Great news at my halfway point!

This is a quickie, because I wanted to share some really good news!

So today before my chemo infusion #3, I met with my oncologist Dr.Ein-Gal, like I do before every infusion appointment.

Last time we met, she found the tumor that is closest to the surface and using a measuring tape, roughly confirmed that the tumor had shrunk about 40%.  I thought THAT was good news…well guess what…

Today, she couldn’t find the same tumor, by physical exam. To quote her exact words, she said “I’m fishing around and I can’t find it.”  Well you can imagine how thrilled Greg and I were to hear this news.

As she should be, she was careful to say that when I have my ultrasound and MRI in the next two weeks, they will be able to precisely measure my status and compare to my old films.  So of course, we have to have measured enthusiasm.  But I am so so so encouraged.  My treatment is working!! Praise God!!

Haha! I quickly asked her if I had to finish my chemo treatments if the cancer is shown to be gone…her answer yes, you do.  Oh well, it was worth a try, right?

Nevertheless, I am still very, very encouraged and wanted you all to know.  Our prayers are being answered and I am so very grateful!

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart!

‘Twas the night before chemo

Here we go again, tomorrow is my Chemo #3 and I now see a behavioral pattern that has developed.  The day or two before I go in, I become very quiet and introverted.  Greg has noticed it too. I think what happens is that I become introspective about what is ahead and I spend a good deal of mental time preparing myself for whatever news I might receive, for the long day of receiving the IV treatment, for checking out and staying in bed, and holding on to the real hope that after I am “down” for a few days, my body has, in fact, and will bounce back again in about a week.

This time, I am struggling a bit because I SHOULD be happy that very soon I can proclaim that I am HALF-WAY through!  Truthfully, this does give me a great sense of joy.  I just hope tomorrow morning when I wake up, that that is what I focus on, rather than wallowing in the negatives. I also have every reason to be optimistic!  One of my tumors, that is closest to the surface has definitely shrunk, so we are moving in the right direction.  My realistic hope is that when I have my follow-up tests in about 2 weeks, we will receive very positive news that the treatments are WORKING!  When we get that great update, I imagine that we will begin discussing my surgery options, which means that we will be one step closer to being cancer-free!!

In so many ways, I have enjoyed talking/hearing from others who traveled this journey ahead of me and are cancer free.  I also value talking to others who are in the trenches with me.  The caution I must have in both of these scenarios is that others’ journeys are their journeys and mine is mine…meaning we are all uniquely designed and our cancers treatments are uniquely ours.  I need to be mindful of not owning their road as mine, as much as I may want to, or be scared to.  Comparing ourselves in this scenario, and generally in life, is risky business.

What do I do when I need an attitude adjustment?  I turn to God’s word, which helps me so much!  This verse is especially helpful to me tonight: Hebrews 12:1 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

That is my desire…to run this race with perseverance and remember that this is the race that God has uniquely placed before me.

Having trained and run several 26.2-mile marathon races in my life, I know what it is to endure.  I know what it is to look to God when I don’t have even one more step left in my being. I know what it is to “hit the wall” and want to quit (ie. find a cab at mile 20 to take me home) and I know what it feels like to look to God to push me past my perceived limitations.


Ok, I’m fired up! I can do this…thanks for listening!

Sleep well! xoxox

Waxing philosophical.

Ok, hopefully by my title, you are properly forewarned that today’s post is a cathartic one; a chance for me to get my thoughts onto “paper.”

 If you’re wondering where in the world did I pull up the expression “waxing philosophical,” all I can say is welcome to my strange and wondrous mind! Somewhere in the recesses of my brain, I retrieved that term. True to form, I questioned myself, looked it up and, sure enough, discovered that it fits: “Waxing” means growing increasingly strong or intense in a certain direction, in this case in philosophical insight.

I digress…let me get back on track: I’m in my “good” space of time.  For the next week or so, I have good energy, enjoy playing dress-up, getting in my car, singing loudly to my fave tunes, laughing and generally doing “my thing.”  (Let me never forget how good it feels to do “my thing.”)   I am grateful that in my last round of chemo recovery I was much less symptomatic.  This alone has created great relief in my heart about chemo going forward.  My body is tolerating treatment well and soon enough, I will get through this first chapter.

