Teeth and Old Friends

What a day.

I went into school with Morgan and quinn and spent hours there putting up shiplap contact paper. I wanted to mute the brightness of the room and make it more calm and soothing.

My friend Mary stoped by and dropped of cool birthday crowns for the kids, as well as three tickets to the aquarium. She truly has the biggest heart. She is the president of the high school PTO, and man, if parents would back her and help with fundraisers… oh, the things she would do.

We left for Morgan’s dentist appointment and I quickly ate the lunch I packed. Food is starting to not taste great and leave a bad aftertaste, which I was warned about. I chew gum after eating now to try and deal with the aftertaste. As Morgan got called in and walked through the doors by herself, I sat and chewed gum and breathed.

Then?

Something crunched in my mouth.

My entire filling came out and I felt a hole in my tooth.

My heart dropped.

Usually it stinks to have a filling come out, but for a cancer patient?

It means getting clearance from the oncologist to get work done, possibly going on antibiotics… nothing is easy.

Morgan finished and I went in and hugged her dentist and the staff. Her dentist looked and affirmed the filling came out, and another staff member said I was in her dream. That’s the fourth person to tell me I’ve appeared in their dream the last month.

I must be a dream hopper at night.

We got in the car and a flurry of phone calls began between me and rob and the hospital. Rob spoke to my oncologist, she approved it and said no metal fillings, my friend Darla got me right in to see my dentist, and at 4:00 pm I was in the chair getting a needle in my jaw hinge.

And here I was thinking I had a week off this week from needles.

When my dentist finished, I ran to pick up my kids from my moms. As we left, I saw in my neighbor’s driveway some cars. Mouth swollen and numb, morgan with cotton in her mouth, we decided to stop by, and I’m so glad we did.

My “summer cousins” were out, and I had grown up and spent summers with Laurie and Scott. We don’t get to see each other much, and I love them. Laurie brought out her daughter who is Morgan’s age, and man, did Morgan need that. She hasn’t had any play dates in weeks, and it was so good to hear her laugh. The kids all played and I sat in the front porch I spent many summer days in and laughed with this family I love. Their mom is my “Aunt Judy”, who watched us all do crazy things together. I was so lucky to have a second family growing up, and so glad God put them in my path on a hard day.

We decided Morgan deserved ice cream for dinner, and as we left, Quinn lost a tooth.

I kid you not.

The three of us had teeth issues in a matter of five hours.

We all got ice cream, morgan and quinn had fun with Kaitlin as I told her all about funny stories growing up, how her mom was my idol, I loved her hair, how I love barry manilow because of her, afternoons watching Luke and Laura on General Hospital…

memory lane can be fun to walk down.

We dropped her off and came home.

Then I got home and got an email from Donnie saying he doesn’t want me to do the new chemo protocol, it could be too hard on the system, and he wants me to stay the course.

Which means emails to my oncologist at ten, and she immediately got back to me that we can stay the course or we can discuss how the new data shows this new plan is more effective.

Which means I sit at my dining room table and cry, trying to figure out what my gut is telling me to do.

I’m scared about the bigger dose at once, but I want to do whatever will give me the best chance at a very long life. I’ve been tolerating it so well, so maybe it won’t be as bad. What if Donnie is right, and it has already mutated and this plan induced the factor of competitive release which means the DNA damage from the carboplatin will strengthen other cancer cells to take the place of the ones there now and those will be even stronger and I will have exhausted the carboplatin option…

What things go through YOUR mind at ten pm?

This is hard.

I love my doctor, and rob and I are going to continue the discussion with her. She is a scientist and researcher, so she is always on the cutting edge. Dr Snuffleuffugus wasn’t happy about the higher Carbo either, but with both his and Donnie’s support, maybe I’ll do better.

I just don’t know.

What I do know is today Maddie dances in a talent show, and I have friends coming to learn how to meditate and breathe at my house tonight. I left out a jar of water last night for the ascension of Mary today. I’m Lutheran, but the thought of it was nice and made me feel better as I went to sleep.

Today, may answers come to me, more healing happen, the tumor begin to shrink, and no one have any tooth issues.

In Jesus’s name, amen.

Xoxo

Keri

Birds and Signs

Birds and signs.

