Ending one battle Beginning the next

So today – is the hopefully the last, and seventh, surgery in the seventeen months since that morning in the shower….that moment I just knew that my shame issues, my harsh self judgement and workaholism, adrenal burnout and constant state of fight or flight **** caught up with me in the form of the hardest lesson to learn so far.

What has come out of it?  What I chose, ’cause we all know in our hearts that’s the ultimate truth, to find the light, the lessons, the strength when we can’t imagine taking another step.  So beauty awaited me – finding my calling to serve, to be the human hands of my creator.  Friendships, beautiful loving support in every form needed and imaginable.  Self improvement – hell I don’t even know where that girl in the shower went, how this can be the same piece of clay, the shape is so different.

Y’all, **** I have been in a toxic relationship for 35 years, and I’m goin’ through one hell of a tough breakup.  My loving, fantastic primary doctor told me in no uncertain terms;

For you dear, drinking is deadly.

I spent hours online trying to find that one study that would conclude that alcohol would not make my cancer rear it’s head and stomp me down to death – it doesn’t exist.

I bargained – “Tests show a few (3) drinks per week can POSSIBLY be consumed safely.”  Bingo! Oh yeah bingo, my permission to obsess about how I was going to celebrate with my controlled three drinks – it never stopped at three.

I am in a toxic relationship with alcohol.  It’s kickin’ my ass, I am powerless over it, and I’m givin’ this to God.  I’m doin’ the work.  I’m asking for your prayers in the last of my last battle, and the beginning of my new one.

BTW – I was listening to the breakup song I give every one of my friends leaving a toxic relationship, when I realized I had to break up with my long time boozey, romantic frenemy.  Here it is:

And, today, we say goodbye to biggest 🙂 and most painful 😦 Foobs –

And move into cancer being a MEMORY!!!!!!

Yeah baby!  I wanna live LIVE LIVE!

Cheers – To the beautiful light of just being, as a close friend said –

“Life in pictures without the fun fuzzy corners, but so many more beautiful pictures and memories to smile about.”

Cheers! I LOVE you – yeah you! ❤

What now?

Hello All,

I have missed you but been busy with medical treatments and schooling – that’s right!  I took every last penny of debt I could get into and I am attempting to answer what I feel is my calling.

I will be accompanying the dying and their loved ones through their last stage of life. Helping them through several modalities including spiritual presence/ listener, patient advocate, reiki therapy, sitting (over night) vigil and helping the family by making sure they can stay with their loved one by cleaning, running errands and monitoring the patient environment to make things as calming as possible through aromatherapy, music, and cleaning.

I have registered as a cancer patient mentor through Immerman Angels network and volunteered for hospice.  Making friends with my own death has given me a special ability to be fully present yet healthily detached – quite an accomplishment for an empath!

I will say to those of you who know me, I could not have found this level of peace without all of your friendships to reflect on. The beauty of the imprints we’ve left on each other’s hearts, my confidence that they are lasting and will keep me alive long after my vessel has returned to the earth.  And that is my truth, so, thank you.

Have a beautiful, beautiful day!


And the blog goes on….

I’ll date myself and admit that’s a play on the old Sonny and Cher tune from my parents time – get that outta your head now baby boomers!


I thought we were done here. Game/blog over whether I made it or not….But it’s just gotten so damn sad and happy I had to share some highlights from the game.  First of all – go U of M right?! Getting me through experimental trial heart surgery!  The only problem was that they forgot to put the pacemaker in –  the one we clearly discussed and agreed on them doing at the time of my heart surgery. When I asked no one had a reasonable answer as to why they neglected to do it, but it was a just-in-case measure and I was doing great.  In fact, my heart surgeon specifically instructed me to run on a treadmill until I passed out because under no circumstance was my heart going to give me an issue.  My reply was “At like, Planet Fitness with no supervision?” His reply was “Absolutely”. “As a matter of fact, if you tell me next year you ran a marathon but didn’t win, my question will be why not?” So, you tell me that and what am I going to do? Push myself beyond all discomfort and pain possible.  I have zero instinct to compete with others, but when the competition is me, I’ll kill myself.  So there I am in my fifth session of cardio-rehab, coming up to my instructor between each task telling him I am disappointed in myself. Telling him I just just had to shave twenty pounds off of a weight that is usually no problem and was still struggling, and he’s says he believes I am pushing myself to hard to progress too fast. Ok. I get on the next machine and I know something’s not right but I’m on a monitor so I just keep pushing to the music with my eyes closed until I feel a tap on my shoulder. Ten minutes and four chewed aspirins later I’m in an ambulance [to the ER].  Bad news.  When I had my valve replacement twenty six years ago I went into what’s called ‘complete’ or ‘third degree’ heart block – that’s why I went home with a new valve AND a pacemaker.  My heart was right back in the same place. And now, after busting my butt to get strong enough to to prepare our farm for our June wedding, I am post- op and weight restricted, until after the wedding date.  So, now we have moved the wedding out three months to September.

