Friday, August 5, 2016


When my visit to the doctor ended with my oncologist hugging me, it confirmed the fact that the visit was emotional. The yuck in my body is not leaving me alone and there are some spots, specifically in my brain and lung that need to be taken care of. My doctor feels it needs a specific, stronger treatment to put a stop to it. Monday we will meet with the radiation oncologist to hear the options for the brain and Thursday I start intravenous chemotherapy. Although both areas grew only slight amounts, it is concerning because of where they're located.  

Although I enter each visit with a cautiously optimistic attitude, I kind of felt like yesterday I was shoved off the wave I was finally learning to surf. This has been a rough year, constantly full of treatments, medicines, stalking the Big C and making changes when it starts acting up. It's not only frustrating and exhausting to receive this kind of news, it is terrifying! Honestly, a visit like yesterday makes me feel that much closer to the end of the list from the tool box of treatments. Then what? Well, we all know the answer to that and that is why it's terrifying. Apparently, I still have a large list to work from, but it doesn't seem to make this any easier. I'd rather not become an expert surfer, having to ride all these wild waves everyday. I just want a smooth ocean for a good chunk of time. 

I'm probably working harder at this than I have ever worked in my life. Taking supplements, maintaining a healthy diet, using essential oils, vitamin infusions is more than a full-time job. I currently have multiple doctors weighing in on my treatments and I have to manage all of the them. When I have been working this hard and then I get news like I did yesterday, saying it's frustrating is an understatement.

Luckily the support system I have is supplied with endless kind words, hugs, and love and for that I am grateful. 

In the moment I don't always feel like I can do this, but somehow I'll pick myself up and continue to ride the waves and maybe even get better at it as time progresses. 

"Sometimes you just have to ride the wave you're given."

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Do it anyway...

About a month ago, I was having a conversation with a friend and the unknown fact that I swam in high school came up. I wasn't a star swimmer as I only participated during the school swim season. But, I could do all the strokes and the butterfly was my favorite. Having this conversation got my interest peaked to test out my stroke the next time I was in the water, and I even told her I would text her a video. 

This past week we were on vacation and I used the resort pool to test out whether or not I was continuing to live in my former life. I'm happy to say it was similar to riding a bike and I did it. My legs are a bit weak-looking from the yuck in my body, but for a 43 year old with metastatic breast cancer, I was proud of myself...sorry for the bragging. 

A couple of months ago, I couldn't sit in a car without intense pain and this week I swam the butterfly stroke in a pool. If you would have told me months ago that I would have done that, I wouldn't have believed you. But I even proved myself wrong. 

When you doubt yourself, I challenge you to do it anyway. I think most times you'll be surprised and you'll be glad you made that decision. Most rewards are a result of risks and challenges. 

It's painful for me to look at photos and remember the memories before my new life started last summer. The posts from Facebook pop up from years ago and it brings tears. My old life is gone, only memories and experiences keep us connected. I can hold them in my heart and be grateful they were a part of my life, but if I get too stuck there, it's not helpful. 

So, this small moment, where I was able to connect the old with the new helped me to see that maybe it's not all gone, but merely transformed. It also reminded me to have faith; regardless of the challenges life experience's possess, go for it and do it anyway.  

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Real Deal...

As promised, I'm going to share more of the details from my visit to Dana Farber last week. I guess I think it's important to keep all of it real. It was a positive visit, but honestly it's truly never easy, and this day was no different.

Our day started before 7:00am when we left the house to arrive by 8:00am for bloodwork; bloodwork that revealed that my White Blood Cell count was still in the gutter and that I had to continue to wait for it to go up before restarting the meds because of my safety. It also resulted in a smaller dosage that hopefully will still attack and kill the yuck. And still, here we are a week later, and I find myself in the same predicament. My WBC are moving like a sloth and apparently in reverse. Getting that news on Tuesday was certainly frustrating and left me feeling a bit paralyzed and defeated. 

 Back to last week - the visit also included an appointment with my oncologist, an infusion of some meds for my bones, two painful shots in my tush and my first visit with a neuro-oncologist, including a thorough exam, done by his fellow, of my brain function, of which I passed with flying colors. 

Most of the two hour visit was also spent talking about my symptoms and experiences I've had prior to diagnosis and after. He concluded that it was probably best to prescribe a low dose of some medication for seizures, as it is his determination that the long term issues I've had with my eyes and the numbing sensations in other parts of my body could be small seizures. I was not surprised, but actually a bit relieved, because I've "known" for some time that these vision and numbing sensation episodes have been small seizures; I know my body, sometimes too well. The hope is that by being on the meds, things will not be as frequent and I will not have to panic every time it happens. He is really not worried about the "seizures" because they come and go, which is a good sign. He just doesn't want the small to ultimately become big, thus the meds. The meds have been a simple addition to my daily regiment and if they can give me some peace of mind, it is certainly worth taking them. 

Eight hours later after more, unscheduled bloodwork, we finally left, exhausted from the day.

This truly is a full-time job and on this day, I undoubtably worked my entire shift with few breaks.

So as I continue to wait for my WBC to rise, I try to take advantage of the less side effects I seem to be experiencing and reflecting on the positives, like today's visit to the radiation oncologist when she said, "Well, I think you're doing outstanding." She doesn't know all the ins and outs but as far as recovering from the radiation, she was very pleased. And her being pleased, gives me some relief as well.

And a welcomed distraction to the Big C has been this nest of newly hatched birds. I'm slightly obsessed with getting a glimpse of them on a daily basis. 