Yesterday I wrote on my Facebook page about the rough night I had, and the long talks with God I had asking for signs. Do I go with the even more aggressive chemo plan which ultimately gives me less chemo sessions? Is this chemo even the right one? If the cancer has flipped, it could make it eventually even stronger.

When I woke up, I got my answer in the form of a Facebook post written by Patricia Polacco about how her mom defied odds, had the same chemo drugs as me, and miracles happen if you believe. It was sent to me by someone I haven’t seen since sixth grade.

We all stayed in comfy clothes yesterday. I actually did pretty well, other than port soreness.

Maddie spent hours on her summer homework assignment. I so strongly disagree with that, by the way. I dont care that she is in advanced classes. Those kids work so hard all year, then most get jobs in the summer. Let’s add on homework during vacation so their stress level never gets lower, so we can really prep them for the real world, because you’re never too young to be treated like an adult, right?

Rant over.

The other two helped me with laundry and stayed in pajamas all day as well. Rob worked on his paperwork and drawings. I looked at classroom bulletin boards and new curriculum. It stinks that it rained most of the weekend, but it made it easier for me to not feel so bad my kids did nothing while watching me recuperate.

By the time dinner rolled around, I rallied. Rob and I worked together and made dinner, and the sun finally peeked out. As we worked, a red bird flew by our window. I felt called the beach, and everyone got changed to go see the sunset.

I texted my dad to see if he wanted to meet us, and he replied my aunt was out and to stop by. We were going to head right to my parents, but instead, I felt we should go to the beach first.

It’s because another sign was waiting for me.

When we pulled into the parking lot, I saw it.

You see, 67 weeks ago, (I know because Instagram kept track), I had a rough day. I went to the beach, and a woman with two parrots was there. It meant something to me, as I had been recently told that I am surrounded by angel wings, and when I see birds, know those are my angels telling me I’m doing ok. I even took a picture of the birds.

I never saw them again…

Until last night.

The day after I spent all night asking for signs that I’m still on His path. I practically ran out of the car before Rob stopped it. The kids came over with me and we talked to the owner of the parrots. I asked for another picture, and she said I could hold one. I declined, as I just had surgery and am nervous around birds. Maddie stayed back as well, but I got a picture with Morgan and quinn.

I felt more peace as we left the beach.

We saw my aunt and uncle, my mom saw my port for the first time, then we treated the kids to ice cream.

I slept a little better last night, and plan to head into my classroom today. Morgan and Quinn will help me carry things in, and I’ll start to make my list of what I still need to do.

I’m doing my best to remember that all the children need the first week of kindergarten is to play, have fun, make friends, learn routines, and feel safe and loved. Everything else can wait.

Today is also a day where more emails will be sent, appointments made, and more healing will happen.

Today may I continue to feel peace and heal, and follow the path He has planned for me.

In Jesus’s name, amen.

Xoxo

Keri

Update and a Port

I’ve been updating every day on my private Facebook page but not so much here. To quickly catch up…

My summer son Joe left but we still text, so we are ok. Quinn is sleeping in his bed now, and calls it “Joe’s bed”.

My veins are shot. It took four sticks to get chemo in last week. My vein whisperer Jean said it may be time for a port. We also discovered I taught her granddaughter seven years ago, and we also know several other people.

Six degrees separate us all.

I started my Donnie Yance protocol and man, it’s intense. Some weeks I’m swallowing seventy supplements, others only fifty. I’m drinking teas and apple cider vinegar mixtures and eating olives and sauerkraut and taking detox baths every night and meditating and vagal tone breathing and…

It’s a lot, but I’ve got my friends helping me. IV got it down to a system, and will work it out when school starts.

If you look at me, i look really good. Weekends are hard, but by Sunday afternoon?

I’m rallying.

That’s it, that’s all you’ve missed.

Here’s today’s Facebook update…

“So Keri, what’s it like to get a port and hear an update and get chemo all in one day?”

Exhausting and full of tears, hugs, handholding and blessings.

Getting a port for me was a big deal. There are some complications with me I haven’t shared. I’ll share one now.

Pain medication and anesthesia don’t reeeeeeaallly work on me. So all of the helpful advice of, “You won’t feel a thing”, or “you’ll be asleep in twilight and won’t remember…”

Not so with me.

