Move Your Stone

I’ve got my Lazarus.
We all do.
I think the story of Mary, Martha and Lazarus is so timely for today.
Jesus loved them. They invited Him into their house, Martha cooked for Him, Mary sat at His feet and listened.

So when their brother Lazarus became sick, they sent word to Jesus. They didn’t just say that Lazarus was sick…
But instead said..
“The one you love is sick.”
Maybe to remind Jesus of His love for them. They didn’t ask Him to come and heal Lazarus, but after having heard the miracles they hoped He would come and give them one, because He loved them. He did miracles for strangers, and they hosted Him and were His friends.
Instead, when Jesus got word of Lazarus…
Jesus waited.
He waited two more days and then went to see them when He already knew Lazarus was dead.
This time, Jesus wasn’t invited into the house. Mary stayed home and Martha went to meet Him at the gate. She said that if He had been there, her brother would not have died, but she knows that God would still do whatever Jesus asks.
This is where Jesus proves a point.
He doesn’t just say He CAN resurrect…
He says He IS the resurrection and the life.
H uses the words “I AM”.
And even though I’m sure Martha is mad, she still believes that. Despite being mad and she could have doubted what He could do, she didn’t. She still believed, even in the depths of grief.


Our biggest task we have is to have TRUST, even when times are the hardest. Even when we lose our jobs. Even when the abuse continues. Even when the cancer isn’t taken away. Even when our loved ones die.
Then Martha went to the house to tell
Mary the teacher is here. Notice she didn’t bring Jesus to the house. Jesus stayed at the gate.
He only goes as far as you let Him.
Mary comes out and this time when she falls at His feet, it’s not to pour oil or use her hair to dry them, but instead to cry…”Lord, If you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
Then comes the shortest sentence in the Bible.
“Jesus wept”.


He knew what He was about to do, but He still cried with them. He showed them that even when in pain, He is there and crying with them. Empathy.
There were two groups of onlookers.
One said , “Oh, see how much He loves them, He is crying with them.”
The other group is like, “here’s this guy who opened the eyes of the blind man but didn’t do this for the ones who fed Him and loved Him and had Him at their house.”
Which group would you be in?
Jesus asked to go to the place where Lazarus was buried and asked them to move the stone. Martha didn’t want to, as Lazarus had been sealed in for four days and there would be an odor.
The tomb was where there pain was. What’s in your tomb? Family issues? Addiction? Sickness and disease? What are you hiding away? Will you remove the stone that seals it in your heart and allow Jesus in?
Mary and Martha did.
Jesus said thanks to His Father, our Father, and knows that this had to happen so that everyone would believe. Then Jesus said the words…
“Lazarus, come out!”
And guess what?
Lazarus came out. The one who died. The one who had been sealed up for four days, came out of the tomb. Jesus told them to unbind him from the grave clothes and let him go.


Everyone has a Lazarus. Something they have hidden away in their heart causing pain. Jesus showed that if you remove the stone and let Him in, He can help you release it.
Unbind it.
Take off everything you use to hide it away and cover it up.
He had to let things get so bad so He could show how good it can be.
I’ve struggled so much with my own Lazarus.
The cancer.
So many nights I’ve cried and asked why Jesus hasn’t taken the cancer from me. He even said, “Never will I leave you.” I’ve gotten tired of having Him asleep on my
Boat in this storm, even if he did wake up for a short time this week with the biopsy result.
I want Him to stop just being with me and crying with me as I cry, and instead give me my Lazarus moment.
Don’t we all.
Especially now with the pandemic, and business shutting down and loved ones sick and schools closed.
It is this time when we have to trust even harder. When Martha rolled up on Jesus and was like, “My cooking and house was good enough for you, but when we needed you, you didn’t come”, Jesus asked her if she still believed in Him.
Despite her anger or disappointment.. she did.
That’s the true test of faith. How you handle your disappointment when you feel God has forsaken you. Do you still believe?

