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Cancer Associations: Saying Goodbye to a Blue Leather Sofa & Chair

Cancer or no cancer, do you associate certain things with certain events in your life? Is there something that always takes you back to “that time or place”? Maybe it’s a piece of clothing, an item of food, a scent or smell, a vehicle or even a piece of furniture. Some things automatically take us back.

This is a story about cancer, associations and a blue leather sofa and chair. 

Recently, a certain blue leather sofa and chair and I parted ways. It was time, but it was also hard and okay, a little sad.

Let me tell you about it… 

Years ago, Dear Hubby and I built a house. (Never again, btw. Going through that process once was enough for us.) The color we chose for the exterior of our new house was blue.

But there was more blue, lots more!

The stairs going up to the second level that you saw immediately upon entering our front door were carpeted in blue. Our master bedroom carpet was blue as well. And not just the carpet. Oh no. The walls were blue too. Son #2’s bedroom was blue. Blue carpet. Blue walls. Upstairs bathroom, yep, blue walls, blue rugs.

Half a dozen years or so later, Dear Hubby and I finally got around to getting some new furniture for our new blue house. It took a while. Three kids and all. Finally, it was time for some new stuff.

You guessed it. We picked out blue furniture – a blue leather sofa that came with a matching blue leather chair and a blue leather ottoman too!

So much blue! What were we thinking?

(I guess blue was big in the 90’s, or at least it was in our house.)

Life carried on in our blue house. Time passed quickly, as it usually does.

A decade+ later, it was time for a move. We packed up and then watched our things from our blue house get loaded into a van by strangers who thought nothing of moving stuff people love from one state to another.

Upon arrival in Wisconsin, we watched with relief as our familiar belongings reappeared, were unloaded and then carried into and strategically placed in a new home that was not yet at all familiar and certainly not blue.

A whole bunch of life happened while we began living in our new non-blue house in Wisconsin, good stuff, bad stuff – including my mother’s cancer recurrence and a few months later, her death from metastatic breast cancer. Shortly thereafter, came my own cancer diagnosis.

I heard the words, you have ‘a’ cancer, while sitting on that blue leather sofa with only my two dogs by my side to witness it.

Following my bilateral mastectomy and hospital discharge, I headed straight to the blue leather sofa and pretty much lived there for days. Slept there for weeks.

As I wrote in my memoir:

In less than one hour I am home, once again lying on my comfortable blue leather sofa. I’m surrounded by a dozen or so pillows of various shapes, sizes, colors and firmness-es. Each one needs to be positioned just right, and it’s no small feat to figure this out. I love this old sofa. It feels like an oasis…the center of my life. It’s the place where I rest, sleep, elevate my arms, watch TV, read, reflect, cry, plan, journal, feel sorry for myself, make calls, send texts, worry, imagine worst-case scenarios, imagine best-case scenarios, sip on water from my hospital mug, think and do nothing at all…It’s merely a piece of furniture…over ten years old. We purchased it the same year we took a family vacation to Disney World, in my other life. The life when there was no cancer yet for Mother or for me and when I had breasts that were mine.

Through it all, the good and the not so good, the blue leather sofa and blue leather chair sat in our family room. Familiar fixtures of comfort, family and blue.

Recently, Dear Hubby and I decided it was time once again for some new stuff. We were ready to say goodbye to that familiar blue leather sofa and chair. It was time. (Actually, it was past time.) They were old. Faded out. Worn down by time and use.

We picked out a new sofa and chair. This time, choosing brown leather rather than blue.

Along with the excitement of getting a new brown leather sofa and chair came twinges of sadness too.

Saying goodbye to that blue leather sofa and chair was like saying goodbye to good friends that had stood by me through good times yes, but shitty times too. Really shitty times.

A lot of tears were shed while I sat on that blue leather sofa and chair.

Cancer. Grief. Cancer again. These things had been worn into that blue leather too.