They took me in right away and my nurse Emily got “T”, their unit’s vein whisperer. Even with me telling them about warm compresses and blood pressure cuffs and tight tourniquettes, and me jumping up and down in my hospital gown and keeping my arms down low and water bombing… it still took two sticks and ended in my hand. I cried in relief when it was over, and T said she almost did too.

Rob held my hand and kissed me goodbye as I rolled away to the procedure room. I had a kind, funny, and compassionate team. I told them how lidocaine doesn’t work well and I need a lot, and they were generous. They had to give me three doses of the anesthesia and I was still wide awake for it all. I ended up with two doctors placing it, and felt the tube being snaked through my chest, along with pressure and pushing and pulling. I cried at one point and asked for someone to hold my hand. The nurse came right over, and I did my vagal tone breathing and made a game of lowering my blood pressure. I kept it around 136/86 the whole time. The time it ended?

11:11.

When it was over, I went to recovery and rob came. They saw I was totally alert and doing well, and I was able to leave at 12.

I hugged my nurse Emily goodbye and we walked to the cafeteria. We got some lunch and I felt a little self conscious as we left the port “accessed”, which meant I had a tube coming out of my chest. Talk about surreal. I ran into Kim, one of my special nurses who walked me through my first biopsy and is my friends sister in law and we hugged.

We finished lunch and walked to the cancer center. I got all of my oils and breads from the car and cooler of peas and luggage bag and cooler of water. I made zucchini blueberry bread with lemon glaze, and a zucchini chocolate chip bread. I wanted to hand it all out as a thank you.

Rob carried it all and didn’t complain.

My special nurse Heather ran out and we hugged. Have I said how much I love nurses? I’ve got the best.

I started handing out all of the essential oil roller bottles to the receptionist and nurses. I gave out lavender, lemon, peppermint and frankincense and everyone got to choose. It felt great.

In the waiting room, an older woman saw I had a port and proceeded to tell me how she could spot a wig a mile away and how horrible her port was and how one time she accidentally ripped out the IV attached and ended up infected with blood everywhere. I say in shock for a second, then said, “That’s really not the story I’m looking to hear today…”

It was like when I was first diagnosed and everyone would say…”Oh, my ____ has breast cancer. She died after two years…”

Not my story.

We each have our own, thank you.

My appointment went well. Hermina gave me lots of hugs and tips on port care. She also told me there are several patients now who go to them and tell them all about how they follow me on my blog, Facebook, Instagram, and how much hope and energy and information I share. It was nice to hear.

Dr Stopeck came in and wore a mask because she has a cold. I said…”Oh! I have an oil for that!” And gave her a few bottles. She was so happy I got a port and said everyone should have an Port as it makes everything easier. I said she sounded like a true oncologist with a bit of Oprah thrown in… “YOU get a port! YOU get a port…” and we laughed and laughed.

She said my lymph nodes were harder to find and definitely smaller. My breast tumors did not feel much smaller, but she agreed they felt more bumpy, or “nodular”. She said it could be the tumor starting to dissolve from the outside in, and that blood flow with chemo won’t get to the inside until the outside dissolved. My tumor markers went from something like fifty five to thirty nine, which is good. My white blood cell count dropped to lower 4 range, but it’s still good.

Based on how well I am tolerating it, chemo is changing. More aggressive , I think. I’ll be getting more carboplatin with the taxol week one, only taxol week two, and two weeks off. Side effect is more nausea and vomiting, but research is showing higher dose of Carbo is more effective. I also lessen risk of a reaction with less frequent doses of Carbo. We discussed how Donnie Yance said the ringing in the ears and temporary hearing issues I get is from the copper on the Carbo and that’s why we have to detox quickly the kidneys, as the kidneys are the gateway to the ears. My doctor seems more comfortable with me adding Donnie and I’m glad. He is looking for excellent oncologists to recommend to his patients and mine is one of the best.

We went upstairs for chemo and had to go in quickly because my port was bleeding. I ended up in a private room with a new nurse, Ronnie, who was so kind. We cleaned up the port and I was amazed when we accessed the tubing. We both wore masks and it was the craziest thing to see a tube with blood coming from my chest.

