Thursday, November 20, 2008


I am restless!! I sit in what I refer to as my apartment with a cleaning service and pass my time. I once thought having my own little place to escape would be something that would take me away from daily stresses. I realize now that what I once thought were daily stresses are just a part of life that I now miss.

I have four and a half weeks of treatment remaining. Hawthorn Suites is very accommodating, but I miss the bark of my dog, Bert, Dick's nightly back rubs and the young energy Eileen brings to our home.

Cancer Treatment Centers of America is located in Zion, Illinois. It is not a very convenient location. It is located smack dab between Chicago and Milwaukee along Lake Michigan. It helps me appreciate where I live in Minnesota. To get to a mall or a decent restaurant while staying in Zion, it requires at least a half hour drive. This is difficult, as I am accustomed to great food and entertainment ten minutes from home. Here, I think twice just taking off and going out, as it takes energy to get from point A to point B here in Illinois.

Treatments are going well. They are not scheduled until evenings as they have so many patients scheduled each day. Some nights I do not leave the radiation center until 9:00 p.m. This makes evening socializing with friends and family difficult. I return to my room and crawl into bed and sleep any sign of depleted energy away. With that, I am able to wake in the mornings with good energy and the ability to be out in the world. Late mornings find me exercising at the gym CTCA provides for their patients. It is my afternoons that find me stir crazy and looking for things to do.

The staff at CTCA continues to impress me. Their philosophy is that all members of this amazing organization treat all patients the way they would want their mothers treated. I must say, there are some very lucky mothers out there, as the staff shows so much respect for each and every patient.

CTCA takes care of everything from free breakfast, lunch and dinner to limousine service to and from the airport. They provide the feeling of security as they go above and beyond the call. I just learned that my airline tickets to and from home as well as mileage from my driving trips are reimbursed through insurance. CTCA does not want its patients to be concerned about the small details. They take care of that for you.

They can only do so much. Accepting the quiet that faces me on a daily basis is my part of treatment. I am once again learning the next level of patience. Appointments run late. Afternoons are long and lonelines sets in. In the end, I know this will be a small portion of my future and this time away from home will be well worth the sacrifices.

pa⋅tience /ˈpeɪʃəns/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [pey-shuhns]
quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence: to work with patience.

Peace and blessings to all of you.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Results Are In

We have returned from Illinois. We received the results of my latest CT scan yesterday morning. I have good new and I have bad news.

The good news is the recent treatment I received worked. All of the tumors in my right lung have reduced significantly or have been completely obliterated. Dr. Eden is very pleased with the outcome. All of those difficult weeks away from home were indeed worth the hardship.

Now for the bad news. The celebration in the examination room was short lived as Dr. Eden shared with me that they have found new cancer growth in my left lung. It is not very large. It is again in the pleura lining. The report states that it is a tiny growth. Dr. Eden explained it is about the size of a nickle. A single fast growing tumor.

Am I numb? Yes. The thought of cancer migrating to another area frightens the heck out of me and I find myself in a bit of a funk. I was not expecting this newest blow.

On the other hand, we know that the Tomotherapy worked. I just need to go back and get this one new growth blasted. Unfortunately, that means another five weeks away from home, family and friends. Just as I was feeling like a healthy person and living a full life with energy, I have been told that I need to start over again...smack in the middle of the upcoming Holiday season.

I return to Zion this upcoming Monday for treatment measurements and planning. Then I will return Monday, November 10th for five weeks of treatment. Doesn't it seem strange that I need to return for twenty-three treatment sessions for just one tumor when I required twenty-eight sessions for multiple tumors?

When all is said, I believe the news is eighty percent good and twenty percent not so good. On a positive note, we know that the Tomotherapy works and will blast this one trouble maker. As our good friends brought to my attention last evening...imagine what the news would have been like if they told me the cancer had spread and the tomotherapy did not work? All is not bad...just a little piece of disappointment thrown in the mix.

Speaking of our good friends; Sue & Bill's son, Chad, has been in the hospital for close to two weeks now. His body has been ravaged by an aggressive strain of Pneumoccocus. The family has been on quite a roller coaster ride. Chad has been in a chemically induced coma. His body has been having a terrible time fighting this. At one point, all of his organs were shutting down. He has pulled through that...but it will be a long road to recovery.

If you have any extra prayers in you, please send out positive thoughts Chad's direction. He's hovering between life and the dark world of a coma.

We are once again reminded that life should be lived one day at a time. We never know what will be greeting us tomorrow.

Blessings and love to all of you.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Autumn Spelndor

Autumnal colors are gracing our landscape here in Minnesota. We have been taking in the beauty and recognizing this annual gift . This is my favorite time of year. The colors seem to speak to me. In turn I rejoice in their splendor.

We returned home from Illinois one month ago this week. I have been gaining strength daily. Still, some days seem to be more energized than others. I find that I am not as patient with myself as I know I should be. I can hear Dr. Chris saying "Geez, give yourself a break. Your body has been through hell and back." I know this mentally...but I still find I want to live each day more fully.

I joined a fitness club last week. It is too difficult to sit and wait for my energy and strength to return. My hope is that by working out on a regular basis, this will speed up my body's sluggish feel. So...if there are any friends that belong to Lifetime Athletic, please let me know if you are looking for a workout buddy.

Being home is a delight. Dick and I have both been busy working on projects and organization. My house is once again clean after a summer of neglect. Dick's special garage project is making great progress. We both have a new found appreciation for our time together and the simplicities of life.

One thing that I have been doing as a personal treat is spending evenings enjoying a bubble bath with my iPod playing the amazing music of Andrea Bocelli. I have decided I can do such things now. I never allowed myself to enjoy this simple pleasure before. While sitting in the bath I am able to review my day and appreciate all of the wonderful works from above that surround me.

Take the time to enjoy what you view as your own selfish indulgence. Don't wait for 'some day'. Breathe in and acknowledge the special gifts that have been provided to you in this day and every day.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Home Again

There's no place like home....there's no place like home!

We returned from CTCA two weeks ago today. It is hard to believe my last treatment was just two weeks ago. My energy is slowly returning and I am becoming familiar with routines at home.

Looking back, it is rather odd to think I was away eleven out of twelve weeks. I was away from home for what amounts to a season. It was not an easy time for me. At the same time it was an amazing learning experience. I have come to have an even greater appreciation for what is important; family and friends. They helped provide energy and reminded me of the hope that was right around the corner. I also gained appreciation for the more simple things of home. My bed, the familiar and beautiful neighborhood in which I live, restaurants that are not fast food and the snuggle time with my dog, Bert.

When we left Illinois, I made the decision that my last treatment was my last day of cancer. I feel very positive about the treatment outcome. I wake each morning feeling like a 'normal' person. I have shared with Dick that I do not quite know what to do with myself. It is a rather foreign feeling....normal. Give me some time, I will get the hang of it.

I guess what is so strange is that I feel I have a full life in front of me. I am so afraid I am going to fall back into old thoughts and life patterns. My hope is to continue to wake each morning with great appreciation for all of the big and small things that surround me. I also feel I need to do something with what I have learned through this journey. I need to give back, as I have received so much.

Due to the swelling and inflammation in my lung from treatment, we will be returning to CTCA at the end of October for a CT scan. We will learn at that time if we need to proceed with any additional treatment. As I stated above, we all feel very good about my outcome. I will not allow myself to live as if my time here is limited. I have been doing that for far too long.

I want to thank all of the wonderful staff at Cancer Treatment Centers of America for all of their caring and support. A truly empathetic and nurturing environment has been created and instilled with this healing organization.