Sometimes we need the situation for the revelation.
Two weeks ago I felt like the tomb was coming for me. Stopping all treatment. Hearing the frustration in my doctor’s voice as well as my herbalist being not as confident as he had been must a month ago.
I could have given up my faith.
My trust.
Instead, I leaned into it.
We can’t say something is a failure when it is still in the process of what becoming what it is meant to be.
Today, look into your heart. What have you buried from Jesus, what pain are you hiding?
Move your stone.
Let Him in.
It’s not that he can perform resurrection…
He IS the resurrection.
He was and is and will be to come.
Always.
He will never leave you.
He stays where you keep Him..
Whether it’s at the gate or in your heart.
He weeps with you in hard times.
He IS the resurrection and the life.
Move… your… stone.
In Jesus’s name, amen.

Xoxo

Keri

metimes we need the situation for the revelation.
Two weeks ago I felt like the tomb was coming for me. Stopping all treatment. Hearing the frustration in my doctor’s voice as well as my herbalist being not as confident as he had been must a month ago.
I could have given up my faith.
My trust.
Instead, I leaned into it.
We can’t say something is a failure when it is still in the process of what becoming what it is meant to be.
Today, look into your heart. What have you buried from Jesus, what pain are you hiding?
Move your stone.
Let Him in.
It’s not that he can perform resurrection…
He IS the resurrection.
He was and is and will be to come.
Always.
He will never leave you.
He stays where you keep Him..
Whether it’s at the gate or in your heart.
He weeps with you in hard times.
He IS the resurrection and the life.
Move… your… stone.
In Jesus’s name, amen.

The 2% and Stay Home for Cancer

These are such strange times we are navigating, especially in my life.
Yesterday was a harder day emotionally for the kids. It was supposed to be the opening night of Les Miserables. The girls had been working so hard, Madison on stage and Morgan helping with stage crew. Their director sent out a video yesterday of former directors and members of Blue Masques that was full of encouragement for them.
Then we got the email from Camp Kesem. This is a camp my kids have gone to for the past two years free of charge. Our chapter is run through stony brook university, and it is a support group camp for children dealing with a parent with cancer. They love it, as they are surrounded by other kids who “get it”. The counselors are all amazing college students, they have a full week upstate with all sorts of fun activities. They also have one night where they light candles and share.
It’s been cancelled this year.
Yet another disappointment for them.
So I pulled out my construction paper and they made hearts for a big heart rainbow in my window. There’s this thing people are doing for kids, that they can go around town on drives and look for rainbows.
A rainbow is a reminder of Gods promise.

I was tagged in a picture by Kelly Thomas, a triple negative advocate. She has a great informative Instagram page called “Talk is cheap”. For every selfie posted with the hashtag #stayhomeforcancer there will be $5 donated to support women with cancer. I’m exhausted and in some pain, but I did it.

I also did a Facebook live video for all of my teacher friends who asked what I grabbed from my classroom during the supermarket sweep grab and go. I have no clue what I’ll do with this, but I’m prepared for anything.


As for me, I had my video conference with my doctor. She said she was so surprised by the results of the biopsy, that she actually called the company. The company confirmed the results and said this only happens in 2% of cases.
Of course.
She is very excited that there is now immunotherapy for me, and we discussed side effects. The first dose will be the hardest, as it will be a “loaded” dose. The next dose will be half the amount of one drug. Once again, it’s a blessing to be home during this time. I can work from home while dealing with side effects.
My herbalist actually wrote to me that he plans on having this new treatment buy me some time and then he can slowly use his herbs to bring me to remission.


