Wednesday, December 16, 2015


Today I had a rough morning emotionally. It's hard to tell exactly what sends me in that direction but I think a perfect storm was generated because of needing more sleep, having a hard time eating, having multiple appointments scheduled in the same week, chemotherapy side effects and various other daily stressors that happen in everyday life. 

I am surrounded by people daily who encourage me, say I'm strong and tell me I can do it and are doing it, but today, I didn't feel like I was doing anything except lots of crying, complaining, wallowing and having moments filled with anxiety. I felt weak and defeated, quite a distance away from feeling strong. 

My BFFSS (BFF Soul Sister) assured me that I WAS doing it because having bad days is part of has to be, otherwise how is this yuck being processed? She's a smart one. It's certainly true that I need to drag myself through the muck of this disease, wallow, fall down and sometimes crash. It's just not fun and it's not how I want to spend most of my days. 

So, about midday, I dragged myself out of the ditch, with some help, brushed myself off and carried on. Perhaps that is where the strength comes in.

I have to constantly remind myself that the important piece of all this is that I get back up  When I am not quite strong enough to give myself this reminder, others step in and help me.  I am blessed with abundant encouragement. 

Tomorrow will be my third doctor's appointment of the week. In the future, I will be trying my best to avoid multiple visits to a medical facility in one week. It's just too much. I do not have the emotional stamina to deal with this Big C junk and tell about my daily triumphs and struggles to more than one medical professional per week. 

I'd like to live with the majority of my time feeling as "normal" as possible.  I realize that fighting these intruders is my new full-time job, but I prefer to work from home most of the time. 

One of my sweet friends posted this on Facebook today. She has no idea how much I needed it. xo

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Brewing resilience...

Two weeks goes by so very fast, especially when there is a blog involved and you notice it's been that long since the last post. 

We've celebrated Thanksgiving, Vic and I went to the Cape for a long weekend for our 19th anniversary,  

and now... we are in full Christmas mode, thanks to Dad for spending all day helping me to undo and redo all the lights and assemble my "pre-lit" tree.

Along with all the festive fun we've been having, I'm still a cancer patient, but the good news...I have (very) brief moments when I forget. I'm hoping the moments continue to come and last even longer.

I have lost count I think, but I believe I'm currently halfway through my sixth cycle of oral chemotherapy pills. Because of some side effects, my dose has been decreased by one pill. 

Someone asked me the other day, "Are you done with the medicine?" I will never be done. This diagnosis comes with a lifetime supply of prescriptions to rid my body of the monsters and then keep them at bay. 

I still have ups and downs, but overall, I am currently having more good days than bad. My energy level is better, I'm not as consistently nauseous and some days, I even have moments when I feel "normal" for brief periods of time. Everyday, good or bad, I'm taking deep breaths and living the moment I'm given. 

Sometimes the moments are so very hard. We were watching a light hearted Christmas Movie on demand this past Saturday with our Little Miss. For some reason, we could not fast forward through the big deal right? Well, the problem was that the same, intense, commercial stating how many people die each year from the big C, was aired during every break.

At the beginning of the second time it played, Little Miss said, "Momma, this commercial freaks me out, it's so scary, I don't like the music."
From that moment on, each time it played we put the blanket over our heads and sang Christmas Carols at the top of our lungs. 

I'm all about educating others and making an impact to lower the number of deaths from Cancer, let's just refrain from disturbing commercials during a Family movie...UGH! Stupid cancer invading our movie night...I was not pleased!

Our life is hard, but we're doing it.
I continue to feel gratitude for the every day moments, even when they are intertwined with the yucky hard stuff. After all, the hard stuff brews resilience. 

I feel like we do a lot of that in this house lately, even more than we brew coffee. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Nineteen years ago, this day happened. 

In some ways it feels like just a few years ago, but when I stop and think of everything that's happened in our lives since then, it feels like at least 19 years. 

Who could predict then where our lives would take us? I planned on it being an adventure, but I'm just really not into hiking up such high mountains and riding wild roller coasters.

We have nineteen years of priceless moments, most of them fun and happy, but, some sad, some scary, and some excruciatingly difficult. Through it all there has always been LOVE, a love that has evolved to something more than saying "I do" on our wedding day. It's an understood LOVE where we don't even have to say a word.
 Coming in a close second to love is laughter. We laugh a lot in our house, and if you know my Victor personally, you know why. He likes to laugh. I often tell him(somewhat in a kidding way)that not everything is laughable. He respectfully disagrees.

