Saturday, December 27, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I know this is a few days late, but I was too busy doing Christmas to chat about Christmas. We've been snowed in, so much so, my mom and stepfather couldn't fly out. But we managed our way over to a friends house, and was warmly taken in for the day by her family and friends. It made our day feel like Christmas completely.

Once again, MUSIC for you. I recorded a Faith Hill PBS Christmas special (that girls got some pipes on her!). She kept the special filled with beautifully arranged traditional holiday standards. But had just one new song. I am going to share it with you, because, WEW, makes me cry every time. She took the birth of Christ from Mary's perspective. And if you are a mom, it will hit you in the heartstrings. This song is about her journey to becoming the mother of Jesus. But oh, how true it is for each child that is born. It is like we have been given a piece of heaven, and the challenge is to keep them awake to their sacredness and their gifts they each bring into the world. The challenge as mother, isn't to teach them, so much as help them not fall asleep to their divinity. To make a space for them to realize what special gifts they bring into the world and how each child, and person has something to bring. Some fall asleep to that. Other soar into it. What a gift, to bring heaven onto earth. That to me is Christmas, and the message of the story of Christ's birth.

Merry Christmas!

Click on the picture to hear the song.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Solstice, from Mundane thoughts to Gandolf the Grey

Aaaaaaaaaaah. Solstices are one of my favorite times. Winter wins out as my favorite of the two. This year, an unexpected surprise for our area. Lots, and lots, and LOTS of snow. We may get some every year, but this year is going in the books. Here is a picture I took with my phone. And that was just this morning. Last we measured, the ceaseless snow has piled up to 8 inches. Now, for all you mid-westerners browsing through this page, you may scoff. "Pisawh, you silly weak North-westerners! Come to our land, of ice and snow that towers above our heads five months out of the year!". But for this area, unprepared and untested in driving, everything is coming to a standstill. Throw 75 mile hour winds on top of it, coat that with ice storms, and, well, things just got interesting. Oddly enough, we still have power. Usually, a small gust seems to knock it out around here. See all those grand semi-old, very big evergreens we live with here? They love to lose limbs, and they love a good snow storm to help with that.

Luckily, this has us cozied up, Christmas tree lit, fire crackling, and snow literally piling up on our doorstep and we have a still, quiet Christmas one rarely experiences nowadays. Between chemo (still shaking off the last effects of it) and snow, there is no frenzy, no traffic jams, parking lot searches, and testy customers in line. Only stillness and finding light wherever you can. Creating your own warmth, your own fire. That is the heart of Winter Solstice. In the darkest of times, you CREATE light and get by with less than you thought you could.

Kind of like this year. My worst fear is realized (that and being locked in a room covered with crickets and a warped clown, lol!). I really truely have walked through my "dark night" and made it out the other side.....even if this body loses. I really do get to see how strong my heart/soul are becoming.

I was watching Lord of the Rings (yes, I am really that much of a geek, thank you). There was this scene, where Gandolf is riding, straight into a battle against the massive force of evil and darkness, dragons swooping overhead. And Gandolf, the Grey, wise wizard of Middle Earth, rides on his horse, lifting his staff which is illuminated so brightly, the light alone it pushes back the forces back the seemingly impenetratble forces of darkness. (Still reading? Good...) And I had this realization, so akin to my situation, I cried (yes, yes, a sensetive geek...move on).

Our gurus of the day, the people we call heros, are those who can radiate light, in the midst of dark. They are our modern day Grand Wizards. Seemingly magical in their ability to hold to the truth (good, light, loving, etc.) in situations that break many mens spirits. In fact, they ride, straight into the mouth of darkness to bring the message that Light is still present. We want to hold them up as magical, because we can't see in ourselves, or have not yet learned, how to hold our own space, our own power, our own truths, in the midst of trying times. But the truth is, there is no magic to it. It is a god-given power. Part of life. Part of the tools we must evolve within ourselves.

And it comes back to that light, in the darkness. WE must create it. Call it forth. Some say Winter Solstice is a reminder that light is return to us from somewhere outside of us. I think it is a reminder that even in the darkest times, it will come because we call it up from INSIDE us. If you pay attention, and become very very still, and quiet and will find the ember to fan, and feed and light WILL come.

Happy Solstice!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Surprise Ending

Guess what? Chemo appears to be DONE. Yep, one week early!!!!!! YAY!!!!!!!!!!
This is exciting for me, because I am so drop down drag out tired, getting anything done feels painful because all my body wants to do is lay down lately. So the doc said, she didn't see a pressing need for one last round and gave me an early release! WHOOHOOO!

It looks like the count numbers went up just slightly, but the scans will determine just where we are going to be leaving off. With some small tumors left? Traces left? Nothing left? From the numbers, probably SOMETHING is still lingering. But those numbers are older. So, we just have to wait and see what the scans say. If they are clear, this early release is indefinite.

So what does this all mean?

Today, was my last day of Abraxane. Round #23. This is the chem drug that is killing off the cancer cells.

Next week, I go in for a triple dose of Herceptin. This is a therapy drug that blocks the cancer cells from reproducing. I will be going in every three weeks to get this drug. It won't be as dibiltating as Abraxane, because it isn't killing my good cells. Just stopping the bad ones from reproducing. Wew.

I will also be getting Zometa. This helps block the bone sites from reproducing, and it fortifies the weakened bones. Right now, I have two vertabrae that have been damanged, much like a broken bones, but less clean a break, from the tumor sites.

Finally, since this breast cancer thrives off of Estrogen, we will be shutting down ALL the Estrogen production in my body. Early, and permanent, menopause. I am a little wary of what this is going to do to me. I hope I don't become a hormonal mess that gains 50 more pounds (I have gained 20 from the steriods they give me to control nausea). My body tells me this, more than anything, will help keep that cancer from really going to town.

So, the phase of chemo is over. Now we are onto maintaince and keeping any cancer left in my body in check thought the three therapies listed above.

Emotionally, it is a little challenging. I am stopping what we know is working. But, my body needs to be functional. My body tells me it is time to move on from chemo. So onward we go.

Also, into limbo and being a constant patient from a life threatening disease...for decades if all goes well. But it is always going to be a questions mark. Always lingering there if I let it. I am hoping that once the side effects of the chemo wear off, and my energy returns, I will feel healthy, and this indefinite chronic disease won't feel so scary.

But, for now, I am going to revel in this break from chemo. I am going to SOAK IT UP BABY and just be so grateful for everyday I have that is "normal" health. I am going to breath deeply every single day. I am going to pause, every single day, and feel the grace of living. I am going to love with abandon, never hold onto a grudge, and just let the good that is in the world act like a salve for any "bad" (or momentary amnesia that the heart of all things is good and baeutiful, even if it isn't appearing that way at the time).

I am going to blog. About LIFE. And what inspires me, what makes me want to fight to stay on this earth and experience the fabulous people, mind altering art, and natural beauty of the land. I want to revel in the web of life and its connections.

I like what she wrote in "It's Not About the Hair": She said that as a clergy for people experiencing cancer, she takes hope in people who fight to be here because they love living, not because they fear death.

And finally, my inspiration for the week. Jen Lemen. The picture today is from her Etsy site. She has the most inspiring, heartfelt images, notes, and sayings. She is a really Wizard of Hope and Change. She was gracious enough to give me little extras with my order to hand out to people who needed them. There were MANY grateful and touched hearts today in the chemo rooms, from people who I picked at random (well, intuitively) tor receive these goodies. GREAT christmas ideas. Click on here pic above.

Ahhhhhhhh. Good stuff.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Holding Steady

Hello dear ones! After a week of a nasty chest cold, and fatigue so suppressive, I couldn't keep my head up, and onto otc's that cleared it instantly........well, that was quit the rollercoaster. Yet, under it all, I am still feeling like a container filled with light and peace.

