The Liver Biopsy

I am so scared.

I went from feeling so positive and good on Wednesday morning to having death whisper in my ear all night long that he is coming for me and quickly, and looking at my children and husband and crying and thinking I’m not going to see them next Christmas.

How is this my life?

I know my cells are listening to my thoughts. I know I have to change the shitty story I’m telling myself.

It’s hard when I’m in pain… and I am in pain.

I got up yesterday and washed my sheets so I had a clean bed to come home to, as well as vacuumed and did laundry and loaded the dishwasher. I kept thinking how I just finished four months of chemo one week ago, and I thanked God I was able to get all of that done before the biopsy.

We got to the hospital and I had some of the same nurses I had when my port was put in. It gave me a sense of peace to see them. They somehow remembered me, and were so kind. They were able to access the port, and they quickly got me into the procedure room. It was supposed to be done under a CAT scan, but because I cant have radiation it was all on sonogram. Craig was the radiologist and he was so kind. We discussed recovery and he jokingly asked if i okay any contact sports. I replied rugby, and we laughed. I told him i did just play in a professional basketball game against the Harlem Wizards the night before and he couldn’t believe it. I said they had to put two men on me because I was so good. We laughed again.

My nurse was Carol and God put her with me for a reason. I discussed with Craig and carol my concerns that I was wide awake for the port placement and also felt everything with 19ccs of lidocaine with the core needle breast biopsy. Their eyes widened a bit and said that 19 ccs was a lot. Carol took my blood pressure and it was in the high 140’s so I told her to wait and I could bring it to the 120s with my breath in a few seconds. She looked me right in the eyes and said, “If I’m understanding you, you’re going to be the type of patient who we won’t be able to pick up if you’re in pain through the normal ways, you’ll be quiet and breathing… and I should ask you often if you’re Ok?” In that moment I knew I was in good hands with her.

As she turned to walk away, something came over me and I blurted out, “Are you ok? Are you in pain in your back?” She stopped dead in her tracks and asked me what I said. I repeated it and she asked how I knew. She said she has hip and back pain. I told her I felt she had inflammation and should look into chaga mushroom for its inflammation properties, that it’s easy and safe and natural. I told her I know about hipa privacy, but I give her permission to contact chaga island and tell them my name and she was my nurse. She came back to my bedside and held my hand and asked me to repeat the name again.

I told her she had good energy and I was so glad she was my nurse.

She then said usually the doctor who would be with me was whoever finished the procedure before me first. She instead went and found the one who was more generous with the pain medication. He came in, heard my story, and said we would start at where the chart said they finished with during my port and breast biopsy.

I love Carol.

The doctor was kind and listened to everything I said. Dr Maleson talked to me the whole time, pulled up my liver and I saw the mass he was going to biopsy.

It’s big.

I put my hand up on the screen and he asked if I was ok.

I said I was praying over it and they all got quiet.

Then we began.

I didnt realize the liver was so high and up under my ribs on the right side. I felt the needle as I watched it go into the liver, and pain when he pulled the trigger to extract a part of the mass. He upped the meds again.

He took six samples and I breathed. I did hit a sleep state for a few minutes, and came back for the last two biopsies. He got six in all.

They wheeled me out and rob was right there outside the door. They put him in the room next to me to wait, and I was glad he was near. When Carol brought me back to recovery she told my recovery nurse they used double what they usually do for pain.

I had severe shoulder pain and they said it is connected to the liver. They pushed IV Tylenol and it helped. They let me go after about an hour or so. My last blood pressure reading was 111/55 and pulse was 77… all double numbers for me.

My brother sent me a text that he was praying and splitting wood and found a special log and sent me a picture. I was in such a pain state I didnt see what he meant at first and blew up the picture on my phone. I showed rob and said I saw the angel wings on the top of the picture, and he looked at me and said , “Keri, it’s the sign for Jesus”. The fish symbol.

Amazing.

(And goes to show how much pain I was in…)

I came home and got right on the couch. …along with Kasha. Dogs are amazing and know when things aren’t right. She may make us crazy, but she is curled up against me now on the bed and it gives me comfort.

