Sunday, November 29, 2009

Lights and a Major Award!

It’s the day of the Christmas lights. The Big Day. Normally, it is the day after thanksgiving, but with my family here this weekend, I didn’t get to the lights like I normally would, so its today. Christmas Light Day.

I love Christmas lights. Absolutely love them. Clark Griswold has nothing on me when it comes to putting up Christmas lights. I want my house to shine. I want the next county to be able to see the glow of the season illuminating from my home. The local power company sees a spike in the grid when the switch is blow and the darkness is chased away; replaced by the radiance of a thousand lights. The season has truly begun for me.

I hung my Christmas lights myself for years. Even when I was married, I was the one out there hanging those Christmas lights while the kids in the neighborhood looked on in awe, “your MOM does that?” It has always been important to me to have lights on my house. Some years there were more than others, but there have always been lights. Since Mike came into my life, he has helped me with lights every year, and this year is no different. Only this year, even his son Jason is coming to help and I get to be management during the process. I doubt I can stay away from helping, but I’ll do the best I can. The plan is to have colored icicle lights lining the entire house. That’s what I did last year and it looks like a gingerbread house. A lot of people have icicle lights, but mine are multi-colored icicle lights. I ordered them off the internet. I want all the major windows also outlined in lights, my bushes covered with the bush lights and a star on the eve. I also purchased on the internet last year some hanging lights balls and stars to put in the trees. And, of course, there are my lawn lights and penguins. Can’t live without the penguins. Maybe I’ll name one Sid Crosby.

Its gonna be great.

Once we are done outside, if I have any energy left, I’ll start on the inside. I don’t go as elaborate on the inside as a lot of people I know; I am more about the lights. Plus I have dogs and a grandson that can destroy anything I put up inside, so I have to be a little more careful what goes where inside. But I still have my standby favorites and the inside will also be aglow in the season.

To top off the weekend, we had a wonderful time as a family last night. Today is my dad’s 77th birthday so Rhonda and I made him a leg lamp cake. Yes. We did. Believe it. He is a huge fan of “A Christmas Story” so we used directions from the daughter of a friend at work who had made one and we were successful in making a hideous leg lamp cake! It took hours of grueling labor, love, laughter and fun and my kitchen floor was covered in butter cream frosting and God knows what else, but we did it! We wrapped it all up in a FRAGILE box from Italy and gave it to him at dinner last night. He wants to save it and we haven’t figured out how to allow him to do that yet, but it is still sitting on my kitchen table. Waiting to be transported to his home for him to figure out what to do with it. The “lampshade” is a 5-layer cake with over 3 pounds of butter cream frosting. Does that tell you how much this sucker weighs? The leg is made out of rice krispie treats. It is truly a Major Award.

Well off to illuminate the season. Cheers!

Saturday, November 28, 2009


So, I engaged in the American Commercialism Ritual of Black Friday at 4am. Yes. I did it. I really didn’t want to…but Peyton found this comforter on ad at Target that she wanted as the Numero Uno thing on her Christmas list. So, we were up at 4am, at Starbucks at 4:30am and at Target by 4:50am. The line, we thought, went down the side of the store. We waited until 5am, since I didn’t want to stand in the rain and figured we would just catch the crowd while everyone was going in...Unbeknownst to us, the line went all the way around the back of the store, so we it ended up taking us 20 minutes just to get in the store. Luckily, they had two comforters left, so the trip was successful! We hit a few other stores, and were home by 7:30am, exhausted and ready to go back to bed.

But my day wasn’t even stared yet. I spent the day with Jessie, my grandson, since his mama had to work and day care was closed. He was a very busy boy all day, but as always, a joy to be around. We played outside and put up some Christmas lights and Grandpa took him for a walk. Uncle Bill was a great source of entertainment in the afternoon as they ran around the house and scared each other, e-bonking down the stairs and jumping out of closets.

Its been so much fun having my brother and sister-in-law in town and we hit the hockey game last night, unfortunately, not one of the better games for tri-cities. They got their butts kicked by Spokane, but at least got one goal so it wasn’t a complete shut out. My sister-in-law Rhonda is quite the hockey fan and I had as much fun watching her as I did enjoying the game. After we hit Bone Fish Grill for cheap appetizers and post game commentary and conversation.

Needless to say I was exhausted when I got home last night.

Back and up at it after a 10 hour sleep and ready to conquer the day. We are just sort of hanging out today and then tonight the parentals are going to the hockey game (hopefully they play better!), while us “kids” go to Bookwalter for some wine and music. They fly out early early tomorrow morning. But its been a wonderful visit. It is always such a joy to have family around. It makes life more complete.

I haven’t really done an update on my treatment this week, so here is what is going on. I talked to Marlene, ARNP, on Monday about my back. Dr. Rado finally got the time to look at my scans and he consulted with the radiologist and a visiting oncologist from Seattle that happened to be in the office that day. Apparently, my scans are quite peculiar. They are all in agreement that the spot on the left and one of the spots on the right appear to be healing rib fractures. They are not sure what the other spot on the right is; it has characteristics of either a metastatic lesion, or it could be another broken rib. They do agree that it would be very unusual to have a metastatic lesion in such a pattern on my back with the broken ribs. It looks like I had some sort of trauma to my back and broke three ribs. However…they are not sure. There is still the question as to how I broke my ribs to begin with, since I have no memory of a trauma to my back. I did have a DEXA scan this week to check my bone density, and it came out completely normal. That would have made it a bit easier if it hadn’t come out normal. I mean if my density was poor, it would explain the broken ribs better. But the density is fine…so again…how did I break my ribs? Right now the doctors are suggesting that I wait and rescan in 5-6 weeks and see if the spots have changed. If the one is cancer, they would expect to see more, if they are not, they would be the same, still healing rib fractures. The only way to know for sure is to do an open rib biopsy, which is a surgical procedure that I don’t think I am ready to do just yet. It is pretty invasive given the lack of evidence of cancer at this point. I have a check up with Marlene this week, and I want to talk to her more about it, and will decide if I want to wait, or maybe go to Seattle for a second opinion. This is my life, and I am not ready to give it up yet and I want to do everything I can to survive. Do I want to take a chance that it is not cancer and wait another 5-6 weeks or do I go start talking to other doctors? Of course, by the time I get an appointment and all my records sent to Seattle, it would probable take a month anyway, especially with the holidays. So, it might just be time to sit back and wait. Its hard to wait when it is the uncertainty of your life.