To all of my caring supporters, thank you for sending your healing thoughts and prayers of high intention. It was all of you that assisted me in greeting each day and having the ability to proceed with a rather difficult treatment experience.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

A Dark Hole

Honestly, I do not know how else to begin this entry other than to say it up front and talk about it. I hit the proverbial wall. I wouldn't say I had a breakdown, but I did indeed have an 'episode'. Whatever happened, it took over the strong, upbeat and positive person that has always had the ability to rally.

It has been difficult being away from my family & friends and the comforts of my own home these past months. The short bits of time I have been home, I was fighting pain. The discomfort did not allow me to be fully present and enjoy spending time with family and friends, as I was always distracted.

Poor Dick called me to say good-morning two weeks ago Friday. He was on his way into work and was ready to settle into his day. When he asked me how I was, it was quite apparent that I was not in a good place. Dick and Eileen quickly put themselves on the road to drive down to see me. The hope was that if I were to see the two of them, the spirit that disappeared within me would miraculously reappear. It did not work.

That Sunday afternoon I ended up in Cancer Treatment Centers of America's emergency room. I was convinced I was going to die. I was admitted into the hospital.

The tomotherapy treatments were taking more out of me than I wanted to believe. I recognized, now that I was in the hospital, I had not been sleeping well, nor had I been eating enough to healthily sustain me. My downward spiral had started a couple of weeks back. I kept thinking I could rally...I always do.

Monday was a very busy day. The staff at CTCA were all over it. Not only was my doctor involved, I had visits from nutrition, mental health, mind & body medicine and care management. There was a concern that I might possibly have brain mets. A CT scan was scheduled. CTCA was going to get to the bottom of this and quick.

When all is said and done, I guess you could say my well was empty. My spirit was drying up. Fighting was taking its toll and I had not shared it with anyone.

Dick has stayed and spent the past two weeks with me. He has been tremendous support and has done a phenomenal job of pulling me up out of my hole. He returned home today. It was very difficult to let him go. My mom has arrived in his stead...I continue to be in good hands.

Two weeks later I am a new person. I have renewed energy. With the help of a funny little pill by the name of Marinol, I have an appetite...and a sense of humor. I am sleeping soundly at night and I have great hope.

The CT results show that my brain has not been invaded. Hallelujah! The radiation treatments are going very well. My pain has completely disappeared. Dr. Eden is very impressed with my results thus far and feels we are beating the enemy. I am down to just seven more treatments. My fighting attitude has returned and I am once again a warrior.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Happy to be 49!!!!!

I don't know how it can be that I return to my home town for rest and relaxation during my radiation treatment and all hell breaks loose...but that's what has happened these past few weeks. Details in a minute....

Before I get to that, I want to thank all of you that followed through on Dick's secret plan to wish me a happy 49th birthday. I had no idea he had this rather large plan in motion. I have been overwhelmed with love. The support I received from all of you, if ever questioned, became very apparent during my birthday week. I received so many lovely cards and emails, beautiful floral bouquets and delicious fruit baskets. Normally, I would be embarrassed and rather upset with Dick. Not this time. Leading up to my birthday I had been physically drained and his secret and your gracious follow through was just what the doctor ordered.

I do not know what happened. My sister, Margaret, lives close to CTCA in Zion. She had offered her spare room and asked that I stay with her during the duration of my tomotherapy treatments, which will last about six weeks.

When two sisters are going to spend six weeks together, there is great anticipation of doing fun 'sister' stuff. Shopping, dinner out, craft stores... My first evening in my new home was a Monday. I had received my first radiation treatment earlier in the day. Looking back, I may have pushed myself too hard that evening. As I was settling into my new home, something strange was settling into my body. By Wednesday evening I was down for the count.

The week went on and each day progressively worsened. By Wednesday evening, I was fighting a fever of 103 degrees. I felt as if I had been hit by a MAC truck and left behind for vultures to take me, piece by piece.

When I reached the treatment center Thursday morning, I insisted I meet with my doctor and explain how I had been feeling the past days. As I thought they might be, they were very concerned and started running blood tests and cultures. No radiation for me...not for a few days. Instead, it was decided that my time would be better spent in the infusion center receiving two very strong antibiotics.

As my fever started to level to a normal rate my radiation treatments resumed. With that, I also continued my antibiotic infusions. This made for long and tiring days.

The good news.... Whatever decided to take up residence in my body has decided to move on. The bad news....we have no idea what it was. My thought is my body is starting to rebel and does not like the port I had surgically inserted a year ago. It is a foreign body and my body just might be rejecting it. The time might soon be approaching for another small surgical procedure and have it removed. I do not want to experience that level of illness ever...again. As Margaret has stated several times, she was afraid she was going to walk in the room and find me dead. She is not exaggerating.

I'm back on track. I have been able to proceed with uninterrupted tomotherapy treatments for one week now. With the consistent treatment, the pain in my rib area is quickly subsiding. My level of pain three weeks ago was about a 9 out of 10. I am now living very comfortably at about a two. That is when I choose not to cover the pain with medication. Something good is happening in my lung!!!!

I apologize for not writing sooner and thanking all of you for the memorable birthday. Your participation was truly overwhelming. As I begin this week, I am just now able to relax without pain or concern of illness, and enjoy reading each card and take in the scent of the beautiful bouquets that are filling our home.

I am looking forward to celebrating my 50th with you next year!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Some days I am amazed with what I learn about the cancer treatment world. There are many days I feel completely overwhelmed. Other days I am in disbelief. What I have learned in recent days finds me in the disbelief category.

When I was at Fairview last week, I was basically being forced by the hospital to go with the radiation center that is adjacent to the hospital for my treatment. (There must be a contract between the hospital and this specific radiology group.) I felt like my back was up against the wall and I was made to believe that if I did not go with this specific group of radiation oncologists, I would be making a bad choice in a critical decision. I had mentioned to the doctors that my wishes were to have treatment at CTCA. The response that I received from the group was nothing less than eye rolling and a threatening tone.

During the time in which pen was in hand and a contract to begin treatment was being forced upon me, I felt my entire body respond to the tactics. My blood pressure dropped, my temperature rose and my body was overcome with a physical response. Quite frankly, I felt I was about to code and begged the radiation team to wheel me back to my hospital room for observation.

Looking back, I now realize that something bigger than me was intercepting my care. Once my body had recovered from my subconscious response, I was forced to stand up for my own beliefs the following morning. It was the many angels that have been following me that had knocked me upside the head. They certainly know how to get ones attention when they need to! After experiencing the very strong 'ah ha' moment, I canceled all further treatment with the local radiation team.

When we arrived at CTCA on Friday we were educated on the advanced treatment options they have available. I also learned that CTCA is one of very few TomoTherapy practitioners available. Upon further research, I learned that the group in Minneapolis does not offer the therapy.

If I had not taken the time to recognize what the universe was trying to tell me, I would have begun my treatment back in Minnesota. The treatment would have taken care of my immediate pain, but it would not have helped me long term. The feeling of hope that I am now experiencing would never had occurred.

The part of me that is in disbelief is the fact that there are facilities that are aware of better and more advanced treatment options. Instead of sharing this information with patients in need, these facilities choose to do what is best for their bottom line. Sadly, the more I am learning about this industry, the more I am learning how prevalent these practices are believed and followed.

Lessons learned last week;

1. Follow and listen to ones gut.
2. Ask questions
3. Be your own advocate.

Surely you will run across similar situations during your daily struggles. Take the time to listen to what is best for you. The other guy has his own best interest covered.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Open Road

There is so much to be communicated. So many things have happened this past week. Quite frankly, I am having a difficult time trying to figure out how to compose an abbreviated version of the week and still have my words make sense. Add to that the fact that I am on time release morphine and dilaudid for breakthrough pain. Oh boy. Let's put it this way...I am asking for your patience as you attempt to decipher my words.