Quinn came home and saw me quick then went to tennis with rob. Morgan and maddie came home and Morgan was so excited she made the middle school volleyball team. There are two teams, a blue and a white, only thirty spots, and over seventy girls tried out. She was so happy, and I was proud. We also sent love to the girls who didn’t make the team.

I watched Christmas movies on hallmark and lifetime. The Christmas movie on lifetime had my assistant principals best friend in it. Shanola came to our school last year and everyone lost their minds. She is on some show and her character name is “V”. I just have known her as the best friend of someone who prays with me and hugs me when I cry at school. It made me feel peace to see her, and I sent a picture screenshot of the show to my friend and said it was us.

Morgan got me more Tylenol when it was time, and Maddie kept asking me if i was ok. Quinn kept kissing my head.

I’m so lucky to have these three souls in my life, yet so sad their roles have switched to caretaker at times.

I went to bed and cried to rob that here I am praying the biopsy comes back as a miracle clean… and if it doesn’t, should I hope it’s a mutated breast cancer or a new primary liver? Which one will give me more time?

I slept on and off last night. I’m taking more Tylenol now for the pain.

I received a message from yet another friend who went to see Odyle, Madame swoosh, year’s ago. She also said she was a powerful energy worker. I also heard from others who live in Boston and have offered to meet with me or let us stay with them when we go. My network of blessings is large.

Today is yoga teacher training and I’m so sad I’m missing it. Restorative healing yoga was the theme for this weekend.

Today I’ll pray for less pain and quick recovery, and pray in thanksgiving in advance for good news when the biopsy comes back, and for another forty years of life as a testimony for God’s love and healing and miracles.

May it be so.

In Jesus’s name, amen.

Xoxo

Keri

Whack A Mole

I was in shock yesterday.

I was feeling so confident because the breast felt softer and the ca125 numbers were so low.

So confident that I packed my remission accomplished shirt to wear home.

When we were brought into the exam room, it was early. But once 10:30 hit, then 10:40… I knew it was going to be bad.

When 11:00 hit and the doctor still wasn’t in…

I knew it was really bad. I knew she was looking at my scans and trying to figure out a new plan.

I played Christian songs as we waited and prayed out loud. I cried and rob held me.

Then the doctor walked in with her intern and assistant and my heart dropped at their faces.

She said she spoke to the radiologist and it doesn’t make sense. The breast and lymph nodes responded completely, but the liver?

Not only were the spots that were there now having FDG uptick indicative of cancer, but now there are more and bigger. There are also three bone lesions.

I remember crying out to Jesus.

Rob was quick on his feet and asked questions. Could it be something else like a false positive? Very slim chance, like an infection, but I’m not exhibiting any signs. How could the breast and lymph nodes be clear and it grow elsewhere during hard chemo for four months? Because of this gene issue I was diagnosed with, it could be a new primary… liver cancer. It also mutates cancer quicker and flips the cancer pathways and blows through therapies quicker. So it could be a totally new subtype of breast cancer, where the main site was one type, and the type that is the offspring changed, meaning there are two types of breast cancer in the body. Why was the marker so low, even the ca-15 we monitored? She doesn’t know.

She was just as shocked as we were.

It was explained that we have to do a liver biopsy ASAP. It will be sent away for genetic testing to see which genes are driving it, and which treatment would be most effective. However, I’m not on any treatment now, and that is concerning. The biopsy is scheduled for Wednesday, but she is pushing for Monday or every tomorrow. It takes two to three weeks for results, and I’ll be off treatment as it grows.

They discussed the bleeding risk of the biopsy, the 48/72 hour recovery, and the pain as they will try to get more than one sample possibly. She feels the bone mets are connected. I asked if surgery is now off the table for the breast and she said yes.

I asked if it is two types of breast cancer can the one in the breast wake up again? She said yes.

I said I’m now playing whack a mole to save my life.

She said yes, and we have to keep whacking as it pops up. I asked about the bones and she said it’s the liver that is the big issue here.