Remission.
That’s the holy grail word in stage four world.
We are hoping to start treatment soon. My oncologist was adamant i stay isolated from the world, as she already has some cancer patients with covid, and she said it is scary.
Although it is technically spring break, I also spent hours yesterday helping some of my student families. Everyone is frustrated that there has been no word on if school will will continue to be cancelled past April 1. It seems inhumane and cruel to make families wait anxiously for more information. I know my own kids ask about thirty times a day if we are really going back next week. I think it is once again a waiting game based on Governor Cuomo. Add on the stress of regents exams not cancelled yet…
mental health is important here, and everyone should be doing all they can to help ease anxiety of others.
I’m concerned that districts with strict schedules already in place may eventually do more harm than good. For example, if a Thursday and Friday are going to be beautiful sunny days, and the weekend will be rainy, there should be wiggle room for students. Give them Thursday and Friday off to go outside and get fresh air, and exercise, soak up vitamin D, then work during the weekend when stuck inside. If this isn’t ending soon, emotional and mental health must become just as important as the educational assignments.
Today was supposed to be the North Fork Breast Health Coalition Gala where I was being awarded the very first Medal of Valor award for advocacy. It’s been moved to June 5th for now. We will see what happens. But I’ve got even more to share to everyone about how important it is to be your own advocate. By pushing for this biopsy, i went from no more viable good options to a whole new path. How many women have sat quietly in exam rooms and not advocated for themselves? Maybe I’m part of the 2% but the number should be higher… because women aren’t asking for this test more.
Today I’m going to try and really organize the house and clean. Once treatment starts and I’m working every day from home as well as making sure my kids are staying on top of their work while dealing with side effects…
Knowing the house is clean and organized will help.
I threw the kids in the car and we drove to every family members house for a porch visit. They all stayed on their porches and we stayed far away by the car as they got to see each other and catch up. The kids needed some cheering up, and it helped their spirit.
Today I’m praying that someone makes a decision and let’s families in limbo know that they will not be going back to school next week, as well as prepare everyone for distance learning will look like. I’m praying the Stony Brook Phillips Family Cancer Center gets me an appointment quickly for early next week so I can begin this new treatment.
Happy Friday everyone… make a memory❤️
In Jesus’s name, amen.

Xoxo

Keri

The Biopsy is Back and My World has Changed Again

“Sometimes, very bad news can be good news and a blessing in disguise.”
“The world can be a weird place, huh?”
Those two phrases changed my whole world yesterday.


I woke up expecting a calmer day after having worked about thirty hours in two days. That didn’t happen.
I started off looking over the work my team did the last two days, and decided to go into school during the allotted time set for my last name. We have no idea how long we will be out, or what we will be doing. All we have been told is that we have to make a plan for now for seven days that can be also done on paper, so that those without computers can also learn. I don’t know if we will do videos or not. I know we won’t do live videos for so many reasons that are smart and make sense. Based on the news, it looks like we will be out a lot longer.
Off I went with my two bins and one bag, mask and gloves. I saw some colleagues from far away and we all said how much we miss being in school and teaching. The end of the year is the “sweet spot”, where kids start to put it all together.
We only had thirty minutes, so it was like the old tv show, “supermarket sweep”. Grabbing things I think I may need, trying to walk around the room and looking at everything carefully while also watching the clock. I went quickly through my read alouds and grabbed enough books to last to the end of the year if needed. I grabbed math manipulatives, markers, teacher guides, assessments I last did, chart paper, and some of my teaching props.

I took one last picture of my classroom, not knowing when I would be back again.


I came home and signed in to yet another zoom to learn about yet another web based learning program.
That was when my world changed.
I received an email from my oncologist that the biopsy from last week showed the cancer totally changed and mutated to Her2+. I am now what they call “Triple Positive”, as the hormone receptors estrogen and progesterone are also positive.
She said she wants me to start herceptin and perjeta ASAP. She said she can get me in to the stony brook Southampton cancer center, and we will be talking today at 4. It is not chemo, won’t compromise my immune system and is a targeted therapy. I think it may be classified as immunotherapy.
I had also just gotten an email from Erin, Donnie’s assistant saying they are concerned about my calcium levels and they are reaching a dangerous point. I emailed her back immediately and told her the news I just got. She said she would discuss it with Donnie today and that although it is a much more aggressive form of cancer, there are GREAT therapies to treat it.
I then got several emails from my herbalist. One week ago he was adamant I stop all treatment and I did. He said the chemo was killing me, and no more. He said that he was not sure he could stop the progression of the cancer, but hoped to try and get me healthier for when a good therapy became available.
Yesterday?
He said that I HAD to do this therapy. But the good news here is that although it’s a more aggressive cancer, the treatment will stop the progression and his herbs are very effective at killing this tripe of cancer. He said we will soon get the upper hand. He even called me, and rob and I heard the excitement in his voice. He said my oncologist is smart that she is not adding chemo to the plan. He also said I should add calf liver to my diet. He said that the energy of the animals organ will help heal my organ, that it is delicious pan fried with onions, and it can be rich so don’t eat too much. He calls this new information a blessing in disguise.
All of this while listening to a zoom, texting colleagues about our educational plans to reach every child, messaging and texting families in English and Spanish and trying to get them into a new website platform virtually.
I fear I am failing miserably the past few days as a homeschool teacher to my own kids. Once I get everything set up, I will have to force myself to set certain hours for work, as yesterday was another thirteen hour day.
I realized last night that Donnie saved my life. He has been adamant I get the blood biopsy for months. My oncologist said I had just had a liver biopsy about sixteen months ago and didn’t feel it would change that quickly.
After having five treatments fail, she agreed. Who knows how long ago the cancer mutated? It’s possible I’ve been on the wrong chemo for months and months. That’s why they have all not worked.
How crazy is that?
I’m not angry or bitter, even after having been hospitalized for days and thinking I was dying at Christmas. It’s all part of the story He has chosen for me.
I stopped working at 9 last night and then turned on my researching skills to look at the two new drugs. They have a lot of promise. Some women have been NED for years. It is generally well tolerated. It’s the best possible thing that could have happened other than the miracle of Jesus taking it all away through a miracle.
All during a pandemic and learning a new way of teaching with no clue how long it will be going on.
If there is one thing I’ve learned the past few years, it’s that we stay in the moment and count our blessings.
Today starts “spring break”. I said to rob this morning that every break this year has really sucked. Chemo overdose during Christmas, February break learning that yet another treatment failed and feeling time was running out. This one could have been the worst, with a pandemic and stopping all treatment.
But then?
This door opened.
You never know when things will radically change. You keep holding on and praying.
You keep your eyes on Jesus as he sleeps on your boat.
Yesterday, he opened his eyes.
Praying today’s conference call with my doctor goes well and we get to pivot to a new path that has so much promise.
May this pivot and new path be one I can walk for decades to come.
In Jesus’s name, amen.

