Happy Thanksgiving

Three years ago on thanksgiving I went onto my back deck by myself and cried, saying over and over, “Just give me time… more time… more time.”

I didnt even know it was stage four, we simply thought I would have a rough year ahead…

But deep down I knew.

If you would have told me that I would still be here, three years, eight treatments, three biopsies, multiple mets later…

I would have gladly taken the deal.

Despite what I’ve been given in regards to cancer, I’ve been given so much more in regards to life.

I’ve seen Maddie learn how to drive a car, perform on stage, continue to win awards.

I’ve seen Morgan become her own person and step out of her sister’s shadow.

I’ve seen Quinn grow from a little boy to a kind young tween, who still runs to me for quick snuggles.

I’ve continued to teach, and have taught over sixty children how to read in the past three years.

I’ve made more friends, and have friends become lifelines.

My parents have continued to support us emotionally and whatever we need, they do. They make sure my kids are loved.

My colleagues have taken care of me and my children. Not only in regards to education, but making sure we are ok.

I’m still married to a man who holds it all together for us.

It’s easy to get caught up in the pity party I had going yesterday. Anemia is no joke, and I had to keep sitting down and resting all day. I drank a bunch of green juice, are some kale, had some eggs, laid on the couch a lot, and cried at how this has become my life.

But then I thought back to when I was on my back deck three years ago, looking in the window at my kids and rob and crying and pleading…

“Just give me time… just give me time…”

I’m not going to wonder and worry today if I will be here next thanksgiving.

Instead I’m going to be thankful that I’m here THIS Thanksgiving… and be grateful for all the love I’ve been given and the life I’ve been able to live.

May it continue for years and years to come.

In Jesus’s name, amen.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends.


Doxil Round #1 and my Ed McMahon Moment

Yesterday was much longer than expected.

I ran into school to grab by report card assessments, thinking I would begin reviewing all of the assessments at the hospital. I also typed up my newsletter. Then I ran to robs office and off we went.

The cancer center was packed.

Think about that sentence for a second.

After three years, you pretty much know every nurse and receptionist, so I got a lot of hugs. I saw a woman I met two months ago who was anxious about starting chemo. We talked and I exchanged information, and have sent her tips along the way. I saw her yesterday and she looked great. She even went to Disney for three days. I should take my own advice. Ha!. They were backed up but got me right in to get my port accessed in the nick of time so I could run downstairs to present the check.

We went to the administration office and my doctor met me there. They said she has become the most requested doctor since my blog has come out. We took some pictures, and I handed over the checks. It’s actually more than $11,000 and still climbing. Dr Stopeck introduced me to one of her colleagues who she is conducting research with, and they are working hard on an immunotherapy for Er/Pr positive that may someday be for me. They were so thankful for everyone’s help.

We went into the exam room and discussed next steps. We didn’t get into MRI details. This is a huge change for me. I used to pore over the scan reports and stop breathing. I would check my patient portal relentlessly until the report would be uploaded. This time I decided to wait, and trust my belief over the paper that I am going to be fine. I’ll have to open it today though, as Donnie will want me to send it to him.

I’ve been keeping a secret, because I was scared if I said it that it would be true. I’ve been afraid I have been going into heart failure. My heart is always pounding, my chest

Is tight, and I get winded easily. Climbing stairs can wipe me out. I mentioned it to my

Doctor and she said it’s due to anemia. My

Red blood cells are very low. She said we will have to watch me and may have to take action. I’ll try to eat more iron rich foods and raise it on my own.

She said the scans couldn’t have been better, and I said they could have… the cancer could have been all gone.

She agreed.

We discussed the doxil and she is hopeful

It will work as well. It’s a longer circulating drug, which means it will stay in the body longer. When she said it will be once every four weeks I cried. Do you know what that means for me? I only have to go once a month to the hospital and be a cancer patient.

We went over side effects. She said to keep ice on my hands and feet and keep them

Cold. Stay away from heat and don’t take hot baths or showers, as it will affect my extremities. The good thing is I won’t need neulasta, and nausea shouldn’t be a problem. She also said my hair should start to grow back. We did a breast exam and the tumors there may be shrinking as well. She ordered me antibiotics for the cold and cough should I need it over the break.

She thanked us again for the donation. We had a nice moment where she explained why she became an oncologist, and it wasn’t because of the science, even though she is brilliant with it. She said it was because of the patients. They work with her and want to live so badly. They become a team.

And we are a team.

I told her that although she only sees rob and I every time, that she needs to know she is loved all over the north fork of Long Island and beyond by so many of our friends and family, and that this Thanksgiving we are thankful for her.

Then we went up to the infusion center for the chemo. It took a lot longer than we expected.

I was talking to the nurse as he administered my pre-drugs through the IV and suddenly my

Mouth had a weird taste as well as my throat. Then my eyes started darting all over and I felt instantly woozy/out of it. I asked what is was and he said IV Benadryl. He said the reaction was normal and most people fall asleep in a few minutes. It got worse and worse as he pushed it in, and he said it may be decreased next time if they see there isn’t an allergic reaction to the doxil.

There is a page on Instagram called “The Cancer Patient” which has sick and twisted memes made by someone who has cancer. It’s hysterical, and there have always been memes about Benadryl which I never understood.

Now i do.

So much for report cards while I got chemo.

The doxil is a sister drug of adriomycin and red, except it gets hung in an IV bag instead of pushed directly in by syringes. It was supposed to be an hour infusion but orders were changed to an hour and a half.

The nurse kept coming in to check on me and was shocked I was still awake. He said everyone falls asleep after the Benadryl. Apparently I would need the horse size dose to sleep through it.

