Peace, Love and Tacos

Yesterday was a day of tacos, hugs and love.

I actually felt good and decided to head to the fair early.

I made an appointment with my friend Jennifer Williamson. Once again, she blew me away. She also says things that are supposed to be validating. Ten minutes after I was done with her, I met my sister and told her what she said about her. People are skeptics. I get it. But let me tell you, Jennifer told me something that I hadn’t even heard of, I then told jill, and then she confirmed it was true. Both of our jaws dropped.

To summarize what she said about me, she said she saw archangel Michael with his wings wrapped around me. I told her that at night, when my eyes are closed, it’s like there are flashes of light being shined into my eyes and white light dances behind my closed eyelids. I always say it’s love from heaven being sent into body and healing. I now believe it’s true. She also saw me advocating on the Ellen show one day, and also at a point in my life where the cancer and I coexist. It’s not aggressive, just there. And I grow old with rob, and continue to teach.

I’ll take it.

I brought my sister to meet her, then later my dad. Jennifer quickly told them what she told me and even a little more. She spoke about my dad’s mom who passed when he was eleven and my dad told her a story I hadnt ever heard before. It’s amazing how my dad turned out, as loving and giving as he is, even without his mom. But she is here, all the time.

I love that.

I then spent the day getting hugs and selling tickets. My very first kindergarten student from 24 years ago came with her new baby. My babies are having babies. I asked to pray a blessing over her, closed my eyes, and she and her mom said as I prayed, this two week old baby lifted her hand up to mine. They know. Babies are such blessings, and remind us of where we come from, with love and innocence.

Lucharitos was there and everyone had tacos. Mark came up to me at the end of the day and gave me $1175 for my oncologist. He said people overpaid and just donated. This town is amazing. People are also saying they will be going to the fundraiser at Jenny’s in southold for the spaghetti dinner. I saw a flyer in the deli across the street and didn’t even KNOW there were flyers. I get chemo that day, and coming home and being surrounded by love will be so good for me.

Madison was away at Brown University for a track meet. Her coach texted me she ran her best race ever, and the girls varsity team took first place of the whole large school division. I love these girls, and can’t wait to cheer them on this Tuesday at Indian island as they run for research. The go fund me is almost at its goal, and I cant wait to give my oncologist funds from that account as well.

So many people came out to support our school and I hope we raised enough funds to continue to enhance the experiences these kids get. After all of the negative writing I’ve been reading about our district, it was nice to actually see support. Getting donations was hard this year. The class baskets moms stepped up big time. God bless those who step up and help.

There was more bond drama.

Listen, our district did not present the bond in a good way. At all. The fairgrounds and field house should have never been on. That saying of “You never get a a second chance at a first impression” is true. So now, after having listened to the outcry and changing it.. and STILL changing it… they are working from even farther behind where they started. People are still writing to vote no based on the first proposal and other misinformation. Unless you go to a bond meeting, please… find out the facts and then make an educated and informed opinion.

There are people who simply hate the district, the board, the teachers, and use every chance they get to demean and badmouth us. I’ve got one person somehow getting screenshots of my personal Facebook page from someone and posting it on local public paper pages. Ever wonder why people don’t speak up? Because of personal attacks. As someone dealing with heavy chemo, having someone use every chance possible to call me out is exhausting and a little scary. I refuse to engage. Which apparently empowers people even more. I’m putting this on my public blog, and I’m sure this private post will be screen shotted as well.

So let me be clear.

I’m done.

I will not speak to this person. I will no longer write about this person. No more energy will be given to negative people. It’s my right. And this person will hopefully find another scapegoat to pick on. Yes, I am an employee. I’m also a parent and a taxpayer. And no, I’m not out simply for my paycheck. I’ve spent thousands and thousands of dollars on my students and classroom. But I’m a no good greedy teacher out for myself.

Sure.

I’ve got terminal cancer to fight, children to teach, a family to raise, a district to fight for, and a life to live. My time is too precious to waste anymore energy on someone determined to badmouth me and attack me publicly. So keep having fun screenshooting my posts and writing about me. Even Implying I’m using cancer and the contacts I’ve made for pity. That’s the lowest blow ever. I would gladly have never had cancer and go back to my semi private life.

You know who you are.

Just stay away from me and don’t ever contact me or come near me in person.

Don’t look at me or attempt to come near me. I will walk away.

Period.

Have fun writing about me today. If only you would try to use your knowledge for good instead of slinging mud, you could actually make a positive difference.

Today I’m going to see Madame swoosh who has flown in from France. I love her and her daughter. I’m gearing up for a week with the heavy chemo and getting love from as many people as I have helps me fill my energy bucket. The anxiety rises knowing how sick I’ll be next weekend. It was worse this second round. It’s also Madison’s birthday next weekend. I’m going to visualize myself pushing through and being able to celebrate her seventeenth birthday.

Quinn wore his Boy Scout uniform all day simply because he wanted to. We went to michaels to get some things and Christmas is up. I don’t care. It makes me happy. My friend Melissa put up her Christmas tree yesterday.

Joy to the world, people.

Today may everyone who hates me simply leave me alone. Ignore me. May those who love me pray for me and send me love. May my body heal, and all my problems be swooshed away.

In Jesus’s name, amen.

Xoxo

Keri

Mob mentality, Bucket Brigades, and Hold my Lashes.

Today is one of the BEST days of the year for my school. But first…

Let’s talk about mob mentality.

People get so easily whipped into a frenzy.

It’s also easy to go after people with cheap shots. Michelle Obama once said, “a when they go low, we go high.”

But man, it’s hard to go high.

I took a big risk yesterday writing what I wrote. Writing about where you work as publicly as I did can backfire. But it came from love and truth. And the truth is, I LOOOOOVE where I work. I always have. Do I get frustrated? Definitely.

But man… I wouldn’t work anywhere else WITH anyone else or FOR anyone else.

Which is why I take attacks so personally, because it’s easy to attack people, but I see the daily workings. People have NO clue how hard teachers and administrators are working. We get to work early, stay late, work through lunch. We do it for the kids.

Board of Education members don’t get paid. They volunteer. And they get mercilessly attacked by locals who have no issue being rude and condescending and spew venom and make personal attacks… and the BOE members can’t defend themselves, which makes the venom spewers feel even more empowered.

Then there are those local people who are obsessed with attacking us. And yes, obsessed. There is one woman who used to bash me all over teacher and student advocacy boards. I’ve disengaged. Yesterday she was mad because I wouldnt engage and liked someone’s comment, but ignored her questions to me. She wrote how I wont engage with people who disagree or question me because I take attacks personally.

No, I just don’t engage with people who refuse to listen and stick to fake stories in their head and have gone so far to contact my family members about me.

I can forgive people.

But I dont forget.

I also called out a man who showed his true colors. For some reason, men are intimidated by women in power. So what do they do? They stoop to making comments about appearances. He made a comment on a public page about a woman who can speak eloquently while batting false eyelashes.

I… saw… red.

(Through my own false eyelashes.)

Listen, enough is enough. We need to call people out on this crap publicly. If you didn’t know me and met me in the street, you would never know I’m going through heavy chemo. (Thank you, YouTube tutorials by drag queens, on how to draw fleek eyebrows, put on false lashes, and cut lace front wigs. )

Making fun of a woman for doing something to make herself look better is a low blow. You don’t read about people making fun of men for how they part their hair, or which suit they wear. But women are fair game.

So I went after this man. Publicly. He tried to backtrack and even said to not make it about the cancer when I wrote about how I wear fake lashes. So I said it wasn’t about that. It’s simply he is a sexist.

I will defend any woman’s right to wear whatever she wants. Check yourselves, gentlemen. I plan on wearing my biggest wigs and lashes to every damn BOE meeting and bond vote meeting. Even if I’m sick from chemo, I’m showing up. I’ll bat my fake eyelashes in solidarity. And don’t think I wont peel them off and whip off my wig to make a point. I’ve done it before when a man didn’t take me seriously.

Come at me, bro.

Hold my lashes, sister. I’ve got a lesson to teach.

Parents, let’s do better and teach our young men to be gentlemen. Making public comments about a woman’s appearance is gross. Making private comments is gross. Teach respect.

Ironically, I was defending our rights as women while NASA was holding the first ever all female space walk. I showed the video to my kinders and took a picture of them all watching it and sent it home. I wanted the parents to have that momentous occasion documented so one day their kids can tell their kids where they were on that momentous day and show a picture.

We’ve come a long way, baby… but still have miles to go.

The mob mentality has reached a tipping point. The “us vs them” has become a powder keg. People are holding matches and gasoline and don’t realize how they are being perceived. Thats what happens. Becoming whipped into a frenzy turns even the best people into firestarters. Have you ever seen how people’s faces look different by the light of a bonfire? They look a little scarier, with the glowing embers lighting their eyes. The fire brings out something primal. Voices get louder under the cover of darkness as the flame grows and burns hotter.

