micki portrait Sherry reports (late Feb)

Mom enjoys a game with Sherry's grandkids during a recent visit.

Mom with new equine friend.

Mom with great-nephew Nick.

  (Sherry is here again on March 20, but this letter describes an earlier visit. Pictures on the left come from other times. -BBE)

As Micki's older sister, I was feeling very frustrated by not being able to see her and help as she copes with her brain tumor. Finally, on February 19th I flew to Jacksonville, rented a car and drove, thanks to Blake's excellent e-mailed directions, to Gainesville. As I drove in the long road that leads to Mick n Erik's house, who should I spy walking towards me but Mick and Erik. Because I needed exercise, Mick invited me to join her for her walk so I parked the car and we went for what became our daily habit of a brisk walk around the neighborhood. Mick explained that the radiation had made her extra sensitive to sound and smell. There is a beagle on their road who has a loud bark, and Mick had to cover her ears as we walked by the noisy hound. Sometimes she has to ask friends to go easy on the handcream or perfume because it is too much for her. Otherwise, she seemed very much the same. Her speech is exactly the same, her brisk walk puts mine to shame and she loves to laugh as always. But when we returned to the house, she felt the fatigue from the radiation return. As she says, it is like hitting a wall, and she just has to give in to it. So she retreated to her laziboy chair in the family room and took a power nap.

I stayed for four days and in that time, I saw Mick get progressively stronger. Her naps became less frequent and we started making little trips out into the larger world. On Sunday she and I went to the Episcopal chapel at the University of Florida to hear her friend Nancy preach. Mick and I happily sang the hymns together like old times. I usually sang the alto and she sang the soprano reaching the high notes which I couldn't hope to. She says she is resuming voice lessons because she loves it, and also the breathing is good for her recuperation. After church, we stopped at the bagel shop and while Mick rested in the car, I bought bagels with tuna for the whole family. Mick ate hers in the car because she was hungry which I thought was a good sign that our family's famous appetite was returning.

The Esselstyn house is full of pictures, posters, letters and cards which many friends and family have sent. Mick, Erik and Blake all express tremendous appreciation for the outflowing of love and care from all over the world. This buoyed their spirits as they went through the twice a day process of radiation. Erik and Blake cajoled Mick into eating even though at times she did not feel like it. As a result, she has hardly lost any weight and looks strong. She and I learned how to tie scarves to cover her bald spots. Erik said she looked like a fortune teller.

On the day I returned to Jacksonville, Micki came with me in my rental car and she then flew to California for cancer counselling and a Simonton workshop where Erik would join her. In typical Mick fashion, she called her friends in Charlotte where she would be changing planes and they agreed to meet her with a pillow, blanket and access to a VIP lounge where she could "go horizontal" and check in with her old friends. Later on the leg to LA, she asked two people to move so she could lie down and she managed to sleep for a couple of precious hours. I do not know too many people who, two weeks after intensive radiation, could get on a trans-continental flight, planning a new adventure! I had worried about whether she could handle it, but I was again reminded of her indomitable spirit!

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