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, May 10, 2018

Do We Ever Really Get to Say Goodbye?

Do we ever really get to say goodbye? 

When we lose a loved one, dear friend, an acquaintance; do we ever get that moment at the end, or close to the end, to actually say goodbye. That moment when we know death is within a few days, to tell someone how much we love them, how dear they are to us, how we respect or look up to them, to wish them well on their journey, and actually say goodbye?

I’ve had a few times in my life when I knew someone was getting close to death, but never quite knew how close it really was. Sometimes they welcome a visit, sometimes they do not want us to see them “that way”, and sometimes we do not want to intrude into their private space or family time. But I am not sure if I ever really had the opportunity to really say goodbye.

I just lost a sweet friend recently, a breast cancer sister who had been struggling for a time. She and I have traveled a similar path but at different timing, and things were getting very hard for her. She did not want to see me or our group of 6 local Glen Ellen women, a group of sweet sisters who have all been affected by cancer, most personally themselves, or a spouse.

Our close group met monthly for lunch, we checked in on each other often via text and email and phone calls, we would talk about our cancers, our children and grandchildren, just life in general. We would laugh, we would cry, and we would just be there to support each other in any way we could.

So today I’m saying goodbye to Sharon, even though she left her worldly body on Friday. I didn’t get to do that face-to-face, or even over the phone or otherwise. I thought there would be more time. I hoped there would be that opportunity. I know she knew how I felt, how our group felt. We shared so much.

But for now, I can only send her my prayers of love and comfort, my thanks that she is out of pain and in peace, my gratitude for the support she offered to me, AND my hope and prayers that her family is ok, or will be in time.

I’ve already told Mark that I’m ok with visitors when my time comes. But I know that could change, and family always comes first.

Cherish every moment. Tell those you love how you feel. You may not get the chance before their time comes. And if you don't have, or take, the opportunity, know that they know and understand your love and feelings for them.

Goodbye sweet Sharon....


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.

Friday, April 27, 2018

The Good Reports Continue

I feel so lucky, blessed, fortunate, etc... that the improved medical reports continue for my LMBC (Liver Metastasized Breast Cancer). Thankfully, all the stars are still pointing in the right direction.

I've had three recent tests, and results on two are in, as of my latest oncology checkup yesterday. The CT Scan performed last week shows 
"Previously seen hypodense lesion in the posterior right liver lobe measures 11mm, previously 13 mm. Additional hypodense lesions in the inferior right lobe are no longer visualized. No evidence of new metastatic disease"
For a bit of history, the largest lesion mentioned above as now 11mm, was 4.09 cm, which is 40.89 mm. And that was March 2016. That's a decrease in size from 1.61 inches down to .43 inches.

There were approximately a dozen lesions in my liver back in March 2016, and all the others are now hard to even see on the scan.

The second good report was on my recent mammogram on my uni-boob; and it checked out A-ok. 

The third report still out is my annual echocardiogram to see how the old ticker is doing. That information should come in the next few days.

Thank you to YOU; all my family and friends, for all the love, prayers, support, laughter, and positivity. It does take a village and I am so appreciative each and every day. Never give up!

And while I am still Stage IV LMBC, things are looking good these days and I have a lot more living to do, if I have anything to say about it.

 So on to living....


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, April 23, 2018

A Wonderful Adventure Through Arizona

So the hubby and I took another wonderful travel trailer camping trip in March through some of Arizona. Trips like this are so exciting for many reason:
1) Being that just over two years ago when I was diagnosed for the second time with breast cancer and this time Stage IV metastasized to the liver, I had no idea where I'd be today in this journey. 

2) That when planning a trip like this in advance, I always worry that the tides may change and we won't be able to make the trip then, or maybe ever; that the new trailer we just purchased would all be for naught.

There is is just so much that flies through the brain that never did before. It is different in many ways.

And we hope to do another one soon. As a matter of fact, we met a few full-timers; couples who have been out on the road for 3 plus years, or those that take off for three full months every winter. It definitely gives one something to think about and strive towards.

I won't detail every stop and adventure, although I'd love to; but I will give you a few highlights. But let me start out by saying that I absolutely love our new Nash 24M trailer. And that's even after seeing so many huge and beautiful 5th wheelers and motor coaches on the road during this trip and at all of our camp spots. Our Nash now has a slide out couch across from the dinette so we have a bit more floor space, a dance floor as we call it, and a wonderful pantry storage in the kitchen; not to mention a walk-around bed and loads of great storage space. Oh and an automatic awning, which is so convenient. I think you get the idea.We love it!


