LOOKING FOR A MIRACLE

October 21, 2008

I had to find all of Sean’s test results tonight so I could take it to the rehab center tomorrow. He came to me and said he’d relapsed and that he would like to go back into treatment. I’m so proud of him for making that decision on his own. I feel that this experience is going to help him grow up and become a responsible young man. I really believe in him; I always have.

November 4, 2008

What a horrible, horrible day—for so many reasons. I woke up feeling terrible—cramps in my stomach, weak, dizzy. I ran out to vote and stopped by to check on Farrah. There has been a nurse at the house since yesterday morning because she started throwing up again and couldn’t stop. I was alarmed to see how frail she was.

I called Dr. Piro and he wanted me to bring her straight to the hospital. She could barely make it into my car, and when she got there, I had to lay her down in the backseat. Of course then I had to maneuver my way through bumper-to-bumper traffic all the way to the hospital. The whole time I could hear her moaning, and I kept trying to catch a glimpse of her in the rear-view mirror. By the time we finally got there, the hospital director was waiting outside with a wheelchair, and he promptly took her to a room.

For the first time, I fear that this could be one of those setbacks that Dr. Jacob talked about and that she might not come out of it. I talked to Dr. Piro at length and we both agree that he’s got to keep her there and do whatever tests are necessary to find out what’s causing the vomiting and the bleeding. He even mentioned the possibility of exploratory surgery. Right now everything looks dark and hopeless. Where is my faith, God? Help me get it back.

November 5, 2008

I’m waiting for Dr. Piro to call me back about Farrah. I just spoke to her in the hospital and she sounds much better, more like her old self. She was giving some nurse hell because she couldn’t get a grilled cheese sandwich.

“I can hear you’re better,” I said to her, “because you’re mean as a snake.” She always gets that way on pain medication.

November 7, 2008

I just got home from the hospital. I want to cry, but it’s like the tears are all blocked up inside me. I feel like I’m a robot going through the motions, or one of the pod people from Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

When I spoke to Farrah this morning she sounded drugged and confused. She thought she was having an MRI but wasn’t sure. I spoke to Dr. Piro and he said she was going to have a colonoscopy and biopsy. He’d know more about what was going on when he got the results later. I called Farrah back, explained what was going on, and told her I’d come to see her afterward.

“Is there anything I can bring you?” I asked.

“Anything you’re baking,” she replied.

“I’m baking a cake for the movie at Carole and Bob’s tonight. I’ll bring you a slice.”

Around four thirty I called Dr. Piro and he was in Farrah’s room talking to her. Somehow I knew by the tone of his voice that it wasn’t a good conversation. I said to tell her I’d be over there shortly. I was on the way to the hospital, nerves on edge, when he called me back and confirmed my fears: the original tumor has gotten larger and has to be removed as soon as possible. The treatment at City of Hope is obviously not working. He mentioned CyberKnife surgery and that he was looking into various options.

“She’s pretty upset about it,” he added. “Try to stay positive when you see her.”

I walked into the room while she was trying to eat a little of the bland dinner on her hospital tray. She looked at me and started to cry.

“The IT-101’s not working,” she said.

That said it all. During the four months since we came back from the clinic, the tumors have not only increased in size but they’ve spread. I told her not to lose hope, that Dr. Piro felt there were a number of options. The nurse came in to give her more pain medication, and soon Farrah was barely coherent. But she was determined to eat some of my homemade cake, so she dove into a piece.

While she was in the middle of eating it, she drifted off to sleep. As I began to gently lift the container from her chest, she suddenly grabbed it with both hands.

“You’re not taking that anywhere,” she said, and we both laughed.

She drifted in and out of sleep from the heavy sedation. Then, out of the blue, she said, “I’m going to miss you so much.” It was all I could do not to cry.

“You won’t miss me because you’re not going anywhere.” Part of me wants to still believe that, but it’s getting harder every day.

At one point, I thought she’d gone to sleep, so I started to tiptoe out the door. Just as I was sneaking out she called my name. She clearly didn’t want me to go, so I sat down again by her bedside. I said nothing; there was nothing to say. We just hugged each other for a long time, and I finally left as she drifted off to sleep.

I came home and went through the motions of getting ready for bed. For the first time in probably five years, I didn’t turn on Fox News the minute I walked in the house. I just needed the silence. I talked to Dr. Piro again tonight and asked point-blank, “She’s not going to make it, is she?”