"The Real Deal is always going to win in the end."

Friday, July 8, 2016

Let's overwhelm the world...with kindness.

I was watching The Tonight Show last night and once again a news report scrolls across the screen. "Twelve officers shot by 5 shooters." It continues to be shocking, however, in some ways it feels like we are becoming numb to all this madness.

"You don't get harmony when everyone sings the same note."
-Doug Floyd

When are we going to learn to embrace the differences and show love and kindness? It needs to start with each of us and it seems there is no time to waste...start now.

"Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate."
-Albert Schweitzer

My E asked me this morning what was going on. It's a sad sad day when this type of situation is becoming so commonplace and we have to talk to our children about it on a daily basis. Teach your children well and be the example this world needs. Teach them to be kind and respect all lives, because we ALL matter.

"Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world."
-Demond Tutu


Thursday, June 23, 2016

Working Overtime...

I feel like I'm working overtime these days still trying to recover from the nonsense from over a month ago. The struggle to get through each day is very real and it's hard not to get in a slump with this "one step forward, three back" routine. I've kind of had enough yuck for a while, and I'm just so dang tired. 

The good news and a list to concretely show my progress:

-I am free from the intense back pain I was experiencing.
-I have weaned off all pain meds...that is no joke and believe me, it's something to be proud of...phew!
-I am eating oatmeal successfully every morning.
-I'm taking some supplements again and drinking my nightly smoothies made by my Rock Star husband.
-I gained back a pound.
-I'm trying to restart my daily walking regiment.
-I'm doing more around the house.

I'm hoping this list continues to grow as time goes on and I regain some of my stamina, motivation and energy. 

I had my visit (for a LONG 8 hours) to Dana Farber today and overall my doctors seem to think I am doing well. That is reassuring. I'll fill you all in on the details in another post. For now, I'm calling it a night.

As always, thank you for your LOVE. It fills my heart, especially on these very difficult days I've recently had.

"To be the best you have to work overtime."
-Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Finding small victories in the year of yuck...

This past Wednesday marked one entire year since I received the dreaded phone call that changed things...forever.

This year has been filled with enough yuck to fill an entire book, with some chapters titled Whole Brain Radiation, Nausea, Xeloda, Blood Tests, Supplements, Side Effects, Pain, Exhaustion, More Radiation and Scans. I've also realized it is filled with more than yuck as well, and that part may have even more substance. Those chapters could be titled Hope, Faith, Loved Beyond Measure, Strength, Family, Vitamin C, Better Veins, One Day at a Time, Small Steps, Support, Still Here, Blessed and Growth.

Looking back on the year, I have experienced so many emotions, and to say it's been hard is an understatement. Some days I struggled to know how to get through. 

But, hard things can teach us so much if we're willing to learn. I have become better at accepting help and even asking for it when I can't do it all myself.  I don't have to do this alone and why do I even need to when I am surrounded by such a support system? I learned that I have been blessed by so many people who are  willing to step in, encourage and truly love me. I'm am loved and supported and treated with immense kindness from people in my life. I have learned the true meaning of strength and know that sometimes it means breaking down and relying on others to hold me up. 

I've also learned that the more layers that are peeled off, the more I realize the blessings in the everyday, ordinary and mundane. I'm more in tune to the small daily victories I experience, like being able to go for a walk, watch my children play soccer, make a meal for my family, weed my garden, paint my front door and mop the kitchen floor.

"Nothing will ever go away, until it teaches us what we need to know."
-Pema Chodron

I continue to do my best to be patient with myself. If I wake up in the morning with nausea and exhaustion it doesn't equal a bad day, it merely indicates a rough morning that could likely get better. My new life consists of moments, some big, but most small victories I have learned to recognize in the everyday. 

"I've learned that I still have a lot to learn."

Saturday, June 11, 2016


Ever since I was a little girl, I knew two things for sure, that I wanted to be a mom and a teacher. My brothers were my first students in the basement of our home. I created lessons and took great joy in correcting their work. My desires never changed, I went to college for teaching and became a special education teacher and have been for over twenty two years. Several years after becoming a teacher, I became a momma. 

Although the role I have valued most has certainly been as a mom, it cannot be denied that I also have a passion for teaching, especially in the area of special education. I find great joy in figuring out how students  best learn and helping them to discover just how capable they are as learners.

I took time off from teaching when my children were born and when I was diagnosed with the Big C both times. Since last June, I have taken a leave of absence from a job that I loved. Although I've ignored the fact that I would ultimately have to leave my job, it is now a year later, and it's time for me to face the music. Metastatic Breast Cancer allows no plans, as things seem to change constantly. Because of the uncertainty of MBC and how it has taken over my life, there is really no other option for me right now. It makes me angry that the Big C has caused this, but more than that, it makes me sad to know I have to leave one of the things I love most. It is hard for me to close this chapter of my life and even though I really have no idea what will happen in the future, I know that for now, I have to stop teaching. I'm truly hoping that someday this chapter will have to be edited and reopened, but for now, this is my reality. It's not easy for me to leave something that seemed to be one of my purposes in life, but apparently there is something more out there for me. Right now, I'm still in the process of figuring out just what that is.

In the meantime, I will be a momma to my two children and I will focus on other things I enjoy, such as crafting and photography. 

This has been a hard transition to go from teacher to full-time Big C patient, but we all know now that I can do hard things.

"The less routine the more life."

Amos Bronson Alcott