The Bus and Freedom and Finishing the Hike

Remember how people always say you can get hit by a bus at any time when you tell them you’ve been given a terminal diagnosis?

Then you tell them the bus actually has your face on the side and follows you everywhere?

Well yesterday, the bus hit me. It wasn’t fatal, just a sideswipe, enough to knock me on my ass all day long and feel like I’d just been hit by a bus.

The nausea, even with the compazine and zofran, reminded me of when I was pregnant. Constant.

Horrible.

And the taste in my mouth makes me want to puke all day too. Nothing tastes good.and everything leaves an aftertaste.

Even water.

But I still drank all day like it was my job in between sleeping and sweating.

Did I mention bone pain? I’m now adding Claritin and Tylenol to my list to help with the bone pain that comes from the neulasta shot, which is forcing my baby white cells to mature quickly. You all know that commercial, where the people look peaceful because they didn’t have to go back to the hospital the day after chemo.

Those commercials all suck.

I turn them off whenever they come on.

We all kind of hibernated. Quinn is coming down with a cold, which could be dangerous for me. He took an hour long bath and slept with rob during some nap time we all took. The girls kept checking on me and getting me water or an apple as I needed it.

I caught quinn staring at me a lot, and I know they are all worried. I’m praying this lasts for a short stretch, then I bounce back. I managed to get down the herbal teas and pills as well. It’s hard on a good day.

Pretty brutal on a rough day.

I also spent time looking at the chemo hair loss pages on Instagram to prepare myself again. I never fully lost all of the hair last summer, but apparently this one is the one that leaves you bald like an egg. I’ve been following Selma Blair, and she is showing such bravery through her hair loss.

I’ve done it once, but that doesn’t mean it will be easier the second time.

I had really hoped to be better by today, as it’s an important day for Quinn’s Troop. Today they finish the hike that they couldn’t finish last year because of a drunk driver… who still hasn’t been brought to justice. This man started drinking at 9:30 am, had several people offer to drive him or take his keys, and he still got behind the wheel. He then hit several scouts who were well supervised and hiking on a trail. One of them, a twelve year old boy, was killed.

He looks so much like Quinn. As I’ve read his mother’s posts and looked at her flashbacks, they are almost like the same kid. I cannot grasp the grief of losing a child, but just the thought takes my breath away.

So today, one year later, they are finishing the hike. We have to see how Quinn is when he wakes up, but rob and madison plan on going, as she knows two of the other scouts who were also hit by the drunk. If you are free, go to shoreham wading river high school, make a donation to the Andrew McMorris Foundarion, and say a prayer for peace… and justice.

I am also praying for so many parents on their way to Albany today to fight for their child’s right to attend school. It’s not about vaccinations, people. There is a bill now in place to force gardisil on every teen. A flu shot on everyone. Albany and Cuomo received $48 million-the day before this past bill was passed. Truth. It’s about money. Plain and simple. And once the bill is passed, the company is no longer held accountable for any complications or injuries. Think about that. They are going to force you to get your child a shot and then not be held accountable for anything that comes of it. Money and power rule this world. These parents today are fighting for you all and the fight you will have in three months. They deserve our support. It’s about freedom.

Pray for my healing as well.

I’m hoping to start my comeback today, which means I’ll know how many days I have to take off per cycle. We are overwhelmed at the sharing of the fundraiser. We’ve got now three months of supplements and alternative treatments to help me. You have no idea how humbling and grateful we are.

May today bring healing to everyone who needs it.

In Jesus’s name, amen.

Xoxo

Keri

The Place Between Fear and Gratitude

I am stuck between fear and gratefulness.

It’s a hard place to be.

Fear can be debilitating and steal your breath, as well as your joy.

I can’t count the amount of times yesterday I had to stop, breathe, wipe my eyes quickly, and erase the fear that I wouldn’t be here to see Maddie go off to college, let alone Morgan and Quinn. Do you have any idea how hard college tours can be while worrying about your own mortality?

I had fear as nausea grew that I wouldnt be able to finish the day.

I had fear about my hair falling out every time I ran my hands through it, while marveling at how long it grew in one year, and how soft it is. I had fear about losing my eyebrows and lashes and hair again. I ran our of eyebrow pencil yesterday and it was full panic mode. The things we worry about.

I had fear about the bone pain in my legs getting worse as I took the Claritin and Tylenol.

I had fear this chemo wouldn’t work and we are running out of options.

Fear.

But then I kept changing the channel and relied on faith and gratitude.

Gratitude to everyone who donated and shared the go fund me page. I think it was close to $4,000 last night.

One day.

One day raised enough money to pay for the next two months of therapies and supplements and eased my mind.

Gratitude for my body, which somehow… two days after receiving the heaviest chemo they have… let me walk around for miles and miles on college tours. I walked up dorm buildings, around the city of Boston, and other than nausea and bone pain, I did great.

Gratitude for friends who constantly check on me. My love bucket is so full it is spilling out.

Gratitude for my school district. We were able to meet an alumni who is in her first year at Emerson and man… she is brilliant and she is kind. She gave Maddie a private tour of the dorms and the real lowdown. They talked about our high school and what’s happening, and she told Maddie she has amazing teachers this year. My school district is also inclusive and has students from all walks of life and all around the world. There was no culture shock at these schools she visited, and said she felt like she was among her group of friends.