Today I got this text. 

A perfect fortune for him on our anniversary. It's true. Where would I be without laughter being a part of my daily routine? 

So, although I'm not a huge fan of mountain climbing right now, I'm grateful to have this guy of mine behind me, pushing, and sometimes shoving me to the summit.

Happy Anniversary to you my love. xo

"For you see, each day I love you more today than yesterday and less than tomorrow."
-Rosemonde Gerard

If you just love to read all this gushy, mushy, stick your finger down your throat stuff, here and here are some previous posts you may enjoy.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Unique journeys...

Since today is National Adoption Day, I decided to include some input from my children in today's post. I asked them:

What does adoption mean to you?

After they stopped being silly and knew I was serious, they actually gave some real answers. 

E, age 11-"Being loved so much by somebody that they can let you go so you can have a good life."

Little Miss, age 8- "Being taken home so that you can live with a family because other people couldn't take care of you." 

From the beginning, our children have always been very much aware of their unique stories. They have photo books we used to read to them, starting when they were babies. It was good practice for us as newly adoptive parents of E. By the time Little Miss arrived, we were more comfortable with being able to ad-lib her story, but we still read the biography of her coming home to her as well.

Being open with our children about adoption from the very beginning was the only option for our family. Opening the dialogue from an early age allowed them to feel comfortable about adoption, know they were loved, and feel secure about asking questions.  
My children are young and their adoption stories change and evolve as they get older. They continue to ask questions and we continue to respond honestly. Not all questions are easy to answer, but they have a right to know the truth about their stories and we need to be secure enough to tell them. 

Common Sense Media has a list of books about adoption.  You can find it here. We were and still are fans of Todd Parr. He has written several books that are inclusive of all types of families. His illustrations are bright and vibrant and exude happiness.

I'm very grateful for the unique journeys of each of my children. I love looking back at the evolution of their adoptions and I'm looking forward to what is still to come. It's an adventure within an adventure.

To read all my posts about adoption, you can click here

Friday, November 13, 2015

The forgotten ones...

As I wrote a Facebook message to my son's birth dad this afternoon, it caused me to reflect on how much all of us have grown during these past 11 (almost 12) years, and I don't mean physically. The thing about adoption is you don't adopt a child and then it's over. It doesn't work that way. Adoption is a process that plays out in a variety of ways, throughout an entire lifetime.

Way back when we started considering the adoption process, I couldn't fathom that we would ever have close contact with the birth families of our babies, never mind send them a quick message via social media. By the time we were on the official waiting list for our baby, our hearts had changed and we had educated ourselves about the real deal of open adoption, not the myths you often hear about through the media. Our babies were and still are also part of something bigger, and brought into the world by people who love them beyond words.

The adoption triad is defined as 
"the three-sided relationship that exists in an adoption between birth parents, adoptive parents and the adoptee, each of which is interrelated and inter-dependent on the others." 

This relationship is especially evident if the adoption is open, meaning there is some type of direct contact among the triad. The adoptions of our two children are open, domestic adoptions. Our E was actually born 10 minutes away from our home at the local hospital, his birthfamily has seen him multiple times since he was born, and yes, we are "friends" on Facebook.

For those of you unfamiliar with open adoption, it's most likely a scary thought. For us, we can't imagine adoption any other way. Prior to adopting E, we met his birthparents, two teenagers making a decision that would effect them and their child for the rest of their lives. They were madly in love with their little boy and were in the midst of making a heart-wrenching decision to place him for adoption, a choice that demonstrates nothing but LOVE. 

After meeting E's first parents, we were able to meet our E at his foster placement. Our adoption agency places newborns in a foster home for a specific amount of time, as to prevent the families from making decisions they later can't change. It allows some time to process. Before bringing E home at 22 days old, we visited him several times, as did his birthparents. 
I don't remember everything from those visits; the entire experience was overwhelming. 

I do, however, remember the foster mom saying, that E's birthfather "would make a really great dad". Gulp...why hadn't I ever pictured him as a dad? It was then that I had my first "aha" moment, when I stopped disconnecting myself from the situation and emotionally jumped in, but still not head first. He is our E's first DAD, the first to welcome him into the world, the first to hear his heartbeat and the first to hear him cry. He is also the source of his Portuguese decent and great sense of humor. 