I had my last chemo for awhile this week. I see Dr. Rado again on the 24th, Christmas Eve, to get ready to start it all up again. So I will end up off for the next five weeks. Sounds like heaven. I can’t wait to get through this last dose and start feeling like myself again. I have four months of abuse to heal up from, so I have a lot of resting to do in the month of December. I am contemplating taking a few weeks off work to just rest and spend time with my daughter, parents and friends and prepare for the next onslaught starting after Christmas. My body sure has a hard time rebounding from the chemo anymore; it has a lot of recuperating to do.

Blessings to you, my friends, as we enter this holiday season. Enjoy the sights and sounds and immerse yourself in the love and the joy that these days are meant to behold. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year, the time of our Saviours birth.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

My direct ancestors were there for the first Thanksgiving. I am a descendant of William Brewster, who was known as Elder Brewster that sailed on the Mayflower and was known in Plymouth as a leader and “a source of indomitable” strength. His picture hangs proudly today in the Rotunda of the Capital Building in Washington DC.

That first Thanksgiving was nothing like what we celebrate today, except that it was centered around a feast of food. The first winter of the Pilgrim settlement was a filled with hardship, disease and death. In fact, the Pilgrim’s lost almost half of their residents the first winter they lived in the New World. Their existence was precarious, at best, but they were forming allegiances with the Indians and the men that remained healthy were building homes and buildings and learning about the various food sources. They remained true to their faith in God that they would survive as a colony, and wisely, rather than stand on their own individual Puritanism, reached out to the Indians as sources of wisdom and to form allegiances to protect them from other warring factions of Indians for even in the earliest of times, the New World was not without its politics.

Thanksgiving marked the end of a remarkable year. The pilgrims had arrived 11 months earlier in Cape Cod completely unaware of what they would encounter. Most historians agree that they should not have emerged from that first winter alive. They started out disagreeing with the Indians and were lucky they were not all taken captive like the French who had arrived before them. But they learned to reach out and understand that these “savages” were human beings, not much different from them and according to Edward Winslow, one of the men who documented those early days, they were “trustworthy, quick of apprehension, ripe witted and just.”

And so should we return to that era of tolerance of others. As we enter this holiday season I am struck by what should be, not what is. Reading the ads for the sales on Black Friday remind me of our great love for commercialism, rather than our love for the simple things that grace our lives everyday. When I read of people getting trampled or pushed aside for a doorbuster sale, it saddens me for what our people have become and makes me embarrassed for our country. Do they trample people in other countries for a great sale on a TV? I went shopping on Black Friday once, and people are so rude and the holiday spirit is no where to be found. It is a sorry and sad state of affairs.

Perhaps we could take a moment to return to the Old World. That first Thanksgiving was filled with tolerance, love and hope for a better year ahead. Everyone brought what they could and shared what they had. The whites in their puritan pilgrim attire, squatted side by side with the naked savages and partook in a meal and engaged in conversation. I don’t see it documented, but I am sure there was much laughter and joy.

So what are you joyful about today? What makes you grateful to be alive? What is your hope for the future? Find the time to love your family today, your friends, and laugh with abundant joy for all that your world has to offer. We have so much abundance, and yet we long for more. Let’s stand back for a moment and survey all the wondrous bounty that beholds us every day, and let’s be thankful.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Its a Blustery Day

The Blustery Day – By Pooh
Oh the wind is lashing lustily
And the trees are thrashing thrustily
And the leaves are rustling gustily
So it's rather safe to say
That it seems that it may turn out to be
It feels that it will undoubtedly
It looks like a rather blustery day, today
It sounds that it may turn out to be
Feels that it will undoubtedly
Looks like a rather blustery day today

Batten down the hatches, latch the windows and doors. It’s a tri-cities wind storm. In Pooh’s words, a blustery, very blustery, day.

I like Pooh. I always have. I like the permanent smile on his little bear face and his enduring optimism. The way he always treats his friends with kindness and love and tries to lift Eeyores spirits. And Eeyores spirits are forever needing lifting. He always has a good attitude about the weather and will even sing when the day turns stormy. We should all sing when our days turns stormy. Instead, we lock ourselves in our homes and wait out the storm, knowing it will go away eventually.

And it does. The storm. It goes away. Eventually. But by locking ourselves inside, what are we missing during the storm? Are we missing some incredible friendship time with Christopher Robin or a song with Piglet? Perhaps some bouncing with Tigger or gardening with Rabbit? There is nothing we can do about the storm raging around us. It’s going to rage. We have no control over the weather, but we can control our attitude towards the weather and what we do when it is storming.

Like Pooh, we can put a grin on our faces and meet the storm and let it blow us where it may. Wait and see where the storm leads us and enjoy the adventure it takes along the way. We can try to fight the storm, but the blustery wind will usually win out against our defenses.

So blow wind blow. Blustery day abound. Take me where you will. Pooh and I are ready for an adventure.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Cancer, a vile and sneaky disease.

Cancer eats away at many things other that your body. It blithely consumes tiny pieces of your spirit in a way where you don’t even notice that it is happening. One day you wake up and realize that a portion of your spirit, your drive, your zest for life has been devoured by this vile disease. It is devious in its methods, it takes the pieces of you so slowly, like a lobster being put to boil in the cold water, that you don’t even notice you are being systematically killed. Piece by priceless piece it gnaws away, and if you aren’t careful, it will take away everything that makes you who you are. Everything that makes you – you. I began to notice it a few weeks ago, the tiredness sets in. And I accepted it. Who wouldn’t be absolutely exhausted after all the things they are throwing into my body. But from the exhaustion comes something else, the apathy, the depression, the indifference to what is going on around me, the lack of hope for a future. I begin to wonder if I’ll ever survive this onslaught and if I do survive this round, how will I survive the next? How will I live with this for the rest of my life? How does someone just go on after facing a crisis like this?