As we loaded the blue leather sofa and chair into Dear Hubby’s Ford 150 and drove to our local donation drop-off site, lots of emotions stirred around in my heart. I wondered whose family would sit on them next. Knowing they weren’t “done yet” made it easier to say goodbye.

Whenever I think of our blue leather sofa and chair, I will think of good times, yes, but I will also remember the not-so-good times.

Remembering our blue leather sofa and blue leather chair will always jar open mixed emotions.

Again, from my memoir:

It’s odd how someone can suddenly become emotionally attached to a piece of furniture, but then again, maybe it’s not.

Maybe it’s not indeed.

Goodbye, blue leather sofa and blue leather chair.

(P.S. We kept the ottoman.)

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Cancer or no cancer, is there an object, scent, article of clothing or something else that always take you back?

If you’ve had a cancer diagnosis, what is a trigger that reminds you of your diagnosis, treatment, “that time” or whatever it might be?

This has nothing to do with anything, but just wondering, do you use the word sofa or couch? 

Read about the blue leather sofa and a whole lot more in my memoir, Cancer Was Not a Gift & It Didn’t Make Me a Better Person.

Cancer Associations: Saying Goodbye to a Blue Leather Sofa & Chair #cancer #breastcancer #furniture #memoires

Marie Ennis-O'Connor (@JBBC)

Sunday 10th of February 2019

So many things! I had a beautiful jar of expensive lavender body lotion with me in hospital, one of my favorite brands, but now when I smell that body lotion I am transported right back to those post-surgery days lying in my hospital bed, all hooked up to my drain, and I can never use it again. And going through a box of things at the back of my wardrobe the other day I came across the nd scarves I wore during chemo, I should really send them to the charity store, for when I come across them in a drawer, I touch my head to make sure I still have hair, that is how visceral the feeling is.


Sunday 10th of February 2019

Marie, It's no wonder you no longer use the lavender lotion. And the scarves - I never wore those as I could never figure out what to do with them. Isn't it funny that even now, you touched your head checking on your hair. The associations can be quite powerful and quite ingrained. Thank you for sharing a couple of your cancer associations, Marie.


Thursday 7th of February 2019

I think I said to you, "it's just a couch!" And, "just set it on the curb!"


I can understand why it was sad to see the furniture go, and I'm sorry I was insensitive. I'm glad you kept your ottoman.

I try not to get attached to furniture or any belongings. The people and the memories are more important and holding onto too much "stuff" is something you know I avoid.

It was a little sad to see my old car go because I had tons of memories in it. Mostly of Ace, my first job, lots of road trips, thousands of miles driven to dog walking appointments and even some rides with my grandparents. I had a mixed CD in there from 2005 that still worked. I'd played in one winter with grandma in the car and many times since, but I let it go with the car because I had nothing to play a CD with anymore.


Sunday 10th of February 2019

Lindsay, I remember you saying that, but I didn't think anything of it. We actually kept the ottoman mostly for Ninja because she loves lying on it in front of the fireplace when we have fires. As you know. I'm pretty glad we kept it, for now anyway. Of course, that's the piece that was most worn out of all. Oh well.

Secret Agent Woman

Thursday 7th of February 2019

Ironically, I was busy having my port removed the day of your giveaway, because MY left boob also went rogue!

I'm still too close to it, so lots of things hold reminders for me. Not the least of which are my scars.


Sunday 10th of February 2019

Secret Agent Woman, Oh gosh yes, the scars...There are so many reminders. Every. Single. Day.


Thursday 7th of February 2019

Oh, I was so nauseous 20 minutes after my first radiation treatment and for 8 weeks after it, back in 2015. 3 things that were “okay” to eat were Won Ton soup, Bob Evans mashed potatoes, and a friend’s home-made applesauce. Have since tried the soup and potatoes - and I now gag even just seeing them. The applesauce was, and still is, a blessing and reminder of my road to feeling better. So now, I make my own at home, and for friends that are also dealing with their winding roads of cancer!


