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Fat Tuesday & The Critical 1 Year Anniversary

Fat Tuesday & The Critical 1 Year Anniversary

It’s funny how the Easter calendar works. I could look up how Fat Tuesday, Ash Wednesday and Easter are determined – I think it has something to do with the moon – but it’s easier just to look on my calendar. Where my hubby and I are from, and up until last year, Fat Tuesday meant over indulging on traditional
Polish Paczki (pronounced PAWNCH-kee) – the incredibly rich, filled sweet yeast dough…kinda like anvover-the-top filled doughnut. This year, however, we are celebrating for a different reason. This year, Fat Tuesday marks the 1 Year Anniversary of a very complex, invasive surgery – an oesophagectomy – to treat my husband Mark’s stage 3 esophageal cancer.


Surgery & Recovery

Mark’s surgery was February 13, 2017 – a month after completing chemotherapy and radiation treatment so his body had time to recover and regain strength. After 14 days in the hospital with a multitude of tubes and and drains running in and out of him, a return trip to the emergency room to be resubmitted for another 3 days, several months with a feeding tube once he returned home again, and 8-12 weeks for recovery…the surgery was a success. My husband had many lymph nodes, two-thirds of his esophagus and one-third ofhis stomach removed. He has a new normal, but he feels good and looks great.


Celebrating Fat Tuesday

Fat Tuesday is the last day before Ash Wednesday, to over indulge in food, drink and outrageous behavior before the beginning of lent…a time of repentance, fasting and abstinence. Not being Catholic, Lenten fasting and Lenten abstaining from meat didn’t and doesn’t apply to us. What does apply, is looking back on the past year…reflecting on thoughts and behaviors to see where we need improvement. Could we have treated people better? Given more thanks for the many, many blessing we have? Lived our life in the moment instead of chasing the future or reliving the past?

This year, February 13th, Fat Tuesday, is a celebration for my husband and me. It is a celebration of his critical 1 Year Anniversary post surgery. Its is a celebration that he is healthy, and – God willing – his CT scans will continue to be non-eventful. It is a celebration that while standing at the edge of a very bad precipice, we woke up…to living in the moment. To letting the little things go. To being grateful for everybody we love and the many blessings we have. To let go and let God.


To Our Heros – We are eternally thankful and forever grateful.

-Dr. Weis, PA Nicole Grise Orgain and their medical oncology team
-Dr. Tao and her radiation oncology team
-Dr. Robert Glasgow and Dr. Thomas Varghese for their surgical skills
-Jon Huntsman Sr. (recently passed) for his generous donations to build the Huntsman Cancer Institute
-Joe and Sherri to visiting before Mark’s surgery
-My sister-in-law Lisa for traveling to be with me during Mark’s surgery (and to be my Valentines date last year)
-Sherry for telling me she’d be here in a heartbeat if I needed her
-The folks at Sysco for all the support, caring and flowers
-The Seavy’s for Mark’s special Star Trek Bear, complete with Michigan State Shirt
-Dr. Britt Dubil and Danica Vanderhoof-Gisler and their families for babysitting our puppy Oscar for days and days on end
-Tyler for shoveling our deck after I had a meltdown when our snowblower quit after a big snowstorm
-Barb for the lemon tree – ‘cause when life gives you lemons…
-Henry – not quite 4 at the time – for his get well drawings and wishes (transcribed by his mom Heather)
-Our friends and family – way, way, way, too many to name – that sent prayers, love, emails, texts and cards Mark’s way


The Sweets

This Fat Tuesday, the sweets that we’re devouring are not Paczki. The sweets are Mark’s 1 Year Anniversary post surgery and being cancer free. The sweets are the time we spend together; all the people who have loved, supported and helped us; the realization that life is short and putting off adventures and experiences until your job, income, home – name your qualifier – is squared away…is insane and a waste of life and happiness. Life is right now – not tomorrow or yesterday.

Fat Tuesday 2018 we are indulging in life: the people we love and cherish, adventures, silliness, joy and laughter. We will continue to “live deep and suck out all the marrow of life…” We savor the sweetness of love and caring and support. Paczki’s are pretty great, but this critical 1 Year Anniversary is fabulous.

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day. And Like Scarlett O’Hara, we’ll think about that tomorrow – today we’re celebrating Fat Tuesday with Mark’s Critical 1 Year Anniversary.





To read more bout Mark’s journey, and our wake up call to living in the moment, please click here:

markself.com & The Good, The Bad, & Life In-between

  1. Sue Shoemaker

    13 February

    Great news, Lee! My husband and I are celebrating 16 years of life beyond prostate cancer.

    • Lee Aldrich

      14 February

      Thank you Sue! Congratulations to you and your hubby. It’s a scary thing, isnt it?

      • Sue Shoemaker

        14 February

        Yes, it is scary…and yet, like you, it helped us to have a clearer perspective of what is really important to us. Best wishes to you both for happy, healthy, memory creating adventures ahead!

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