Back to Work to be a Blessing

I’m up and going to try to head to work today.

Perhaps hitting the ground running isn’t the best way to come back to kindergarten, but instead slowly easing into the routines again.

Review, play, sing, dance and breathe.

I’ve been getting a little better the past two days, and expect by Friday I’ll be as strong as I was when this all started.

That’s the plan anyway.

Yesterday was a relief in so many ways. I once again didn’t realize how much the water was boiling until I hopped out of it, so to speak. I’ve always felt church should be warm, welcoming, and never stressful. Seeing Morgan visibly relax in front of my eyes was amazing. No stress about test grades, no memory work expected, just presence, a sermon summary and welcome arms. Come and learn and love the Lord. Even Quinn, who is notoriously tough to win over, said he was so happy. Maddie was upset that she had to do two hard years to get her confirmation after realizing how different it could have been for her.

The sermon yesterday was about how God gives you what you need, even if you don’t know you need it. That’s what He did here. I never ever would have left without that letter.

He knew.

In the sermon the three wise men were discussed. They were called the Magi. Almost like magicians. They were probably astrologers and great thinkers more than Kings, and their names weren’t even mentioned until the 600’s. The star they followed could have been a special star, a “God Star” meant for them to follow. The gifts they have were traveling gifts, gifts that a young couple to take with them as they fled a ruler who wanted to kill all young boys.

It’s amazing if you think about it.

They didn’t have internet, or GPS, but they found Jesus by a star in the sky and ancient texts they had read. They followed and everything happened as it was supposed to happen.

Everything is as it should be, which is sometimes so hard.

Why did this chemo overload happen?

I don’t know.

Maybe it destroyed every single cancer cell at once. That’s what I am praying for now.

Maybe it happened at this moment in time because I had the time off from work.

Maybe it happened to me because I have Donnies creams which have helped and can show others how helpful they are.

I don’t know.

All I know is that I am grateful.

Grateful for a church community that welcomed my family.

Grateful for my mom and Aunt and cousins who had our backs when we were put in a horrible situation during a hard time in our lives.

Grateful for this body, which after having been flooded with chemicals for three years, and bombed two weeks ago, continues to get me through the day.

Grateful we salvaged vacation by finding a new place to treat ourselves.

I’ve looked inward at my blessings…. I mean, even when I head to the bathroom I thank my kidneys for still working.

That’s what everyone should do more.

People are unhappy so they look to tear down others. Judge others. Pass condemnation. Gossip.

Instead, how about we give thanks for what we are given. Our own blessings. Think of how we can bless others with our words and actions.

Perhaps you will be used today by God to BE the light. Perhaps you will say or do the exact things someone needs to hear or see, something that will suddenly make everything make sense in their own world.

What kind of messenger are you?

Will you bring words of anger or hate?

Will you bring glad tidings of joy?

Today may we all have a peaceful day of blessings and healing.

In Jesus’s name, amen.



God Came Through in Little Ways

I highly recommend to never ever ever have a chemo overdose.

I felt like I was dying yesterday.

It was actually worse than the day before, so I am grateful that I had gone into the hospital and gotten fluids and labs and a plan and answers and ordered the creams and lotions.

God came through once again and everything that I needed came.

My dad was the kids Uber driver. He went and got me a nutritious smoothie order from Paula so I can keep up my energy.

Quinn was picked up by a mom friend and had a great day of bowling and laughs.

The cream we had overnighted came at 11:00 in the morning so I had all day to lather it on.

My mom came and sat with me and I slept with my head on her lap on and off.

Our family Christmas gift that was on backorder finally came, two weeks earlier than planned, so the kids have something fun to do now the last two days of break.

I binge watched “Virgin River” on Netflix and it kept my mind off of the pain all day.

I managed to eat and drink.

I can swallow without crying.

I played with a new wig I was gifted.

Mentally however… talk about the tightrope.

I tried not to think about how this is how it will be at the end.

My friend Vanessa said that maybe this huge dose knocked all the cancer out at once. Having my doctor call early in the morning to say how great the labs are made it more tolerable.

It’s the chemo, not the cancer.

Rob is literally the best man I’ve ever known.

He helped me as I had to gingerly rub lotion all over my body and hands while swishing and trying to swallow mouthwash while I was simultaneously crying at how bald I am and have this rash everywhere and can’t move my fingers.

He kept reminding me it’s temporary.

He kept telling me he loves me.

He kept reminding me of the labs.

The lotion smells horrible and he reminded me of the lavender sheet spray.

