Kait’s Angels Among Us

Here’s what I think High Schools should do next year.

Kids these days idolize athletes, musicians, youtubers who do silly stunts and all make millions of dollars.

Let’s expand their world, and show them the true giants who walk among us.

I’ve hugged three giants in the last two days.

Nancy Reyer was a parent of mine many years ago at Roanoke Avenue. She was a force to be reckoned with, and she, along with her sister Fran, were single mothers raising their boys and were fierce. Fierce with their love and fierce with their protection. Fast forward to Fran’s wedding, and Nancy’s son Michael was burned severely by a gel pot. In the ensuing days, Michael’s brain was deprived of oxygen and was forever changed. He spent the next eight years in bed or in a wheelchair, with his mom by his side. Some can’t handle hard things and check out. Some have others around them check out. Not Nancy. She was there for her son every single day. She held on to her faith every single day. She went national and made sure everyone knew how dangerous the gel pots were that changed her and her son’s life forever.

She buried her son this week, after eight long years. She begins a new chapter of her life, and as I hugged her and cried at his wake, her faith gave me strength. Nancy is the mother of an angel, and an angel herself.

Melanie McEvoy is a woman I met through Facebook because of cancer. We finally met in real life at the Tanger Outlet Breast Cancer walk and she had a sea of pink surrounding her as she walked. She has a constant buzz of energy whenever I hug her, and she just finished a second bout of breast cancer this year. (She can rock a head scarf like nobody’s business.) Melanie helps run the North Fork Breast Health Coalition which gives grants to women diagnosed with breast cancer to help them with day to day things. She invited me to the Pink and Pearls gala this year and I was blown away. Melanie used what sometimes makes women stay in bed and want to forget about into something that helps others. I saw her last night at a benefit that wasn’t for the breast coalition but for another amazing organization, running around and helping. Melanie made her diagnosis into a blessing for others. She is a force and an angel for women who have had their world turned upside down.

Darla Doorhy works at my dentist’s office as the receptionist. If you talk about a big heart, her face will appear in your mind. She makes me laugh every time I go to the dentist, and for a girl who has dentist phobia, her smile is the first thing I see. Darla has two stunning daughters. I mean… stun…ning. Her oldest Kait was the Mattituck Strawberry Festival Queen when she was in high school, then she went off to college. While in college, she was hit by a car and passed away. The community was devastated.

What did Darla do? She turned her grief into something good. “Kait’s Angels” was formed. This organization raises funds to help the community. They’ve donated buddy benches to elementary schools. They’ve brought in a phenomenal speaker for high school students. They help families in crisis. One month after my stage four diagnosis, several cars pulled up to my house with a bunch of men and Santa Claus. They delivered dinner, wrapped gifts and gift cards, as I sobbed and hugged them. Every year they have different fundraiser so they have the funds to make things a little better for those who need it. Last night was their big event, Wingo. It was huge. There were about a hundred and fifty Chinese auction baskets, lottery trees, special events with Maryann the Medium, fifty fifty raffle, bingo, and very fancy pocketbooks. Kait’s family was there, her sorority sisters, and Darla ran the show.

I had a really hard night the night before, didn’t sleep, and cried most of the day. When I was talking to Paula and my mom, they both said of course I was crying all day. The past three weeks have been weeks that would normally bring people to their knees. I had a bad Petscan, confusion over which chemo to take, started a new toxic chemo with nightmare side effects, had to finish report cards, pack up a classroom again after having to unpack/pack/unpack/pack in the beginning of the year due to mold, say goodbye to children who I have loved every day that they walked into my room, say goodbye to a principal who helped me believe in myself again, get “trained” in two new programs which will take an enormous amount of work in kindergarten next year, sent an email asking for a new drug that may work synergistically with my chemo but has some pretty nasty side effects all on it’s own, got my feelings hurt again and prayed to toughen up while staying with a soft heart, and am sending my kids away to different camps tomorrow, one of which is for children who have parents with cancer… and I hate that my kids qualify for that.

So of course I had a day.

The last thing I felt like doing was going to an event in a tent where women looked beautiful and drank wine and laughed. I had gotten two tickets a while ago for me and Morgan because she never gets special girly treats like manicures or concerts. Money is tight and if I’m going to spend it on extras, spending it for a charity felt better. She has also lost more hair in the back, and I wanted a special night with her.

We got it.

One of the first persons I saw was Darla. She was a vision in pink, her daughter Kait’s favorite color. It’s no secret I have come to hate pink because of the hijacking by companies during October for breast cancer awareness, when everywhere I go I see pink, and money isn’t going to research to save lives, but to corporations that tell people to save the “Tatas”. Screw the tatas, save my life instead please.

But last night, I saw pink everywhere, and I felt my heart change. Last night Pink was for Kait, and a celebration of her spirit. I’ll bring back out my pink clothes again and wear them not for breast cancer, but for Kait.

Morgan and I sat with a friend of hers and her mom whom I’ve known for years and is my friend too. They came with two other mom friends and we grabbed a table. Four other friends of mine showed up and ended up sitting with us. We laughed and cheered as people won bingo and baskets, and Morgan and I each one a basket. It was a great night, and I am so glad I stopped crying and decided to go, for two reasons especially.

I wanted to show Morgan how I could still have fun and not drink alcohol. I brought a delicious organic fruit sangria Paula has sent and added some sparkling water and felt fancy among the vineyards. As we drove home, I spoke with Morgan about how I used to drink, and realized I had just as much fun that night as I would have in the past.

I also wanted her to see how life goes on. She kept looking at Kait’s picture and Darla and her other daughter. They are all beautiful, inside and out. She saw strong women putting one foot in front of the other with dignity, grace, and beauty, while dedicating their lives to make others lives better, even after tragedy.