It’s time to throw water on the fire.

Pass the bucket of water, and let’s make a bucket brigade.

The intentions may have been good at the beginning when the fire got lit, but fire attracts the crazed. They show up and the fire gets bigger and bigger and more people get burned.

Mob mentality.

Somehow we need to turn the mob mentality around from firestarters and into a water bucket brigade of people who turn away from the easy way of throwing sticks onto the fire, and instead finding ways to save everyone from getting burned.

Pass the water please.

Some people run away from the fire to other places because it’s easier. The fire is too big already in their minds, so they want to just leave.

Not me.

I was taught that when you see people in trouble, you do what you can to help. My poppa was a police officer in NYC. My dad was a police officer in Nassau county. My brothers both worked in NYC and one transferred to Southampton and one works in riverhead. My sister works in riverhead and has risen to the rank of SGT. (and yes, when the local paper wrote an article celebrating her achievement, sexist comments were made… and I may have become an attack dog again. No one messes with my family. Period.)

My whole family will run in when there is trouble.

Put their lives on the line for others.

For strangers.

Every damn day.

So I guess it’s in my blood.

Make it part of YOUR life to find ways to make lives better.

You can start today.

My school is hosting the biggest fundraiser of the year today. It’s our annual craft fair, and man… you have to see it to believe it.

Each class is tasked with making a craft fair basket to raffle, based on a theme. One class mother puts it all together for each class. And let’s give a huge shout out to the class moms. They put more money than they admit into these baskets . We also have items donated by the community for Chinese auction. There will be activities for the whole family. This is the day the school becomes a community. Families show up and kids find their friends from class. Parents meet and friendships are formed. Our PTO pays for every single child’s one field trip per year, puts on dances, winter wonderland where kids can buy presents at Christmas that are already wrapped and learn how it feels good to give. This one day pays for it all.

Lucharitos will also have a food truck. I’ve become friends with the owner, and have seen him change from a man who was tormented by those who were firestarters and left comments on review sites, to a man who walks in his own truth. Man, he has leveled up, big time. He holds big buckets of water now, and has decided to have all his profits from today be funneled to my oncologist.

So today, let’s eat ALL THE TACOS!!

My oncologist is overwhelmed. We emailed last night and she used the word “tremendous”. She has a hard job, and deals with patients who she comes to love dying. So my family and friends aren’t just a bucket brigade to her by passing buckets of water to her to put out cancer fires… we are opening the dam.

God, I love good people.

There are more of them than you think. And even those stoking the fire need water sometimes. I’m hoping yesterday became the day the fire started to lessen and the true compassion and kindness that some wanted to show but got lost in delivery shines through.

So today, come to my schools craft fair. I’ll be there at ten visiting with my friend Jennifer Williamson. Yes, she is a psychic medium and I am a Christian. But she is so much more to me. God can give people gifts of the spirit. She is the real deal. I can’t wait to hug her. She does energy work as well. Science is catching up on energy work and it’s real benefits. This next decade will bring breakthroughs.

I also called yesterday and have an appointment with Odile tomorrow , my “Madame Swoosh”. I spoke to her daughter marynne, and we love each other so much.

Last night I went to Spa Belezza. I’ve gotten gift certificates from my brother Scott’s police squad when I was first diagnosed and some past students. I’ve never used them. The owner was kind enough to let me use them and they didn’t expire.

I was nervous going to someone new, as Daniele from the peaceful scorpion is the only one I’ve had work on me. I was also nervous about taking off my wig and laying on a table with a total bald head in front of a stranger.

So God sent me my sorority sister Trish. She had spent the weekend with Master Ou, a Qi Gong master who has done distance sessions with me. Turns out Trish stoped my house an hour before my massage appointment and knows the owner of the spa. She said I was in good hands.

And man, I sure was.

She did cranial sacral therapy and I felt the energy actually shift and flow in my body. I knew she was doing reiki on me at times and I asked her when we finished if she was. She said yes, and I had been able to tell the exact moments she did the energy work.

It’s not woo woo, people.

It’s science.

Trish was right, and I needed it.

So thank you, RPD Squad 2 and Anna and Jamie. I finally used the gift certificates and it was heavenly.

I’m hoping to be able to go back to sleep for a bit, then gear up for a day of hugs, tacos, volunteering, energy work and messages from my loved ones, and finding more people willing to hold buckets of water and put out fires.

And I’ll do it all with my fake eyelashes.

In Jesus’s name, amen.

Xoxo

Keri

A District in Crisis

Apparently I’m up at 2:00 am today because this post is that important.

Before I became a metastatic breast cancer advocate/thriver, I was a vocal advocate for students. I wrote letters and attended forums on the state testing debacle, I rode a bus for hours to lobby at Albany, and I was probably put on a watch list for Governor Cuomo.

Apparently it’s time for me to put back on my rally cap.

Let me explain.

I’ve sounded the alarm for my district. I walk a fine line as a taxpayer, parent and employee. I’ve said we are a district in crisis now, due to a huge chain of events that have been years in the making. Our high school is so crowded that Madison said she had trouble getting up a stairwell yesterday. We’ve also had a huge surge in population of one specific group of students.

This has caused some racism to come out.

Taxpayers are angry and saying it’s not fair they have to pay for illegal students, and those students are sucking up all of the funds and attention that the “legal” kids need. And yes, it’s true. We have to spend more money on ELL services. Instead of getting angry at the district and children, get active and ask the state for more help. I also have a feeling there are a lot less illegal students than you think, and simply more legal immigrants who have flooded our town because of affordable housing, even if it means five families share a house.

The surrounding districts are going through the opposite. Homes are being snapped up by second home buyers, so there are less full time residents and enrollment is decreasing.

Not in Riverhead.

We have affordable housing, so everyone is coming to our town. We also have landlords who have been renting out homes to multiple families and not caring. Have you driven by Main Street lately? I shudder to think of what will happen to enrollment when those huge buildings with apartments become available for rent. We are a town with farms, restaurants, vineyards, hotels, where the businesses rely on workers with low salaries. The workers need a place to live, right?

I am disgusted by the blatant racism as well as the implied. Just because a child is a different color and speaks a different language doesn’t mean they aren’t a citizen… or they aren’t as smart as your child and entitled to a fantastic, free and appropriate education. Some people have their heart in the right place but the message is muddled with racial overtones. We need to all come together. There isn’t a wall that’s been built, as some have chanted for years, so stop waiting on a politicians promise. Did you all really think three years ago that a wall would be built and the problem would be solved? How has that worked out for you?

Sticking heads in the sand and saying “It’s not fair and I don’t want to pay for illegals” isn’t going to make this better.

So, what to do?

I attended a round table discussion during the middle of the day yesterday. I wish you all could have been there. It was a group of teachers from the district, selected because we all live here as well as have kids who go here. Some are alumni. Hearts are breaking because parents wanted their kids to graduate from riverhead like they did, and if things don’t happen soon… and I mean really soon, people are thinking of moving away. It’s that serious.

Our superintendent as well as our finance guru were there. Listen, I wouldn’t want their jobs in a million years. The same vocal people attack them over and over. Let me tell you a little secret.

No one is in that position to make money. They deserve every penny of their salary for putting up with all of you and all of us.

Here is another secret.

The money man? I have grumbled when my supplies get cut and have to make choices between red or green construction paper. Paper clips or staples? Birthday crowns or mini pencils? June is a month of hard cuts and choices for teachers. Yes, he is that tight with money. But he takes his job as the watcher of the coin seriously, despite what everyone thinks. As a taxpayer, I appreciate how seriously he takes his job. He isn’t out to screw anyone, people. He truly is looking out for the town. Don’t listen to the same angry people who bash him over and over. Facts matter. He has them and amazed me with his ability to rattle off laws and tax codes and numbers.

The man is brilliant with facts and numbers.

The teachers on the round table threw out other options to him, and he had already thought about it and worked out the numbers. You see, we are screwed in Riverhead… big time.

We have a governor and a senator who ignore us. Other districts get high twenty percent state aid, we get in the teens. It’s because of the land on the tax tolls …and off the tax rolls. Because we have so much land and less taxable area, we look like a wealthy area on paper. Acres and acres of land and less people per square foot makes you look on paper like we are wealthy. The truth is we are land rich and people poor. Cuomo doesn’t give a crap about our town. He is busy renaming bridges and pushing tests designed to fail kids. The politicians don’t care. That’s been obvious with the vaccine kids. It’s about money for their own good. Getting total control and pocketing the benefits.

We are the county seat and get the social services dumped here, shelters, the jail. But help out our schools?

Forget it.

Freaking crickets from them all.

