Hair update and more!

Happy Sunday, one and all! This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it!

Yesterday was my Greg’s birthday and it was so delightful to be able to have the energy to cook him one of his favorite meals: Braised beef, scalloped potatoes, caprese, salad and birthday berries for dessert.  Spending the day in the kitchen was my happy place, and to have the ability to be the “old me” delivering my love through cooking, was as much a gift to me as it was to Greg!

Then last night, we celebrated Greg and also my Father-in-Law, Jim, whose birthday is coming up on August 6th.  Knowing chemo is coming on August 4th, I’m not sure if I will feel well enough to throw him a proper 89th birthday party, so we did a double celebration last night.  It was such a fun night!  Marcia and Bryan, Valerie and Michael, Jim and Irene, Greg and me and our 3 doggies, all had a wonderful time, laughing, sharing stories and, of course, making much of our birthday boys!

Yesterday morning,  I had made up my mind that today was the day I would shave my head.  I do still have hair, but it is very, very thin.  It is not coming out in clumps, as advertised by those “in the know,” but it is coming out many strands at a time. After all, yesterday was day 20 after chemo, and all the literature says that chemo hair will come out between day 12 and day 20.  I feel pretty darn blessed that my hair has lasted this long, even if it is barely there.

A bold move to show you selfies with and without my wig.

My friend Gail, always piping up at all the right times, texted me that while it was hard when her hair came out, she focused on the fact that that meant the chemo was working, and for that she was glad.  Thank you Gail!  Once again, you gave me a different, better way to think about this journey, and it ALWAYS helps so much!

Anyway, back to my decision yesterday.  To shave or not to shave?  That was the question. I called my mom to let her know that my cousin’s beautiful prayer shawl had arrived in the mail  (Thank you so much Lynn Scott!) and I showed my mom the “damages,” and let a few tears go.  Then Marcia came over at about 1:30, armed with a new shaver and tons of supportive love.  When I showed her my little pin head, she offered that it may not be time yet.  Greg, also, doesn’t want me to rush to shave before its time. Valerie was also with us, hugging  and reassuring me.  The decision needed to be made (and I didn’t have a lot of time to ponder things, after all, I had a chuck roast I had to get in the oven for the big party!! Hahaha!)

But when it came down to it, I just wasn’t ready.  (A compelling reason to shave is because when the hair is falling out, the scalp hurts a bit, like a sunburn, and shaving will alleviate the pain.)  But my scalp doesn’t feel too bad, at least not yet.

So that brings us to today.  I still have some hair.  I want to shave it before I look like Lord of the Ring’s Gollum…but that day is not yet here.

smeagol copy

On a much happier note, Sarah flew in last night, after a very successful few days in Las Vegas, speaking in front of hundreds of people, training them to use the “Showpad” software.  Man oh man, am I ever proud of our girl!  She will be here until Friday, the day after my chemo, so my week will be full and so will be my heart, being with my beautiful family, as I go through my last, few energetic days before Chemo #2.

Today, I decided to risk the germs and return to Mariners, my beloved church. Watching online is just not the same.  I’m so glad I did!  Kyle Zimmerman preached on James 5 : 13-16:

“Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

It was a message that was so uplifting and full of comfort.  Afterward, I was anointed with oil and prayed over by Kyle’s wife Holiday.  I love that today was the day I returned to church! Perfect day, perfect message for me!

I wish you all a wonderful Sunday and hope you feel God’s presence and love for you!

Until next time! xoxox

P.S. Just thought you’d like to know that my Grand-Doggy Dallas isn’t too fond of my wig.  Noticing “Vanessa” perched on her styrofoam head on my bed, Dallas felt the need to protect our family from this stranger!


Hair today, gone tomorrow.

This will be a short post, because I imagine you folks out there would like to know how i’m doing and, particularly, how things are going in the hair department.