Four years ago it was different. Stage two cancer, they got it all on the first surgery, the rest was just insurance. Eight weeks of chemo, six weeks of radiation. Done. No big deal, never coming back. At least that is what I believed with all my heart. I never though I would ever have to deal with breast cancer again. I was done. Finito. Then, here it is, my five year checkup clearly within my sights, and it is back. With a vengeance. And I wonder how I missed it? How did I not see it coming? Was I living in a fantasy world where I couldn’t be touched by this blackness? Or was I just being ignorant thinking that I was invincible, like a reckless teenage driver?

So, how do I move on from here? How do I ensure my vigilance to stay healthy and positive in a world overflowing with exhaustion and apathy? How do I stave off the uncertainty for my future? How do I garner the strength and the wisdom to soldier on? Where do I find that wellspring of energy deep within me and how do I tap into it and bring if flowing forth?

These are the questions that I am plagued with today and tomorrow and every day. I see where my mind is headed and I don’t like it. I don’t want to fashion the tracks of the tears down my face into permanent imprints. I don’t want the curve of my mouth to be an enduring frown; I don’t want my mind consumed with ennui, with listlessness, with a lack of motivation for my future. I want that fountain of hope that resides deep within me to come bursting forth and consume me with its holy fire. To lift me up; back into the light towards optimism and away from the despair. For the strength of cancer is the despair. Once it gets its teeth in, it’s hard to pry them out. But one by one, I will pry out the fangs of the beast and find within me all that I need to carry on.

To move forward. Towards the glow of a brighter tomorrow.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Just need to buck up, cowgirl.

I have been having a hard time getting out of bed lately. I can’t seem to kick the exhaustion and the general feeling of listlessness. I still know nothing more about my back. I talked to Marlene yesterday, one of Dr. Rado’s ARNP’s, and she said it was very curious, but wanted Dr. Rado (my oncologist) to talk to Dr. Jones (the radiologist) and then Dr. Rado would call me and let me know what they think. What I want to know is 1) is that one spot cancer and 2) why did my ribs break. I don’t think I am asking too much as a patient here, I think it is reasonable to want to know what the hell is going on. My take is that Dr. Rado thinks they are broken ribs so its no big deal. Maybe its not to him, but it is to me. I have never broken a bone in my life, and I certainly want to know how I fractured three ribs without knowing. How do I keep from doing this again? Do I need to be careful, do I need to build up my bone density, take extra calcium? What? But no one is answering me. I am so frustrated. And more than a little scared. If the one spot is cancer, we are doing nothing about it, just letting it grow. That certainly doesn’t make sense to me. Its probably not cancer, probably just a broken bone, but my cancer has not taken any normal turns, why should it act “normal” now?

I’m tired and will be so glad when this round is done and I am off for a month. I don’t know how I would do it much longer. I mean, I would if I had to, but I am certainly ready for some rebounding time. I didn’t feel good going into this round of chemo and I feel even worse now that its started. I could just lay around and do nothing all day and that is just not me. I am not the lay around and do nothing type of person, so that depresses me to have no energy, no drive. I just don’t care. I want to care if my house is clean or my laundry is done, but it just doesn’t matter. I don’t care if the bills get paid or the checkbook gets balanced. I don’t want to go anywhere and I don’t want to do anything. I just want to go to sleep and sleep until this is all over when I can get back up and go back to my life. I worry if my life will still be there when this is all done. Will I still have a job, a relationship, a house? Will I ever wear my regular clothes again or will I be fat forever? Will this cancer ever go away so I can have my life back or is this my new reality now, my new life. Family leave will only protect my job for so long and then what happens? Will I lose my job? My boss has told me he will hold it as long as needed, but there will come a time when they will have to move on too, and will I be well by then or will they have to move on without me? I can’t expect him to hold my job forever and my replacement is doing a terrific job. Hiring her would certainly be easier, and less expensive, then continuing to let me work a few days per week. My family leave will protect me until the Spring, maybe by then this will be all over and this worrying is for nothing. I know it doesn’t do any good to worry, I blogged about that before, but its hard not to when your livelihood is on the line. I need my job. I like my job. I want to keep doing my job.

I am sorry if I have totally depressed you too, that is certainly not my intention to share my melancholy. I'll snap out of it, I always do! I'll get up, get moving, go for a walk, and then I'll feel better.

I want to thank everyone for the outpouring of support. I asked for meals again because I am just too tired to cook, and its been incredible. I have so many thank you notes to write and if you have done something for me and haven’t received a thank you, I apologize. I am behind on writing them, but its not because I don’t appreciate it, its simply because I am tired and haven’t found the energy to do it. But please know that I thank you with all my heart. The food and desserts have been amazing. Thank you thank you thank you. And my daughter thanks you, she was getting sick of macaroni and cheese.

So I will keep my chin up and make it through these next two weeks. I’ll let you know when I know anything about my back. I’m not hopeful that it will be anytime soon. I have an appointment with Marlene on Dec. 3rd and I will push then to know something. In the meantime I am lost in the medical treatment abyss that so many patients get lost in. Since there are way sicker patients out there, I get shoved to the bottom and put in the “this is curious but not serious” pile and just wait. What makes it even more troubling is that I thought my oncologist was also my friend and co-worker. I would do anything for him, I wish he’d take a few minutes for me on this one. I guess I feel like I’m being blown off, and I don’t like it. Welcome to the wonderful world of medical. I think that’s probably how most patients feel. Maybe that’s why there are call patients, because they need a lot of patience to make it through this labyrinth called medical care.