As you can imagine, there are hurdles for me along the way.  If you were to ask me, what is the hardest part of this journey so far? You might be surprised by my answer.  It is not my hairlessness, nor my symptoms.  It is not  even “why me?” (why NOT me?)


Huh? Allow me to elaborate. Greg and I have chosen for our pathway an approach to this cancer that is integrative in nature.  We believe that there is great merit in taking the best that both traditional oncology and alternative medicine has to offer. They both are supported by doctors that are passionately behind their protocols and about healing their patients. So, that all sounds good right? One would think so.

The dilemma lies in this: both parties on either side of the integrative fence strongly believe in their protocols exclusively and are pretty close minded about the approaches of the “other side.”   If you talk to a traditional, western oncologist who bases his treatment on years and years of research studies, he will tell you that alternative treatments do not have the statistical proof that they do indeed work.  Furthermore, there is expressed concern that somehow these therapies could work against the chemo. The  alternative doctor will tell you that traditional medicine is too narrow in scope and is not current with non-toxic, effective treatments, and is too caught up in the cash cow that is chemotherapy.

Greg and I sit smack-dab in the middle of this conflict between the two worlds. Because my cancer is aggressive, we are going with the most proven treatment, which is chemotherapy.  But we also believe in the merits of an organic diet, natural supplements and cutting edge treatments.

Greg said it best when he compared it to our current political climate.  There’s the democrat side, there’s the republican side and then there’s the big, vast valley between the two where sits the independent.   Both sides are vehemently calling the independent to their side and quick to point out why the other side is wrong :/

Thankfully, my warrior husband is undaunted by the conflict.  I, on the other hand, find myself often feeling like Rodney King:

cant we all get along

Unlike the scenario I just painted, where I truthfully have distaste for both of the political leaders, I really, really like my doctors.  I believe that both sides want the best for me and that both are committed to my healing.  I just don’t like being pulled between the two worlds:  chemotherapy vs. Vit C IV drips, pain meds vs. medical marijuana, fasting vs. eat-anything-you-want diet (you get the idea.)  But the benefit to us is that we know we are doing EVERYTHING we can to do our part in fighting this disease. Not only do we hunger for healing, but also crave PEACE along the way!

The greatest and truest comfort is that neither side of medicine is our savior…God, the ultimate, highest, best healer is the one in charge. I rest in that.  That gives me my much needed PEACE. I trust that everything else will fall into place!

Enough of that.  Just bringing it up gets me all fired up.  Time to return to my happy place…

I have a few more days before my next Chemo, coming up on Thursday.  Where did the time go since the last treatment?  Too fast :/ and yet the faster we get on with this, the sooner I get through treatment and back to my normal life! Right? After this treatment, we’ll be half way through Chemo!  Once I come out of my recovery cocoon in about a week, it’ll be time to get an updated MRI and Ultrasound exam to determine my precise progress.  I’m boldly hoping/praying that the cancer is gone!  From that point, I imagine we will begin talking about what our next move might be, regarding surgery.  So much to consider and factor in. One step at a time.  One day at a time.

In closing, check out my recent fortune cookie message…Love it!


Thank you for all your love, support and prayers!! Means everything to us!!

Coming through valley #2

Hi all! Just wanting to let you know that I seem to be resurfacing after Chemo #2!  This time, because of a lot of prayer (thank you!) and the changes I mentioned we made, I fared much better and am rebounding much faster!  Hopefully this will be my typical experience going forward:

Day 1 – Chemo

Day 2-6 Rest and recuperate

Day 7 – Begin 2 week chemo vacay!

The days leading up to Chemo were delightfully full, spending family time with Greg, Michael, Valerie, Sarah and Wes. Together, we had a lot of laughs and overcame some pretty big hurdles (surgery, head shaving, etc.) Then I cruised into Chemo day and the hours in the chair were far fewer than the last time (another big bonus to this time’s experience.)