When I recall what the foster mom said that day, I think about the feelings that E's birthfather has experienced since the birth of his little boy, I also tend to feel that birthfathers are often left out of the triad. We often hear about birthmothers, but how about birthfathers? 

There is no doubt that my children love Vic and I as their mom and dad, but the reaction and love they receive from their birth family is something I am unable to provide to them. When E visited with his birth dad a couple of years ago, I was able to see a part of him I had never experienced even after being his mom for almost 10 years. 

E adores his first dad and when he gets angry with us, he claims he's moving away and living with B. The old me would have been threatened and hurt by such a statement, the new me is so happy for E that he knows he is loved by so many. I continue to be in awe of the bravery of the birthparents of my two children and am forever grateful they chose us as well as the journey of open adoption.  

"Accept the things to which fate binds you, and love the people with whom fate brings you together, but do so with all your heart."
-Marcus Aurelius

More stories about E and his first family here and here. I have also written about Little Miss and her birth mom here. And I've also gotten on my soapbox to share some rants here

If you're interested in reading all my posts about our adoption experience, click on the adoption label to the right of my blog. 
As always,thanks for reading. 

Monday, November 9, 2015


It's hard to believe it's already November...holy buckets (my favorite expression from a friend of mine)!  Since November is National Adoption Month, I'm going to lay off the Big C posts for a while and share my passion for adoption.  

However, I'll be sure to inform you of anything significant regarding my health situation.

Meanwhile, as I'm thinking of what I'm going to share about adoption, you can read some of my previous posts here. Don't be surprised if you see a couple about the adoption of our dog Sparkee too. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Considering the circumstances...

Last Monday I had another brain MRI and Tuesday my doctor came into the room with a smile on her face. I could then exhale, at least for the time being. The spots, according to the scan, showed a slight amount of shrinking or no change. Things continue to go in the right direction. I am very grateful.

I also just completed my fourth cycle of the maximum allowed dose of oral chemotherapy. My doctor reminded me that not everyone is able to tolerate the medicine at full dose for as long as I have. Eventually, there will probably be too much toxicity in my body to continue at such a high dose. For now, however, I am doing it. 

Meanwhile, I continue to struggle with answering the questions, "How are you feeling? or How are you doing?" 

In relation to people without Metastatic Breast Cancer, I'm not feeling all that great. It's a struggle to move beyond the horizontal position each morning. I experience nausea at some point almost everyday. My feet and hands are suffering some consequences of such high doses of medicine. I still have the residual effects of whole brain radiation. I am often tired, sometimes angry and occasionally sad. 

However, when I think about how I'm doing as a Stage IV Cancer patient, I'm doing well, especially according to what my doctor has said. I do get up every morning, I move slow, but I eat breakfast, take a shower, walk when I can, do household duties, help the kids with homework, read stories at night, tuck them in, and spend time with my husband. Every now and then I'll even make dinner, (but really, I rarely ever cooked before all this)

All that being said, it's not always easy to respond to the "How are you feeling?" question. My smart mama suggested I preface my answer with "Considering the circumstances..." That sounds good to me. Just saying "I'm good" didn't feel like I was telling the entire story. 

So, to all of you curious about how I am feeling, "Considering the circumstances, I'm doing ok and some days I'm even doing better than ok." It's really all a matter of perspective. Thank you for asking.   

"Sometimes a change in perspective is all it takes to see the light."
-Dan Brown


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

I am loved...

I know I have talked (written actually) about it before, but here I go again. One of the silver linings of this diagnosis is the amount of love I feel on a daily's really indescribable. Although I felt loved before, this is different, and very humbling. 

I am shy by nature. This may come as a surprise to some of you as I'm willing to share just about anything on this blog. But, it's true. I remember being a little girl, hiding behind my mother and her teasing me that the umbilical cord was still attached. I have been teaching special education students for 20 years, I am secure in my role, yet I still get hives during almost every meeting (ask my co-workers). That's one of the primary reasons I started loving scarves, as they can at least hide some of my neck that is covered in red blotches. That being said, I'm passionate about what I believe in and will not sit back and twiddle my thumbs if something is not right in my eyes...passion over shyness for sure! This is one more reason why I tell my story; I want to inform, educate, spread the word and put truth and a real "face" to, not only Metastatic Breast Cancer, but all the other things I feel passionate about.