I promise to you to keep my attitude good and positive and that I will make it through. I won’t let any of you down, I am the poster child for positivity, and I just have to buck up, cowgirl. Ride the horse I have drawn, and ride it proud. I'll make it around the barrels, one at a time.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Saga of the Ribs

The bones seem to be a never ending saga. I talked to Dr. Jones on Monday and he is not convinced that they are fractured ribs. If you remember, I have three spots, two on the right and one on the left. None appear in my previous CT scans, so this had to have occurred within the last few months. Dr. Lewis, who read the scan, signed off on the report that they were all fractures, but Dr. Jones, is not so sure. He said that the one on the left looks like a healing fracture, but the spots on the 9th and 10th right posterior ribs have “decreased bone in the area of uptake.” In other words, the bone is slightly less dense where the dye was absorbed. That may indicate metastatic disease. He wanted to talk to my oncologist and then…well that is what I don’t know yet. The “what do we do now” is my big question. I have chemo tomorrow, so I am hoping that either Dr. Rado or one of his ARNP’s, Marlene or Mitra, are prepared to talk to me and give me a path forward. I felt like Dr. Lewis didn’t take me seriously and basically blew off my concerns, whereas Dr. Jones took my concerns seriously. He felt I deserved an answer to my questions and given the aggressiveness of my disease, he didn’t want to take any chances. I am totally cool if it is not cancer, in fact, I am wildly ecstatic if it is not cancer! Woo hoo, let’s celebrate! But I don’t want to take any chances either. If it is cancer, I want to get moving on the treatment ASAP and if it isn’t, then I want to know how to keep from fracturing additional bones and what caused my bones to break in the first place.

So I am in a wait and see pattern. Meanwhile, my back continues to hurt, but I think it is getting better. That would be consistence with fractured ribs. Either way, fractured ribs or cancer, they really hurt! I was picking up Jessie this weekend and thinking, I probably shouldn’t do that, if my ribs are fractured, I should probably let them heal. But I love having that little guy in my arms; it is the best feeling ever.

I have been really tired this last week and hope that my platelets have rebounded. I think that they finally have in the last few days, I’m starting to get a little of my energy back. But this was sure a tough go ‘round. My blood counts tanked and I just couldn’t get them back up. That is consistent with what happened when I went to San Francisco. I think that traveling (other than to the Oregon Coast) is just too hard on me. I have no trips scheduled until March, so I’m home for now. Unless anyone has a place on the coast for me to go, then I’m SO there. My counts do really well on the coast!

A little update on my son. He is still in jail and it just breaks my heart, but I know he is where he needs to be right now. I went and saw him and he was pretty rude to me, so I haven’t been back. I am sure that he blames me for all his woes, that is pretty typical. Gotta blame someone, so blame mom. Good thing us moms have big shoulders, we have a lot of burdens to carry. I sent him a letter telling him how much I loved him but that I needed to let him be with the consequences of his actions right now, and then I sent him a Life Recovery Bible and a Narcotics Anonymous big book. I hope that he takes them to heart and uses them in his recovery. It is going to be sad to not have him around for the holidays, but he did this to himself. I just keep praying that he will turn his life around. The attorney said he will probably be in jail for about 4 months.

Since I am giving updates, the puppy is getting huge! Sophie is about 50 pounds now and is less than 6 months old. She is a joy. We should have named her Marmaduke. Any of you old enough to remember Marmaduke, that is Sophie. Big long gangly legs, beautiful beggar face. She is such a people dog. She doesn’t lay AT your feet; she lays ON your feet. I love having her around; makes me feel so loved and adored. Dogs are the best when it comes to brightening someone’s day. They love you completely and unconditionally. When I come home, my dogs are overjoyed to see me, like I am the most important person in their world, and just maybe I am.

I should get chemo tomorrow and then again next Wednesday (the day before Thanksgiving) and then be off from Thanksgiving to Christmas! My brother and his wife are coming up for the Thanksgiving holiday, so that is going to be great. I am so excited to see them.

I’ll keep you posted as the saga of the ribs continues…

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Bone scan results, sort of.

Okay, so I had my bone scan but the results are very weird. I have three spots on my back (posterior) ribs. They are symmetrical, two on one side and one on the other. Cancer does not generally spread symmetrically, so what the radiologist thinks is that I fractured three of my ribs. So, at first glance, that is good news. Broken ribs are sure a lot better than the cancer spreading to my ribs, however, it raises another question and causes me to pause…how did I break three ribs without knowing it? The only thing I have done is paint my room. And if I broke three ribs painting…again, that concerns me …how do I break three ribs without knowing it? I didn’t fall, get in a car accident, cough hard…but I fractured three ribs. To me, that is very weird. I didn’t get a chance to really explore this with the radiologist. He said he was cautiously optimistic, but wanted the scan to be reviewed by another radiologist. So we wait until it is reviewed by the radiologist who has more expertise in bone scans.

I asked the radiologist if they biopsy bones and he said that if they biopsy bones that have been broken and are healing it looks very much like cancer because the cells are regenerating. So, he believes it is a game of sit and wait. If the pain doesn’t go away or gets worse or there is additional pain, then we will do another scan. If the pain starts to go away, then we will figure it is probably fractures. Regardless, there will be another scan in February or so and we can see where the spots are then, hopefully they will be gone.

But I am still wondering…how the heck does someone break three posterior ribs without even knowing it?

I guess it will be awhile before I know the answer to that question and it seems to me that it is easier on everyone if this whole thing is pawned off to broken bones and we all say “yea its not cancer!” I agree with the “yea its not cancer” wholeheartedly, but still want answers to my questions, and I don’t think that is an unrealistic expectation.