She met Melanie McEvoy, and was so happy she won the grand prize. We took a selfie at the end of the night, and I told Morgan she just met two of the strongest women I know.


Women like Nancy Reyer, Melanie McEvoy and Darla Doorhy are who high schools should bring in every year to talk to the students.

These women don’t make millions scoring goals or making movies or sharing YouTube videos about nothing…

These women make the world better every single day by their actions and examples.

I’m going to spend the day breathing and making sure the kids are all packed for all of their camps, then I have to pack and make sure I have all the meds and pills and potions I need for the trips to drop them off. It will be a day, but…

Today, may we all be like Nancy, Melanie and Darla. May we all make the world a little brighter, walk with grace and beauty shining from our hearts, and we can even wear pink while doing so.

In Jesus’s name, amen.



The Stars Keep me Company…

I was up most of the night. The visions of my family without me in five years kept me up. I know, I know…

“Don’t be ridiculous, Keri. You’ll beat this! You’ll be here!”

But that’s the thing.

Most women aren’t still here who’ve been diagnosed with the type of cancer and genetic mutation I’ve been diagnosed with.

And in the past two and a half years, I’m now on my seventh different chemo treatment and not one has worked since the first.

Not… one.

It keeps growing and growing and spreading and getting more active.

I keep getting messages and reading articles that it’s the chemo that is making it spread.

Then I read messages and articles of people who denied any chemo and died within a year.

I try to keep busy because I still can run around and be a mom and I am told to rest.

So I rest and my mind says that someday laying on the couch will be all I can do, so get up now while I still can.

I ran around yesterday getting everything the kids needed for camps, physicals for school and camps. Don’t get me wrong, I am so thankful for Camp Kesem through Stony Brook. But I hate and feel sick over the fact that MY kids are the ones who qualify to go to this camp for kids with parents with cancer and terminal illness.

I got Maddie from work, and was so happy when she said she feels like she is working with family. She loves the camp counselors she will be with this year and is so happy they agreed to let her work as a counselor even though she is missing the first two weeks of camp due to leadership academy.

Then I went to Michaels wake. I met a former colleague there who was his second grade teacher after he left me. Stacy and I had to compose ourselves before we could walk in the church. We took deep breaths and grabbed some tissues.

It’s the second funeral for a student I’ve gone to in that church, and memories of seeing Israel’s little casket with his Pokémon cards came flooding back.

Yesterday, Michael has his drumsticks.

His mom Nancy is the strongest woman I know, and ended up comforting us. She hugged me and told me Michael is now in heaven telling the cancer to get out of his teacher’s body. I told her that she and Michael were my beacons of faith through hard times, and their example has lightened my path. Stacy asked Nancy how she was so strong and she pointed to a pastor and said that he taught her all about faith.

That’s the answer, you know.

Maybe we do go back to dust and it all fades to black and there is nothing once we leave. If that’s the case, I wont even know. But isn’t the other scenario a better one to live for? A bright light, with people who love you waiting for you, and those who didn’t love you, they suddenly do. You’re filled with peace and joy and are healed and whole. And when those who mourn your loss have their time come as well, you are there with open arms to say, “Welcome home. All is forgiven. You’re going to love it here.”

I took the kids to see Toy Story 4, met some friends there which was a nice surprise, then came home. Some emails went back and forth and I’m supposed to start a new drug today.

I kept reading the “Confessions of a Christian Mystic” book. She wrote of a story she was told of young children after the Holocaust. When they would meet new people, they would figure out if the person would be the type to hide them or turn them in. That’s a heartbreaking game, yet a bizarre and quick way to figure out the truth of someone. I’d like to think i would be a helper and hide people, but you never know what you would do until every decision affects your life and your back is up against wall. You ask where God is in the midst of hard times and the hard questions and despair, and I guess He is where He has always been….

In us and all around us, allowing us to make decisions that affect our lives and the course of history. When things become hard and nights become dark, we sit in the quiet, and turn our thoughts to the one who waits at the table in our hearts. We can look at the stars, light years away and yet right above us, and think of them as shortcuts to God. We breathe in the light from above and carry it into our heart, then scatter it like seeds in the wind. Somewhere along the stardust in the sky, science says we began in the big universe, with a Big Bang. I think all those stars connect like a thread, and that thread leads straight to the heart of God…

The one who loves us in our ugliest, darkest, loneliest moments and holds us even when we feel lost. The one who listens to us barter of what we would do if He would only make our wish and prayers come true.

You learn a lot in the middle of the night when you are alone with God, praying and crying and looking at the stars.

It’s what we do with what we learn that matters.

I’m going tonight to see another mother who has turned her tragedy of losing her daughter into something beautiful. I’ll be surrounded by Kait’s Angels tonight, and feel the light coming from Darla.

Today I’m praying for Nancy as she sends Michael home, and that she is filled with faith that he is with all who love him.

I’m praying for my children. They are excited and anxious about camp,

And we are busy with last minute checklists.

I’m praying for Rob, as he is working so hard, and having a wife with this illness is hard, especially when he is as quiet as he is.

I’m praying for me. For Jesus to listen to my prayers to live, and heal, and be a testament to what faith can do.

May it all be so.

In Jesus’s name, amen.



Ending the Year on a Positive Note

What an emotional last day.

The entire staff had shirts made with one of our principal’s sayings, “Ending the year on a positive note.” His said, “Ending my career on a positive note.”

And man, did he ever.

We all gathered for a staff photo before school started, and it was a sight to see everyone in those shirts.

His office had also been decorated and filled with balloons all over his floor. Mr. Kent came around class to class to deliver perfect attendance awards and say goodbye. In Kindergarten we joke he is like a favorite grandpa, the kids see him and get all excited and jazzied up and want to hug him, then he leaves and we have to calm them all down.