While I waited for my labs to give me the “all clear” for chemo, I went around and handed out my oil roller bottles. I sat with my friends mom who was in the room next to me and showed her my port. We talked about a lot, I gave her the zucchini blueberry bread with lemon glaze and the zucchini chocolate chip bread, along with one of each oil. Hermina stopped up for more hugs and Rob had already sliced up bread for her and my doctor.

My new labs were good and we started the anti nausea drugs then chemo. Rob did the whole peas and blueberries and socks and ice chips, along with the special tea that Donnie said to sip during chemo.

My vein whisperer Jean came over and told me her granddaughter who I taught was telling her how I used to read Junie B Jones and she loves reading because of me. It felt good to hear.

Chemo ended, I gave the recipe to Jean to share, and we left. It was a nine hour day.

We got home and my dad brought the kids home. My brother rob and sister in law Krista took Morgan and quinn to see movies and some other adventures and my kids loved it. Maddie chaperoned her camp kids at splish splash and was tired. They asked me all about the port, my day, and saw pictures. They all gave me “side hugs” last night and extra kisses.

I told them I’m like Iron Man now..

But call me Iron Mom

I took my Chinese herbs and my evening pills and then went gingerly into a detox bath.

My day was done.

Thank you everyone who texted and sent messages. Even my Tomcat Joe sent me a message at 8 am. We miss him, and I joked how I almost used the hot sauce we bought him.

Today I’ll be in contact with Donnie’s people about the new chemo plan. De Snuffleuffugus emailed me last night his concerns about the toxicity of Carbo and to let him know immediately if neuropathy sets in, and he will change the formula.

I love him. I even wrote to him I love him.

I’m feeling more confident that my team is strong with Dr Stopeck, Dr Snuffleuffugus and Donnie.

I’ve been up in some pain from the port, and will probably hop in the detox bath in a minute, and begin the pill regime. I’m in week two, so only about 53 pills in a day for the next two week.

Easy peasy.

May today bring more cancer breaking away, more healing everywhere, and peace.

In Jesus’s name, amen.

Xoxo

Keri

Champions

It’s been a few days, as we went to pick up my kids from Camp Kesem, and I spent the next few days just holding them, and doing my best to show them I am doing well.

We celebrated our summer son’s birthday, by going to see Paula and staff at The Giving Room, playing with alpacas, and having cake at the end of game two of the championship series.

Today is chemo day again.

Cycle two day eight.

Round five.

Im up and about to start drinking water life a fish. I’m packing a sweatshirt to keep arms warm and going to run up and down the stairs when I get there so I can get my blood pumping. I’m praying for one good clean painless stick today when they try to find a good vein. I appreciate any and all good prayers.

Yesterday was bittersweet. We hung out with Joe, played spoons, and then he went off to his last game. I prepped for the next few days and made cucumber onion salads, tuna Mac salads, a zucchini blueberry bread and a zucchini chocolate chip bread.

We headed off to the game and it was amazing. The Tomcats stayed in the lead the whole game. They brought Joe in and he started pitching at 5:55.

He did well, and another closer finished the game. When they won everyone was cheering and clapping.

I looked at their manager, Patti. This woman volunteers half of her summer and so much more time for these young men. She puts her heart and soul into these boys for the love of the game. You want to meet someone with a big huge heart?

Go to a game next year and meet Patti.

She had the host kids bring out the trophy and had baseball caps for all the host kids.

It’s a memory many of these kids won’t ever forget.

They even did the whole ice bucket over Patti, and she was overwhelmed. It was a total fairy tale ending.

We hugged goodbye to Joe’s family, and Joe went home. He will be back to get his things, but it felt more final.

We came home, had dinner, and went to bed.

Quinn climbed into bed and held his camp Kesem caterpillar and cried as he snuggled me. I knew it would be hardest on him. I explained to him how this is actually a good thing, because three months ago we didn’t even know Joe, and now?

Quinn answered…”He is part of our family.”

It’s hard for him because he also has me going to chemo all day. His summer big brother leaves and next day mom is in the hospital all day.

Happy summer, kid.

I’m bringing him and Morgan to my moms, and Maddie has a trip with her camp. He will get extra love and snuggles today.

I got a textbook to start reading from Donnie today, and got about four supplements. I didnt get the chemo cocktail tea, so I’ll do my whole routine of deli, school hugs, badass bunny socks and frozen peas and blueberries.