My family, seems to be moving in a more gentle way with each other as well. We just seem to be more cuddly and less crusty (you know, auto-pilot and disgruntled-ness do to overt amounts of stress). Crust Busting I have heard it called. Living full out with love and letting things "go with the flow". Reaching outside of comfort zones and habits to make the effort and say "Love you too" without words. So nice.

All this fatigue and sickness squelched plans for holiday merriment. No Phinney Ridge Winter Festival (and visits to dear friends who sold their Wiley Wares and Luma-ntion the night). (They are my inspiration for the week. See sideBARS) My body forced me to rest and rest I did. I needed to save all the energy up for a promise to a 5 year old.

On Sunday, we enjoyed the mindblowing Pacific Northwest Ballet's Nutcracker. The sets were mindblowing, the overall effect, magical. Even then, I wanted to nap during the Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies. But what a magical place to catnap. I woke up wanting candy. Hmmm. lol.

And now, a Zometa week. Last week, was one of the first weeks since the very beginning where I thought "Now it is time to reach out. To help get through these last weeks. I am so tired and I am just not finding the breaks of energy anymore". I am like a Seattle-ite, waiting for "sunbreaks" in winter, only they used to be "energy'-breaks". Still, a peaceful feeling, and sometimes tears when I am SO tired I can't help but get weepy. Not sad. It is weird. Like being pregnant and hormonal. I just let tears slip down my cheeks from fatigue.

So, anyone wanting to help out this week with a run to the library (my books our SO overdue. I keep waiting for my energy to return!). Or a pot of soup would be most welcome. I know I still have many offers. And for awhile, didn't need them. But, it is time again - to ask. I am having a hard time managing much of anything right now. My legs feel like jelly. So, Sharon MIGHT be the person to ask - since brain cells and "keeping up" seem to be turn off right now.

Much love, peace, and cat-purring joy,

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Want to Try an Experiment with Me?

Hello all! If anyone is still reading after that long pause, I appreciate it!

I have a feeling this blog is going to be quieter over the month of December. I am just kind of "done" with cancer. Kind of "done" with talking about it. I have so much I am looking forward to, and so much other stuff starting to brew. I love that I am in a place where my thoughts aren't forced into my body due to pain! I am starting hatch plans for the future, and am starting to feel creative again and doing more. yeah! Even if I die tomorrow (which I am not) I want to celebrate life today!!!!!!!!

All that being said, I am also getting VERY fatigued. It is kind of a brutal curve. As cancer goes away, the line goes down. But the cumlatives effects of chemo go up up up. The type of fatigue has changed. From bone deep, I am going to fall over into a puddle and disappear fatigue and pain, into a "My heart is happy, my spirit is strong, but DAMN my body is so tired, all I can do is get up, get Bug off to school, and then I am forced back to the couch is lay down. I am fatigued!"

Most days, I am not out of my PJ's. The effort it takes to get ready to leave, most days, is all the energy I have, and I end up resting as soon as I am done getting PJs on. 6 months of chemo! Wew! The doctor said usually at 6 months, the good chemo does peaks, and people run out of gas." Yup yup yup.

I do have some good days. But the effects hit me sooner (usually I had till Wednesday before I hit "chemo" land.) Now it is the day of chemo. I used to have the weekends, and now sometimes I do. So, wew!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Getting there. And everyday is different. Hour to hour is what I go by now. I am not some pathetic heap on the couch all day. But the energy I do have goes into creating a stronger body. Like doing Yoga, cleaning, cooking, and then, back to resting.

So friends, if I have been quiet, and not emailing. Know I am thinking of you......and the wild party I am throwing in January, for my birthday/done with chemo party!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have tons of hope. I am so in love with Life. But I am just really tired. And tired of talking about it. Any energy I have is going to go into settling back into our house (some of you might know that we were selling our house, and had moved out much of our stuff and staged the house to sell). Now, I am so excited, my creativity to coming back. And we are setting up downstairs into our office on one side, and a full fledge art studio on the other!!!!! So, spare energy is spent on unpacking, and setting up. It is also being spent on getting ready for the holidays.

But today, I woke up, once again, fatigued. I feel like I am sweating chemicals from my pores. Yuck.

SO, I have a task for you all! I have been doing this myself. We've done this before:
Around Christmas Day, I am DONE with chemo. I then gets another round of scans to see "where" the cancer is.

This is what I want you all to hold in your minds:

Imagine me writing in the blog:

"I am in complete remission!" I want you to FEEL what me telling you that would feel like to you. I want you to believe it CAN be true and then move it into "it IS true, right now!".
Not just remission (the doctor said remission is a holding pattern, not "all clear"). I want you all to imagine me seeing you, and being completely healthy and cancer free. I want you too see my body as fit, glowing, and whole. COMPLETE REMISSION. I want you to celebrate my bodies ability to heal itself completely. There really is NO reason why it can't. Right?! It has happened before. I have a strong, healthy body, that can heal. We all do. I want to infuse this knowledge through every cell of my body. I want the space in between and inside of each cell to be glowing and humming radiance!

Want to try this little experiment with me?

Love to you all!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Songs that make you Happy despite yourself adn other inspiration that make me forget cancer

Everyone once in awhile, I put up a song that inspires me, or just gets me happy. Better than a drug. (Move over Ativan, hellow Rythmn!)

Today, it is the first song on the playlist over at Spearhead. In fact, the whole placelist just gets my sluggish butt up off the couch and I have to move. Motivation. Gotta love it.

Here ya go! Go love the love.
Michael Franti & Spearhead. "Say Hey I love You"

Inspiration number two came from Best of the Northwest. Last weekend, I managed to get out two days in a row and trot through the Seattle Center to see some amazing artists. This guy, is by far my favorite thing I have seen in years. I spun one of his wheels with a crane on it and a deeeeeeeeeeeeep peace hit my soul. Jim and I agreed, once I am working and we have some extra income (oh yeah, those medical bills) we would give one to ourselves for our Anniversary. This guys is so talented. These are prayer wheels. I would go to his website to learn more. He will be featured as a Local Inspiration. I was thinking I would purchase on and incorporate them into wedding ceremonies (yes, I do that too....). He recently was commissioned to do one for the Dali Lama when he came for the Seeds of Compassion conference here in Seattle. Pure gift. I told him that would be a good life. To create such meaningful work, infused with such peace. He agreed, it was a good way to live. His name...Chris Moench, his wesbite is call Axis of Hope.
This might be one of those things you have to experience. Each vessel is weighted, and spins. To learn more, go to his website.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Fatigue and 20 weeks of chemo

So, this week marked chemo round #20. I am kind of tired of talking about chemo and cancer and all that stuff. It is all, in the end, big question mark. What I know for sure, is I am getting tired. Usually, by week's end, I am back up on my feet. The see-saw I am on has me back on the "up" side. But lately, it is like I can't quite get that see-saw to even hit the balance point. So I am going to just slow down and sleep.....a lot. They say that is when you heal and rebuild and make white blood cells. I have been kind of pushing myself. Just to keep going somewhat normally. But this weekend, man, just tired.

Only 4 more weeks to go she said. And then, after that, they will do a PET scan and see where everything is at. Today, her verbage changed, and I am not so sure what the future holds. She likes to play her cards only when she knows for certain. But, I am trying to not to hear, "A pause in chemo" like she said today. Like it is inevitable that sooner, rather than later, I will be back to this again. What happened to the 8 years?

So, it goes back to this. Chart your own course, and listen to your heart.