I told him I’m afraid this is how it will be at the end, and he said it won’t be like this forever.

It was a hard day.

If you can wake up today and just go and do what you want, please realize how lucky you are.

Then go be kind to everyone, because apparently this world needs kindness. Pray for Australia, pray for our troops, pray for your local town, pray for people who are ready to throw stones at others while carrying their own sandbags of sins.

Yesterday was a day where i felt like i was a hospice type patient.

I’m about to get up and start moving today.

Today will be better, as I see the steroids have started to lessen the rash on my arms.

We may go to St Isidores tonight for a 6 pm Polish Christmas carol concert if I am up to it.

Tomorrow we will try to get Morgan to the new church that has agreed to allow her to finish confirmation classes AND accept me. Thank you, Jesus, for kind people and family members.

I’ll make the judgement call tomorrow about going to work Monday.

I tend to bounce back quickly, and as long as I can walk and talk, I’ll be there.

I’ve got two days to see.

Please continue to pray for a full recovery from this… from the chemo and the cancer.

I keep thinking if this has made me such a hot mess on the outside, it must be destroying the cancer on the inside. Plus I’ve got the chinese herbs, donnies protocol which i can begin again once I can swallow, I’ve done some major forgiveness and soul work the past two weeks, and I’ve got Jesus by my side.

Im all good.

In Jesus’s name, amen.



Walking the Tightrope to Healing

I’ve been walking a mental tightrope the past two weeks, teetering between “This is it” and “This is my year.”

Teetering between wishing I had a crystal ball so I could know if the end was coming and reading the Bible and holding faith in His plans for me.

Teetering between looking on Facebook private groups for tips and seeing more women going into hospice and husbands posting their wives have died, and also finding Hope stories.

Teetering between seeing people post how chemotherapy is what kills people and then praying this chemotherapy prolongs my life.

Teetering between facts on pages about it is what it is and listening to podcasts from Dr Joe Dispenza on how thought can change reality.

It’s been a long two weeks off and a fast two weeks off.

I am so glad that once again God’s timing was perfect. How?

Well, if there was ever a time to find out that a 20% increase in chemo would make you feel like you’re dying, it’s during a rare full two week break where you have time to rest and devise plans with your team to never have this happen again.

As much as I didnt want to go into the hospital yesterday, it was the best thing to do. I tend to put on a brave face and pretend it’s not as bad as it is.

Apparently I am like the knight in Monty Pythons Search for the Holy Grail movie who keeps having limbs chopped off and continued to say, “It’s just a flesh wound! Keep coming, you bastard!”

I was in bad shape.

My oncologist knew the second she walked in and went right to work. She noticed the steroid puff all over my body, especially my face. The rash is covering most of my body now, and I’ve been terrified of scarring. She said it shouldn’t, but may cause pigmentation issues. I have to stay away from all heat. This chemo rises to the surface when around heat. No hot showers, no baths, and even though I bought gloves to wash dishes, it’s still heat with hot water. For a girl who hates the cold… I’ll be on ice.

Rob and I thought mouth sores/ulcers would be white. Nope. Apparently the red all over my mouth and tongue and throat are sores. All the way down the throat as well, which is why I cant eat or drink. The soup I thought was helping isn’t…. because it’s warm. So smoothies and cold foods.

In winter.

My feet are also in bad shape, but Donnie and Mederi is overnighting me the special cream for the feet as well as a different one for the rash all over the body.

We asked if I should have some fluids pushed and it was a no brainer. The nurses got right to work, and I had the foresight to ask to keep the tube in my chest after they took blood before my appointment as I had a feeling I would have IV fluids pumped in. They also gave me morphine, to take the edge off of the pain.

I felt and looked like a cancer patient, like in the movies. It’s not good for ones emotional and mental health when that happens, so the morphine helped take the edge off of that a bit as well as the pain management.

I also wasn’t shy about pulling down my pants for all the nurses, even the male nurse, so they could see how I pretty much got every single side effect you can get from this chemo all at once. I had about a 20% higher dose than last time as we were going to try to push this to just once a month. The new plan is to lower the dose and go to every three weeks instead. Donnie always likes metronomic dosing anyway.

I’ve found out I can swallow the magic mouthwash even though it says just swish and spit. I’ll get it down the throat this way and clear up the sores there.

Donnie also has suggested cucumbers and melon, as well as his magic herbal powder to mix with coconut water and Manuka honey.

I’m up now and wired a bit, probably from coming off the morphine.