Well, as of today, day 18 since my last Chemo, I still have my hair.  This has been pretty exciting to me, because our nurse practitioner said I would lose it in chunks anywhere from day 12 to day 20 after my first treatment. The fact that my hair is still with me, gives me great joy.  For awhile, I even fantasized that I would be one of the “lucky” few who experienced a medical miracle and didn’t lose my hair.  But alas, while it is not coming out in chunks, it’s coming out in strands, particularly in the back. I confess it is a little unnerving to run my fingers through my hair and see those strands wrapped between my fingers.  Even still, I thought my hair would be long gone by now.

In my cancer-care-free days, I used to describe myself as having 3 hairs. One on either side of my head and one in the back. (Not endowed in the hair area! I think maybe when God was handing out hair, he thought “Nah, instead of a lot of hair, I’ll give Sandy a lot of HEIGHT!”  Hmmm, thank you?) Now I’m apologizing to the three, for not fully appreciating them while I had them!

Yesterday, walking with my friend Gerri, she shared this story which gave me a good, healthy laugh:

“There once was a woman who woke up one morning, looked in the mirror, and noticed she had only three hairs on her head. “Well,” she said, “I think I’ll braid my hair today.” So she did and she had a wonderful day. The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and saw that she had only two hairs on her head. “H-M-M, ” she said, “I think I’ll part my hair down the middle today.” So she did and she had a grand day. The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that she had only one hair on her head. “Well,” she said, “Today I’m going to wear my hair in a pony tail.” So she did and she had a fun, fun day. The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that there wasn’t a single hair on her head…. “YEAH!” she exclaimed, “I don’t have to fix my hair today!”

So today, I’m gently styling my hairs, thanking God for another day of having them, for feeling so good these days, and making peace with what’s around the corner…the shaving to once and for all make the move to baldness.

On a happier note, I have my fantastic wigs to look forward to, purchased for me by my mom and my sisters.  God bless them!! They are my angels on earth!

Here’s a sneak preview of what’s ahead!  My dear friend Jody made my day so much fun yesterday when she helped me to get used to my wigs and alleviate me from getting “wigged” out when it’s time to put these babies on!

Me and Jo playing dress up!


What a difference a week makes.

One week ago today, I spent the day watching movie after movie, well entrenched in a mini pity party.  Why?  I began to wonder if my symptoms would ever pass, allowing me to feel more “normal” again.   I was told that I would have 3-6 challenging days after chemo, but then I would feel more like my old self before my next treatment. Obviously Sunday didn’t embolden me that this would be the case. But as I wrote in my last post, Monday ushered in a brighter day and by Wednesday, I felt pretty darn good. “Normal” never felt SO GOOD!

So here I am one week later, and

What a difference a week makes!

I am elated to report that last week was a good week, filled with doing the simple things that I love and appreciate more than ever.

I was able to see friends and do my favorite things, like walking and enjoying God’s creation! It’s good for my body to exercise, not to mention great for my soul!

(The sun is so intense with chemo that I have to stay covered up to protect from sun burn…don’t be surprised if I bust out a parasol one of these days.)

I was thrilled to be reunited with my dear Holly, who’s been away for the last several weeks, helping her beautiful daughter take care of her newborn and her toddler .  It was a banner day to meet the baby for the first time!

It melted my heart to be with her toddler grandson too! He and I have FaceTimed nearly every day for the last month, and I was finally able to give him a real life hug!

Then the pièce de résistance was being with my sister Marcia and watching her future daughter-in-law Christina try on wedding gowns and witnessing her say “Yes to the Dress!”


(Of course her dress is hidden!! Can’t risk that Justin might read this post!)

Now I confess that there were a few times that I was tired, or had to run over to my oncologist’s office for a quick check-up, but all in all, I was so grateful to be part of so many precious moments.  I am over-the-moon joyful that I felt well enough to say Yes! to these outing invitations!!

I have about 10 days before my next treatment and I feel like I have gained so much valuable information from this first round that will hopefully help pave the way for diminished symptoms the next time around.  In the meantime, I will pack in as much fun as I can, rest up as much as I can, and keep eating my delicious, healthy meals  and drinking my vitamin packed elixirs!