First things first. I have been released from the hospital. The doctors at Fairview knew they had to release me with their blessings. It was that or I would have bolted without their consent. That would have turned into undesired stress for all parties involved. I was released Thursday afternoon. There is no diagnosis or medical understanding as to what was causing my symptoms last week. The doctors are just as frustrated as we were. I was stable and gaining strength at the time of my departure.

From the hospital Dick and I went home and I packed for my planned one month stay in Illinois. I packed in record time. Ladies, can you imagine putting together clothing, shoes, lingerie and toiletries in forty-five minutes? I am still questioning how I had the energy and the ability to focus on the task. Before I knew it I was giving Bert, our adorable dog, yet another hug good-bye and we were on our way to Illinois. On schedule!

Dick and I met with the Medical Director of Radiation Oncology at CTCA Friday afternoon. He had an opportunity to review my CT's from the previous Sunday. He was in agreement with the Minneapolis radiologist. My pain is being caused by bone erosion due to cancer on one of my ribs. He advised that he could treat that site. By treating the site they would be killing that part of the bone, thus alleviating the pain. Hurray!

The above information is the same treatment plan that the radiologist in Minneapolis outlined. This is very good. With that, this is where things become very confusing. The doctors at CTCA want to treat the bone as well as zap the tumor that is adjacent to the eroded bone. What? Say that again? You can treat the tumor as well? The doctors answer 'yes'. My thoughts begin to rush. You can see Dick's brain working in the same direction as mine. If you can zap that tumor why can't you zap the others that are in my lung as well? The doctor's answer 'we can'. 'The problem is the cancer growing in other parts of your body.' But doctor...there isn't any other cancer. Just these tumors giving me trouble in my right lung.

When Dick and I left CTCA early Friday evening, we were both of the understanding that the radiation therapy available at this facility has the ability to eradicate the tumors. Can you imagine the gamut of emotions we were feeling at this point? Number one...why wasn't this offered to us by the radiologist in Minneapolis? We're confused.

I return to CTCA Monday for a defined treatment plan. I will be measured, tattooed and have a mold created to protect my chest area during all of my radiation treatments. The length and duration of my treatments will be decided at that time as well. The doctors will also be able to tell me if Dick and I were fantasizing or if we really did hear something as amazing as my tumors being completely treatable.

The Vitamin C treatment that I had planned to begin again is being shelved for the time being. Our focus right now is the radiation and alleviating my pain. We will revisit Vitamin C at a future date.

So gang, we will all be learning about radiation treatments to the lung together. Let's keep our fingers and toes crossed. When the doctor confirms what we think he communicated to us on Friday, I will go into greater detail a story about following ones gut...literally.

Thank you for your prayers and concern this past week. Aside from the effects from the pain meds, I am quickly regaining strength I have not enjoyed in quite some time. I do believe the blood transfusions may be adding a bit of a skip to my step.

As my good grade school friend, Sue, expressed in an email to me earlier this evening....You have MANY angels looking out for you, dear girl! Indeed I do!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Road Blocks

I am still in the hospital. When I was initially admitted on Sunday, it was due to pain and constipation. From there, it was upgraded to the three P's. If only it were that simple.

Somewhere between Sunday and Tuesday, the three P's became less of a priority. It appears my body is fighting something. The professional community is at a complete loss as to what has taken over my body. I have been running a steady temp. It has spiked up to over 101 degrees, which is high for me, as my average temp is in the 97's. Add to that the fact that my blood pressure is lower than my average of 100/70. It's been as low as 70/50. (A person feels pretty lousy when it gets that low.)

Due to the concern about fever and blood pressure, I am being pumped with antibiotics, copious amounts of fluid and two units of blood. I've had more blood draws than you can imagine and a echocardiogram. I'm sure I'm missing a few things in there...but you get the idea.

The plan was to leave tomorrow for Illinois to begin my next round of vitamin C treatments. Until I have my pain under control and the specialists in infectious diseases have figured out what is causing havoc in my body, that plan may be shelved. We have decided we want to complete my radiation treatments and continue with the infusions at CTCA. The difficulty is getting my doctors here in Minneapolis to agree to my travel without answers to their current concerns.

In a word, this week has been frustrating. Okay...two words. Frustrating and scary.

Updates will follow. I am very aware there is a high level concern and wanting to know 'what's up'. I wish I had more to tell you.

I know that there are many wonderful prayers and positive intentions being sent my direction. Please know that I appreciate the time that you take to think of me and the energy that you provide.

Monday, July 21, 2008


Typical Monday morning conversation; So...what did you do this weekend? My response would be 'I tried to control the pain that has been continuing to build. On Saturday, Dick and I ran errands. I should restate that. Dick ran errands. I sat in the passenger seat and watched him run in and out of stores. Saturday night I found myself very restless and without sleep. The pain that I had been experiencing in my rib area turned into spasms. Add to that the gastrointestinal problems I am experiencing from the pain meds I had been taking...I had a 'trying' weekend'.

When one lacks sleep it is difficult to think straight. Many things run through a worn and weary brain. My thought process concluded that I was experiencing liver or kidney problems, as the pain I have been experiencing is in that area. All I know is I was very uncomfortable. Sunday morning greeted Dick with me in tears and asking that he take me to the emergency room.

The emergency room decided a CT scan was in order. The results came back with what appears to be erosion of the bone between ribs 9 and 10 on my right side. Bone mets. It has been confirmed with me that erosion of bone is uncomfortable and painful. It's nice to know I'm not a wimp.

From the emergency room I have been admitted into my very familiar room at Fairview Southdale. Room 819 is going to be known as my signature room. I am going to start decorating it and adding my own personal touches to it soon. Funny...but not so much. It's a private room. That is always appreciated.

Right now the focus is to get my pain under control using various forms of morphine. We are also working on getting my intestinal disturbances under control. From there discussions will be taking place with regards to a treatment plan regarding my rib area. The word 'radiation' was thrown into the conversation yesterday. Ugh! As the next few days unfold the plan will become clearer. Right now we are dealing with the three P's....pain, poop and plan.

It's been a difficult twenty-four hours. I feel as if the wind has been knocked out of our sails. We had been living with such high hopes as we felt the Vitamin C infusions were assisting me in turning the corner. I'm not ending that part of this fight...just taking a bit of a detour.

Monday, July 7, 2008

It's Working!!!!!

I am in the final week of the four week trial here at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Zion. Have you heard? We have reason to celebrate!!!

Last week I was experiencing rather extensive back pain and spasms. The doctors wanted to run a CT to rule out a few of their concerns. Although the CT did not give answers as to my back pain, the scans did show tumor reduction! I received the great news right before leaving for the 4th of July holiday. We're all extremely happy around here.

Dr. Stephenson sat with me this morning and explained that the largest and fastest growing tumor in my right lung is showing great response to the Vitamin C infusion. In his words, the tumor is showing necrosis. Basically, the tumor is dying from the inside and any blood supply is quickly being cut off due to the Vitamin C.

We are still working out the 'what next' details. They have invited me back for the next phase of the study. They would like me to take a month off. At that time, if there is not significant change in tumor growth, I will be a guinea pig for another four week experiment. Seems worth it to me!!!!

Isn't that some of the best and most incredible news you have heard from me in a long, long time? My big tumor is dying!!!!

Blessings to all of you. You have played a HUGE role in this and deserve your own congratulations and celebration!!!!

Oh....and I think I figured out the back pain. Please don't refer to me as the Princess and the Pea or Goldilocks..... The bed that I have been sleeping on is too soft.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Guinea Pig Updates

Last week was a rather long and grueling week. I apologize for not updating and letting you know how the trial has been going.

