LIVESTRONG:

What started as IDC (Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma) in 2011, then turned into CHF (Congestive Heart Failure) in 2013, probably partially caused by chemotherapy along with a genetic pre-disposition. Here we are now in March 2016 and I am newly diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer in the left breast and liver (LMBC - liver metastasized breast cancer).


So the focus has shifted yet again, BUT... I continue to THANK YOU for your prayers, love & support. I receive them with open & loving arms. My wish is that I will gain strength from you, will provide helpful information and strength to others & will help to strip away the fears we each experience.


I am strong. I am loved. I am healthy. I WILL SURVIVE!

Have you or your loved one had their annual mammogram? PLEASE, don't put it off. Speaking from experience, I highly recommend monthly self exam as well. And if you are now cancer free of breast cancer, do everything you can to insist that your doctors follow up with an occasional PET Scan and labs for tumor markers.

WARNING:
Contents may be uplifting, sad, funny, scary, downright depressing ~ THAT IS CANCER .... at it's best, at its worst.

PLEASE ~ Feel free to share this blog with anyone who is interested to learn about my journey. While I welcome their support, I hope that by sharing this experience freely to the universe I may help to support others by breaking down some of the barriers and fear associated with breast cancer and the treatment.

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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Still Plugging Along

I'm still at it, and feeling very good. The chemo pill (one week on & one week off) is not too difficult to manage, after some morning intestinal issues. But all workable with some planning. Other than that, I'm not feeling any fatigue or nausea or discomfort. The hair is returning wildly and started to get curly a few weeks back. I don't even try to manage it as it is crazy. Finger nails are improving, and I never lost them last time, like it looked would happen and like 5 years ago. They are very brittle and dry, but again, it is all manageable.

Busy as a bee, is the way dear hubby would probably describe me. Between trying to keep up with weekly Tai Chi classes, time with all my girlfriends, knitting a fun cabled piece, walking when I can, more camp trips (a most recent one to Doran Beach Campground at Bodega, CA), time with daughters and their grandchildren, planning fun things to do in the near future, and preparing for an upcoming ukulele class, I am busy as a bee. And I'm sure I have forgotten a few things. Here are some pics from recent happenings...


Fun sleepover with the daughters and grandchildren
 
Five little kittens created by Sarah and I for grandson's teacher and classroom.


Mary's pizza, photo bombed by a strange woman. :-)

Spinning on the deck with girlfriends
 
Camping and knitting on a beautiful March day at Doran Beach CG

Walking the beach with my sweetie.

A Matter of Choice - Mastectomies Without Reconstruction, is a beautiful article and video about courageous women choosing not to have reconstruction after mastectomies. As you know, I did not have reconstruction. From a couple of years ago when a mastectomy was discussed for just the infection (no cancer was found, mistakenly, back then) and I chose not to have reconstruction; then to this past November when the surgery actually took place and reconstruction was not viable, it has always been my choice. I've never been one for extra stuff to look better, such as excessive makeup, fancy hair do's or hair coloring into older age, wigs when bald from chemo, etc. So to go for the mastectomy was just not "me". But I know it is a choice others make, and I'm fine with that. Whatever makes one person feel better, is their choice. So when I saw this article and video, it struck me very personally. It also helped me to realize that the knitted knocker prosthetic, which keeps slipping into the wrong position, is not all that important or necessary for me. It is just OK to be me. So maybe I'll wear it from time to time, but I think I probably won't most of the time. 
That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.  😊



Filling my live with love, laughter, family & friends!
~ Peace and Love ~






B  E  L  I  E  V  E

• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •

THANKS for visiting!        I look forward to your comment.

You can also find me on Facebook, Ravelry, and just occasionally on Instagram and Twitter. Just click the word above to go there.


Monday, March 6, 2017

Another Anniversary

Another year, another anniversary. YES!

I have made it this far, much to my surprise from how I felt last Spring. It was on February 26th that I received the dreaded news, and the official diagnosis date was on March 1, 2016, when I met with my surgeon and oncologist. Shortly thereafter I started chemotherapy, and it was a doozy that time. I was so violently sick for quite some time, then the fatigue, continued indigestion, nausea, hair loss, you name it.

It wasn't until near December 2016 that I finally seemed to be somewhat stable, the cancer tumors in the liver slowly shrinking with each quarterly CT Scan, the breast removed the month before, and transition to a chemo pill, instead of infusion. The transition to the pill gave me fewer side effects, and a more leisurely life not overshadowed by weekly day-long infusion treatments, and all the ups and downs from those treatments.

