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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Thursday, December 7, 2017

All Is Well

I saw my Oncologist, Dr. Ian Anderson, for the first time since August. I was due to see him the first week of October, but the Northern California  firestorm (something I'm still struggling to Blog about) caused a cancellation for that visit. So much right up to and around the center was lost in the fire and it is almost miraculous that this building is still standing. It took nearly a month before they could clean it up and replace all the disposable supplies and such and reopen. The thought of losing that center, and the jobs that support so many there, and the wonderful service it provides, is hard to even imagine.

Hubby and I started the day out with eye exams at Target. On the way there, I noticed I was still wearing my Croc slippers. Woops - at least they kind of look like shoes. We both had good exams; eyes are healthy and time for new glasses on both sides. More sad news, though, is that Dr. Lee lives in Redwood Valley and lost everything. But he was so upbeat saying they had gotten rid of all the trees he did not like and will rebuild and landscape and this time make it exactly as he and his family wish. Gotta look on the bright side; and this man is certainly there.

The drive to the oncology center was an eye-opener. I had not been past the Journey’s End  trailer park yet to see that devastation nor the devastation of the Round Barn Inn and Holiday Inn  right next to the oncology center. All so very sad. We did not drive over Fountaingrove so that will be a trip for another time.

Things went very well with Dr Anderson — everything is good. It almost scares me things are so good; am I "dodging a bullet" here? It is hard to not let my mind go there once in awhile. But I do live in the moment, and try not to get bogged down with thoughts like this. But that's just my life these days. I will take it and enjoy it. 

My weight is up a bit, and that has me a bit miffed, especially with the holidays upon us. We talked about altering my Xeloda chemo pills & maybe taking a week off around the holidays to give my body a break and make it a little easier on my hands and feet, and see if some shoulder pain goes away, although that is not a normal side effect of this drug, so is probably unrelated. I'm going to start seeing Dr. Anderson every six weeks & doing scans every three months. This is a bit sooner than before (exam every 2 months, and scans 4 months), but will keep a better look at things since I am way over the usual time when this drug no longer becomes effective, or the patient can no longer tolerate it; which is usually less than a year. I am now going on 15 month. Hopefully things will continue this way. 

So things are going very well for now. We are refreshing the living room a bit with fresh paint and carpets, and I am working on some Christmas crafts for the grand kids. Look who helped me create these beautiful holiday decorations from the nature surrounding us on beautiful Sonoma Mountain.

Gloves are important for pulling a wagon to help Grammie collect greens and berries.

Everyone is in a festive mood.



And dinner out at Goji Kitchen in Santa Rosa on our way home  was delicious. This was our second time there and we will be back. 

My fortune ~ 

 
Filling my life 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.





Saturday, December 2, 2017

The Feet of Xeloda

I completed two full weeks of Xeloda chemo this time; 7 days on, 7 days off, and then back on. Usually I skip a dose or day towards the end due to side effects. But this is the outcome of this drug, or one of them. Feet are red and tender, feel almost blistered. VERY dry skin. Sometimes I'll get peeling a week or so later, sometimes large, thick pieces of skin. But with the proper care, hopefully I can skip that part.

But what is new is some chronic shoulder discomfort, and pain at times. I was thinking it was overdoing in my Tai Chi stretches, so have taken a long break from that. Maybe it is time for oncology massage to see if that helps.




Just another day in the life of a Stage IV Liver Mets BC lifer. But generally, life is very good right now, and really I am not complaining. I mean, look what fun I had last night on the Santa Train!






Yes; I was there, and taking all the photos.



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 FacebookRavelry, and just occasionally on Instagram and TwitterJust click the word above to go there



Friday, October 27, 2017

The Scar Project

This is Shannon Montgomery. She is a brave and courageous young woman battling Triple Negative breast cancer, and this is her story.

Shannon is also a member of The Scar Project.
The SCAR Project is a series of large scale portraits of young breast cancer survivors shot by photographer David Jay. On the surface an awareness raising campaign for young women, The SCAR Project's deeper message is one of humanity. Ultimately, The SCAR Project is not about breast cancer, but the human condiditon itself; the images transcend the disease, illuminating the scars that unite us all.
 My heart goes out to all the brave and courageous people battling many types of breast cancer


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 FacebookRavelry, and just occasionally on Instagram and TwitterJust click the word above to go there

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Great CT Scan News & A Very Long October

This is October, which is Breast Cancer Awarenwss Month, a time when I’m usually helping to promote this on my blog. Well this month has gotten away from me for many reasons, the most being the recent horrific and catastrophic firestorm in California history right in my neighborhood. The good news is that we are fine and our home and property spared. But no so for our lovely hamlet of Glen Ellen, and many neighborhoods nearby in Sonoma County, as well as neighboring Napa County. 