Gratitude for Maddie. She was pleasantly surprised with Boston University. It’s a beautiful campus and has all these new places.

But Emerson? It is something to see when your daughter falls in love with a college on sight. It’s a small college, and as we talked to Brynn, she had people over and over say “Hey!” She said that’s what is so great about a small college. The classes are all close together and situated right by a great big green lawn in Boston. They said the kids get involved with shooting and filming and production right away. The tour guides were kids Maddie said reminded her of her friend group. I still want to take her to NYU. She might still want to see UCLA, and Fordham and Ithaca also apparently have something similar. But her heart is already in Emerson.

I’m grateful for this man I married. Waking up yesterday with madison sleeping between us in the tiny cheap motel room reminded me of when we first had her. Together we’ve raised three kind and loving humans. We kept catching each other’s eyes yesterday as we saw Madison’s smile grow bigger and bigger as the day went on.

He kept holding my hand when he saw the fear creep in. He drove all the way home last night so we could wake up in our own bed and be comfortable. The last time we drove straight home from Boston was when the doctor at Dana Farber told me I was going to die soon, and to remember how this story was going to end. I screamed and cried all the way home that night.

This drive was much better.

Grateful for my parents who surrounded Morgan with love all day and my dad took her on a date to the races, and grateful for the Boy Scout parents who did the same task of loving Quinn at the campout. Morgan and Quinn were well taken care of.

Grateful that we decided to eat at Dicks, where the waiters and waitresses make you wear silly hats and are rude to you. Somehow, our waitress looked at us and was sweet, even when she called me a pain in the ass about my order. Another waitress gave Maddie her catfish to try. We laughed at their antics, and Maddie will apparently own 16 cats when she grows up, according to her hat.

Grateful we saw the very last night of ghirardelli, and made a memory there.

Grateful to see the freedom trail, and be reminded that because of the hardships of our founding fathers, we have the life we have today.

Actions today will impact lives tomorrow.

So that’s how you make the decision to let feelings dictate your life.

I could crumble under the weight of the fear… or lean into the gratefulness and faith I have in Gods promise of protection and healing.

I can feel the fear… and choose to trust Him always.

His plans for me.

This story.

What if this story is the one that will help many other cancers? And I WILL live the long life I dream of and pray for everyday?

If fear wins, fear would have robbed me of the joy I felt yesterday.

Anxious feelings are not facts.

Read that again.

Anxious feelings are not facts.

The fact is you are where your feet are.

Stay there.

Breathe.

Look around and find your blessings. The air, the sun, the birds. Your life.

They are all gifts.

Enjoy them today.

Quinn just called and we will get him at 9 am.

Then?

We will stay home and rest. Which is good since apparently no one can travel around town due to the onslaught of apple heads and pumpkin heads. I’m grateful we have a home to stay in, a family to cuddle with, good anti nausea drugs and supplements and herbal teas to help me heal.

And I’m healing.

I can breathe a little deeper than before. I’m declaring the tumors are shrinking already and not pressing so hard on the nerves near the liver and pressing on the diaphragm.

Thank you again for everyone supporting us.

Ever time I got a notification about the fundraiser, rob and I would just look at each other and feel so humbled.

Thank you.

May we all choose gratitude, joy, and faith over fear today.

In Jesus’s name, amen.

Xoxo

Keri

RunIVMore

We are in Attleboro MA.

I know.

I’m crazy.

But I’m a woman on fire, who has that bus that can run you over at any time with my face plastered on the side on the roadside, as i paddle frantically away in a boat surrounded by sharks with one ready to attack while fighting that damn mountain lion that has been clawing at me for years

. I know I just took the most toxic chemo they’ve got, which I’ve been told could bring blood cancer and help the sharks that are ten feet away later down the road should I survive this shark attack, but I’m praying research will help me with that shark later.

I did well yesterday.

I drank a lot of water, and went to the Giving Room for the first time since July. It was a lot harder summer than I let on. Skin was peeling off my feet in sheets, and I was embarrassed about my feet. Every cycle of the xeloda brought a different side effect. Nausea, stomach issues, eye issues, blisters. I had to stay out of the sun.

But yesterday I went in the car and drove myself out and had a lovely time. Paula made the special juice, the Dandy Donnie, which has beets, dandelion, carrots, apple, lemon, and ginger in it. It’s all good for the liver. She sent me off with four as well as a turmeric almond carrot and cinnamon drink to help continue the liquid fast. It’s such a wonderful place, a healing place for me.

Then we made a last minute decision… chemo be damned. We decided to bring madison up to Boston to see Emerson college. We will also see Boston university. If screenwriting and film directing is what her heart is leading her to… then we need to figure out what she needs to do to make this happen. NYU will also be on our visit list.

We packed up Morgan and kasha and left them with my parents. She needed a quiet weekend, with lots of nanny and grandpa love and snuggles. They have always been like a second set of parents to my kids, and have stepped up without ever being asked during the last three years. I know how lucky I am.