That’s the sign of a man who does his job well. If the children love you, and the staff, and the families…

You can do anything together.

I gave my end of year speech to the kids. I told them how lucky we are that we all live in the same town, and explained the rules to the game “Spot

Your Teacher this Summer”. I told them to keep their eyes open and I may even wear disguises and wigs.

I also told them to stay off their televisions and video games and parent’s phones. I told them that when their teacher asks them what they did over the summer, “Nothing”, or “I played video games” are not the answers I want them to give.

I gave them all sidewalk chalk, a book and a blank journal. Penny gave them a magic wand of bubbles.

I told them to blow bubbles on the beach, draw pictures on the sidewalk and make the world more beautiful. Write stories in their journals and use their imagination. Read under a tree, find beautiful seashells. Look up at the clouds during the day and the stars at night. Build a fort on rainy days and read.





Make memories.

Then it was time to line the hallway for the clap out. It gets me every time, but more so this year. It’s always hard hugging my former students goodbye as they walk past, especially the one who are crying. I stood and gave out hugs to those who needed. My niece walked by and I gave her flowers, then Quinn came and hugged me. On my video you hear me crying, kissing kids quick, and telling them I love them. Then I marched out my kinders for the last time and was amazed.

I had spoken to my friend Kerri and also asked on social media for former students to come “clap out Mr. Kent”. As we walked out, the street was lined with former and current families and students. We even had some seniors who were graduating the same day find time to run up to school in their caps and gowns.

My Facebook feed was full of pictures of seniors looking beautiful and proud. My niece graduated and I sent her a text promising ice cream this summer. These kids grow up so fast.

Don’t blink.

Looking at all of the former students and families was beautiful.

That’s what makes our school so special. Mr. Kent and Mrs. Williams love these children, long after they leave our building.

You can’t find two better principals anywhere.

After we cried and waved goodbye and cheered the children off to summer, I finished packing up my room and loaded up my Jeep with my kids.

I remember the year I was diagnosed having to pack up my room, and packed it up so if I died or couldn’t come back to work that September,

it would be easy for a new teacher to come set up.

Now I pack up so it’s easy for me in September. I felt like the Terminator as I took one last look at the room and said, “I’ll be back”.”

Then I ran home and quick set up the house for the end of year party. This year people had a couple of options, and I said mine was super low key, bring your kids to swim in the pool, and just breathe.

It was awesome.

My pool was full of kids swimming, and both of my principals ended up coming. We all laughed and relaxed and breathed and I looked around and thanked God for all of these people. My kids also decided they just may have met some kindred spirits and are already planning play dates and get togethers.

The last of the guests left around 6:30 or so, and I got an email from my oncologist.

I had sent her an email that morning with links to research papers and studies on how adding Celebrex, an anti inflammatory, to a protocol using 5FU, capecitibine/xeloda, has proven to be effective in attacking cancer stem cells in stage four colon cancer patients and I would like to try that possibly.

She agreed.

So at my next appointment I’ll be adding a new drug.

I felt a little like Huey Lewis and the News…”I want a new drug… one that won’t make me sick…

My Tomcat Joe came home from his game, we had dinner, and then I went to bed. I talked to Paula and we discussed how social media makes it easy for people to be mean.

Especially Christians.

I ended my day commenting to angry Christians who were writing how Jesus would judge other people’s choices.

I told them Jesus only told us one thing.

Love one another.

Three words that people have such a hard time following.

Today will be busy. Maddie has a work activity, I have to go run around for last minute camp supplies for all of the kids. They all leave Sunday early in the morning. They have birthday parties and all sorts of things before that so it’s crunch time.

I’m also going to the wake of a former student, Michael Hubbard. As sad as I am, I am thankful God had me in his life and him and his mom in mine. They ended up being my teachers.

I’m in a detox bath now as I have some soreness and some hand and foot tingling. I’ll be here probably another half hour or so and will keep reading a great book.

“Confessions of a Christian Mystic” by River Jordan. It’s short stories and fills you with peace. I highly recommend it for summer reading.

Today, may we all follow those three simple words…”Love one another”

In Jesus’s name, amen.



The Clap Out to End all Clap Outs

I’m not sure I should wear mascara today.

I’m always a mess the last day of school, and can barely get through my end of year circle with my kindergartners, as I tell them I will always love them, to keep reading and writing and believing in themselves and in magic and be kind and I promise you’ll see me again. I tell them about the “Spot your teacher” summer game, where every time you see me in the summer you get a point. Then I hug and kiss each one on the head and tell them I love them as they leave my classroom, one year older and a reader and writer and in my heart forever.

We also do a clap out. We all line the hallways and the fourth graders take one last loop around the building and hug their teachers goodbye as they are cheered on by the children and staff.

Today is also the day my last child leaves my building. For the last eleven years, I’ve had one of my children in the building with me. I got pregnant with Quinn my first year there, so technically, Quinn started in Aquebogue with me. Twelve years I’ve driven to school with one of my kids with me. Twelve years I’ve walked the halls and heard “Mom!”. Madison and Morgan are coming with me to clap out their brother, as well as Mr Kent.