Xoxo

Keri

We are Made of Magic and Resilience

We are made of magic and resilience.
That’s something I’m going to keep telling myself today.
I’m hoping to find out a long term plan on how to continue to teach my five and six year olds long term. I’m being optimistic but realistic. I live in NY, and our governor said this could last for months. However, we are slated to come back next week. Being a realist with common sense, and having heard Dr Fauci say this wont even hit its peak until May…I know we will be out longer.
I’m being optimistic maybe we can eek out a week or two in June, where we can throw every single concert, school musical, prom, and graduation ceremony. The history books will read. “And the people emerged from their houses and danced, sang, played music, and celebrated life.”
Madison and Morgan know how to use google classroom. It seems to be how all the high schoolers communicate and do work. Quinn was only just introduced to it this year, but he has his sisters to help. Me? I’m lost. I have no clue. The thing with kindergarten is we’ve noticed these children are so communication and verbally deficient, we moved away from devices as much as we can. They’ve been raised on devices with phones in their hands since they can hold a bottle. A keyboard is new, and let me tell you, trying to teach them how to log in when they don’t recognize numbers or letters and don’t have fine motor control to use a mouse is painful. Computer class in October makes every teacher want to cry. Usually it’s right around now we can start to instruct the kids on better keyboard habits.
I called all of my families on Friday. Many of my families don’t have a computer. The only technology they have is the parent’s phone. Some don’t have a printer. Some don’t read English or Spanish, and some have already told me their child is giving them problems doing the work we sent home before we were closed. Some have more than one child and only one computer, and the parent is working from home now and needs the computer during the day to work. We also have children with IEPs, who receive services. How do we teach those children as well?
The ones that worried we the most are the ones who didn’t answer the phone and never called me back. Or the ones who told me they are going to need to start to use the food distribution at school every day.
This is a mess, through no fault of anyone.
It’s easy to armchair quarterback from a glass house stocked with everything you need. The problem is the people in glass houses who throw stones never see the issues of others.
We took yesterday as a family to press pause.
We all sat and rob read from the Bible on his phone and we discussed study notes. The girls talked about latin words they heard, Quinn snuggled with Maddie and she let him since I still can’t, and we prayed for people we knew who needed prayers.


Then we made soups. Hippocrates soup and French onion soup, with enough to drop off some to my mom and dad. We cleaned and listened to music.