It’s not good.

I asked about my liver function we monitored throughout the summer and it was fine. I’m not jaundiced and not in pain.

It’s very rare and confusing.

Of course it is.

The intern and assistant hugged me and held my hand. Another nurse friend came in and held me as i fell apart and gave me lavender oil to breathe.

I kept thinking about my kids.

This great big epic story i told myself about surgery in two weeks and then no more treatment because i was oligometastatic disappeared.

I asked my doctor if there are treatments available and she said she was optimistic and when she isn’t, that’s when we worry. I also saw my former trial coordinator and she said she will look into clinical trials.

Then I had to go get blood taken for the biopsy, as well as an Xgeva shot in the stomach for the bones. I also had to get a neupogen shot in the stomach for the white blood cell count to prepare for the biopsy.

I called my mom and texted the family.

I called my principals and cried, told them i plan on working a long as I can, and may have to miss either the one field trip a year we planned for next week, or the thanksgiving feast.

I contacted Dana Farber Cancer Center in Boston to see one of their specialists and possibly add to my team. My oncologist is willing to work with more specialists.

We picked up Quinn and Madison and told them. We started with the positive news about the breast and lymph being clear. Quinn became exited and said it’s all gone??? We then we kept it light that the liver spots lit up as there are some new ones on the bone. That mommy has to do another biopsy, I’ll be on the couch a few days, and then we move on to a new treatment. We told them I may travel to Boston. Maddie said she is looking at it as a “win” because I got rid of fifty percent of the cancer in four months. We discussed with her how she looked up stage four two years ago and it scared her. We told her not to look up any of this, because it will scare her again and those statistics are not mom, and they didn’t have Dr Snuffleuffugus or Donnie Yance or a French woman who swooshes or the faith or nutrition or juices.

I went to reflexology and Paula met me in the parking lot. We walked in and I cried as I told danielle and Paula about everything. They have total faith that I’ll get through this. Then Daniele did reiki and reflexology and hot stones and hugs. I needed it after the day I had.

I went to pick up Morgan and told her. She was quiet and I told her not to look anything up either.

None of my kids cried, but they were quiet and strong and my heroes and oh my god I want to see them grow up so badly.

I emailed Dr Snuffleuffugus and he will be changing the formula to address the liver and bone mets.

I emailed Donnie Yance and his assistant said he is away but will be glad about the Caris testing and she is praying for me.

Madame swoosh just arrived from France and I am seeing her Sunday at 5 pm.

Rob and I discussed and we are hitting it hardcore with diet. I’ll be doing 13 hour fasts every day, only organic, only plant, no processed, no dairy. I relaxed a little during chemo to get through the nausea and raise my counts.

Some of my friends in the arena contacted me with liver hope stories. One told me of her daughters false positive uptick on the liver. One told me of a woman living for twelve years with liver mets.

The scary thing is that everyone is different, and some last for years, and some go very quickly.

I’m praying for decades.

Alycia texted me and said the comeback is always bigger than the setback, and Leila texted me that her grandma reminded her that the liver regenerates.

I’m going to work today, then playing in the school district union fundraiser Harlem Wizard game.

I’ll keep busy and try not to go down the rabbit hole of what if’s.

I’ll pray that the liver was a false positive and the biopsy will prove it.

I’ll pray the Chinese herbs and Donnie pills will clear up whatever is there.

I’ll pray Odyle will swoosh it out.

I’ll pray for Jesus to heal me.

I’ll pray for strength for rob and the kids.

I dont know why I chose the Bible verse shirt I did yesterday.

“Keep pressing forward” Phillipians 3:19.

But that’s what I’ll do.

Because I love my husband and children and life.

Don’t take anything for granted.

Stop complaining and look at your blessings. Especially if you have your health.

I’m in Groundhog Day, as two years ago this month I had the breast biopsy then had to wait for the bone biopsy.

Last year this month I had to wait for the appendix biopsy.

I find myself this year this month waiting for a liver biopsy.

I used to love November. It’s my birthday month.