But that is a story for another day when landlines and WiFi are restored and I can return to using my desktop computer keyboard, rather than my tiny cell phone.

But this good news I must share NOW!

Did you know that in March 2016 the first CT scan I had when diagnosed with Mets showed the largest liver lesion at 4.1 cm which is equal to 41 mm. Well my lastest CT of a few days ago shows great improvements since that fateful day 20 months ago. It shows that largest lesion  just went from 14 mm to 12 from 2 months ago. So in  20 months I am down from 41 mm. to 12 mm. That is significant!!! 🤗🙏🏼👍

Now if the antibiotics will work quickly on this chest cold turned into bronchitis, I will be a happy camper.



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 FacebookRavelry, and just occasionally on Instagram and TwitterJust click the word above to go there

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Its About Time MBC

Did you know....

20% TO 30% OF PEOPLE initially diagnosed with early stage breast cancer will develop metastatic breast cancer.

Metastatic Breast Cancer can occur ANYTIME after a person's original breast cancer diagnosis.

Only around 7% of breast cancer research funding is specifically allotted to finding a cure for metastatic breast cancer. 

155,000 is the ESTIMATED NUMBER OF AMERICANS WHO ARE CURRENTLY LIVING WITH METASTATIC BREAST CANCER. 

2, 5, or 20 is the NUMBER OF YEARS METASTATIC BREAST CANCER CAN OCCUR AFTER ORIGINAL DIAGNOSIS, SUCCESSFUL TREATMENT CHECKUPS AND ANNUAL MAMMOGRAMS. 


By bringing awareness to this subject through my blog, I can only hope that future research will eventually find a way to prevent breast cancer before it even begins. Wouldn’t that just be the best thing ever.

Filling my life 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.





Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Eclipse of a Lifetime & a Great Road Trip

The road trip of a lifetime...  17 days, with dear friends, hitting almost all new campgrounds to us; amazing and fun times.

It all started out a little rough, as we had only been home from Kauai for 3 days. That did not allow for much prep time on the trailer and packing food, etc. Then we found a mouse family had gotten into the lower drawers of the trailer so that all had to be removed cleaned and disinfected; all items washed and returned. Yay! 

I had my check up with my oncologist on Tuesday, and all was good. We will do a CT Scan in October., and so I am anticipating that now in about a month. We talked about some of the issues I've had with the Xeloda and he has some ideas how to get around it and stay on this chemo a bit longer, if my body continues to tolerate it and the cancer is still kept at bay. So I headed out to shop for groceries for the trip, over-bought as usual, and returned to load it all up and get everything in order. Mind you, Mark had been working his fingers to the bone these three days to get the truck and trailer all loaded up, the kayaking gear, extract the mice, or so we thought, etc.

Wednesday, August 9th, we head out in our cozy little home on wheels and drive to Sonoma to meet up with the Merritts. First stop was Battle Creek Campground outside of hot Mineral, CA, and just inside of Lassen National Park. We've been there a few times and it is a great one-nighter and stop-over as we are getting going on the road trip. 

Wouldn't you know that I would come down with a cold, stuffed up head the night before leaving. So the next three days I ran a fever of up to 100.5. That may sound pretty low, but for someone on chemo, it was alarming. The fever finally broke by day 3 (spending those days making our way for a night in Lava Beds NP and then on to Lake of the Woods, OR). Thank goodness. But then that first morning at Lake of the Woods, I was stung by a bee on the very back side of my right upper arm. Those that know me, understand that a bee sting to me usually means swelling of the are to the size of a cantaloupe. YEP, that is exactly what happened. Huge bummer. So now I have a snotty nose (but no fever), and a huge swollen and very itchy arm. Thanks to JoAnn for her benadryl tabs for the cold, and benadryl cream for the arm. But honestly, I do enjoy our time at each of these wonderful spots, hiking down into chilly lave tube caves at Lava Beds NP (on very hot days - nice), patio boat out on Lake of the Woods, dinner out, music at the lake, pizza another night, kayaking. So all is not lost.