Here are the words I fear uttering.  They lay in wait in the scary basement of my heart and I fear their utterance will give them life.  Do you have words like that? I think we all do, or have, so you’ll know what I mean.  What if…..

What if the beast returns.

And I get stuck in treatment instead of an ivory dress?

What if in this stupid crazy twist of events I don’t live to marry Neil?

I have been working pretty hard on a new mindset that – nothing has any meaning until we assign it meaning. Nothing.  Life is a series of random events and we choose which mean what and then speculate on why they do or do not happen.  It helps, this way of thought.  But this little tiny pill that has situated itself deep in the bottom of me – rolled  under my conscience just out of reach for me to grab it and stomp it out. It’s a strange darkness that is like a light that never flickers out.  Yeah, I’m scared as hell.

In other news, it’s spring, the Robin’s sing, the Forsythia blooms, and I have hair!


The truth of the matter

What if these are the last words you ever hear from me?

What wise, inspirational message does the unicorn warrior with the winning attitude and astounding resilience want to leave as her last?  This is but a small component of my true reality.  Something I am left to ponder at forty five that many never will.

I could go on and on about how I have made peace with my “time” being out of my control and all of the love and beauty I have both received from others unsolicited and that which I have kept my eyes open through the roughest times in my life to still see and appreciate.  I could say that ( a big) part of that peace making process was made possible if not easier by knowing the unconditional love of Neil and gaining the capacity in my heart or getting the opportunity to return it to him. (I don’t know which.)  I could point out that I had the privilege of watching my daughter, even if only for a short time, become the mother I wish I could have been but still knowing that my legacy is partly in the fierce love she has for my grandson.

But, what if this is not my last chance to speak? Then what? I heal and my heart starts pumping blood through my veins full force and I walk down the aisle this June and ride off into the sunset to live the life I have earned through the constant adversity I have survived and sometimes even flourished through?  No.  Not even close.  My hands and feet will still be twisted and tortured by neuropathy.  I will not live with the “scanxiety” other cancer survivors live with, I will live everyday fighting the anxiety caused by knowing that my extremely aggressive cancer with a 33% recurrence rate would have its’ way with me until it was too late to manage if it is hiding in some little corner waiting to rear it’s merciless head, because I will never have the privilege of those periodic MRI/PET scans thanks to the metal stuck in my jalopy of a heart.  Those closest to me have asked the universe, asked God, asked the vodka in their glass; “When will she ever get a break?” and “Why does life continue to challenge her this way?”  Well, we finally have the answer to the first question.  Never.  This will Never. Be. Over. Why?  That depends on who you ask.  Those closest to me can also frequently site me saying that clichés are such because they are true.  So all I have can be poured neatly into one old, tired, but oh so true cliché, whether they are my first words in a new life or the last words of an old one –

Live for the very breath you are taking right now and be grateful for the feeling of air in your lungs, the light in your eyes, the taste of what may even be your tears, the touch of anyone who loves you, whether they walk on two legs or four, and the smell of things that bring back old memories and make new ones.

Let the mundane moments take your breath away – and live in the moment.

This is what I hope for you and promise to me.

Peace out ❤


I woke up – literally.

Sorry I have been gone – There have been too many mixtures of emotions (anger, regret, sadness, gratitude, determination, guilt, desire) and painkillers to write a decent post.

How often do you hear someone say “How ya doin’? followed by the response “Grateful I woke up, every day’s a gift!” I will tell you, it’s floating around everywhere, this sentiment – and sweet sentiment that it is – most of the time it’s under thought and over used.