Then we dropped off Quinn at the Boy Scout Skills weekend campout. He is camping with a buddy who is camping for the first time, and we were so proud to watch Quinn show him how to set up inside the tent. He is well watched over by the moms and dads there. This is the weekend that little Andrew McMorris, one of the scouts from the troop, was killed by a drunk driver while the troop was well supervised and hiking along a road. This scout group is full of the most loving, strong, resilient, compassionate people I’ve ever met. Please keep Troop 161 and the families in your prayers. They will be finishing the hike on Monday that Andrew was never able to finish.

Then we hit the road with Maddie. We drove as far as we could with the intentions of going to Boston. We looked at hotels and they were priced outrageously, so we decided to get the $103 special at the Knights Inn. The three of us are sleeping in a bed, but there’s something sweet about having Maddie tucked between me and rob. It seems like yesterday she was a baby, nestled in our arms, and we would watch her sleep.

Thank you God for this day. I was told three years ago I would not here.

Research.

Science.

Supplements.

Faith.

Love.

Friends.

My family.

That’s keeping me here.

On the way up, I checked Facebook and saw that Justin Cobis, Maddie’s teacher, track coach, my colleague and friend, went live with a go fund me. We had discussed doing something this summer, like a fun run, and I approved the picture to use the night I got chemo, but it was still a shock to see.

It’s always a shock to see my face on any fundraiser. It’s embarrassing, humbling, yet God provides. It’s a gift from friends and God has said, “Here’s another trial, daughter. It’s going to be the worse one yet. But I’ll send your friends to help pray for you and support you. Be strong and courageous, keep holding that mustard seed, and I’ll carry you when you are weak. I have great plans for you. Keep all the stones that are thrown at you, for we are building something great.”

At least I hope that’s what He is saying, or else we will have quite a talk when I get up there.. in forty years or so.

I keep saying this chemo agent is the one that will be the DNA damaging agent and fix this P53 mutation issue, and maybe the EFGR1. There’s another mutation, and they think the cancer keeps mutating, so there could be another liver biopsy in my future if this doesn’t work. But it will. I can already take a deeper breath. Not much, but enough.

Today we go to Boston university at 11:30 for a Tour, then Emerson at 2:00. I’ve got a huge bag of meds that needed its own carrying case. Anti-nausea drugs, pain drugs, Claritin, Tylenol, 160 pills sorted into different bags, a bottle of tincture, six packs of Chinese herbs… and a partridge in a pear tree.

Today nausea and bone pain will be the big concern. The emend IV wears off on day three, and last night in the car the machine attached to my arm went off and injected neulasta. Rob held my hand and Maddie leaned forward and rubbed my wrist as I had a panic attack. It’s the first time Maddie saw one, and she reacted in such a compassionate way, I almost cried, but I just breathed through it.

I still don’t know how this became my life.

It’s not…at…all… what I thought would happen. I know God has plans for me.

I read somewhere that we choose our story before we ever come down to Earth. We choose the story and our soul pack travels with us. Some believe we only get one life down here and that’s it. One chance.

Some believe we keep coming back, choosing different parts to play with the same souls over and over, until we reach the higher good. I find it hard to believe that a soul would choose childhood cancer, or to be taken so young, or to get cancer at 43 years old. But supposedly the story we choose to live helps the greater good.

So I keep telling myself that this story I’ve chosen will be that this is the chemo that works, obliterating all of the cancer in the breast, lymph, spine, hips, and liver. Then doctors will study me and my dad and be like… wait a second! This can be a targeting agent! And more lives will be saved. Kind of like Henrietta Sacks.

A girl can dream, right?

I feel weird attaching the RunIVMore link, like I’m begging for money. It’s actually for piece of mind. It costs about $2,000 a month for the supplements and teas and things to keep healthy during treatment. Someday insurance will realize how to keep patients healthy as they treat them and then pay for it. The Mederi method will show them all.

Donnie Yance is brilliant.

My oncologist is brilliant.

Dr snufflufogus is brilliant.

Madame swoosh is coming back from France in two weeks. She is blessed.

Jennifer Williamson said she will come to my house for more energy healing, and is blessed as well.

Danielle DeLongis is a gifted healer with magic hands at the peaceful scorpion, and will soothe my aching body, and get my lymph system to flow.

Paula DiDonato will fill me with organic juices to help clear the toxins away.

My kindergarten will keep me on my toes, as we laugh and they marvel at my magical hair as it changes every day and keeps their attention as we learn how to read, opening the door to so many stories to come.

My friends and my family will love me harder.

And I am healed.

In Jesus’s name, amen.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/riverhead-run-iv-more?sharetype=teams&member=2925580&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_source=customer&utm_campaign=p_na+share-sheet&rcid=702ea8695eb8491d87ff5078e8dd1425

Xoxo

Keri

This is IT!

Yesterday was scary…. and so beautiful.

I decided I would get my cry out in the shower and then not cry all day. So I cried and cried and prayed to Jesus. Then?

I played the Gospel song by Kirk Franklin called “Declaration, This is it! “ and the song by hilltop worship “Not Today”. I sang the words as dried my tears and started to get ready. I chose my shirt…”Fighting cancer, taking chemo and still this sexy”, enjoyed every second of drying my hair, threw on some red lipstick in honor of the chemo, then packed my bag.