For now, I am pondering what to do next? School or work? The work I really want to get to, involves school. I can't get that "but...." out of the way. I had always wanted to get my PhD in Psychology, with a focus on consciousness and using art therapy. To start up a practice and teach. But.....darn, there it is again. I will leave it be. Too soon. It is like picking a fruit too soon. But I am happy to have the dilema. A couple of months ago, I had "the shift" into thinking about future things. I knew, things had shifted in my body too, and they had.

I will leave it with that. I am thinking "out loud" with no concern for you listening pleasure. lol! So, best I leave it at that.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Where to Go To Get Some Sleep - Stage IV Breast Cancer Sites with Positive People!

So, as I stated in the last post....sometimes jumping on breast cancer boards, or cancer boards in general, is enough to induce fear-based insomnia. However, there are some great sites out there. Very few specific ones to Stage IV breast cancer (that I have yet found...the internet is a big place).

Here are a few:
Sheila Miller: Now here is a real pioneer with a spirit like a beacon and such a deep determination to be a part of her own healing. She is my age, and has a deep commitment to staying real, positive, and engage her body in healing. You just think, "Go, go go!"
Be Positive:
The name says it all. She is, once again, my age. What I love about this blog, is her sense of LIFE, her ability to turn lung drainage into a humours event, and how the blog isn't all about cancer. It is just a part of it.
Little Story:
good example of a GOOD story! Short, sweet, and HOPEFUL!
Her blogs are FULL of many positive people. Finding a Stage IV person was tricky. But guess what, that is how I found Sheila (up above).

I had a great chat with a friend today, and then read some more of "It's Not About the Hair". I am REALLY liking this book. She really does represent a positive healthy approach. Grounded, humorous, etc. I am happy to be reading it right now. I couldn't before. I need Stage IV stories. It stung too much to read someone in Stage 1, or 2. or even 3. Knowing things are approached differently.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

It's Not About the Hair: LONG post today

Kendyl placed "It's Not About the Hair", by Debra Jarvis, into my hands at the Art Bra Auction. I haven't yet had the wherewithal to open it up yet. Even though, I know, I know, the message is positive. It is for the same reasons I haven't yet watched "The Last Lecture". "Jenna, have you seen the last lecture? You really should! It is SO inspiring!" or "Jenna, the Last Lecture, you have to watch it!" I know everyone is only trying to hand me hope on a platter, but I just can't walk down that road yet. Their pathways are NOT my own, and I really need all I have for my journey. I will, one day. Those books will become like best friends who understand what I just went through like no one else. But for now.....focus.

To keep me from tittering off the high wire I now traverse, I have to focus on MY experience with the uttermost attention to every wobble and balance check. I am not an old pro at this, and reading a book while walking on a wire doesn't seem the safest plan.

I have jumped onto breast cancer boards to find an answer to something, only to jump off screaming and with a good case of fear induced insomnia. The people who hang on boards are having hard times, reaching out for answers, and represent a fraction of the breast cancer population. Most are freaked out because they fell off their wire and are hanging on by one finger and asking to be pulled back on. The old timers, ones who have make it across, reach out and get them back on, if they can.

To keep my calm on, I jump back off the boards quickly. There are words of warnings on the boards from "old time Stage IV'ers" to steer clear of boards whenever possible. One of the best pieces of advice I have read from a board was from someone who popped on to answer a question from a frantic person, who was asking what was going to happen to them, what would the pain be, what horrors awaited her? The response, "Have cancer only on chemo days, go live life the others." I haven't read a board since. I may, if one day, I am hanging by a finger on the wire. But until then, they don't feel right for me. I just take on fear.

I hear some of you. "But Jenna you can't live in denial." This isn't really denial. Nooooooooo. I don't consider it denial. I even asked my therapist, she said, "Nope, no denial here." I have been given the "reality check" stamp of approval.

Believe me, after the one clinic "telling me like it will be", I am in NO illusion of the painful, horrible, no good death I will one day experience. Forget about all that. I am alive now! I will experience my own painful, horrible, no good death at some point in the future, why the HECK would I pull that experience into my Now and live my painful-horrible-no-good-death in a long drawn out mental trip a thousand times before I actual have to experience it. I let little thoughts race through, "Oh dear god, I remember the pain my dad was in....", or "what does slowly drowning in your own lungs feel like? Can I do that?!" and I let them run right back out. They have no spot at my table. Only LIFE sits with me. Death just passes through, reminding me ....."One day....better live now".

I have to draw on my OWN experience right now. My high level of empathy means I just absorb their pain and their suffering....even if they are highly positive people. I still "take it on". I always have. So I stay away from detailed journeys. I am like a emotion sponge. I need all my energy I can for myself. It is so easy to slip into the suffering of an another. To feel them wobble and then lose balance myself.

With all that said, I must be feeling close to "looking back", even though they say my journey will never be done. They say, I will always dance with cancer, always have Death walk through my dinner party and remind me my life will probably end in brain cancer and much pain (I flip him off and tell him that they WILL have a cure by then.....and that my dance card is full for the evening. And the day we almost got hit by a mack truck on the way to chemo, well, the irony didn't fail me.). But I must be feeling closer to the end of this chapter. This most emotional, "do I have 3 months, or possible 10 years" chapter.

I know I must feel steadier on the wire, because I picked up that copy of "It's Not About the Hair", stood still on my wire, and read. I see immediately why it was handed to me. This is why, she summarized something, because she has the hindsight, so perfectly:

"I learned so much about cancer from being a patient, and probably the most astounding thing to discover was only a small part of the cancer experience is about medicine. Most of it is about feelings and faith, and losing and find your identity, and discovering strength and flexibility you never knew you had. It's also about looking at life and staring death in the eye. It's about realizing the most valuable things in life are not things at all, but relationships. It's about laughing in the face of uncertainty and having courage to ask for more chocolate and less broccoli." This book is going on the must have list to the right.

And it isn't about not helping the person behind you. What I find, is that REAL people will show up and act like guardian angels. They don't tell you, "Oh, I had this horrible experience. It went something like this....does that help you out?" They guardian angels say, "Okay, take a step, steady, steady, okay now one more.....Good, good..." They don't tell you, you are only 1/3 a way across the wire, they just help you focus on the next step.

Then there are those of us, permanently on the wire. Guess I better build my balance.
Or better yet, I hear my mentor, telling me to grow some wings, and transcend this tightrope walk.

Much love,

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

FAQ Compilations Calls

So, my dear ones, I am thinking it is time to call in a FAQ list. I know some of you have questions. I also know that some of your questions have led me to goooooooood info I didn't think to look up. So I am throwing this blog back to you:

What questions do you have? Post them in my comments section. If you are worried about the publicity, send them to me in email.

I know you have questions. Or need clarification. No questions will bring offense, if they come from the heart.

So, bring them on. It WILL help me. And I might need to clarify something. It is hard to package all the information/experience of this in little tiny bites. So, ask away...


Monday, November 17, 2008

Blood Tests, and Numbers, and Healing...OH MY!

Blood Tests, and Numbers, and Healing
A Tale in Silly Prose

The news just came in from the county of Hoke,
a blood test is back after a nasty little poke.
And those numbers they say,
look quit normal, it's true.
now they seem to be around 32!
I started around 175,
scary, like soon I'd die!!
but now, 175 isn't so true,
try the very small number of 32.
Yes 32, I didn't mistype.
and that my friends is 5 below NORMAL folk count.
Doesn't that make you want to gleefully shout.
Me, I thought my ears did hear her wrong,
so she put it in writing and it didn't take long.,
to let it sink in we are so close to be done with chemo for now,
what a lovely Christmas,

(This message brought to you by a mom who has had
poetry read to her all afternoon - that you for you patience. lol!