“She’ll pull through this now, but if you’re asking me if she’s going to beat it, the answer is no,” he replied.

I guess I’ve known it for some time now. From Dr. Vogl, when we spoke in Frankfurt, and certainly from the last scan, but now it seems more imminent.

I spoke to Ryan from my cell phone in the hallway outside her room. I could feel his sadness through the phone.

“It’s ironic, isn’t it?” he said. “I feel like I’ve done this movie before, but Ali MacGraw is still alive.” He meant Love Story, of course.

I can’t allow myself to think about losing this battle, about losing her.

November 8, 2008

I talked to Farrah this morning and she told me she’d fallen down in the night and hurt herself. She’d been throwing up again as well. I went to see her at the hospital around six. She was sleeping soundly and I didn’t want to wake her. I sat in the dark room for almost an hour, looking at my frail yet still beautiful friend, hooked up to monitors and IVs. It breaks my heart. I know I keep saying that, but I don’t know how else to describe the way I feel. It’s as if there’s a big, gaping hole in my chest and it aches something fierce. It’s as if I’m grieving—but she’s not gone yet. I have to keep reminding myself of that. Farrah is full of surprises.

One time, when we were in Germany and Kim was there, Farrah admired her beautiful leopard-print pony-skin Yves Saint Laurent handbag. We both thought the bag was exquisite, and when we got home, Farrah was still thinking about it.

“You should buy one,” I told her. “I can’t afford it, but you can. You should get one.”

So she did, and she just loved it. Farrah is by no means an extravagant person. She still has her Texas values like me: “Don’t throw your money away.” But it was such a happy splurge, and she deserved it after all she’s been through. Then, after the next trip home from Germany, I was dropping her off at her home, and her assistant came downstairs with a huge box. In it was the YSL bag—the exact one Farrah had bought for herself. She wanted to thank me for what I had done for her. I was so touched, so surprised, and whenever I carry it, I think of Farrah.

November 9, 2008

I just talked to Dr. Piro for a long time. He’d just been in to see Farrah and she’s doing better today. The situation with the tumor is not good, however. He’s looking into the possibility of doing CyberKnife surgery, which is using a radiation technique to kill the tumor, but that may not be possible because of all the radiation she had at UCLA in the beginning. She was told, after the fact (of course), that she could never have radiation again in that area. So we won’t know until tomorrow. If that’s not an option, he has to investigate what all the others might be, as far as chemotherapy, to shrink the tumor.

November 10, 2008

I called the Christian Science Reading Room to get the name of a practitioner for Farrah. Marianne Williamson had suggested I get her the books and tapes, so I went over there several days ago to pick them up, and I started looking through one of the little pamphlets. I was reading about some of the healing miracles people have had and decided to call one of their practitioners. I spoke to a very nice lady who agreed to come to the hospital and see Farrah tomorrow. Meanwhile she would start prayer work.

November 11, 2008

I told Ryan I’d meet him at the hospital around 1 P.M. and that hopefully we’d be able to talk to Dr. Piro together. Farrah was doing much better today. The difference from yesterday was astounding. She was on very little pain medication and was much like her old self. Dr. Piro came in and told us what the options were and what he thought was the best way to proceed. It boils down to not having surgery but instead using chemo to try to shrink the primary tumor as well as the ones in the liver. He said he’d spoken to Dr. Vogl in Frankfurt and was waiting to hear from Dr. Jacob. I had spoken to them both earlier, and they would prefer she come back to Germany, but Dr. Piro feels that she’s too weak to make that trip now. I hope this chemo treatment goes well and she gets stronger again, so we can go back to Germany. It seems like the only place she’s had any success with treatment.

After Ryan left, I told Farrah about the Christian Science practitioner and that the woman had been praying for her since last night. “That’s amazing,” she said, “because I started feeling so much better around midnight.”

I told Farrah that the practitioner would come to the hospital, and she very much wanted her to. I called the woman and she said she’d be there in a couple of hours. When she arrived, it was quite a fascinating experience. Her name was Diane, and she was a lovely woman, probably in her fifties, who talked to us about Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the church. She spoke about the principles of Christian Science, which basically says that we are spiritual beings, not mortal, and therefore disease, pain, suffering, and death are all false ideas, and not the truth about us.

