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Buying the Cottage and Realizing I’m CURED

Funny how long it can take for good news to sink in.

Last night, after I got home from DJing at KPCW, I realized something. I am cured of anaplastic thyroid cancer and I have been for a year or possibly even two and a half years!

I mean, is MD Anderson going to pull the ATC diagnosis from my chart? Well, no. But, as far as I'm concerned, I am cured of ATC

I do keep wondering: What if Mount Sinai had done a biopsy when I tried to get one two and a half months before it actually did one? That might have prevented the anaplastic thyroid cancer--because my endocrinologist recently told me that most anaplastic thyroid cancer cases develop out of this less aggressive one. They might have done surgery immediately, surgery that might have prevented the ATC altogether. I might never have even gotten it. And an earlier surgery might also have prevented the non-ATC I am now dealing with, which even though it is much more treatable and curable may have more side effects and is going to be the most expensive part of this entire process of all--the medication is about the same as my house payment! Gulp. But, I may be able to get a break there. Keep your fingers crossed! And besides, I'll be cured soon!

However, this fact does make me laugh, because the ATC cure was, in certain ways, pretty easy (except for those days when I was stuck the hospital floor. Holy shit. It does make me appreciate life outside the hospital to an amazing degree).

It shows me that the Universe definitely has a sense of humor. I have to say, while undergoing my cures, I have watched other friends deal with various surgeries and recoveries, and frankly I'll take what I went through--minus the stage 4 part and being confined to a hospital floor when I felt fine, of course.

Well, maybe all of those funny twists will make my book even more desirable to Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, Apple TV, etc. That kind of deal would certainly help with pharmaceutical costs! Why can't they hand out cancer drugs like the Sacklers handed out ?

But in other FABULOUS news, I have purchased the cottage at Spring Bank--now Kate's Warrior Goddess Retreat. Writers, creatives, come join me! Also any warriors for democracy!

Spring Bank is my favorite place on earth. It started out as a little resort in the late 1800s when people would take the train from nearby towns to Spring Bank. Someone would pick them up with a horse and buggy and take them to stay at one of the little cottages. There was a little store, a boathouse, an island, a witch's cave, a swinging bridge and lots of other Victorian follies. The store and boathouse are now cottages, but everything else is still there.

My family spent all summer there every summer from the time I was about five or six. At first we shared a cottage there with two uncles and their families, which was great. It meant I could read one uncle's copies of Playboy in the outhouse and tag after some of my "big" cousins, who I adored. A lot of the big cousins were big enough to have drivers licenses so they weren't there very much, but still it was fun!

Then my parents decided since they had the most kids it would be more fair for us to have our own cottage. Anyway, they bought one of our own. I have to say, I think the main reason they bought the cottage was because we all got car sick, and my dad just couldn't take it. No way was he going to take us to that Midwest Mecca, the Black Hills. We did one trip to Canada when there were only three of us. After that, he and my uncles went in on that cottage together. And we never went away on a family vacation until I was out of college.

Anyway, if you are a Spring Bank person, which not everyone is, and that is fine, it is magical. The kids I grew up with there spent hours on the pond having seaweed fights and sinking canoes. Rainy days we'd play Monopoly until someone got mad and overturned the board. We made flimsy forts in the woods and in the trees and pretended we were explorers or spies or adventurers saving the world. We had lots of sleepovers. There were tons of kids at all of the cottages. Friends from Sparta would just come out and stay for days.

One hot July night in 1969, my friend-since-playpen-days, Mary Lahm, whose dad had played with my dad, and I and a whole bunch of us were swimming in the pond. My dad came down and whistled at us.

"Girlies!" he said, "come on up to the cottage, you've got to see this."

We scrambled out of the water and followed him up to the cottage. And we stood on the porch, swim suits dripping, watching a grainy images on a black and white TV of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walking on the moon.

When other kids talked about going away to sleep away camps with schedules and counselors, I thought "Ick!" My mother was bossy, but she didn't go into the woods with us, she'd make picnics for us to take on adventures on the island and in the woods and just did one obligatory swim to the raft a day. Out of sight, out of mind. Baby boomers- you know that one.

We did sometimes call for aid for clear emergencies. Like when Holly Spink stepped on a broken bottle buried in the sand at the beach. The wound bled like crazy. I sprinted to the cottage, "Mother, Mother, you've got to come, we have to take her to the hospital!" She walked calmly down with a box of bandaids. "Mother," I said, "We're gonna need more than that."