TO learn more about this count, read this information from the American Cancer Institute:

CA 27.29: CA 27.29 is another marker used to follow patients with breast cancer during or after treatment. This test measures the same marker as the CA 15-3 test, but in a different way. Although it is a newer test than CA 15-3, it does not appear to be any better in detecting either early or advanced disease. It may be less likely to be positive in people without cancer. The normal level is usually less than 38 to 40 U/mL (units/milliliter), depending on the testing lab. This marker can also be elevated in other cancers and in some non-cancerous conditions, and it may not be elevated in some women with breast cancer.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Local Truths

Here is a quote today I found in the local magazine, Seattle Weekly. It is from a 30-something, musician, husband, and typical creative West Seattlite...who happens to be in the final stages of his battle with cancer. I just thought his quote was phenomenal.

"[Cancer] speeds your whole life up to where you see day by day, minute by the point where you are so intimate with people that you just don't care what you talk about, because you never know when your last days are going to be."

And that, is the simple truth of it.

Here is the full article, on the album he will release.

As for me, the Zometa is being kind. I am only touched with a flu-like feeling today. I am starting to give way to fatigue, although I resist. I won't anymore. I am going to go lay down and rest instead of resist.

I have been walking around the house singing all day and looking for a good place to take my hubby for his birthday this weekend.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ALL MY SCORPIOS!!!!!!!! I am afraid to list you, in fear of my fatigue making me forget someone, because, you all know, that list is LONG.


Monday, November 10, 2008

The Nuts and Bolts of the Last Leg of Chemo

So, just back from my Zometa/Herceptin/Abraxane day. It was really nice to have a week to get back on my feet! I went in ready to go.

The doc was excited, and seemed certain that the end of the year would see the end of Abraxane! (The chemo drug). We will then switch over to the long term game plan. I will tell you that when I know for sure the details. But it will involve Herceptin, and Zometa once a month for (how long???). And maybe a therapy that stops Estrogen production in my body.

And just to clarify. I am not in Remission...yet. I don't think I used that word after the last scans. But just to be clear, it is NOT remission. (eh'em, mom). I don't want to be in remission yet, because I still have cancer in my body we can easily find. We want remission to be as clear of cancer as we can be.

One last clarification....the bones. I was uncertain of what was going on with my bones. The "sites" are still there, but not active. i guess it looks different on bones. So, sites still exsists, but they are not hypermetabolic. If you have any questions, just write me.

Okay, off to rest.
Hugs to everyone

Friday, November 7, 2008

From 52 to 48 with Love Project

Once again, Jen Lemen has led me to a very inspiring idea. Ze Frank is doing a little project to heal with tensions between the reds and the blues. The 52 to 48s need a little love-fest. He wanted the 52's to send out peace and unity to the 48's. And from looking at the pics, the love is going round.

My family is Red all over. I am the "Blue"sheep of the family. So this is my token to you all you Reds out there. Go find out more!
Franks Site.
The 52 to 48 site.

I plan to add my own 2cents worth. But first I have to go get radioactive and scanned (to make sure the heart is handling the medications well). I will add my own pic here. For now, this is my fav.


this is my pic -------->

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Bad Poetry for a Rainy Day - My thoughts in prose

Jazz is sliding like silk through the air.
Rain is dancing on pavement, like a drum.
The sun is so tucked away,
the house is like a cave.
I need a fire.
My vanity is kicking in, fiesty, but in check.
My hair is thinning, I prefer a wig.
My face is puffy, but so is my body, so they balance out.
My jeans protest my attempts to button them.
I don't care.
I've got jazz, and drip drip drippy rain of November.
Oh, and my breath. I've got my breath.
And good friends who are patient.
Birthday's overlooked while I huddle under covers,
waiting for nausea to pass.
And doctors who smile hopefully, proud of their work.
The thought of sitting around a Thanksgiving table is bittersweet.
Not this year.
But the thought of Thanksgivings past,
filled with laughter,
family frustrations,
and a good card game while the football games play,
well, the memory is celebratory enough for today.
The rain is beautiful,
against the last golden leaf on a bare birch tree.
I want to hug the world.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Vote vote vote

I am going to spare you all the voting talk. Did you vote? If you didn't know it was voting day, you probably aren't informed enough to vote. So let's take a fun story break from your election coverage:

This weekend Bug did a elaborate magic show for me. It was cute. It was typical 5 year old.

Then, the surprise ending:

"If you've enjoyed the tricks you've seen here today, you will find how to do them in my book, which will be available for sale after the show."

Oh dear. I have a entrepreneur.


Monday, November 3, 2008

A Much Needed Break

Today, weepy from fatigue, I drug myself to chemo. And much to my surprise, my doc (very congenial today) said I have been going at this for a long time, things are looking good, and my counts are up....and if I needed a week off, I could take it. Get a break, regroup, regain, and restart next week. It was up to me, but she felt confident it would be fine to take a break. From a week of Zometa reactions, to a head cold week, to a week of exhaustion and the mystery stomach/GI nausea that only 2 serious drug could even begin to ease..I am tired.....but I wasn't sure if I wanted to take a break....and I wavered. I knew it wouldn't hurt to do the chemo, but I realized as I could barely keep my head up and not cry, that I needed a break to regain some strength. So I took it. We just did Herceptin this week. Wew.

I am sooooooooooooo worn out. I hope this helps.

She actually gave me a countdown...7 weeks. ;) (in theory - she added).
What a Christmas present that will be (8 weeks)

T-minus 7....

Any extra kindness are much appreciate this week,
sorry to everyone, I am going to have to put fun/hangout visits off another week,

Sunday, November 2, 2008

2 am gratitude list

So, I am up, it is 2 a.m. I am really not feeling well again today. Such bad heartburn, I am still up at 2. So worn out. Wew. Fatigue, nausea, heartburn, paleness. Three meds later. Wew.

So I am going to make a gratitude list. "You nut! It is 2 a.m. You feel like shit!" Exactly. No better time to be grateful. No fancy color though, I am too tired:

- amazing anti-nausea drugs that have made chemo less torturous for millions of people.
- ginger tea
- dandelion root tea
- an all natural latex/wool mattress
- comfy cheap pillows to replace the expensive uncomfortable one
- a Dear Santa list from Bug that included a "stuffed tangerine tree" from My Father Dragon. She made this request up. There is no Tangerine tree, but in the book. And she wants one stuffed to cuddle with.
- needlefelting - so I can make said Tangerine Tree
- lorazapame kicking in, finally sleep might take over
- WedMD describing the difference between a heart attack and heart burn (I was pale as a ghost)
- Bug hanging out with me while I lay in bed all day. Reading to ME, instead of me to her. What a trooper.
- Neighbors who still do trick or treating.
- sleep. I am going to try to get some now.


Saturday, November 1, 2008

Coming out of Flu Haze/Zometa Reaction

Thanks to those patient souls who are still with me here. That is the longest stretch of quiet there has been on this blog. You know it is not so good when I am quiet for that long.

I've mentioned why. First...Zometa. That darn drug. I talked with the doctor about it. I may do some more research on my own. But according to the doc, despite my knock down reaction, she doesn't think it is doing any lasting damage. Me, I am not settled with that answer. Something is saying 'YUCK' in my body every time. Is my body saying that for a "This is going to burn out this vital organ." She says, no, and plans to keep me on it. Once a month of a flu.......hmmmmmm.

Follow that up with a headcold. 5 days.

Follow chemo up on Monday with a drop down drag out battle for my GI system. I won't get into details, but several off hour calls where made, and THREE anti-nausea drugs were recommended all within an hour. It was scary and painful, but it is done. The origin??? Once again, "we aren't sure". (total silence). At least my regular nurse is back and she is very patient and reassuring. The temp one was nice, just couldn't read her well. We hadn't gotten into that patient/nurse understanding.

Today, I feel down right normal. But I keep crashing out. Feel great, then have to lay down. Almost there. Allllllllllmooooooooooooooooost there.