Where to begin...where to begin....

First, I will begin by thanking all of you for the prayers that have provided this amazing opportunity. As the days have passed, I am learning more and more how fortunate I am to be involved in this trial. There are many, many people requesting to be a test subject. Fortunately for me, unfortunately for others, the criteria is very strict and CTCA must be very selective when accepting their candidates.

The first week of the trial was rather grueling, which helps me understand why they are so selective. Candidates must be healthy (well, as healthy as you can be with Stage IV cancer!) Having gone through my cleanse and clearing the toxins out of my body has assisted me greatly with my energy levels.

My days begin at 5:45 a.m. to get to CTCA by 7:30 a.m., as the commute is about 45 minutes. The first thing we do upon my arrival is vitals, urine and blood tests. They are required to test my kidney's, liver and other blood levels. Once that is approved...the infusion is a go! The infusion generally starts at about 10:00 a.m.

During the infusion, my vitals are checked every 15 minutes, including constant monitoring of an EKG machine that sends signals to the intensive care unit via satellite. I have been keeping ICU very busy, as we have learned through this that I am bradycardia ( Evidently monitors are going off in that department as if I am code blue many times throughout the day.

So...the infusion begins. After a bit of time thirst begins. Along with a 1500cc IV bag, I am drinking about a gallon of water during a 2 hour period. I don't need to tell you what happens when the body is saturated with fluids. So, before I know it, I am signaling to my nurse that I need privacy for a the portable potty, as I am not able to move too far from my bed, as I am hooked up to monitors. Urinating every fifteen minutes gets very old.

Last week the days were very long. Monday I was in the center from 7:30 a.m. until about 5:00 the next day....constant monitoring and very little sleep. Thursday required that I have several blood tests, at various intervals, the last being 11:00 p.m. That had me settling in my bed at Basia's at about 12:30 a.m. I don't know about you...but for me, that's a very long day!

Earlier in the week, Dick and I decided I needed to fly home for the weekend. I arrived in Minneapolis at about 4:30 p.m. Friday afternoon. When I saw my bedroom, I dived for the bed and stayed there until about 9:00 a.m. There is nothing like your own bed!

This week and next will be a bit less intense. My days will last until about 2:00 p.m. and then I will free to do as I wish.

There is really not much else for updates. Boring...I know. The big results will come at the end of the 4th week. Dick and I plan to spend that weekend in Chicago. We have a hotel booked on Michigan Avenue with the plan to celebrate and rejoice in good news.

The most difficult part of this journey has been being away from Dick and Eileen (and Bert). Vacations are one thing. Being away under these circumstances, one finds themselves in need of comfort, hugs and familiar surroundings.

Thank you so much for your continued prayers and support. You are all my hero's!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Official Test Subject

Thought I would take the opportunity to post an update. I am currently resting in my hospital room at Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Today was my first full vitamin C infusion. The procedure went well. Notice I didn't describe it as 'very' well. There were a few very tolerable side effects. One of them was being sick to my stomach. I don't care for that so much. Tomorrow's infusion will be better as they will adjust certain dosages. Hey...I'm a breathing petri dish in a Phase I trial. These things are going to happen.

My diagnostic testing last week returned good results! I am very happy and relieved to report that there has not been significant tumor growth in my right lung. That is a reason to celebrate in itself. The best news is that my scans showed that these tumors are still just hangin' in my right lung. No migrating to other organs!!! YES!!!!

One concern I had during all of my testing was that my blood counts or kidney function might cause me to be ineligible for the the trial. More good news....I am a very, very healthy specimen. As I was educating myself on this specific trial, I found a website describing the individuals involved in this trial as 'one foot in the grave and the other foot on a banana peel'. How dare they!!! I'm very far from that, thank you very much!

My days over the next four weeks will be very busy. I am required to be at the hospital every Monday through Friday at 7:30 a.m. My infusions and observation take place until about 2:00 p.m. daily, with the exception of Friday (they let me go early on Friday's). After that I have a rigorous schedule of acupuncture, massage, reiki, massage and more massage. Hey somebody has to do it!!

My dear friend, Basia, lives about 45 minutes from CTCA and is providing a relaxing and comfortable environment in her home. She even has a sweet puppy that enjoys sitting in my lap (sorry Bert!). A home away from home. We juice and create healthy food concoctions together. We're having fun getting healthier as we learn. Thank you, Basia. Your gift of hospitality and friendship will be forever appreciated.

There's the update. I am an official test subject. It's hard to believe sometimes. Me...the girl from Zion, could be setting the course for future cancer treatment. Cool, eh?

Here's the deal. I'll keep the positive keep those wonderful prayers coming. Good things are bound to happen.

My love to all of you.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Of all things....Vitamin C!

The headlines are going to read 'Woman Returns Home For Cancer Cure!'

Oh...sorry...I should probably explain the latest and greatest news!!!! I am going to be a human guinea pig. A living petri dish. A very lucky test subject!!!!

Last Saturday morning I was exploring various cancer treatment center websites for clinical trials. My search brought me to Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Zion, Illinois. I checked out their trials and found 'Clinical Trial of Intravenous Vitamin C for Cancer Treatment Underway'. Not only is it underway, but they are seeking test subjects. CTCA's first ever FDA approved clinical trial.

I made contact with CTCA that very moment. Wrote, in detail, my current plight. I said a prayer when I hit the send button; 'Please, Lord, guide this to the proper hands'. That person responded to me on Monday. Tuesday and Wednesday began a flurry of phone communications. Today, I was told I was accepted. Amen!

Things have happened very quickly. I report at 8:45 a.m. next Wednesday. The first day will be diagnostics. Thursday I meet with the head of the program, Dr. Robert Levin. We proceed from there. It will require four days of infusions for four weeks.

Maybe I should explain the meaning of Zion, Illinois to some of you just getting to know me. Zion is my home town. I was born and raised there. Grade school, high school, my first kiss.... Yup....Zion.

Anyone that knows me, knows I am a 'Google' nut. I've been doing my research on the Vitamin C subject. This, quite frankly, sounds God-Sent and amazing! This Phase I trial holds great promise!

A good friend has already shared a personal story of a local woman here in Minnesota. She was in late stages of cancer. Advised by her doctor that she had about one month to live. She chose to investigate an alternative therapy....Vitamin C infusions. She is now enjoying her forth year of remission! There are many, many more reports with similar outcomes.

When I was told in April that I was not a surgical candidate and I no longer had other viable treatment options, I felt I was being told I had a limited future. At the same time, I also remember telling myself there was a reason I didn't have those options. I allowed my faith to carry me. It has carried me through so much. Faith has now brought me to this place. I am whole and healthy....and ready to kick some butt with Vitamin C of all things!

Your prayers have indeed been working! Thank you for being with me and believing!

This story should be for my friend Montel Williams. Unfortunately, his show is no longer airing. Oprah... I have a great story to share with you. Care to listen?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Vow Renewals

We had a beautiful vow renewal ceremony on Sunday, May 25. It was an amazing evening.

Our Host and Hostess, Bill & Sue, created the perfect setting for a ceremony and a rockin' party. We were originally married on their boat, Exuberance. It was only appropriate that we celebrate our renewal at their new home. and was it new.... The driveway, entry steps, landscaping, etc. were still being completed the day before the ceremony!!!

The weather leading up to the event was a bit turbulent. We were concerned about how we were going to handle the planned outdoor ceremony, knowing there was stormy weather, including tornadoes, just north of us. Shortly before guests started arriving, the dark clouds disappeared, the sun shined and the universe granted us a gift of an incredible evening.