Rob made a seventies playlist, and started playing all of these songs that we used to hear while dating. There was a station called LOVE 96.1 with a woman named Delilah, and at night when he would call me, or whenever we drove around in his Jeep, I would make him play the music.
Yesterday he kept playing the songs and I kept crying. The girls were laughing at me, but I told them I always dreamed of getting my happily ever after, and I did with rob.
Now I’m still praying it lasts longer.
The local hospital set up a meal train to receive food and bottled water. Rob called one of his dear friends who owns Digger O’Dells to set up a delivery of food to the hospital. We can all support restaurants and the people working at the hospital at the same time. Perhaps friends can choose a restaurant every week or two and pool whatever money they can together and order. The staff at the hospital need all the support they can get.


Maddie practiced driving, and was upset when her driving test for next week was cancelled yesterday. We also went to the beach and skipped rocks.
It’s hard to not be glued to the tv these days, but I’ve set a limit. Usually we watch the governor, then we watch an hour at night for more updates.
It helps.
This week is going to get harder. The restrictions will become more real and the White House has sent the National Guard to NY to help. Parents, watch your children. Older kids may become depressed having lost many important milestones and social interactions, and younger children may become more defiant. Whatever plans school start rolling out, have patience. No one could have planned for this, especially when every year every class is different. Know that teachers are learning new ways to teach and families will learn new ways to learn. We are all in this together.
The Katrina Kids from New Orleans still became doctors and lawyers and teachers and welders and police officers and truck drivers and business owners. Your kids will be ok as long as they feel safe as loved. And remember…
They are made of magic and resilience.
My friend sharon from college dared me to make a video after she made a dance video. I downloaded tik tok and made one. She did a rap video, and I did an AC/DC one with a black wig…

I got cats eyes, nine lives…

I made another one yesterday with a Christian singer makes lauren daigle. It’s was Sunday, and a reminder for everyone to look up and remember God is with us is always helpful.

Look up, child…

With all the wigs i have, maybe I’ll make more. My friends are worried about me, especially now that all chemo has stopped. Seeing me being “ok” will help them. So I’ll make a fool of myself if it eases their minds. I’m not having a pity party, although God knows I am entitled. Having your eighth line of chemo fail during a worldwide pandemic that is more fatal to you and hearing you wouldn’t get a respirator should you need one, and then stopping all chemo because there’s no guarantee it would continue or even work…
But I am not having a pity party.
They don’t serve champagne at pity parties.
Mindset. We can’t control what’s going on outside, we can can control what’s going on inside.
I’m also down ten pounds. I’m planning to emerge from this cocoon with hair longer than an inch, at a healthy weight and no longer as bloated from steroids, and healed. Thirty pounds to go and one major organ and bones and lymph nodes and breast to clear up.

It could be worse. There could be a atrial disaster. I keep thinking of Miss Beadle from Little House. She taught in one room, with kids of all ages, grew her own food, had to use an outhouse, had only the Bible a a few primer readers, chopped wood for the stove in the classroom, and they all had to walk to school and no computers or phones.

“Think this is hard? That’s cute…”


No biggie.
All while navigating a new normal, helping to keep my children balanced through yet another curveball life has thrown at them, learning a new way to teach after 24 years, and quarantined away from the world for my safety.
I can do it.
After all…
I’m made of magic and resilience.
In Jesus’s name, amen.