I packed a blanket my dear friend Joann gave me. It’s has pictures of my family, and I cover my body with it when I’m in the chair. I took out my chalkboard set, where I write what day of chemo it is for my chemo chair picture. I couldn’t believe I packed it away a year ago thinking it would be years before I needed it again. Then I packed mints, and my brand new big bible. Even if I didnt get to do my bible study, I would have it with me.

Rob took the kids to school and I did a dance party in my kitchen to the Kirk Franklin. “Are you going to wait a sign? Your miracle? Stand up fight! THIS IS IT!” I put it in instagram and Facebook stories for the day so anyone who wanted to dance with me could, and I know I didn’t dance alone.

Then rob came and we went to target for the frozen peas and socks…. and I raided the mini erasers for my class.

Always a teacher when at Target.

Then the beauty began.

The prayers on Facebook, the love sent my way. The president of the north fork breast health coalition sent me some humbling news and something to look forward to in March. My daughters track coach sent me a message last night of another event I’m looking forward to and humbled over for October. Total strangers who have been following me sent me messages of hope, as well as advice.

You all have no idea what a like, a heart, a comment, or a meme does for me. I see every… single… one. I still don’t have my fingerprints back on my fingers from the xeloda, so it takes a lot for me to type or respond on the phone, finding the right spot where my finger still works.

But I see you.

And I love you.

I walked into the cancer center and it has become a second home. Yesterday, God sent every single person who has ever helped me to see me.

Heather, the nurse my friend cathy sent to me, gave me a powerful hug. I know she was watching over me all day. My friend amy sent me her friend Monica who works in the infusion lab. My tomcat joe has a sister whose boyfriend’s mother trains all the nurses. She came and hugged me over and over as I sat in the chair. We talked about our love for the Murphy family, and last night I got a message from donors choose that I got a $25 referral credit, so I used it on Tomcat Joe’s sister’s

Classroom project. That family is a blessing. All of the receptionists know me by now and loved my shirt and red lips. I saw my pet scan tech Wayne from Mattituck down the hall as I was getting weighed and yelled I wanted better results next time. We both laughed. My friend from high school, Kerri, has a sister in law who She sent to me the day of my first biopsy, and she walked me through it all. She was there hugging me as well. I saw Pushpa, my clinical trial coordinator and she checked on me with hugs all day. Hermina stopped and we talked and hugged, and she told me some more things. The Adriamycin isn’t usually used in stage four, and it can cause blood cancers later on. But we are in shark infested waters right now, and going for the shark closest to the boat. That’s why research is everything. There may be a trial out now for the shark that’s ten feet away, so if I kill the shark with its jaws open and two feet away, I’ll be ok.

My port access for labs to make sure of the dosing I would get went beautifully, and they left the tubing in since I was getting chemo later. It’s a weird feeling walking around with a tube sticking out of your chest, not gonna lie.

Then we saw Dr Stopeck. I just love this woman. She and her new assistant, Mary, went over everything. When I told then I haven’t eaten anything except liquids since Tuesday, they were a little shocked. But when I explained how fasting would make the chemo more effective by making the healthy cells lay dormant and chemo cells gobble it up, they thought it was interesting and made sense. I emailed her all of the studies and papers I found on it. We also discussed the theory of Adriamycin and my dad, and the p53 specific mutation and how this could possible be a good DNA damaging agent, which is why my dad hasn’t had another cancer in over twenty years after getting FIVE primary cancers in rapid succession. I sent her all of the slides and files Donnie sent me on that as well.

We had a serious discussion about how this chemo is the “Big Gun”. I think it’s the mother of all chemo therapy for breast cancer. Which is scary. This has to work. We discussed how my scalp may really hurt as hair falls out in the next two weeks or so. We discussed nausea meds. I did zofran when I was pregnant and hyperemesis gravidarum all three times. It didn’t work. So we also added compazine. I may stagger the two drugs. One gives headaches and one gives tiredness. We will see. Donnie wants me to have a nauseous edge to keep me in a fasting state.

We also discussed neulasta. Donnie was adamant against it. She said my counts will drop to zero around day 7-9, and without it, i would probably have to delay the chemo next time. We agreed on making a decision each time and perhaps staggering it. Skipping every other dose, depending on my labs. I expect my labs to be great with my herbalists teas and Donnie’s supplements. It will be a challenge to swallow seventy something pills a day while nauseas on an empty stomach, but I’ll do it. Maybe that’s why God pressed the “Lets help Keri take more than one pill at a time” button last week.

She examined me and my breast is harder and the lump got bigger. I told her I wasnt surprised because I felt the pain in my breast. I’m super intuitive as to what is going on inside. She said the major pain issue is probably the liver tumors pressing on a nerve, as well as the diaphragm, which is why breathing is challenging. In a week or so she also agrees I will know if it’s working by the labs and my pain.

She said she felt good about this. She has said that about every other drug too, but she always means it. I’m hopeful too.

Then we had over an hour and a half before my chair time, so we walked to the main hospital center. It has a big addition and we walked through it. It’s beautiful, and doesn’t feel like a hospital. I got a lot of looks with my shirt, red lipstick, and tube sticking out of my chest. I think I was confusing to everyone.