All that craziness behind us and we stay a total of three nights at Lake of the Woods, near Upper Klamath Rec Area and three more at Diamond Lake, just north of Crater Lake. Both are gorgeous spots, great kayaking lakes, beautiful scenery, and offering different experiences at each. We will be back to these wonderful camping spots.


Relaxing at Lake of the Woods, OR



Sunrise off to the side of Mt Thiesen at Diamond Lake, OR

Standing at edge of our campsite at Diamond Lake, OR

A beautiful paddle, with a bit of residual smoke from local fires, at Lake of the Woods, OR

A happy pie-eater, Sage Hen Cafe in Christmas Valley

So on day 9 we arrive at our destination for the Eclipse, Double Diamond Ranch, and the second home of Elaine Bell and John Merritt, Ed's brother and sister-in-law. Let the party begin. Such fun times with everyone there; 9 RV's several tents, and a house full of family and guests from as far away as New York. Our hosts treated us to beautiful views, wildlife, the most exquisite dinners all four nights, and a day full of fun at the world-class full eclipse including a rodeo hosted by Veronica and Chris at neighboring Post to Post Ranch complete with bull and bronco riding, not to mention lots of meals and fun. WOW! It's really hard to describe the whole adventure, but most importantly the actual eclipse, without another whole blog entry. It was eery, magical, awe-inspiring, and gave me goose bumps. This little slice of paradise is 7 miles down a gravel country road outside of Midvale, ID. There isn't much out there, but farms every now and then. But it was a perfect place to watch a solar eclipse in full totality along with about 100+ old and new friends. Wouldn't have missed it for the world. 



A mini-reunion at the eclipse with 6 SVHS Class of 1971 graduates from CA and MT - such fun.

The trip home was still fun, but a bit less exciting. A long drive to Frontier RV Park in Winnemucca NV got us on our way. Then we spent a bit of time in the cool Cabela's store in Boomtown NV, just outside of Reno. Our next two nights spent in Donner Memorial State Park were very nice, with a lovely kayak trip on the lake, and dinner out to celebrate Ed & Jo's anniversary. 

17 days later and we are home, safe and sound, with some new amazing travel memories in the books. And now I get to spend some time with my sweet three grandchildren, who are now 3 (Madeleine), 5 (Gaige), and 6 (Nico). Nico and Madeleine having had birthdays in Kauai and a few days later. In a couple of months, Gaige will be 6 too. My how they are all growing up too fast.


Filling my life 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, August 14, 2017

The Sad Truth of Some Side Effects

Some of the issues with cancer treatment are those we rarely speak about. Like this one

Talk to your oncologist, as hard as it may be, so they are aware of your specific issues. There may be something they can suggest to help.
 

Filling my life 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.



Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Oncology Checkup & Wonderful Kauai Vacation

Today was my bi-monthly port draw, labs, and checkup. Feeling good so expecting a good report.feeling optimistic at Redwood Regional Cancer 

And as expected - Very good appointment with Dr Ian Anderson this morning. CBC looks good. All my vitals are great. We talked a little bit about the feet issues I've had and it sounds like we can make adjustments with the Xeloda, if needed, since I seem to be doing so well on it, so I can stay on it as long as possible for maintenance. That was refreshing to hear. 

I will have blood work in a month and then a new CT Scan and Oncology checkup mid-October.

But the fun news is the most wonderful vacation we just had at Kiahuna Plantation on Kauai the past two weeks. It was the most wonderful trip with our two daughters and most of their families, including the 3 adorable grand children. We swam at the beach and at the ocean, snorkeled, played on the water slide and the beach, ate out and in, toured Kilauea lighthouse, danced the hula and saw three amazing shows, one being the most spectacular Auli'i Luau at the Sheraton in Poipu, just a few steps from our condo. We had ice cream, shave ice, smoothies, and lots of fish. We saw Monk Seals and Sea Turtles up close and personal; not to mention two Manta Rays, giant frogs (about 10 of them one evening), spiny sea stars, hermit crabs, sea cucumbers geckos and anoles. Oh and amazing smell of flowers, lots of birds, and chickens galore. 

It was the trip of a lifetime with memories for all to cherish for years to come.

Here is a snippet of photos of the trip. Just click the link. Facebook tells me that even if you aren't a Facebook member, you will be able to view this photo album. Enjoy!


Filling my life 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.