I’ve got three days to pull it together.

I’ll do it.

The steroid taper will finish by Sunday and my doctor said it will clear this all up. I’ll be all set for work by then.

I’ve got two weeks before next infusion.

We’ve got a plan.

I texted my siblings to keep them updated, and as I sent it, my brother rob sent me a picture of a sign he was standing in front of. The Joshua 1:9 saying, which i have on my necklace he gave me.


Be strong and courageous, do not fear, for the lord your God is with you wherever you go.

As I walked the tightrope yesterday, rob kept me on the line. My nurses kept me on the line as well and are amazing. Turns out another one of them is cousins with a teacher friend I work with, and the teacher had just sent me a picture of my sacred prayer spot in saint patricks cathedral literally ten minutes before I saw her cousin.

And of course my Jean, whose granddaughter I had several years ago in first grade. Crying in front of nurses who make you feel safe is a blessing, and God put them all there for me last night.

I also discussed my chinese herbalist, Donnie yance and Mederi, my blog, Annie Apleseed, radical remission, and how my fairy godfather rick Shapiro always reminds me to sticks to the plan, as he wrote the book “Hope Never Dies” and knows many amazing thrivers and doctors. Wouldn’t you know as I left the hospital I got a message from rick?

My kids haven’t had an easy vacation watching me struggle through this. Please pray for them.

And for rob.

And my parents. It’s not easy for any of them.

Thank you for all of your prayers. It’s always darkest before the dawn, right?

The good news is I’ve got some hair growing back.

One tumor marker jumped up… but another two dropped, and my liver function is even better than two weeks ago, and my labs all look good.

May it all continue to work.

It’s the chemo, not the cancer.

It’s the chemo, not the cancer.

I’ve got a lot more living to do, for many more years to come.

In Jesus’s name, amen.



2020 BE the Light

Every New Years Day we go to the beach and pick a rock. We each write one word on the rock, our word for the year that we will try to live by. My word this year took all year to come up with. Let me explain.

I felt like I was dying as 2019 came to a close.

I wasn’t up to writing a year end review, as I felt my life was closer to ending than I hoped. Rashes, throat tight and in panic mouth issues, hands and feet peeling and in pain, feeling like every step i took I was walking on glass, worrying how I would be able to work through this treatment….

But then the ball dropped, the year changed, and today…

I woke up.

That’s half the battle right there.

2019 was hard… hard as it seemed for many.

I had great dreams to hit remission against all odds again this past year.


The cancer exploded all over the bones, into the spine and the hips, as well innumerable lesions all over the liver.

I had to have a liver biopsy.

In September I ended up in the hospital emergency room, gasping for breath, saying all the things to rob you say when you think you are dying, with my dad, my friend Mary Maki, my brother rob, and my brother in law Jake all coming to be with us while the rest of my family was with my mom who had just had a procedure and was stuck at home, unable to be with her daughter who was afraid she was dying that day.

I lost friends… lifelines… sisters in this cancer arena.

Lisa, who was one of the first friends to be firm with on me how I’m going to do this, because she did it, and had all of these tips. She went quiet on Facebook for a while, as some do. We didn’t know her cancer had come back, so when I got the text she was gone from my friend candy, I was in shock. I had to watch the summer camp talent show with Maddie and hold in my grief until I got to the car. Mourning her was easier, and harder, because I had lived with her. I shared friends and space with her. I mourned with others.

Leila, who had this spark of light every time we wrote to each other. She had told me it was getting to where she didn’t recognize herself in the mirror, but we were waiting on a new drug to be approved for her. She had been on my mind while we were dropping off madison at leadership camp, so I checked on her and saw she passed the day before. I cried all the way home. Her mom started to send me gifts Leila left for me, and letters. She has Leila’s phone and continues to follow my life, and her aunt follows me as well. Leila’s people are my people too, and I love them. I wear her key around my neck every day.

Alycia also left this world. Her mom alayne showed such grace and dignity and kept us all informed. She asked us to write to Alycia and read her all of our love letters. We had hoped to meet at the annie Appleseed conference but she was too ill to come. While at the conference, I received a text from her that she couldn’t wait to see me and hug me there, then another saying she couldn’t come. Even in her twilight moments, when time and space were unclear to her, she still thought of me and the hug we never got to share. I was chaperoning a trip in NYC when Paula texted me that Alycia had passed. The group I was chaperoning came with me to saint patricks cathedral and waited as I took my three minutes to pray and cry in my special spot, and one of the young men gave me a hug as I came out. I got hope for our future from his hug and humanity.