Here is where I have been.  When you have breast cancer you start out with one chemo cocktail, four doses taken for eight weeks, then they switch you to a taxane and platinum based chemotherapy – one dose weekly for twelve weeks.   Many of you do not know this, but in conjunction with my first rounds of chemotherapy I took something called “Rick Simpson Oil” or – cancer curing strength oil that you can only go vigilante with and make for your self since it takes a pound of medicinal strain marijuana (more than anyone is allowed to possess legally to treat side effects) cooked down into an oil which is then ingested.  At the end of my first rounds of chemo, I started having visions, my feet and hands were pressed against a door jam and someone was trying to push me into the next room where, waiting for me was my first taxane based chemotherapy treatment.  I told my naturopath of these visions and this unshakeable feeling of impending doom.  She advised me to listen to my body.  I took a friend with me for the courage to shoot down all that I knew the oncologist was going to throw at me with her teary eyes about lowering survival rates and raising recurrence rates by going straight to surgery. I had this unshakeable feeling that the taxane based therapy would give me crippling neuropothy (extremely painful and life altering) and would somehow end my life as I knew  it.

I’ll be damned if that doe-eyed money maker didn’t talk me into “just one treatment, just today and we will see how it goes.”  Biggest mistake of my life.  I went from calligraphy quality handwriting to painfully scribbling like a fourth grader, my feet hurt so bad they wake me every night and put me in a wheelchair for any family or shopping trips, I had man’s first known case (well, my team’s first known case) of neuropothy in my rib cage fascia and, worst of all, it took down my heart valve.  And because of the needed valve replacement I had to have an emergency double mastectomy – after which I cannot tolerate the expanders placed in my breasts which now have to stay for at least eight months, followed by an emergency hysterectomy because the mass in my uterus torqued and could not be drained since they did not biopsy it initially.  And by the way, I had almost zero cancer cells remaining in my tumor at removal – unheard of only halfway through chemotherapy (Thank you Mary Jane). So now, I wait.  I wait for U of M to tell me they have all the information and the correct valve and a time the surgeon is free – to replace my heart valve.  An off label experimental surgery which will require me to lay in bed for six months before I can even start rehabilitation.  I am left to pray the neuropothy lessens though the further I get away from the chemo the worse that chance looks and,

How am I doin’?

Grateful I woke up, every day’s a gift!


Super quick update

Hey all, sorry it’s been a while. To be honest I have been vacillating between blinding pain and the buzz of painkillers. Unfortunately that is still where I am residing so I’m unable to really post completely at this time but I wanted to let you all know that I I’m officially cancer-free! As far as they know what that is but we’re going to stick with cancer-free! I promise that I will update you soon and write a post worth reading. Thank you for all of your healing thoughts positive intentions and prayers comma I truly believe in my heart of hearts that they are part of what saved me and I am forever indebted to you. With love and true gratitude,


It’s time for another miracle.

In 1990 I almost died, spending two months in the hospital and coming home with a new heart valve and pacemaker.  I was nineteen years old and the doctors told me I could expect to live until about forty; as I would need open heart every ten to twelve years to replace the porcine (pig tissue) valve and other complications were expected.

Check this out – that valve has lasted me 26 years!  I had an ultrasound on my heart before starting chemotherapy and things looked fine. It was worn but still functioning and serving me well!

In 2013 I started suffering from SVTs (Severe Ventricular tachycardia) that were so bad they were interfering with my ability to function.  My cardiologist referred me to a surgeon, we consulted and set a surgery date.  I was on the table in pre-op and the doctor said the electrical problems in my heart (which he would cauterizing) were in a pretty risky spot and though he was willing to do the surgery, he suggested trying to manage them with medication.  I walked out of the hospital, never filled the prescription, and the SVTs went away; I never had them again!

These are miracles. I am miraculous!

I need another one, stat.

The chemo has not been kind.  My body is weak, and my heart valve has quit.  I am having emergency open heart surgery tomorrow.  I am counting on a few more miracles.

My cancer gets the chance to have a party through all this.  I need the miracle of it staying put.  And of course I need the miracle of getting through this surgery!

But, I EXPECT these miracles.

I look forward to giving you an update on the other side of this.  I will live out my intention to be an instrument of peace.  I’m not done here!

Peace and love, and all my light to all of you.