Dick and I were surrounded by many people that have supported us through the years. The love being shared during the ceremony could be felt as the energy sparked in the air.

Our photographer has provided a link to the evenings photographs. As the pictures express, the exchange of vows was very emotional. We are so blessed to have each other. I love you Dick....and I still choose you.

If you would like to get a peek at our evening through photos......
event code: Bienapfl

Friday, May 9, 2008

Spring Harmony

What a wonderful feeling. The sun is shining. Plants are showing signs of coming alive. I feel good...really good!!!!

I never imagined I would be experiencing the wonderful energy I am feeling. I don't know if it's the cleanse (one more week left of the twenty-one day program), the fact that I have had enough time for the chemo to gradually work out of my body, the Quantum Touch I experienced this week, my wonderful acupuncture or the beginning of my macrobiotic lifestyle. Whew...I've been busy!

What I do know is that something or the combination of all of the above is granting me harmony within myself. It's almost as though I am on a high at times. I catch myself smiling and life!

With the experience of feeling better, I find that the cancer focus is no longer the constant talk in my head. When one feels their body has been drained it is easy to focus on only one thing. My brain is moving on. My heart is embracing what the universe is sharing with me. It's almost as though I can feel all the wonderful thoughts, prayers and support being sent flowing within me.

I am so grateful to be at this place. You are good. God is good.

May the harmony and happiness that I am feeling reverberate and resinate within you.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


The disappointment and unsettling news we received two weeks ago has slowly processed. Normal routines are quietly replacing the deep sadness we were experiencing. It is amazing the hit a body takes when emotionally shaken. It seemed every movement required extra energy. I personally did not have much in reserves. Dick was down in the trenches with me. I don't think I have ever seen him so affected. It was difficult to watch him so low.

Although I do not have the answers as to why things happen the way they do, I have a deep faith and belief that this is all part of a bigger plan. The break in treatment is allowing my body to be rejuvenated and healed in other ways. With that, I am now being given the opportunity to learn more about alternative therapies. My naturopath, Annika, is preparing me with an arsenal of supplements. The amount of research she has done is astonishing. Herbs and natural remedies can do remarkable things.

Tomorrow I have a class with a macrobiotic chef. She is going to show me that healthy eating does not mean giving up on entertaining ones taste buds. My own research has shown that a healthy diet is going to be one of my most beneficial natural cures.

It is interesting the response I receive when I tell people that I am changing my diet to complete vegetarian. Most responses are 'if I were you, I would just eat whatever I wanted and enjoy that part life.' Not so much. There is a definite fork in the road where you need to make that decision. My decision is to do all I can for me and the people that I love to extend my personal ride as long and as healthily as I can. I can't imagine telling Eileen I would rather eat steak and overdose on chocolate cake rather than spending more time with her. Need I say more?

Through all this, so many wonderful and caring individuals have reached out to us. This is truly one of the most amazing blessings we have received in our lives. We are so thankful for all of the support. Although I have not been able to personally write and acknowledge each thoughtful note or phone call, please know that your words have been received and are deeply, deeply appreciated.

phoe·nix Pronunciation: \ˈfē-niks\ Function: noun 4. a person or thing that has become renewed or restored after suffering calamity or apparent annihilation.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


The trip to Cabo San Lucas was glorious. The home was just as I had remembered from the last visit Dick and I enjoyed. The beautiful weather allowed for daily morning walks and sitting around the pool for hours taking in the healing powers of the sun. Evenings in the hot tub allowed for great conversation...and we never solved the problems of the world. I was blessed to be surrounded by two wonderful, caring and fun loving friends. A very special trip indeed.

Returning from Mexico was a busy time, as it gave me few days to prepare for my upcoming surgery. Knowing one is not going to be able to physically be involved in spring cleaning, digging in my garden and comfortably breathing in the fresh air of the season found me a bit melancholy. With that, the surgery was bringing me great hope in own spring renewal.

This week started with diagnostics at Mayo; blood tests, pulmonary function tests and a final CT scan. Our meeting with doctor Cassivi was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon. I packed my bags, finalized personal paperwork, gave Bert (our super dog) a hug and let him know I would see him in a few weeks. These past days have been very emotional. Leading up to this final appointment was torturous for both Dick and me.

We arrived for our appointment yesterday afternoon. Dr. Grothey saw us first...which I found surprising. This appointment was scheduled with Dr. Cassivi. The first words Dr. Grothey asked were 'how are you feeling?' How am I feeling? I am feeling great. I've been off chemo, enjoyed warm weather with is great! He asked again. My mind raced. Oh no....please, don't tell me surgery is off!!!!

My suspicion was correct. He explained to me that after further review of my most recent CT scans and the placement of one specific tumor, he felt the surgery would not benefit me. Doctor Cassivi joined in our conversation and was in complete agreement. Basically, what they told me is what I had been told last June. I am inoperable. They could remove some of the tumors. Unfortunately, they would have to leave most of the tumor in my pleaural lining. With that and the risks involved, they felt it was not in my best interest to pursue the surgery.

I was told to enjoy the Spring. Enjoy the feeling of being whole and healthy. Take a break from cancer. Dr. Grothey said he would see me in June and see if there were any trials we might find beneficial. In the end, Dick and I knew they were kindly telling us to go live life and continue with the positive attitude that has carried me through so much.

I know that so many of you have been praying for me. Although not directly involved, I am aware that you have been feeling anxious and concerned about the procedure. So much energy being given. Thank you.

I awoke this morning numb. Tears have been pulling themselves up from deep inside my gut. I've barely spoken a word to Dick. We just sit quietly together not knowing what to say or do.

Give me a few days....this lost feeling will turn around. I already have a plan. Exercise, yoga, meditation and hire a nutritionist to help me figure out how to make food that is good for you taste good. The most important thing I am going to do is wake up each day with a deep appreciation of having the opportunity of doing so.

Things happen for a reason. Although it feels like my life has been pulled out from under up is just not my thing. Hope, love and the power of prayer. That can't be taken from me.

My need (our need) for your prayers has not ended. Now, more than ever, I will be reaching out to you for your energy. I am always being asked 'what can I do for you'? My answer has not changed....pray, pray, pray.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Mentally Preparing

Today was 'Target Tuesday'. Between Eileen's schedule, my heath complications and travel, we have not had an opportunity to enjoy our special day together in quite some time . We went out of our way today knowing this would be the last Tuesday we would spend together for several weeks.

It's amazing how good one can feel when no longer being pumped with chemo. The trip to Sacramento last week was a reminder of how it feels to live fully. It feels pretty darn good! The days started early and ended late...and I was able to keep up!!! Good thing, as I leave on Thursday for the planned girls trip to Cabo San Lucas. The trip to Mexico will be all about rest and relaxation. The plan is healthy eating, meditating, reading and soaking up the sun. (Okay, I might slip a Margarita or two in there as well.) I should be well prepared for surgery upon my return.

Planning for surgery is a very strange experience. When I had surgery last June, it was within days of learning that the cancer had spread. Being given time to physically prepare myself is quite difficult on the psyche. I don't know what is causing the most trepidation...the surgery or the recovery. I have a very good memory...and it hasn't forgotten the experience of a less complicated surgery.

My surgery date is actually April 16th. We misunderstood Dr. Cassivi when he scheduled time on the 15th. The 15th is meant as a final review of the procedure. We will be advised that day of the actual surgery time on the 16th. So....the 16th will be the day I would really appreciate your prayers. I am going to ask if you could also send positive energy and prayers to all of the individuals that will be involved in my care as well. Hey...I'm going to be sleeping and on happy drugs!

