I’d just sat down for my pedicure when I realized what was on TV in the nail salon: The Young and the Restless had a cancer storyline.
There I was, getting my nails done for my Kiss Cancer Goodbye fundraiser and remission party to celebrate two years in clear from non Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and the people on TV were fretting over white blood cell counts and whether what’s-her-name would survive until the next episode. (Is her contract up? There’s your answer.)
Very funny, God, I thought. Also: I wish I had a makeup artist like she has, because she looks better sick than I do healthy. I sat through the entire show anyhow, because really, you can’t ignore cancer. It’s everywhere.
And that’s what I wanted to tell everyone who attended my fundraiser on Friday night. I wanted them to listen — really listen — to what Christopher Menschner from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society said, instead of tuning out the scary parts and wondering when the band takes the stage or whether the bar has Sam Adams in bottles. I wanted them to know that blood cancers like lymphoma, leukemia and myeloma kill an average of six people an hour. I wanted them to remember that people who are living with or in remission from a blood cancer are right in our own community, and I’m one of them.
Most of all, though, I wanted to thank them. So I told them how much it meant to me that they helped take care of my kids when I was sick, and that they cooked for us, which was especially appreciated because our house was undergoing renovations, and so, we had no kitchen. I thanked them for praying for me and thinking of me and for putting the swim goggles that said “Singer” on them into our mailbox whenever they found them down at our community lake.
My speech went over well, even for my mother-in-law, who had suggested that I “keep it short.” As my friend Christina said: “Jen makes you laugh, she makes you cry, and then she makes you want to hug the crap out of her.” (And now I owe her $5 a word. Writers.) When I saw my mother-in-law after the speech, I kidded her about keeping it short. I noticed that though she was laughing, she had tears in her eyes. We all did.
Then it was time to party. The Flying Mueller Brothers, my cousins’ band, soon took the stage and had everyone up dancing from the first song. (Well, except my dad. He’s not exactly a reggae/rock kind of guy. He’s also still waiting for his hearing to return…those speakers were loud.) But it clearly didn’t bother my mother:
My cousin Donny’s six-year-old son, DJ, took the stage and wowed the crowd.
I’d asked them to make good on playing “Three Little Birds” for me, like they’d promised when I was sick. Naturally, they asked me to join them on stage, where I attempted to play the bongos. I was also lip synching, in case the mic was actually on. I didn’t want to drive people away.
After the band finished up, the Sugar Hill Gang took the stage. The crowd went wild, though I don’t think anyone was happier than my neighbor, Janet, who knows all their songs by heart:
Now, if you’re wondering how I got this shot from behind Master Gee, it’s because Hen Dog had pushed me up on stage, where I was quite obviously having a good time. My brother, Scott, captured it on film:
In fact, from what I’ve heard, everyone had a good time in what some are calling the best party ever in our community. Or as my neighbor Rich put it: “It took Jen Singer to have cancer to get all of this?”
Well, lemons and lemonade and all that stuff, right?
As for all the “same time next year” sentiments, maybe. Just maybe. As long as there’s something to celebrate…
*The awesome shot of me at the mic is courtesy of Kristen Totaro of Snap2ItPhotography.