We are also clapping out our beloved principal. We are anticipating the “ugly cry”. How do you say goodbye to a man who has been the lighthouse, keeping the light shining bright whenever the waves were tossing and turning your boat on the seas of educational reform? How do you say goodbye to the man who was the anchor, keeping you in the harbor of safety? I came to the building with PTSD, after having a negative experience with an administrator. I actually would shake whenever I had to go to his office. Within a year I felt strong again. Confident, and free to do what was right for the children. Supported, respected, and treated with kindness. He is loved by the children, and by the families. He greets every child every morning by name as they walk in the building and stand by the buses at the end of the day to say goodbye, rain, sleet or snow. He tells the kids on announcements to put their best foot forward, and always to end the day on a positive note. His door is always open to students, staff and families. He has prayed, held my hands, hugged me, cried, and helped me know I can continue to work through the cancer treatments and he has had my back. He took selfies in the summer whenever I came in before chemo as I went to the hospital.

Mr Kent is a leader, as well as a friend.

So yes…

We will have the ugly cry today.

I’ve been texting and messaging former students and parents and we hope to have a large group of alumni on the sidewalk for the big bus goodbye, as the buses go round and round the circle, honking horns as the staff stands and cries and waves and blows kisses.


Big ugly cry.

We had the assembly yesterday with Squeaky Clean, and we danced and danced. We gave Mr Kent a big tree on a piece of paper with every child’s fingerprint as a leaf. I packed up my room as penny stuffed the welcome letters for August for my new batch of kinders. One chapter ending and the next already beginning.

I emailed my oncologist requesting she look at some studies about adding a drug to my protocol called Celebrex. There is a study that adding an anti inflammatory can attack the cancer at the stem cell level. I found it funny that the drug capecitibine is also called “5. FU”. We will see what she says.

Today I’ll let the kids play and play, hug, kiss, cry, then I’m opening up my house for any staff that wants to simply sit by the pool and relax. Some are bringing their kids so my kids will also have fun.

Wish us all good luck today, as we send off the children who entered our classrooms ten months ago and became a part of our hearts and stories. Wish us luck as we say goodbye to a man that every school should be so lucky to have as their leader.

And wish me luck as I clap out my last child from aquebogue. The one who started in my belly my first year there, and was loved so hard and so beautiful during the last almost three years through his stress, anxiety and worries about his mom. These teachers and staff administrators have helped me raise my children as they started their schooling.

We are so very blessed.

Here’s to new chapters for us all.

In Jesus’s name, amen.



Saving the Pigs and Last Days

Today begins the half days of school. It also begins the days I wish I was a high school teacher.

You see, they’ve been done for a week now, proctoring exams, easier schedule. They don’t use as much materials as us, so packing up a room is pretty simple.

Primary teachers?

Apparently memories and activities ramp up until the last possible moment. Today we have an assembly on summer reading programs. Tomorrow we have a concert. Then Wednesday is the last day.

I’ve got three lessons left in math to teach, and I am going to teach them, gosh darn it, because I’ll never have the opportunity again to say I’ve gotten through all six modules. You see, apparently instead of getting the half day this afternoon to pack, primary teachers have to go to training on a new math program (I’ve lost count of how many I’ve had to learn.) I’ve spent the last week trying to prep for the new phonics program I’ve been told I’m teaching next year as well.

These are the days I wish I chose High school, one subject to master and teach, proctoring and grading exams instead of keeping energy levels down to a quiet roar while still teaching and prepping for next year and packing and helping little ones deal emotionally with the fact they are leaving you while also dealing with having these little ones leave you as well.

That’s the hardest part.

They were four and five when I met them.

They barely recognized their name, couldn’t open a juice box, some never held a pencil before, and couldn’t count to ten. Now?

They are readers, writers, independent, friends… and we became a little family, with them even sometimes mistakenly calling me “mommy” in their little voices, in a way I haven’t heard since my own children said it that way. We’ve made applesauce, cranberry sauce, celebrated birthdays and holidays, laughed over farts and silly jokes, danced many times over the year, played and played and played, mourned the loss of pets and grandparents, painted, used our imaginations, and made memories.


Looking back, maybe I don’t wish so much I was a high school teacher.

I’m sure being a teacher of someone in their last year of high school comes with its own set of frustrations, as well as great experiences. (I would totally chaperone prom and rock a sequin taffeta dress with poofy shoulder sleeves).

But I’ll take kindergarten any day. Being the first one to send them on their way is a blessing, as exhausting and frustrating as it can be at times.

I’m tired, as I had nightmares about a plane crashing on my street over and over and I had to keep running and trying to save the people while avoiding the explosions and fire. Not sure I want to look that dream meaning up. We went to the mall yesterday and got the kids what they need for camp, then food shopping, then joes game. So far, so good with the xeloda. It’s day four today, eight more to go in cycle one. I’ve been getting asked how long I have to take it.

Until it stops working.

Then it’s on to only IV chemos

Until those stop working.

Then that’s it.

Perhaps that’s why I had airplanes crashing in my dreams. My friend Marguerite at church showed me a book yesterday that was written about her husband who died in an airplane crash sixty years ago. She always wondered what his last moments were like. Wouldn’t you know, a stewardess survived and just released the book.

Sixty years later, Marguerite has gotten her answer.

I don’t understand why things happen or God’s timing. But I’m thankful she got her answer.

In church yesterday the sermon was about how Jesus cast out many demons from a man and sent the demons into nearby pigs, and the pigs then ran off a cliff and drowned in a river. The man had spent years wandering around tombs, unclothed, the crazy man of his town. Once he was healed, he asked Jesus if he could become one of his disciples and stay with him. Jesus told him no, to go back to his home, and tell everyone what God had done.

I sat there listening and realized that sermon was the same type of story I had just posted about the near death experience people, who saw the beauty of heaven but were told to go back and spread the word. It also could apply to me, as I pray and pray Jesus takes all the cancer cells out and says “Go forth, daughter. Your faith has made you well. Tell everyone and live the long life until it’s time for you to come home.” Although I would spare the pigs, and He could send the cancer cells into mosquitos or something.