Xoxo

Keri

Complainers and Helpers During a Pandemic

There is such an evident divide in mentality right now I’m seeing during a crisis.
First, there are the complainers.
The ones who sit in glass houses and behind keyboards who live to complain about others. No matter what others do, they twist it to make it not good enough. One would think during a worldwide pandemic that maybe they would be a little bit more aware of what’s happening, but it seems to flame the fire. I guess everyone is stressed, and it brings out either the best or worst in everyone.
People are complaining about places being closed. Pictures and interviews on tv from Florida show millennials still partying. Complaining they deserve this time to party and drink. Who is to blame? Them, or their parents who raised them and allowed them to go?
People are complaining about having to homeschool. Either the schools are sending too much or too little. I’m in many teacher groups that have now sprung up from all over the country with educators trying to figure out new learning platforms, worried about their students, all while dealing with their own issues the pandemic has brought. Some have spouses who are ill, or lost their jobs this week. Some have parents in nursing homes and can’t see them. Some have children of their own they now have to teach while trying to figure out how they will teach other people’s children at the same time, all without the materials they need because they are in the classroom. Some states are not giving clear direction, or have gotten plans from districts and then said the district couldn’t do it and to try again.
People are attacking others while local hospitals are sending out SOS signals for masks. Read that again. There are doctors and nurses who know they will be exposed and will not have enough masks. They will be working extra shifts and away from their families.
How people can sit in their glass houses and complain with their keyboards is beyond me.
But then there are the helpers.
There are local businesses and restaurants that people are now going out and trying to help them survive.
People are checking on their neighbors and shopping for them if they need.
Schools are still giving out food to families who need it more than ever. I called all of my families yesterday to check on them. I speak enough Spanish to get by, and asked if everyone had enough food. If everyone was ok. I reassured parents that teaching is hard, I went to school for five years and had to get a masters degree to do it. Right now, everyone’s mental and emotional health is as important as schooling. If parents ran out of work, reading is always a go to. So is writing about your day in a journal, no matter your age. Getting outside for exercise, listening to different types of music. I also got to speak to my students. One mom said it was like Santa called. Made my day.
No one could have prepared for this. Every district is different. Right next door the district gave out chrome books and has a rigid schedule in place for learning. But they are also a smaller district, and don’t have the poverty or language issues we have. The gap between the haves and have nots will widen.
Kids are getting emotionally crushed. Sports seasons cancelled. Yesterday NYSSMA was cancelled. Kids who have been practicing so hard on their music now don’t get to compete. We also heard les miserables might eventually be cancelled. Heartbreaking if it is. The AP college boards just said they are changing the tests to a 45 minute test at home, and will offer two dates. They are changing the material covered and are giving three video review classes. Being a parent of a child who is taking three exams this year, I see the stress.
But this is when we as parents teach resilience during hard times. Understanding of the big picture. Self motivation.
If schools aren’t assigning enough work in your opinion, become a parent. Instead of complaining, look at their notebooks, see what they were learning, and have them read more on the topic. There are plenty of free site now that offer worksheets. If you are one of the lucky ones who had a computer and a printer, use it. Many families in poorer districts don’t have printers or computers. Realize the world isn’t as privileged as you, and be grateful you can give your children more. Empathy. We can teach our children empathy.
Gratefulness.
We took the kids for a walk on the beach after the NYSSMA news and AP news. I explained to Maddie it’s all how you look at it. We can sit and complain and point fingers, or we can be grateful. There are families who are stuck in high rise buildings without a beach to escape to. Children whose parents just lost their job and now will worry about food. Then we look at our blessed life and can be grateful we have a house, food, and the means to continue to educate ourselves. We can look at the miracle of all the water and sand and beauty as we walked together. That despite everything, we still had each other.
That could be the most important lesson she will learn during this time. It’s not the things you have, it’s the people you love.
We talked about the helpers. The North Fork Doughnut Company and The Cooperidge Inn are sending food to the hospital workers. My husbands cousin contacted me and got me in earlier for my lab draw when she knew they were empty in the lab so I had less exposure. My friends in Facebook and at the lab suggested a home nurse visit for future labs and port flushes to keep me safe.
The people who rushed my herbs to me so I could start them yesterday.

Here’s to healing… cheers!

And yes, they are as horrible tasting as they look, and I have to hold my breath and chug them down while praying they heal my liver. At the lab, I was told to remember that the liver is the only organ than can regrow and heal. I had forgotten that and was focused on how the liver would kill me. Now I have a new way of thinking.
Walking on the beach was good for the soul. We ran into people we know, and although everyone stayed at least six feet away, it was nice. Connection. When we go for our morning walk on the road, if we pass others, there is a kind smile and wave.
How we act now will change the outcome.
Some will emerge bitter and angrier, meaner.
Some will emerge kinder, more grateful, and have more empathy.
We can’t change what is happening, but we can change how we react.
Use the glass house and see your reflection. Use your keyboard to offer help instead of criticizing.
Everyone is doing the best they can with what they know and all they have.
If you say that about everyone, you realize everyone is human.
Be kind.
In Jesus’s name, amen.