Cheers to great health!

And, she’s back!

Greetings loved ones!  I had to take a little time to gather myself and now I’m back and ready to catch up on the last few days.  

When we last met last week on Friday, I felt like I was “turning the corner” and would hopefully soon feel like my old self.   On Friday, I stayed in bed all day, and by Saturday I didn’t feel great, but my stomach issues seemed better with Immodium.  So, I resolved on Saturday, that I would get myself up and dressed and to do something I REALLY WANTED TO DO… go to my niece Elise’s wedding shower.

The beautiful women of my family, surrounding our gorgeous bride Elise (in white!)

Mom and Marcia picked up Sarah and me at 9:00 and off we went to Pacific Palisades to join in the celebration for our beautiful Elise.  Dayna (maid of honor and sister of the bride) did an amazing job with every detail of the shower.  It meant everything to me that I was able to be there!  I would have been so disappointed to have to miss this spectacular day, that has been on the calendar for months.  I am so grateful that I had this window of feeling well enough to go! (Thank God, there was a guest room where I rested during the day!)  All in all, it was a great day and the perfect reminder that there is a wonderful, normal life that is still mine, even in the midst of all the craziness.

Even as I write this, I am mindful of being thankful that I had a fun reprieve on Saturday, rather than the fact that Sunday ended up being probably my hardest day yet.  For the sake of perspective, I know that the post chemo side effects that I am working through, are pretty mild to what they could be.  I also know that getting through the full first cycle will prove to be beneficial so I know what to expect after future treatments and now know the kinds of things I can do to proactively protect myself. All that being said, every day after this first treatment was a bit like waiting for the other shoe to drop and praying that it doesn’t!

Well, my shoe did drop in the form of uncontrollable diarrhea (sorry folks, may be TMI, but  I’m pretty committed to keeping things real.) When you have chemo, your body will either have one of 2 digestive reactions, like a firehose that won’t turn on, or one that you can’t turn off!!  You really can’t medicate ahead of time, because you just don’t know which one it will be. Well mine was the latter and I wasn’t able to get it under control with immodium, so any/everything I consumed quickly left me (even water), leaving me dehydrated, weak and pretty discouraged.  Too make things more fun, I have COMPLETELY lost my appetite and my sense of taste, so every meal time was a battle. (Poor, poor Greg, trying so hard to prepare lovely, healthy meals for me, only to have me act like a toddler, practically throwing a tantrum fighting the food, but I did manage to eat nearly every bite.)  Oh, and throw in nausea on top of it, well it was just a  bundle of fun. For the very first time of my life, I was concerned about keeping enough weight ON!

Wait, huh?? Keep weight on?? I am truly living in an alternate reality…

Enough of that.  You have the picture.  So, after my lovely Saturday, Sunday was quite the opposite experience.  Pretty pathetic. When my nephew Justin and fiance Christina came to visit, I just boo-hooed like a baby, and for the first time, Greg and I were pretty discouraged.

We got through Sunday, I had a few text chats with my girl Gail getting her advice, and held onto my now-fading hope that this would all soon pass, and wondered if I would everI enter in my “normal” period before my next chemo on August 4th.

Monday morning, things started to brighten up, Praise GOD!  We spoke to my doctor (LOVE HER!) and came up with a few vital solutions:

  1. Starting immediately, I would start to receive hydration via IV in my home, for then next 5 days.
  2. We got the thumbs up to try Bentonite, a natural kind of Immodium.
  3. As back up, we have stronger prescriptions to help with my digestion….AND, wait for it, please be sitting when you read this next one….
  4. I would pursue acquiring medical MARIJUANA!! Yes, you read it right, although I can’t hardly believe it myself.  This one point truly deserves a whole post all by itself, and I may just write one, but for now, suffice it say that Mrs. Dudley Do-Right has had a BIG change of perspective.