We finished at three, and I ran to see a dear friend quick who was in the hospital. If you think I’m a miracle… you should meet her.

When I was first diagnosed she gave me a little gift that said “expect miracles”, and I have ever since.

I then went to cranio sacral therapy, and it was amazing. I had to ask for the heated table to be shut off which made me sad as it is my favorite thing. For the next hour my head was worked on and I felt like I was in a twilight zone, floating through space. It was almost a dream state, and as I was floating in the blackness I head a voice tell me to talk to my seven year old self and tell her the secrets of this life.

And then I saw myself, at seven.

When we were done, I didn’t remember what i told the seven year old Keri, and didn’t know if that was God, the therapy or the Benadryl.

I got home at 5:30, and had some soup as I’m on a fast again.

Then I pulled out all of my kindergarten assessments and poured over every test and writing piece and wrote my notes.

At ten o’clock I went to bed…

And was up and wired.

I listened to several guided meditations and finally fell asleep around twelve with my heart pounding.

Up at 4.

Thank God we have off tomorrow.

I usually host thanksgiving, but my sister weeks ago said she would do it and take care of my family so we could rest. Yesterday we finalized plans with robs family and his parents will bring donuts and bagels for breakfast so now we know our day. I spoke to my sister and we will go to her house at 4 and be surrounded by love. Quinn keeps saying how excited he is to be with Aunt Jill and the sprites because they have cared for him so much during the cancer and make special memories with him. Just spending time with him means so much, and he is old enough to appreciate people who show over and over they care.

I love that.

Thank God for my family. They have taken care of me and rob and our kids every step of the way.

Today is pajama day, and I’m treating the class to a movie and I’m picking up munchkins to surprise them. We’ve all worked hard the first trimester and deserve a treat.

Then I’m meeting my sister and my sprites to see frozen tonight at 6:45 to kick off the holiday break, then it’s rest, rest, rest.

I’m hoping to finish report cards before thanksgiving so I have one more thing to be thankful for.


I said it was a long day.

May today be calm, fruitful, productive and healing.

In Jesus’s name, Amen.



Hockey Fights Cancer and A Chorus Line

Rob and I had a great breakfast with his best friend from college and his wife. They are the kind of friends you can sit down with and just pick up laughing where you left off. As it always happens, we say we need to make time to get together more. We hope to see them again soon.

We drove home, picked up the kids, and then I slept on the couch. Soon it was curtain time for the play. Rob and I looked onstage and couldn’t believe it was our girl up there. It was a great play, the kids are amazing, and we were so proud.

Today is your final chance to see the play at 2:00 pm. Go support the arts!

My brother rob sent me a text and surprised me with a bunch of pictures of hockey player jerseys. We have always been NY Islander fans. He just moved to North Carolina and it took me a minute or two to see what he was doing. I thought he was showing me jerseys he was buying and was now a Carolina Hurricanes fan.

It turns out, last night was a huge cancer event, and season ticket holders had the opportunity to submit names to be placed on the player’s jerseys. The jerseys will be auctioned off and the money raised will be used to support cancer patients. As we looked at the jerseys, we noticed my name was on one of them twice… my maiden name and my married name. My brother rob said he only submitted my married name, and had no clue who submitted my maiden name.

What are the odds my name was on jersey #88 twice?

It was a nice way to end the evening, and the player who wore that jersey even scored.

Today I rest some more, see Madison in the last performance, then get ready for tomorrow.

I’ll head to the hospital, have my port accessed, labs drawn, present a check for $11,000 to Dr Stopeck for all of the money raised for her research last month, then get the brand new chemo.

I’m praying today for the cold and cough to leave my body, the anxiety about chemo to leave, madison to have a great show, and for us all to have a restful day.

In Jesus’s name, amen.



Mederi, The Movie, The Benefit… and Unicorns

There are no words for last night.

But I’ll try.

I taught in the morning, then ran to Quinn’s school to meet him for lunch. He beamed from ear to ear the whole time. He ate lunch, showed me his computer spot, gave me a tour of the library, then we went into the “maker space” his librarian created, where it’s full of all different craft materials and items to make whatever you want. It was the best half hour all week.

Then rob and I caught the ferry to Connecticut and checked into the hotel. It’s a beautiful hotel, and I was able to rest for an hour before leaving for the event and to meet Donnie Yance. I packed three wigs and ended up wearing the brown one. I had a small pity party of knowing everyone would know I was wearing a wig, as they would see the movie with me and short blond hair, then there I would be, in long brown hair.

But I would be there, which is the main thing.

We walked in to the venue and there he was.

Donnie Yance.

The man who has been helping me to thrive through cancer.

He didn’t recognize me, but when I said my name, his face lit up and we hugged.

I cried.

Then he hugged rob.

That’s how you know he is special….

Rob doesn’t give out hugs to just anyone.

Immediately the brilliant mind of Donnie came out and he discussed my latest scan and next plan of treatment without skipping a beat. He is excited for me to stop the Adriomycin and cytoxin and switch to doxil. He gave a lot of credit to Dr Stopeck, saying not many oncologists would do what she is doing. He said that doxil will be less toxic and is similar to adriomycin, but where adriomycin really attacks the whole body along with the cancer, doxil will be more targeted to the cancer and easier on my body. He mentioned a specific blood test to check on heart function, as all of these medicine damage the heart, but he said that his clients don’t have those issues.

The man is a genius.

We then met his wife, Jennifer, who helps run Mederi. I hugged her and cried again. These people are just the most loving people you can ever meet. Some of the staff flew in, and jennifer brought them over to me. They said they all sat together last week and watched the movie. They all loved it. I gave everyone hugs to bring back to Erin, who is my contact person. She is my North Star at Mederi, and keeps guiding me back to Hope whenever I need it.