Not so much anymore.

May today bring news of a biopsy sooner than Wednesday, and healing.

In Jesus’s name, amen.

*this is my nurse friend with me right before I found out. She held me and gave me lavender. God sends nurses when we need them most.

Scan Day

I went for my scans yesterday.

I have to keep telling myself that no matter what I hear today, I will still come home and be with my family tonight.

Today is such a big day for us getting these results. No matter what I’m told, I still have hurdles to jump over and roads to travel.

Yesterday was a long day.

I prayed for peace and I received it.

My friend eileen told me to imagine that when I was in the tube, strapped in and the mask over my head wig warring and beeping and whizzing and banging…

To imagine that I was instead in Mary’s womb, a child of God, that Jesus was with me, and the constant beating I heard was Mary’s heartbeat. That I was safe and protected and never alone in there.

It worked.

I had the same man who always puts in the IV for the radioactive dye. We had a hard time last time, and I told him about the warm packs, but he said he didn’t want to admit defeat immediately. He managed to get it in first try (couldn’t use the port for these tests.). I became emotional when it was taped down, and I thanked him. He said he had the easy job, and mine was much harder. So true.

I had the same tech for the tests, and I told him we were 1-2 for results. One remission, two recurrences. He offered to get someone else to do it because we haven’t gotten good results the last two times together, but I told him that this time we would even the score.

I told him I actually complained about the painting at the foot of the machine, and how it is upside down the whole test with the mirror. He then did something very kind for me, but I promised to keep it quiet. It’s something that I’m going to one day try and get all hospitals to do, as it helped me immensely.

The first test was the full body one. That took over an hour.

When it was done, he pulled me out and unstrapped me and allowed me to stand and stretch for a moment. He said I could have headphones with music for the next test, as they were only looking at my abdomen and not my brain for the second round. He was surprised when I asked for the Nat King Cole Christmas station, but I said it made me happy.

He strapped me back down and in the tube I went.

The first song I heard?

“Have yourself a merry little Christmas”. The song I referred to all the time when I was first diagnosed and reminds me of my Nanny.

Then?

“Oh Holy night”, my grandmothers favorite song.

Not only was Jesus in the tube with me, but so were my grandmothers. It was hard not to cry because my head was strapped down in a mask and my arms were strapped to my sides and I couldn’t wipe my tears.

I became nervous when he had to take a couple of scans over and over. I kept telling myself it was to get an even clearer picture of the liver to show it’s clean and clear.

He pulled me out and said it’s done, and I said “Merry Christmas.” He told me I was the happiest calmest patient he thinks he ever had.

Christmas music will do that to me.

I started the testing process at 9:30, and walked out at 12.

I went to work and ended up having to redo all of my report card comments that apparently went missing. I cursed a little, then rolled up my sleeves and did them all over again. I’m good at moving on.

I went to a wake last night for my former school nurse’s husband. We held hands and she talked about God’s grace and beauty at the end. We spoke about how it may seem like forever now until she sees him again in Heaven, but truly it is the blink of an eye compared to the eternity they will spend together. We also talked about how and when do you tell your spouse everything that needs to be said before goodbye.

When rob and I got to the parking lot, I did my thirty second cry as he hugged me and I asked if he knew everything that needed to be said from me.

He does.

We came home and everyone was in bed by 8:30.

I meet with my doctor today at 10:30.

Im visualizing her coming in and saying, “Great Scans Keri. Now on to the tumor board.”

Thank you for all of your comments of support. It helps more than you know.

I’m hoping to share some good news around 11:30…

Or 11:11.

May today bring remission again, and a clear path ahead.

Not today, cancer. Today…

I will hear the four months of hard chemo worked. All cancer is gone. The tumor board will accept to hear my case. Long term remission is in my hands.

In Jesus’s name, amen.

Xoxo

Keri

I Rang the Bell

I’m still here.

I know it’s been a while. Teaching kindergarten can be life consuming, and when you throw heavy chemo on top of that…

And then a little situation where you need to move your classroom for two weeks, then set it all back up again…

It’s been two months.

