you just don’t know. I remember when I was diagnosed just staring at that damn balloon thinking how ironic it was because happy new year turned into crappy new year for me. I wanted to take a kitchen knife to that thing several times, but I just couldn’t do it. Call me superstitious.

It was a rough 2014, no doubt about it. But that year came and went, and I spent that NYE with my husband, kids and close friends in one of my favorite places, Disney. I always forget about things at Disney and I was so happy to see 2014 go. So when the fireworks started going off at midnight, I was thrilled to usher in 2015.

2015 was a pretty good year. I finished my treatments, and saw some new places. First time visiting Las Vegas (now I am hooked), Colorado, Seattle and to finish it off, went on a cruise to the Cayman islands and spent Christmas at Disney with my parents. I hoped 2016 would even be better, and it was.

I had a lot of quality family time–my husband, kids and I went to Vegas, Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon. We then went on another cruise and back to Disney, this time staying in a childhood favorite hotel of mine The Contemporary. It always makes me happy to see my kids at Disney enjoying themselves so much while remembering my childhood there. Nothing compares. I also celebrated my birthday with old friends and new ones watching Duran Duran perform in VEGAS. (I told you I am hooked!). That concert had me on my feet the entire time, I was even jumping up and down for many songs. I don’t dance like that, but there was something about seeing them and the music and what I had been through that just got me. I cried, sang, laughed, screamed like a teenager. The only thought I had about cancer was that I was so lucky to be there enjoying myself and that it was behind me.

One memory about 2016 that stands out is one that I firmly believe was arranged by a higher power.

Let me start this by saying that Duran Duran has  not only gotten me through my cancer, but life in general. I am working on a book that goes into more depth on how their music has been my therapy, but lets just say that some of my darkest hours have been made better by simply hearing one of their songs. As I wrote in a previous post, the song “What Happens Tomorrow” got me through the darkest time after my diagnosis. I hadn’t listened to the radio in my car for about a week, I would just drive around numb in silence. One morning, I was really scared and asked for some sort of sign that I would get through it. I decided on the way to work that morning to turn on the radio for some noise in the car, and what came on blew me away. “What Happens Tomorrow” was just what I needed and I know someone from above was giving me the sign I begged for.

So, fast forward to September 2016. I had just gone through my second and last surgery for reconstruction (my 4th surgery since diagnosis) and Duran were playing at a small venue downtown. My husband got me really good seats and my friend Tina came down to see them with me. Side note: Tina is also a survivor, we met through an online support group and have become really close–proof that something amazing can come out of something horrible. When we met, we quickly learned that we both love Duran Duran so we always said we were going to see them together when they toured, never thinking it would be twice!

The concert was amazing, though I didn’t have quite the energy I had in Vegas because of my surgery. But that couldn’t stop me and I didn’t sit down,  determined to keep going for my guys and show them the love they deserve.

Tina and I joked that maybe we would run into them downtown after the show, but never really thought it was possible and it never happened. The next day, Tina went back home and I went back to work after my surgery leave. A coworker and I were scheduled to go to lunch, but I tried to cancel, telling her we should just stay in the office and not venture out. It was too hot to walk around, and I was really tired from the surgery and the concert. She insisted, saying that she wanted to treat me for my birthday since we never celebrated. After several minutes of going back and forth on it, I gave in. We went to one of her favorite downtown restaurants in her favorite hotel. Before going to eat, she showed me around the hotel, pointing out the history and the beauty. What happened next blew me away.

While heading over to the restaurant, we turned the corner and right in front of me was John Taylor. I stopped dead in my tracks and looked at my coworker, not even believing what was happening. She knew how much I loved Duran and that I had been at the show the night before, so she put two and two together and realized that I was standing in front of one of them. I was speechless and borderline crying. Then Roger walked over from the concierge desk joining our little circle. This was too much–I had met John a couple of years ago, but he was behind a desk signing books and there were a lot of people in line, so it was rushed and not as personal. This was like magic. They were on their way out, so had we not walked around or if we arrived at that spot just a few minutes later, I would have never seen them. I couldn’t even relay how I felt to them and why I was so emotional. I wish I could have told them what their music has done for me and how it got me through. But I couldn’t utter much at all. John could see the emotion on my face and actually consoled me, he must have known the impact they made on me by my reaction. This meant so much to me– they were really nice about the whole thing, confirming my devotion to this band.