Our district has been banging the gong for YEARS about state aid. Don’t tell me we haven’t, because it’s come up every year at budget time. We are also screwed with the charter school. They are now getting seven million dollars of our budget a year. People all think it’s this great option for those who don’t like our schools. News flash. I know someone who used to work there. Look up some of the things their principal has said. His test scores are better because miraculously somehow a certain population didn’t take the tests. Kids go there and then come back to us in worse academic shape and we have to do more remediation. It’s the dirty little secret no one talks about. We need to fight against the bleeding flow of cash that is going to those kids and taking from our schools.

Fair state aid, FUNDED mandates, and the charter school should be on everyone’s radar.

But now we have a space crisis, and it’s especially bad in the high school. No one will say this publicly, but I will. If we don’t fix this and get additional space voted on in the bond NOW, we will be out of room by 2024. What will happen?

Split sessions.

Half days for high schoolers, with some going in the morning and some in the afternoon. When that happens, everyone will want to sell their houses. Get the hell out of dodge. But guess who will want to buy your house and come to riverhead then?

No one.

Do I want to pay more taxes? Hell no.

I’m a stage four cancer patient who has blown through her kids college savings and has already given up extras simply to save my life. I don’t have extra cash and buy my kids clothes at target, for God’s sakes.

But I know I cant afford to vote no on this bond.

Listen, I WAS going to vote no on the bond that was rolled out a month ago. An elaborate field house was pie in the sky, and although I would love our district to have fancy and pretty things… we just can’t.

Practicality wins.

But here is where I applaud the BOE and district. The outcry was loud, and they went back to the drawing board. They are working overtime to find the best possible proposal that will pass and have reworked and reworked the options. The field house is now out.

Period.

Hallelujah.

The additional building for PPS and the District office has two options. One is with repairs to the thirty year old trailers, and one is a new building. Obviously repairs are cheaper. But what will happen in ten years? We will have then forty year old trailers that will need more improvements. You can’t simply add those departments to a current school building because of safety. You can’t have the public walking in and out of schools. It has to be stand alone. I support trying to get this crisis solved now, but also being forward thinking. No one is going to approve a fancy building for adults in a school district, but a safe building for employees and locals to come to meetings to discuss our schools? I can get behind that.

We also have a big issue to decide. If we add to our 5/6 building, it will be very expensive. A cheaper alternative is to spread the students between two buildings and instead of a 5/6 then 7/8 building, make two middle schools 5-8. Sounds good, right?

Until you have to figure out which kids go where. How do you decide? Have two primary buildings go to one and two to the other? Alphabetical order? A lottery? That won’t work. You have to be sure each school is represented with the same number of kids who receive special services, ELL support, demographics evenly spread. Making class lists is a nightmare each year trying to make them even. Imagine what would happen when parents say they don’t want their kid in the old pulaski, but the newer middle school. We have some hard decisions to make.

Pre k is another problem. Let me tell you, all pre k programs are NOT the same. As a kindergarten teacher, I can tell you which child came from which program. Some are good, and some are not. Throw in kids who never even went to pre-school, and we are already starting school behind the others and at an disadvantage. Some think it’s just pre school, just kindergarten.

It’s not.

If we don’t get kids on level by the end of first grade, studies show they will NEVER catch up. It ain’t nap time anymore, people. You try to make the playing field even with a class full of four and five year olds, all from different backgrounds, languages and poverty levels, with family trauma and stories that keep you up at night. By making pre k our own, we get control. We make sure kids learn what they need and are prepared, start school on a more level field. Build a strong foundation, and the sky is the limit.

People are also playing politics. The town is suddenly interested in code enforcement. Why?

It’s an election year.

Let’s see what happens in November after votes are cast. I guarantee the grandstanding will end. Our townspeople that we elect better get more vocal about state aid. Kicking people out of houses that are crowded is a short term fix. I dont hold much hope in politicians.

Everyone had their own agenda.

My hope is in the children.

My hope is in the PEOPLE.

I brought up the timing of the vote. Seniors fly south for the winter and it looks shady to have a vote in January. There is a reason.

Timing is everything.

By voting in January instead of in May, we get four extra months to get this building started. If we wait, and vote in May, it wouldn’t be able to be open until September 2024. By then, it’s too late. Every second counts, that is how serious this overcrowding is.

People are also confused and say they want more teachers and smaller class sizes. That’s a budget issue. We can’t pierce the 2% budget cap Cuomo put in place.

Cuomo is an asshole.

Put that in your cap, Cuomo.

(I’m totally going to be on a watch list now.)

What will happen when we build these extra classrooms? Will we have money to pay for staff?

Yes.

I’ve been here for twenty two years. I was hired with a huge amount of staff. Many will be ready to retire. Retirement incentives will come, and the salaries will flow to the other end of the scale with new teachers…. if you can find any. We have a huge shortage of subs now because who the hell wants to go into teaching in NY with Cuomo making horrible decisions and teachers being called no good greedy pariahs out for themselves?

People want redistributing and redistricting students to other towns. Redraw town lines and send kids to other districts.

Can you imagine being a Flanders kid and hearing adults saying they want to kick you out of your district and send you elsewhere? Its a racial and class thing. No one is saying to send Riley kids to Shoreham. These lines were drawn years ago. It would be a nightmare and another vote for the town. Think racism is bubbling up now?

The ugly undercurrents about race, class, legal status, poverty… come on people.

Be better.

We sound like the sneetches from Dr Seuss with people pointing out who has stars on their bellies.

Here is another news flash.

I love my Latino/Hispanic families. Most are humble, hard working, kind. They just want us to love their kids like they do. I’ve heard stories of where they come from and cried over situations these kids have experienced. So take your white priveledge and thank your lucky stars you were born here. I cant imagine being a Hispanic in this town right now. The side eyes and prejudice is palpable.

Be human.

Be kind.

Be active and involved and INFORMED.

I suggested instead of loading up PowerPoints and slides, make a video presentation. The explanations and round table yesterday opened my eyes. The truth that was told was needed to be heard.

Get yourself to these bond proposal meetings and listen and learn. Then speak KINDLY and be heard.

They ARE listening. The proof is in the fact that they will be taking out the field house.

I also said riverhead went through a crisis last year with the disgusting acts of one man. Everyone was shocked, ashamed, embarrassed, and kept our heads low.

It’s time to take back our riverhead pride. Get our heads out of the sand and draw a line in the sand.

I’m standing and ready to fight.

My kids are thriving.

THRIVING.

Being surrounded by kids from other cultures and incomes has made them more aware, more empathetic. They are more equipped to enter the real world. Our kids in riverhead are truly a global community. They represent the world.

I am excited by these kids.

It’s the adults that need to learn from them.

I went vocal on the riverhead news review article yesterday and some guy pretty much told me to keep my mouth shut if I didnt know all the facts.

First, he obviously doesn’t know who I am.

Twenty two year employee of this district and have been actively involved in front and behind the scenes.

Second, telling people to shut up won’t help anything. People need to have civil discussions. We fall into snide jabs, name calling, and good people stop speaking up.

(Although it is ok to call Cuomo an ass, in my opinion.)

Civil discussion with respect needs to be had. Stop the finger pointing.

Stop the blame game.

Come to the table, listen, learn…

And please…

Vote yes on the bond.

It’s still being worked on, but I am now confident it will be one that is needed.

For all those angry people who love to call me out on crap, go easy on me. I’m exhausted from chemo and fighting for my life as well as this town I love.

I’m a big girl and can take it… but man, I’m tired. Speak up if you’ve been quiet and agree with me. It’s lonely where I am.

Tell others about how amazing riverhead was, is and can be.

I do all the time.

That’s it.

I’m done.

It’s 4:01 am now, and I’m going to take off my

child and town advocate hat and put back on my manifesting healing hat and try to get some sleep.

But first I’m praying for all of us.

May we come together and work for the town and all of the people in it.

May we remember we all the human race, and walk forward with kindness.

In Jesus’s name, amen.

Xoxo

Amen

Three a.m. thoughts…

Last night I sat in amazement at the blessings coming my way.

I was in the couch, exhausted. My morning began with an 8 am faculty meeting. I’m usually at school by 8 am every morning, and need that 45 minutes to prep for the day, which meant I started the day behind schedule before it even began. The meeting ended, I ran to the cafeteria to grab my breakfasts for my kids who need to eat at school, then just barely beat the first child to my door. My Teaching assistant was pulled to cover a meeting, which means it was my job alone to feed fourteen children who need breakfast, get the others started on appropriate and meaningful morning work, help everyone unpack, take lunch orders, enter it into the computer, take attendance, check folders for notes, and check the emotional state of every child coming in and hug those who need a better start to their day.

All in twenty five minutes…

While nauseous from chemo and sweating like crazy from induced menopause and detoxing.

For fun, let’s throw in my new assistant superintendent popping in to meet me for the first time in my silver wig.