“You have to see Farrah as God’s perfect child, free of disease and suffering,” she instructed me. She didn’t actually pray with us—she does that part of it in her meditation at home. She said that I could read the textbook to Farrah and that I should especially say the Lord’s Prayer, that it was a very powerful healing prayer.

After she had gone, I stayed for a few minutes and read Psalm 23 out loud: “The Lord is my shepherd…” Farrah seemed very calm and at peace. I really think there’s something to this Christian Science business. I headed for home feeling more positive than I have in a long time.

November 13, 2008

Farrah had the new chemo late last night and it went very well. Fortunately, she didn’t get sick from it. At the hospital, I called Diane, the Christian Science practitioner, and she spoke to Farrah on the speakerphone. I read a little out loud from the book before I left. Maybe this is the miracle we’ve been asking for. Things seem to be going so much better since this lady has been praying for Farrah. She’s leaving the hospital this morning to go back home.

November 15, 2008

Farrah and I may be going back to Germany. We both spoke to Dr. Jacob at length yesterday and she has some ideas that she feels certain could help Farrah. We’d have to leave on the first of December and be gone three weeks. That means getting home just before Christmas. I’m not sure how I feel about it, but if we have to go, we’ll just go. If this chemo that she just had is working, maybe we could go after Christmas instead. I’d prefer that, but maybe Farrah shouldn’t take the chance. It’s so hard to know what’s right.

November 28, 2008

It’s the day after Thanksgiving and I’m exhausted from cooking for two days. Farrah was feeling well enough to come over two nights in a row and make pies with me. This new chemo appears to be working, which means we have even more to be thankful for. We won’t go to Germany until after the first of January. God, I’m relieved not to have to miss the holidays at home.

She was able to come for dinner last night. I can’t help wondering how many more Thanksgivings and Christmases she has left. I hate that I even have that thought, but I guess it’s only natural for it to cross my mind. She talks about it herself. She doesn’t know how much time she has…a year, two, maybe five? I know there can be a miracle, but the chances seem to be getting more remote with every new scan.

December 4, 2008

This healer from the Philippines, Father Fernando Suarez, came to see Farrah today. He was a small, dark-skinned man with a powerful presence. A friend of ours had called to tell me about him, and I set up an appointment for him to come see her. Apparently people have had amazing healing experiences from just seeing him one time. He prayed for her with his hands on her body and gave her two bracelets to wear and a prayer to say every day. Afterward he came over to me. The minute he touched my body I started to cry. He pointed to my chest and said I had a lingering virus that was causing me to be susceptible to other viruses that come along. Exactly what I’ve been experiencing. He prayed and gave me the same bracelets to wear and blessed some water for both of us to drink.

Afterward we both felt drugged. I did a few errands and then went home feeling just wiped out. I got into my flannel pajamas and crawled into bed and stayed there the rest of the evening. Farrah and I talked later and she felt the same. Maybe it’s our bodies healing. God, I hope so.

December 25, 2008

It’s Christmas night and everyone has eaten and gone on their way. I should feel happy at having spent a lovely night with my children and my friends, but I’m feeling unbearably sad. Farrah looked so frail tonight. Every day she has horrible side effects from this last round of chemo, and we don’t even know for sure if it’s working.

Last night she came over to make pies. I know she could barely make it, but she loves doing it and pushes herself beyond her limits to get here. I don’t know if I’m starting to sense that the cancer is getting the best of her or if it’s just fear, but I think I know deep down in my heart that it’s a matter of time now. When she hugged me tonight and said she loved me, I could almost feel every bone in her body through her skin. Please, God, let her be around a lot longer. I need her. She knows I’m useless with the damn crusts and can’t do them without her.

I just spoke to Marianne and she said a prayer for Farrah. I feel better. Sad still, but better. I called Ash and Sean to tell them I love them. I wish Kim had been here. She’s called a couple of times sounding sad and lonely. She told her dad she’d never spent Christmas without her mom and he said she lived in London now. It always astounds me that he can sometimes be so lacking in compassion.

December 26, 2008

Farrah called earlier and was on her way to the emergency room. Her right leg has swollen to twice the size of the other one, and Dr. Piro is concerned that it could be a blood clot. She was in tears and didn’t want to have to go into the hospital again. I told her I would meet her there, but she said she’d call as soon as they did the ultrasound.