It turns out that, organic high CBD medical marijuana has the exact properties that I need right now…it creates HUNGER, along with suppressing nausea and headaches and the best part is it’s natural and does not put any more stress on my liver, which is working overtime to process the toxins from chemo.  BINGO!

Well, let me tell you, as soon as I could apply for a permit ( which was super easy) and locate a good service, I was in business.  My family and I had some much needed, great laughs about the visual of me “blazing.”  Text from Sarah: “How you doin’ Bob Marley?” Man, they had me ROFL at the thought of us proper ladies strolling into a smoke shop inquiring about bubble pipes (even as I write this, I don’t even know if this is correct terminology!) Anyway, all jokes aside, I did it!!

Yesterday, my guy from Compassionate Care delivered to my home a vapor pen, complete with USB charger, and a couple of cartridges of his recommended variety, and I gotta say, with just 1-2 puffs an hour before I eat, I am HUNGRY again!! Thank you thank you Lord!!

Nearly cleaning my plate now!

So, in closing, let me say I am so grateful that I am feeling much much better!  Between the IV fluids and the marijuana and my body settling down from the chemo a week ago, I am feeling pretty darn good, AND I have regained the 5 pounds I lost in the last week!

Let me also say, that I am very very blessed.  My symptoms are pretty manageable, I don’t have children at home to care for, I don’t have a job counting my sick days, and I have an AMAZING support system, between my Greg, our kids, our family and all of YOU!!!  I am faithful, grateful to God, and optimistic.  I am happy, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your love, support and prayers!! Together, we are going to KICK THIS CANCER!!

Next up…these girls are glaring at me! I expect that within the next week, we will become more intimately acquainted…

Meg and Vanessa are patiently waiting for me!




Working through the unknown.

As I reflect upon the events of the last month, I think one of the hardest things is just working through the unknown. Never did I imagine that I would be in this position, navigating cancer.  Never did I imagine that our lives would be catapulted into this foreign array of tests and doctors appointments ad nauseam, foregoing my lovely normal life in favor of whatever tasks are at hand to rush to start treatment, while at the same time, wanting to slow things down so we have more time to make critically important life decisions. All the while, there’s the inner mind game of not giving into my worst fears and instead staying in a place of faith, peace and strength.

I am so very thankful that I have the support of the most amazing, loving people on earth to walk beside me and remind me of what’s most important.  There’s my family, my loving husband Greg, my kids, Sarah, Michael and Val, my sisters and their families, my moms and dad, all there holding us up.  Then there’s our lovely friends…expressing their love and support, FaceTiming with me, saying unceasing prayers and offering whatever they can; friends that are near and far, day-t0-day sisters and Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority sisters, who have surfaced after years  and years to offer their messages of love and encouragement. I am humbled, honored and privileged to be on the receiving end of such generosity. I wish I could write back to every friend who’s sent me a message to express my gratitude.  Hopefully in the days and weeks ahead, I will be able to do just that!

I’ve always tried to be someone who gave to others in this way in times of need.  I thought my report card was pretty good in this area. However, I now know, there is so much more I want to give, and will give in the future to others to bless them the way that I have been blessed.

For example, there’s my friend Gail.  Gail and I haven’t known each other long, but when she caught wind of my future with chemo, she hunted down my phone number to reach out and offer her help.  You see, Gail just finished chemo treatment of the same kind cancer that I have.  Being ahead of me, she’s anticipating questions I have before I have them…texting me with tips and assuring me of what is “normal,”  giving me glimpses of what’s ahead.  Also, there’s Maudi, who also had the same kind of cancer as Gail and me. She’s a few years out now, and she’s doing great…what an amazing inspiration she is to me, offering the hope I yearn for to know that life will be “normal”again. Then there’s my friend Kristin, who’s 10 years healthy from her cancer.  Never did I imagine when I walked this journey with her, that she’d now be walking it with me.