However, she jumped right in and stayed and helped. That’s the test of a good administrator. She passed with flying colors.

We all went out the garden to show her how amazing our community is with all of the flower and straw bale donations, and we did some breathing and yoga sun salutations. We also saved our scarecrows and brought them in before the big storm. Teaching empathy, even to scarecrows, sets the stage for a good life. She made a video on Twitter about her visit and it was nice to see my morning through someone else’s eyes. Apparently it only feels hectic and crazy on the inside.

Sometimes we are so hard on ourselves.

I grabbed my puppets and did a big puppet show reenacting the three billy goats gruff, we learned how to form the letter b, played a math game with dice and some of my erasers from the target dollar spot, then went to the smoke house.

I’ve been going to visit the riverhead smoke house for over twenty two years, and it’s so important what these volunteers do. They told a story about a little nine year old girl five years ago who saved her family five years ago because of what she learned in the smoke house. As it turns out, the baby from the story? Her baby brother? He is now five years old… and in my class. He got to show the children the article that is framed inside the trailer, and the children got to meet the the brother of a real life superhero… who saved lives at nine years old.

By the time the day ended, my energy bucket was empty again. I ran home, put together dinner in containers and packed it for rob, drove Morgan and Quinn to his office and then picked up Maddie. Rob went to town hall for a ceremony for the riverhead tomcats, of which we received a certificate thanking us for being a host family.

Then he was off to a Latin trip meeting and finally Boy Scouts . He started his day bringing the kids to school early, as Quinn is now in sixth grade orchestra as a fifth grader and has morning practice. If you think I’m busy, poor rob has had to pick up a lot of my slack. He is amazing.

Maddie did her homework while I slept, and then?

Magic happened again.

Riverhead local shared the gofundme link, the spaghetti dinner fundraiser, and Denise Civiletti wrote some amazing things. I had her daughter twenty four years ago in kindergarten. Once you are in my class, you are always in my heart. I’m so lucky to have so many families still in my life.

Then I got an email from Stony Brook, staying that riverhead building supply contacted them and will be making a donation in my name to dr stopeck. I worked at RBS twenty seven years ago or so, and made some amazing friends while I was there. It may have become a huge corporation in the years since, but they still have a small town heart.

Then?

My friend who owns Lucharitos has decided that at our school craft fair on Saturday, all proceeds from his taco truck will go to Dr Stopeck as well. So this Saturday… let’s all eat some tacos while supporting my school.

It’s the biggest fundraiser of the year. We have so many amazing class baskets and a chinese auction you just have to see to believe. We have vendors and activities for the whole family. It’s from 10-4, and I’ll be there from 12:00 until I get too tired to stay and volunteer anymore. Come and see me, get a taco, and support my school and my oncologist.

Today is another long day, as I’ve been asked to sit on a committee with some teachers to give input on the bond. I know it’s a hot topic, with lots of passions running high. We live in the age of the 2% tax cap. The bond is the only viable way we will be able to solve this population and space crisis. And believe me, it’s a crisis. People have become very vocal about going around and rounding up people in overcrowded houses and illegal housing. I don’t think people realize that should children be kicked out of housing, they become homeless. Think of the trauma those children will now have. Teaching academics is hard enough, then throw on the emotional and social support services we have to provide. There is also a law called the McKinney vento act, where if a child becomes homeless, the school district still has to educate them and bus them from whatever shelter they are placed in, no matter how far away. Think it’s expensive now, our bus bill? Let’s add transportation from shelters in other towns to the bill.

These are children.

Children who I love.

Teacher hearts are wide open. We don’t say, “I only love you if you’re legal.” Every teacher I know and work with loves each child no … matter… what. We don’t see generic faces or make blanket statements. We see children. Every day. And we love these children, we fight for these children.

We fight for ALL children.

Our jobs have become infinitely harder as we have multiple languages in our rooms now, with poverty at an all time high. We don’t choose who enters our rooms. But we chose this profession, and with it, comes love and compassion… for all.

There has to be a compassionate way to make sure everyone is living in safe environments without the angry mob mentality I am seeing.

It’s making people ugly.

I get it, and I’m a taxpayer.

I’m also a Christian.

Do agree with everything I see on this bond?

No.

Will I speak up?

Yes.

I’ll add my thoughts on what should be cut out to make it passable in my eyes.

Will I keep the children on my heart and in my words as I ty to help find a way to save our district?

Always.

Children are our future.

People have such preconceived notions about children who aren’t the same color or have the same background. Let me tell you, I see the future. Every time I go to the hospital, I’m cared for by people from all backgrounds, all colors, all languages. I look at my little five year olds, and locked away in their tiny hearts and minds just may be the cure for cancer.

Let’s be forward thinkers and move with common sense and compassion.

The beauty shown to me by this town the past month has been overwhelming. I used to hate October and all the pinkwashing. I took it back this year, and the town has stepped up behind me.

We can do great things when we move as one, with a common goal in sight. And at the center should always be kindness.

I’m excited for the second half of the month. Madame swoosh is flying in from France this weekend and I’ll be making an appointment to see her and her daughter. She always seems to show up when I need some energy the most. I’ll be seeing my friend jennifer Williamson at the craft fair as well, as she will have a booth.

Swoosh swoosh swoosh, cancer begone.

It’s three a.m. and I’m hoping to somehow get back to sleep. Until then, I’m praying for my Boy Scout family as they continue to wait for justice for andrew. I dont know how the lawyer and the man who drove drunk and killed a beautiful little boy can sleep at night. I’m covering the family and scouts in my love, every night at three am. Justice for andrew and troop 161 will be coming soon.

I’m praying for my town to find compassion and solutions. The grandstanding and pointing fingers and politics and mob mentality of “round them up and kick them out” needs to stop. Be human.

I am praying for my friend Kelly who had breast reconstruction surgery yesterday from her triple negative surgery. If you’re on Instagram, check out her “talk is cheap” page. My friends Nalie, Stephanie, and Brittney are also in my prayers, as they are attending a release and myofascia retreat and share their information with me.

I’m also praying for you, my friend.

Whoever reads these words, may the Lord bless you and keep you safe, warm, loved and healthy.

May today be full of compassion, kindness, and research breakthroughs.

In Jesus’s name, amen.

Xoxo

Keri

Give and Take and a Pity Party

This life is such a give and take of ups and downs.

I had an absolutely beautiful teaching day, even with adversity.

Once again, my assistant was pulled to sub. Which means the day I come back after chemo, I’m by myself all day long with 23 kindergarten students. We have such a sub shortage, and it’s ridiculous. But…

I’ve learned how to breathe through stress and stay calm, so yesterday morning I fed fourteen children breakfast with milks and cereals and spork packages to open, took 23 lunch orders, checked folders for notes, hugged and hugged a crier until she stopped missing mommy while other children filed in the room, took attendance, and helped children make the letter b during morning time…all in twenty minutes. I had soft folk music playing which helps set the tone. Then I painted everyone’s left hand and we made ships out of handprints for Christopher Columbus day, learned a song, made a green ripped paper and glue letter “g”, read the three billy goats Gruff and acted it out, discussed the number five, worked on concepts of print, read a book together, and ate snack in the garden.

I think the wig helps too, as they look at me like I’m magical. It also helps that they all believe I can fly at night.

Running a kindergarten classroom is exhausting, let alone while going through chemo. Take away the much needed extra set of hands, and it’s even more work. But we made it through again, and I thank God for a job that I love so much and children who have worked their way into my heart yet again.

However, as calm and patient as I stay, it depleted the energy bucket.

Which means that while my students get the best of me, my children get exhausted chemo mom who feels nauseous and sick by the end of the day.

I went to Morgan’s field hockey game but had to leave because I…was… just… done. Turns out I missed her making two goals and her team winning.

I also missed Maddie running with her cross country team at sunken meadow. She got a PR by two minutes and ran a five k in 20:39. I missed that milestone. Thank God her coach takes pictures.

Quinn is now being dropped off every day by bus at my mom and dads so he isn’t alone after school. My parents dropped him off and he told me all about his field trip. I didnt chaperone, because I have to save my days for cancer. I missed this trip, but I had several people send me pictures.

I was laying on the couch, bald as a newborn chicken, nauseous, with a headache, and started my own pity party. My dad picked up my girls when they finished their long day, and I tried to muster up excitement when they came home. I couldn’t even get up off the couch to get them their dinner. But they have become self sufficient, and managed to cut their own chicken pot pie slices. (And oh my word, my friend sarah makes the best hands down pie everrrrrr.)

Rob spent the evening at the yankee game with a dear friend. He needed a night away, and getting a night away was good for him. I feel like I’m missing a part of me when he is gone, but he needs to self charge too. He has been handling this all alone, and being with his friend was good for him.