Yesterday I finished the chemo treatment. Those diagnosed with stage four cancer never “finish ” as they are in treatment for life, playing whack-a-mole whenever it pops up. Our hope is that this is an oligometastatic case, I’ll get scans next week, the cancer is all dead, surgery can be scheduled for mastectomy, then remission for years and years and decades.

I’ve been posting on my Facebook every day, and apologize for not keeping up here.

I remember when I was first diagnosed I searched high and low for blogs of women with stage four breast cancer . Inevitably, they would just stop. Then I would search for obituaries and find them.

I don’t want anyone who has been recently diagnosed to go through that with me for about forty years… so if I stop posting, just imagine me off living my best life.

Deal?

Here is my post from today…

I rang that bell.

It was so emotional.

I left school and took selfies with staff. My secretaries Lisa and Mirta carried me through, and Lisa wasn’t there. My former Secretary Julie was filling in, and as I left, she was on the phone with Lisa. We took a selfie and I felt happy that I managed to have Lisa there in spirit.

I got home at lunch and started the prep, pulling out frozen peas and blueberries, getting the benedryl and Pepcid ready, boiling the tea and getting the special drink ready I have to drink during chemo, and just breathing. The cookies that Merry’s Cakes made for the staff at the hospital were beautiful and perfect. I wanted butterflies because I was told by Jennifer Williamson that they are a sign of the Holy Spirit, and I chose a mint color because my former superintendent always jokes with me about mint and makes me laugh every time.

Mint never gets old.

I stopped at the Meetinghouse Deli for my food, and gave the ladies my shield necklaces and some flowers. They didn’t charge me once this whole time for any of the food. The kindness of others has been amazing and carried me through this time.

We got to the hospital and it was busy. The girl at the front desk said the ribbon cutting for the new cancer center was yesterday. It will open to patients in January and apparently it’s beautiful, even with a fireplace. Comfort matters.

I got lots of hugs from all of the nurses and staff, and one told me to contact her when I’m ready to have babies because she is a doula.

We laughed and she was shocked when I told her I was going to be 46 years old in two weeks. She thought I was in my late twenties/early thirties. That felt good.

I was brought to my infusion chair, and it was the same exact chair I started in four months ago. They have a lot of chairs, and i never was scheduled for that chair after my first treatment.

I saw my friend’s mom and gave her one of my necklaces as well as a cookie. She said she was so happy for me that I was done, but it was nice seeing me whenever she went because she felt like she had family with her. I held her hand and sent her all of my energy, and said we can meet up at a better place next time.

The nurses were so busy yesterday, and I caught glimpses of some of former nurses.

My favorite one was away at training, but she ended up stopping by at the very end. She was in Israel on a “Walk with Jesus” tour this month, and prayed specifically for me. I also gave her one of my Joshua 1:9 shield necklaces. She got me through my hardest days there.

My friend from high school has a sister in law who I met November 15 two years ago when she took me aside before the biopsy and walked me through it. She came by and we discussed next steps.

The chemo ended and it was time. My favorite nurse stayed so she could bring me to the bell, my nurse from yesterday came, and another nurse who was so great after my port placement stayed as well. I had wanted to say something eloquent, about hope and faith. About how I was ringing the bell after being told I only had weeks or months left. How I hated that bell and what it stood for, because I would never end treatment. How I decided to ring the bell because it’s a celebration for simply being alive and finishing four months of hard chemo, and even though I don’t know what’s coming next week…

I had that moment in time to choose joy and celebrate.

Instead, I cried.

I thought of all of my friend who I have lost in these two years. I thought of my friends who have continued to thrive and write their own miracle stories. I thought of all of the men and women with all types of cancers at all stages.

I thought of my children and rob.

They said to ring it loud, and no one was in the waiting room. If there had been other patients, i wouldn’t have rung it loud out of respect.

But it was empty.

So I rang it over and over.

I didnt count, but when I watched, I rang it thirteen times.

I had thirteen treatments.