Today I’ll teach, bring the kids to an assembly, drive to a math training for a few hours, then come home and rest. It looks like we may have a sunny day, which makes it three in a row.

It’s been months since we have three sunny days in a row. Ill try to bring my kids out to the garden for yoga.

May today be fruitful and healing and calm, and bring peace in the sunshine.

In Jesus’s name, amen.



Phoenix Rising

At the beginning of a new therapy, a peace and sense of confidence comes.

You see, after spending several weeks anticipating a scan, needles, results, praying for new options, being told the options are toxic and will cause great damage, and confusion as to what to do…

When you finally start moving again, you feel like all of the questions are lifted off your shoulders.

You begin the therapy and start all of the precautions.

And you pray.

I spent my day conserving energy. I knew I would be spending all day driving kids back and forth to different play dates, and would rest in between. I’ve had a headache the past two days and have been drinking a ton of water. But I also got a new wig and a shirt that was funny and wore them both yesterday. The kids laughed and loved the shirt and wig, and Morgan named the wig “Phoenix”. Maddie and Morgan both said they loved how I still make things fun with the cancer. I told them that cancer might take some things away, but it’s my choice how to live with it. We went to get some gift cards and I met a girl who has heard about me from her family. She got emotional and hugged me, and Morgan saw and heard our conversation. As we got back into the car, Morgan asked me some questions, and I told her that moments like that are why I am so public about the cancer. People need to know they aren’t alone. That others feel the same way they do. Having someone hold your hand or say, “I see you” means the world at times. I’ve gotten to know quite a large group of people who share their stories like me, and it makes this life easier.

Last night morgan used a special nail polish, cuticle cream, and then massaged the special lotion onto my hands and feet to prevent hand/foot disease. She has such a giving heart, and we are so blessed.

I came to realize that anticipation is a hard thing. After finding out my former student passed away, I was filled with sadness… but also peace. I know in my heart he is with his loved ones and was welcomed by Jesus. He is whole and healed, able to go wherever and see whomever he wants. The panic and anxiety I felt over his anticipated passing left when his mom told us he had gone home to the Lord, and I was filled with peace.

That’s what happens with new therapies. I’m at the peace filled stage, finally starting the new chemo. The anxiety builds the closer I get to the scan. With stage four, anxiety about dying builds as well. We are all going to die, but some of us are told how, and sooner rather than later.

That’s when we need our faith, and know that the place we are going is beautiful. That there are people waiting for us, and whatever pain we have from our travels will disappear. It’s the anticipation and the path we have to take that scares us. But we lean on the truth, that where we land in the end is beautiful beyond what we can imagine.

I think that’s why we have people report their near death experiences, and say how full of love and light they were, and how they didn’t want to come back. How they aren’t afraid to die anymore. I think God sends them back as messengers to tell us to not worry, it will be fine.

I don’t know how people could live this kind of life and not have faith and belief and hope in heaven.

Listen, I don’t want to go anytime soon. I want to see my children grow up and then meet my grandchildren.

But today, the fear of death is gone.

It may be back tomorrow… or even in five minutes.

But right now, it’s gone.

That’s how I am able to get up every morning after being told I’m terminal.

Some days it’s harder, especially scan days. But I still get up.

Because my path still has a ways to go, and I have miles to go before I sleep.

In Jesus’s name, amen.



Summer solstice and Cappy Xappy

Today is a big day in a lot of ways.

It’s the first day of summer.

Summer solstice, a day when we have the most daylight.

It’s also Quinn’s fourth grade graduation ceremony. He is my last child to radiate from my school, and i was told I wouldn’t be alive to see this day.

Thank you, Jesus.

It’s also the day I begin a new chemotherapy treatment, capecitibine, the generic form of xeloda.

“Cappy Xappy, zapping tumors since summer solstice”.

The emotional roller coaster is hopefully slowing down a bit. I prayed and prayed yesterday morning for Donnie Yance and Dr Stopeck to speak to each other, as well as come to a consensus. Everyone sent me texts and messages of prayers and I got hugs galore. I cried like a baby at the Meetinghouse Deli before school when I got hugs at coffee, got it all out, then went to work.

I had gone to Target the night before and spent money on fifteen large plastic tubs. We had an issue with mold in my classroom, so this year I have to pack as much as I can in plastic tubs instead of cardboard boxes to keep all of my things safe. Plastic tubs aren’t cheap, but it’s worth it to not have to worry about throwing out half of my personal materials in September. The kids watched a Christmas movie, a lego episode, and a story while I packed the classroom and penny reorganized the closet. It’s been a week for us both as her mom passed away, so nervous and busy energy rules room between us.

I picked up my kids at recess and we did yoga. Paula has stopped by to drop off juices and saw how beautiful the children practice. Then the door knocked and four cheerleaders came in to drop off ice cream for my class. I had three of them in my kindergarten and first grade, and it’s always a blessing to be able to see former students as they grow up.

We took madison after school to get her hair cut short for the leadership academy she is headed to in two weeks. It was harder for me than for her. She looks great and now isn’t stressed over trying to get it into a perfect bun.

I received word that my team would finally speak to each other at 6:00 pm. I came home and continued to try and do some cleaning. Dinner was dropped off and I cried when I got it. I am so uncomfortable accepting help. It’s hard. It’s humbling. It’s admitting you can’t do it all. It makes it all real.

It’s also beautiful knowing that people love you. A former parent is cooking the meals and her husband dropped it off, and I cried, and got a hug. So thank you, everyone who quietly and secretly made this happen. I hugged Marc for all of you.

We all sat as a family and I looked at the time. It was 6:00 pm, the time my team was supposed to talk. I showed rob and I prayed, and we told the kids what was happening at that moment.