As rob and I sat there, an older gentlemen came over and said Jennifer asked him to come see me. He put the sign of the cross on my forehead, and said he will be praying for me.

As we spoke further, rob and I realized something.

One or two phone conferences ago, Donnie mentioned he has been helping a man in Canada who has been living with stage four cancer for over twenty five years. Donnie said he has never been able to get him to NED, (no evidence of disease), but he has been thriving and living with the cancer the whole time, and is the priest of one of the largest churches in Canada.

There have been many nights where I’ve been crying and scared and rob would say, “Keri, remember the priest in Canada… 25 years!”

Last night…

I met the priest.

It’s one thing to hear about a miracle man like that…

It’s another thing to meet him and have him put the sign of the cross on your head.

We laughed about the taste of the special smoothie Donnie has in the protocol, the amount of pills, and how brilliant he is. The priest said that Donnie isn’t God, but has been blessed by God and given this gift, this passion to heal people.


The event began and Jennifer kicked off the night. She is just amazing and the work she and Donnie and the staff do is life changing.

The opening act was a comedian who made us laugh. Jeffery Gurian . He was the emcee of the night and has worked with some of the greatest minds in the comedic world.

The next act was Donnie, who is a talented musician. He is a composer and plays the bass guitar. He came out on stage and blew rob and I away. Just when we thought he couldn’t get any cooler.

Then it was time for the movie debut at the benefit. It was surreal having myself up on their big screens telling my story. When the lights came up, jennifer took my hand and she and Donnie brought rob and I up on stage. I thanked everyone there for their support and thanked Donnie and the Mederi center . I told them all that in just the past two hours I had another person sent to me and had also sent information along to an old friend. I said God didn’t give me the cancer, but He put people in my life to help me live with it and thrive through it.

The movie has been uploaded to YouTube and has already been viewed over two thousand times. My hope is that by telling my story, others realize their story doesn’t have to be what a doctor tells them it will be, or end in a certain time frame.

(Here is the link, you can go to YouTube, type in “Mederi center” and look for the “Thats Not Your Story” video.)

The rest of the night I had people coming up to me who are also Mederi clients and told me they are on similar protocols and thriving.

It’s amazing.

I was with my people.

It takes a huge leap of faith to take this route.

Some people only do traditional medicine.

Some only do alternative.

I’m doing both, and everyone should do what their gut tells them.

But to me, this makes the most sense. Do everything I can to support my body as it takes the medicine that attacks the cancer.

The proof is in the patient, and here I am, three years after being told I only had weeks or months, maybe a year or two.

Being around others who are doing the same thing validated every decision rob and I have made.

I’ve felt all alone in this journey a lot, and it’s been surreal, being told I’m a miracle…

almost like a unicorn.

Last night I was surrounded by unicorns.

I texted Kym, who was in the movie with me, and she had a friend at the event who came and introduced herself to me. She also uses Donnie and we sent Kym a selfie.

I also texted Jared, the filmaker. I thanked him for telling my story in such a beautiful way. In two short days he captured the essence of my family and my life. We all miss him and hope to someday have him do the sequel…

“Forty Years Later”.

The concert continued with Roberta gambarini, and her voice was like silk. She was amazing.

The main act came on stage and Gino Vannelli puts on a great show. It was an intimate concert and he told us some beautiful stories. He sounds just like he does on the radio.

It was a great night, and as we left, Donnie spoke to us again about the upcoming treatment.

I ended my week full of hope.

It was a long week, and I was exhausted headed into the night.

The liver MRI, getting the results that the tumors are shrinking, being anxious about the new chemo, recovering from the last heavy dose last week, dealing with a cold and cough, cooking with kindergarten and the big feast, late night rehearsals and driving back and forth with Maddie, finishing assessments so I can start report cards this week, and then traveling last night for the gala/benefit.

But I’m here.

Madison had her opening night and my parents said she did great. I cannot wait to see her tonight. I saw some videos and still cannot believe my girl tried out for “A Chorus Line” and got a part, sang, danced, and wore glittery clothes. She continually surprises me.

The girls got their report cards and blew us away. I’m not the only one thriving in the Riverhead Central School District. We are so proud of our kids.

Today we are hoping to have breakfast with one of Rob’s best friends and his wife who live nearby, then head home. I’ll rest all day and then go see the show.

I’ll fill up my pill bags for next week, think about the priest from Canada, and give thanks to God for all of the people He has brought into my life.

May today be a restful and healing day.

In Jesus’s name, amen.

Cortaca 2019 and Three Year Cancerversary

I had the BEST birthday yesterday.

For soooooo many reasons.

Reason #1- I was alive. Today is the three year anniversary of the phone call I got when I dropped off my kinders to art, and the words, “You have cancer”. Three years of continuous chemo, doctors appointments, spine biopsy, breast biopsy, liver biopsy, port surgery, appendix removal, injections. BUT…

I’m still here. Here’s to 47 years of thriving. May the 48th year of life be healing.

Reason #2-I cried on and off all the way in to the stadium. My mouth hurt, my hands and feet hurt and are cracked, and I’m exhausted. I was embarrassed I would see people I havent seen in years and didn’t have eyebrows or full eyelashes or hair and was bloated and tired. BUT…

Rob said they didn’t care, they just wanted to see me. And it was true.