My new wig is in, so today I get to pick up Bambi.

I’m gaining more weight from the steroids, so going bald and gaining all this weight is challenging, especially because I had gotten to a healthy weight last year, nine years after my last baby. I know I should embrace the whole “Thank God I’m still

Here and who cares about the weight and hair?” But it still stinks. Hearing people say to be grateful for it doesn’t help. “Be thankful you are still here….”

Easy for others when they have no clue what it’s like.

Today’s lesson is to never trivialize when people are sad about something.

Just send love.

A pet dies after fifteen years? Instead of telling someone to be glad they had fifteen years, send them love.

A grandma passes at 98? Instead of telling them to be thankful they had so many years, send them love.

A woman loses her hair and gains weight and feels like she is going to look like Kojak? Instead of telling her to be thankful she is still alive and it will grow back someday, hold her hand and send her love.

Sorry.

Lesson over.

Please pray for me to sail through the chemo and IV placement, for Rob to continue to be strong, Quinn to have an easier day, Maddie to have a good trip, and Morgan to keep that happy spirit.

In Jesus’s name, amen.

Xoxo

Keri

Moondance

It was a marvelous night for a moon dance…

I woke up yesterday and spent and hour and a half detoxing in the tub while water bombing. I’m actually heading in to the tub to detox again this morning. More and more hair keeps coming out. I’m just not ready for the Mr Clean look.

I brought a dear friend with me to the Giving Room and Paula and the staff did their magic with juices. I had an açaí bowl and sweeeeet momma… it was amazing. I also tried the spicy carrot sauerkraut for probiotic and it was spicy yet tolerable. I came home with two jars of cookies from Alli Katz Kitchen, chocolate chip and ginger snaps, for the kids when I get them. My children have gotten more women who love them and we are so blessed.

I got a text that one of my former students was having a birthday party today. I went to her birthday three years ago and actually got into the inflatable pool with the kids. I wasn’t sure I could make it today, so I ran Over quick to look at the cupcakes she made. I also had her sister years and years ago, and now she is college, in the same sorority I was in. The student became the sister.

I found myself giving multiple women lessons on how tumors can feel. Mine have become much more defined, and I am having them feel my breasts to see what it feels like.

It’s one thing to teach how to palpate, but I always remember thinking, “But how will I know how a tumor feels?” I no longer look at my breasts like they are these hot sexy things. I see them as teaching tools. Seriously. If you want to know how to palpate and find a tumor, I’m your girl. It’s easy to find them now, as they take up half of my breast. But soon?

They’ll be gone… so if you want a lesson, just ask. Truly.

Rob came home for lunch and we went through my protocol. We went ahead and ordered my first month, and will be figuring out possible substitutions with my friends. I have to keep faith that all of this has come to me and is in God’s plan for my life.

I went to the farm to pick up my CSA and has a lovely talk with a Valley Stream native, whose mom was just at the 50th anniversary party for the barents of my best friend from high school. Amazing.

Then my sister picked me up with her sprites and her new au pair from Germany. I had sent her a snap video of me singing a song I sang for a concert when I was in 12th grade. I sang it again in the car and she said she didn’t recognize it but knew it was German.

We walked to the end of a beach where it came to a point and met with Alli Katz, Paula, Allegra, Laura, Dori, Andrea, and some other women. It was cloudy and windy and the mist was thick. My nieces kept collecting treasures as I sat and just breathed and looked for the moon.

It was the longest lunar eclipse for a century, and we kept praying we would see it. Right as some of the other women started to pack up and leave, Paula, Allegra and I started to sing a song we learned a few months ago. Wouldn’t you know, we saw a light peeking out from behind the clouds, and then?

We saw the beautiful moon.

Of course.

We all cheered and yelled and clapped and sang.

Soon we packed up and my sister and I sang a laurie Berkner song about the moon and how it takes care of me as we walked the long walk back to the car.

I pretended to call the moon, and santa, and told my nieces stories and made up songs. They are adjusting to my wig, and want me to get pink and purple and blue wigs.

I’ll do it.

If there is any way to make this journey seem magical instead of scary…

I’ll do my best for the sprites.

