Friday, December 7, 2007

Cancer sucks, but blogging and the Stones rock!

It's a well known fact that the Chicago neighborhood of Oak Park, Illinois, has the highest concentration of Frank Lloyd Wright homes in the nation.

Frank Lloyd Wright's early work in the 1890's included high-pitched,
Tudor-style homes that were in stark contrast to his trademark, low-slung Prairie homes.

It's a little known fact that Oak Park has one of the highest concentrations of Rolling Stones fans in the nation. On the Saturday before I checked in to Hotel Hope for my stem cell transplant, George and I traveled to Oak Park to attend the biannual Rolling Stones bash of Oak Park's most ardent Stones fan, Howard Prossnitz.

Cover Boy: One of Howard's high-profile litigation cases made the
front page of USA Today while this photo graced the cover of the
Chicago Tribune's Red Eye Magazine.

Not unlike the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, Howard, his home and family are a study in contrasts, especially on the night of the Stones party.

Susan, George, "Sir Howard" and friend Judy enter the giant plywood tongue
at the entrance of the Prossnitz's three-story Victorian home.

Will and Ben become Stones fans for the night.

French Pinot Noir is served in plastic cups along
side Great Books classics.

Wife Liza, a CPA at one of Chicago's leading accounting firms,
reluctantly joins the scene. "This party sucks," she admits.
(We all disagree.)

Before the party officially began, Howard presented gifts to his out-of-town guests.He gave me a special, custom-made T-shirt and announced to the crowd that I had Mantle Cell Lymphoma and was about to undergo a stem cell transplant.

Cancer sucks! Blogging and the Stones rock!

I admit, I cringed a tad after Howard's announcement. I wanted to be cancer incognito - an anonymous, dance-loving Stones fan - not someone about to check in to the hospital for a month. I soon realized that I could be both - party animal AND cancer vixen.

The guests had no problem embracing both personae and provided loads of heart-felt good wishes without an ounce of pity. I liked that.

Party animal, cancer vixen or both?

As soon as Hot Rocks, the Rolling Stones tribute band, began to play, it didn't take much to "start me up" on the road to complete "satisfaction."

Seeing double? Hot Rocks lead singer and Howard pay tribute to Sir Mick.

At parties as in life, the most memorable moments are often the unplanned ones. At the last Stones party two years ago, that moment came when I took a midnight rendezvous with a gay decorator (a former client of Howard's) to see the Prairie-style home he decorated in the neighborhood. "I have the keys and the clients aren't home," he tempted while dangling the keys. I ran two blocks in a cold, Chicago downpour to get a tour of the house. (OK, I'll admit it: I'm a house ho.)

This year, that memorable moment came in the form of party guest Nina, a book editor by day and Janis Joplin channeler by night. Nina pinch hit for Mick, who had a touch of laryngitis that night.

While I was undergoing chemo, I couldn't get her soulful styling of "Me and Bobby McGee" out of my head. Never mind that the only words I knew were, "La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la. La, la, la, la, la la, la." That song got me through more than one dreadful night.

Surprise of the night, Nina, belts out "Me and Bobby McGee." "When I
invited her, I didn't even know she could sing," confesses Howard.

Two days after returning from Chicago, I checked in to Hotel Hope, where I received daily, early morning visits from a different kind of rock star.

Early bird Dr. Forman stands by my dance partner during one of his 7 am rounds.

Weeks before I met Dr. Forman, I saw him cross the lobby at the City of Hope. I nudged George and whispered, "That was Dr. Stephen J. Forman." It was just like seeing Mick Jagger walk by.

Once I was lucky enough to have Dr. Forman as my own doctor, I quickly realized that it's not his rock-star qualities or world-wide reputation that make him extraordinary. It's his compassion, caring, unwavering sense of humor, humility and down-to-earth nature that make him special.

Just the same, if I ever see Mick Jagger strutting across my path, I'm sure I'll nudge George and whisper, "That was Sir Mick. It was just like seeing Dr. Stephen Forman walk by."


Calvin said...

well susan your post was definitely worth waiting for and your writing is oh so much better than the cheap supermarket tablois in which i am forced to appear.. the juxtaposition of the various photos is super needless to say liza and i were touched/ honored that you and george chose to come this year ... i am glad that you figured out you could be dance star and cancer patient simultaneously i thought that given your blog you would not object to the t shirt announcement etc anyhow you continue to be an inspiration for all of us and i am glad that your blood counts are getting better liza meg annie and i wish you guys all the best for this holiday season and needless to say you and george will be in our thoughts your mick jagger wannabe friend howardlgfua

Susan Carrier said...

The Stones party was the perfect "sendoff." And I LOVE my T-shirt. Looking forward to the next party!

You and your family rock.

denise said...

ROCK ON!!!!!!!!!!

Piper Robert said...

Dr. Forman kinda reminds of Woody Allen.

How did George like the party?

Susan Carrier said...

Woody Allen? Not at all. (Well, maybe the glasses.) More like Stephen Spielberg.

George loved the party, but he doesn't dance. Howard is a buddy from law school.

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