Kicking Cancer

Prevention Through Healthy Living

A Girl and Her Dog

Driving from Arcata a few days back, I turned and saw my bicycle gear and yoga mat propped on the back seat and beyond that my panting dog, and I could not help but to think of my arrival in Arcata 15 years ago.  I was in the Coop parking lot with my little blue CRX loaded with my bike, yoga mat, a whitewater kayak, a beat up old guitar that I could only play a few chords on, and my awesome sidekick, a golden retriever named Vista.   I had gotten a job at the Coop’s bakery counter and was checking on Vista (who traditionally hung in the car in the parking lot) when a customer walked by and said “I love it!  Just a girl and her dog.  This looks like the LIFE!” as he perused the contents of my loaded down car.  For some reason I always remember that and I felt pretty proud of what I was creating for myself.  Some people would not have wanted my life, but I loved it, and at twenty-five I felt like everything was falling into place.  I had found my new town a few months before on a weekend visit to Arcata with raft guide buddies, Mitch and Gray. I fell in love with the beauty and remoteness of the area, the idea of no traffic, no bridge toll, a place I might be able to someday afford to buy a house perhaps.  I had thirty-five dollars to my name when I moved from Marin to Arcata (I had been working/volunteering as a poor, but very happy raft guide for years and was a student at San Francisco State), and my CRX was on the verge of breakdown (leaky oil gasket that resulted in huge billowy clouds of black smoke), but I had found a place to live on the dunes with a trail to the beach, and a super cool roommate, Billie, who is still (lucky dog) a raft guide on the Grand Canyon in the summer.

A few days ago I left my family for six weeks of radiation in Marin.  Just me and my dog, Honu (and bike and yoga mat, but no whitewater boat).    It was truly heart wrenching and after being a blubbering mess from Arcata to Eureka, I pulled myself together and was reminded in a flash that there will be a certain freedom that I can look forward to and embrace while on this journey.  I am heading south this time instead of north, and this time it is only for six/seven weeks, not an unknown or an eternity.   My life is much different now.   I have a loving husband and two beautiful children, and I am a business owner of a cool little business right down the street from that Coop parking lot.   And oh yeah…I had cancer from which I am recovering.  The community that has become mine over these past fifteen years is a huge support in my healing from cancer journey ….local businesses and individuals raising money toward my cause and supporting me emotionally, with meals for my family, kind words, wisdom, etc. So much has come my way and I feel so fortunate to be a part of this community.

Radiation starts in an hour.  I met the machine a few days back.  I have three or four little dot tattoos (permanent, as in forever) on my body that need to be all lined up with lasers and tape measures as I lay on a foam pad that was molded to my head and arm a few weeks ago.  This is how the technicians ensure they radiate the exact same spot every time.  Here is the machine. I laid in it while Mamba music played and I stared above at the coral/fish scene fluorescent light covers.

State-of-the-art Linear Accelerator…the radiation machine.  Also, my “mold” which cradles my head and my right arm in a raised position.

In changing room before radiation dry run. I’ll put this robe on at three p.m. every week day for fifteen minutes or so under the machine, then free to go home.

So, I am terribly sad to not be with my husband and children, but I look forward to the adventure and time I will spend with my sister and her family, and some friends, and my dog.

I was at Cafe Brio one day in the thick of it–tired, starving kids on a sugar crash after an overwhelming birthday party and I heard a woman at the coffee bar talking about how she could not figure out what to do that day because she had already done all of her shopping, folded her laundry, cleaned her whole house, and had no clients that day.  She even had already exercised!  I felt like handing over my kids.  I think of her periodically, and she comes to mind now while I am in Marin because I can be just like her.  Hmmm.  What shall I do today?

I started today with a three hour hike in my favorite Marin watershed…Mount Tamalpias.  Including the Yolanda Trail which I had hiked the day before my mastectomy.  Then, a cool thing happened…I ran into my surgeon (a lovely woman!) on a morning run at the base of the mountain.

Off to radiation number one.  I will let you know how it is going.

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11 thoughts on “A Girl and Her Dog

  1. Just a girl and her dog and all the angels and prayers that are swirling around her, whether she is in a foam thing getting radiated, crying over her journey or missing her family or enjoying a walk on this amazing planet we all call home, she is a gift in all her unfoldings and robed or disrobed, we are so, so, so, so super glad she is still in her body sharing with us.

  2. Nicole on said:

    Wow Nicole, that was beautiful. Thanks!

  3. You made your mama cry——-so many tears of joy. What a beautiful writer you are, sweet daughter, and what an artful, incredible life you lead. See you tomorrow for the Planet Granite excitement!

  4. tiff_tut on said:

    You make me miss Arcata, my too-short times there, and the little community who took me in. It’s sad to leave that extended family behind, but know you’ll be back there soon. Sending you lots and lots of love and light, as always. *smile*

  5. Funny Nicole, I too had a dog, a guitar and all my stuff and was in the Co-Op parking lot at the kiosk looking for room-mate wanted adds. I think I was 23. I camped in the back of my truck for a week until I found a house full of ladies with dogs who were stoked to rent a room to me (who I met in the Co-Op parking lot–thanks Co-Op!) Though I love my life, sometimes I miss just being a girl and her dog and only a truck full of stuff!

  6. Natalia on said:

    I too will be spending a few weeks away from the Arcata family so your post really spoke to me, thank you. I’ll be thinking of you on the journey and look forward to seeing you back on the home turf.

  7. Laura Kadlecik on said:

    Ah yes enjoy the Freedoms while knowing your family and friends in arcata surround you with love and the joy of sharing this precious life. Been thinking of you and wishing you well and looking forward to seeing you when you return!

  8. What a beautiful remembrance! We have spent six lovely and busy days here in Arcata with your sweet family, all of us missing you but filling the void as best we can. Garrett is super-dad! We depart today and know that Taylor and Asher will be fine. Garrett may be a bit tired but the important things will get done, with love. And you will be getting terrific treatment, the final phase before you return to the arms of your Arcata family. Continue to replenish your body and soul with your hikes, we are very glad you can have this time to deeply heal.
    Much, much love, Mary and Sherif

  9. Jacques neukom on said:

    Just finished packing the truck for market and I think I’m prepared for the rain to come. Amy and the kids are gone till next Wednesday so I too am solo for a time and am not used to it. Being a San Rafael boy I know what it’s like to have these two homes. As a kayak partner of yours I now feel responsible to elevate the sport to a place of more importance for both of us. As winter is but one rainstorm away for me and the farm I hope we get the time to see you more and maybe bring the kayak out to visit. Love, love, love- Jacques

  10. Amy Bohner on said:

    Nicole, wow a picture really is worth a thousand words. Thanks for taking us on this journey with you. You in your gown, in the hospital changing room, with that smile coming right through the lens back to us all at home. Soak up this time to yourself. I know that is rare for a Mother. LOVE.

  11. Nicole on said:

    Thanks everyone. Feelin’ the love as usual.

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