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.

*****************************************************************************************

Sunday, April 23, 2017

And He is Now At Peace

Yesterday we attended Nathaniel Davis' (Nat) memorial service, my brother-in-law, sister Nancy Davis' sweet husband. It was held at the church he and Nancy attended in Rodeo, CA, and was very lovely.  

Our wonderful family at Nathaniel Davis' service.
(Six of our eight siblings stand in the back middle. Missing dear sister Donna and family from Montana, and some nieces and nephews.)


Nathaniel Davis died on April 9th. He fought long and hard, the valiant battle against colon cancer. After 3.5 years fighting, staying positive, and being an inspiration to us all, the last few weeks were trying and very sad for my sister to watch him slowly fade, suffer, and still be there every moment with loving, gentle care. I cannot believe how difficult it all must have been. 

Nat's service was a true tribute to the man, full of love, support, music, and prayer. We miss you Nat. He wrote a Blog of his own, and often posted writings from a writing group he attended at one of his cancer support groups. I loved Nat's writing, always mystical and witty, as he was in life.

Nancy posted a beautiful poem on her Blog that she wrote and read at the service. And today over lunch, my husband read the story, A Nice Ending, that Nat wrote, and one which is also posted on his Blog. It was printed and handed out at his service.

Rest in peace sweet man. We will miss you Nattydread. Please watch over my sis, Nancy, and your son Joshua, during these uncertain days and times to come.

~ ~ ~

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, April 20, 2017

A Lot Better Today

Yesterday morning I awoke and was so disheartened, and just feeling down. Monday morning I had my annual echo cardiogram. It's been a full year and it always brings me anxiety; as I want to see some improvement over the last, which was an EF of 40%+/-, but I tell myself I will actually be happy if things are stable and my heart hasn't regressed. I had hoped to have the results by the end of the day, but just got the report yesterday. It was slightly lower, or so I thought. But then my Cardiologist, Dr. Dhar, emailed me to say he reviewed the test further and thinks my EF is actually around 30-35%. I just wanted to cry; and actually I did. I know..... It is far better than when I was first diagnosed with congestive heart failure and waiting for the five-year cancer free mark as a heart transplant could not be done before then. As time progressed, I miraculously improved, with lots of new meds on board, and the transplant was no longer being considered. Of course, rewind to a year ago and that is when the cancer returned metastasized to the liver. So a brand new roller coaster began, including mastectomy in November. I feel like I am just now reclaiming some energy and feeling a bit renewed, even though I take daily chemotherapy. So far things are stable, but the cancer is still there.

The news of the Echo and EF, and then feeling so sick and tired of hearing new cancer diagnosis was just starting to weigh heavily on me. No, not starting, CONTINUING to weigh heavily on me. No -- I'm not sick and tired of hearing about them really, please keep telling me; just SO SICK AND SAD of knowing that it seems to be so prevalent these days. And do not even begin to tell me there is some reason behind it, that we cancer victims (yes we are victims) are doing something wrong, eating the wrong thing, doing the wrong stuff, living the wrong way..... Even the professionals say it is so random that they cannot figure it out. Because believe me, if I knew what was causing all this, I would do what it takes to make changes this very second in time. There, that is off my chest. :-)

Backtrack slightly... On Monday morning my sister, Donna, left to return home to Montana after a week's stay with my dear sister Nancy, who just lost her sweet husband, Nat, to colon cancer. Nathaniel Davis died on April 9th. His services are tomorrow, Saturday. He fought long and hard, the valiant battle against this horrific disease. After 3.5 years fighting, staying positive, and being an inspiration to us all, the last few weeks were trying and very sad for my sister to watch him slowly fade, suffer, and still be there every moment with loving, gentle care. I cannot believe how difficult it all must have been. Yesterday, another dear friend shared that it was very similar when her husband passed of pancreatic cancer a few years back. I had not learned of what the final days were like until just then.

If that is not enough to just bring you down, I have heard about new cancer diagnoses nearly every day over the last few weeks, and it is just too, too much. Not to mention a dear family member who is working through a treatment plan right now. (More on that to follow)

I will shake this off I know, but yesterday was a bit rough.