They have a Jamba Juice and a Panera as well as the cafeteria. Of course it’s while I’m fasting. Rob got soup and lunch, and I splurged and had warm liquid veggie broth soup and hot tea.

As we walked back to the hospital, i said maybe this is what Odile, “madame swoosh”, meant. Others who have this much cancer inside look like they are dying, but not me. She can’t explain it, but not me. She is coming back October 10th, and I cant wait to see her.

Walking into the infusion area was painful.

The bell.

The damn bell.

I rang that bell and cried and prayed I wouldn’t ever be back, even knowing as a stage four patient it was likely, and here I am, exactly one year later. They called my name and I immediately got hugs from everyone. It was like coming home.

I love Stony Brook.

My nurse Jean was my first nurse last time I had chemo, and we’ve become friends. I had her granddaughter in first grade years ago, and when another teacher from my building was getting chemo, she wrote to me that I had the granddaughter of her chemo nurse in my class. Years later… I have the nurse I was told about.

She gave me a crown in honor of childhood cancer day. There’s too many damn cancers, and not enough research. I wore it in honor of all the children I’ve come to know through this.

With this chemo, it’s like you have your own personal nurse, as it comes in syringes and they have to push it slowly into the port. Jean knows rob and I so well. We joke and laugh and tell stories. When rob went to the bathroom, she said he really Ioves me, you can tell.

And he does.

He was my rock again all day. Held my hand with every scary moment. I pray for my children and everyone to have a Rob in their life.

It is a process getting chemo. We didn’t have to access the port so that was quicker. The pre med was pushed called Emend and will helpfully hold off nausea for three days. I’ve been told the hit comes around 7 or so, so I’ll watch this cycle then know which day to take off of work. Don’t tell me to stop working. I’m surrounded all day my friends and colleagues who are family to me, and these children have already worked their way into my heart. I’m getting to finally know their quirks and funny little things. The nurses warned me about germs, but I’ll be safe with hand washing and standing up when they hug me. I already did the cover your nose and mouth lesson, as well as if you feel sick, don’t tell me, just go right to the garbage can.

I’ll review it next week. We have off Monday and Tuesday, so that’s good. I got pictures of them playing and it was beautiful. Penny knows I love getting updates and pictures .

When the chemo came, it takes two nurses to check it is right, and comes in a huge yellow caution bag. I took a picture and prayed. I called it the blood of Jesus. It looks candy apple red. It took about fifteen minutes, then cytoxine was hung with my IV bag. I was pushed with a lot of saline to help with liquids. It’s so important I drink a lot and stay hydrated. The thing with Adriomycin is it turns your pee red. I was told if it’s still red after four or five bathroom trips, I’m not drinking enough and need to drink more. I’m not embarrassed to say after three I was all good.

That’s a relief.

Listen, you all know everything about me anyway… and no. I haven’t gone to starbutts yet.

I have no shame.

We finished chemo and went home. My amazing parents had my kids and got dinner for us from sarah and the cooking for friends meal train. Thank you all so much. I had no idea what a blessing it would be. Rob doesn’t haven’t to worry at all some nights and it makes his life a little easier.

Then rob, Morgan and I went to the middle school.

Yup.

Because I can.

Once again, halls were easy to navigate and classes were not at all full. Come on, parents. Get to know your kids teachers. They are great. I had teachers that had Maddie looking out for Morgan. One of her teachers who was a mentor last year has offered to mentor Morgan again. So this morning, Morgan goes to school and spends some time before school with her beloved Benze. We are blessed.

I also got hugs and kisses galore from former parents and friends. Rob was like, come on! We’re not here for hugs and kisses!

But I was.

I totally was.

It filled me up with every person who grabbed me and hugged me and kissed me.

Thank you, RCSD staff and families.

I got home at 9:15 and went into a detox bath.

I’m been in one now again for the last half hour.

Quinn is starting to say he isn’t feeling well, but I know it’s anxiousness about me, as well as camping all weekend. I’m leaving my parents number with them if he needs to get picked up from camping. Morgan is staying with me parents because she can’t wait to snuggle with nanny and watch Rizzoli and isles or some show. They are my mystery girls. We are planning on packing a puke bucket if needed, meds, water, and then head to Boston with Maddie tomorrow. Hopefully Emerson will give us a tour last minute. We will come home Sunday.

Please keep praying that I detox quickly and feel NO side effects, and be completely healed forever.

God can do anything.

Look what He did yesterday?

Amazing.

I love each and every one of you. Those from Valley Stream Central, from riverhead, from cortland, who have all touched my

Life. Those who I’ve never met but have been sent to me. You give me as much love and hope as you say I give you.

It comes down to love.

Love always helps.

May today be a great day, because we are alive.

In Jesus’s name, amen.

Xoxo

Keri

When Hope Comes Back

I love Donnie Yance and the Mederi Center.

For two weeks now, I’ve had a feeling of imminent death in my spirit. I couldn’t shake it. No matter how hard I prayed or researched…

I believed I was dying soon. Like three months left or so. The statistics came roaring back and the original prognosis was on repeat.

It’s a horrible way to live.

Then?

I spoke to Donnie and Erin.

God gave me yesterday, the day before I start this new chemo with horrible nicknames.

