Monday, September 24, 2007

Day of a lifetime

I know that in a couple of days my life may change drastically. What I also know is that my attitude doesn't have to. Whenever I'm feeling low or crabby, I'm going to think of today. The day I felt like a star. :)

When we woke up this morning, I really didn't know what to expect. I knew we were going to visit the set of General Hospital and go to the Ellen show. I thought that was pretty spectacular...but what happened instead was amazing. Let me being our journey through today...

Woke up around 7:00. Bonnie was already up and she had ordered coffee, toast and fruit from room service to get us started. Once Bonnie and I had showered, we sat and chatted for over 2 hours and remembered we were suppose to wake up Amy and Angie an hour ago. Needless to say, Amy and Angie's morning started out rushed.

We took the car back to the car rental and Nancy Lee Grahn (General Hospital attorney with lung cancer that was miraculously cured), picked us up and chauffeured us around for the next few hours. On the grounds of ABC we watched the filming of General Hospital, had our photos taken with some stars, had lunch with others, (I even used my Tide stick to clean off a spill on the front of an actor's t-shirt...where's Kelly Ripa when she's needed?) I'm not sure if I can download the pictures now, but I promise to share them with you when I figure it out!

We left the ABC commissary and headed onto the set of Grey's Anatomy. For those of us who are avid Grey's watchers this was really a treat. We literally stepped into the world of Seattle Grace Hospital. The sets were amazing (it really felt like we were in a hospital). Every piece of art work, to the posters in the bar are authentic Seattle stuff. Don't tell anyone, but we (Amy, Angie and I) got our photo taken on the bed in Merideth's bedroom. We also sat at Joe's Bar while Amy pretended to be the bartender. We left the sets and met Merideth (Ellen Pompeo) and Christine (Sandra Oh) before they went in for filming. They were so kind to sit with us on a bench in the alley (with their doctor's gear on) and have their photos taken. I also had my photo taken with the "Chief". We were hot and sweaty by this point and had not even made it to the Ellen show. What we really needed at this time was "hair, make-up and costumes" but we didn't have time.

We arrived at the NBC studios and were greeted with open arms from Ellen's staff. Apparently, all your letters and e-mails (not to mention Amy's original letter) made it their way, because we felt like royalty when we arrived. We were quickly whisked inside (out of the hot sun) and put into the Riff Raff Room (Ellen know what I'm talking about). From the first guy at the gate, to Ellen's personal assistant, we were treated with the utmost respect, except they had to hold our camera's for us during the photography inside the building.

One of Ellen's workers, came up to us and said that Ellen's personal assistant would like to come out an talk to us. When Craig arrived, he talked to us about our "story". He then left and said, "even if someone tells you to leave...don't move". He came back in about 5 minutes and said, please come with me...and at that time he took us into Ellen's dressing room. Honestly, that set me over the edge, the tears started to flow. I would imagine Ellen gets thousands of requests for people who are desperate to see her and for some unknown reason, she picked ME. We stood in her room and chatted for at least 10 minutes. While we were talking and she was asking about what was going on with our lives, she got teary eyed. I reminded her that she was being filmed in moments and she was going to ruin her make-up. Her thoughtfulness was incredible. She hugged us many times, we had photos taken (with someone else's camera) and she told us to stay in touch and keep laughing. I didn't think the day could get much better than that.

After leaving her dressing room, we were escorted into the studio (our seats were pre-selected for us) on the DANCING ROW. Before the official show started, Craig the assistant, called me back down into the hallway, where he handed me a bag from Ellen. It contained all her HBO specials on DVD, a signed book with the photos they had just taken and said these are from Ellen. He said "she wants you to watch the DVD's while you're having chemo and just keep laughing".

Ellen entered the stage, was her usual funny self during the monologue then danced up the stairs and through our row like she does everyday. Only this time... it was our memory we were making. Ellen stopped at the end of the row (where I had been placed) and danced with ME. When she was done dancing with me, she you can say you did it..."I Danced with Ellen".

The show was great, everyone in the audience got a copy of Ellen's new re-released book, "My point, and I do have one", as well as a copy of James Blunt's new CD. As though this were not enough of a day for me, the audience got to stay for a longer taping to watch Ellen's interview with the TV show, "Extra". During her interview (with regards to breast cancer) she mentioned how laughter is the best medicine and she'd met someone before her show today who confirmed that. I'm the someone she was talking about. When the taping was over, Ellen looked up, blew me a kiss, thanked everyone for coming, said she doesn't hand out hugs and handshakes after the show then walked straight back to where we were sitting, gave us all hugs and said, "Keep fighting hard and don't stop laughing ~ oh, and now you can tell everyone, we really ARE FRIENDS".

Before we left the studio, some of Ellen's people brought us goody bags (t=shirt, mug, boxer shorts) wished us well and told us to stay in touch. Sheila (our personal assistant) had a stretch limo Hummer waiting for us just outside the gate of the Ellen show. The car held 20 people and the 4 of us just spread out. We had champagne, took photos and recounted our day.