At 6:08, I got an email that everyone was in agreement. Xeloda would start ASAP.

Prayers answered.

It started to rain and we looked out the window, and a red bird flew right by.

My doctor said it was a nice conversation, and Donnie seems like a kind and intelligent man.

He is.

Then my phone rang and it was Donnie’s assistant, Erin. She had a couple of follow up items to address with me. She said Donnie will be changing my protocol again and that Donnie was impressed by my doctor and liked her.


Rob left the medicine at work, so we got in the car to get it. I looked up, and there in the sky….

Was a rainbow.

At the exact moment I saw the rainbow, my friend amy texted me that she was driving by my house and there was a rainbow over it.

God’s promise.

I spent the rest of the night mentally preparing and researching how to best take this chemo.

-Drinking three liters of water a day, with a large glass before taking it and a full glass with it.

-using hand lotion constantly as well as foot lotion to keep hand/foot syndrome at bay.

-eat a half hour before taking it as partially digested food helped with nauseau.

-icing the hands and feet for a half hour after taking the pill.

I sent an email asking for clarification about a few other things, such as flushing the toilet twice and relations with rob. (No, I dont have to flush twice, only if the dog drinks from the bowl, which she doesn’t… and I could start ovulating again, and so precautions against pregnancy, which made me laugh.)

The chemo comes in that packaging that is bright yellow with warnings all over it about how dangerous it is, dispose and handle carefully… and I’m supposed to swallow it. I’ve decided I’m going to make videos to make me laugh. I’ll flip it, and not call it poison. I’ll call them love pills, because they will keep me here and loving my kids and rob for months and years to come.

I went to bed, grateful for everyone who prayed.

Prayer works.

I woke up yesterday and spoke out loud in the shower as I cried to Jesus. I prayed my team would talk, would like each other, would come to a consensus, and a clear path forward would appear that would lead to healing, and I would continue to be able to live and thrive and live this beautiful life I’ve been given.

Not only did I get that, but I also got a red bird and a rainbow.

The same red bird that sat on my Jeep, as a week after two rainbows in the sky.

So now, I wake up and start drinking water. I’ll stretch, dry brush, shower, eat, then take four chemo pills and ice my feet and hands then lotion them up.

I’ll pack peppermint oil for nausea and pretzels, along with some juices.

I’ll teach all morning and pack some more, and take more of Donnie’s supplements. Someone contacted dr Snuffleuffugus and he responded he hadn’t received my emails, so I’ll email him today and update again.

I’ll watch quinn walk across the stage and cry. My last child to leave this building full of people who have helped us raise a kind and sweet boy during the hardest years of our lives.

Then I’ll come home and take four more pills, ice up again, and pray and thank God for this life, my team, my family, my friends, and the healing to come.

Summer is here.

So is the healing.

In Jesus’s name, amen.

S.S. Xeloda and Father’s Day

Every time you go to write a Facebook status, it has “What’s on your mind?”

Oh Facebook, if you only knew.

Since you asked…

I’m pretty proud of myself in how quickly I can move through the emotional roller coaster. Looking back on last week, I had a scan, waited with baited breath to see if I had a new primary cancer, found out I didn’t but then received some pretty devastating news that I’ve blown through yet another chemotherapy, had to decide what to do next when all of the options are a person’s worst nightmare, then get told that one expert may not agree to it and another expert still hasn’t answered any of your emails.

Add on teaching kindergarten full time, end of year anxiety about next year’s grade level and if you would be moving, kindergarten orientation, Father’s Day art projects, and sadness over the passing of a mother of woman whom someone I love…

Then I hosted Father’s Day.

It’s been a week.

Yesterday I went on Amazon and ordered cold gel socks and gloves, as well as special cream. My xeloda Facebook support group is full of women constantly posting about hand and foot syndrome, suffering from extreme painful skin conditions as a results of this chemo. Everyone is different with side effects hitting them at different times, along with nausea, indigestion, Diarrhea, vomiting, hair thinning, insomnia, extreme fatigue, dizzyness, and switching around doses to try and find one that makes life worth saving.

Talk about surreal.

I’m looking at these posts and it’s like you’re on the dock, about to walk a plank onto a ship and seeing everyone suffering, and being told, “Here… get on and try to save your life. You may be able to handle it better… or not. Hope it works! Not sure how long you’ll be on this ship…Bon voyage!”

At least it’s summer and I can figure it out and not worry about work.

We spent yesterday trying to figure out all of the drop offs for my kids for their camps. We have to drop off morgan and Quinn in two weeks, early in the morning, for the weeklong cancer support camp for kids through camp Kesem at stony brook. (They still have spots open, so if you know of kids with cancer or who have a caregiver with cancer, send me a message). Then we drive up to Rhode Island the same day to drop off maddie and possibly another cadet for a leadership training camp for NJROTC. All in one day.

While on a new chemo.

Two weeks later we are going up to get Maddie and see the big graduation, and want to stay an extra day or so to sightsee. We looked for hotel deals last night, and we booked rooms while praying I’ll be ok and able to make this trip.

We went to cowfish last night and I found myself thanking God for another Father’s Day. I thanked God for cowfish. I thanked God for the trees, the water, the sunset, the ship my kids love playing on, the food, my family, my life…

And prayed for more time.

I am going to training all day today for a new phonics program. I’ve been teaching five year olds and six year olds for well over twenty three years now. I’ve lost count of new programs I’ve had to learn, but it doesn’t matter.

If the kids know you love them, you know what they need to know to be successful and you make it fun, it doesn’t matter what program you have to teach. It’s just a new fancy dish to serve the meat and potatoes on. I’m the chef, serving up whey they need to grow.