I came home and rob and I hung out with Joe. They lost game two and have to win today to advance to the finals. I’m selfish and want him to win so he stays with us longer.

They finally put up more pictures of the camp at 11:30 last night. When I look at morgan she seems happy. I’m not getting as much of that feeling with Maddie and Quinn. I’ll be happy to see them all today at 5:00 when they get home. I’m hoping to not crash so hard today and instead feel well when I get them. I’m sure they’ll need showers and I’ll have lots of laundry.

Today may my children have safe travels home, may the Tomcats win, and may I feel well as my body heals.

In Jesus’s name, amen.

Xoxo

Keri

Cycle Two Day One

I’m done with the crying for the day. Yesterday was overwhelming for a lot of reasons.

More hair came out in the shower.

I had to restart chemo.

It took two tries to find a vein and a port was discussed. I know everyone said it makes it easier, but my gut still says no… I dont know why, and I’m a needlephobe.

I got lots of hugs to make it easier.

I did the same routine, went to the deli across from my school, for hugs, great food, and a selfie since they weren’t busy.

Then I ran into school and got hugs from my security guard and one of my custodians. I’ve talked about faith so much with these men. They are my brothers in Christ… and we make each other laugh. They also both worked at the local hospital. One of them would always appear, either when I had my babies or when I had emergencies. Gifts from God.

I hugged our secretaries and we laughed. They are the front line in schools, and sometimes deal with not so nice people. Be kind to school secretaries… every day, even in summer.

Actually, just be kind.

Then it was off to the hospital.

As soon as I walked into the chemo curtain area, I saw the mother of a dear friend. She was going to be there all day, so rob and I told her we would keep an eye on her and get her whatever she needed. I messaged her kids and it felt so good to focus on someone else. I sent her reiki and grabbed extra snacks for her.

I got hugs from my friend Heather, and she always fills me with hope. Hermina waked through the unit and I told her to tell my oncologist that I’m doing well. She loved my short hair and shirt my student gave me. She said she wished everyone had the attitude I did. People like me always do better.

It was good to hear.

A volunteer was handing out pillows and I got one that was mint in color and had animals on it.

Deer.

The day after i find out my chinese herbs have antler of the deer in them and I’m going to name my blond wig “Bambi”.

My blood counts were fantastic, and my white blood count is even higher than it was on the low dose pill form.

They pushed anti nausea meds and then it was time for the taxol. The blood pressure cuff went on, the frozen peas and blueberries went into the socks and onto my feet and hands, and rob started spoon feeding me ice chips while I dictated a new email asking if there was any way we could substitute some of the supplements with other brands that friends have offered to get for me wholesale, as well as eliminate others that aren’t essential now like the neuropathy cream so I’m not spending a mortgage payment every month. I also have issues swallowing pills, and there are about seventy a day when I added it all up.He replied late at night that we can substitute some, eliminate the sinus and cough care, take out the neuropathy, he is being very aggressive now and hopes to lessen it all as I finish chemo, which could possibly be in two months or so.

So today we order, then sit with all of my angels sent to me and figure out where I will get substitutions.

I sailed through the first fifteen minutes beautifully with no reactions.

I wore a bracelet for a young man going through his own journey, and held him in sacred space all day. We are both walking through the fire now, but that’s when impurities rise to the surface and gold become more pure. I can send prayer and reiki from anywhere to anywhere.

Isn’t that great?

Taxol finished then they started carboplatin.

When I finished my nurse said I did really great and was her star patient.

(Or “highly effective” as Cuomo now makes me get rated.)

We decided to go to Joe’s game and it was lovely. We sat with his mom and dad and talked and talked. His mom and I snapchatted joe, and after the game he had two moms giving him”mom talk”.

We took Joe to Alive on 25, and ate at Parebelle. My dad always goes there with my brothers, and the waitress knew them, and my story, but didn’t recognize Electra, my silver wig alter ego. She said she would never be able to tell i just had chemo. She was an angel, and brought me three huge glasses of water at once and kept them all filled for me.

We came home and watched more Game of Thrones because the steroids hyped me up, and I have ringing in my ears. I also cant hear well. Donnie said it’s because of the copper in the carboplatin, which is why detoxing is so important. I’ll get my full hearing back and the ringing will stop in a day or two.