I’m still losing friends in this arena all the time. It’s like I’ve been placed at this shore by the sea of grief, and sometimes the waves crash over me and threaten to pull me in, and other times I’m able to sit and look at the calm flat water, and see the beauty in having loved and known them.

2019 was hard, people.

But it was also beautiful.

I became a yoga teacher and was certified. I took class and learned from beautiful souls, and was surrounded by beautiful souls. I did it with one of my best friends and learned from one of my best friends. I breathed.

I was able to watch my children continue to grow. I think the thing I am most proud of in my life is them. My hope is that when I leave this earth, my heart and spirit stays with them and they continue to be the lights of kindness and goodness that they have shown to be.

Madison learned to drive a car, performed in a play “A Chorus Line”, and will be in “Les Miserables” this spring. She was the top cadet of her platoon at leadership academy, and it seems as if every week we are getting letters from colleges about her running or academics, inviting her to visit and represent riverhead at different camps.

Morgan’s hair is growing back, which shows she is doing well. She also worked on a play, but behind the scenes. She has gotten a best friend, and I love seeing her giggle with her. She also grew about a foot this year, and is changing into a young lady. She may be even more driven than Maddie academically. She knows what she likes and wants and does it. Morgan found herself this year.

Quinn continues to be a love bug. He made the transition to the new school beautifully. He also has started to work hard in school to follow his sisters lead. I struggle with the amount of time he is on video games, but he has a headset where he talks to other friends, so in a way it’s a play date and they are all working together to accomplish tasks, without me having to clean my house. This year he found a new family in Troop 161, and the men and women who lead the troop are some of the best people I’ve ever met in my life. He will be an Eagle Scout some day. Scouting has given him confidence he needed. He also continues to play tennis and love golf.

I’m continued to blessed with a strong marriage and an amazing husband. Rob keeps me moving forward with hope. He does it all, and has become an even better father and husband through it all. We are a team. I know how lucky I am. When we got married, we had a saying, “No matter what”. We’ve stuck to that saying, and no matter what happens, we love each other harder through it.

I left my church this year. I miss so many faces there. Every Sunday I think of my friends who hugged me and prayed for me. It was the easiest and hardest decision I’ve ever made. But my faith is not based on a church. It’s based on a man. Jesus. I went to the church we were married in last week and the priest spoke of how the church is the well of water from which we drink each week, which helps us fill our heart and spirit to go forth and live like Jesus.

That’s how I know my word for 2020 is the right word.


That word has been hijacked and people think of crazies when they see that. Megachurches with rich leaders, crazy people who judge others.

That’s not what it is supposed to be.

It’s supposed to be that you go out and be the light.

Not look for the light.

Not tell others about the light.

Not tell others how they are wrong and won’t get to see the light.

But BE the light.

Others see the light and step into it.

We live in a world of judgement. Everyone judges everyone and has an opinion and whips up a frenzy. It reminds me of when the adulteress was going to be stoned, and Jesus walked up to them and asked who among the stone throwers was without sin? Let that person cast the first stone.

They all dropped their stones and walked away.

How many of you are holding stones? Ready to pounce and throw and sneer and throw side eye?

Drop your stone and hold out your hand.

Your life will be better for it.

I’ve been blessed with people praying for me for years now. Do you know what it feels like to know strangers are whispering your name in churches around the world as they light candles? It’s beautiful.

Being filled with faith doesn’t mean you are tied to a church. It means you are tied to a man, a man who came to us as a baby, walked among us, showed love to the unloveable. He didn’t come for the perfect people. He came for the sinners, the same people some churches refuse to serve communion. He came for you.

He came for me.

It’s written by one of his disciples that if he would have catalogued all of the miracles Jesus performed, there wouldn’t be enough libraries to hold all of the books filled with the stories. If a man could perform all of that back then, I have to believe He is possible to perform them still.

So goodbye 2019. You were hard, full of pain and sorrow, disappointment and devastating losses. But you also were full of laughter and love and prayer and friends and family and forgiveness.

I’m not naive to think 2020 will be perfect all of the time.

I simple pray it brings more of the good.

May 2020 bring more healing than pain, more faith than fear, more life than death, more forgiveness than judgement, more hugs than pointing fingers, more love than anger, and more time for us all.


That’s the word of the year.

Inside the word is the word “angel.”

Be like an angel of God, and be the light of the world.

God knows we need more light.

In Jesus’s name, amen.