I got a message from the woman I met at the cancer center last week who I gave all of my tips to help her with chemo right before I went up for chemo. She found me on Facebook, and it turns out we have several friends in common. She said I was an angel… but last night she was mine. I needed to hear some good things because the pity party was strong.

I broke down and took some anti nausea meds and headache meds before bed… and which means I’m up at 3:00 am again.

That’s ok, I’ve got lots of things to pray for anyway.

I’m excited about raising money for my oncologist. Being able to help others when going through a hard time gives your life meaning. I spoke to the hospital again yesterday, and checks will be made out to the stony brook research foundation with Dr Alison Stopeck on the memo line so they know to funnel it to her. They are also contacting a publisher to see about me writing a children’s book.

It sounds crazy… adding one more thing to my plate….but if it’s meant to be, God will give me what I need to get it done.

I’m forgiving myself for my pity party yesterday, and instead thanking God I was here to see and hear about my children’s day. I visited my friend Leila’s page and saw her husband put up a post in memory of her and in honor of metastic day. I scrolled through her feed and watched videos of her with her “critter” Milo, and was so damn sad she is gone. Then I went to Alycia’s page, then Lisa’s. Their children are moving through the grief of losing their moms this year with grace, grit, and courage. I hope they know that at 3 am, there is a woman who loved their mom sending prayers for protection and love to cover them as they navigate this new world without their amazing moms.

Grief is so hard.

We don’t ever get over losing ones we love.

We just move through the fog. Some days it’s so thick we can barely see or take a deep breath, and some days it’s thinner and we can move with more grace and ease. But our loved ones are always with us in the fog, in the blur, whispering to keep going as they cover us with love.

And that’s all there is.

Love.

I’m so proud of those who can continue to put one foot in front of the other, when hearts are so broken I can feel the actual pain coming off of their spirit. For some reason, a tragedy has fallen upon their life, and yet they keep going. Some people find a way to even make beauty and good while in the dark night of the soul. It may seem like an eternity that we are apart from our loved ones, but it’s actually the blink of an eye. When we are reunited, all of the pain is forgotten, and there is just love.

Which is why I’m trying to spread as much love as I can while here in this side of the veil. We are all so much more connected than you know, and by healing and loving ourselves first, we can then heal the world.

Deep thoughts at 3:00 am, I know.

But it’s true.

Today will be another busy day, and I’m hoping the nausea tapers off. My taste buds are gone, and it makes me sad. But I’m grateful I can still eat on my own, and egg salad has become my friend.

May today’s balance between work and home be easier. May more love be spread and the fog of grief so many are working through be a thin veil today… so thin you can feel the love of your heart beating as one with the one you miss.

In Jesus’s name, amen.

Xoxo

Keri

Styled by Target, Hope by Stopeck

Yesterday was a comeback day, with a bit of a setback. Two steps forward, one step back, right?

My kids have become very aware of finances, and always say, “Don’t spend that, I dont need that.” It makes me proud and breaks my heart at the same time.

So when Morgan asked for some nice clothes Sunday night, I said to myself that no matter what, I would get up and take her shopping.

So yesterday I got myself up, didn’t take any of the nausea meds because I didnt want to be sleepy, got her up, and off we went.

I treated her to breakfast and we saw her old softball coach who we just adore. He is a policeman in town and one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. We laughed and I showed him my bald head pics and wigs and got lots of hugs. I just love that guy.

Then we hit Target.

I had originally planned to go to Tanger, but to be honest, the thought of store hopping was overwhelming. Plus, finding clothes that weren’t belly midriff showing and appropriate was a big concern. As soon as we walked into Target, we found classic and stylish clothes for her.

I know.

Target!

Take all my money if she can look like a thirteen year old girl instead of an eighteen year old. She picked out a bunch of outfits, and I asked her if she was ok with just Target clothes, and no name brand.

She said she was. And once again I was so proud of her.

Then we went to the eyelash section and I tried to figure out which eyelashes to buy. Mine are starting to fall out, so that will be the next hurdle I jump.

After Target, I decided to treat her to get her nails done. I also decided to splurge, and spoke to the woman who owns the salon about my summer with my feet and the chemo. I had sheets of skin coming off my feet, and my nails were a wreck. I’m not one to treat myself for nail polish or a manicure, but shaving your head makes you want to make something look nice elsewhere. As we talked, two young women chimed in and told me about a great wig site. Next thing I knew, one of the girls comes back into the store with two lace front wigs and just gives them to me. She said she has tons, and wanted me to have them. Her name is bunnii, and turns out she knows someone I know.

That’s how amazing this town is.

I went in for nails and came out with two more wig looks.

I dropped off Morgan, then ran to johannas little art show at her house. Eileen and I laughed when she didn’t recognize me at all and asked me for my name. My wigs are that good! It was a sweet display of Johannas art, and I held her hands and told her I am praying for her everyday.

I came home and called Stony Brook. I was put in touch with a woman who can guide me to raise money for my oncologist. She said they rely on a lot of grassroots fundraisers, as they are connected to the hospital and their major fundraising has to get divided up. We spoke about how other big name national organizations don’t give nearly enough to research as well. We discussed how I handle the baldness and chemo with my kindergarten, and she suggested i write a children’s book to help children understand it better when an adult goes through chemo.

All of the proceeds could be donated to my doctor. Stay tuned….

Then I crashed.

I printed out the death benefit paperwork but just couldn’t fill it out. I’ll try again today.

My sister jill has two friends who have decided to host a fundraiser next Thursday at a restaurant in Southold. Originally they wanted to donate to metavivor, but it’s been switched to benefit my oncologist and her research. She has so many things in development, and if I can help her to help me, along with others…

Could we use the money ourselves?

Absolutely.

But God will always provide for us, and it feels soooooo good and right to pass on the blessings and help with the bigger picture.

So thank you to everyone who will be going to Jeni’s place next Thursday in southold between 5-9 for a $30 spaghetti dinner. I’ll be going as soon as I get out of the hospital. It’s my third heavy chemo infusion day. I can think of no better way to spend the evening surrounded by people who want to help my doctor prolong or even save my life.

I’m up now, as that seems to be the case with this latest round of chemo. Two a.m. comes and I’m up.

I’m praying for friends who are grieving and still mourning the loss of their son, as well as for justice. I’m praying for all of my friends with health issues. I’m praying for the Susan G Komen foundation. They’ve announced a special fund specifically for metastatic which is a start, but not nearly enough. I’m praying they simply switch the amount of research donations and education and awareness donations. Fund stage four research.

All…of….it.

I’ll be at work today.

I don’t have to go to work, as I have some sick days still.

I GET to go to work.

I really do love it, and can’t wait to start to really get into the meat and bones of teaching, now that our routines are pretty much set up. September is hard in kindergarten. We are starting to flow, and I love it.

Today may we all find the easy flow we need to get through our day.

In Jesus’s name, amen.

Xoxo

Keri

Rising for Research

Yesterday was crash day as expected.

But…

I actually managed to hang up my laundry that has been in baskets in my room for five weeks.

Yay me!

You see, my bucket of energy is always being looked at by me. I save so much for work, and my family. So cleaning and other things have taken a back seat. Clean and orderly houses are overrated anyway. I tried to apply for the housekeeping service everyone tagged me in, the one for cancer patients, but they don’t have any participants near me. To be honest, I’m glad. I would clean before they came anyway.

I’m also spinning my wheels for an exciting day coming up with my district. Instead of spending money on “professionals” to come teach us whatever that person thinks they know we need to learn… “Wait… I’m NOT doing this teaching thing right? I’ve only been doing this for 24 years…. whew! “…they’ve decided to let us share our skills and passion with each other. Let me tell you, we have such talent in riverhead. At first I was all excited to get to go to sessions run by my colleagues.

Then?

The whisper happened.

So, after deep breaths and asking over and over for signs if I’m supposed to teach my colleagues that day…. while bald and going through the heaviest chemo they have…. I signed up. It’s not a class on teaching actually. It will be going much deeper, and beyond the classroom walls. I’m calling it, “Manifesting and making magic and miracles in the classroom and in our lives through the breath, our senses, our thoughts and our words.” I’ve got a vision and it keeps forming for this forty five minute session. I’ll teach three different breathwork techniques, hand out oil to enhance the session, have electric mini candles and yoga mats set up, with soft music and some poetry as well. Sounds woo woo, right?

But if you aren’t at peace, you won’t be able to do a thing. You won’t listen or be aware to the needs of those around you. You won’t be able to bring peace and calm and joy to the ones in your path each and every day.

And it all begins with that.

Peace, and joy.

Then the teaching can begin.

I hope people sign up. It’s two days before my last scheduled heavy chemo session and then a petscan to see how it has worked. I’ll need it as much as my colleagues.

