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Tom’s Story

With a cancer-free declaration from Doc Kahl, we are exploring life after cancer and counting the many miracles in our lives.


We are filled with gratitude. Tom was declared cancer-free from brain cancer just days after Ellen started an awesome job as sr. vice president of corporate communication at WPS. Tom is still disabled by the headaches and fixing golf clubs in the basement until he can get back to the courses. Kait is a nanny after teaching at La Petite Academy in Sun Prairie, and Maura works as a data analyst in Chicago.

2012 was an action packed year. We even got to travel a bit. We are very blessed. 

We are very proud of everyone for surviving.

The journal is searchable using your control F function. We hope this website is useful for family and friends. Fellow cancer patients can search for tips on hospitalizations, magic mouth wash, Vanicream, nausea and other words to get tips.

The content on this site is copyrighted by Ellen Foley.

Latest Journal Update

A new life stage: Becoming a sweetie

Foley: A new life stage: Being called 'Sweetie'
Published On: Nov 10 2014 09:22:04 AM CST

I recently passed a life milestone. I went from ma’am to sweetie.

Two 30-something servers, aka waitresses, within about two weeks in two different establishments said something to the effect, “Would you like some more coffee, sweetie?”

I looked to make sure I didn’t have my pants on backward. I checked to make sure the hair on the back of my head was brushed. I was intact as a ma’am.

I couldn’t help asking my stunned self: Is sweetie a term of endearment or a condolence?

You were once a pretty woman, they may be thinking. Now you are, well, past middle age, sweetie.

My daughter recently wrote on her Facebook page, (which I hope is still private and limited to people who understand her, ahem, strident views on women’s rights) that she’s tired of the catcalls from men on the street.

Oh, sweetie, that is so 1980s for me. I became ma’am about 15 years ago after a long run with miss. When I was 20, I could still buy a ticket for those under 13. I have always looked young for my age, but now the jig is up.

At a business meeting this week, I used that phrase and the young women in the room laughed out loud. They also giggle when I use the word jiggy, which I love. At least some young people find me relevant.

I look to the other sweeties in my sphere of influence for the appropriate reaction to my new status. Many of them are working past the age of 65. They talk openly about sex after mastectomies and looking for boyfriends on dating websites. (Yes, young people, we call them boyfriends or girlfriends, as the case may be.) They are planning a trip to Europe in the fall. They are selling all their “stuff” and living off the land in the West, which I am truly hoping involves a condo impervious to wolves and bears. They are taking their friends zip-lining for their 65th birthdays.

We all get the AARP magazine, but we older ma’ams act like we are 40. I guess that’s the trick. Once you become sweetie, you really don’t care if people feel sorry that you are soon going to be wearing elastic-waistband pants if you are not already doing this. Sixty is the new 40. 50 is the new 30.

The only consolation I can give my sweetie self is that I am the proud owner of a life well-lived. I have few regrets. However, for the moment, that is not enough.

I really don’t like being sweetie. I don’t even have grandchildren. I want a button that says that, but wanting to wear buttons is probably not a good sign.

Grandchildren, for most of us, is a way out of sweetie. We become Gigi, Nana, Mimi, Grammy, Tia, etc. We need a better solution for those of us who have come up short in the progeny department.

I am going to play around with the concepts of philanthropist and mentor. “Would you like some more coffee, philanthropist?" may never happen. I am, however, not ready for sweetie and if you have any tips, put them in the comments. 

Do you think purple hair would help?