Reason #3- the kindness of Trish and Gerry. Trish was my sorority sister in cortland and we’ve reconnected. She married Gerry, a guy I knew from waaaaay back when, who was then a teacher in my district, then went to administration and is now a superintendent in shoreham. I love them. Trish decided to buy a block of tickets last year for the cortaca game, because she had total faith I would be here, and she wanted me to be surrounded by sisters and love on my birthday. She and Gerry also gifted me a hotel room so I could rest and sleep if needed. Then?

The shoreham girls soccer team made states.. and played in Cortland yesterday. Oh, the irony. All of cortland was in MetLife and the whole day Trish planned for me? She was in cortland. Shoreham parents? You have a gem of a superintendent, and his wife is a light in my life. (Shoreham girls won… so I cant be too mad! Go girls!)

Reason #4- my friend beth flew in from Illinois to be at the game. I was diagnosed with cancer, then one year later? Beth was diagnosed as well. She is now two years out from her treatments and seeing her made my heart so happy. We hugged for about a minute. Our hearts had to beat next to each other to say,”You made it…

Keep going.” I had a core group of girls in college…Steph, Sharon, Sarah, Beth. The five of us stayed together and always made sure to see each other through the years. It’s been seven years since we last saw each other. That’s the thing when you have kids. You get sucked into the mom life and forget who you are other than mom. As they get older, you find yourself again. Yesterday we found ourselves and remembered who we are.

Reason #5- cell phones. No one had plans for a meeting spot. How would we all find each other? Our cells were our beacons, and parking lot numbers and letters were flying all day. Cell phones were whipped out for pictures. I have so many pictures and they will make me smile for years to come!

Reason #6- Phi Sigma Sigma. I was part of a group of girls who started a sorority in Cortland. We didn’t want hazing. So we founded a national sorority and had over ninety girls begin this journey. Because of that, we had years of laughter and tears, connections, sisterhood. The sorority continued for years after we left. It wasn’t easy to start a sorority and we had tests and paperwork and meetings. But because we did, so many other women were able to meet and become family. Yesterday? I met women who became sisters years after I left, and they are

Awesome. They are exactly who we envisioned our sorority to be represented by. I was the pledge mom of the Gamma class, 27 girls who I ushered in to the sisterhood.

Yesterday I saw founders, my little, others in my family line… girls I’ve only communicated with on Facebook in our group.

And I love them all.

I love you so, phi sigma sigma

Until eternity.

Reason #7-Pi Kappa Phi was one of many fraternities we had socials with. These guys were my guys. I even won the Queen of the Roses on my birthday one year at a fundraiser they had. They were the gentlemen, and the fun ones. I loved all of them. Yesterday they had an area for tailgating and we found them. It was like a mixer from the early nineties. I cried and hugged them all, and laughed and just loved them. Poor rob was the only husband who came in my group. But these guys? They all talked to him. I love my Pi Kaps.

Reason #8- Shea Hall was represented. I looked up near the end and my friend Caroline, who I havent seen in 26 years was standing over me. She recognized rob, and came over. Apparently others were there too, and I missed them, but man… it was so good to see her.

Reason #9- I got to see my friend Brett who is an amazing man and a colonel in the army. I’ve prayed for his safety and seeing him made me so proud!! Through him I reconnected with another old RA from Shea yesterday. Connections…

Reason #10- Rob. For so many reasons. He doesn’t like social media. Stays away from it. Yesterday? He was one of the most recognized people ever. People told him how much they love him because of how much he loves me. One sister said rob is her best friend but doesn’t know it. People may not have been able to recognize me, but they saw rob and knew then that I would be nearby. He got so many hugs from my sisters. He met my pi kaps. He heard stories about me and learned about the “Keri before rob.” I always told him I was a good girl all through college and yesterday he heard it. My friend kittles said I told the dirtiest jokes but was the most innocent girl, and we laughed and laughed. He watched over me all day and made sure i was ok. Best…husband…ever.

Reason #11- my parents and kids had a great day together. Maddie got her SAT score and blew us away again. Thank you, Riverhead!! They all called me in the morning and I ended my night on the phone with them. I am blessed.

Reason #12- ALL OF YOU!!! My phone was full of texts, posts, comments, messages of love. It was overwhelming. People from my childhood, valley stream, cortland, riverhead. If love alone could cure cancer, it would all have been gone yesterday for sure. I love each and every one of you.


Reason #13- I’ve been told it’s official. I’m receiving the very first ever advocacy award at the north fork breast health coalition gala. Save the date. It’s the award I never ever would have wanted, but am honored to receive. Quinn said the other day in the car that he feels God is using me to help people, and he wishes I never got the cancer but is glad God is using me to help people with cancer. I hope it’s true. So save the date, and come celebrate with me. I’ll be there.

Today we will get up, eat and then travel home. I’ll celebrate my birthday with my family. I’ll give thanks for all of the people in this world who spread love and light and joy. And I’ll remember all of the hugs and love I got yesterday.

It will carry me through this week.

It’s the three year cancerversary today…and I’m



Thank you for this life, my friends, my job, my district, my town, my college, my cancer team, my family.

May I continue to thrive for years and years to come!

In Jesus’s name, amen.




It’s my birthday.

I was told I wouldn’t see this day… this age.

I’m not taking it for granted.

Yesterday started off beautifully, as a local police officer bought me breakfast. I got some hugs and it was a beautiful way to start the day.

My class all made me sweet homemade cards and I got hugs all day long. We sang in English, Spanish and polish, and my assistant brought in cupcakes. I even got some little trinkets and gifts and a teddy bear.

When some who have so little give you something , it means so much more. A new friend dropped off some beautiful bracelets. I even got a Starbucks gift card emailed to me.