My blessings and well wishes to all of you. I wish I could wrap my arms around each and every one of you and thank you personally.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Miracles....they do happen

Dick and I tried to mentally prepare ourselves for our meeting at Mayo today. My PET scan took place at 11:00 a.m. Our appointment to meet with the doctors was not until 4:00 p.m. Of course 4:00 p.m. dragged on to 4:45 p.m. Early on, we both agreed, if there is only one doctor in the room, Dr. Grothey, the scans were not good.

When we were called in for the appointment there was only one person waiting in the room for us. He immediately introduced himself to us as the lung surgeon's assistant. The first thing he did was hand me a pamphlet on lung surgery. He told us it would be a few minutes, as both Dr. Grothey and Dr. Cassivi were discussing the details of my case. I turned to Dick with a's a go!

My PET scan results came back showing no progression. The cancer has not spread to other organs. That, in itself, is a tremendous relief.

Both doctors entered the room. Dr. Grothey introduced his trusted colleague and told me he would leave us to talk for a bit and that I was in good hands.

I think this new doctor in my life wanted to get a good look at me. Size me up....see if I was worth surgical odds. He quickly learned that he is working with a true fighter. Before I knew it, a surgery that I was told was impossible was being scheduled. April 15 is generally not a day most Americans look forward to...dreaded Tax Day. For me, April 15, 2008 will mean I no longer have cancer in my body.

It's not an easy surgery. It's not a quick recovery. It is the beginning of a new life for me.

Miracles do happen. Silver linings can be found. Prayers are answered.

I am on a high. My words may not make complete sense. I needed to communicate the high points. I will provide more detail after I have allowed my new reality to be absorbed.

Heavy hitters....I asked and you provided. Thank you just doesn't seem to be enough.

More details to follow. For now, I need to rest and enjoy a pleasant night of dreams....dreams with a future.

Monday, March 10, 2008


As a separate post, I wanted to share with you a story Dr. Grothey shared with us today.

He had a patient about five years ago that had stomach cancer with a very poor prognosis. The patient was given the protocol of 5-FU (my first treatment therapy). The patient had a severe reaction to the treatment. His body responded to the therapy as if he had been given a dosage 100 times the amount given. He should have died.

This man was very lucky. He ended up in the hospital for three months in a coma. When he awoke from his coma he had been completely cured. He recently celebrated his fifth year of being cancer free.

I believe Dr. Grothey shared this story with me for a reason. I am holding on to that hope and believing that things happen for a reason....miracles take place every day.

Requesting Heavy Hitters

Today was a short day at Mayo. There are so many items to be communicated, I don't know where to start.

First, I will ask that you hold me in your very special prayers this week. I am numb at the moment, as the realization of what the next couple of days holds is hitting quite hard.

There was no treatment today. My body is depleted from my last treatment and the complications that occurred thereafter.

I learned today that my body may be genetically allergic to the newest protocol of Irinotecan. My doctor requested a blood test that will tell us for sure if that is the case. He shared with me that being genetically predisposed is so rare the test is not routinely given. Well, we all know, in his words, how 'unique' I am.

With the above information, this is what he thinks happened that landed me in the hospital. I am most likely allergic. My body did not process the chemotherapy as it would normally. It most likely went through my body two maybe three times. To make matters worse, if he had known I was allergic prior to treatment, he would have reduced the dosage to one quarter the amount given. If I have my math correct, that would mean that I received eight to twelve times the amount of chemotherapy my body can tolerate and stay within the healthy limits of treatment. Thankfully, I am recovering without any long term damage. My kidneys and liver show no signs of stress.

Here's the deal. He does not think I should receive Irinotecan again....ever. With that, he confirmed with me there are no more chemotherapy treatment options. No more tricks to be pulled out of his magic hat.

So....what now? A PET scan has been scheduled for Wednesday morning. If the scan shows that the cancer has not traveled to any other part of my body, I will meet with a thoracic surgeon and Dr. Grothey Wednesday afternoon to discuss surgical options. Should the scan show more metastasis I am not a candidate for surgery.

Here's the synopsis. At this time, if I am not a surgical candidate, there are no more treatment options.

Prayers....positive intentions...healing energy....miracles. Please, I could use your top guns right now.

Monday, March 3, 2008

There's No Place Like Home

I returned home from the hospital on Saturday. Last week was a hellish week. One always fears the complications of chemotherapy. Treatment is not really as easy as some would think. Throw a few toxins in the body...kill the naughty cells and be done with treatment. The truth is, there are many battles being waged. This current battle quickly turned into a war and I did not have all of my armament to defend me. My body just could not tolerate the new regimen.

We go back to Mayo to meet with Dr. Grothey next Monday, March 10. Dick and I are both at our wits end as to what we should be doing and what path should be followed. We are completely frustrated by the fact that the professionals do not seem to think that there is any other way to attack this beast other than with chemotherapy. Well, that's a problem, as I am running out of options even with that. I have gone through four different regimens thus far. There aren't many rabbits left to be pulled out of the hat. My cancer is a very specific squamous cell. It isn't treated like a typical colon cancer.

We are heading to Charleston, South Carolina on Thursday and will not return until Sunday evening. We will be celebrating Dick's parents 65th wedding anniversary. It will be good for both of us to get away. It will allow us to think of something other than the "C" word and the next upcoming battle that Dr. Grothey has planned.

Last week was a true testament to the power of prayer. I know I could not have pulled through and recovered as quickly as I did without being surrounded by all the people I have been blessed with in my life. I want to thank you from deep inside my heart.

Friday, February 29, 2008

A New Day Has Come

The view from the windows in my hospital room creates a desire to rejoin the world. I see traffic flowing out on the freeway near the hospital and recognize that the world continues to go on...I want to be a part of it. That would lead me to believe I am feeling better and recovering!

I have had a very healthy day today. I am tolerating food, napping peacefully and feeling so much better than I had been. If what I have been experiencing today continues until tomorrow morning I will be given my pass to escape. Yipee!!!!

I never would have imagined that when I arrived in the emergency room Monday afternoon that I would still be here today. Of course, at that point, I didn't know if I would make it out of the emergency room alive. Quite frankly, I was about as scared as I have ever been. At the time I thought I was being redirected on a long detour in my road in life. I now recognize it is was just another bump in the road. It has been a reminder to to live life presently and not be so concerned about what the future holds.

Set me free....I am ready to experience the joy of unwrapping multi-colored bows of each day.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Calling Fairview Home

Dr. Rousey was just in and advised that I will continue to be at Fairview Southdale until at least Friday.

The concern is keeping the potassium pumping as my trips to the bathroom really haven't reduced in number. He advised that it will take about 7 - 10 days for my raw digestive tract to heal itself. Basically, he said the body recovers quickly, considering, but not quick enough when one wants to break out of the confines of a hospital.

I am finding that I am more tired today and my body is feeling exhausted in a different way. Now that I am able to take a few deep breaths, I think the stress of the past few days is catching up with me and I just want to sleep...sleep...sleep.

They moved me to a new room last night. It's like a penthouse suite compared to my initial quarters. I have two windows now and a full private bath! I'm moving up in the world.

There are many wonderful people praying for my complete healing. I am humbled and grateful.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Hospital Update

Evidently I'm as sick as I thought I was. Yes....physically.

Dr. Grothey (Mayo) and Dr. Rousey (local) have agreed they want to keep me in the hospital for a longer period of time. Their theory yesterday was 'let's keep her overnight just to appease her'. they are recognizing that I am one sick and uncomfortable patient.

They can't give me a specific length of stay. Just until they get 'things' under control. Until then I will continue to be pumped with gigantor bags of potassium and other drugs to keep trips to the bathroom to a minimum.