Sarah left to return to SF on Friday morning and the days following I stayed in bed.

Sunday is usually my favorite day of the week, but with Chemo its my “down day,” when I’m at my physical lowest.  This Sunday I had a bright spot when my sweet neighbor Angelica came by for a visit.  She’s my special friend as we are both battling breast cancer.  She is such an amazing, courageous lady and we have discovered a sweet bond between us. Perhaps this was the reason we moved here?  So Angelica and I could meet and become friends.

My friend Angelica!  So grateful for her visit and for her book of encouragement scriptures!

Monday and Tuesday were more days of resting. Then by Tuesday afternoon I was ready for some fresh air and to see what the rest of the world was up to while I was gone.  The sweet thing?  That my beautiful life is still intact, the world goes on and is just the same as it was when I went into my mini hibernation.

Greg took me out for some yummy Pressed Juicery Frozen Yogurt! Oops! Forgot to wear my hair! Oh well. Who cares!
Playing tourists and taking the ferry over to the peninsula!
IMG_1794 (1)
This guy deserves a gold medal for the way he is always caring for me!
A gorgeous evening in Newport! So grateful to sit on the sand, watching the waves and the sunset!

Wednesday rolled around and it was a big outing day for me!  My big opportunity to get up, get dressed and seize my day!

Off we went to recheck my port surgery.  It was great to see my surgeon Dr. Curcio.  She affirmed, once again, that the tumor is shrinking!  The Chemo is doing its job!! Praise God!!

Waiting to start my check-up!
So happy! The cancer is shrinking!!

From the doctor’s appointment, we ran by the wig shop to have a few changes made to my wigs and then we were delighted to have a spontaneous lunch with our parents.

Meet Meg!  Another one of my alter egos.

This morning I went on a walk with my mom and then had lunch with my cutie-pie nieces!!

Dayna and Elise always keep me laughing!  I feel their age when I’m with these 2!

And then, I had to rest.  Lest I forget, this ol’ body needs to recuperate! With power naps, I’m able to engage in more of my regular activities! So much appreciation for the “normal” things in life.

A little power nap, and I’m ready for more. 

Wishing you all an abundance of blessings!  So grateful for you!! Until next time!


Reporting in after Chemo #2

Chemo was last Thursday, and I was very happy to have another one under my belt!  Four more to go! I am now 1/3 of the way through!! Hallelujah!

Before my infusion session, my wonderful oncologist Dr. Ein-Gal, did her regular check up, but this time took a rough measurement of one of my tumors.  Even though it wasn’t exact, the GREAT news is that one of them has definitely shrunk after only one treatment.  Praise God!! This is an answer to all of our prayers.  The Chemo is working!  Its original measurement was about 2.5 cm, and Dr. Ein-Gal estimates it has shrunk to about 1.5 cm, which is about a 40% reduction.  I can’t begin to tell you how encouraged we all felt, to know that the growth has stopped and the reduction has begun.

I will know the precise measurements of my progress after my 3rd chemo at the end of August, when I will have a new MRI and possibly an ultrasound.  I look expectantly forward to that day!

For now, I am grateful that the symptoms seem to be less challenging as compared to my first round.  

  • We started IV fluids the day after chemo (as opposed to starting a few days in),
  • I have my trusty medical marijuana to keep my appetite active and my nausea, aches/pains at bay,
  • I stayed at home and didn’t try to be Super Woman…just laying around acting like the Queen of Sheba.
  • Finally, my stomach issues are diminished.  Dr. Ein-Gal lowered my Carboplatin dosage and I think that helped.

Mind you, I don’t feel great, but I feel hopeful.  

I now know from my experience last time, that Sunday/Monday after Thursdays’ chemo will find me at my lowest and then I will start to feel like my old self again!  I can’t wait to resurface next week and be “on vacay” for the next 12-14 days….