I have not been on chemo for five days now. I probably won’t start this new one until midweek. It’s been nice not worrying about the 7:30 am and pm time frame. This new one will be twice a day with four pills. I’ll enjoy the freedom now, fleeting as it may be.

May today be a quiet one, with my Chinese herbs and multiple supplements and salads and organic juices healing me in the inside, my breathwork keep me out of fight or flight mode, my body move out of the tense stance and relax, and may my mind stay where my feet are in the present moment, and not aboard the S.S. xeloda.

In Jesus’s name, amen.



Running the Race

Yesterday was a marathon.

It was flag day, and I had forgotten, so I quick prepped flags for the kids to color and make hats to wear. At least I wore red, white and blue.

I also finished up our Fathers Day projects, had them laminated and cut them all out.

It was kindergarten orientation, and i had my kids go to the playground while the new batch came in. With four year olds, you have to switch activities pretty much every five minutes. We read a story, took a tour of the room, sat and talked about what we do in kindergarten, sang “The Wheels in the Bus”, colored a picture of a bus, used pattern blocks, jumped on my mini trampoline, looked and sea shells, read another story, and talked about things they could do to get ready for kindergarten.

All in about forty minutes.

Then the parents came and picked them up, my kids came back and they went to lunch.

It’s hard for the kids to see me and think of me with other kids. So we went into the garden after lunch and I brought out my mini speaker. I played relaxation music and we all kneeled and weeded in the garden. Our garden is ready to be harvested and next week we will have sugar snap peas, kale, lettuce, radishes, and arugula. As we weeded, our principal brought out our new principal to meet us. What better way to meet than outside in nature with soft music playing. We showed him our garden, and we even picked some mint and gave it to him. I have a former superintendent that I love who always comments “mint” in some shape or form in many posts here in facebookland. I thought of him as we gave the mint and prayed for many mint years ahead for us all.

Then we read outside for “R” day, went to gym, had snack, then played.

After school we had a reception for our new principal with staff, then I did a handoff of Quinn to rob for tennis, madison got dropped off for a Flag Day ROTC drill team performance at Polish Hall, Morgan and I ran to Target, then we went back to my school for Family Night.

We hung up signs for my principal like they do for seniors at the high school at their last games. There were games and bouncy houses on the field and parents and kids all over. My friends Tony and Nancy from the Lighthouse deli and catering were there serving up food from the grill, and it was a flashback of when we all worked at Claudio’s together. Another friend Joann gave me a great hug and I always feel the peace of Jesus when I am with her. I had had a vision of getting something come to me and putting it into my pocket earlier in the day.

As i spoke to Joann, my other friend Keri came up to me and pulled me aside. She said she had something to give to me. It was a coin of St Jude, the patron saint of impossible cases. She told me a beautiful story, and we both cried a little. Everyone disappeared as we both spoke about faith, and how miracles can happen, and Tucked the coin into my bra next to the tumors.

Then I walked around and saw former families and students and got a lot of hugs. I held babies and told them I would have them in five years.

May it be so.

Then I ran home and quick changed for the North Fork Community Theatre Gala at pelligrini vineyard. We sat with a lovely couple from Huntington and wouldn’t you know, we knew people in common from Riverhead as well as Valley Stream. We are all connected, and as we get older and open our eyes, the world gets smaller and smaller.

There were performances and actors sang songs about the light. One woman sang “When you wish upon a Star”, and I had to hold it together. Another man sang “O sole mio” and brought down the house. The youth troupe sang a song from Pippin, their summer show, and we were blown away by their talent. Rob and I won $400 in the fifty fifty raffle, and I felt bad not giving it back, but I’ve got herbs to pay for and copays. It had been a pretty crappy week for me, so maybe God said, “Let’s have Keri and Rob end the week with something good”.

My dad was at the flag day event at Polish hall where maddie was, and brought her home for us. Turns out, he won the grand prize and got a beautiful new grill. I guess God said my Mom and dad had to end the week on a positive note as well, as this was hard on them too.

Thank you, God.


I head into the detox bath because I am in pain. Then I’ll rest, do laundry, and clean. I’ll try do some restorative yoga as I am in quite a bit of pain. I’ll also crack open the brand new phonics program that I have to learn before September and am receiving training on Monday. Tonight quinn has a birthday party and he is so excited.

I got a text from a mom who went to Nationals to see her daughter run along with the other girls that everyone raised money for this past week. They set new personal records and performed and placed top ten. They were so grateful to everyone for helping them run the race and get there.

I received an email from Donnie’s assistant yesterday, and parts of it were concerning. She said he really wanted me to get the new biopsy, and she doesn’t know if he will get on board with xeloda. But there was some positive as she said the scans weren’t as bad as one would think. She was wondering why they didn’t measure the size of all of the tumors to check for actual growth, and they only measure SUV uptick. In two spots I actually had less uptick. She will be speaking with him again Tuesday to give him all of my notes from my meeting with my oncologist. Thank God I’ve educated myself and become CEO of “Save my Ass Inc.”, and can send detailed notes. I wish all of my team could have a conference call, but for some reason no one speaks to each other, so I am the middleman while trying to decide which person to listen to as I navigate these turbulent seas in the S.S. Life boat.

My herbalist has mentioned to stop all chemo and go to Mexico, and I havent heard from him since I told him about the progression, so now I’m worried he is upset, or breaking up with me. I’m sure he is just busy, or traveling to Hong Kong, but the mind is a tricky thing, always whispering the worst as I run this race.

I did get amazing news yesterday. A friend who is an amazing advocate and presence on Instagram has stage four ovarian cancer. Brittany Crosby has thousands of followers on Instagram as she chronicles her life, draining her stomach every day, running a business, thriving and spreading God’s word. She was told recently that she also had a new primary cancer… breast cancer. The same week I was told they were looking at the ovarian cancer marker and it could be a new primary ovarian cancer for me.