But for now, I just wait.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Carpe Minutam

No chemo for me yesterday, not even with fabulous Betseys. I figured that my platelets didn’t rebound when I was traveling and I was right. I called Mike from the San Diego airport and told him that I doubted I would get chemo because my counts were too low. I can feel it when my counts are low. I get weepy and tired and my body feels incredibly heavy. I was tired the entire time I was in San Diego, I just pushed through the tiredness the best I could, but by Tuesday night I knew that I had overdone it and by Wednesday morning when we were at the airport I was certain. But, I certainly wouldn’t trade the trip for a dose of chemo. It was priceless to have that time with my mom and my daughter. We didn’t do that much, but we were together, and that is what matters. We laughed and ate and shopped and spent time with family. My daughter and I acted like we were at a slumber party while grandma told us to be quiet or we’d wake the neighbors. Priceless. We hunted for ghosts and investigated that old hotel. We actually ran into a security guard who showed us a haunted room and told us the story of the maid who hung herself. Cool. We walked along the beach, watched the sunset, saw the navy seals running, saw the F-16’s and helicopters flying maneuvers, drank coffee while the sun rose and talked about everything and nothing at all. I got to spend time with the two most important women in my life and for that I am grateful. For I do not know when I’ll ever get to do that again. I don’t know what the future holds for me, so I take these moments and treasure them always. Always.

Its moments like these that life is made up of. Is not the big things that make up my life, it’s the things that happen in the flash of the eye of time. It’s not the days or even the hours, it’s the minutes within that time that make up the beauty of my existence. Think about what happens everyday, those interactions with people we love and care about, the sunset, the whiff of a flower, watching the leaf spiral down from the tree, dinner with our families, walking the dogs, a hug, a kiss, a prayer, a catch of the eye, some of these take mere seconds, some only minutes, but none take much time. But these are the things that make our lives worth living, that give our years on this earth meaning and purpose. I think sometimes we are looking for the big things that make our lives worthwhile, when the splendor is in the details, those modest moments that might pass us by if we don’t stop and enjoy them. Treasure the moment it all its glory.

I have my bone scan today and I am scared. No other way to say it. I want to know what it has to say and I don’t want to know what it has to say. I will go see the radiologist after to see if he is in and has time to review the scan with me, but if not, I’m okay with waiting until next week for the report. Part of me just doesn’t want to know. I know if it is cancer, I’ll deal with it and fight it with all I have but a few days of not knowing would be okay with me. I have enough to deal with right now, why add any fuel to this fire that is already burning? I know that Mike will want to find out and he’ll wait until he can hunt down someone to look at it. He has learned how to manipulate the health system as well as I have and has gotten to know the radiologists…so he is very adept at finding what he wants! I am just praying it was an anomaly on the scan and it is nothing and I can go on as I am just fighting the cancer in my lungs. Pray with me, will you?

I get to see Jessie today! Yea! I am picking him up from day care and he is going to spend a few hours with me tonight and then I get to watch him tomorrow morning while Elena is at work. I miss my little guy and he just brightens up my life, I can’t wait to see him! I haven’t seen him since I left last week, which is way too long to go without seeing the best little man in my life!

Off to prepare for my day. Think good thoughts. Carpe minutam – seize the minute. Every one of them.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Home Sweet Home

Home sweet home! I was so happy to be back in my chair in front of the fireplace and sleep in my own bed with my sweet doggie at my side and my kitty by my head. The animal menagerie was awful happy to see their masters last night. The dogs stayed at my dads for the whole time we were gone. He brought them home during the day so they could hang out in their own house for a few hours and keep the kitty company and then brought them back to his house in the evening. (They aren’t spoiled or anything.) Betsy (kitty) had a very hard time being alone. She is a people puppy-cat and doesn’t like to be without her people and her puppy friends. Apparently, she got stuck on the roof when we were gone and dad had to get the ladder out to get her down. Poor baby, up there in the rain stuck on the roof! He said she was soaking wet and so sad! He thought about taking her over to his house too, but worried about her getting outside and getting eaten by a coyote. They have coyotes in the canyon behind their house.

I’m feeling okay for chemo today. I was so weak and tired yesterday morning, I thought for sure that my blood counts had completely cratered and there was no way I was getting chemo, but maybe I was just tired from the trip and the pressure of making it to all the sessions and everything going smoothly at the dinners and board meetings, everyone’s travel and hotel reservations made correctly…I was in charge of travel for 45 people, it’s a little nerve-racking making sure that everyone travels effortlessly and nothing gets booked incorrectly. I did have a two guests decide to change their flights and come in a day early without telling me, so luckily the hotel had room! It’s those types off things that really stress me out. But it is all done and over, the last few guests traveling home today. Then I get to reconcile the bill, that is always fun too. Not.

My chemo is at 9am and I’m planning on wearing the cutest little purple and black Betsey Johnson flats. Yes, flats. I’m turning over a new leaf and trying to wear comfortable shoes. I have found that with my energy level so low, that it takes more oomph to wear high heels so I am in search of the cutest flats available. Never fear, I’m not wearing those boring plain colored flats, I’m wearing fabulous flats with color and style! I figure by the time this is all done I will have the most expansive shoe collection around! I have fabulous heels in all colors and designs and now I’m moving to flats and plan on collecting them in the same manner, with taste and enthusiasm! I love shoes; they never let you down. Shoes glorious shoes! Lest you be disappointed thinking I only scored one pair of shoes in San Diego…I want to inform you that I acquired 4, yes 4 pairs of shoes in San Diego. The Betsey Johnson’s are the crowning glory of the new collection, but I was able to obtain at Charlotte Russe a pair of black flats, suede with a bow, and grey with rhinestones for a ridiculously low price and a pair of diamond encrusted pewter at Reflections, also for a great price. So I am well on my way to stocking my flat collection. Watch out world, I’m on a mission!

My bone scan is tomorrow, and like I said before, Dr. Rado is not convinced that the spot in my back is cancer and if there was no pain, he wouldn’t even be worried, but we would both rather be safe than sorry. The pain has minimized, not gone away completely and still has those moments when it can be over the top, like yesterday traveling all day really made the pain worse. I find that when I’m really tired or overworked, it hurts more, so that sounds more like a muscle strain or tear than a bone thing. So, that’s what I’m hoping for! Muscles will heal and hell of a lot faster than cancer in the bones! I have to get the radioactive dye injection at 9:30 and then go back a 1pm for the scan. I am sure when it is done we will go find a radiologist to look at the results. So say your prayers for a good outcome!

Well, back home and on schedule. I love traveling, but there is no place like home!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Waiting for the plane in San Diego...