I’ll get to go on my beloved walks, step out for a bite to eat with my sweetheart, drive a car, go on errands, see friends, deliver my meals-on-wheels, go to church, go to my prayer group meetings, and maybe even walk on the beach!  It’s the simple things I cherish so much!

Rest easy, my dear friends!  I am doing pretty well and I am very hopeful.  Please know that I cherish every word of your expression of love, support and prayer! I wish I had the bandwidth to write a thank you note to each of you, and hope you know I would if I could!

But since I can’t, please know that I am SO GRATEFUL for the overflow of encouragement sent our way, and I hope and pray I am able to encourage you, the way you have uplifted my family and me. xoxox

Here are a few pictures from my last chemo adventure:

My sweet buddy Nanala, sitting with me during chemo.
These two are my inspiration and role models.
FullSizeRender 4
Sarah faithfully by my side, ALWAYS!

PS. I have lots of wigs and hats to wear around town!  Excited to try out my many personas, but I am also happy to have just my little baldish head.

No hair? Don’t care.

It’ll be back when I’m healed and I will unveil another “New Me.”

(Spoiler alert…it’ll likely be curly and grey!  Eeeek! I’m not really blonde!)

Here we go.

Just a quickie this morning:  In about an hour, Greg and I will leave for the surgery center, where I will have my port-a-cath surgery.  I was supposed to have it before my first chemo treatment, but because I was fighting my root canal infection, Dr. Curcio opted to wait a month.  For those of you who enjoy watching “House” and learning medical procedures, this is what a Port-a-cath is:

It is an IV (intravenous) catheter that is placed under the skin in a patient who requires frequent administration of chemotherapy, blood transfusions, antibiotics, intravenous feeding, or blood draws. It is a central IV line, meaning that the catheter is threaded into one of the large central veins in the chest, which empties into the heart. The vein which is used most often is the right internal jugular vein. This vein is preferred because it is very close to the skin and easy to find with ultrasound. It runs straight down to the heart and has the lowest risk for problems during placement of the catheter, and subsequent use by oncology nurses.

Tomorrow will be Chemo treatment #2.  This treatment, and all future ones, will only be 1 day, unlike last time that was 2 days.

My prayers?

  • That the chemo will destroy the cancer and leave the rest of my body in good health and
  • The side effects, if any, will be diminished this time,
  • That we will better anticipate them and proactively treat them,
  • That the days that I am “down” will be short-lived, and
  • That my family feels the Lord’s presence and faithfulness through it all, and
  • That I would glorify God by handling this with strength and dignity, and
  • That we are always mindful of praising God, trusting Him and giving him our praise.

That’s it for now!  Time to get ready to go to the hospital!

I love you all, and am so thankful for you!!

PS.  My few hairs are still with me, but will probably shave my head later today.

Rockin’ the new do!

Catching y’all up…the port-a-cath surgery and recovery took about 2 hours and went off without a hitch.  When one of the nurses tried to start my IV, the vein she accessed wouldn’t cooperate and she quickly took the needle out so the vein wouldn’t “blow.”  This was proof positive that the Port is a good idea, because otherwise, my veins would potentially collapse with the chemo and blood draws over the next few months. No bueno. IMG_1720

The nursing staff and doctors were so kind, efficient and took great care of me.  I was so fond of them, I invited them all over for a barbecue!  Yes, I was still a bit woozy from the anesthesia, but even still, they were just so darn nice! (BTW, several years ago when I had a colonoscopy, I invited that hospital staff over for a BBQ then too! Hmm. I’m seeing a pattern here!?!)

After I went home, I felt a bit sore, but not too bad.  I had a nice nap and when I woke up, wonderful Marcia arrived, with a darling new hat I had my eye on!  We decided that today would be the day for the shaving…my head was itchy, felt sore and it felt like it was time.  Also, there’s a lot to be said for checking things off my list.  Another milestone on my journey to healing!

So, we went out back, enjoyed the afternoon breeze, turned on some Chris Tomlin, and she lovingly, gently, cut and shaved my head.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ll show you instead of tell you how it went, and how I am doing…

Tomorrow is chemo and I am optimistic and ready!