When I was done, we all hugged, and my nurse said that the hard part will be the mental part. To remember a cold is just a cold and not cancer. An ache can be just an ache. To move on and live.

I go on Tuesday for the scans.

Wednesday for results.

The tumor board may be meeting Friday to discuss my case and see if any surgeon will touch it, as long as scans are clean.

They will move fast, because they have to operate when cancer is all dead.

So the clock has started to tick.

The next week will be huge.

I’ll keep breathing and teaching and living.

I went to my niece’s birthday party and got hugs from my family and friends. Paula, Alli and Jill have helped me keep my sanity the past few months. It was good to see them, as well as the rest of my family.

All of the kids were in costumes, and they had fun. I saved a few cookies from the nurses platter for my kids, and we sang.

I had so many signs yesterday, it felt like in A Christmas Carol, or It’s a Wonderful Life.

We listened to Christmas carols all day yesterday.

After chemo we got into the car and “White Christmas” was on. My nan loved that song. The next song? “Oh Holy Night”, which was my paternal grandmothers favorite song. I never met her as she died from Cancer when my dad was nine, but he told me about the song and I learned to play it on the piano for her. Then the next song? “Have yourself a merry little Christmas “. The song I played over and over two years ago.

Three songs in a row.

We also got to the hospital at 1:11.

It was November 1…11/1.

We ended and pulled out at 4:44.

Lots of signs to fill my heart with peace.

Today I’ll go to work and drink a lot of water. The last weekend was hard, and it’s been cumulative. I’m thankful

I’ve been able to function and plan to continue to do so.

I’ve got a Thanksgiving Feast, a Field Trip, and report cards due…then parent teacher conferences.

All in the next three weeks.

It’s going to be a whirlwind, along with scans and results and plans for next steps.

And let’s throw my birthday and cancerversary in there as well.

I’ll be busy but I’m thankful.

Because I’m here.

And plan to be here for many many many more years.

In Jesus’s name, amen.

Xoxo

Keri

Last Day of Summer Vacation

Last day of summer vacation.

It’s going to be challenging to go back to work tomorrow and see people who aren’t on Facebook and didn’t know about the cancer returning and chemo.

The inevitable “How was your summer?” question may pop up.

I am not going to say, “Well, five days after school ended I had a PETMRI scan, six days after I was told the cancer doubled and I was on the placebo of the trial. And the seventh day after school ended I began a heavy intravenous chemo which caused me to gain thirty pounds, lose my hair, feel nauseus, lose my taste, spend all day inside out of the sun, got a port put in my chest, my bones now hurt, and I didnt get to do anything I had planned all year on doing.

Other than that, it was good. How was yours?”

So I’m hoping people just say, “Hey Keri! Great to see you! Have a fabulous year!”

If asked, I’ll focus on the love sent to me strangers, support give me to me by friends, a summer of baseball and a championship, a summer son and a new family in our life, my amazing nurses and doctors and staff giving me tips and helping me through chemo, sunsets at the beach, magic fountain runs, giving room trips, full moon meditations, camelback, zip lines, tree top rope courses, a backyard night with magical breathing, and lots of hugs and love.

I spent the morning yesterday looking up bone pain remedies, food shopping and rallying, and by 3:00 pm I was able to get up and head into the pool for the first time in almost three weeks since the port has healed. It was the first time all summer the five of us were in the pool at the same time and it was lovely. My Tomcat Summer Son Joe texts me every Thursday to see how I’m doing at chemo, and said he wanted to come out to visit. He brought his brother with him last night, and we invited my mom and dad and robs parents. We had a lovely last minute barbecue, and I’m so glad I ended my summer with Joe. He had quite the experience here, and saw a family learn how to carry on during the hardest summer of our lives. He was a big part of it, and I remember saying to him the night before chemo started that he could leave if he wanted. I’ll always be grateful that he didn’t skip a beat and said he wanted to stay and help out. He is a special young man, and I’m so glad Quinn has a big brother figure to look up to.

Today I’m going to work on lesson plans and schedules and newsletter and bus list templates. I’m going to try and head to the Giving Room as it has been weeks since I’ve been there.