I also heard that Wednesday at Camp was the sharing circle night. It’s when the kids share why they are there. It’s a very emotional night, and my kids heard stories from children that didn’t get the happy ending. There are lots of tears, and it broke my heart that I wasn’t there to hug them. I cant even think of them sleeping without me. I’m glad they do it midcamp. This way they have formed bonds and feel safe sharing, then have two and a half more fun days. I get them back Saturday at five at the university, and I’m going to hug them so tight.

I’m not sure of my plans today.

I may head to the Giving Room, just for the energy. They sent me videos and have learned how to snapchat, and made me laugh all day yesterday when I needed it.

I’ll clean the kids rooms a little more and wash their sheets. Even put a little treat by their pillows.

I haven’t gotten any pictures from Wednesday or Thursday. That’s hard.

May I get pictures of my children smiling today.

May the ringing stop in my ears.

May I detox quickly.

May I figure out my new protocol.

May I be happy.

May I be healed.

May I be at ease.

May we all be that way.

In Jesus’s name, amen.

Xoxo

Keri

Adding to the Team

It’s been a few days. I’m fine.

I took a break from blogging to live life, and get my children ready for Camp Kesem.

It’s a camp many colleges have for children that have a parent with cancer. It’s amazing, and my kids are gone all week.

I finally Skyped with Donnie Yance from the Mederi Clinic. I’m going to share a lot, because there are some important things he told me that may benefit others.

Here is my post from today….

What a day.

I felt peace seeing my kids, and although hearing their voices tell me they are having a great time would be even better. There were no pictures posted from day three at Camp Kesem, but I’m ok. I’m so thankful that all of these college kids have given up a week of their summer to bring joy to children who have had too much sadness in their young lives. We need more people like these counselors.

I went into school and tackled my file cabinets. I organized all of my binders and have it pretty well set up. All I need to do now is label everything with kids names, learn what new curriculum we will be getting, and do bulletin boards. It sounds simple, but right there is about three days worth of work.

I came home and hung out with Joe. I was so nervous about the Skype call I had coming, so he hung out with me and we watched Game of Thrones. I had a stress headache so no going outside for some sun. Instead I sipped water and laughed whenever Joe got shocked at twists and turns.

Then it was time for the call.

I’m going to be honest. When I spoke with Donnie three weeks ago, death came back to my heart. I got scared I made a mistake with the chemo, that the cancer would come back, and that we were making wrong choices. I had pretty much decided that I would listen to what he has to say, but not add him to my team.

I invited my dad over in case Donnie had family history questions, as well as Maggie. She had the connections that got me to this point, and is brilliant. Whatever I wouldn’t be able to follow, I knew she would.

I decided to wear the reddish brown wig, “Amber”, for my own confidence. Then it was time.

I called him up on Skype and we had a video glitch at first. Then? I saw him. Right behind him?

A cross hanging on a wall.

The first ten minutes I was all nerves, we had some small talk, then he dove right in.

Man, he is brilliant.

Almost a savant.

He went over all my bloodwork, and explained it in very technical detail with lots of medical words. Had he been my first stop in the cancer world, I would have been overwhelmed. But because I’ve read many of his medical papers and journals, I kept up.

There was a lot of good news with those thirteen vials of blood he took. He said he was like Sherlock Holmes, and puts all the pieces of the puzzle together. That is when the feeling hit my gut, and it was my sign that he was going to be added to my team. Madison’s name in camp this week is Sherlock, and she has spent all summer reading every original book and watching the series.

The biggest thing he is working on is my fibrinogen. I’m at risk for clots with the level I am at, and he will work on it through his supplements. He went over my PH and it is low. THe ratio of one area of blood to another is at a good range, and my CBC is good. He discussed how the tumor makeup of HER2 was very high, 70%. That’s what shows how fast moving the cell division of the cancer is. Mine is very fast and aggressive. My heart dropped. However, he said that numbers over 15% respond better to chemo, and although mine is high, we should get a good response. He even said I could have complete response after nine sessions, and the tumors could completely go away. I had a crash course in bloodwork and tumor cell makeup. He even talked about a new drug in trial that looks really promising.

Donnie said again how toxic the chemo is, and liked the idea of the peas and blueberries. He said he can handle any neuropathy that would come my way anyway, and with his help, I shouldn’t get any.