I am well supported, informed and equipped to faithfully fight this battle. Most days, I feel pretty strong. Because of that, even though I expected to feel “not-so-good” after my first treatment, I tried hard to keep going, enjoying my life. (I might have tried a little “too” hard.)

The second day after chemo, Sarah and Valerie whisked me away to a sunset dinner picnic…great end to the day!

The third day after chemo, I went with Sarah, my Mom and Marcia to pick up my wigs (getting ready for the days to come)  and then a movie.  Later, I learned, first hand, that the third day after chemo, it’s best to lay low and not do too much. Last night I suffered a bit.  I definitely felt the flu symptoms that I was warned of, running a fever and having stomach issues.  But after talking with my doctor, and a good night’s sleep, I felt much better today.  Lesson for the wise, don’t overdo Sandy!  This is a marathon, not a sprint.  Heeding this advice, today I just stayed in bed and napped.

My  family at my bedside today.  How spoiled am I?

I am feeling much better tonight than I did last night.  That’s for sure!! Let’s just hope that this trend continues!!

Tonight I end with this scripture from my dear friend Lori, who encouraged me with this text this morning:

1 Peter 5:10-11: “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”


Chemo Treatment 1B – √

I woke up this morning, feeling pretty darn good.

Photo on 7-12-16 at 6.23 AM
Short hair, don’t care! Even in the morning!

A bold move, I realize, but true is true, right?  Hopefully this will give you complete comfort that I am keepin’ it real!

I was so pleased that I didn’t feel sick at all! Praise God!  I think it also helped to know that Chemo Day 1A wasn’t too bad.  I slept well, had a pretty good idea of what to expect in the Infusion room and today would be a much shorter visit.  (All upcoming Chemo visits will be only one day apiece, but the first visit is extended over a 2-day period, so docs can watch to see how my body tolerates the treatment.)

Taking my doctors’ advice to heart, I am trying to get a walk in every day, even when I don’t feel like it.  Blood circulating through my veins is very good in processing the medication.  I had pre-planned with my Prayer Posse (PP’s) that we would gather on Tuesday, since its our regular day, so long as I could muster up the strength…and of course, I did! So my gals (minus Karen, who’s celebrating her twin sons’ graduation from graduate school in Europe, rough assignment, but someone’s gotta do it!) met at my house and we did a short walk around the upper back bay.  It was a beautiful morning, a great time of sharing and praying for each other and the perfect way to start my day!

Love my PP’s! (BTW, yes, I am bending down to be the same size as the others.)

After returning home, it was time to shower, pack up and get on over to the treatment center with my entourage in Orange. (All future Chemos will be in Laguna Hills…I don’t think Orange will be sad to see us go…our group takes up quite a big chunk of the waiting room hahah!)

Going to treatment wasn’t nearly as nerve-wracking as it was yesterday.  I knew what to expect, I felt good, and today would only be a few hours, as compared to the 6 hours yesterday.   A quick check-up with the PA, and into treatment I went.  A little Benadryl added to my IV drip made me pretty sleepy and before I knew it, I was done.

This time however, they added a Nulasta shot, which is to promote white blood cell growth to protect me from infection.  Supposedly, I may experience some side effects, that feel like a tooth ache, or growing pains (well I am no stranger to growing pains!  Since I was almost my full height at age 13, you can only imagine how I felt like I slept on a medieval stretching rack as a kid.) Another opportunity for hope in the days to come!

My amazing entourage is ready to take me home!

The rest of the day was delightfully uneventful.  While Sarah and Val frolicked on the beach, Greg and the rest of us gals went to have a bite to eat at the delicious “Burger Lounge” where we feasted on organic, grain-fed Turkey burgers! Yum!  Shortly after we returned home at about 7:45, I fell asleep on my bed next to my precious daughter.  Chemo Day 2 is over!! PRAISE GOD!

1 down, 5 to go!!

Day #1 of Chemo √

I had a good amount of understandable anxiety as I drove to my first day of Chemo.  However, having been covered in beautiful prayer the night before by my family, hundreds of devoted friends committing lots and lots of prayers over me, and armed with the knowledge that this would be the first day of FINALLY being able to fight the cancer with treatment, I felt relief along with the anxiety.