I found out Wednesday my ovaries were clear and I didnt have ovarian cancer.


She found out yesterday she was misdiagnosed… at a top cancer hospital… and it’s the metastatic ovarian cancer that has spread to her breast, NOT a new cancer.

A miracle for us both, just flip flopped.

Thank you, Jesus.

It was a marathon day yesterday.

It’s been a marathon week.

But I’m still in the race.

And I’ll keep running until I cant run anymore, but I know I’ll have everyone to help me walk, or crawl, and stay in this race. There’s no winning…

But there’s no losing either.

There’s just living.

May God continue to let me live and run this race for forty more years.

In Jesus’s name, amen.



A New Path… Xeloda.

I taught yesterday morning and received my scan report. It’s a hard choice to decide to read the report on my own, but I want to be prepared and be able to have clarity when I make decisions. There are a lot of new bone lesions, more liver, and the breast and lymph node are active again. There was one part that said the esophageal area lit up as well.

I was able to cry a bit with my friend heather who is a nurse when she came to see me once we arrived. Then it was time to see Dr Stopeck and Hermina. We discussed Donnie’s email from the night before. She said I was just on everolimus and had progression with that therapy.

She said that she feels I have heterogenous cells and the biopsy would not tell us anything new, as even if the cancer flipped, the options on the table would all work for triple negative.

She is also stopping the faslodex hormone therapy and holding off of the zoladex until a blood test shows ovarian activity.

Dr Stopeck said the CA125 is now a good marker indicator for me with the breast and lymph node activity. She felt the node and also remarked the breast is firmer upon examination.

She mentioned a new clinical trial she is starting on Friday but said it is too early and the dose would be too low for me now. She also said she wants to

hold off on the araura kinase trial as it is still too new.

She feels xeloda is my best bet now. The other options like doxil etc are all IV chemos and she feels that based on my scan and the fact that although the cancer continued to spread, the liver isn’t all that active in uptick when we looked through the scans.

Her plan is 500 mgs of xeloda. She said my BSA was a good number and I should tolerate the higher dose well.

She is planning two weeks on and one week off with blood tests on the off week.

I’ll take four pills twice a day.

Diarrhea and nausea are possible side effects. Good times.

She also discussed hand and foot issues and suggested udder cream.

She is meeting with someone about a lotion next week which is showing to help xeloda patients with the hand and foot issue.

She had originally wanted me on xeloda before we chose verzenio, and feels confident about this plan of action. When I last spoke to Donnie, he had said that he also thought xeloda was a good option as well, and had mentioned it in a prior conversation in December. I was concerned he had suddenly said to not take it the night before, and my herbalist also said to not take it.

This is where I pray for discernment.

I’ve got one of the top oncologists in the country, a leading researcher and expert who I love and loves me telling me she feels this is best bet. I’ve got a Chinese herbalist telling me to stop all chemo and go to Mexico. I’ve got a top expert on supplements and food telling me to do a different chemo.

All while trying to decide which one to choose that will help me live.

I’ve felt the word xeloda in my heart, and even joined a Facebook support group. Two friends of mine were on it and both had three years on this drug.


We looked closely at the scans, and I saw my clear brain, lungs, spleen, ovaries, kidneys, bladder and esophagus. THe report had me confused and I’m glad they are all clear. There isn’t cancer on the scapula shoulder area, and we said I’ve probably been hunching over and guarding my breast.

In fact, I’m doing it now.

So I’ve got to retrain my body to open up my chest area. We mentioned the pain in the areas where the cancer is, and we both said it’s probably a good idea to stay away from pain medicine so I can tell if the treatment is working by less pain.

We discussed how she has seen patients go the “no chemo” route and it not ending well. I’ve seen people not do chemo and get to NED. I think for me, a blend of both worlds is what I need. I emailed my other specialists and I start next week.


I went and danced.

My union had a party for the retirees of the district, and we honored my principal. It’s hard having an end of year party while in the midst of report cards, class orders, packing up and still teaching… and it’s on a Thursday.

But we did it, and we danced away. I feel like the old dinosaur teacher as we have so many young teachers staring out, but they taught this old dog a new trick with my phone and we all laughed. It’s called boomerang, and it reminded me of how quickly we all bounce back all day long. We may get shaken up a bit, but we steady ourselves. It felt so good to laugh and celebrate and dance. It reminded me why I love my class dance parties.

My sister took morgan and quinn to hulling night at the Strawberry festival . She gave my kids memories on a night they could have been home worried about me at the hospital.

Best sister ever.

Today is meet and greet day in a lot of ways. It’s kindergarten orientation, and my class gets to go play on the playground while the new batch of next years kids come to visit . It’s always a shock when my five and six year olds leave and suddenly my room is full of four and five year olds again like in September. I realize how much growth has gone on in this little room, and how sad I’ll be to let these children go. Our new principal is also coming to meet us, so it’s a day of first impressions all around.

Tonight is family night at the school, maddie has a ROTC event, Quinn has tennis, Joe has a game, and rob has been invited to a benefit for the theater.

It’s been a week.

Someone I went to high school with had a heart attack and passed away yesterday, leaving behind his wife and children. A woman who I’ve known my whole life also passed yesterday after living a full long life. I’m sending both families love.

We never know when our time here will be done. As scary as this whole cancer journey is, I’m still here.

Living, laughing, dancing.

My children are blessings, my husband is my rock.

I am a lucky girl.

May I continue to be lucky and blessed and be healed for forty more years. May all who come into our building today feel the energy and love we have for each other and our children, and continue to add to the love.

In Jesus’s name, amen.