I came home and got ready for a night out. Renowned pastry chef Claudia Fleming rereleased her book, and she is a talented dessert chef. She entered my world through Paula, and last night was a beautiful night to celebrate her accomplishments.

And yes, I ate every single bite of every single fancy dessert, and even got a take home box.

Life is for living.

Once again I spent the day shaking my head at the actions of some… and yes, shaking my head. I don’t understand what people are thinking. Period.

But it’s also always amazing to me how teachers are blasted all the time in social media at the actions of one or two, and the blood sport that occurs when some in the profession make horrible decisions and do horrible things.

Suddenly all teachers make too much money, shame on teachers who leave when their contractual time is over and they leave work when their day is done instead of staying late to please the angry mob, other teachers are named from past history and discussed in horrible terms by former students and can’t defend themselves by giving their side of the story.

All while so many teachers are working and giving 110%.

We wonder why there is a teacher shortage.

Watch the comments and what people write.

You’ll see inside their souls.

Remember that when they decide to run for BOE, and see if you really want someone who lives to tear apart other people on social media in charge of your children, or watch how they speak in public meetings and imagine them speaking to you and if you would want them addressing you when you have an issue.

I know I dont.

I want people who care about ALL children, and whose own lives reflect that.

I want people who walk the walk and not just talk the talk.

I want people who would rather help build people up over tearing people down.

I want people who know how to act like grown ups and have civil discussions to solve problems without stooping to insults and comments about physical appearance or googling people’s histories and writing them in private groups where people are banned.

I want decorum to make a comeback, and gentlemen to act like gentlemen, especially when disagreeing with women. It goes both ways too…

Once again I’m holding everyone in prayer.

It just doesn’t seem to stop lately.

I’m glad we no longer have arenas and throw people to the lions. I know exactly who would want front row seats.

Perhaps that’s what turning 47 brings when you’ve been given a terminal prognosis.

More grace.

More strength to speak up.

Today I’ll be heading to MetLife stadium for the cortaca game. I’m anxious as my hands and feet and mouth started bothering me yesterday and last night. It supposed to be very cold, so I’ll bundle up.

My parents have my kids, and they chose to sleep there last night as well as tonight. My parents have been there every single step for them, and my kids know how much they are loved. They are looking forward to a day of cuddle time and old English mysteries and tea. Knowing my kids are with my parents is a beautiful gift for my birthday in and of itself.

I saw an article last night about a successful liver transplant for someone with liver Mets. I almost cried.

I’m praying I live to see 48… 58… 68… 78.

If you look at statistics, it’s not likely.

But I’m a statistic of one.

And like Hans Solo said, “Never tell me the odds”.

I think about all I’ve learned and continue to learn through this cancer pilgrimage to healing.

I learned this year that God isn’t a vengeful god only found in a church, and that men holding bibles have no right to hijack Jesus.

I learned God is a loving and merciful God, and communion isn’t for the perfect.

I learned what family means.

I learned that “winning” doesn’t matter, and sometimes you stop playing the game because inner peace matters more than some imaginary hurtful score.

I learned that no matter how many times you tell your side of the story, some people don’t care or want to know the truth. So knowing the truth yourself is what matters most.

Knowing you matter… matters most.

I used to want things for my birthday.

Now I just want peace… and more birthdays.

I used to be afraid to cry to show weakness. Now I cry and knows it shows strength and healing.

I learned that “thank you” isn’t just a polite response, but also a powerful prayer.

I learned that no matter what you are facing, no matter how dark your day may look, there is always something to be thankful for.


I learned that angry people aren’t just jerks, but also hurt, because hurt people hurt others to feel better about themselves. So we pray for them to heal and be kind… and stop being jerks.

I learned that there are two types of people, those who stir the pot and criticize, and those too busy serving others to bother with the pot stirrers. Do you hit people with the spoon or serve others with the spoon?

Give me action people and kind people. Those are my people.

I learned that I’ll do anything to live, but keep joy at the forefront.

We don’t live at the expense of joy.

I learned how good it feels to raise money for research so not only will I be helped, but countless others. And I learned how generous this amazing community can be. Forget the angry people behind the keyboards and get out and meet the people actually doing good.

There are so many more than you think.

I learned my children continue to amaze me, and although I’m working through some really crappy cards in this game of life, I’ve got my four hearts in my hand.

My kids and rob.

I’ve learned how much marriage vows mean, and how important it is to choose someone who takes them seriously.

I’ve learned I can be bald, bloated, no eyelashes, nauseous, in pain everywhere, and rob can still make me feel beautiful.

I’ve learned how much I want to live a long life, and how precious every breath is.

So today…

I’m not asking for money for fundraisers in honor of my birthday. (Although ann fonfa and the annie Appleseed foundation, the stony brook foundation, Mederi center all are good places…).

Instead I’m asking that in honor of my birthday…

Be kind.


Take a minute and say “Thank you” for all of your blessings.

Hug someone… and make it a little longer.

Say a prayer for me and my wish to live to see more days.

Say a prayer for this town and district that I love, that the mean spirited people quiet down and the kind people step up to fix all of the issues and problems with grace and dignity for all.

Give love…

And BE love.

Here’s to forty more years…

In Jesus’s name, amen.



Marking Time

Three years ago today, I was on a table having sections of tumors sucked out into a core needle biopsy syringe. It was painful as the lidocaine didn’t work, we had to keep stopping as I screamed and cried, but the nurse had soft hands. It was the surgeons birthday the next day, same as me. I remember asking if she could show me all the samples so i could pray over them, and when she showed me, she had sad eyes.

That’s when I knew.

I both hate and love this weekend. Tomorrow is my birthday, and I know how lucky I am to be alive. It’s also the beginning of the anniversaries.