She just called and it’s not a blood clot but they’re not sure what it is. The doctor thinks maybe the lymph system isn’t draining on her right side because the tumor is blocking it. Good God, doesn’t she ever get a break? Dr. Piro was so sure the chemo was working; we thought the tumors must be shrinking. How can this be? I don’t like the sound of this at all. They didn’t make her stay in the hospital, though, and she said she’ll call me as soon as she gets home.

December 28, 2008

Farrah and I both spoke to Dr. Jacob today. She thinks Farrah should have a scan right away to see if the chemo has been working and the tumors are smaller. She’s concerned about the swelling and that the tumors could have grown and therefore be causing the blockage in lymphatic drainage. She thinks we should come to Germany within the next two weeks. Farrah feels more comfortable being there in the clinic, and frankly, so do I.

The idea of leaving again makes me anxious, but if it’s what needs to be done, I’ll do it. After seeing that movie Marley & Me the other night, about the dog dying, I can’t bear the thought of leaving my dog Lolita. She’ll be nine in April, and although she still seems like a young dog, I know she can have only a few good years left. I’ve never felt this way about a dog—I’ve never been much of a dog person—but there’s some special connection between us. We love each other so much. I can just lie down next to her and look at her sometimes. Then she gets annoyed and moves away. I can’t believe I could be so obsessed with a dog. I remember when it used to be men!

January 1, 2009

It’s 2:30 A.M., the beginning of the new year! I went over to Farrah’s to spend it with her and Ryan, and I’m so glad I did. She was feeling and looking so much better. It was really a sweet, lovely evening. We had some smoked salmon, made Bellinis, and watched Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino. We tuned in to see the ball drop at midnight and raised our glasses in a toast to good health—especially Farrah’s. Then we made two piecrusts for tomorrow, and by that time it was almost two.

She has a scan on Monday and we’ll know where everything stands then. I feel like it’s going to be much better, but I’ve felt that way the last few times, and I’ve been wrong. I hope I’m not wrong again.

January 5, 2009

I’m sitting in the waiting room at Dr. Piro’s office, where Farrah will be having her scan in a few minutes. She’s in an isolated room now, with the radioisotope substance in her veins, and they’ll do the scan after forty-five minutes. She can’t move or talk or read, and no one can be in the room with her because of the radioactive material in her veins.

She’s feeling very hopeful, but I’m almost afraid to get too positive. Every time we have, we’ve gotten bad news, it seems. So I’m not going to jinx us. We’ll know within the next two hours.

Later

I think Farrah and I were both holding our breath when Dr. Piro walked into the room after the scan. I know I was. He said, “Well, it’s a good-news day!” He told us that the tumors are all shrinking; that this chemo is working. She was ecstatic. We all were. Dr. Piro was beaming as Farrah hugged him. It’s the first time in so long that we’ve gotten good news, especially from the scans here.

We went to tea at the Peninsula to celebrate. Farrah called her dad, Ryan, and Redmond. We called Tina and Carole. We were all so happy. I told her I didn’t think it was all the chemo, by any means. I think the spiritual work she’s been doing with Marianne, Father Sanchez, and Diane, the Christian Science practitioner, is playing a big part. It’s as if the energy has shifted.

January 14, 2009

Today the news is not so good: I got a call from the hospital that Farrah was being admitted. Just when things were looking up, she started vomiting nonstop at one o’clock this morning. It was obviously from the chemo she had yesterday. Marianne Williamson and I were supposed to have dinner, but we went down to see Farrah first. She was just lying there under all the covers, so still, so quiet, with IVs dripping into her arms. She looked pale, fragile, and helpless. She could barely speak. We just sat on the bed in the dark and Marianne prayed for her. The nurse came in and gave her some medication to put her out for the night. When she gets into one of these throwing-up jags, the only way to stop it is to put her to sleep. We crept quietly out when her eyes started to close.

We had dinner at Toscano, an Italian restaurant in Brentwood, where I used to live. The pasta wasn’t quite as good as I remembered it. The kids and I lived in the Brentwood house for twelve years. I can’t believe the time passed so quickly. Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and live it all over again. And be more present, and appreciate what I had more, appreciate my children more. Cherish every minute instead of always being so busy, busy, busy. Just another of the many, many regrets I have in my life. Things I wish I’d done differently.