I went to school and wore my Disney Dapper Day dress with crinoline and put on red lipstick. As I styled my hair, I cried thinking how it was going to fall out again. The thoughts of this being my last school picture ever was on repeat, and it was hard.

I went into school and was immediately lifted up by seeing how my kinders were dressed. One little girl was wearing a bright pink felt crown with the words “Happy New Year”. I had a feeling her family couldn’t read what the crown said, and I asked in Spanish if her mom knew she was wearing it. She said yes. I asked why she was wearing it, and she said because she is a princess.

I said of course she is. So my class picture has a big felt pink crown in it, and I love it. Who am I to burst the dream and feelings of a five year old?

We had a great morning, and the kids loved the poofy dress.

Wait until they see my wigs.

At lunch my union president came and we had the discussion no one ever wants. I’ve had to have it almost every year, but this time was different and felt more real. We both cried a lot. He is looking out for me, and anyone who bashes unions can kiss my ass. God bless my union. If I were to die without a certain paper filled out, my family would lose out on my retirement. I never filled it out before because I felt if I did, the bad thing would happen. Now? I’m saying it’s my snowblower policy. When you buy a snowblower, it doesn’t snow. When you fill out death paperwork, you don’t die. He pointed out again everyone is going to die and he could get hit by a bus leaving… which as schools teachers, we are facing danger every day if you think about it. I reminded him that yes, it’s true… but I’ve had a bus with my face plastered on the side of it following me and stalking me every day for three years.

Needless to say, I needed a sliver of hope when I spoke to the Mederi center.

I had a whisper about how my dad has all these cancers twenty years ago, they all got cut out, then he had this same powerful drug prophylactically.

Every cancer is different. Science is finding out the cancer is made up of many mutations. I have several and one is very rare and most dangerous. I thought that maybe, this new chemo can affect the mutated cells.

When I mentioned that to Donnie, he referred to his 300 slide research PowerPoint he has on Adriamycin and said that actually….

Yes.

This drug can be powerful on cells with that mutation if they are sensitive to it.

And there we go.

Hope.

I asked about the liver necrosis and he said it could actually be a sign of the tumor dying. This is why detox will be so important to me, as when the tumor dies, I have to get it out of my body as my liver is overtaxed with the tumor burden. Perhaps I will try that grande ass latte. We will see.

He said that the intense pain and issue breathing is being caused by the position of the tumors, and it could be pressing on a nerve. Nerve pain is debilitation, and that’s why we thought I was dying last week. He said that I need to stay away from Percocet, as some studies show that these pain drugs help the cancer. I’m using the pain as my guide this week, as he said the pain should lessen within a few days of starting this chemo. If it does, that’s a sign it’s working. If it doesn’t, we will have to look quickly for a new therapy to try. His big concern is what do we use next. This chemo is one you can’t stay on long because of toxicity, and the issues it causes with the heart, bone marrow and bladder. So his brilliant mind and intuitive soul will be researching, meditating and praying.

He said his protocol should help me get through treatment very well. He said the crash usually comes day 7-9. We will see with me. He said I should be ok to take Maddie to see a college this weekend. So we are going to see how I do and then go live my life. Quinn will be camping all weekend, Morgan wants to spend time with nanny and grandpa. We will all take a break and live.

He mentioned a study he is doing with seventy plus long term cancer survivors and every single one of them had this drug. That also seemed promising.

He said the confusing thing is my labs.

My liver is healthier than most of you. He said the lab results show its functioning perfectly. The tumor markers only rose very little, and are not that reliable, as they are still close to normal range with all this cancer. I’m unique, that’s for sure.

We discussed his big benefit in November the weekend of November 22. He has some Grammy award winning musicians coming and it’s a concert to raise money for Mederi. He said there will be many survivors there and it will be good for me to be there. I told him he is like the wizard of oz, and just meeting Kym during the video shoot, and hearing from Hollie afterwards, was amazing. It’s like I’m Dorothy and now I’ve met the tin man and scarecrow. Others who are on this yellow brick road in cancerland and know what this is like. The journey is always easier to see the wizard with friends.

We discussed the fasting that Rick Shapiro messaged me about and it makes total sense. Cancer cells are like your ravers at a party. They go, go, go, and don’t stop. The healthy cells however, get lethargic when you sleep as when you don’t eat. They don’t get the energy they need. When the chemo is injected, the cancer cells go crazy and gobble it up, while the healthy cells are laying dormant going, “I am starving but have no energy to eat that.” I didn’t eat yesterday and just had tea and water. I won’t eat today or tomorrow either. I’ll slowly add soups and broths and juices. It is so hard, especially for a former stress eater who use to drink wine as well to take the edge off.

But after having the death bus stalk me for three years… I can do all hard things.

We finished the call and hope entered my soul again. I went to Morgan’s field hockey game and sat with my angel friend Amy. We talked and watched our girls play as the sun shined on us and the breeze was gentle. It was nice and needed.

Then I brought morgan home, tried a bite of the dinner that was dropped off so as to not mess up the fast, then went to the high school for open house.

Man.

My daughter is brilliant and I have no idea how she does it. She doesn’t have a lunch and every class is beyond my level of intelligence. Her teachers?

I love every single one. Every…single…one.