I can't wait to know what it will be like to be tumour free AND off chemo. But I still have a month and a half or so left. And I want to keep it from dragging me down in what they call "the cumliative effect".

I have picked up crafting again. Not back to the much more intricate and thoughtout collages, but grounding and simple things like needlefelting and knit. My collage work requires a lot more quiet time, "zone" time. The crafting, is something I can put down any given moment and pick up again later and not have to find my way "back" to the train of thought/experiences that got me to the point where I left off.

The other thing that has has my what attention I could give was creating a Shutterfly account of family pictures. NO, I am not making that public. But I will share fun photos that are not family related here. Like this one. I love this one. It is of a pumpkin vine. Yep, same plant as below, just a close up of the spiral.

That is the very dry, laundry list style update. But I am still here. I was just too sick to write.

Happy Halloween.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Healing Up and Laying Low

Hi all! I have been laying low getting through some stomach/GI issues that have been tough. Slept most of my day away today.

It has been a trying three weeks. But I know my energy will return soon. None of it has anything to do with cancer. One drug reaction, one cold, one flu. But don't worry my counts are up and I am in no danger.

Happy Halloween!


Friday, October 24, 2008

How Cancer taught me that I am so Blessed

I am struggling with something. How to express back to you all, the love, compassion, caring, help, faith, hope, and pure kindness that you all have shown me. I ask for soup, and within a day, I have Evelyn dropping off a massive amount of yummy Lentil (Bug's favorite), and two other soups quietly left at my back door. And many other offers that I had to turn away because of the other soups showing up!

The multitude of gifts the people around me bring is again, deeply touching and awe inspiring. This week, a friend had planned a visit. When she came, I was sick and having a tough time talking. She didn't insist I talk, she instead gave her gifts. Shiatsu, followed up by a guided meditation she teaches in her Yoga classes, and then a simple gift of sliced apples and water beautifully arranged and left at my side for when I was ready. She is my Gentle Wisdom teacher.

I hesitate to give examples because I could write a book, and this is a blog and I don't want to leave any example out. There are the card writers, the listeners, the healers, the artists, the "I think this will help while you rest" giver, the check-in'ers, the ones who treat me like I am "normal", the ones who show up with soup, the ones who do crafts with me, the ones who create laughter, the ones who give money, the ones who give time, the distant healers....

I feel like I know some Secret. And I sit from a place above it all, and look down and see the good and my heart warms and I smile gently and lovingly, hoping to pass all the good around and let it go on and on.

A line from a song comes to mind:
"And human kindness is overflowing...."

Thank you all so much,

P.S. For all you food-givers. Please when you make a pot of soup, keep some for yourselves!! I appreciate the wonderfully large pots of soup, but I want to know YOU are eating well too. Put your oxygen mask on first. Also, if you make a pot of soup/food, I am more than happy to pay for the supplies! Please let me know. I know many of us are experiencing tight financial times. I would be happy to pay for the food costs!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Yup, some sort of virus and this cancer thing

Mystery is solved. It is a cold or virus or something invading my space. hehehehe. I know this not because I went to the docs, but because my throat is gunked up and I can't talk. Mystery solved.
So I will call in and let them know because I am suppose to do so. At least that is what the paper the sent home, and the nurses in the chemo unit tell me. The response I get is perplexing. I am not sure why I call in. I think I am way to use to the homespun touch of the naturopathic community. Where being heard is a much of the treatment as the herbal remedies they hand you.

So, I am brewing up some strong tea, and curling up. The sun is shining in my window and like my cat, I plan to curl up in it and rest.

Soup greatly appreciated by anyone willing. But I did find some frozen chicken soup hidden behind the frozen waffles, so I can get through today.

- beautiful pumpkins and squash
- beautiful leaves to ponder while I heal up
- again, my curl up buddy, the cat Tilde
- a 750 piece puzzle

(the picture above is from a few Octobers ago, at an autumn celebration we threw for the kids)

The Flu? Oh boy

Up in the middle of the night. Yup. Not usually a good sign. But before I go any further, Bug is FINE. It is just a bone bruise (ouch) but at least not a fracture, no xray needed. Wew.

Now, why am I up? I won't get into details, but fell asleep very early, woke up an hour ago, spent an hour visiting the loo, feel nauseated, have a red face.

Yes, I called in to the nurse. I have been having breathing troubles too. but that is a long story that will just come off as whiney and complaining and angry. But I have called the doctors office, talked to the nurse, and told them I am having breathing troubles. They said "Take Alleve". (stunned look). Okaaaaaaaaay.

So I took the Alleve. I fell asleep. Still feel ill. Now it is a flu-like. Sigh. I just hope they don't respond like they did yesterday. Or I am going to ask why they tell us to call them over NOT being able to breath freely. Okay, moving into anger. I will aim for CLEAR communication tomorrow (today).

I was rereading a few older posts, and long for that clarity and thrill of small victories. I need to pull that into the present.

I think my family is edging on being in need of some helping hands this week. I am not up for helping, I just dawned on me their is a box of produce sitting outside. That means I am really out of it. Dishes scatter the countertops. I feel like I am in over my head. It probably isn't as bad as it feels. I just feel foggy and "lost". But I know I get offers for food. And we have had plenty in the freezer from all the food made throughout the first couple of months. We finally went through it all with Zometa week last week.

But I will ask for a new pot of Gluten Free Soup from anyone willing to make it, asap. I am too ill feeling to clean that kitchen and cook, and Jim is overwhelmed with work (and not getting to it because of taking care of me and Bug this week.)

I just see this edging on being "too much". So, I will ask for help.

I felt so good yesterday morning, and then crashed. Hmmmm.

Okay, back off to sleep I go. If I can. Not feeling so hot.

5 am GRATITUDE list
- cuddly cats
- friends I know will help
- my comfy pillow
- healing meditations
- loving my kid
- loving my husband
- Julies voice on the other end of the phoneline
- knowing my kids leg is going to heal easily

Hope you all have a good day,

Monday, October 20, 2008

Updates and Gratitude Lists

I am experiencing some mild mamma's guilt. Last week, Bug came home from school with an ice pack, a swollen lower left leg and a limp. I passed it off, thinking it would bruise, she would be just fine. I was also in the midst of battle the Zometa. Hard breathing, muscle fatigue, and all around TIREDNESS fogged me from seeing my daughter was a little bit more than a boo-boo bear and kiss away from healing. All weekend, we watched her limp, she watched ballet instead of danced, and we were concerned. But tonight she woke up crying from the pain. DUH. I never followed up. Didn't read. It isn't anything big, I suspect a bruised bone. Still, ouch. I could've been icing it, giving her Tylenol, and more compassion. She has been cruising right along, full energy. I am just shocked I let it go so easily. So, I called the nurse line and am waiting to hear back. I won't go in to the ER over this, but we will see the doc tomorrow. Sigh. That is the end of the mamma guilt. If it was life threatening, I would've moved RIGHT away. They would've done very little anyway. Yipes, it took me three days to ice this!!!!!!!! It's okay, we all have our off times.

Speaking of Zometa. I meant to mention the bad side effects from last week to the doc today and forgot. We got sidetracked by my collage work I had brought in. DOH! I need to talk about it. It is effecting my breathing. NOT good. I will call tomorrow. SO much to do.

On a final note, mamma guilt the other way.........I know people read this blog. Yet I see NO gratitude lists. Hmmmmmmmmmm. The Attitude of Gratitude is a spiritual practice that can transform. Go for it. Need some help......

5 reasons I am grateful for:
My work
My family
The weather
The day
A hobby

There are no right or wrong answers.

Don't make me whip out a Haiku assignment!!!!!!! hehehehehe.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Zometa and Getting Behind and Amanda Soule, Oh my!