It was bittersweet being back in Brentwood. I felt slightly sad and disconnected. Life is passing too quickly. Like a meteor flashing through the sky. I feel like I can’t hold on to anything, especially Farrah. It gives me that old familiar feeling of being adrift in a sea with no anchor. Just lost at sea.

January 31, 2009

Carole had an early birthday dinner for Farrah Saturday night. Jaclyn Smith and her husband, Brad, Kate Jackson, Jose, Carole, Bob, Tina, me, Dr. Piro and his wife, Judy, and Farrah and Ryan, of course. Farrah wanted a chocolate cake with white icing, so I volunteered to make it. It took me all day. The first one flopped. Gas was leaking out of my stove, so I had to call the gas company. Then I baked another one, even though the repair guy said not to use the stove. Geri Lugo, my manager and also a phenomenal baker, came over and decorated it, since I’m as useless at decorating cakes as I am at making piecrusts. They always taste incredibly good but are not so pretty. She made beautiful chocolate roses with a pastry tube. It fell over in my car on the way there, but I managed to salvage it.

Farrah is so depleted. This chemo is really wrecking her. She’s been so sick all week. She was in the hospital for one night and has had nurses at home much of the rest of the time. I don’t know how much more her body can take, although Dr. Piro says she’s in much better shape than she was two months ago, when she was in the hospital so ill from the bleeding. He says that the chemo is shrinking the tumors, and that these symptoms are all from the chemo. She has no quality of life, but I guess that’s the way it is when people are having such heavy doses of chemo.

The terrible part, besides the pain, is the indignities she has to go through. Losing her hair, constant vomiting, being so horribly weak and exhausted all the time. She made it through dinner and opening the presents, but had to leave about an hour into the movie. She wasn’t feeling well at all. Where is this miracle that we need? It’s time, God. She’s suffered enough.

I wonder if we’ll go back to Germany. I don’t even know if she could travel at this point.

February 1, 2009

Mimmo called today; he still does periodically. He said he had a dream about me last night, a very sexy dream. He said he misses me. I’m not sure how I feel anymore, but I do miss him—or at least I miss what we had in the beginning. And that’s probably not going to come back. I asked him if he’s been seeing anyone and he said (in Italian), “Yes, I’ve been dating a German girl some.”

“Is it serious?” I asked half teasingly.

“No, no,” he replied quickly. “I really don’t know yet.”

After we hung up, I thought to myself with a little pang, Hmm…he found someone awfully quickly.

February 9, 2009

Boy, a lot has happened in a short space of time. Farrah had another scan and it wasn’t good. The tumors have grown again and there is more cell activity. Dr. Jacob came into town and we met with her and Dr. Piro on Saturday. They both agree that Farrah has to go back to Germany for local treatment with Dr. Vogl. She can’t have any more systemic chemo because her platelets are too low, so there really is no other option. Something has to be done right away to stop the tumors from continuing to grow. I hope she can make this trip. She is so weak she can barely walk into her kitchen, much less get on a plane and fly for twelve hours.

But she has no choice but to go, and I have no choice but to go with her.

February 15, 2009

We didn’t leave today. Farrah got a bad infection in her arm from an IV site and has to be on intravenous antibiotics for a few days. The plan now is to leave on Wednesday, if all goes well.

image

A beautiful mind.

This photo was taken on one of our last trips to Germany, while we were shooting footage for the documentary. I like that Farrah—despite all she was going through—looks so beautiful, so vibrant in this picture. She seems happy and even refreshed. You’d never know what horrors she has been through. There is not a hint of them written on her sweet, smiling face. I marvel at her resilience.

A number of years ago, I took Farrah to meet spiritual guru Deepak Chopra. I convinced her to go with me for a week to his healing center in Del Mar. Farrah, being Catholic, had always been fairly religious but was not very familiar with the spiritual path that I had been pursuing. Previously, I had tried to teach her how to meditate by choosing a calming word or mantra and going into a peaceful place inside yourself.

When she met Deepak, he asked her, “Farrah, do you know how to meditate?” She replied, “Oh, yes! I do it quite often. Mostly in the car when I’m driving.” I think Deepak was probably speechless for the first time in his life.

Classic Farrah. Not even Deepak Chopra could change her. We laughed about her unique method of meditating for years.

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