While at dinner tonight at the Crustacean Restaurant I decided that nothing could top this day so instead of rushing to Disneyland then fighting the traffic at 4:00 in LA tomorrow, we would have a peaceful day driving around the beaches of California, having lunch in some quaint restaurant, and getting in one last 8 hour span of non-stop talking with Bonnie, before we had to leave her.

Here's what I learned today. If I tell our daughters I want something...the won't stop until they've done everything in their power to make it happen. Let's find a cure. We call Bonnie, Bonnie Claus, because today felt like Christmas. Nancy Lee Grahn feels like and old friend and would do anything for us (today was a perfect example). You can be dealt a crappy hand at the card table of life, and still win. That's what I intend to do.

Thank you Amy for getting this day to happen. Thanks Amy and Angie for allowing my 49 year old "Make a Wish" come true, NOTHING could have been better than spending it with you. Thank you Bonnie Addario for your love, generosity and dedication to eradicating lung cancer. We will lovingly, always refer to you as our Bonnie Claus. Thanks to Sheila who doesn't miss a beat when it comes to arranging and preparing us for. Thanks to Nancy Lee Grahn for making connections with her "people" so our "people" could have such a fun time. Thanks to Rick and Jake for acting excited for us when we call home and rattle off our days events even if they don't know what we're talking about. We miss you both! And thanks to all of you for all the kinds things you wrote to the Ellen Show to help me get on. Bonnie calls all of this Serendipity, I call it Love.

What was that? My daytime Emmy speech? Ok. Now, on a serious note. Please know that we were hot and sweaty before we arrived at the Ellen if I look disheveled it was all for a good reason. We were with the cast of Grey's!

In these past 3 days I've almost forgotten about cancer. The girls tell me, "that what the plan was". Mission accomplished!

Love you more than I loved dancing with Ellen (maybe not...but I'm working on it)

Dreaming with my dancing shoes on,


Anonymous said...

Wow, Wow, Wow!!! I loved every detail of your story, and I can't wait to hear even more and see those pictures. I am soooooo happy you had such a wonderful trip. Ellen was the blessed one, getting to meet you 4, and I bet she knows it!!
love you 4ever, Jana A.

Kevin Erickson said...

Wow, what a great time you all must have had...... Because I had a great time just reading about it! Now that you are famous, I hope you'll still acknowledge us "little people" when you get back.

Jen Caine said...

What an amazing day you had! I couldn't stop smiling while reading your blog! I will be watching for you later today!

Jen Caine

Anonymous said...

Hi girls,

Sounds like a GREAT trip!! I saw you all on the show this morning - very fun. Can't wait to see the pictures.


a. borealis said...

Is someone going to post the clip of you guys dancing on YouTube? You should! I'd love to see it.

Anonymous said...

Hi Doreen I just read your blog about the Ellen show! How exciting! I'm really bummed since I really wanted to watch the show but I layed down after work and fell asleep. I'll e-mail you soon about chemo. I'm not having problems with side effects and I bet you won't either. You seem like a very strong person and except for the CANCER healthy!! Hang in there! Talk to you soon.

Vicky in South Dakota

Jennie said...

Hi Doreen,
I taped the Ellen show. I normally do not watch it but I was so excited for you. I'm so happy you got to meet all the stars (especially gh). And your daughters joining you was awesome. You've done a great job and I'm so happy you got to forget for a little while and be the star that you are.

Jennie said...

Hi Doreen,
I taped the Ellen show. I normally do not watch it but I was so excited for you. I'm so happy you got to meet all the stars (especially gh). And your daughters joining you was awesome. You've done a great job and I'm so happy you got to forget for a little while and be the star that you are.

Anonymous said...

I saw you on the show today and I got so excited when I saw Ellen dance with you! I'm so excited you got to have such an amazing trip!

Anonymous said...

Keep on dancing Doreen! If Ellen's advice of 'laughter is the best medicine' then you have a bottomless bottle to eradicate your lung cancer and the entire population! It's not even 8 in the morning and you just make me want to dance & laugh & ...oh wait, all four kids are sleeping -shhhhh, maybe I'll just knit :) Love you more than all the 15 year old kids right now taking drivers ed!! Donna

Sara Cutforth-Cross said...

Doreen! I am sure you remember me, Sara Cutforth (well now Cross)! But I have to tell you, on Tuesday I sat for my normal watching of Ellen (that is my time I feed Makena) settleing all in for her famous dancing (which I enjoy with Makena). BUT WAIT! As I sit there and they do the span of the audience...could that, it can't. She did her bit and when it came to her is DOREEN!! In a nice bright green shirt!! I got on the phone and called mom at work to make sure it was really you, angie and amy!!! What a special day!! And what a great blog, I am going to keep that part about always laughing with me!

Sara Cross (cutforth)