As a result of me sharing my story, I have so many people (in addition to my family) motivating me to arise every morning and prepare myself to conquer the day with hope and determination. My anchors are abundant and keep me strong. I am loved.

My cousin participated in this year's local Street Painting Festival, dedicated his art to me and raised $200 for Metastatic Breast Cancer. Then he wrote this post on his blog. It truly left me speechless with teary eyes. I am loved.

I frequently receive gifts, many from people I know and others I have never met. Some gifts even come without signatures. I am loved.

I receive cards almost everyday. I think I'm close to 300 by now. The other day I received about a dozen pink cards made by some students at the school where I teach (taught). The cards and sweet messages fill my heart. I am loved.
People near and far are Leaping for Linda and leaving thoughtful messages for me on the Facebook Page. I am loved.

We have others mowing our lawn, driving our children places, and sending thoughtful text messages. My entire family can feel the love.

So, yes this Cancer thing is no picnic in the park and each and everyday is a struggle. I fear for what may come and sometimes my emotions overtake the moment I'm doing my best to enjoy. But, I am loved and I literally feel embraced by the kindness and caring of others. Not everyone has experienced this much love and most often we only share what we think of others after they are no longer with us. Hmmmm, why is that?   

All this attention is not that comfortable for me. But, I am very grateful to feel that I am loved, so thank you for that.

"I've never been interested in the event when I'm the center of attention."
-Helmut Lang

Thursday, October 15, 2015


On September 28th, I wrote this post and in it I mentioned that I was going for my first set of scans and that I would know the results later in the week. Now here it is October 15th and I have left those of you not privy to Facebook posts, hanging. I apologize for my lack of communication. Have I mentioned that this Big C thing and big doses of meds sometimes alters the thinking process? I'm sorry :(

So if you have been wondering, here is what I posted:

"The results of my scans from Monday show 
progress with shrinking the yuck. Things are 
moving in the right direction. Thank you for 
all the thoughts, prayers, positivity and 
genuine love. I truly can feel it. The plan 
is to keep doing the 3 week cycles with 2 
weeks on, one week off of the chemo pills. I 
will continue to have bloodwork and dr visits 
visits every 3 weeks, infusion for bones every 6 
weeks and scans every 12 weeks to be sure we 
continue to move in the right direction.
Uncertainty is one of the traits of this 
disease, however today is a very good day and 
helps give me the fuel to continue moving forward!"

As long as the medicine is working and my body is able to handle the side effects, I will continue on this regimen. In fact my special package arrived just yesterday.

It's not pleasant arriving home to have this package waiting for me, but I'm grateful that there is something to tame the beast and it's working! 

Round four of my battle of the beast begins on Saturday. Keeping the faith that I continue to be victorious each time.

Thank you once again for the well wishes, thoughts, prayers, and love. I'm grateful you're along for the ride. 

Faith is permitting ourselves to be seized by the things we
 do not see.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Be the light...

 This Big C thing is hard for me, the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, but it is with the support of my anchors that I am able to keep moving anchors that I sometimes feel are forgotten.

In previous posts I have shared that it is often most difficult for me to deal with the fact that those who love me and are closest to me also have this cross to bear. It's hard not to feel guilty about everyone's life being turned upside down. I'm working on getting over that.

Those primarily affected by this nonsense are my family that I live with, my husband and my children, my mother and father, my bff soul sister and her family, and my brothers and their families. I have countless friends, relatives, and even strangers also traveling this treacherous road with me. The road is unknown, and is also dark and scary, not only for me, but for all those who so willingly have come along. We are all finding the path one day at a time. Some days we cruise through and other days we trip and fall. But we always always get back up.

I have such a sea of strong anchors, yet I often wonder who is taking care of them. They have each other for sure and that is powerful. But, they too, need to be supported, loved and lifted up throughout this process. 

Although I'm 43 years old(gulp), I'm still someone's daughter, a daughter with Stage IV Breast Cancer. I really cannot even begin to fathom what it's like to be given news like that about your child. My parents are unbelievably strong, faith-filled people who see the positive in situations. They always give 100% of themselves to others and now is no different, except that they are giving more like 200%. They run errands for me, transport their grandchildren to all the after school activities, send meals, fill my heart and do all things with sincere love. And these things are solely the things they are doing for me. They have two other children, jobs, and an aging mother. 