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When I went back to work the next day, I couldn’t help but share my story with others. I told one person how the song came on that day giving me hope, and then how I ran into them at the hotel. She said that my guardian angel closed the loop for me–that I was given that song for hope and then arranged that meeting to signify the end of my surgery and cancer journey. It made so much sense and I truly believe that is what happened that day.

So 2016 was a great year. I am yet another year out from cancer, and I have memories I will never forget. I am going to spend the final hours of 2016 cherishing these memories.

I will admit tonight won’t be the easiest night–Duran Duran are playing in MD and my fellow Duranie Tina will be there ringing in the new year with them. I tried to make the trip work, but decided that it was too much to try to go. Now I regret it. I wish I could ring in 2017 with Tina and Duran Duran, but I will have to just live through her posts. Now I know how she felt when I met them after she headed home. I have heard they are adding dates in Texas in March, so I will hold onto that. I have to see them again, I’m kind of addicted.

Happy Last Year!

This song sums it up for me. Enjoy!

 

 

‘Tis the Season to be Thankful-This one is for my hairstylist Cassandra!

Well, I gotta say it feels so good to be back here at the keyboard. I’ve been so busy with the hustle and bustle of the holidays that I just haven’t taken the time to write. As I sit here sipping the last drops of my coffee, charging up my batteries so I can embark on a hectic day of Christmas shopping, I started thinking about things and feeling a bit sappy. Everyone knows it’s the time of year to appreciate those that have made a difference in your life in some way or another, so I am focusing my next series of posts on those people that may not even know what impact they’ve made on me.

Now if I don’t write about you it doesn’t mean that you didn’t help me during that dark time. There are just a few that I want to take a moment to recognize that may not even know how they made me feel.

This one is dedicated to my hairstylist, Cassandra.

Cassandra’s job is to make people beautiful. She works hard every day snipping, coloring, washing, drying, combing. She attends classes and shows, and helps teach others how to perfect their craft. She is damn good at what she does and clearly has a passion for her art.

When I was diagnosed with cancer, my mom suggested I cut my long thick hair off into a short style, so when it started coming out there wouldn’t be so much of it in the drain, on the floor and on my pillow. I had worked so hard growing it out and getting it the right color, so this was unbelievably hard.  I took her advice though, and went to my stylist, telling her what was happening and why I wanted to chop it off. She was so awesome with me and cut it into a cute style that I would only actually have for about a month, no charge I might add. She did her best to make me feel cute, knowing how hard it was for me to cut it. But that isn’t the only thing she did.

Losing my hair was very traumatic and one of the hardest parts of my journey. I didn’t see Cassandra for quite some time, and I will never forget my first salon appointment after my hair came back in. It felt so incredible to actually go in and have my hair trimmed. Sitting in the chair I realized how I missed the whizzing sound of blow dryers in the background and the delicious tea that they serve. I missed hearing about Cassandra’s dogs and where she had traveled to lately. Normally I don’t give much thought to going in for a hair cut (I enjoy it, but it’s just another part of my routine), but that day it felt amazing. I actually felt like a normal woman again!

She was there for me along the way as it grew back. At first it was straight and looked cute, but then it started coming in very curly and wild and many times I wanted to just cut it all off short and forget about ever growing it again. But she  wouldn’t let me do it. She knew how much I wanted my hair to be long again, so she kept telling me to bear with it and we would get it there. I had faith and trust that she knew what I needed to do so I listened to her.