After a couple days on the road, and exploring much of Route 66, we landed at the only spot we had made reservations for this adventure, the Grand Canyon. And Grand doesn't quite do it justice. We immediately changed our 4-night stay at Trailer Village Campground to 6 nights. And we filled every day with fun, even though some nights got down to 10 degrees. Some days barely over 40. But we came prepared, although I caught a nasty cold during that time. We hiked most of the rim, although though the altitude and elevation was a challenge for me. We took in all the lodges and ate out a few times, our favorite meal being a lovely dinner at El Tovar Lodge. We rode just about every shuttle line there in the park, and the shuttle service is absolutely amazing, I might add. We spent a day driving out to Cameron Trading Post and stopping at all the Rim spots along the way. Sunsets were thoroughly enjoyed at the Rim our first night in the park, and a 6am 10 degree sunrise a few days later. The light and photo opportunities are so beautiful and endless.



Hopi House
Hopi House


From there we headed South into Oak Creek Canyon through Sedona, camping at Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood, AZ and driving through Jerome and nearby ruins. Dead Horse Ranch is a lovely park that we'd like to explore more another time.

Then it was off to the concrete jungle area of Mesa, AZ to take in the SF Giants in a couple of the Cactus League games. I had no idea that there are a few RV Villages housing up to 1,800 spots for RVs and tiny modular homes in Mesa. This is not our preferred place to stay, but it was perfect to allow us to Uber to and from the games. And even spend a day touring the Hall of Flame fire museum. If your a snow bird planning to winter in Mesa or somewhere nearby, these RV parks offer oodles of activities and have strong community centers for the active senior. We enjoyed our time here, but were none too anxious to move on down the road. 


Next stops were just outside of Tucson at two different delightful campgrounds we enjoyed thoroughly - Picacho Peak State Park, and Gilbert Ray Campground, both in the Sonora Desert. The desert and Saguaro cacti were such a delightful change in scenery. 

Gilbert Ray Sunset

 Although we ran out of time to visit family as we had hoped; we were able to spend a day touring Mission San Xavier and Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, both must see spots that you need to save up a half to full-day to really appreciate fully. The Mission was a favorite spot of Mark's mother and it was a special visit for us both.



Mission San Xavier

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a must-see stop. Be sure to take in the free flight show of raptors if you can. What a sight to see.



From here we were off to Havasu River at the River Island State Park camp ground, then a few more nights at Joshua Lave RV park between 29 Palms and Joshua Tree. Nearby London Bridge was a fun day trip and lunch out, as well as a bit of the Lake Havasu City area, as well as the magnificent Joshua Tree National Park, which requires a longer visit next time around.

London Bridge
 We finished off the trip with a couple of nights at Joshua Tree Lake Campground and spent a full day drive and hiking in Joshua Tree NP. What a special place, and another future stop in our lives. 
Joshua Tree Lake Campground

Joshua Tree NP

One more night on the road and we returned to a vibrant green California and Sonoma County following the heavy rains that preceded our return.

This was another epic entry into the journal of our lives.

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, April 18, 2018

Is Dreaming Healthy: & How Might It Relate to Breast Cancer

This is a very interesting study I found on Dr. Andrew Weil's Facebook Page. I thought you might be interested to learn my experience on this subject.
I've never dreamed much at all my entire life, very rarely actually. But I feel like I've always gotten good sleep. I thought I just wasn't remembering my dreams. 

About 2 years ago I started taking melatonin, not to help sleep but as an aid to breast cancer. This recommendation came from Dr. Danielle Schwaderer Kettler, aka "TheNatureDoc". Her Blog post with Melatonin research articles for cancer support patients is here: 

And I dream almost every night now. Pretty vividly most of the time.

AND, better yet, my tumors have reduced considerably over the past two years since Metastasized Breast Cancer (MBC) diagnosis March 2016.

But please know that I also am still on a chemotherapy regime as well.

If taking melatonin, my understanding is that it needs to be taken near dusk or the normal time when your sun is going down. You also need to slowly increase the dose to get up to where you want to be. for instance, start on the lowest dose and slowly increase after 2-3 weeks at each level. I am currently taking 30 milligrams each night.


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.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Another Positive Checkup

Yesterday I had my port draw for all labs, tumor markers, and my monthly checkup with my oncologist. All is well and good and I'm off to set another month on fire.

Happy Easter one and all. 
Smile at a stranger today; hold the door open for someone; love your life and this world. Respect and be greatful for every moment, every day, every person, every being, every sunrise and sunset.
Life is a precious gift. 

Joshua Tree & our recent RV Trip; which I will tell you all about very soon.

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.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Two Wrapped Up

Another year, another anniversary. YES!

I have made it this far, much to my surprise from how I felt over a year ago. It was on February 26, 2016 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 early 2017 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. And I'm still on the Capecitabine pill (generic for Xeloda), one week on and one week off, over 18 months later. When 9 months is the norm for this drug usually because the patient stops tolerating it, or its effectiveness against the cancer stops. And tumors continue to be stable and even smaller!

So it's been two years and I can pretty much do what a normal person my age can do, with some limitations, especially due to my weak heart. I have hair (it's the little things), and even my eyebrows have slowly returned a bit. I pretty much do what I like when I want. And for that I am very blessed and thankful. Thankful for a wonderful medical team, for family and friends, for you being there for me and with me. One day at a time...