Driving to Chemo.

I had the first group of my wonderful entourage with me…My amazing husband Greg, my sister Marcia, my mom and my daughter Sarah by my side, my devoted warriors, all I had to to sit back and let them team with the doctors to take care of me. (Today was Day #1 of a two consecutive treatment.  This time only, the chemo is two days. In future treatments, all the chemo will take place in one day segments.)

We met with my oncologist Dr. Eng-Gal before the infusion started, and she reported great news to me.  My PET scan is clear, which means the cancer is only in the right breast, my heart is very strong and my blood panel is also excellent.  Of course, this emboldened me even more that I should do really well with the treatment.

Not such a scary place, afterall!

The day went without a hitch.  I started about 10:30 and was done a little after 4:00.  Because my gang was REALLY pushing the fluids, I had to bring my IV pole into the bathroom  about 87 times…ok I’m exaggerating just a bit, but it really was about every 30 minutes.  I now appreciate the ease of going to the restroom without an IV pole to navigate!  hahaha.

The infusion center only had enough room for me to have one guest at a time, so my gang rotated in.  Because Benadryl was part of my IV cocktail, I easily fell asleep, and never quite knew who would be sitting next to me when I awoke!  Surprise! Another loved one is here!

A highlight of my day was when my Sarah read to me.  Being one-armed and a little groggy, having my daughter read to me was so soothing to my soul!

sarah reading

Before I knew it, the day was over and I was free to go!

Marcia celebrating freedom with me!

It definitely felt like a little victory to be able to walk outside, into the sunshine, and see the rest of the world busy doing life… life does goes on!

After returning home and having a little anti-nausea medicine, a short walk with my sister and my mom, I settled into rest for the rest of the day.  I took another anti-nausea med that made me a bit loopy, so even when Mike and Val brought dinner for the rest of us, I was in my own little sleepy world.  Mike went back to work (or so I heard, I don’t remember so much) and the rest put me to bed!

Even Dallas is in on the act of caring for me.

I had a restful sleep.  I feel great and ready to face Day #2 of my first Chemo treatment.

A special thank you to all of my lovely family and friends who are praying for me!  I cannot begin to express how covered and peaceful and optimistic I feel as a result of your prayers. Thank you doesn’t even begin to convey the depth of what this means to me!  I love you all with all of my heart.

Phillippians 4: 6-7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Tomorrow’s the day.

It is time for bed!  Tomorrow’s my first day of  Chemo.  Normally, I might be nervous. But instead I have such peace and faith that all will be ok. Tonight was the perfect night! Most of our family was able to spontaneously come over for a potluck and prayer time.  I am well covered by my team!

Our team is with us every step of the way!
My angel sisters by my side!

Testing, testing, testing.

The next two weeks that followed were FULL of daily appointments to complete the testing required to give my doctors a complete picture of my cancer. Each week, Greg and I faced weeks ahead that felt daunting and next to impossible to get through.  But day by day, by God’s grace, we checked each test off the list. By the end of each week, we knew that we got through a huge “To Do” list!  Here’s a glimpse:

Port Pre-Op Appointment √

Blood Draw √

MRI Guided Biopsy √

CT Torso Scan    √

Meet with all doctors after Tumor Board Meeting √

Oncologist 2nd Opinion √

Root Canal Re-Treatment for Infection √

Tooth Extraction √

PET Scan √

Haircut to get ready for Chemo √

Echocardiogram √

Shop for wigs √

Oh, and did I mention that in the midst of all this, Greg and I celebrated our 29th wedding anniversary? Yep! Gives all new meaning to our vows, “For better or worse, in sickness and in health.”


I am more in love with my husband than ever!! He continues to amaze me every single day.  I am so grateful for Greg, our kids, our extended family and all of our friends who send their love, prayers and support nearly every day!!