Yesterday was October 13, the one day in the whole month of Pinktober that is dedicated to metastatic breast cancer awareness. I should at least be grateful it wasn’t on a Friday, right? My wall was full of pictures of friends and strangers who have passed, as loved ones remember them. Metavivor released a video about the fashion show they had last year which raised $100,000 and showcased some of my friends. At the end of the video, one friend said that stage four treatment is like swinging on vines through the jungle over hot lava, knowing you will run out of vines one day.

The screen cut to black… and it said she entered hospice three weeks after the runway show, and died a week after that.

She was on her eighth vine.

I’m on my seventh.

Which is why i don’t give a crap about pink bows and socks and parties anymore. I care about research, which will give me another vibe to cling to as I swing and burn above the lava.

I have had several fundraisers through Facebook for Metavivor. My friends have held fundraisers in my honor as well. I asked yesterday for a rough idea of how much we’ve all raised this year for Metavivor.

Over $16,000 in one year from all of us on Facebook.

$10,000 funds a lab for one month. We did almost two all by ourselves.

My little army of friends and family.

I’ve decided to switch my focus now.

My oncologist is working her tail off on several studies and trials that will benefit me directly.

Metavivor does a great job choosing studies to fund. But now? I’m taking control again.

Which is why from here on out, I’ll be transferring my fundraising focus to my oncologist. Dr Allison Stopeck is a rockstar. Brilliant. Dry. Hysterical. Compassionate. Passionate. Whenever you mention her name, peoples eyes in the cancer center glaze and they say…”Ooooo, she’s brilliant.”

I’ve been put in contact with someone with Stony Brook and will be discussing this with her today. The Riverhead Running Club set up a fundraiser for me, and we hit the goal in a week. They’ve added to the fundraiser, and next week is the run. As we all cheer on the riverhead varsity colors country girls at their meet, I’ll be handing out ribbons and hopefully raise more money for her research. I spoke with Nick Court’s mom, Tess. He donated a part of his gift from Kaits Angels to me. We’ve decided to pass it on and will add it to the amount I send to stony brook. He will help more than just me.

I’ll keep enough for six months worth of costs for my extra treatments and copays and supplements. My oxygen mask first… but then I’m giving to help me and others.

There may be something exciting happening next week , October 24, on the day I get another chemo, and I’ll keep you posted. Two students held an ice tea fundraiser yesterday and raised $110 for my doctor as pumpkin traffic went by their house.

I’m manifesting seeing me and my doctor and a check on my birthday, where I give HER a gift. It will be my three year anniversary of being told I had cancer, as my birthday is November 16 and I got the call the next day.

“Weeks, months, maybe a year or two.”

I’m at the end of year three. The data shows women survive 24-36 months on average.

Tick tick tick…

My birthday gift will be donating to her so she can find ways to treat me so I can get another birthday and another and many more after that.

Today is the comeback day.

Morgan wants to get jeans, as we haven’t really done school shopping. I’ll throw on my wig and we will have a nice morning. Then I’ll get ready for the day tomorrow and fill out paperwork.

I’ll finally fill out the death form from my union. I’m calling it the snowblower policy, and it’s like a snowblower… I’ll fill it out and it won’t happen, just like buying a snowblower and you get no snow. I’ve also been asked to take part in a research study with Mederi on outcomes with breast cancer patients, so that’s a bunch of forms as well. I’ll try to figure out how to teach a class on manifesting miracles and magic that people will want to come to and stay and begin to breathe again.

God knows we all need it.

I won’t look in any mirrors. Every time I do I want to cry. Although I appreciate all the support, every time I look on the mirror I see a woman who looks like she is dying. That’s not how I feel, and it shocks me every time. So I’m going back to how it was last fall when I was in quarantine in the stony brook burn center for five days, when I was only allowed to have a sponge on a stick for three days and no mirrors because of the shape I was in.

Remember that? Good times…

No mirrors unless I’m drawing on my fleek eyebrows or straightening my hair.

It’s just too hard and painful.

Thank you all for the support, and maybe I’ll be Voldemort, uncle fester, Brittney shears with the umbrella, the lady from doctor strange, or the guy from game of thrones some other Halloween.

May today be a comeback day for anyone who needs it. Control your breath, drink water, and walk in joy.

In Jesus’s name, amen.

Bald, Beauty, Bethel, Blessings

I was stripped bare yesterday.

Then I was moved.

I was a puddle and broken in the morning, and ended the day in victory.

I woke up, stood in my bathroom, and rob shaved all the rest of the what little hair I had left as I sobbed. He just keep going, and I don’t know how I was so blessed to have such a strong man. It was one of the hardest yet most loving moment we’ve ever had.

I looked in the mirror and cried even harder. I looked like my uncle Larry, at the end of his life, before the cancer stole him from us. I went into the detox bath and sent a picture to my family. My brother Rob always knows how to turn it around. When I said I looked like uncle Larry at the end, he said no…

I look like my dad at the beginning.

They went through the cancer war at the same time. Somehow, by some miracle, my dad lived.

So that’s the look I’m going for.

My poppa who was bald always said, “God only made so many perfect heads. The rest he covered with hair.”

Thank you, Poppa.

Quinn came into the bathroom to see me, and he was ok. The first thing he did was offer to shave his head. I told him he didn’t have to, but man, I love him for offering. He said I dont even have to wear a scarf now. It was the mangey dog look that was so scary.

I decided to put the picture out for everyone.

I’m not a victim.

I’m taking control, and women who showed their bald head and shared on social media gave me strength this past week. So I added my picture to their ranks, with a little help from a Snapchat eyelash filter. I figured it’s ok to get a little help.

I them spent the day on the couch resting. Claritin for bone pain from the neulasta.

A steroid to taper off from the emend drug for nausea.

Compazine for nausea.

Along with herbs and supplements and juices.

I started to eat again. It felt good to have some food in my stomach.

I was shocked to see a Boy Scout mom shave her head live on Facebook to raise money for Metavivor in my honor as well show support for two other friends. We all love this lady, Quinn especially. He couldn’t believe it, and neither could we.

My nieces softball team wore pink socks, but added teal and green shoelaces to their sneakers to make their look the Metavivor look. I sent the picture to one of the heads of Metavivor and she was so happy. The movement has begun.

The depth of love and support that has come from sharing this story is overwhelming at times.

Thank you, Silvi and Sky and Scott.

I packed my cooler and Eileen picked me up for the concert. It was just the two of us, as Johanna wasn’t feeling well. We drove in, and then the magic began.

As she parked, I went on line outside of Kings Theatre. The woman next to me struck up conversation, her husband joined her, and before I knew it, they laid hands on me and prayed for all the cancer to leave my body. It was beautiful.

The Eileen called, and we were given guest passes, skipped the line, and given special seating. The theatre was beyond amazing, and breathtaking. I’ve never even heard of it.

Then the music began.

Let me tell you… to be surrounded by young, old, black, white, men, women… all shouting and singing and raising their hands and dancing and being wide open and full of love and joy for Jesus is an experience you think would be weird…

But if you are looking for a miracle…

It fills yours soul.

I knew every single song.

They put up the lyrics so you can sing with them, and sing I did.

I danced.

I raised my arms.

I prayed out loud Over and over to be healed.

I declared the cancer leave my body, and Jesus to fill it with His healing light.

In the middle of the concert, the founder of Bethel Church and music came out to pray.

He prayed specifically for what Jesus put on his heart. Then he had everyone in the audience find someone who needed prayer and lay hands on them. Eileen was prayed over for Johanna, and kept a hand on my back. Two young girls in their twenties came over and laid hands on me and prayed like I’ve never been prayed over. I cried and cried and these two young beautiful strangers prayed for my healing and my life.

We hugged and hugged when he finished…

Then he said we would pray again.

A teacher from my district was there as well, and crystal and her friend came running over and hugged me and prayed over me.

Riverhead was in the house.

The concert began again and a man came and asked the girl in front of us to move and we had to move over. He said they needed to seats for someone special.

Then?

The man who started the church, Bill Johnson, who just led the venue in prayer sat right…in…front..of…me.

I left him alone, he stayed for a few songs, and when he got up to go backstage again, I touched his arm. He stopped and told him I was diagnosed stage four three years ago and by the grace of God I am still here. I had just had heavy chemo two days earlier and lost all my hair that morning. He looked at me, asked if cancer was still in my body, then asked to lay hands on me right then and there and pray.

The song about being moved and miracles happening was being sung all around me as this man pressed his hands on my head and arms and prayed as I cried.

Then, he left.

Eileen looked at me and we couldn’t believe it just happened.

Then we raised our hands and sang even louder.

The concert ended, and we got the book that was written by the man who is the worship leader, and also the son of the man who just prayed over me. “When God Became Real.” Brian Johnson went through a nervous breakdown, and he told his children as he went into the ambulance, that this is when God gets real.

And it’s true.

