I’m Emilie, a writer and mother to two young boys, married to my best friend and living in St. Paul, Minnesota. I was diagnosed with a soft-tissue sarcoma in August 2007, while pregnant with our youngest son. Cancer sucks. But we are trying to live life to the fullest in spite of it. Welcome to my world.
Monday night, I took a nausea pill and got myself dressed for the first time since Friday; after dinner, we all piled into the car and went to the Rein In Sarcoma Party in the Park. (The poster image is of sunflowers, a symbol for sarcoma healing, apparently.) It was a nice night out. The weather was pleasant, the band sounded good, and there were plenty of family activities. I was wearing my chemo backpack and feeling a bit tired, but neither of those things kept me from enjoying myself. We even ran into a family we’d met in ECFE class this spring.
At the bubble-blowing station, Daniel found (and kept … *gulp*) a battery-operated bubble-blower that he now refers to as his “weed-whacker.” A push of the button turned on a low-humming fan that sounds a lot like the saw noises Daniel likes to make. He’s shy in crowds, but he was in heaven, aiming it at people very quietly and unobtrusively, his eyes steadily trained on whomever was in his view, like a little Jedi knight.
The highlight of the night was free rides on Como Park’s 94-year-old carousel. I decided I wanted to take Daniel on it. Steve wondered if my stomach would be able to tolerate the spinning. I wondered if I’d be able to climb onto a horse with my bad hip. We both wondered if Daniel would freak out. Yes, yes and sort of.
The first horse I put Daniel on was too high and too big, and when I put him on top of it and stood next to him with my arms around his waist, he immediately slunk down toward me saying, “I don’t like it.”
The carousel operator came by and told us the bench seats were full, but gestured to a small horse in the middle row a few yards back. We made our way, and I put Daniel on that horse. He responded the same way to the horse, but I was pretty sure he’d do OK if I were sitting on it with him.
The carousel operator, who had seen that I had difficulty walking, immediately commissioned the two guys on either side of me to help out. Lucky me: They were both good-looking and strong! (And dads, riding with their kids.) One of them helped me up while the other held my cane.
As I got settled, the guy who helped me up said, “Hip or leg?”
“Hip,” I said. Turns out that at a sarcoma picnic, you aren’t too far from people who have been there, done that. He’d had it in his leg, had surgery and chemo and all the works. We traded war stories as the carousel went around, and my self-consciousness about having to ask for help because of my hip evaporated.
Daniel’s face went from a frown to a smile. He liked the up-down motion, and he had fun seeing his dad wave at him every time time he came into view. Later, though, he told me the horses were “kind of scary.”
As we loaded up the car to go home, the band was playing Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive, with a few lyrics rewritten for the cancer crowd. It was kind of hokey, but I found myself crying anyway, quietly, sitting on a bench behind the stroller. A woman in her 50s or 60s came up to me and said, “Honey, I have two kids, 22 and 25, and when I was your age, I looked just like you. And now, here I am.” And then she smiled encouragingly and walked away.
See the Emilie’s Lemmondrops blog.
Emilie died on Christmas eve, December 24, 2008. St. Paul Pioneer Press writer Molly Millet speaks of her life, her family, and the people she reached through her bog Lemmondrops.
The Lemmons family have established an RIS Named Fund. To contribute, please select “Emilie Lemmons Fund” from the drop-down menu on our secure donation page.