Hi all! So, this week, as you many of you know, was Zometa week. While the first round was akin to torture, the second like a bad flu, this one was like a small flu, with low grade bone/muscle pain. Enough to make me groggy headed and sleeping for the last two days. I think the Zometa storm is passing. Maybe it is the gorgeous morning sunlight illuminating the golden leaves, or the crisp fall air, but today I feel, once again, so at peace. Slightly effervescent peace. I hope this round with Zometa means that in a few more, I won't feel anything and it will just be doing maintenance work, not dramatically shifting my bone structures.

I am a bit behind on emails and phone calls everyone! The good news brought a lot of good emails and phone calls for "getting together". But the Zometa just made being social impossible. So, if you have sent an email in the last two weeks, I am started to get caught up.

Finally, a GEM, I have to share. This is going to go in my Inspiration Sidebar, although she isn't local, she is about being local. It is crafty, natural, and the exact mood I am in. Visit her blog! It is full of creative inspiration! I order some craft supplies (I need to be doing something while I heal!) and this book for the creative ideas. Very, simply, fun. All of the images in today's blog are hers, and will get you to her website with one simple click!

She has her website chock full of images of her families daily life. Beautifully done! It has also made me want to get my camera out and start adding our photos as well go!!!!!! Although, since this is a blog about healing breast cancer, you may see an IV pole her, and a pill bottle there, you will also see meditation alters, images of the golden light on the fall trees, and a pot of cancer healing cauliflower soup!

I give you one task. Create your own GRATITUDE LIST and please post in the comments section!

MY GRATITUDE LIST for a Saturday morning:
- golden sunlight filtering through golden leaves
- blueberry pancakes my hubby made
- my hubby and daughter letting ME sleep in!!!!!
- my cute cat
- a warm home
- the OFF button on the TV
- puzzles
- a stack folk craft magazines from Miss Direction
- Lorenna McKennitt's new CD for winter

Blessings and love,

Friday, October 17, 2008

Art Bras For Breast Cancer!!!!!!!!!

So, folks, don't do hypnotherapy that is devised to make you feel fresh and alert at midnight. It just makes you feel fresh and midnight. lol!

However, I will take this opportunity to post a few of my favorite pics from the ArtBra Auction. Many of you have asked did they all sell? How much was raised? I am not sure right now, people are being notified and checks are being mailed, etc. I think we will know soon.

What I do know. People rock. Most people rock. Many people who came, I didn't know personally! many people who donated bras, I didn't know personally. PEOPLE CARE. We just need to start talking to each other again, and we can find that out very easily. That is a unexpected blessing of this journey. I get to find this out.

For your viewing pleasure....a small sample of the 40 bras donated for the auction!!!!!!

the birds nests

ANYONE can join in on the fun...and the guys really did enjoy modeling a few pieces!

pinwheels for those cool breezes!

for those who need some
holiday countdown help?

Miss Direction took us to the Northwest with a FireFaery friend.

Jennifer Seaman did stand up comedy!

And the lady of the night, Kendyl, who spearheaded this amazing night!!!!!

There were many, many more! But for now, that is a taste of the action!

(self appointed goddess of healing empowerment)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Zometa Dancing

So, friends, just a quick note. I am dancing with Zometa this week. Yesterday was weird. Not nearly as bad as the first Zometa round, that felt akin to torture. But it did get my brain all muddled and fuzzy and it felt like gravity grew stronger. So I slept and woke up and slept some more. Today is better, but I feel like my writing will wandering around, like a cat lost in the woods trying to find it's way home.

I will write soon and share some Art Bra Auction pictures and celebrate healing.

For today...quick gratitude list - in no particular order, and by no means complete:

1- Miss Direction
2- Ruby Q
3- Kendylicious
4- Genevegan and her man
5- the Lady on Bus #5
6- lemon/ginger tea
7- pumpkin patches
8- NPR
9- split pea soup
10- jigaw puzzles for a muddled mind

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Chemo Crash Post Followup

So, awhile back, I added a dashboard to this blog that would allow me to see what kind of traffic was coming through this site. I did it to make sure I wasn't writing to the abyss. hehehehe. It tells me all kinds of good information (BUT IT DOES NOT TELL ME WHO IS COMING, ONLY THE CITY FROM WHICH I GET HITS). I did find out that the number one google search that brings people to this site (and the number 1 on the google list) is the post below. Since I know this now, I have added, to the original post, follow up information. I thought I repost that entry here, so that everyone could see the follow up.

If you have read the original post, please take the time to read the additional information in italics. That is my blog entry for the day. It has important information I want to get out there.
Read on....italics below....


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Post Chemo Crash Day 2

So, after talking to my oncologist, Taxol can hit 36 hours after the administration and take about 24 hours to pass/peak. That peak hit yesterday afternoon around 4:00. Dear God. But it was good to know it would pass that peak point and not stay there forever.

Today, joints hurt I didn't even know I had! Someone please get the license plate number of the truck that hit me?

While I feel, I think, the worst I have ever felt in my life, it is indeed passing. Wew. It helps to Zen into it and pray. It is the only way at some points.

And this is the "easy" stuff. I have so much empathy for the harder hitting chemo drugs and the people who take them. They deserve a badge of courage.

The worst for this week is over. Now recoup. And learn. Learn how to rest, eat, and do the dance around the chemo days to make the post days go easier. My oncologist said that is the way it goes. You experience it, then adapt. Much like life.

So for today, my super-chemo-ninja-badge looks something like this:

The following info was added Oct. 14th as a FOLLOW UP. I see from my dashboard to this site, that the number one referral from goggle to this blog is if people search for "Chemo Crash." I top this the list. So I would like to add the following information - in case you don't read beyond this one entry.

It turns out that I had an allergic reaction to Taxol. (see here for that entry) Which explains why it was such a hard crash afterwards. I know a dear friend of mine, on Taxol, who had VERY little issues with Taxol. So please, one of the most important things to know with chemo - is that EVERYBODY REACTS DIFFERENTLY. If you are having a nasty ride, I would HIGHLY recommend two things:

1) Finding a good acupunsturist who works with chemo patients. This alone will control side effects. I have seen this again and again. Anyone I know who lived FAR beyond their life expectancy did two things, found peace everyday, and did acupuncture. I had more people refer me to acupuncturists "their other friend who survived cancer", than any other CAM medicine.

2) Try hypnotherapy. I have a personal hypnotherapist, and I have a CD (see sidebar). Within hypnotherapy, we have created a control board, that allows me to create dials as needed. Pain? I create a nob and turn the number from 8 to 7, to 6, to 5 etc. White blood cells dropping? I create a nob, and turn it from 4.0 to 6.5. Just a quick note, my white blood cells have NEVER dropped below 4.1!!! And usually average 6.0 with peaks in the 7's!!!!!!!!!

If you are about to embark on your journey with Taxol, please do not EXPECT this horrible side effect reaction. It is highly unlikely. It was probably the allergy to the base the put Taxol in that did the harm. (see that blog entry here) But, again, please look into Alternative Therapies to help control side effects!!! My reaction was an allergy to the base they put Taxol drugs in to administer them.

This leads me to one last note on Taxol. I ended up switching from Taxol to Arbraxane. Abraxane has the same drugs in it as Taxol, but the base they put it in is different. It is some sort of human protein or something, so it is not foreign to the human body and has very little side effects. HOWEVER, the cost....went from around $30,000 on Taxol, to $50,000 for the Abraxane. EACH AND EVERY TIME I GET IT. NOT OVERALL!!!!! EACH DOSE!!!!!! This point always stuns people. I think I see their minds go >boom!<. Yes, each dose costs $50,000. Now, for all of you freaking out, Insurance give In network a huge discount, and we only pay %10 after that til we hit our overall cap. Until our cap is reached, it costs up $1,600 EACH DOSE. Now, it is hard to read the insurance forms and bills, but I believe that is just for Abraxane and not including the premeds I get each time. But I am not sure.