So one year letter I am feeling better, almost normal. My hair is returning, I am more active, and trying to enjoy life as best I can, much like everyone else.


Filling my live with love, laughter, family & friends!

~ Peace and Love ~






B  E  L  I  E  V  E

• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •

THANKS for visiting!        I look forward to your comment.

You can also find me on Facebook, Ravelry, and just occasionally on Instagram and Twitter. Just click the word above to go there.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Just Plugging Along...

I haven't been writing a lot of late. It seems when I am feeling well, I write less. But I should do the opposite, don't you think? 

The greens I planted in my galvanized tubs a bit ago are coming along nicely now. I was out there snacking on them the other morning. Thankfully we are getting some sunshine, which they were in dire need of; as was I and the rest of California.

 

Did I share that we have received 19 inches of rain for just the month of February. And another 26.5" for January. For the rain season, which is calculated from October 1st each year, we have received 67.5" rain so far. That is monumental, for us and all of California. We can now say that we are officially out of a drought situation.

Another lunch with our BFF's. We missed you this time JoAnn. These great girlfriends have been in my life since grammar school. I love them all dearly and look forward to our fun times together. We hope to do a camping trip this summer. Yay!
 
Yesterday I saw both Dr. Elboim, my breast surgeon, and Dr. Dhar, my cardiologist, for routine checkups. Dr. Elboim (pictured below) is such a dear sweet man. I truly love him. He always starts our appointment with a hug. I'm not sure if I am special, or this happens with everyone, but it is a very wonderful way to begin. My mastectomy is healing up very nicely. I had no issues whatsoever and really didn't even need to do much in the way of exercises. I am doing Tai Chi now so that is good. But, probably because no lymph nodes were removed, and I did not have reconstruction, things went as well as could be expected. The scar is very smooth as well. So I am happy.

Dr. Elboim mentioned he had found my Blog! Wow, I was impressed. We also talked about Knitted Knockers (see below), and I'd like to see about getting some brochures for his office. As I was dressing after the visit I thought, "Darn, I should have got a selfie with us since he knows about my Blog". But then one of the nurses of another Dr. in the office, Tracy, who I have seen often and is also just the sweetest, saw me leaving and we chatted and teased a bit. About then, Dr. Elboim walked by and I asked him for a selfie. Instead, Tracy took several photos of us. This one below I like the best. But he was so sweet. As we finished this hug and photo, I kissed him on the cheek. As I did so, he grabbed me in a big hug and spun me around and walked me out the door. It was hilarious and sweet. It was as if we were dancing. Such a genuine, kind man. Love you, Dr. Charles Elboim.

And he is the best breast specialist and surgeon around!


Dr. Dhar also gave me a good report. Even though I have been feeling a bit congested of late, and have put on a few pounds since the holidays... GRRRRRRR... he says that I am doing good, and that the report from my ICD was inconsequential (my words, not his). Basically there was nothing in that report over the last three months for any concern. Feeling good and won't let anything stand in my way!

I'm excited to report that my Knitted Knockers arrived yesterday. Thank you Eva Fisher! I had heard about them last year before I really needed them. Then saw on Facebook that friend Eva was stuffing them the night of Stitches West, and fiber convention I recently attended. Eva offered to pick up and ship a pair to me since I missed their booth at the event. And, voila!, they arrived yesterday. Here I am wearing one for my removed left breast. It's not the best photo, but it will be nice to have this option when I want to look a bit more normal. Most often I don't really care, and having being going left-breastless over three months now. But this is a great option. They are very soft, light, breath well, and you can adjust stuffing to get an exact fit. Then just pop it into your bra, or tank with bra-shelf (as I do most often), and you're all set to go. Unlike the prosthetics, which are heavy, make you sweat, and are expensive. It's a win-win solution.


The damage done at Stitches West. Such fun with great friends.
 

And I can't wait to dig into some of these yarns. I did finished hats for the three grandchildren for Christmas this year. Granddaughter is modeling her hat below, along with her mittens, which were knit a month ago, along with a pair for her brother and cousin. The cousin's mittens are in progress below. It's such fun making things for the grand kids. Projects are small and don't require much shaping or sizing. Most often they love them all. Although I still have a vest I have been trying to convince the grandsons to wear. Maybe dear granddaughter will inherit it and love it.



So my next steps are for bloodword/labs today, Friday, a repeat Echo mid-April because it has been a year already since the last one, and more labs with a follow up with my oncologist in April as well. But for now... all is well. 


Filling my life with love, laughter, family & friends!


Peace and Love





Die cancer, DIE. You are messing with the wrong woman!!