I had a wonderful trip to San Diego. What a beautiful city. The weather was gorgeous, everyday sunshine and blue skies. We did some serious shopping and yes, I broke down and purchased some shoes. But instead of fabulous heels, I got some rockin’ flats. One pair from Betsey Johnson! Yeah, I’m wearing them to chemo tomorrow!

While I was in meetings yesterday mom and Peyton took the ferry over to the San Diego waterfront to see the big ships and the monuments honoring the WW II vets. Peyton got lots of pictures, it looked really cool. I am glad that she got to see something other than the inside of a mall during her trip! I know it is very hard for her to believe but there is more to San Diego than great shopping!

One of my best buds from high school, Tonya, her daughter Kami is in the marines and is stationed in San Diego. She came over last night with her absolutely beautiful little boy, Dakota, and we got to visit with them after my meeting last night. It was so awesome to catch up and see that little boy.

Today we travel. All day. We have an awful layover in Seattle and leave San Diego at 10:30 but don’t get home until 5pm. I am feeling extremely fatigued, like my blood counts have plummeted, and have such a long day ahead of me. I can feel the achiness, tightness in my chest, general malaise that I feel when my counts get low. I have tried to work, play and rest adequately on this trip, but I think that it has just taken its toll on me to travel for so many days. I am ready to be home and be in my own bed tonight. I wish I had a Star Trek transporter and could just be home now.

So pray my counts stay up so that I can get my chemo tomorrow. I am supposed to have chemo at 9am tomorrow; this is my “one more round for good measure” before my one month break. I can’t wait to take a break from chemo. Its gonna be so awesome to be off this for awhile! I will rest and start to feel better again! Yea! I have my bone scan on Friday so we’ll know more about the spot on my back that showed up in the last CT. Hopefully it will be nothing. My back hasn’t been hurting as bad, so maybe it’s just a spot on the CT coinciding with a sore muscle or something. That’s what I am hoping for! Pray for a clear bone scan!

So, signing off for now. Maybe I’ll blog again from Seattle.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sunday on the Beach

I dreamt about cancer last night. I dreamt about having it in my lungs and bones, about telling the people that I love that I have cancer, about the looks in their faces when they realize that I have this disease. I dreamt about being sick, about tests, about fear. All night long with the sounds of the surf crashing against the shore I dreamt about cancer. I don’t know why it was there, haunting my dreams. It’s bad enough that I have to deal with this disease when I am awake, but to have it invade my dreams seems unfair. It’s the one place it hasn’t really been able to touch me. My dreams have remained blissfully unaware of the cancer. Maybe it’s the test coming up later this week, maybe it was because we were talking about it at dinner last night, but hopefully it goes away and leaves my dreams alone. I want to dream about bunnies and sunshine, not sickness and disease.

I am sitting here on the balcony watching the surfers battle the waves. The surf is breaking pretty good this morning and they are spending most of their time tumbling in the waves. Maybe it’s not as easy as it looks. And it looks cold…perhaps I don’t want to go surfing after all. Watching it from here seems good enough today.

The shopping excursion was successful. I was exhausted by the end of the day. I think we hit every designer store in Fashion Valley and Peyton purchased various fabulous items including new jeans and a pea coat. I picked up a nice pair of olive colored suede boots and a few shirts but the focus was really on Peyton. It was her shopping spree. She even has money left over to spend when we hit the shops here in Coronado. It defies reasonable sense and sensibility, but I went to Nordstroms Rack and didn’t buy any shoes. It is truly unbelievable. I have been trying to switch to more conservative shoes lately because my energy level is so low and it takes so much more energy to wear heels. So I found fabulous heels, but didn’t want to buy them, and saw some cute flats…but that’s all they were - cute…not fabulous. I just couldn’t bring myself to buy them. It’s a mind shift that I haven’t made yet. I am a high heel girl, not a flat girl. Learning to wear sensible shoes is going to take some time. But I realize how important it is to conserve my energy and I get out of breath easier in heels…but still…I am a off the charts heels to die for girl! I guess I’ll just have to find the most fabulous flats in the world!

Today is brunch in the Crown Room. It is ridiculously expensive, but is the most expansive spread of brunch delicacies that I have ever seen. There is everything from fruit to crab legs. We will not need to eat again until tomorrow! The conference starts today at 4pm, so after brunch I’ll spend a few hours with my family and then get busy on work stuff, getting ready for the conference. At 6:30 there is a reception and at 7:45 is dinner. I have arranged for all 45 guests of Kadlec to eat at a restaurant across the street from the hotel called the Brigandine, which is supposed to be excellent. I hope so!

My health and my energy are holding up. I am sure glad that I got a transfusion before I left town or I would probably be in bed completely exhausted. I have also been taking vitamins and airborne twice per day to make sure that I don’t catch anything while I am here.

This is a beautiful place to rest and regenerate. Even once I get busy with work, working in a place like this is still so incredible. With the beach and ocean before me, it makes everything just a little bit easier.


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Let's Shop!

I slept with the sound of the ocean pounding against the sand. The waves rolling in and the breakers crashing down. I don’t know why, but the ocean is renewing for me. It soothes my spirit and renews my soul. The vastness of the water, as far as the eye can see, stretching out, teeming with life. I have a healthy respect for the ocean, for its awesome power. There are surfers out there this morning and I watch them ride the waves and I wish I could be there with them, they seem so free, gliding across the surface of the water, riding the waves. This is different surfing than I have seen before; they stand on the boards with a long paddle and float on the surface of the ocean, waiting for the perfect wave. While they are not surfing they are standing on the boards and paddling around. It reminds me of skiing. Maybe I’ll look into doing this; it looks like a lot of fun.

We had a wonderful dinner last night in Old Town San Diego with the family. Always nice to reconnect with the cousins and my aunt and hear how their lives are going. Today is power shopping, I hope I have the strength to keep up with my daughter. She has money and she is motivated; that is a tough shopping combination! We are meeting my aunt at Fashion Valley at 10am to begin the expedition to find the perfect clothes, the trek for the ideal shoes. It will be an auspicious journey. One to be remembered. Send me lots good shopping energy.