Xoxo

Keri

It is Done

I’m scared.
I was watching the radical remission new episode released last night, and all these experts said to name the emotion, and face it.
I’m terrified.
I dont even think there is a strong enough word actually, which makes it hard to name.
We waited most of the day for my oncologist to call. I gave up around 5 pm, and then the phone rang.
Having a discussion like we had over the phone was obviously not ideal. Body language, facial expression, and simply physical presence matters. All we had was a voice.
And what the voice said truly scared me.
She started off by saying she absolutely understands my frustration that yet another chemo has failed me. She said she is frustrated too. Eight lines of hard chemo in three years isn’t easy. She said the new course she is suggesting is similar to Adriomycin, which is the one I had in September and made me lose all my hair and eyebrows and eyelashes, but it isn’t as cardiotoxic.
I brought up my concern about the new factor in the equation… the coronavirus. She said it is absolutely a factor. We don’t know how bad it is going to get, and we couldn’t guarantee that whatever chemo schedule I go on would be kept. She said that she did see some patients yesterday, but they were only patients getting chemo that had to come that day. She also said that having my immune system take another big hit would be dangerous during the pandemic.
As if my life hadn’t been in danger the past three and a half years, let’s add a worldwide deadly virus worthy of its own movie.
I told her all about the annie Appleseed conference. I told her how we met with my herbalist, he did an exam, and knew then that the doxil wasn’t working. He also knew my liver was in trouble. I also told her that it’s one thing to hear about people who have been helped by him, but we actually met them. And these are people we saw the year before who were on chemo, he told them to stop this last year, and this year at the conference they were still doing well. I told her how he is honest, and I’ve sent people to him that did not want to do chemo and he was adamant that they do chemo. I told her about my concern about my new liver pain and how it hurts to take a deep breath. Rob told her how he helped me examine my breast and explained the new lump he felt.
We told her how Donnie suggested adding letrozole for now, and she said it would not work because of the ESGR1 mutation. We are all in agreement that we are hoping the biopsy tells us something new so we can try to come up with a plan that is based on science instead of guessing what might work.
For the first time ever…
She said she didn’t know what to do.
She said that she couldn’t guarantee that her drugs would work better than his herbs.
She said that now is the time to try the herbs, because we just don’t know if treatment would be continuous, the virus is dangerous to someone like me, and the biopsy is important.
She sounded defeated.
Oh, how I wish I could have seen her face, but perhaps that wouldn’t have been good either.
She wants me to have tests run today as the herbs should come today or tomorrow. She wants a baseline, and also wants to check how much the tumor markers and liver markers changed in five days. She then wants my blood taken every two weeks to keep an eye on my liver. We said if the herbs work as we hope, and my tumor markers come down, then I’ll be in good shape in three months for whatever treatment she comes up with by then. She said if the herbs work, I would stay on them. That is huge for a researcher and oncologist to say. I hope they work and she can study me. So the labs will be important.
But I cannot come to hospital for labs to be done. She wants me to stay far away from the hospital, because she said is it a major command center. Which means I am going to labcorp locally, and not for a port draw. It has to be done in my arm or hand, which is always hard because of my veins and the abuse they have taken over the years. Pray for me at 11:30. We will have to figure out where to have a port flush in four to five weeks. Maybe their Southampton center, if they are allowing patients at all. This is all so surreal.
We will keep an eye on the labs, monitor, watch the liver pain, and switch course if it gets dire.
Then I emailed my herbalist. I conveyed the conversation we had. I also sent him the picture of the two of us from Florida.

I love this man.

His response?
“Beautiful picture for wonderful memory.

I am glad your oncologist is in agreement with your decision.Now we have to do our homework. I do not know how effective my herbs will be in helping you to slow down the progression of your cancer. I plan to go forward cautiously and using non toxic herbs that cannot harm your liver and you in general. When your liver enzymes are normal again, then I will have more degrees of freedom to help you. My conservative thinking is that if we can stop the progression of your cancer, and you are physically more healthy,then you will have a good opportunity to receive a new treatment should it become available.”

He is unsure if he can slow down the progression of the cancer. That sentence made me want to throw up. I’ll know within a week or so based on the liver pain. I’ve become very intuitive to my body.
So now…it is done.
All of the team has been contacted and have had discussions. The decision has been made, and we are in agreement.
It is all in my herbalists hands.
And we are all in God’s hands.
I did my best from crying all night. I feel the fear I felt when first told I had weeks or months. Rob has been wearing his rosary over his shirt and praying. Add on the pandemic, my kids home all the time and anxious about school and the virus and their mom, praying robs business makes it through, and waiting to hear about how I’m supposed to teach kindergarten virtually…
How is all of this even happening?
But God threw me a lifeline.
Another episode of Radical Remission from Hay House was released last night, and it featured Valencia Robinson.