Tomorrow teachers and staff in my district head to school. We start with what I call the “Pep Rally”, bring food for the food pantry, then head to our buildings for meetings and set up. I’m also opening my classroom for my new batch of kinders to drop off supplies and ease any worries.

I’m still debating what color hair to wear tomorrow… pink? Silver? Brown? Blonde?

May today’s last day of summer be a long slow one, may i get all I need to get done today crossed off my list, and may I continue to heal.

In Jesus’s name, amen.

Xoxo

Keri

Empathy vs Sympathy

I’m in the detox bath and have taken sixteen supplements already, and wrote down about fifteen things I would like to do today as I gear up for school.

Do I know how to kick off the weekend or what?

My CA125 markers came back and dropped 3.3 more points. My oncologist said that because I’m in “normal range”, decreases will be harder to see.

I’ll take it.

Something came to me the other day that’s important to share.

It happened while watching John McCains funeral. I caught only a speaker or two, and turned it off after a few minutes of Joe Biden.

Don’t get me wrong, I have respect for how he carried on after so many life shocks in his life, but his eulogy made me upset.

Why?

Because he stood in front of the grieving family and told them he knew how they were feeling, how it was like being sucked into a black hole inside your chest, and it was all consuming. That the pain was sharp and so hollowing. That nothing can ease the pain. That in six months from now everyone else will have moved on but they will smell something or see something and feel the pain they felt the day he died.

Yup.

He said other things too, nice things, but man…

When you are sucked into a black hole of grief, having someone narrate it and say just how awful it is may not be the thing to hear at that moment.

He was putting his experience of grief onto them.

Everyone is different.

Obviously, I think we all know the pain and heartache that comes with death.

Having people speak out and over you detailing just how horrible you should be feeling or they think you are feeling doesn’t help.

Same with cancer.

When people send cards or say, “This must be so hard, I don’t know how you do it.”, it makes you feel a little worse in the next moment.

You may have been having a great day, and suddenly your narrative is painted differently and you think…”Wait…Yes, it is hard. Wow. How am I doing it? This really sucks.”

But when people say, “How are you?”, you get to paint the narrative yourself.

People are storytellers.

Some people love to tell stories that portray themselves as victims, or stories that are sad, or even sadder than your story.

“Oh, you have cancer? My aunt had cancer. She died after a year. It was hard. Chemo was so rough on her….”

Some people tell stories that can fill you up.

“Oh, you have cancer? My aunt had stage four. She is still doing great after twelve years!”

Some people don’t tell stories, but instead sit next to you and just share your space.

Those are sometimes the best shared story moments.

Let’s try to stop saying, “You must be feeling so ______ right now.”…

And instead simply ask how people are feeling.

If you’ve never felt that way because you’ve never experienced whatever brought on the emotion, you’ll have something called sympathy, which is feeling sorry or sad for them.

Instead of saying, “I feel so bad for you…”, sometimes just saying, “I’m here for you” can be so much better.

If you’ve had the similar experience, then that’s called empathy. You’ve been in similar shoes… but not the same shoes, because everyone’s story is their own.

Instead of saying,”Oh, when I had chemo it was horrible. I was so sick and couldn’t work and man, I thought I was going to die”, it may be more helpful to say, “I had chemo too. How are you doing?”

I know Joe Biden meant well.

People usually do.

Words have power. They can either bring people down or lift people up.

And sometimes, no words are needed, and simply sharing space and sitting quietly can be beautiful and healing too.

Today I’ll try to cross items off my list, get Quinn an outfit or two for school, and maybe fix my cracked phone screen. It’s day three, and I’m hoping it’s an easy one.

Today may all of our words lift others up, and continue to heal.

In Jesus’s name, amen.

Xoxo

Keri

PS. Here is a great video from Brene Brown, who I absolutely love.

Round 8

I haven’t updated as much here. The higher chemo kicked my ass a bit, and I’ve been busy gearing up for school. I did much better than anticipated though, and went in yesterday for another round.