Debbie... aka the cancer FIGHTER

AND Cardiomyopathy warrior!!!
B  E  L  I  E  V  E

• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •

THANKS for visiting!        I look forward to your comment.

You can also find me on Facebook, Ravelry , and just occasional on Instagram and Twitter

Sunday, February 12, 2017

They Call it Life

The good, the bad, and the ugly.... or should I say deranged. 
 
I do try to stay away from politics here, but for those of you who follow me on Facebook, or are true friends with me in real life, whatever that is, you know that I cannot stay silent with what is happening around us in our world today ~ namely 45 and the new administration of our Nation. The challenge, the confusion; it is all so hard to come to grips with. I know that even in California, there are some who do not agree with me, and even some in my family. My closest friends are usually so shocked to hear this and always question me to say, "Who could possibly disagree, or feel that way; especially in CA?" And I know that they too experience the opposing side from time to time, again in surprise and confusion. It is all just so challenging and disheartening. I will hold my thoughts on this topic right about here, but I will leave you with this article; just click on the words "this article". I hope and encourage you, I URGE YOU, to read this and give it your honest thought and heartfelt review. There is so much we can all do if we just pull together. And please, do not say that we need to give 45 time, a chance. Just look at how things have gone in the little time he has already stolen from us. Please, read this and then do what is in your heart to rectify these wrongs and craziness, in your own way, whether silently or out loud. But please refrain from trying to silence others. 

On the health side, I can't complain, and I am very grateful. Life is good right now, and I'm gonna keep it this way as long as I can; maybe forever. I received results from my recent CT Scan, and they were good. All tumors are still there in the liver, but they are just a bit smaller than 3-4 months ago. This is good news and all I can hope for. My bloodwork shows nothing alaraming -- again good news. Especially since I had a bit of a scare shortly before the scan, causing me to move up my Scan date and followup oncology review appointment. I had swelling in the neck area and a very tender spot on a bone right below my neck. Thankfully there is nothing there at all, at least not from the scan. I do still have that tiny spot in the lower section of my right lung that appears from time to time. They keep telling me it is residual from a recent cold or infection, or something; although I've not been sick in many months. Oh well, I'm not about to look for trouble.

And on the treatment side, I am doing pretty well. One good thing about the week on, and week off, of 6 Capecetabine (Xeloda) tablets (3 in am and 3 in pm), is that I am not going to the oncologist for infusion every single week. So my life has been freed up of many of the doctor visits. In fact, my oncologist does not want to see me for another two months. I'm not sure whether that makes me happy, or nervous, or offended (just kidding, of course). It gives me time to enjoy my family, to get out and walk without the fatigue, and try to lose these few pounds that crept on recently. Time to return to Tai Chi, learn my ukulele, and try to meditate. Time to be with friends, and especially my beloved grandchildren. The one side effect from the Xeloda is the morning bathroom routine. It does keep me close to home for a few hours as everything seems to flow freely in the morning, if you get my drift. (I know, TMI -- but then this Blog is about me, my health, my life, treatment, etc. -- at least I haven't shared photos of my mastectomy - YET) 😍 

Well, we are up to 58.5" of rain for the rain year (Oct 2016-today), and that includes a whopping 26.5" in January, and 11" already for this month. They say that the North Bay is out of the drought. So I am enjoying these past few days of sunshine. I even got some lettuces and greens planted in my raised planters a couple of weeks ago, so I am sure that they are enjoying the sunshine as well. And we are looking forward to a fun camping trip soon and also we're planning ahead with more fun activities in the months to come. 

So, I'm feeling kind of normal, have good energy, and loving time with family and friends. Now if we could just correct some of the happenings I mentioned in the beginning, life would really be good!

That's it for now...



Filling my life with love, laughter, family & friends!


Peace and Love




Die cancer, DIE. You are messing with the wrong woman!!

Debbie... aka the cancer FIGHTER

AND Cardiomyopathy warrior!!!
B  E  L  I  E  V  E

• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •

THANKS for visiting!        I look forward to your comment.




 
 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

They Call It Hair, and Other Musings

Look, Ma... I have hair!



Enough for it to even get messed up when I wear a hat, which is still most of the time. But I do go hatless indoors more frequently now that this little bit of fluff is giving me some warmth. And I'm glad it is. 

Now if I could just get my eyebrows, lashes, and  nails to cooperate. But I won't be greedy on this account. I am thankful for what I have.