But you should know, it takes a serious life threatening reaction to get put on Abraxane because of the expense. So, "regular" side effects won't get the switch. I am sorry if you are having a rougher ride, but don't expect to pay for the Abraxane out of pocket.

Okay, off to rest.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Do You Know How Amazing You Are

Do you all know how amazing you all are? How beautiful people can be? In the midst of this "financial crisis", people are still generous, with their love, hope, creativity, money, time, etc.

I just returned from the Art Bra Auction, the brainchild of my friend Kendyl and with the help of many. Do you know, complete strangers donated AMAZING works of art. Dear friends and their families did so as well. I am just so the creativity I saw, and the generosity, and the goodwill.

I have to detach a bit. To know this, in the end, was to harness healing energy, and monetary support, for little ole me...well, that much good energy is can humble you. To enjoy it, I had to not let myself really let it sink in it was for me (us - my family).

For those who missed, NO GUILT, but oh, you missed a good time. I will put pictures up. And the overwhelming donation of bras...there are still some to be taken home. There were wool ones, knitted ones, copper ones, ceramic ones, belly dancing ones, ones with toy soldiers, camouflage and pink ribbons, hand embroidered NW ones, flower ones, etc etc. Woah.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. I met some new faces, that brought me happiness. Some old friends I haven't seen in awhile came....

it is all so good.

And just so people know. Our medical bills situation is working out slowly. We still have more than we can pay, but with the fundraisers, people pointing me in the direction of places that help, etc, we are wading our way through. With my health improving, it looks like work will be in my future, and that will reallllllllllly help.

I do plan to put up songs that a friend of mine recorded (and a few I recorded on my own) to offer in turn for a donation through this blog. THAT will be my gift back to you. All the songs will be either spiritual chants I have learned, or songs/lullabies I wrote for my daughter. We are working on the technical aspects of getting the posted to download with each donation.

Again..............woah.........sooooooo amazing (huge smile)

Love right back to all of you who came tonight,

Friday, October 10, 2008

Peaceful Yummy Purrrrrrr

I am just reveling in the warmth of healing. Like a cat, in a patch of sunlight. So I feel quiet.

Had a great chat with a friend over tea yesterday. Peaceful.

Had a early morning walk with Bug today, collecting leaves, catching up. Sun was out. Purrr. And NO pain, WE WALKED together. Precious, cherished time.

Chemo has tired me, and the last two days I danced with its side effects, but still, Peace.

Yummmmmmy precious peace.

Next week is a Zometa week. So anyone wanting to be "on standby" let me know. hopefully, third time is the charm. I know the CraftyDabbler is out there. Would you like to have a day of knitting and tea? Maybe introduce me to spinning?

I hope you all have a least one moment in this hectic transitional time of pure, purrrrrring Peace.

Monday, October 6, 2008

From holding my Wew!

So, everyone who has called, and not gotten back an answer for a week. I apologize. Had some stomach issues earlier in the week, and then, I had the PET/CT to check on what was going on inside (see last post). I have been quiet. Wound up like a ball of yarn and holding my breath. I realized Sunday and had subtly closed myself off from the world and was just ....waiting.... would this be some shrunk, and some grew? Was that NEW pain a NEW tumor....was the back pain because it is was growing...or because I have been USING it more because they are GONE?

Good news! First Pet scans/CT are back, and it looks
realllllllllllllllllllly good! The doc started off with a huge smile
and said "These scans looks amazing!" and went on to say that in ALL
area, there has been (in the words of the scan doc who wrote the
report) "dramatic decrease in size" of all the sites! No bones tumors,
lymphs nodes to "scarce traces in a couple", the breast ones are only
very small traces, and the liver has dropped dramatically (one went
from 28 mm to 11) with ALL showing significant decreases. The spleen
is not looking like a cancercous tumor, but a benign one. In light of
all the others "dramatic" decrease, and not change or metabolic
activity, this small 2mm site appears benign. WEW!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That means at at least 3 months more chemo to keep pushing them down
into a remission state that is as small as possible. If things keep
going so well, she is open to not going on with chemo but changing
over to a hormonal therapy & Herceptin. I expressed the desire not to
beat my body down and keep it as strong as possible and use hormones
and Herceptin and natural therapies. WEW.

Is that the light at the end of tunnel!

Still will be doing chemo every week for another three months. So the
hard part isn't over yet, but at least we know is it ROCKING, and
telling these cancer cells they don't belong here. It is amazing. Even
the ones in the liver that are there are so no metabolic activity!

Can you say, I am a happy happy girl!

Even the stoic doc, was all smiles and.... HUGGED ME!!!!!!!!!!!


Friday, October 3, 2008

Darn, that time and its wings!

Sorry everyone, I didn't realize that I had let the time fly this week. Yes, the PET/CT scan was done on Thursday. I was nice and radioactive once again. I don't have test results back yet. That is okay, I want a chance to check in with my body and see what it says.

I did some BIG work today with my acupuncturist/ND. I won't go into details. Even for me, it is too private to share. But I will say a LOT of energy moved out of my lungs and I could feel the air move through my left lung again. Now, I before you go a freakin' out....I had this feeling BEFORE, and the scan were clear. I have to reassure myself of this.

So when I listen, my spleen is inflamed, my liver to a lesser degree is inflamed, my left hip bones, where you sit, ouch, and the vertbra between my shoulders has become so painful, I plan to talk about solutions.

It is out of the breasts as far as not being able to feel any tumors. Strangely enough, there is a hallow where the big one once was. Weird. Maybe lingering in a lymph node. But I feel very clear. My liver and spleen are unhappy, but I don't think that means worse off, just handling it all and having a time of it.

The "official" opinion comes on Monday and I will let you all know what transpires.

For now, I have to put my dear one to bed.

Love to you all!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Just too Good, I had to share

So, because I meditated/rested through chemo, napped when I got home, and have an all around chipper attitude from hanging out with my plants and family this afternoon, I had loads of energy for cooking. I made this recipe from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. I was a veggie girl for 7 years, til one day, I went by a Outback, and the craving for steak overtook me.

But this book is a bible for integrating more vegetarian recipes into the mix. Pick a vegetable and she knows 50 ways to use it.

I post this for two reasons. One,going through chemo, I need protein, but am not to keen on meat most days. This is a DELICIOUS recipe. Since I had the energy to get myself down to the farmers market yesterday, I had farm fresh ingredients. Two, this goes back to my last post. I LOVE to cook from the local farmer. I feel alive, I feel my hands are cleansed and energized, I feel my body relax and the smell of rosemary and thyme dance around my kithcen. I feel so ALIVE to make food the feeds you down to your bones. So, tonight, I cooked! I am so happy to have the stamina and energy back to do so!!!! And so....may I present:

Lentil Minestrone

2 TB. olive oil
2 C. finely chopped onions
2 TB. tomato paste
1/4 C. chopped parsley
4 garlic cloves, chopped
3 carrots, diced
1 cup celery or celery root, diced
salt & freshly milled pepper to taste
1 C. French Green Lentils, sorted and rinsed
Aromatics: 2 bay Leaves, 8 Parsley branches, 6 Thyme sprigs
9 C. water or Veg. Broth
soy sauce or GF tamari to taste
1 bunches fresh spinach, chard, or broccoli rabe
2 C. cooked small pasta (I did GF Spirals!)

Heat the oil in a wide soup pot with the onion.
Saute over hight heat, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
Add the tomato paste, parsley, garlic, vegetables, and 2 teaspoons sald and cook 3 minutes more.
lentils, aromatics, and water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes.