It’s A Wonderful Life

I knew at the start of this that a big lesson for me would be learning to accept help.  I mean, I practically assigned the meaning of getting cancer in part to my need to learn this.  I have held onto an immature sense of pride since I was fourteen years old, both for safety and because I could not wrap my head around allowing anyone else to sacrifice anything for me.  I figured I must’ve gotten myself into whatever mess I needed to get out of so I should be responsible, accountable, and fix it on my own.  And for all the ways I have grown and survived, this lesson just wouldn’t get through my thick head – That no one who wanted to help me minded any more than I would mind helping them, and that (Yes I actually believed this) just because I needed help didn’t mean I was not worthy of it.

One of my Christmas traditions is to cry tears of joy every year as the townspeople of Bedford Falls pour into George Bailey’s home in a rally to save him from the repercussions of Mr. Potter’s scheme, coming from far and wide to give whatever amount they could. Well, these days we could rename my cancer Mr. Potter (it’s just as much of an underhanded jerk after all!) and let me tell you, the townspeople have rallied.

The generosity of loved ones, acquaintances and complete strangers has left me speechless and continually overwhelmed with gratitude.  And I mean overwhelmed.  A race and gofundme fundraiser was held to finance alternative treatments not covered by insurance – the goal was met and I truly believe that everyone who contributed is literally saving my life. (I have more faith in these treatments than the chemo.)  Friends are holding another fundraiser here in Michigan to help with my 13,600.00 in insurance deductibles, and my Philly family is holding another! (The damn hospital and surgeon will not perform my double mastectomy until I pay them half the 6800.00 2016 deductible, and then my restoration will be in 2017 – new deductible.)  Vendors, businesses, strangers, friends and loved ones have all donated services and items to these in ways I never would have imagined.  And then the little pick me ups sent in the mail to brighten my day. And the thoughts and prayers. And the random texts and check ins.  And my two girls, Patty and Kristina, who have put up with me staying over every Tuesday night and getting me to chemo, sacrificing their day for me. And Michelle and Jan, hopping on planes and actually hoping to help me through treatment during their vacations.  And the hugs.  Complete strangers, walking up to me asking if they can give me a hug (This has happened four times now).  Telling me they will pray for me. Can you imagine?  Tears, lots of happy tears.

I see people all over the net calling cancer a “gift”.  Cancer is no more a gift than any other life-threatening event and I can’t get on board with this.  What I will say though, is that every situation in life presents you with the choice to embrace the positive things that happen as a result (even if that is just personal growth), or to dwell on the negative.

I do love the way Gilda Radnor put it;

“If it were not for the downside, cancer would be the best thing and everyone would want it.”

I love you all. So much.



A Day Without Cancer

Today I am trying to choose to have a day without any mention of the C word around here, as it is my two year first date anniversary with Neil. A few months after our one year anniversary I had to have all of my teeth removed and go into a long restoration with dental implants that put me in very uncomfortable temporary dentures (which, due to chemo, I am now stuck in.) I am so impressed with how much love and kindness he has shown me through that – I mean, being in constant pain and taking your teeth out at night is anything but sexy! But, then I thought, that was that, time to get on to a normal life together 😊 Not what the universe had in mind. Less than a year later and I’m 90% bald with facial spots on my once perfect skin and pretty much out of commission on the farm from the side effects of chemo. Chemo has shown me where I have chosen to see my own value. I see a lot of my value in what I can do – Neil was so excited to meet someone who shares his passion for farming (He owns and single handedly runs a CSA farm) and this season’s shares were geared to receive the work of both of us. Instead he had to cancel all shares, because of my illness. I am enthusiastic and physical with his two daughters, going to the trampoline park and leading the party in many activities, but now I spend most time resting, and they definitely see the change. If I am being truthful, in part I see my value in my beauty. That sounds shallow, I know, but it made me feel good all these years hearing people marvel at my skin and how I hardly age. I had amazing skin. I had brilliant red hair trailing half way down my back that strangers would constantly mention. Now they look at my scarf in pity, and my skin easily looks ten years older in two months. This makes me feel less valuable to Neil, who chose a dynamic physical ‘doer’ with a pretty face adorned with long red hair. To that I know he would say I am so much more than that, and that my compassion is my most beautiful quality – bless his beautiful soul. So today I am gathering all energy and looking forward to giving Neil as much of a ‘cancer free day’ as possible. I hope I succeed!