Thursday 7th of February 2019

Donna, Well, at least you still enjoy the applesauce and how nice that you make your own now and give some to others going through cancer. I am wondering if all mashed potatoes bother you now or if it's just Bob Evans. I can't imagine no longer enjoying mashed potatoes! But that's me. Thank you for sharing a few of your cancer associations.

Carolyn Thomas

Wednesday 6th of February 2019

That was one gorgeous BLUE couch, Nancy. Sad to see it on a truck... but a comfort to know that another family out there will be thrilled to find it and use it for many more years to come. And yes, it's a couch (although occasionally here in Canada, it's a chesterfield, too).

Furniture-related, recovery-related, but not cancer-related: my lovely butter-leather "Riley" La-Z-Boy recliner, a smaller, high-legged RED version of the big overstuffed plaid La-Z-Boy of my childhood that my Dad used to snooze on while watching TV after supper.

After being discharged home from the CCU (the cardiac intensive care unit), I made a beeline for that beautiful chair and basically lived there for months. I napped there, I ate there, I clutched my laptop and madly Googled "heart attack misdiagnosis in women" there, I talked to my far-away family on the phone there, and I cried - A LOT!- there.

I'm typing this right now from there, curled up with my laptop. Just sinking into this chair that I *never* sit down on these days without thinking back to those days over 10 years ago when I collapsed exhausted into this chair after even the shortest little outing. Like Marilyn's story of the stairway, it's impossible for me to sit down in this chair without remembering "those days" as if they happened yesterday. My associations with this chair are positive - of comfort during scary and overwhelming times.

Sadly, my late cat Lilly loved the the red Riley chair as much as I did - but as a scratching post (and really, is there anything that will shoot you out of bed like a rocket faster than the distinctive sounds of cat claws on red leather in the wee dark hours of morning?) We bought Lilly all kinds of beautiful scratching posts, but hey! - why bother with those when you have a perfectly good red leather CHAIR to scratch?!?

Right now, I can't quite even fathom the idea of getting rid of my Riley chair. It's now essentially un-sellable (thanks to the Lilly damage), but if I gave it away, where would I have my afternoon naps? Where would I read my 'Globe and Mail' on Saturday mornings? Where would I relax, feet up and snuggled under my Mum's cozy plaid quilt during family visits with the kids? Where would I sit and read stories to our darling grandchild Everly Rose?

Some day, I may (or may not!) decide otherwise, but for now, cat scratches and all (cleverly disguised with red magic marker!), my soft red leather chair is my very favourite piece of furniture ever.

Thanks for this little nostalgic nudge, Nancy. I'd love your permission to borrow your theme of furniture associations over at Heart Sisters.


Thursday 7th of February 2019

Carolyn, Yeah, seeing them both on the truck was sad, but it definitely helped knowing others would soon be sitting on them. Leather sure wears well - to a point anyway. I LOVED hearing your story about your La-Z-Boy recliner. It sounds like there's a definite association back to your dad there too. I can almost picture you right now sitting in it typing away! Some people might think, why sit in it if it takes you back to that time, but I totally get it. Your recliner brought you so much comfort and stability. Plus, you have all the memories of Lilly wrapped up in that chair. Or should I say, scratched into it. All those scratches are like still feeling her presence. I say, no need to part with it. Keep enjoying it. Besides it's kinda nice to have furniture you don't have to worry about anyone dinging up, scratching up, spilling on or whatever. I hope you enjoy many more naps, story times with your sweet granddaughter and just doing your thing in your La-Z-Boy, Carolyn. And yes, of course, borrow my theme. No permission needed. And one more thing, I like my new furniture, but I'd be lying if I didn't admit I miss my old blue leather sofa and chair. I do miss them. They fit me just right. Maybe some day the new stuff will too. Thank you for sharing about your special chair.

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