• Microscope for blog by DC widow writer Marjorie Brimley Hale on colon cancer awareness

    National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

    It’s only been a couple of decades since President Clinton declared that March would be National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. And it’s only been a couple of years since I’ve known about it. It’s strange, how unaware I was about colon cancer, an illness that is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death (in men and women combined) in the United States. Seriously, before Shawn got colon cancer, I’m not sure I knew anything about it. It was a disease old people got, right? That’s why you got a colonoscopy when you’re old, right? I guess it could seem surprising that even though…

  • Orange flowers for blog by DC widow writer Marjorie Brimley
    Things That Suck

    The Room at the Hospital

    I had to get a mammogram the other day. I might be a young widow, but I’m not that young, and I was already months behind on my check-up due to the pandemic. I’m never behind – I am deeply fearful of cancer – so I donned my mask and went to the appointment. As usual, the initial mammogram was inconclusive. Something is almost always a bit strange with my body, and I usually have to get the follow-up testing. The doctor told me they could do it immediately, but I’d need to change rooms and wait just a bit for the technician to do the procedure. She brought me…

  • Steaming tea kettle used by DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley
    Things That Suck

    Sore Throat

    I woke up with a sore throat this morning.* I’m writing this at 5:30 in the morning. A few minutes ago, I woke up with a slight headache and a sore throat. It’s the kind of thing that I would have totally dismissed a month ago. I would have pulled myself together, taken an Advil, gone running with Purva and taught a day’s worth of lessons, never thinking about the sore throat again. But these are not normal times, are they? So I’m sitting in my living room drinking honey and lemon tea, trying not to freak out. I can already hear what my dad and sister are going to…

  • Father of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley walks with granddaughter in black and white photo
    Family & Friends

    Sometimes We Make Hard Choices When We Love Someone

    Here’s something you may not know about me: my hair falls out when I’m under intense stress. I’ve had alopecia for most of my life, though thankfully it’s concentrated on the back of my head. When it gets really bad, I can’t wear a ponytail, but otherwise most people don’t notice. I can actually measure the amount of stress I’m under by what happens with my hair. And right now, my hair is falling out. The stress started a few weeks ago. My dad had gotten sick, and I was really worried about him. Coronavirus cases continued to pop up, and I was concerned about the likely spread to DC.…

  • DC widow blog writer stands with her father and children
    Things That Suck

    I’m Still Alive!

    It was Monday morning last week when I started to really worry. I was back at work after a week off and my dad was really sick. “How are you feeling?” I asked. “I’m still alive!” he texted back. At least I knew he still had his sense of humor. But my dad was really sick. He claimed he’d just gotten a virus, but he was so lethargic it was worrying me. Needless to say, I don’t do well with debilitating illness anymore. And neither does anyone in my family. Claire and Austin had been asking me about Grandpa Tom ever since our return from vacation. “Is he okay?” Austin…

  • Emergency room sign like that described by DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley
    Things That Suck

    Sometimes You Superglue It

    The thing about breathing is that it’s essential for living on this planet, so when you start having problems with breathing, everyone freaks out. It was small at first. I could run and breathe just fine, but I’d feel a tightness in my chest when I was drifting off to sleep. I’d be okay when I was teaching, but the moment I sat down to write I felt like I couldn’t take a full breath. I told my dad about it, and he listened to my heart and my lungs. “It’s nothing,” he said. My dad always says, “it’s nothing.” One of the few times he said otherwise was just…