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, January 17, 2018

The Life of a Metster

My 2018 continues in a positive direction, and for this I feel very blessed. Having lost another BC sister to Mets recently always puts that worry into me, and I presume others like me. I send much love and comfort to Dawn and her family. She is at peace now, and I hope that in time her smile, generosity, and kindness will bring them all sweet memories. She will be sorely missed.

But we must take this one day at a time, one foot after the other, like Dawn did for five years, because we each lead similar, yet different, journeys in this road called the life of a Metster.

Yesterday I had my visit with my Oncologist, Dr. Ian Anderson, at the Round Barn Facility for Sutter's Cancer Center. It has become a visit of many reminders for me. No longer is it just the reminder of my current journey, but it is the reminder of the horrific wildfires that hit our region just a few months ago. The trees in the parking lot are still charred black, as are those in the Kaiser facility just across the street. The iconic Round Barn is no longer, as is the nearby Hilton Hotel, Journey's End Trailer Park, all within a stones throw of my oncology center. And that doesn't even touch on Fountaingrove Drive and the thousands of homes lost there as well, and the Coffey Park area just across the 101 Freeway. I could go on, and on, but I will leave it there.

We just returned from a lovely RV weekend just North of Ft Bragg for an annual crab feed we attend at Pacific Star Winery. A day before the trip, I went in for my port draw and labs, in anticipation of my quarterly CT Scan and checkup. We left Ft Bragg early Monday morning to return just in time for the scan Monday afternoon, and returned back to Santa Rosa Tuesday afternoon for my check up.  

All is well!

Everything is stable and the same as from my CT Scan 3 months ago. All lesions are about the same. There were a few notations on the scan that my oncologist did not bring up (and I did not notice until my return home), so I will take it as still a great report. We talked about the week break I took from the Xeloda the week after Christmas, which gave me three weeks off this chemo. Since I continue to have a good response to this drug, even 16 months out from my start date on the Xeloda, it is best to do all we can to continue this routine while things continue to be good. I'm way past the average 9 months that most tolerate this drug, or that the cancer is kept at bay by the Xeloda. So Dr. Anderson suggests I continue at my current dosage. And if I feel there is a need to take another week off at some time, it may help to give me more months on it. Or we may consider decreasing the dosage in future if need be. But for now; it is "continue this regime" while it is working well for me. 

My hands are still dry and cracking so I am trying to get a handle on this. But my feet seem much better since the week off. I will return in two months for a followup and will have my next scan three months from now.

Our weekend away was a lovely time on the coast. We had lovely warm, still air, then some wind gusts, and just a nice time. The company was such fun, and the crab and all the food delicious. I feel so blessed and privileged to get this time to be out and play. 

And for a couple of days each for the two weeks before this I got to spend fun times with two wee little ones in Davis that I am lucky to be a Grammie to, while their regular sitter was on vacation. Life is good.

Back to school we go
 
Sibling love


Fun time in the park


I'll be participating in the Women's March this weekend. I had mixed emotions about participating, just feeling bleh about our political climate these days; sad, disappointed, lost, confused, shocked and uninspired. But I will get out there yet again, as this is no time to be complacent. It may not be much, but I will be there. Hope to see some of you there on Saturday at noon at our beautiful Sonoma Plaza.

Wishing you all good things to come, for us all, in this New Year of 2018.


#SonomaStrong #GlenEllenStrong


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
 

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy, Hopeful, Thankful, Blessed, Lucky...

Happy New Year 2018

Happy , Hopeful, Thankful, Blessed, Lucky... How do I really feel this first day of the new year 2018?

I feel like I am ready for a new year...
  • I feel happy that I have a loving and healthy family that supports me no matter what.
A beautiful Christmas from daughter, Alura. It says it all.
  • I feel hopeful that our Country, the United States of America can find peace and equality for all. 
  • I feel Thankful that I am feeling pretty well considering all things my sweet old body has tackled this past year. 

  • I feel Blessed for the life I live, the one I've been given, the one I have earned and enjoy.

  • I feel DAMN LUCKY to be here on this sweet green earth, today, and this year.


Our kitchen window this beautiful New Year's morning

2017 has brought many positive things; but it also continues to bring challenges and worries for me, my family, and our Country. But today is a glorious sunny, slightly warm for the season, day. And I will cherish this one day first, before moving forward to the next, soaking in the good that each has to offer.

I will close with the following good wishes and a link to the post I have been struggling to write since the October 8th wildfire that devastated Sonoma County, Napa County, and many other areas; took homes and loved ones and businesses from so many; but also brought so much love, friendship, and hope to so many, those who lost it all, so many who have watched and worried about those same neighbors and loved ones. It speaks to the resilience of the human spirit and mankind. 

It gives me hope!

A beautifully hand made Christmas gift from daughter Sarah. Holly Angel

May this Holly Angel be a sign of all good things to come, for us all, in this New Year of 2018.


#SonomaStrong #GlenEllenStrong


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