Just Standing in My Kitchen

Each year we host a Christmas party at our home on the last day of classes for my husband’s entire staff. All the teachers and ancillary personnel are invited to come right after the last bell rings before the two week holiday break. It’s a great way to show our appreciation to a awesome bunch of folks. The Social Committee on the staff help out by providing the snacks. We provide the libations and well, let’s just say the party is becoming a legend of sorts. Needless to say, a party of such stature and epic proportion requires about a days prep time. Counters need cleaned off, the kitchen table moved aside and many chairs placed about the lower level of our home. Although I never quite understand the need for all the extra chairs because the majority of the time is spent milling about our kitchen with the other rooms of our home acting simply as a pathway to the heart of our home. It’s why we push back the table.

This year my husband welcomed a new assistant principal to his staff. He is young. We could be his parents. He has a beautiful wife and family and in the spirit of the holiday we are preparing to celebrate I reach out to his wife, Sally, after she had mentioned that she wanted to help when we had met just few short weeks before. She wanted to help with the party and quick enough it was arranged and she was to come help me with the preparations in the early afternoon. I welcomed the help and the opportunity to get to know her a little better. She came over about one o’clock. I was padding around in my sweats and stocking feet for party prep. She slips out of her boots to do the same and I embrace the casual camaraderie instantly. I have a list of what needs done to get ready for the arrival of our mid afternoon guests. After perusing the jobs she gets started on setting up the cookie plate as I start slicing up fruit for my white sangria punch. We chat easily about our children for a while and work our way around to our husbands and their jobs. She tells me how welcomed they have felt and she uses the party as an example of the feeling of EMS “family” that is the school under my husband’s leadership. She asked me how the idea of this party got started. I readily shared with her that Jerry really wanted to show his staff how much their support had meant to him during my illness. It was a way to say thank you for that one year and it just caught hold as a way to express appreciation each year since. Sally said she had understood that I had cancer and asked how my health was doing, if I didn’t mind talking about it. I told her my health was fine and considering how sick I had been, and as advanced as my cancer was, I was beyond lucky to be celebrating this holiday on planet earth. “What kind of cancer was it?” she asked. “Breast?” I didn’t miss a beat. I stopped slicing fruit and turned to look at her straight in the eyes. I told her I had anal cancer. “How did you know?” she wondered. I went on to tell her about my symptoms, how I had ignored them for so long thinking I knew what was going on, and how “dead wrong” I had almost become. 

Here’s the thing, I felt no reluctance in speaking my truth, not one solitary shred of weirdness. When I think back on how telling my story over the last five years has changed it amazes me. I went from consciously having to step through the awkwardness and shame, revealed only in hushed tones so often associated with the stigma that anal cancer embodies; to speaking casually and freely with no hesitation about my disease with someone I had just met, in my stocking feet, just standing in my kitchen.