I didn’t sleep much last night, but I’m up and in another detox bath.

We decided we would watch and wait on the neulasta, If my count drops below a 1, then I’ll take it. It’s a concern as I am around small children, and I am immune compromised due to chemo.

I was worried about the neutrophil count being low and the neulasta issue… until I just checked my ANC levels from the past two years.

Yesterday I was 1.47.

I’ve been as low as 1.07 during the height of flu season and sailed through. I’m actually higher than I was for several months when I was on Ibrance.

I stopped sploosh this summer, but I think im going to go back to it. It’s a great way to get Manuka honey, cinnamon and dark berries in to my body. Donnie’s medicinal smoothie is a bit rough on the taste buds, so I’ll make that as an afternoon happy hour drink.

When I went to the meetinghouse deli by my school yesterday, I realized it was my last time going in for breakfast and lunch for chemo, as now I’ll be working all morning at school and heading in for afternoon sessions. The ladies there sent me on my way every time and didn’t charge us. The fact that they made my food with love and gave it with hugs and bible verses helped me more than they know.

When I got to the cancer center, I saw another patient who I’ve bonded a bit over wigs. I wore my new pink one, and she loved it. I realized something recently that made me upset. When I was told about chemo starting and losing my hair, I freaked about my hair. White women spend a lot of money of dying, cutting etc. When thrown a cancer diagnosis, and chemo, and hair loss, women panic and spend whatever is needed to try and retain a “normal” look.

Wig places will also tell you that you can be reimbursed by insurance, so you don’t feel as bad spending a lot of money.

Here’s the thing.

When I was speaking to a girlfriend who is African American, she was like…”You spent HOW much??? And that’s SYNTHETIC?? Girrrrrl… let me tell you about online wigs…”

For some women, wigs and weaves are commonplace. My eyes were opened and I was given tips and ideas, and I went online and was shocked at the price difference.

Shocked.

And angry, because man… the wig I got online is fabulous, I watched a video on how to cut the front lace, and I love it. It’s obviously a wig because it’s pink, but I may try another one in an everyday color just to check. If it’s just as amazing as the one we spent an obscene amount of money on…

When I’m better, I’ll help white women with cancer learn how to navigate online wig shopping and save a boatload of money.

Thank God for my girlfriend and her hair secrets.

Apparently when you put black and white together…

You get pink hair.

I handed out the pumpkin muffins and bread and it was a hit. I love the staff at the cancer center. They’ve become my friends, and I always feel happy to see everyone.

I was proud of myself when I asked for the orders for me to be changed from One anti nauseau med to another, as well as having the courage to refuse a medication. It’s hard to advocate for yourself, and patients don’t like to look like we are questioning. But we know our bodies best, and if you’re at a good place, you will be listened to when you speak up.

I love my nurses.

The port was accessed easy peasy, and there were no steroids at all this time. I sailed through the taxol and ended earlier than ever as I only had the one chemo agent. I’m still waiting on my CA125 Numbers, but they will be lower.

Rob was my rock again, and he may not slip glass slippers on my feet, be he is totally my Prince Charming.

I cried a little when I was sent a picture of Morgan at her middle school orientation. I was sad I was in a chemo chair instead of with her, but that made my blood pressure start to rise so I had to put the picture away and breathe.

We left the hospital, I had a salad at home, made rob a birthday lasagna, and went to school for the last minute items. Then we had dinner, and I took a two hour detox bath while listening to a podcast and getting back to peoples messages about cancer help.

There have been a lot lately…

A… lot.

I keep praying that the science breakthroughs happen sooner than later, and that western and eastern medicine and naturopaths and healers all get together and work in one circle.

Today I’ll keep detoxing, go for a walk, head to dress barn for an outfit for school, get kids a new outfit, and then rest.

Maybe even suggest Dress Barn change it’s name to Dress Boutique because really… what women wants to say they went into a barn to get clothes…

May today bring more healing for everyone who needs it, a super low CA 125, higher ANC, and great dresses.

In Jesus’s name, amen.