Screw what the papers say.

It’s not the teachers that are failing.

It’s the parents.

There were only five to seven parents in each class. It was easy to get through the halls. What does that tell you?

A small percentage of parents are involved. No one says that because it’s politically incorrect. I say bullshit. If you work, you take off for a night like this. If a stage four cancer patient can go the night before starting heavy chemo…

There are whispers of having to go to split sessions. Let me tell you, you don’t want that. I hope the district removes the sports complex and administrative offices from the bond and the town wakes up and passes it while also making sure everyone who goes here lives here. Crack down on the landlords who shove five families in a house. It’s not safe for anyone. Our high school is amazing. It’s also drowning. It’s time for hard conversations and people to come together to solve this crisis.

Our kids are depending on us.

It’s almost five am, I’ve been up sweating and starving. I have a headache and am anxious about chemo today. I’ve got a great nurse ready for me. I’ll see my doctor at 10, then chemo at 1:15. The chemo is red, and instead of “red devil” or “red death”, I’m looking at it as the blood of Jesus being injected to save my life.

I’ll wear red lipstick too.

I’ve said I feel like Job from the Bible, as it’s been trial after trial lately. May this latest trial simply make the comeback story that greater.

May today bring me out of the woods, as Donnie said. May it clear all cancer for good, and the miracle happen.

In Jesus’s name. Amen.

Xoxo

Keri

The Cancerland Cartoon

Today is my last day without any chemo.

I’m anxious and scared, but gearing up for a fight and preparing.

I’ll get my peas and blueberries and new big socks to cover my hands and feet. I’ll find my chemo sign and pack my chemo suitcase. I’ll pray.

My magical fairy cancer godfather, Rick Shapiro, who has interviewed the brightest minds and survivors for his book “Hope Never Dies”, sent me a message last night about fasting the day before, the day of, and the day after to help mitigate side effects. He also sent medical links in messages prior. I have a conference call with Donnie today, and will ask. But I’ll also fast anyway. Just water and tea. I’ll do anything to be able to live.

I’ve lost almost ten pounds in the last two weeks since stopping the xeloda. Could be stress or could be not being on a chemo.

I said to rob I cant believe how fast the liver went down hill. I got the scan reports and there are several very large tumors, and the word “necrotic tissue” was used. That makes me think the liver is dying. You can’t live without the liver.

Add that to the sudden onset of pain, right after the slight increase in tumor markers, and it became red alert. In two weeks I went from being hopeful I could stay on the xeloda for a long time, to being in pain constantly, hard to take deep breaths, and now going to take very toxic chemo tomorrow to try to save my life.

That’s how quick it can all go downhill in cancer land.

That’s why stage four women can become militant and seem angry during October. We are dying for a cure and everyone else has their pretty pink blinders on doing party races and not wanting to look at all of us gasping for air because we represent the scary future that 20-30% of them will eventually have. Then the executives at Komen and the American cancer society seem like they want the best as they make huge salaries off the corpses of cancer patients while pushing for people to get tested and become “aware”. I keep seeing a cartoon in my head with people going into a machine and coming out one of two tubes. One tube is pink partyland, where everyone wears pink and dances. The other tube is cancerland, where everyone has IV poles and are sick and scared and the people flying out of the tube are like, “What the hell just happened? How come pink partyland gets all the good stuff? Why won’t they look at us and give US what we need? They aren’t dying… we are!!! LOOK AT US!! HELP US!!!”

But the machine workers keep eating their caviar and sending people into the machine.

Every once in a while, they’ll grab the pink partyland people, throw them back in the machine and they end up in cancerland. That person is like, “What the HELL? They said I was cured??? Wait… why didn’t i fight for research when I was healthy? Now I have to fight while going through treatment? Im so sorry, cancerland patients, for being ignorant.” Then the cancerland patients all give the newbies hugs and advice and coffee enemas and peas and blueberries and cream for feet and hand and wigs and say, “Welcome. We hate you are here but we will love you and fight for you until we die.” as they watch people all around them fall.

True story.

Someone needs to make that movie.

And maybe give it a happy wending where the pink partyland people and all the people waiting on line to go into the machine wake up, find research instead of pink crap, and more treatments are found to make it chronic instead of terminal.

A girl can dream.

I’m so glad Donnie will be speaking to me today. He always gives me hope. I emailed my oncologist about some other possible liver treatments that some of my social media friends have sent me, but she said it hasn’t been proven to work in breast cancer patients. For those wondering, I cant get a liver transplant. Stage four.

So I’m laying back and giving it all to God. My story is already written. He knows how this ends. I’m not giving up, I’m giving it up. But I’m still in control of how I live. So I’ll fast when all I really want is to stuff my face and have some wine. A girl could use a drink right about now. I wrote to all of my families and told them what was going on. My friend Dienamarie has been a huge support. She went through this and said she kept working except for a day or two here and there.

I know some pretty badass and beautiful people.

I have been inundated with messages of prayers. I’ve had over 500 messages and texts in the last few days, and those people are having other people pray as well. So keep praying.

As for my kids, rob said Morgan burst into tears yesterday about something at school, which she then handled beautifully. For a thirteen year old girl, this is so hard and it will come out in ways other than you think. Andear teacher friend emailed me and said when she hugged our girl, Morgan said it’s probably not as bad as mom thinks.