"Let me take a look," she said.

She took a look at Holly's foot and the blood spurting out. She spun around. It was the only time in my life I ever saw my mother run. Pretty soon she whipped up to the beach in our big blue Mercury station wagon and we sped off, sandy swimsuits and all, someone holding up high Holly's foot, paper towels and a plastic bag wrapped around it, to the emergency room.

Spring Bank borders Fort McCoy, which means the sound of ordnance going off and shaking the ground is mother's milk to me. When helicopters would swing over the pond -- which they were not supposed to do--while we were lying on the raft, we'd just wave at them.

I paid for a lot of college as a life guard and then a bartender at the NCO club and the officers club, riding over to Fort McCoy from Spring Bank on a Harley 125 (yes, back then, they made them that small) my dad had come home with unexpectedly. It was the only time I saw my mother get mad at my dad. Heh, heh. The first day I drove up on my little Harley to the NCO club, I parked the bike, swung my leg over it to get off, took off the jeans I was wearing under my dress and walked into the club. It was packed with NCOs. The whole place cheered me. I made a fortune in tips those summers. No woman is so beautiful as when viewed through the bottom of an empty shot glass.

I made out with boyfriends in the woods at Spring Bank. I broke up with boyfriends in the woods at Spring Bank.

The man I married proposed to me while I was jumping up and down on the diving board at Spring Bank. I dove in, came up and said, "Yes!"


The marriage went bust, but the proposal was brilliant!

We had LOTS of parties there. Some my parents knew about, some they didn't.

I took my kids there every summer, often for a few weeks. My older daughter was born at the dawn of the internet era. The magazine I worked for had had a lot of money disappear. They feared they'd have to lay off some reporters. They didn't, but no raises. I was one of a lot of great reporters , but I was also one of the most productive ones. They couldn't give me a raise. But they wanted to keep me happy. "Let me telecommute," I said. So there I'd sit in the Wisconsin woods, dialing in by modem. "Virtual Kate," my colleagues called me. And as I sat out on the cottage deck, modem screaming into the trees, a babysitter watched my kids play on the beach with the kids of some of the kids I'd played with.

Some people who are not Spring Bankers might wonder why I'd buy a cottage that is a 20-hour drive from my home, where the easiest airport to fly into is three hours away, due to cuts in flight service. I figure this explains it. And I'm not that only Spring Banker who has done it.

The purchase was a bit of a wrestling match for a variety of reasons, even though my parents had laid out a clear process for a beneficiary to buy it after they were both dead. I reluctantly stuck to the process and I now am glad that they laid it out and that ultimately, I went with it. Shit happens, you know? But I had some very dear friends cheering me on and a financial advisor who was supportive and did a great job of helping me deal with the, er, inefficiencies of certain elements of the process.

Side note: I also bought my dad's cute little truck. It turns out that my mother had been registering it in my dad's name every year since he died in 2002. When I found that out in 2020, I was like, um, does this mean he can still cast an absentee ballot? Sigh. You know the answer to that one. Rats.

Anyway, over the past few months, I have made a slew of new friends at the Wisconsin DMV who patiently guided me through the process of transferring the deed of the truck from one dead person to another dead person so that a live person could buy it. I am getting a new license plate. It's going to be some variation of "CURED."

Staying on brand, y'know?

Anyway all the adventures of settling my parents' estate makes me wonder: why doesn't someone do a series called Estate Settlement or something like that? You get drama and absurdity!

My purchase of what I am calling "Kates' Warrior Retreat" (inspired by all of you who read this blog) does not mean I am leaving Park City. The mountains are just too good for me. But as in 2020, I'll probably be spending a lot of time in Wisconsin. The raft on the pond is my favorite place on this earth. It is incredibly healing. The HoChunk, the local indigenous people, considered Spring Bank sacred because the springs there flowed year round, giving sustenance even in the winter. So what better place to use as a base for doing all that I can to save democracy?

Below, Spring Bank dawn in autumn. That is really how it looks.

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This was delicious in every single which way... what a gift for story telling/sharing/uplifting you have, dear Warrior Kate. So, so happy for you and proud beyond the stars and the moon of your strength, resilience, and flourishing recovery. Love you!!!

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