Thank you for all of your prayers and positive intentions. I know how powerful your thoughts are and I really do appreciate it.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Ride Continues

Did I say something about having to jump back on the roller coaster? We have been on the ride for a week now and it hasn't slowed down.

I am in the hospital. There have been complications from my last treatment. Evidently my body could not tolerate the Irinotecan/Erbitux combination.

One always expects side effects from treatment. The scary part about experiencing a new treatment is that you don't know what to expect. It's a given that you will have a few down days. You then bounce back and are thankful those days are in the past. That didn't happen this time. Instead of getting better, my body seemed to be getting more worn and tired.

One of the side effects this treatment alerted me to from the beginning was diarrhea. I prepared myself for that. Just the opposite occurred for me...but I won't get into those details. It's what happened this morning that scared the...well, you know....out of me.

A few days late, but I did experience the expected side effect. Unfortunately, it included bloody body tissue as well. (Ewwwww....I know!) That would be parts of my intestinal tract sitting in my toilet. This is not good....not good at all.

I took it on a good friends advice to get a ride in the back of an ambulance to the emergency room. The emergency room confirmed my fears. My insides are torn up from treatment.

Quite frankly I am very scared. My body has been compromised. I am physically weak. I have no idea how long it will take to repair my torn body and bring myself back to healthy levels. I am dehydrated and hooked up to IV's right now. Evidently my potassium levels are cranky.

Dick left for California this morning not knowing what the day would bring. Eileen has been such a trooper. She has been at my side this entire day. I love her dearly. I just wish she didn't have to grow up so fast.

More updates tomorrow. Let's pray for better news.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Back On The Roller Coaster

Group hug please!!!

It has been a rather difficult morning. We met with Dr. Grothey and he presented results from my CT scan of Friday. I wish I had good news to deliver...but I'll just give the details.

As you know, there are several tumors in my right lung. There is one tumor specifically that Dr. Grothey has been keeping a diligent eye on. That tumor has grown by about a third since my last scan six weeks ago. The other tumors are about the same size as previous scans. Dr. Grothey is very concerned about the rate of growth and the size of the one specific tumor.

The good news is that these nasty cells have not spread to my bones or liver. It's quite amazing the detail the CT's provide. Sigh of relief there. Thank you, Lord.

My treatment regimen is once again changing. Today I will begin infusion of Irinotecan (CPT-11, Camptosar) and Erbitux. Yes, that nuisance of a rash from the Erbitux will be returning. I guess that's the least of my problems at this point. I don't know anything about the Irinotecan....thus more reading and self education on my part.

As Dr. Grothey explained, once again, what I have is so rare that there is not a tried and true treatment. He feels the Irinotecan/Erbitux is very synergistic. In his words, it's like 1 + 1 = 5. Hey baby, I could use all of the synergy the universe wants to send my way right now.

I have done a fair amount of crying this morning. The news is quite a blow as I had been feeling so positive. The nurses here at Mayo are amazing and have been so supportive and understanding.

Dick could really use a hug as well. He joined me this morning, thank goodness. I think I would have found a hole to hide within the walls of this large campus. He is a bit dazed himself right now but is finding the strength to provide a positive attitude and solace.

Ah yes...the comfort we were experiencing has ceased. We have now jumped back on the roller coaster.

My love to you all.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Welcome Back Old Waistline

Swimsuit season is fast approaching. The pH Miracle way of eating is certainly assisting in any desire I might have to wear a swimsuit comfortably and without internal bad talk. (ladies, you know what I mean)

I've been working so hard at alkalizing, it seems it is all I think about. Could it be that I am constantly hungry and craving chocolate or something as simple as a comforting cup of joe? My breakfast this morning consisted of homemade guacamole with a sprouted whole wheat tortilla that I cut up and made into chips. Better than the green vegetable concoction I'm supposed to be downing every morning. When I go to 'drink' my throat almost closes up in revolt.

Okay...okay, all kidding aside. All of my hard work is showing a waistline I never thought I would see again...but, I am still not alkalized! Evidently I need to take the next big step and do a complete cleanse. (Too much information?) This frightens me, as my body is already weak from chemo treatments. I really hesitate to put my body through more trauma. I may have to write Dr. Young directly and ask him for safe suggestions. I never knew this would be so daunting. One must keep the goal of long term survival in mind. It's amazing what you can do with a little motivation.

Our household is on pins and needles this week. I have my next CT scan scheduled for this Friday at Mayo. Dick and I will return to Mayo again on Monday to meet with Dr. Grothey with the hope that he will have diagnostic results. I also have my next treatment scheduled for Monday. I feel very good about my scans and am really not carrying concern. Your prayers and support continue to lift me. Thank you!

I will be returning to Mayo again on the 26th, as I have been invited to join the Executive Director of Get Your Rear In Gear!, a local organization supporting colorectal cancer research and awareness. She has asked that I present the world-renowned researchers with my personal story and put a human face in front of the very people that provide life saving research. I am really looking forward to that opportunity.

My Qigong sessions have been going very well. Through Qigong I am learning to meditate and focus on my complete healing. I attended my most recent session this past Monday. I voiced a concern of extreme mid/upper back pain, which is very unusual for me. My concern was returned with a smile. Evidently my daily meditation and exercises have been moving old and stagnant energy out of my lung area. Master Lin informed me this is a very good thing and advised that health is returning to my body. Qigong is some pretty cool stuff. I highly recommend it...even if you are healthy.

Other than having the winter blues, I am doing very well. This next month or so will find me in Charleston, SC, Sacramento and Cabo San Lucas...thank goodness! I know I am blessed to have these travel opportunities. Maybe God knows I can handle chemo better than the cold of a Minnesota winter.

I need to go eat something. Hmmmmm.....I wonder if I can figure out how to make creme brulee' out of tofu?

Friday, February 1, 2008

Mental Recovery

I have recovered from my less light day of yesterday.

After going back to my post, I could see how my communication of crying about food could be misunderstood and I feel I need to explain.

My initial frustration came to light when I realized that the focus required to incorporate these new recipes into my life would be difficult to create physically and mentally. You know how it have your top 10 recipes that you know and fall back on when you really don't want to think hard about what to serve. Simply put, my chemo brain does not allow me to think very hard about anything. I find it terribly hard to focus. New things are overwhelming...not fun like they once were. Thus, the initial mental crack.

All I really want to do is provide enjoyment to friends and family. Provide Dick & Eileen the comfort of a home cooked meal to come home to. Entertain with friends and serve delicious cuisine in the comfort of their homes. So, it really doesn't come down to the food. The real story is my acknowledgment that I am not the person I once was and I am not able provide 'my' gift.

I think what put me over the edge yesterday was a woman eavesdropping on my conversation with the store clerk. She heard me explain to the clerk that I was practicing Qigong ( This woman came out of left field and basically told me I was dancing with the devil because of my meditation and movement of energy. She explained to me that as a Christian, we should never 'dabble' with our energy, as that is completely against Christian belief. She basically told me if I continue to practice Qigong, I am allowing the devil into my temple.'s not food, okay? It's the fact that my body hurts more with each chemotherapy treatment. My brain is turning to mush. The pleasure that I derived from providing appealing and delicious nourishment to friends and family is basically ending. Oh...and I guess I'm becoming a devil worshiper if I choose to continue to practice Eastern medicine.

Some days it all gets to be too much. Yesterday was one of those days. Today I recognize my frustration and now I can learn from it and move on to more positive things...learning new ways to enjoy life.

Thursday, January 31, 2008


I had a breakdown in the middle of the grocery store today.