The biopsy on 11/15.

My birthday on 11/16.

The phone call telling me it was cancer on 11/17.

The oncologist telling me the pet scan lit up on 11/28.

The spinal biopsy on 12/15.

Being told terminal on 12/21.

My life is separated into two parts.

BC or before cancer.

AC or after cancer.

I had a frustrating day yesterday, as once again my assistant was pulled. We have a teacher shortage and it’s impossible to keep a program running smoothly when your assistant is pulled. Add on trying to prep for thanksgiving and assessments and report cards…but we do it and just have work harder.

No one works harder than kindergarten teachers… period.

When I was a young teacher, it was near impossible to even get a sub job. Now? We are constantly short. People who couldn’t get hired moved on to other jobs. After the whole common core debacle, enrollment in teacher programs dropped drastically. We will have a shortage soon. Add on all of the retirement buyouts and districts trying to unload seasoned teachers to lessen their budget bottom line, and you’re going to have trouble. Who will mentor the new teachers?

I also got pulled for training for another new program. Programs written by researchers and not teachers. Which means the teachers are spending time trying to fill in the gaps and make it age appropriate, while being told what to do by people who have never walked the walk.

I would never go into my oncologists office and tell her how to run her research facility. I support her and back it up with action.

If only that was the way everywhere.

To top off the day, I came home and saw that my friend Rosie died. On December 24, 2016, three days after being told it was terminal, Rosie reached out. I was frantic for hope stories, and Rosie gave me her number. We spoke on the phone and she was so full of information and hope. She was just what I needed. She was frustrated trying to navigate new doctors as she had just moved back to New Jersey from Seattle, but she kept going. She loved walking on the boardwalk on the beach and Bruce Springsteen. We were supposed to walk in a fashion show together but I had to back out. She was one of my long term stage four thrivers, and losing her yesterday was so hard.

Especially this weekend.

The weekend when the dates of memories begin.

People are up in arms about Taylor Swift and how she can’t play her own songs. She asked for help and retweeting and sharing of her issue, and it’s now in the millions.

Meanwhile, people are dying every damn day from cancer, and it’s people that you actually know…. but apathy rules.

Imagine if instead of a song dispute she asked people to retweet stage four needs more and donate a dollar for research?

But no, sheep will follow their idol, and help the rich get richer while the sick keep dying.

I got an email from my herbalist and he is sending a new formula for the new chemo I’ll be starting. Mederi center contacted me and Erin said she saw the video and it was beautiful. Donnie is keeping me on the same protocol as the chemo treatments are similar, but this one is a little less toxic. All of my appointments are now set, and the waiting begins.

Once again it’s my birthday time and I’m waiting on cancer tests and results.

Don’t ever take your life and health for granted.

Tonight I’m hoping to celebrate a book release for acclaimed chef Claudia Fleming at the North Fork Table. Tomorrow is my birthday and I leave early for the cortaca jug to see all of my friends from cortland. I’m nervous as it’s a football game outside and I’m exhausted, but I’m hoping to find everyone and get hugs.

I was a founding sister in my sorority and I’ll get to meet a lot of new sisters.

Please keep our scout troop in your prayers as well. I’m dumbfounded reading the trial notes every day. I’m disgusted, angry, and so sad as I read every night. Pray for a swift and harsh verdict… and for the families who are reliving the pain over and over.

And don’t ever drink and drive.

May today be a day full of peace.

In Jesus’s name, amen.



Get up and Get Grateful

It was a rough weekend…. but today I wake up grateful.

The side effects hit me so hard, I had to go to my parents house. I didn’t want my kids to see me in such bad shape.

I spent all day Sunday crying, dealing with headaches, bone pain, nausea, and feeling like I fell into the deep dark hole of “How is this my life and how can I keep going on like this?” My mom and dad took good care of me, and this almost forty seven year old felt like a seven year old again with toast and tea and my mom telling me to keep breathing. We also watched Christmas movies.

Add on more messages of people saying how disgusted they are by innuendoes and false posts about teachers… and many who are reading it are thinking it’s implying me… by people who are just angry and love to bash people…

And then news of a friend who has suddenly needed brain surgery for Mets…

It was a rough day.

I prayed for my friend, and for the angry people who love to beat up others in social media. Hurt people love to hurt others. Angry people love to stir up anger.

I’ll stick with the healers and love givers and people with kindness.

Monday was better.

I’m staying ahead of the bone pain and nausea as best as I can. We try to keep the kids occupied during the heavy chemo weekends and my friends came through.

My kids are learning a lot about who surprises you and who you learn you can count on. It’s surprising when people say to just ask if you need help, you ask, and suddenly no help is available. But it’s also surprising who just steps up and helps without being asked.

The kindness of others can be so humbling and awe inspiring.

We even managed to get out and run to Target so I could get makings for broth and some more OTC drugs.

And we got the best parking spot:

I’m off to work today, and will be able to mask the pain of the bones. It might snow, which is always a beautiful thing when you are in a class of four and five year olds.

It’s magic.

May everyone’s day be full of magic.

In Jesus’s name, amen.



Why Surroundings Matter

Yesterday showed me something so important.

Your surroundings matter.

I took off yesterday morning so I could vacuum, mop, wash sheets, catch up on laundry, and clean the kitchen.


I decided to put away all of the Halloween decorations and autumn lights… and set up for Christmas.

I said to myself that if the tumor markers were bad and went up, at least it would look like Christmas. While I’m sick on the couch this weekend, seeing Christmas lights would make me happier. If I had to tell my kids bad news, seeing Christmas when they came home would soften the blow.