It’s when you are at your lowest, if you open your heart, God isn’t just this far away concept. Jesus isn’t just a man in the Bible, a storybook character.

If you believe, it’s real.

In John 21:25, John writes, “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”

We only know some of the highlights.

Just try to Imagine… how much good He did?

And think… He can still do it today.

I cling to that.

Every second, every breath.

He can still do miracles.

I dont know what is up with His timing though. I’m ready for it now.

Perhaps He still has more to teach me, so he is still carrying me down this road, stripping me even more bare, no hair, harder trials.

But he has me.

As we left the arena, we wanted to get our books signed. I saw a table, walked up and asked if it was where the signing would be…

And the person said, “Yes. You’re the first in line.”

That’s the kind of night it was.

Brian Johnson, the son of the founder, signed my book, saw the video of Johanna singing his song he and his wife wrote about his breakdown, and we left. “You’re gonna be ok” is one of the most beautiful songs you’ll ever hear.

Listen, this wasn’t just a woo woo concert. These people can sing. I think this was the best concert I’ve ever been to, hands…down.

Everyone was full of kindness and love. Everyone stood the whole time and sang and danced with no worries of being looked at. Everyone sang the right words because they put up the lyrics. The songs are all amazing, like what you would hear on the radio. Every young person should have THIS as their first concert.

It was that good.

We got into the car, I ate the eggs that I packed, took off my wig, and went to sleep once we hit the expressway.

I was so glad I went.

The name of the tour is the victory tour.

I was in the Kings Theatre.

I may be bald, but I am straightening my crown….

For I am a daughter of the King.

I am healed.

In Jesus’s name, amen.

Xoxo

Keri

*today is October 13. During the whole month of October… metastatic breast cancer gets one day. One freaking day. And of course its the 13th. So take a moment today and pray for all who have had, have. Or will have this disease. Then pray the research and healings happen soon.

Superhero Teacher School

Why did I go to work the day after chemo?

Because of this story.

I knew the kids in grades 1-4 wouldn’t blink an eye seeing me in a pink wig, as I wore wigs most of last year.

It’s my kinders this year that I was worried about.

They all walked in and stared. Some giggled, some asked what happened, and some looked at me like I was the most magnificent, beautiful and magical thing they have ever seen.

During writing workshop, I explained and wrote my story. Now, kindergartners are notorious copiers, and it takes imagination to write a story that no one can copy yet seems real. If I write, “I went apple picking yesterday,” suddenly the entire class went apple picking and got the same apples as me. If I said I went to Disney that weekend, I’ll get at least ten other stories saying they went to Disney. .

So yesterday I told my best story yet. I told them I went to Superhero teacher school. I even drew a brick building with no windows so no one can look in, with me doing the superhero pose outside the door. The Superhero pose is feet firmly planted, hands in fists and placed on hips, chest out, then look up to the right or left. There was actually a study that doing that pose before a task makes you more confident. We practiced the pose and I said that the pose was all I could teach them superhero school. Then I demonstrated my flying button and how if I press it, I can fly. My feet lift off the ground slowly, but I let go right before liftoff because rule number one is no flying during the day. I showed the my superhero tracker, which was the blinking green light machine on my arm so the superhero school knows my location. As for my hair, we need to change my disguise depending on my mission. Every night the superhero hair fairies will come and give me my superhero disguise for the day. I’ll never know what it is, but I hear there is purple hair, silver hair, red hair, mint hair, blonde hair, all sorts of hair.

I told them they can tell their family… but it’s a secret for everyone else. Only the kids who cone to school know about this secret superhero training I’m going through.

At lunch, my assistant principal texted me from the lunch room. Apparently my class all told him, “Mrs Stromski can FLY!!!”

Mission accomplished, friends.

I’m going to ace superhero teacher school, I think.

As the day went on, my face got redder and redder from the meds I got Thursday. I broke fast as I felt incredibly sick on the way home. I hadnt eaten since Tuesday, and had been mostly doing juice and water the week before anyway. My body needed some food fast. So I ran I to the deli before I got sick and ordered a sandwich. I’m not proud, but it was the best damn sandwich I’ve ever had. I’ll go back to eating well, but that sandwich was heaven, and my friend lisa who passed away in July was with me in spirit as I ate it on my couch.

I forgave myself.

All day long my friend Melanie sent me pictures from Washington DC. She participated in the die in, and she told me she thought of me and all my friends who have died as she laid on the front lawn along with 115 other allies and advocated for stage four. She also sent me pictures of so many other friends I’ve made who she met there. It’s a Small world if you make your heart big.

She has a huge heart, and I am so glad she is advocating for me and others.

Rob and my oncologist were in communication all afternoon about the tumor markers. Rob wanted clarification and waited until he knew he would be home for the rest of the night to tell me we got them. So after tennis, he laid down on the couch and showed me.

The dark place rushed in.

They rose drastically.

The dark place whispered, “It’s not working. Get ready to say goodbye. Look at yourself. You look like your dying.”

And it was true. More hair came out when I took off my wig and their were more bald spots. I had on a black scarf, and my face was flushed. The acid reflux was horrible all day, and the anti nausea drugs weren’t working.

But rob?

He came armed and prepared to slay the dark.

He showed me his emails back and forth with Dr Stopeck. I had been warned at the hospital that there can be a spike after the first cycle or so, due to tumor die off. I didnt expect such a large spike. But rob reminded me how soft my breast felt when Maureen examined me for Dr Stopeck, how my one breast was always burning and now it’s cooled off, how my liver pain has decreased and I can breathe deeper, and my nipple is no longer sucked into the breast.

I also sent the labs to my secret nurses and they all agreed it can be tumor die off.

He cleaned the tub for me and ran me a bath.

We figured I would keep on detoxing as much as possible.

I spent an hour and a half in the tub, and by the time I got out, I had to rinse off my body and the tub and unclog the drain.

Yup.

My little short hairs have almost all fallen off. I looked at myself in the mirror and gasped and cried. I look like a dog with mange.

I didnt want to go into the bedroom and have rob look at me. I cried as I walked in, sharing and in shock and embarrassed and mortified, and he just held me and told me I’m beautiful. He doesn’t care.

Truly.

Then kasha the wonder dog crawled up on his chest and looked at me too as I cried and we all held hands and breathed. He reminded me it is possible it’s tumor die off again. I read my new book on unbecoming and becoming and getting to know God again and again.

It talked about how storytellers are brave when talking through questions they have in life, questioning God out loud, sharing hard times, and telling the ugly and scary stories of their life as well as the beautiful.

Stories connect us.

Once you hear a story, it stays with you.

Thank you for carrying my story with you.

I’ve never even met a lot of you, or barely know you, but you want to stay for my story.

I love you all for that, and get so much strength from you and your stories I read. Every heart and like and comment I see carries me through the day.

Every single one.

There is so much ugly in this world.

You help make my world beautiful.

I’m working harder and harder on carrying Jesus with me… or letting Him carry me.

Some may wonder how can I keep such faith after everything I’ve been through?

Because faith is the light in the darkness. It lets you know that even though it’s so dark now, there is light coming. The darker the dark, the brighter the light will be when it shines on your face.

And it always is.

I’m going to ask for prayers today.

I know… I KNOW…. I am supposed to go to Brooklyn tonight for the Bethel concert. I prayed to God on Wednesday as I cried out in the shower with clumps of hair around me and as I listened to a worship song to one day be able to see them in concert. I didn’t tell anyone. The next morning I was offered a free ticket.

My friend Eileen is one of the most spiritual women I know. Her daughter Johanna and I are a bit like Elliot and ET. We both tend to go into the dark times at the same time together. She was just in the hospital again, and has had over 100 brain surgeries. Eileen said to pack a blanket and pillow, and she will drive us both in to this healing concert. She is a caregiver, and I won’t be embarrassed to sleep as she drives.

Come hell or high water, I’m going.

God wants me there.

I know I will be prayed over and filled with His healing.

I am a child of God, the daughter of a King, and He is within me.

It will be a total rest day until it’s time to go. My dad is going to the giving room to get some juices from Paula to help me detox my liver and build up my healthy cells.

Madison is at BLT for ROTC and is away all weekend, teaching young cadets the ropes.

Quinn keeps hugging me, and Morgan has made herself my nurse.

I may have told my kinders I’m going to superhero school… but the truth is, Rob is my superhero. He is doing this all by himself. I’m so thankful for him. I still can’t believe he chose me all those years ago.

Tonight I’ll be surrounded by the Word, by those who believe that Jesus still heals today, and that by His stripes I am healed as well.

In Jesus’s name, amen.

Xoxo

Keri

A Beautiful Chemo Day

If it’s possible to have a beautiful day when you get chemo…

I had it.