Some days being committed to beating this disease is all consuming. Similar to fellow cancer fighter and survivor, Chris Karr of Crazy Sexy Cancer (, I am not comfortable with accepting traditional treatment as my only treatment option. With that, the alternative world can become a very confusing place. There are so many options, all of which are financially draining. At what point does a person need to accept that cancer is what it is? Some of these suggested alternatives may extend your life, but do they really enhance it? If they don't, is it really worth extending?

My breakdown occurred as I am working ever so diligently on alkalizing my body. The theory is that cancer cells cannot survive in an alkaline environment. Currently my body measures 6.5, which is great...but not good enough. I've realized now I need to step up my diet. With that, I am attempting to follow recipes from the pH Miracle. After purchasing and reading the two cook books that have been published, I came to the realization that I would end up eating avocado's, tomatoes, broccoli, etc. for the rest of my life. No animal proteins, limited wheat grains, no alcohol and absolutely no sugar.

A very nice lady approached me at the grocery store and asked if she could assist me. It must have been so obvious that I was in the land of the unknown. She started asking me questions....and I started crying uncontrollably. I realized at that point, food, something that I enjoy preparing and socializing with, was being taken away from me. In the back of my mind I kept saying to myself "at least you can afford to change your diet to strict organic vegetables and you have the ability to prepare them and eat them". It didn't just kept hitting me...another basic enjoyment in life being taken away.

There were many caring people watching me crying over food. Some offered other alternative options. At that point I just wanted to scream. Why are there so many options, but not a reputable source to tell me what steps I really should be taking. I can't be the only cancer survivor out there trying to do just that...survive.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Planning For Fun!

The funk from my most recent infusion has passed and I'm ready to face the world with full energy and daily appreciation. I've been idle and anxiously waiting a bit of special planning. I haven't shared with all of you an event that is taking place May 25. It appears that Dick is becoming more romantic with time, as he has suggested that we renew our marriage vows.

Our wedding anniversary date is July 22....the same date of my initial cancer diagnosis. When our anniversary approached this past July, neither of us wanted to celebrate. Just before Christmas, Mr. Romantic announced to me that he would like to change our anniversary date to May 25, the date of our first date.

Well, he didn't just announce his intentions to me, but pulled our very dear friends, Sue & Bill, into the idea at the same time. They agreed on the spot to open their beautiful new home to our friends and family. This is a tremendous and thoughtful gesture on their part as they are moving into their new home in March! Pretty gutsy of my husband, don't you think?

So...I feel like a bride again. Planning and preparing for a beautiful ceremony and celebration. A celebration of life and living! Dick thinks more about my emotional health than I give him credit for. I know that part of his intention was a new anniversary date...but it is also something for me to wake up and think about every day. Something to look forward to....even during my less light days.

Eileen and I are off to Stillwater today to look for the perfect dress. There is a special little store by the name of Our Shop that has always put me into fantasy world every time I pass it. We're going in today and fulfilling that fantasy. Simply amazing.

There are days that marriage feels challenging and quite frankly, difficult. Then the person that 'chooses' to be with you through better or worse and with sickness and in health, tells you he would do it all over again. I choose you too, my knight on his white horse coming in and making my world...just that much better.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Special Prayer Request

Hello All.... Special prayer request if I could.

My sister, Margaret, is currently undergoing emergency gallbladder surgery. Her gallbladder has been bothering her as of late and she was scheduled for an ultrasound. She didn't quite make it to that appointment.

If you could please put her in your thoughts and send out healing light, I would really appreciate it.

Thank you.

Monday, January 21, 2008

It's a Go!

Hurray!!!! My white blood count has gone up significantly since Thursday. I am presently being infused and am jubilant!

Evidently, sitting on my ever widening behind this weekend was a good thing for those finicky white blood cells. In frustration, after my treatment refusal last week, I did a lot of research on what causes white blood counts to go down. Can you believe exercise and activity? While in Palm Springs I was very active and swimming laps non-stop for 40 minutes each day. On top of that I was keeping up with very energized people till all hours. (Note to self; be sure to not schedule a trip with Sue & Bil just prior to

I cannot take complete credit for being able to enjoy sitting in this infusion chair for the next five hours. I received so many kind and healing notes and phone calls since my last post. Once again, your prayers and positive energy have lifted me. Thank you so, so much!

A short story to share with all of you. More evidence that early colorectal screening awareness is so crucial. One of the nurses just told me that she met a seventeen year old last week that is undergoing treatment for colon cancer. Seventeen years old!

Not that I want your prayers and positive energy being diverted to another person, but, if you could, please send healing thoughts and prayers to that young person and family. One should not question God's ways....but goodness.

As much as I would like to continue typing, the benadryl that is slowly dripping into my body is taking its effect on my ability to concentrate. Guess this will be it for I am....starting to get.....very sleepy.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Bummed Out

We're back. We left the warmth and fun of California yesterday. I spent just enough time at home to go through the mail and then I was once again out the door. I drove directly to Rochester, settled into my hotel room and began the mental preparation of receiving treatment today.

As always, Dr. Grothey greeted me this morning with a smile and a short chat about my recent travels. I was psyched and ready to go for the infusion. Unfortunately, his sad eyes looked at me and told me today's treatment was a no go. My white blood counts are far too low. I almost begged him to let me proceed with treatment. He checked my counts again and contemplated...nope, not today. It's just too risky.

When I called Dick to deliver the bad news I couldn't hold back my tears. This stuff really scares me at times. It's such a sobering reality...especially after the fun and sun.

I am scheduled to go back on Monday. Honestly, I don't know how my white blood counts can improve over the next five days. Couldn't they build my counts before treatment so that I don't have to go through this disappointment? Just what is it I'm supposed to convince my body to do before Monday morning?

Right now I am bummed. I know tomorrow will be a new day and I will see things from a fresher perspective.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Montel Show Video

Alas, I have turned into a computer geek. I have learned to convert a .vts file to a movie file, remove the commercials and publish our appearance on the Montel show. Unfortunately, the file is so large, I have had to separate it into three sections.

If you look to the right of the page, you will see the Montel logo and three separate files. Simply click on the the first to watch the beginning of the show and follow with the additional two files.

The 'In My Daughters Eyes' slide show has been moved down to the bottom of the page. It was just getting too visually busy on the top of the page.

I am feeling worn today. One would think that I would be on a high after yesterday's good news. I think I've been holding fear and apprehension inside all week. It caught up with my body today. It is something what a body can hold...and then feel when comedown is allowed.

We leave tomorrow for a trip with friends in Indian Wells, California. It will be great to be able to just hang at the pool, read a few good books and enjoy the company of wonderful people. A much needed rest for all of us after the stress of the holidays and waiting for test results.

You are all so special to me. I know your prayers and positive thoughts have carried me through all of this. I also know I have a guardian angel keeping close watch. There was a whisper in my ear as I was awaking one morning last week. The voice let me know that all would be good. I thought I was dreaming, but it has proven to be true. Praise the Lord.

Believe....I believe...I believe...I believe!

Friday, January 4, 2008

It's Good News!!!!

I received the call at 4:20 p.m The news is good.

There is no progression, no new growth. I am stable.

Dr. Grothey sounded very positive. He could not give me more detail, as the scan readers are purists and do not have prior Mayo scans to compare to.

We will have another scan after the next infusion or two, this way we can compare identical equipment.

So...the waiting was good news!!!!

Thank you so much for your prayers, love and support.

Again, you have raised me up.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

No Updates from Mayo

We are all anxious for results on the CT scans from Monday. I am receiving well meaning emails and phone calls from friends and family. So news.

I have left two messages with Dr. Grothey. No response as of yet.

I will update my sites as soon as I know something.

Let's hope that at this point no news is good news.

Thank you for your interest and concern.

Much love,