Your environment matters.

We went off to Stony Brook and I was anxious. They finally opened their huge new wing in the main hospital. Going for chemo is always stressful, then add on a new place and new procedures…anxiety rises.

But man oh man.

It was fantastic.

They have valet parking for patients. Do you know how amazing it is to have your car called for and waiting for you after sitting in a chair for hours getting chemo?

There is artwork everywhere. The lighting is amazing. It feels like an art gallery or museum.

The security guard welcomed us and walked us to the elevator and pressed the button for us. There were dolphin balloons right where the elevator opened, as the pediatric center is there too. I saw several children with bald heads in wheelchairs, and lifted my palms out toward them quietly and sent them prayers. I’m lucky it came at 43 years of age. Ill never get why it hits children. We need research now to fix this.

The people at the check-in desk now wear uniforms and look like flight attendants. You get a tracker so they monitor your wait time and know where you are. That was great as we were able to leave to get soup and drinks in their new Panera right… down.. stairs. There is a Jamba Juice too! They accessed my port in a nice Spacious room and it worked like a charm. The waiting room has floor to ceiling windows and is beautiful.

I was called in to the infusion area and I couldn’t stop smiling. When I was showed my chair spot?

I couldnt believe it. It was almost as big as a hospital room. My chair had seat warmers!!!Rob even had a little couch! I looked out a huge window instead of staring at a nurses desk.

The paint was a light cream instead of mustard yellow. They had hanging lights. There is even an area with a fireplace for goodness sake!!!

I had a brand new nurse for me this time and I threw her off because I was smiling so wide. We talked about how fancy it was and laughed as we spoke fancy to each other.

The most comforting thing though was the faces. I saw all of my friends. They aren’t my nurses anymore. They are my friends and sisters who I can cry with and get hugs.

Jean kept coming over and checking on me, and she is family now.

Dr Stopeck was away and her assistant was called out on an emergency, so we saw her nurse Mary and discussed a new blood tumor test Donnie really wants me to get. OncoDNA is the name and he feels it will give me a better look at options down the road.

Hermina stopped by, and I also met another patient of Dr Stopeck’s. It was amazing. She is a teacher too, stage four from the get go, started at Sloan and was told to go home and get her affairs in order. She fired them and found Dr Stopeck four and a half years ago. As we talked, I kept feeling like we would have a connection, so I mentioned chinese herbs, Dr Snufflufogus, Donnie Yance, Rick Shapiro, Annie Appleseed, Nalie Augustin, Stephanie Seyban, books and movies…I kept talking because I knew I would say someone.

And then she asked how I met Donnie and Snuffy..

I told her because I taught a boy and his name…

And she said…”Wait, from the Golden Earthworm??? I get my CSA from there and my cousin used to work there!!!”

Hermina and I looked at each other and I said, “There it is! Six degrees of separation!”

After we exchanged contact information, my nurse came over with the tumor markers.

They all…went…down.

I sobbed and sobbed and cried like a baby.

They went to get Jean and we hugged.

Rob and I took our picture and I let my family know, then I texted my nurse squad, then I put it out for all of my prayer warriors on social media. You have no idea what that meant to me.

It means more time.

It means that as I am so sick this weekend and feel like I’m going to die, I know I’m getting more time to live.

Jean and Hermina also discussed my pain. I told them how I cried all night one night and felt like my back was literally breaking. I’m hiding it well, but I’m in constant pain in my back and legs while exhausted and nauseous. Jean had Hermina turn around and she she pointed out on Hermina where my biggest bones are in my body… the sacrum and thigh bones. That’s where the neulasta is hitting the hardest, and forcing the marrow to produce mature white blood cells faster.

It’s not cancer growing.

It’s the body fighting.

We finally finished and as we walked out, Rob and I stopped by the fire place to take a picture.

We gave hugs goodbye, turned in the tracker, met the valet attendant and left.

Then I called my mom and cried.

Rob was hungry so we went to the mall to eat, I pounded more water, and we took a picture by their huge Christmas tree. If I wasnt so tired I would have tracked down Santa in the mall and sat on his lap for a picture.

My dad texted me when he brought the kids home that they were so excited and surprised to walk in and see Christmas set up in the house. They had spent all day knowing their mom was in the hospital and not knowing what the markers would be when they got home, which is traumatic for a child, and came home to a clean house and Christmas. They were thrilled for the good news.

Here’s the thing about yesterday and what it did for me.

You see, our district has put up a bond. Our schools are overcrowded and I believe one building has the same toilets from almost one hundred years ago when the building was built. I’ve gone to Eastport for NYSSMA and I walked around in awe. I’ve gone upstate for swim meets and walked around in awe in those buildings. Then I come back to riverhead and think… “I wish we had that”. But we are land rich and people poor. Politicians have never done their job or done right by us or helped us.The initial proposed bond was pie in the sky and a dream. It’s been cut and cut and cut again to bare bones. Yes, there is a track and some athletic additions. Can they cut that too? Yes.

Here’s the thing.

I went into chemo yesterday and felt so at peace, so happy, so comfortable… because of the care the hospital put into making the surroundings good for the patient.

Imagine if society does the same for children?

I busted my ass and got donations for a courtyard this year while going through chemo, and every time we walk by and look outside we see beautiful and colorful mums, straw bales, corn stalks, scarecrows… and every single child smiles.

Your outside surroundings change your inside makeup. When you are surrounded by chaos, overcrowded, it affects not only your education, but your physical and emotional and mental state. This in turn affects your hormones, your immune system, your inflammation, even your DNA. It literally changes your cells. What are we doing to our children?

