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The Cancer Diagnosis

Life is good, but occasionally, you get thrown a curve ball.

Like on Monday, October 2. One hour before we were welcoming guests and cutting the ribbon to The Cottage’s open house.

I was busy getting the hor d’oeuvres ready for the open house when my cell phone rang. Typically, when I am working in the commercial kitchen, I don’t answer the phone, but this call was from my gynecologist office and since I was awaiting what I thought would be a positive report back from my recent visit, I answered so I wouldn’t have to call back later.

Dr. Reynolds was on the other end of the line. She asked if I was at a quiet place where we could talk and if I had paper and pen handy. Uh-o. It wasn’t going to be a simple all clear phone call.

I walked the back way from the commercial kitchen through the garage to our private residence so I wouldn’t disrupt the interns wrapping silverware in the dining room. On the way, I caught a glimpse of Andy out of the window, and opened the door and told him to come in. When we were all settled, Dr. Reynolds gave us the news that my recent test came back positive for uterine cancer….and it was the “aggressive” kind.

She told us I was looking at a hysterectomy for sure and they would call the gynecologic oncologist to set up an appointment as soon as possible.

We immediately called Dr. Jon Stockrahm, our family doctor, (a lot more will be said about him in a later blog) and told him the news. I wasn’t for sure how soon the news from the gynecologist would get to him, but we needed to tell him and more importantly, get his feedback. Dr. Stockrahm’s wife, Lynn, is our all around gal helping serve, helping in the kitchen, and is the go-to decorator here at the Bee-stro. We became patients of Dr. Stockrahm a few years ago when he became a provider of the MDVIP program. When we called, he immediately answered the phone.

We told him the news. He set our minds at ease and said, “We caught it early. You are looking at a hysterectomy for sure and then we’ll go from there. We’ll get through this together. You’ll be be able to see those grandkids graduate and all that stuff we are supposed to care about.” To know Dr. Stockrahm, you know he is funny and straight to the facts, no fluff. I like that.

I told Andy I wanted to text our kitchen staff and have them come for a meeting at 7:00 to tell them and come up with a game plan for the immediate future for the Bee-stro. The open house was from 4:00-6:30 and 7:00 seemed like a great time to call them all together. I just texted them that I had news for them.

With guests coming in less than an hour, food to make, drinks and plates, and utensils to set up, we went to work. Luckily, since the interns were here, we pulled them off the silverware wrapping duty to help us get everything set up and finalized for the open house. I love those kids.

The open house went off swimmingly without a hitch. State Senator Jon Ford stopped by, which I was glad he did on many levels. Jon has been not only our State Senator, but a friend. He had recently announced that he was leaving the legislature to pursue working in the private sector. Andy & I had planned and had it on the calendar that we would do a “farewell dinner” in his honor Oct. 10, but I hadn’t gotten around to getting out the invitations. I got Jon aside and told him of my very fresh news. He was the first person I told outside of daughter Judah. It was ridiculous, actually. I couldn’t remember what kind of cancer I had, just that I had it. I think I told him, “I just found out a little over an hour ago I have some sort of female cancer that is down there. Is it okay if we postpone your dinner for a bit until we find out what’s going on?” Poor Jon. What do you say to that? But, as usual, he was very gracious.

Once our guests left, and the kitchen staff arrived, I told them the news. They were shocked to say the least. When we asked what they thought the news would be, several said they thought we had a television show approach us. I just love them. Seriously, they are family to us. But there will be more on the staff in another blog.

Telling the staff was the first time I cried and the first time Andy cried, too. But we weren’t alone. Our staff cried with us. During that conversation, I told them two things, 1) I wanted the Bee-stro to remain open during the rest of the season, and 2) This wasn’t going to define us. We laugh a lot together and we were going to laugh through this.

I also told them that I knew they would need someone to talk to about this, but to please limit it to one person and to help us keep the news tight. The reason being is we have a relationship with our guests and I wanted to be the one to share the story and direct the narrative to our guests instead of it coming from word on the street. I just needed some time to see what the story would be that I would be telling.

And let me say, it’s a good one.

Part 2- “The Plan” will be posted tomorrow.


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