Back From the Brink

Back from the brink.
That’s what I am.

I’ve had hypercalcemia since April. If you look it up, you find this fun little nugget…
“Eighty percent of patients will die within a year, and there is a median survival of 3 to 4 months. The main pathogenesis of hypercalcemia in malignancy is increased osteoclastic bone resorption, which can occur with or without bone metastases.”
Hospitalized twice.
Once for a whole week with over thirty injections into my stomach.
Had my oncologist tell me she never had anyone as bad as me that survived.
Paid out of pocket for a medicine that paper pushers in an insurance company deemed wasn’t approvable so I took it off label… and spent a crapload of money during a pandemic on it.
But yesterday?
My nurse angel walked in and said she was sorry she had to stick me in the hand because the port wasn’t working fast enough for us, but it was worth it because my calcium was 9.8. The lowest it’s been in months. It didn’t even have the “H” next to it which was essential a middle finger to me saying “tick tock” on my hypercalcemia clock.
The entire ward of nurses became excited when they heard. I knew from their faces and non answers the past few months when I begged for stories of people who lived through this that they didn’t have any.
Now they do. We even danced a dance I do with my kindergarten.

Pop Si Ko from GoNoodle group KOO KOO KANGAROO!

My oncologist does too.
Even the oncological pharmacist came out and said their office cheered when they saw the calcium come back.
Yes, I still got hammered with the heavy chemo yesterday. We are still waiting for further biopsy results to confirm the third line of cancer, which will change the therapy I receive in two weeks. It will be a hard few days, and I was up all night from the steroids.
I did some school work and looked at other district’s reopening plan. It’s an impossible task. But teachers always seems to do the impossible, dont we?
I also messaged the leader of our sewing mask circle for the kids in our district. We’ve got people donating money and masks, and people donating time to sew masks. Our goal is to have enough cloth masks for all the students in the district, and maybe even two.if you can’t sew, you can donate money or time by cutting fabric and prepping for the sewers.
I also am in a group of parents trying to help the students in our district. Our budget failed again. The only one in Long Island. For each one of the angry toxic people, we’ve found two who want to help build up constructively instead of just tear down.
My daughter is a senior. Yes, covid might take it all away this year for her. She is a three varsity sport athlete, musician, in theatre, and this year had a packed schedule of electives she will need to help her with college. We are relying on scholarships because all of our money is in cancer care. Other kids in other districts should they get some sort of a year will get a leg up over the kids in our district now when it comes to scholarships. The inequity hammer keeps hitting our kids.

Two days after chemo I rallied for my kids…

Yet there was still hope she could salvage some of her year. If the virus receded spring was our beacon of light. The community voted it down and took it away. For the children being tossed about in the waves, the lighthouse light went dark. My heart is broken for her. She has dealt with a mom with stage four cancer, her junior year cut short, and now her senior year destroyed. Thank God for the NJROTC. They are funded by the Navy, and she was named Commanding Officer. She has already zoomed with her instructors, has a weeklong virtual planning session with units all over the eastern seaboard, and is gearing up to give kids who had to much taken away a glimmer of community. You don’t have to enter the military when you graduate, but those who do have done well. One of my former first grade students is actually the recruiter for the marines. It’s amazing to see this little boy I loved grow into a man who changes other students lives.


God bless them.

Madison and my former first grader. God bless them both!

Every other community during a pandemic voted yes. This vote was based for many on sending a message to adults, and the children are the ones left with the bottle of dreams on paper being tossed into the waves.
Thank God for the helpers. The ones who always work to bring the positives out.
Those are my people.

Today we may see my school district’s plan they worked on all summer that they had to send to Cuomo, all while doing a budget revote and a transition in administration with community uproar. Talk about being in the brink. God bless everyone who worked on this plan… and knowing that no matter what…No one will be happy. The only way people will be happy is if the virus disappears and we go back to how it was. That won’t happen anytime soon. And no matter what the district releases, Cuomo has to approve and then can still close us down. I’ve said we are starting before Labor Day, when people gather and celebrate. I wouldn’t be surprised if he closes school and goes virtual for two weeks to start as a preemptive measure due to Labor Day parties and travel.
It’s all so much.
We are all on the brink, arent we?
Feels like we are on a cliff, some feel like we are already falling.
But listen…
After being so incredibly sick the past three months, isolated, feeling like a crazy person keeping my kids isolated, having multiple doctors and residents on rounds looking at me like I was on my death bed, working harder than I ever had in all my years as a teacher even while in the hospital on the so called death bed…
I’m here.
Back from the brink.
You know how?
God put people in my life who BELIEVED in me.

I am in no way saying that the others before me who didn’t make it didn’t have the same.
I dont know why they didn’t make it.
But maybe because I did…
Insurance companies won’t tell patients that a drug that costs $1600 a month that their doctor said is their last chance and to pay whatever it takes… maybe they will cover it.
And others will come back from the brink.
Our district is on the brink.
But maybe the ones who work with compassion, civility, kindness, empathy, love… maybe we will begin to drown out other voices and show action is louder than words, and pull our district and students from the brink.
So no matter what comes our way, know we can always find a way out of impossible situations.
And slowly…
Come back from the brink…
In Jesus’s name, amen.



Still here…

It’s been almost two months since I last wrote. There have been a few reasons.

The calcium crisis was serious. I ended up hospitalized twice. The first time was at a local hospital and only for two days. I fought them on releasing me, as the hospital was not at all prepared for a cancer patient or knowledgeable about this situation. I actually taught my nurse how to use my port for blood draws. Always a teacher, I guess.

Three days later i was admitted to Stony brook hospital. I had my second covid test, which feels like a qtip is swirling on your brain. It was a long eight days of isolation, multiple injections, multiple specialist and residents. Nurses are my heroes. They became my family and support and held me as I cried when i was told the cancer spread even more. Being alone with no family is so hard… thank God for my nurses.

We have the calcium somewhat stable today. My oncologist only saw a case like this once, and she wasn’t able to save the patient. I told her that I will be her first. And I will.

We aren’t sure where we will go next with treatment. We are looking to do more biopsies as my doctor and Donnie Yance feel there could be two or three different cancers happening. Waiting for insurance to agree to doing two biopsies at once. Insurance won’t cover my calcium medicine, so that’s another expense. At least we got the cost down from $1600 a month to $600 a month out of pocket… on top of herbs and supplements and copays. Cancer is expensive.

I finished out the school year. When i was hospitalized I had my computer with me and worked all day. My nurses were amazed that I kept working as well as how I was able to send voice messages to my students all day long. I worked ten hour days many days. I had families texting me early in the morning and late at night. Some of the conditions and situations happening to them would break your heart. No one knows what will happen next. We have to come up with three different scenarios and no idea which one will be used. It’s impossible. Add in the fact our budget failed, the only district in all of Suffolk county. September will be hard no matter what. Thank God for my colleagues. We hold each other up.

The kids are alright. Madison started her Emerson college program and loves it so far. Morgan and Quinn are staying busy at home. Rob is working and supporting me every step of the way. We also got a puppy. Her name came to me one day, then we found her, and then she became a part of our family. Welcome Remi… short for remission.

That’s the update. If I dont update again soon, just envision me healthy and healed and living my best life.

Because I am.

In Jesus’s name, amen.