If your surroundings show you are important, you are cared for… that you matter…

You can do anything.

There are numbers going around and misconceptions being spread. People need to call the district office and find out their own tax increase. I’m expecting mine to be about $500 or so a year. Is that going to be easy? As a stage four cancer patient whose money goes to treatments? No. But if this bond fails, I shudder to think of what will happen. Split sessions? Cut sports? Music? Clubs? My kids deserve the best. So do yours. I cant afford private school, so that’s out of the realm of options.

Riverhead is all I have.

Riverhead is all I want.

The teachers are like my nurses in the infusion center. They are the heart and make it work no matter what. They are the best. Just look at my kids, thriving through their mothers cancer diagnosis. We couldn’t do this without them.

Your environment matters.

It mattered more than I thought it would yesterday. It made yesterday even better than I dreamed.

We can do the same for our kids.

I’ve been up most of the night. The neulasta machine on my arm is uncomfortable and blinks a green light every few seconds. Morgan had a nightmare and was calling out “Dad!!! Dad!!! I woke up and saw blinking light and thought the police were outside… but it was the neulasta light blinking on my arm by my eyes. You don’t go back to an easy sleep after that…at 10:45 pm.

I’ll go to work today, and keep tissues handy as the sweats began pretty intensity when we left the hospital. Literally dripping down my face into my eyes. Remember the movie airplane? Yup.

The heartburn also began so Prilosec and Claritin for bone pain will begin on top of all the other pills and potions.

It’s purple day, so I’ll wear my purple hair… which will look great as my face gets redder and redder as the day goes on.

I got a message from Erin that Donnie likes the idea of doxil as a possible next step. She also said Donnie’s wife jen saw the movie yesterday and she said it was amazing. They are excited I’ll be at the premier and asked permission to acknowledge me in the program and at the show where it will premiere. I cant wait to meet Donnie and hug him and the staff in person.

Please pray for me today as I enter the next hard few days. My family and friends have all stepped up and offered to keep my kids busy so they don’t have to see me on the couch sick all day. I’m going to head into the detox bath in a bit to begin to try to help lessen side effects while keeping my arm and the naulasta contraption above water.

May we all have a peaceful day.

Stay warm, friends…

In Jesus’s name, amen.



Last Round AC

Today is the fourth round of chemo.

I remember getting the news that I had to do Adriomycin and cyxtoxin. Rob ran to school, I sat in my assistant principals office, we called my oncologist, emailed my herbalist, emailed Donnie, and I sobbed and sobbed as rob told both my principals the news. We had been warned this is the hardest chemo they have. We weren’t sure I would be able to work, as many are too exhausted and nauseus to function. I sobbed over losing my hair again… knowing this time it would all truly go.

But somehow…

I’ve made it through.

I continued to work, and we finally hit our groove in kindergarten. I managed to have an entire garden donated thanks to amazing friends, and we have a beautiful courtyard. There were fundraisers held for my oncologist, and this month we will be giving her a check to help fund her research. I shaved my head with my children and husband, and brought back out the wigs. I was featured in articles and wrote an editorial for stage four awareness. I called out racism and prejudice and sexism in the town and was banned from a group. I wear that as a badge of honor. I received a letter telling me I am no longer allowed communion in the church, was contacted by multiple news organization, and decided to have peace in my life over and exposing the evil that lies in men’s hearts who hijack the teachings of Jesus. People who talk the talk and don’t walk the walk are the worse hypocrites. I taught breathing and meditation and yoga and manifestation to over sixty colleagues. I’ve been vocal over the school bond vote, and continued to fight for our children… all of them.

I’ve learned to try and find the sick twisted humor in all of this.

And now, I’m getting the fourth round.

I’m anxious.

My back has been hurting more and more.

The tumor markers dropped, but today will be the really important one. They need to drop even more. You can’t stay on this chemo, as it damages your heart. We need the markers to drop so we can order just an MRI, then we need to find another chemo to keep it stable… and pray and pray for more research and more drugs to keep me alive.

I’m leaving the hard season and entering a storm.

The time before a scan is dark.

You could get great news, or you can get blindsided. I’ve been blindsided every single time for the last almost two years. Every single chemo they’ve had me in hasn’t even given me the three months breathing time. Maybe I’ll decorate for Christmas to help me breathe.

Today I head to the brand new wing in the hospital. It’s going to be all new today…new doctor office, new infusion center. Im not seeing my oncologist as she is in South Korea giving a talk to their medical oncology association. But I’ll see everyone else.

The last round hit me harder, and I’m expecting this one to be worse. I was supposed to play in the Harlem Wizards game tonight, but the chemo won’t end in time. I decided to take off this morning too, and clean the house. There’s nothing worse than being sick and looking at a messy house and piles of laundry. I’ll get a jump start this morning, then head to the hospital at 12.

Port access and labs are at 1:30.

Then a visit to the oncology assistant.

Then the chemo process begins at 3:00.

They push fluids and anti nausea meds and steroids first, then the syringes of adriomycin, then the bag of Cytoxin. I’ll be drinking tons of water and running to the bathroom. This chemo makes your pee red, and you have to try and flush it out as fast as you can.

I’m hoping to be finished by 5:00 or 5:30.

I’m not ringing the bell this time.

I’m hungry too, as I’ve started the fast. Nothing to eat from Tuesday night until Saturday.

People still get shocked and think I’m going to be done with chemo.

Then they hear we have to figure out a new one.

Stage four means chemo forever… until we run out of options.

Please pray the tumor markers drop drastically, this round of chemo knocks it all out of the body, and it stays gone for years and years and years and years.

In Jesus’s name, amen.