I could sit here on the balcony all day and watch the surf, but my daughter is ready to rock n roll, we need to get some breakfast, some starbucks, get fortified for the day.

Let’s shop!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Do Not Worry.

Do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Jesus said that. I think it is good advice to live by. We, as a society, have a tendency to worry about everything. Is the traffic going to make me late, was I exposed to the flu, do I have all I need to make dinner, is that person mad at me, is my flight going to be late, what are my test results? The list goes on and on. Really, when it comes down to it, does worrying help anything? Who, by worrying, will add one minute to their lives or change the outcome of any given situation? Worry is one of those fruitless activities. Absolutely nothing positive comes out of it.

When I find myself starting to worry, I stop and think, how, by worrying, am I going to change this situation? And then I realize…I’m not. I’m only borrowing tomorrow’s trouble. I am not immune to worry, in fact, I come across it naturally from a long line of worriers. My mother, who has a crown when it comes to worry since she is the queen, has spent many a sleepless night thinking about the outcome of things she cannot change. She knows as well as I do that the worry does not change anything, but for some reason, she is powerless to stop it, as am I. I have found myself awake more times than I care to admit at 4am worrying. And when dawn came, guess what…nothing had changed except I was tired and stressed.

So, how do we let go of worry? I think the only way to relinquish the worry is to continue to surrender our lives to God, fate, destiny, whatever your belief and by acknowledging that the worry has no positive outcome. So the next time that you begin to fret, tell yourself that nothing good is going to come of this anxiety and release it all to God. Realize that He is in control, so your worry, while warranted, is not going to change anything. Also realize that there is worry and then there is prayer. Prayer does change things. So take that worry and turn it into words of prayer on your lips. Cast your cares upon God, He has big shoulders, He can handle it.

We made it to San Diego! With my counts the way they were this week there was some question as to whether or not I’d be able to make this trip, so I am supremely happy to be here. I found myself worrying last night about if I had everything, what if I got exposed to the flu on the plane, how would I fight it off? Or would we make our connection in Seattle since it was so tight? Did I need a swimsuit? Would the dogs be okay without me? Will grandpa remember to give them their pills, water my plants, pick up the mail? Will my mom and daughter like the room we got? And on and on and on…and then I realized how silly it was that I was losing sleep over things I had no control over. If I forget something, oh well I’ll buy it there, if I get exposed to something there is nothing I can do and God knows, I shouldn’t be in public in a swimsuit. If we miss our connection…well…can I change that by worrying about it? No, no, no. Nothing could be changed by my laying in bed worrying about it. So I got up, had a glass of wine and then went back to bed, finally to sleep soundly. Today came and guess what, so far so good, everything has gone smoothly.

We are having dinner with my family tonight in Old Town San Diego. Tomorrow my daughter wants to shop shop shop, so we are going to Fashion Valley Mall which has all the designer stores with things that we can’t afford. But you never know when you are going to find a fabulous deal. Sunday we are having a brunch to die for at the hotel and my conference starts Sunday afternoon.

I am feeling pretty good, my transfusion is kicking in and I am not so short of breath as I was yesterday and my energy level is coming back. I should be right as rain for power shopping tomorrow.

So, let go of the worry, the anxiety, the concerns, let it all go and focus on the the here and now. Right now is what matters, and it’s the only time you are going to have this moment, so drink it in! Quit borrowing tomorrow’s trouble today and focus on the present. Like they say, it’s a gift, that’s why it’s called the present. Open it and revel in its glory!

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Sometimes we have unrealistic expectations. Like when we expect the lights to be green when we are running late, or for the incredible shoes on clearance to be our size, or for the line we pick at the bank to be the fastest, or to beat metastatic breast cancer in only four months. Yeah, sometimes our expectations simply aren’t realistic.

So, I guess I thought I was superwoman. Okay, I was certain I was superwoman and that I could jump into treatment for metastatic breast cancer and poof, be done with it after only twelve treatments. The reality is that although miracles happen, and they happen everyday, I may have set my goals and expectations a tad too high in relation to the length of treatment and the chance of a cure. So, I gotta get real. Not too real, because I still expect to be superwoman and beat metastatic breast cancer in record time, but realistic enough to fight without getting my hopes, and yours, too elevated. This is an awful disease. The reality is that only 20% of the woman fighting this disease at this stage will actually survive. I won’t even write what the life expectancy is for my type of cancer, because I think it would promote a defeatist attitude and I am not a defeatist, nor am I a statistic. I refuse to let my life be dictated by numbers. I am a woman, a strong woman at that, and I will not be beat down by the law of averages. Triple negative metastatic breast cancer has not met Patty Taylor until recently, and it has met its match. I shall not be beaten by this insidious disease.

My visit with the doctor was very promising. I am responding very very well to treatment. He is thrilled that the lungs are showing such a remarkable improvement. The plan is to do “one more round for good measure” and then take a 3-4 week break from chemo. Then we will start up again and do another 2-3 rounds and then another CT to see where we are. So, my break is going to be right over the holidays, is that cool or what?! I mean if I’m going to get a break, that is the perfect time!

Then there is the little issue of this bone lesion. It is very small. In fact, if there was no corresponding pain, Dr. Rado would question if it is even a lesion. However, since there is some significant pain associated with the spot, he is ordering a bone scan and we will see if it actually is cancer, and if so, if this is the only spot. If it is cancer, during my break from chemo we will do some localized radiation to kill the bastard. Then be done with it. Adios. Sayonara. Cancer be gone. Sounds like a plan.

My blood work was crap. No way around it. And I was actually feeling quite good! I thought my counts were staying up nicely and that I might make it through this round without a transfusion. No such luck. I am having a transfusion today and my white counts are awful. So, my high protein, high iron diet isn’t doing everything I thought it would, but I’ll keep trying. I’ll have my transfusion and take my daily neupogen shots and then fly out on Friday. I am so excited for my trip to San Diego. It’s going to be a wonderful time with my daughter and mother, just what the doctor ordered. Rest, relaxation, love, family, beach, California. Perfect.