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Love this -- I have found that even in just the short period of time I have had from diagnosis (11/2/2015) to today, a mere 12 weeks later, I have become much more comfortable telling my story and journey. Some of it is reading how others have handled (and knowing I am not alone) and some of it is not wanting ANYONE else to go through what we all have been through.
Lisa likes this comment
I just love reading your posts!!! Yes we all need to just put it out there. You are a great inspiration !😘😀❤️👍🏼🙏🏻
Michele likes this comment
I'm so happy for you, your family and those who have the fortune to be your friend. You are 'paying it forward'.
Michele likes this comment
Great story, Michele, and great party too! I still am hesitant, but I almost always tell the truth. The other morning at the Y I saw a retired teacher from my kids middle school and she said she loved my new haircut. I just smiled and thanked her - don't need to volunteer info if they don't ask 😉
Michele likes this comment
Information is key- and your comments to her might be passed-along to another person unsure if they need a check-up for the dreaded disease. Knowledge passed-along can be a life-saver.
Happy New Year to you and yours.
Michele likes this comment
As always Michelle you say it perfectly!
Great big hug!
Michele likes this comment
That's so great to hear your new found confidence. It is amazing how that changes. When I was first diagnosed, I couldn't even say "anal". Thanks for your encouragement.
All by myself now and pretty much during treatment.
I want to be you Michelle, but I just don't feel safe. The ones I was close to that I told have disappeared, including family. Still figuring it all out.
I think feeling safe is my main problem.
Someday, the out of control farting may give me away, anyway...hee, hee
3 people like this comment
It can be an awkward moment when you use the word anal. I have found often times when I do talk to others about my cancer, they are interested in learning more. Sometimes, I have tried to use celebrities like Farrah Fawcett to open the discussion, but have found that most think she died of breast cancer. Not to be little those effected with breast cancer,but just because you are a woman dies not mean your cancer is breast. I had recent DNA results say I have a mutated gene that puts me at moderate risk for breast cancer. Go figure. My daughter is at Emory, a major research hospital in Atlanta when the topic of cancer came up. She had never heard of anyone with anal cancer and some how had missed the HPV connection class. I always tell my children that knowledge is power. We have to be those advocates to spread the word.
Michele likes this comment
Just love you Michele, sounds fun to have a party like that... hugs and love and always prayers Sabina
Michele likes this comment
Great story, Michele! I would be comfortable telling my story to anyone who really wanted to hear it, whether it be out of concern for me or themselves or a loved one, or just out of curiosity. However, I still find a lot of times people just change the subject when they find out it was "down there." I really wish more people would listen! Hugs to you!
Michele likes this comment
Hi Michelle! Your party had turned into a nice tradition. I find some people act weird at the mention of the word cancer, not even knowing ca of what! I guess they are projecting on themselves. It's good you're comfortable talking about it.
Michele likes this comment
I think the day that HPV is put in the "virus" category and not in the STD category, and they update the risk factors to not include only the things that most of us have never done, will be the day that all of us can openly talk about it. I have loved the staff and oncologist at Northwestern. They always refer to HPV as a virus and are very knowledgeable about it. I wish all doctors were like that. It's been over 2 1/2 years for me and I still feel the need to offer a little lesson when I'm asked what kind of cancer I have.
Michele likes this comment
Yet another opportunity to educate, and you do it so well! I find that people are curious, which then turns to acknowledgement, as in, "OMG, could I possibly get it?" HPV is finally being talked about more, and several medical professionals and nurses have learned from my frankness about my disease. If they have dirty thoughts, I'm not picking up on them.
Your party sounds like such fun, the hostess with the mostess!
Michele likes this comment
YOU GO LADY GIRL! Knowledge is power and the best way to stop this hell in it's tracks!!!!
Michele likes this comment
Happy Birthday..Hope it is a great one!!!!!
Michele likes this comment
Love this post- wish I had your way with words. I tell anyone who asks and then proceed with my "have anyone you know age 12-25 get vaccinated " spiel! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU! !
Michele likes this comment
Happy Birthday!! Hope you have a Blessed Day!!
Michele likes this comment
Happy birthday, Michele!
Wishing our 'writer in residence', Michele, a very Happy Birthday this week! MGBY, John
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January 31, 1963 - June 10, 2020

Vital Info


October 3, 2011

Click Here

January 31, 1963

June 10

Cancer Info

Anal Cancer

Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the anus

February 5, 2010

Stage 4

2.1 - 3.0 cm

Grade 3


As much as possible

Proceeds from my published blog donated monthly

It is a thief

You have to live every day of your life and stay positive :)

Donate $$ to the anal cancer foundation. Raising awareness saves lives!

Is there anything good about poison?

Bone, lung recurrence 9/20/2012

Cancer Center of Kansas, MD Anderson

Bland diet, sitz baths, take your drugs...nobody gets extra credit for suffering.

Talk, talk, talk to somebody. I chose to write.

April 20, 2010

September 20, 2010

Rectal bleeding, itching, sciatic pain. (thought my hemorhoid was acting up)

My blog has been published and proceeds go to The HPV and Anal Cancer Foundation. http://tinyurl.com/72bjjfp


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