Every morning in the shower I listen to bethel music, hilltop. On Wednesday morning I was crying in the shower as clumps of hair came out and rob and I were say g it was the day to shave my hair. I put on a specific song for healing cancer, and it was a live version where they audience members were all laying hands on people and praying over them to be healed. I prayed to have that experience.

Yesterday morning, my friend Eileen messaged me she was gifted four tickets to a sold out concert in Brooklyn Saturday night and I can go with her.

Answered prayers.

We then dropped off the kids at school and headed to the echocardiogram. I had a moment where I realized I’m not crazy and felt validated. You see, every time a hot flash comes, it feels like a heart attack for me and panic. As I laid on the table, I watched my big beautiful heart pump. I played with my breath and did vagus nerve breathing and saw it go slow and steady. Then? I felt a hot flash coming. You know that line that goes straight and then has a little mountain every three inches or so? Mine went haywire. I told the tech I was having a hot flash and it would pass. I told her when it started to go away, and then the calm mountain pattern returned.

I’m not crazy, and yes, hot flashes are that bad.

She also had me sniff quick once or twice. She said it tests a specific part of the heart and sniffing actually strengthens it. I told her about what I learned in yoga class, and it’s called the kalabati breath. It’s also called the skull shining or ring of fire, where you take quick and forceful inhales and exhales. The physical benefits are too great to mention, but some are it releases toxins, improves digestion, strengthens your lungs, even helps to warm your body. It’s amazing, and I’ve signed up to teach a class at our superintendents conference day to my colleagues should they want to learn.

We had some time before my chemo spa chair appointment, so we went to Barnes and Nobles. Rob got breakfast and me a tea. I left him to eat since I’m fasting, and let Holy spirit walk me around. I always play this game, “What book do you want me to get today, Jesus?” It never fails that I end up in the same section of religion and spirituality. I touch books and one will jump out at me. This time four jumped out at me, and three (3!!!) were all of the same title. The word “Now” was in the title, and I knew that book was the one. I felt the word NOW in my heart as being important. I went back to rob, and we got a phone call that chair had opened up two hours earlier than scheduled, and I could go in.

Off we went to the cancer center.

I brought my homemade pumpkin bread and have some to the front desk ladies, then went to Dr Stopeck’s front desk. As I handed out pumpkin bread, everyone talked about my new wig. I noticed a woman walk by and stay near. As I started to walk up to the elevator, she stopped by and asked me about it. As it turns out, she was scared. She starts her very first chemo Tuesday, and only knew it starts with a T and a C. I asked if taxol and carboplatin sounded familiar and she said yes. I asked if it would be ok if I shared some tips. I told her all about the frozen peas and blueberries and science behind it, how to chew on ice chips, how to drink water like it’s Your job, if they offer a port, don’t be afraid, and get one good wig from wig allure but then don’t be afraid to shop Amazon and get some good cheap one for under $40. I told her the name of my website and she asked if I was a Christian. I said yes. She said she prayed to God to find someone who could talk to her about this and her I was, giving her my contact information and tips.

Had my appointment not been moved up, had I not stopped at the front desk first, she would have never walked by me at the exact moment I was talking about my wig.

God put her in the path she prayed for, and put me where I was needed.

I went up to the infusion area and everyone got pumpkin bread. I was hugged by everyone . To tell the truth, it’s not a bad place to go. These people have become like family.

They all saw the article and one by one, nurses would pop in and tell me how they agreed with everything. One said the hospital encourages them to take part in breast cancer walks this month. I said they should do their own for Dr Stopeck and their breast cancer research. I’ve been put in contact with someone and may help them the hospital out.

They all wore my Metavivor ribbons and bracelets as well to help spread awareness.

This time was a little different with the chemo. I felt more “jazzier and hyped up”. It was the steroids but I didnt remember that from last time, so I worked on my breathing and talked to my nanny in my heart. I asked her to be with me. Every time I do that, I hear the words, “we’ve got you , Doll”. It’s comforting, and helps me know the love lives on, even when they are gone.

My nurse suited up as she pushed the adriomycin, and it’s always strange to see someone in full protective gear covering their body and hands and holding a big yellow bag with the words “TOXIC” getting prepared to inject you slowly with what is inside.

It truly looks like red apple hard candy liquid,

So I pretend its all sugar and the gremlin cancer cells raging on crack in my body are going to town on it as my healthy cells lay and moan, “were starving, save some for us!” But the cancer gremlin cells on crack shout, “Suck it, bitches! It’s all ours”. Then today the cancer gremlins on crack cells are hungover like a night out in town and whither away like the wicked witch from the west after taking the ice bucket challenge two days later, while I begin to eat healthy again.

We got preliminary results from the echocardiogram and got great news. The left ventricle is supposed to pump at something like fifty three percent for normal normals of some measurement. Mine was 61%.

They were thrilled and said it’s a strong heart .

My white blood cells were above six.

It’s been YEARS since that.

My liver function number also are teetering in normal range.

Today I get tumor marker results.

I’ve been warned it may go up signaling tumor die off.

The third cycle will tell the tale.

Maureen came from Dr Stopeck’s office to do a bedside exam. She said they all loved my bread. She closed the curtain and I asked her to feel my breast. She said it definitely felt softer and the big hard tumor felt more like it had broken up. It was a good feel.

I hugged my nurses goodbye, and we went home.

I took off my wig and gasped. There were more bald spots, like a dog with mange. Quinn walked in from the bus and took one look and I knew. He was scared.

So I took him by the hand and said I cant wear wigs all the time, but I have a whole bag of hats and scarves. Would he rather i would those when home? He said looking at me like this makes him uncomfortable. So off we went and found the bag of accessories I never used last year. I shaved my head because it was all falling out, bet it never went totally bald. This time is different. We sat and looked through them. He picked a long flowing one with flowers, but my scalp needed softness because it hurts. Rob talked him

Into letting me wear a black cotton one.

Maddie watched.

When Quinn left, she said she gets it, because for the first time ever I actually looked like a real cancer patient mom.

It broke my heart, but I am so proud they can talk honestly with me.

Then I went to a Kaits angels event with MaryAnne the Medium. (Go ahead and skip this paragraph, judgy Christians.)

I got to meet board members who voted to have me be the recipient of the yard sale and hug and cry and thank them. I hugged darla, and it’s like hugging an angel on earth.

Then it began.

Listen, all my hope and faith is in Jesus. But he gifted the apostles with powers. Do you think he actually stopped with them? Do you think he can’t still gift people with powers?

I know he can.

She would walk right up to a person and say their name. She would know months of birthdays. She would say phrases the loved ones passed through her and bring comfort to all who she touched with her gift.

I went alone, and realized the room was full of people I knew and loved.

Then?

It happened.

I had said in my mind to my Namny to have Maryann come to me. She said , “We’ve for you doll”.

She walked right over to me. She knows me a little and has heard my story, so I’m sure she finds it difficult to come to those she knows of. However…

It was perfect.

She said there was so much white light around me she didn’t even know where to start. She said I am surrounded by angels and archangels, and asked if I call on them. I do. I am always talking to my nan and pop along with Jesus and Mary.

She said she had someone step forward.

My mother’s mother.

On the way to the event, I told my mom on the phone that I talk to nanny all the time and just wanted to hear from her.

Nanny said through Maryann that she was with me all the time, and had her hand on my arm today.

I felt it during chemo.

Thank you Nanny.

She said I need to cleanse and save my crystals. That I’m not sleeping well and need more. That I’ve been thinking of a meditation space and need to make it. I had just asked rob about turning tomcat joes room into my space. She said they were saying that doctors will be going through my charts and the past… but I meed to stay in the now. She said the word now over and over and said that word was important and spirit wanted me to know that.

I said messaged received. I had just bought three books with the word now that day.

She said I was doing great and stay on the path.

Then she left, and I wished I taped it because I may have missed some.

But nanny came through.

She always does.

After the event, I finally met the mother of Nick Coutts. Another angel on earth. We discussed so much so quickly. She said they wanted to give me all the money raised for him. I said how uncomfortable I am with that. So we decided together that the money he donated to me will go to Dr Stopeck and her research. It will help me AND countless other lives.

She is a force.

God is surrounding me with powerful people.

I came home and Rob ran a bath for me for detox.

I’m in another one now, then throwing on a wig and going to school.

Which wig?

The pink one of course.

It’s PINK week in kindergarten.

I figure it’s a great way to introduce how I’m in superhero school at night. The neulasta machine implanted on my arm is my tracker. My port is my magic flying button.

My wigs are my disguises.

I finally applies for the free housekeeping everyone keeps sending. I’ve been denied as there are no housecleaners in the area. That’s ok. I would probably my clean before then get here anyway!

I also got a new wig, and a message from another stranger that my blog is helping her.

So that’s my story how a chemo day can be a thing of beauty and magic.

May today be a day of beauty and magic and answered prayers as well.

In Jesus’s name. Amen.

Xoxo

Keri