Taste for salt and season with pepper. If it needs more depth, add soy sauce to taste, starting with 1 Tablespoon. (The soup may seem bland at this point, but the plaveors will come together when the soup is finished). Remove the aromatics.

BOIL the greens in salted water until they are tender and bright green.
them coarsely.
Just before serving, add the greens, and the pasta to the soup and heat through.
Serve with extra virgin olive oil drizzled into each bowl, a generous grind of pepper, and the Parmesean (we used Vegan Parmesan for Bug).

The verdict in the household:

All around favorite and must tag and make again over and over. SO good. Bug ate it until the last bit was gone. Great for a crisp fall evening. I would suggest following it up with Baked Apples for dessert. Very simple. Yum

(who, in one incarnation in her 20's, was an assistant chef for a very nice restaurant)
Bon Appetite!

Readjusting the lense

So, I have been going through a tougher week than usual. Not physical, but mentally. Just getting stubborn, thinking life will just fall back to "normal'. There is no more "normal", my lense has been adjusted permanently, and I am working with a blurry perspective and refusing to adapt. Always, always, always, that created the suffering.

Pema Chodron, a Buddhist nun, says: It's also helpful to realize that this very body that we have, that's sitting right here right now... with its aches and it pleasures... is exactly what we need to be fully human, fully awake, fully alive.

I feel like our purpose of incarnating into these bodies is to learn about the myriad of human experiences. We all hope to skate by, unscathed, and the end, none of us do.

One of my mentors teachers said, "Each day, each moment, there is only ONE purpose, to learn. When we approach all that life hands us with Learning as a fundamental sacred act. We have access to all that we need to learn at any given moment. When fear is replaced with curiosity, suffering falls away."

When I get overwhelmed at what lay ahead of me, petrified sometimes...or when I feel haunted by illness and it's endless possibilities of pain and grief, I remember goal isn't to get through life unscathed by pain or challenge. The goal, instead, is to learn how to never surrender my love of life to the fear of death. This to me is premature death, walking death. Worse than death itself. To waste time alive, being dead.

That all being said, it was a hard week. I went to my darker edges and came back, so much happier. Just a quick, but deep trip, into the world of darker possibilities. As I pull out of it, quickly, I am amazed at the energy that is returning to me, despite the body being tired. Sharon might be happy to learn, I got the fight back in me. Yes, the FIGHT. I feel like a dog, with it's jaws clamped down on the pantleg of Life, and I refuse to let go. Not right now. When it is time, I will with grace. But right now, no freakin' way!!!!!

That being said. This week is the PET/CT scan. After talking to the doc today, it looks like my intution on this going through December is right on. Even if I got a clear PET scan, she would want to continue on, 6 months is the least amount of time she would have me doing chemo. I have some pondering to do. But I am prepared to go through December. I have been since the beginning.

Now THAT being said. All things are pointing to this working. My markers went from 160+ to 75! down is the way we want to go. 35 is normal. What she is looking for is a trend with the number to hold steady...or remission. The PET/CT will show us where it is working and how well. From what we are feeling,most palpable spots are not "there" by touch anymore. All good signs this is working.

I am pondering the damage chemo can do, and reexamining what I can do to keep the damage down. All my blood counts look good all around. My White blood cell counts are well within normal range, my red blood cells are just outside normal, but barely, and for the last five weeks, all of the numbers have been increasing steadily.

I have been reading issues that can come up from chemo. So now my goal is to mitigate them. My other goal is when Christmas rolls around,I have a body that is whole and healthy. My doc won't let me project out too far, she reigns me in. But I do know people who have doing chemo for a year. hmmm. That wasn't in my plan here. So, let's see what magic we can pull off.

The chaplain at the Institute today reassured me of a woman who has been stage IV for 12 years. She raised her daughter, and had long periods of remission, before flair ups required more treatment. Again, this is a managed disease, not cured. I still would LOVE to go for CURED. Wanna help? CURE CURE CURE CURE CURE CURE CURE CURE

This is a long update. But I have been quiet. I needed to be quiet. But now I need people again.

Oh, and just a shout out to my dearest friend Susan in New Zealand. She just went Kiwi side this week. Miss you tons. No one can replace you! And you are missed!!!! If anyone wants to talk about small things, like weeds, carpooling, and burnt out light bulbs, give me a ring ;)

Blessings to all,

Friday, September 26, 2008


So, this is an old post, but seems to be a good time to remember this for me:

I am not my disease.
I think of disease more as a verb, not a noun or an adjective because it is transit as all disease is. It has a beginning, middle and end.
It is just a stop along my way that will teach me and transform me.
It will fall away, and become my past and inform my choices in the future.
But all that matters is Now.
When I let fear in, I remind myself that all that matters is Now.
My fear is usually not of anything present,
but what I fear might transpire.
So I return to the moment I am in.
And the truth usually is:
Now, my heart is beating.
Now, my body is tired.
Now, it is full of energy
Now, I am in intense pain.
Now I am free of pain.
Now I rejoice in the beautiful energy of life.
When I fear what isn't there,
I lose my moment to live Now.
That is all we have.
Moment to moment.
That was true before anybody named my form of disease.
We all have our own brand.
Sometimes, someone naming a passing disease,
just brings that reality of NOW into acute awareness.
We can use that intense awareness of "all we have is now"
like a salve to heal any disease we have in our minds and spirits-
and thus return some strength to our bodies.
Pain, illness, disease are part of life,
suffering is optional.
That is true, even when I forget it.
Please remember this,
I am so much more than a disease.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

One last thought

Pondering my post today....and it came to me...

Peace can't be forced, but it can be found.


Becoming Still

I just came from sitting on the front porch. My intuition told me "Go outside, right now, sit, be still." As I sat there, watching the ant traverse the stone wall, and a slow moving bee, the last of the season I suspect, collecting what pollen was left on a lone dandelion flower, I became so softly and subtly at peace. Nothing else existed but this moment.

The sound of man was all around. Helicopters, sirens, the highway, rushing rushing rushing.

And the skill of the sage is to turn their eyes towards what they desire. So I thought I would plop my sage hat on my head (still with hair, for all of those with vivid imaginations) and just sat there. I had the choice. Tune into the bustling human-made energy of worry and anxiety, or the quiet, powerful steady flow of nature. Nature won.

The sun, thinly veiled through clouds, still warmed my skin, and the cool moist autumn winds picked up leaves and threw them around in their annual dance of transition. The wind chimes played too. Building their song louder and louder. Leaves scattered, trees creaked and danced, the sound of the chimes grew from a quiet song, into a violent clashing of metal bordering on chaotic. Then, in the same manner in which it began, this small episode of movement and sound became so very still. The chimes slowly, and steadily went from staccato metallic strikes, to softened notes, to a lingering hum, to empty space. Their beautiful music became beautiful stillness. One without the other, and either one would be meaningless.

I found myself, hypnotically falling into stillness, my thoughts slowly and steadily calming with the sound of the chimes and the wind in the trees. And I thought we as human beings should take note. The beautiful song of the chimes would become obnoxious and dissonant without its pauses.

I feel this need, and urgency, in the human condition, for us a whole, find moments of stillness and quiet. It is powerful.

There was a study done, not so long ago, where a LARGE group of people meditated on PEACE in a city experiencing a heightened rate of violent crime. During the time this group meditated on PEACE......the rate of violent crime dropped dramatically. If I remember correctly, it was some in the order of 20% or more. Far beyond any rate of chance.

The world feels so heightened, so anxious. Consider me the canary in the coal mine.....take heed...and take 5 minutes tonight to go outside and become as still as you can, and just LISTEN to the breezes. Don't judge them. Don't judge yourself. Don't apply a label, to the sounds, or to your experience of them.

Just simply let your mind match the rythmn of the breeze.

Try it tonight.