I am blessed they are two of my strongest anchors. 

Yes, I am the one diagnosed with MBC. I am the one who is tired, nauseous, and achy. I am the one taking over 75 supplements a day to ward off side effects. I am the one who swallows 84 chemotherapy pills every cycle. I am the one who has to have the injections, infusions, scans, and blood work. 

Yes, I am the one, but I am not doing this alone, I'm not allowed to because my anchors don't let me. I am supported, encouraged and loved beyond words on a daily basis. I am grateful. They drive me to appointments, lift me when I'm down, and laugh and cry with me. 

"Being loved deeply comes with a aren't allowed to hurt alone."


As I was writing this post, I started thinking about a pot of flowers. Think about what would happen if you only ever watered the flower in the middle of the pot.
It's important to water not only the flower in the middle, but all the flowers. Those flowers support and protect each other. Together all the flowers can be strong and beautiful.

That being said, we are all in this life together. We are here to support and love on one another. This doesn't mean developing an extravagant plan to help each other. Say hello, smile, ask someone how they are doing, what you can do to help, offer a meal, send a card, lend a listening ear, give a hug and just love and embrace them completely. Be the light that someone needs in the midst of the darkness. 
I'm a blessed person to know what is feels like to have others shine their light on me, as it happens daily. Now I'm just feeling like I'd like to share the light.

So, go forth and shine the light people. Spread love and kindness everywhere you go, especially to those in your own circle, in your own family, the ones who right now need it most. 

"Little things seem nothing, but they give peace, like those meadow flowers which individually seem odorless but all together perfume the air."

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Whole Story...

My brain is feeling like a crowded mess of thoughts and feelings so I'm not even sure where to begin. I have no idea where this blog post is headed, but I can say that it may be interesting, kind of like this trek I'm experiencing now in my own life.

In case you were unaware, it's October 1, the month of pink, talk about mammograms, survivors, and early detection. 
For the past few years I haven't really been a fan of all the pink reminders everywhere for an entire month. Now, I'm afraid I've progressed to dreading it. Having Metastatic Breast Cancer certainly changes the ballgame. I no longer fit into the specific box that breast cancer awareness chooses to focus on.
Before my diagnosis in June, I didn't get it. I knew about MBC and the fear of getting it lurked in my mind always, however I never clearly understood. Just like anything else in life, in order to "get it", you have to experience it. There is so much more to the story of breast cancer as compared to what is commonly seen, much more "beyond the pink". 

Before, when I saw stories on TV and pink survivor shirts, I could relate, but now I tend to yell at the TV or mumble under my breath. My story did not end with surviving early stage breast cancer, and I can no longer relate to most of the stories we hear on TV. My story continues, as it does for an estimated 154,999 other Americans. There is so much more to the story, and although it's not easy or pretty, it still needs to be told. The most common thing I hear, read or see repeatedly is that "early detection is key"...UGH, gets me all fired up. Why?  Well, early detection does NOT necessarily prevent the cancer from metastasizing, as is the case with me. Yes, some only find it in a late stage, but not all, not me.

-The 30% of people who develop MBC includes people who did detect their breast cancer early. 
-You do not die from early stage breast cancer.
-Only 2% of the funds raised for breast cancer goes towards MBC, meanwhile 98% of those diagnosed with MBC will die from the disease.

As I watched a story on TV this morning, I was pleased to hear a doctor say this: 

"The survival rate is going up, even for 

those with metastatic disease."

First, thank you for mentioning MBC and second, whoop, whoop...hopeful news for sure!

And now, I think I'll get off my soapbox...for the present time. I'm not finished though. Something needs to be done, the word needs to be spread and more funds need to be allocated to MBC so a cure can be found.

Feel free to share this post and spread the word. It's human nature to shy away from the things that make us uncomfortable, but this is too important to do such a thing. Strength comes from doing hard things, talking about stuff that makes us cry, and facing our fears. So please read the hard stuff, educate yourself and help to inform others.

If you so wish to educate yourself more on this topic, here are some links for pages and blogs. 

Thanks for reading and Happy Pinktober.