I find myself sitting back and wondering if this is all real. Is this really happening to me? I feel the pain in my back and get short of breath and I think, this can’t be true, it can’t be cancer, it must be something else. I am healthy. I eat right, I exercise, I take my vitamins, I meditate and do all the right “stuff” to stay healthy. I cannot have cancer. Not me. ITS JUST NOT REAL. Then I look at my life from the perspective of the outside looking in and I see me standing there, bloated, balding and sick, and I know its true. All of it. I have cancer, and its not good, and I could die from it. Its so surreal. This is not the life I expected.

But I guess none of us are ever given the life we expected. We set our expectations, and then we have to take what is given to us. That is the reality of it. My reality is that I will be fighting this for a while longer, perhaps a long while. And in the meantime, I will continue to make the best of each day and take the best that life has to offer me. I will set my expectations high, because I don’t know how else to live my life, and my expectation is to beat this cancer. I just need to be in the battle a little while longer.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Good news, bad news.

Well, I didn’t get my all clear. But I did get some good news bad news. The good news is that my lungs look remarkably better. All the lesions that are on my lungs are reducing. They aren’t gone, but they are all getting smaller and some look to be almost gone! So, we are pretty good when it comes to the lungs.

The bad news is that there is a new lesion on my back rib. I have been having a lot of back pain and have attributed it to my kidneys working overtime because of the chemo. Apparently that was incorrect. I have a piece of cancer on my 9th rib in my back. It hurts like the dickens. I have been taking a lot of painkillers and thinking that I really wish my back would stop hurting, I guess now I now know why my back hurts so dang bad. Cancer in your bones really hurts!

So, the battle is not won….YET. I guess it was unrealistic to think that I could battle and win metastatic breast cancer in four months. But that’s okay, miracles happen, and I still plan on being one of them. It just means that I get to be in this war a little while longer. But I know that I do not walk this path alone. I have so many people walking with me. We are an army. And you all make me strong. Together, we will win this war. I have no doubt. Cancer has not met an army like I have, and cancer, you have met your match.

I’ll post again later with a little more and some of my thoughts once I have had a chance to let it all sink in...but wanted to get the information out so everyone knew what was going on.

Love you all,


Just a short post to update you all on the day. Today is my CT, at 1pm. I am nervous, excited, scared, hopeful but most of all surrendered to the outcome. What will be shall be.

This song started in my mind yesterday and I thought it appropriate. Smile. That’s all we can do. If we smile, we can get by. I have always told my daughter that if you smile on the outside, eventually, it will make it down to your heart. So I am smiling and it is working its way to my heart, warming me from the inside out.

Smile – Words by john turner and geoffrey parsons and music by charlie chaplin
Smile though your heart is aching

Smile even though it's breaking
When there are clouds in the sky, you'll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You'll see the sun come shining through for you

Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear may be ever so near
That's the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what's the use of crying?
You'll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile

Smile my friends. Just Smile.


Sunday, November 1, 2009


Surrender. What does it mean to truly surrender? Surrender yourself to fate, to life, to the odds, to your destiny, to God Himself.

That is the word that keeps coming up in my head over and over in the last 24 hours. Surrender. Its time to just let it all go. Let go of the fear and the worry. Let go of the anticipation and the angst. Just let it all go and let my destiny play out before me. The outcome of the test tomorrow has already been determined. God knows the answer, He knows how it will end up and there is already a plan in place to deal with that outcome. If the cancer is gone, yippee, skippy, happity doo dah! If it’s not quite gone, well then, I go to Plan B. Life is all about how you handle Plan B anyway, since how rarely does Plan A ever work out? So my Plan A is, of course, clear. However, I am also a realist and know that the odds of getting an all clear with advanced stage cancer is minimal, so I have surrendered myself to whatever the test will say. If I have to go with Plan B, well then that’s what I will do.

What is Plan B? How the heck do I keep on keeping on? Well, I just do. I do one more round for good measure and then I take a little break to get healthy and then I jump back on the merry-go-round and do it again, this time with even more enthusiasm and less cancer to beat. I know it’s less. I know it hasn’t spread. I don’t know why I know that, I just know. I am not positive it is completely gone, but I know it has been minimized and is on its way out.

So I surrender. I let go and let God control my future and let divine providence play out before me. I never had control anyway. The control that I think that I had is such an illusion. I can control my attitude and how I behave in any given situation, but I cannot control the situation and how the future is going to unfold. I can pray and ask and beg, but God has a plan, and He knows what that plan is going to be. That is a bitter pill for someone who likes to be in control of her life like I do. I want to have a plan and have it laid out before me and know what the next step will be, but this experience has shown me that is not possible. I simply have to let go and roll, let the chips fall where they may, and have a positive attitude when its time to pick up the pieces when they land in a scattered mess.

This does not mean that I give up praying. I think God hears our prayers and considers them. Maybe right now He is thinking….and you are praying for me…and that prayer will have Him set me free of the cancer. Well, then, intercede on my behalf, my faithful prayer warriors, ask God to set me free from cancer. I’m ready.

As difficult as it is to surrender my life, how does it feel to completely surrender others to their own destiny and turn their lives over to God? Especially when that person is your child that you have raised and love so deeply? Surrender means “to give up or give back something that was granted.” God granted this child’s life to me to raise. I have done my job. I have raised him and now its time for me to surrender him back to God. The jury is still out on whether I did a good job raising him, but I did the best I could with the tools I had and the rest is up to him. His destiny, his future, is not in my hands and I have no control over the plan for his life. I have stepped back and surrendered him to God, to the legal system which will control his future, to his own devices, attitudes and decisions which will guide his path. I cannot control anything that is going to happen to him anymore. I don’t think I ever could. The reality of the situation is that it is completely, utterly, absolutely out of my hands. Surrender is truly all I can do.

There is freedom in surrender. There is absolution. Like a weight is lifted and the burdens are set free. I can live with whatever comes my way; I am liberated from the chains of control, the weight of worry. The yoke of fear no longer tight around my neck. I am free.