I'm in contact with my cardiologist to learn more about the Echo. He wants me to research Entresto as a new medication possibility. My first concern is the mention not to take it with liver disease. I'll need to see if breast cancer mets in the liver is a concern. Either way, it just is hard news to swallow at the moment. Give me time and I'll shake it off as I always do.


http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-QmmLHPoll6w/WPVAS--DV7I/AAAAAAAACh4/u9zMOpXxEJM9ncb6l1sL8HpvUlmUDbhoACK4B/s1600/IMG_2388-786516.jpg
 Found this beauty in my Cardiologists office
And then I was off to be with my grandson, which definitely cheered me up. And eldest daughter reminded me that it is just a number, and more important that I am feeling good, great actually! AND, the sun is shining. YIPPEE!!

Hope you all have a wonderful day.

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 17, 2017

A Birthday & Easter

This weekend was my hubby's 64th birthday and we celebrated. The girls and I got him a very cool pit barrel smoker he had his eye on, and then we went with friends to see Arlo Guthrie at the Green Music Center Friday night. It was a great show and fun dinner out beforehand.



When Saturday rolled around, he was out of the house bright and early to help with the Glen Ellen Fire District annual Easter Egg Hunt, and it was another fun one. Since the Davis family would be spending all day Easter Sunday with us, they were not able to make it this year. But we had fun with Gaige and Sarah, who then returned to the house to help us make birthday cupcakes.


Sunday was the culmination of the celebration with the whole family going in to the City for the SF Giant's game.  We got there early enough for the kids to get their free SF Giants backpack with cape. It was a very wet game, but we came prepared with lots of layers and rain parkas. The kids were quite the troopers to make it through the entire game. Some walk abouts for food and treats seemed to help quell the moments of, "I want to go home".



The ushers are quick to hand out sees lollipops.

 Fun times watching the game.
 


Getting ready to run the bases after the game.
 

Just finished running the basis. And the little one did it all on her own, as her brother and cousin started out ahead of her.

Note the cool Giants backpack and cape.










































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, April 13, 2017

Two Month Checkup

April Showers...
We've had over 70" of rain this season, which began on October 1st, and the hills of Sonoma County and beyond certainly show it. We just returned from a week camping trip up the Northern California coast and into Humboldt County; Fort Bragg, Ferndale, and Big Lagoon near Trinidad, to be exact. It is almost a magical green everywhere. I'm wondering if I've been transported to Ireland or somewhere.

Treasures found at Big Lagoon spit hike

Dinner at the Victorian Inn in Ferndale with the Merritt's and Gallagher's


The time away was wonderful and relaxing, spending time with friends old and new, back to elementary school. It was a wonderful time away and with dear friends. I can't wait for the next one.

On Tuesday, I had my two-month oncology check up. And all is well from the lab work, so far. Dr. Anderson felt that the fact I forgot to take my chemo pill for two days, my appetite has returned so that I have put on 10 lbs since the holidays, and I have good energy and am doing just about whatever I want, is all a good thing. So I guess I'll just run with it for now. I return in 5 weeks for another checkup, right after I have a new CT Scan.




My next echocardiogram will be this coming Monday and I hope that my EF is still at 40% or maybe even better since the last one a full year ago. So far my heart is steady and seems to have tolerated a year of chemotherapy and all the ups and downs associated with it.

So, besides getting out and having some fun, I've been spending a lot of time working on this lovely piece of knitting, which is the Sous Sous top by Norah Gaughan. And if you check the previous link, I think you'll see I'm doing well on the back so far. It is a lot of stitches, but I'm really enjoying how it is coming out.


I've also been able to spend a couple of sleepovers so I can watch the grand kids out of town, and always fun time with G here in town.

A boy and his turtle

3 generations selfie

Fun times with the grand kids
On a very sad note, I report that my brother-in-law, Nathaniel Davis, Nancy's husband, could no longer fend off the colorectal cancer he has been valiantly fighting for 3.5 years, and passed away on Sunday, April 9th. He has been on hospice since November, and the last two weeks have been very hard and drawn out for dear Nat, Nancy and their son Joshua. Nat will be dearly missed by our entire family, always there for all the gatherings and holidays. Wishing peace and comfort to Nancy and Josh during this sad and challenging time. We will miss you, sweet, smart, witty Nat. God Speed and may you rest in peace.


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.


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 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, 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 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, 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