HATS & MARCHING


Speaking of hats, I was so very honored to participate in one of the over 600 sister marches to the Women's March on Washington DC on 1/21/17. As you can see from the tiny image in the background pic of our 3-girl Glen Ellen/Sonoma/Napa team of me, Kate & Karen, we marched at our State Capitol of Sacramento, CA. The crowd is estimated to be in the neighborhood of 30,000 and it was an experience of a lifetime for me. The vibe was positive, supportive, inclusive, and the intent was, and is, to stand up for the rights of all human beings, especially women; which we believe are being threatened at lightning speed under the new President and administration.

 These are called pussy hats. And if you've heard any of the derogatory statements from our new President from recent history, you know what this means.
This are called pussy hats. Google it if you don't know the meaning, but you couldn't have missed it in the last few weeks if you read/watch the news or do anything online.

A lot of people are calling this song the anthem of the Women’s March movement. It brings tears everytime I hear it, and especially watching this wonderful women sing it in DC.
“We are the song rising in the twilight. Sing it once more, #ICantKeepQuiet. A #WomensMarch anthem."

 

A GETAWAY


Right before the march, Mark and I, and three of our other trailering couples (we call ourselves the Vino Vagabonds), made a treck up to our favorite winery, Pacific Star Winery, for a few days. It was the annual crab feed and the crabbing strike ended just in time for us to enjoy the most delicious dungeness crab from the Fort Bragg area. We are part of the "crew" for this event so we help with set up, take down, and even a little food prep and flower arranging. But the best part is the open welcome from the winery owners Sally & Marcus, the gorgeous setting, and the friendship of this group. Not to mention some delicious wines and THE VIEWS. What an amazing place and fun weekend.

 





 BBC NEWS

And then there is some exciting news on the breast cancer front:

Breast cancer: Scientists hail 'milestone' genetic find

Scientists say they now have a near-perfect picture of the genetic events that cause breast cancer.

The study, published in Nature, has been described as a "milestone" moment that could help unlock new ways of treating and preventing the disease.

The largest study of its kind unpicked practically all the errors that cause healthy breast tissue to go rogue.
I say, keep this kind of good news coming!


That's it for now...



Filling my life with love, laughter, family & friends!


Peace and Love




Die cancer, DIE. You are messing with the wrong woman!!

Debbie... aka the cancer FIGHTER, AND Cardiomyopathy warrior!!!
B E L I E V E

• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •
THANKS for visiting!        I look forward to your comment.




 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

New Year ~ New Me

Or so I hope!

My new motto for this year is...
  • Move a little more; sit less
  • Eat a little better; more real food, one bite at a time.
  • Sleep tighter; every good day starts with a good night.
  • Take a moment to calm your mind, be in the moment.
It's been a wet and soggy month so far, bringing 17" of rain to our little farm here in Glen Ellen, Brookfarm. So it has been hard to get out and do the Move a little more part. But I did get a two-mile walk in yesterday at our regional park. So that is a start.

I also made it to a meditation class the other day, and then meditated at home one day. If I can only keep on track and keep progressing in a positive direction, that is the real test.

I've been feeling really good of late, and now back on my chemo pill after a one-month break post mastectomy. It was a nice break over the holidays but I am ready to get back at it and be the cancer warrior. In early February I'll be back to see my oncologist for a new CT Scan, which I hope will show further reduction in number and size of lesions.

Today I hosted lunch for my group I meet with once a month. I call it a cancer support group, but it is really a women's support group -- a group of local Glen Ellen and Sonoma women, most of them I have known for many years, usually because of connections from our children growing up and being close in age. But there are a few newer friends too. What we all have in common most recently is cancer, in one form or another. I've told you about this group before, so won't go over it all again. But let's just say that they are the best ever. We all have kids and grandkids, are loving, caring, and creative women. We are on the same page politically. And we are all cancer warriors at different stages in our fight against the disease, or recovering from the death of a loved one to the disease. We talk, we share, we laugh, we eat, and then we plan the next lunch.

We just made our plans for next month and we will meet on Valentine's day at Community Cafe. Why then and there, you may ask? Because it is the anniversary of the death of Denise Emery, and we want to honor her there at one of her favorite spots and will toast her with a glass of white wine. Gone far too soon, my sweet cousin and dear friend. We all miss you and know you are watching over us all now planning to make us all cranberry sauce, or pesto sauce, or bringing lemons; always thinking of others. It will be a lovely way to honor Denise, share memories, and just support one another.


Here's to 2017!
Fill it with love, laughter, family & friends!


Peace and Love




Die cancer, DIE. You are messing with the wrong woman!!

Debbie... aka the cancer FIGHTER, AND Cardiomyopathy warrior!!!
B E L I E V E

• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •
THANKS for visiting!        I look forward to your comment.