I will never forget the time I got it styled and colored after months of just trimming it and growing it out. My hair had finally started straightening out and had grown long enough to actually do something with. I remember looking in the mirror and just feeling so happy. I finally looked like myself again with a hair style that felt like mine, with no chemo curls! She worked a miracle that day. I hugged her and walked out to my car, looking in my mirror through tears. Cancer did not rob me of my hair after all.

I never told her how I really felt that day. I felt pretty for the first time in ages, and that meant so much to me.

Cassandra not only works hard at the salon, but she works hard at home with her fur babies. She has rescued many dogs and gives them a loving home and lots of attention. She is making an impact not only with her clients, but with man’s best friends too. Being a dog lover, this warms my heart so much. I love seeing pictures of her family.

Feeling pretty after chemo is HUGE for a woman. It takes so much from you-messes with your skin, your nails, you lose your eyebrows, your eyelashes, your hair. It ages you and makes some lose too much weight and others gain weight. While it was all worth it to have my life, it is still very hard.

Cassandra, thank you for what you do not only for me but for all your clients (and of course the boxers you’ve rescued). I know you like Duran Duran so here is a video for you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I won!

Let me start by saying that I never win anything. I’ve entered countless raffles, sweepstakes, bought lottery tickets, entered my name into various drawings. Nothing. I don’t gamble much for this very reason. I can’t stand to see my money disappear.

One day I was in one of my favorite beauty supply stores, and upon checkout I was asked if I would add some money to my bill for a donation. I will do this occasionally if it’s a cause I believe in. Like the American Heart Association–I think of my uncle who had a heart transplant. Or St. Jude’s–I think of my own kids and how lucky I am they are healthy. So when they said they were raising money for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, I didn’t hesitate. I guess when I donated, they had me fill out a card to enter a raffle for a prize. I don’t even remember doing this–I probably didn’t give it much thought since I NEVER WIN.

Now granted, this prize is not a million dollars, nor is it a week long trip to a five-star hotel in a tropical destination. But I am just as excited about it. It’s just a tote bag with some beauty products in it. I won’t have to buy much for a while, I’ve got everything from perfume to lipsticks. Shampoo to moisturizers. I’m pretty psyched!

When I went in to claim my prize, the girl working there thanked me for my donation to breast cancer. I had forgotten about filling out the card  and the donation until she mentioned this. I replied, “Breast cancer? That’s why I won this? Well it’s pretty amazing that I won THIS prize because I’m actually a survivor.” She put her hand to her mouth looking emotional and said that it was meant to be.

Lately I have been worrying about the metastis thing. I’ve had some neck pain that is nagging me and of course I think it’s cancer. I hate that for the rest of my life, I will feel this way. When the call came in that I won a prize, the neck pain took a backseat to my cheer. As soon as I got it home, I felt like a kid on Christmas opening their stocking, going through all of my little treasures, pulling out this and that, opening the packages see what was inside.  It helped me forget about the stupid neck pain. I believe it was God’s way of telling me to stop worrying so much. It was just the diversion I needed.

This is how I feel about cancer and metastisis , from one of my all time favorite Duran Duran songs:
I walk out into the sun
I try to find a new day
But the whole place
It just screams in my eyes
Where are you now?
Cuz I don’t want to meet you
I think I’d die–
I think I’d laugh at you–
I think I’d cry–
What am I supposed to do,
Follow you?

 

 

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Pull my shirt off and pray we’re coming up on re-election day

I have nothing much to post right now except I thought this song by the Duran Duran spinoff group Arcadia was worth posting. This video is the 80s in all their neon hair sprayed made-up glory.

And the lyric above couldn’t be more perfect.

I won’t be pulling my shirt off any time soon, though part of me thinks what the hell! This election might be the thing that sets me over the edge! A lot of suffering, pain and surgery went into this bod, so why not??  And the picture that comes to my mind when I imagine me at an Election Day viewing party just tearing my “I’m with her” tee-shirt off and starting everyone in the Lord’s Prayer makes me laugh a little.

I am not going to get into who we should all vote for, I don’t make it a habit of talking politics much. But hopefully you get out there and do it.

Now, let us pray.