We discussed the CARIS biopsy, and we’ve decided that we will have both biopsies done when surgery happens. He even thinks I may have such a remarkable response, there may not be any tumor left to remove. He discussed how surgery can be very taxing to the immune system and spur more metastasis, but said we will cross that bridge when we come to it. I was afraid he would be adamantly opposed to surgery, but he said either way he could support me.

He is very impressed with all the moves my oncologist is making. After hearing us explain how she is treating me as an individual and not cookie cutter, he said she sounds like a great fit. He would love to talk to her.

We talked about Dr Snuffleuffugus. I told him all of the ingredients, and he said that Snuffy has been doing an excellent job. Did you know I am drinking the actual antler of a deer every day? Yup. That’s one of the ingredients.

Thank you, Bambi.

I may name my new blonde wig in your honor.

He said to keep using Snuffy, and I felt relief. I love this Chinese man, and feel secure with him. I think he has grown to love me too.

We discussed how I left Sloan because I didnt feel any hope, and he said I have made every right choice. He even said that my decision to not do Xgeva every month and instead advocate for every three to four months was smart.

We discussed diet. He told me instead of eating sploosh, I’ll be adding a shake to my day. He wants me to eat more miso soup, kimchi, sauerkraut. He said eighty five percent plant based and fifteen percent good whole dairy and fish, with the dairy being a mixture of cow, goat and sheep. He said to simply eat as well as I can.

We discussed my weight, and he said the drugs and steroids have puffed me up and given me the water retention. We discussed next steps and drugs to possibly go to. We discussed how to address the cancer stem cells, so cancer doesn’t pop back up in a year. He doesn’t think the liver spots are malignant cancer spots. He said it’s probably benign.

He told me to exercise, and we discussed meditation. He said vagal tone breathing is very important as it stimulated the parasympathetic nerve for the immune system. Guess who has been teaching me that all along?

Paula.

We discussed chaga mushroom. Guess who came into my life last year? The owners of chaga island, Debbie and Bridget. He loves that I am drinking it.

We discussed faith. He told me how important it is for people to reach the level of asking their purpose in life and then doing it… with love.

Love and faith.

Every time a drug, a therapy, an herb, or anything came up, he said he had written a paper on it, or done a study, or given a presentation.

He is brilliant.

Probably the most brilliant man I’ve met. Now I know why Martha Stewart loves him.

We talked for two hours, and he was going to write up an entire proposal for me. I didnt ask how much it will cost. I’ll figure it out when I get it. We are adding it to Snuffy‘ herbs, but my kids are smart and will get full scholarships to college anyway…. (I’m adding that to my prayers every day.)

As we said goodbye, Donnie told me he didn’t want to overwhelm me with research papers and journal articles and nutrition ideas and recipes, as it was our “first date”. I told him it was a great first date, and I even had my dad in the back seat listening in as a chaperone.

I had to make an appointment for a follow up in four weeks, and I spoke to his assistant, she didn’t have openings until January. I’m on a wait list and she said there should be a cancellation the week I need it.

When we finished and hung up, I cried.

I had peace and hope and clarity.

Rob feels the same.

Maggie does too.

My dad was maybe overwhelmed at all the technical talk, but said he supports adding Donnie to the team.

They left, and rob and I made dinner.

We sat on the back deck and ate with joe, had a glass of wine, looked at the stars, talked about the kids, his games, and rob schooled him on music. I said to Joe that I felt bad he had met us this summer instead of three summers ago when nights like this were the norm. He said he is glad he came to us this summer, learned a lot, had his eyes opened, and was happy.

I told him someday, he is going to help a lot of other people from what he learned this past month.

It was a beautiful night.

Robs parents stopped by and we filled them in on the meeting. I snapchatted my nieces and nephews. This is hard for them as well, and the easier and funnier I can make it, so they know I’m ok and get used to my shaved head, the better. Joe joined in and we laughed and laughed at the video filters.

Then we watched Game of Thrones.

Today I’ll go for a walk, clean and do laundry, then go to the grand opening of my friend Alli’s new business.

Tomorrow is chemo day.

I’m at peace.

Thank you, Jesus.

Amen.

Xoxo

Keri