I love my ray of sunshine.

Maddie had her first practice for the play and loooooooves it. She throws herself into being super busy, which is how she deals.

Quinn was cuddly and quiet last night. He worries me the most. I have to be the strongest for him. I was diagnosed when he was eight, so most of his life he can remember has been a mom with cancer. That isn’t easy.

I emailed all of their teachers and informed them about what is happening. I got some beautiful responses and am so proud of my children.

Please God, let this work.

Let me see them grow up.

I haven’t had enough time with them.

We have circled the wagons so to speak, and rob, my parents, and my siblings have all been preparing to help. Rob and I are so thankful for my family and our friends. This is going to be hard, and having people who love us and are there for us is everything. I was walking to the office yesterday and the husband of our past PTO president burst through the doors with a great big hug and flowers at that moment, and said “That was God” as we met at the moment he walked in. Another friend Kim got me a new hat to wear over my bald head. I’m surrounded by love.

Today I’ll teach, and then leave at 2:00 for the conference call with Donnie at 2:15. Then Morgan has a home game for field hockey, then rob is taking Quinn to Boy Scouts and i have open house. This weekend is big for the scout troop, as they prepare to finish the hike that they couldn’t last year because a drunk driver hit the scouts and killed one of the little boys. He looks so much like Quinn, and my heart sends the family love every time I hug Quinn. The drunk driver has been playing games and still has not had his justice. He has taken back his apology. I am asking for everyone to hold the McMorris family in your hearts as they prepare to honor Andrew this weekend and finish the hike. Then? Pray for swift justice.

Tomorrow is the start of my seventh type of treatment in three years. Making today count is my goal.

May I breathe.

May I be at peace.

May my family be at peace.

May we all be strong and courageous, for God has a plan for me, and Jesus paid for my sins. May complete healing be mine.

In Jesus’s name, amen.

Xoxo

Keri

The Scarlet Savior

I cried in bed with rob last night. I told him how much I want to see the kids grow up, how much I love him, and how I cant seem to shake the death feeling that has come over me.

It was a rough night.

Still is, at 3:30 am.

The kids know. We had a family meeting and discussed what was going to happen. They are scared, and quieter. We will pull together as we always have. I’m emailing their teachers today.

I’ve stopped researching adriomycin and cytoxin. Seeing the red devil and red death over and over is not good. I’m renaming it the Scarlett savior.

How is this my life?

When will enough be enough?

When will God say, OK. She has proven herself worthy of a miracle?

I keep thinking of Megan, Leila, Alycia, lisa… and all of the other stage four friends i have had who have passed. How have we not solved this??

All the money that goes to pink products makes me sick. Don’t spend the money on a pink shirt this October. Send it to Metavivor. That will help someone eventually.

I am so scared.

I just got my hair back.

I’ve done nausea before with all three pregnancies for nine months each with hyperemesis. Now this? Again?

My friend Jennifer Williamson said she feels that ill make it through, and the cells with learn to coexist and ill just keep living with cancer. I don’t care what all those judgy bible people say. Jesus has been pretty quiet lately, and if someone who has been given a gift can help me breathe at night, so be it.

I’m going to school today and teaching. Yesterday we used play doh to make swirly mazes, I gave out straws and ping pong balls and they had to blow their ball through the maze they made. We also had a lock down drill and lockout drill. My hope is they remember the play doh and not the drill. I’m going for training today for one of the new programs, and I’ll keep telling myself I’ll be here to implement it.

One of my favorite nurses (although they are all my favorites) is going to be my nurse for Thursday. God isn’t healing me as I asked, but he is sending me the people who make this easier.

I have gotten so many prayers in the past day or two. Please don’t let up. Pray and storm the heavens for the next eight weeks.

This has to work.

I said my final goodbye to my brother and sister in law and they prepare to move to North Carolina. They laid hands on me and prayed over me at the field where Morgan was playing. God sent me them that moment. I had them over the night before but an extra hug is always good.

I just emailed my oncologist about two procedures that other cancer thrivers sent to me regarding the liver. Hepatic arterial infusion and chemobolization or bland embolization. I have a feeling the liver is just too far gone for those.

I feel it.

I actually feel the liver with every breath and the pain. Which will be good in a way that as the chemo progresses, if the pain lessens that would be a good sign.

Erin said I’m one of the strongest clients she and Donnie have ever seen. That made me feel better. I’m so glad i have an emergency appointment tomorrow with him to gear up and get a new protocol. My herbalist is also working on a new formula. They didn’t bat an eye this time when I told them of the heavy chemo coming, which said a lot. They know it’s Hail Mary time.

I think that’s why i walked at the north fork breast health coalition 5K Sunday. I knew a hard time was coming. I’m glad I spent time with so many who love me, and could celebrate my friend candy’s ten year survivorship. I pray to reach that goal too.

I’ve cried a lot the last 24 hours.

I’ve prayed a lot.

Now it’s time to suit up and prepare for the fight for my life.

Please Jesus, heal me.

Take all the cancer away, and let me see my children grow up and love my rob for years and years to come.

In Jesus’s name, amen.

Xoxo

Keri