Valencia Robinson… my friend.

We have become Facebook friends and met in Florida and got to hug each other. This episode was about positive emotions. It was just what I needed at that moment, even though I kept crying while rob and I watched it. Everyone should watch this series. The hope and miracles of these people seem unbelievable…but I’ve met them.
I know it’s all possible.
Anything is possible.
My plan now is to go hardcore. My oncologist said I have to. She said definitely diet and exercise. My diet went off the rails during the hard chemo and steroids. I’m back. No sugar, hard fasting, upping veggies and fruit. I am only eating between 12-6. Salads and soups and juice. We set up a gym downstairs. I’m going light because of the liver pain now, but hope to increase. I’ll be meditating. Limiting the news. Watching funny movies or tv shows. Breathing.
Praying.
Today I’ll head to labcorp and get the baseline labs done. I’m praying his herbs come today so we can start.
I had some bright spots yesterday. I’ll end my post with the gratitude moments.
I got in my car and drove to the giving room. I talked to Paula and Heidi through the front door and over six feet away. I also got juices, fully masked and gloved.
I dropped off juices to my sister. She stood on her porch and I stood in the driveway and tried to not cry. She supports my decision and that means so much. I also danced in her front yard for my nieces and we all laughed and blew kisses.
I dropped off juices to my mom. I stood on the porch and stayed in the house and the second I saw her I burst into tears. Which is hard when wearing a surgical mask and gloves and can’t touch your face. I needed to see her for my own soul. My heart is with all of my friends whose loved ones are in nursing homes now and they can’t see them.
Maddie and the kids worked with her new video camera. The start of Maddie’s career has begun.
I heard from my Leila’s aunt. Her family continues to follow me and send me messages. I wear her necklace all the time, and in Florida, some people wanted to touch it as they knew it was from her. She is still touching lives.

The necklace Leila’s mom sent me after Leila’s passed.


I sent a love note and a picture of me to my kindergarten students. Their parents are sending me pictures of them and I’m sharing the pictures with the whole class. Adults are quarantined but are connected with texting and social media. My students are five and their whole world has changed. Their teacher, their friends. If I can keep them connected, I will. Today I’m going to try and call my families, especially the ones I haven’t heard from. Those are the ones I’m most worried about.

We need to stay connected, even to our littlest humans.


I sat and started to read a new book I got. Untamed by Glennon Doyle. So far, it’s amazing. It’s short quick chapters which is good for my chemo brain. I sat on the couch in the basement and rob worked on the other side of the room and we listened to music.


I sipped on Chaga tea. It was delicious.
I put on my Christmas lights last night, we never took them down. It’s been a hard few months and just haven’t had time. It made me happy to see them, so I just might leave them up and add more light to this dark time.
I’m doing positive affirmations too. I’ll be ending my posts with them.
I am blessed.
I am grateful.
I am powerful.
I am healthy.
I am healed.
I am loved.
I am exactly where I am meant to be.
I am a child of God, and my father loves me.
In Jesus’s name, amen.

Xoxo

Keri

The Bermuda Triangle Day

Yesterday was a tough day.
Someone I love has been in the hospital since Monday. These new precautions for hospitals, although keeping everyone safe, are also scary. Trust me when I tell you, having someone in an emergency room and not having anyone with them to advocate is scary. It’s been hard and scary and I’ve cried.
I also got tumor markers back.
It’s not good.
To top it off, my oncologist is sick and has no voice and is unable to talk. Probably because she has been so busy preparing for everything, and stress wreaks havoc on immune systems.
Her plan is to switch me to taxotere and cytoxin. She feels I tend to respond better with a doublet. However, I have not actually responded better to anything if you look at it. Every three of four months, therapy fails and cancer spreads more.
I now feel it in my liver. Want to know how scary it is to feel cancer in the liver? Trust me, you don’t.
I spent the entire day emailing my whole team. Donnie, my herbalist, my oncologist, my trusted advisors.
I’m concerned about starting another line of treatment Thursday for several reasons.
1-I just had a biopsy. Starting a new treatment Thursday is like throwing darts at the cancer blindfolded. The biopsy company called me and the good news is that they received my blood and in a week or two they said I’ll have results, not 5 weeks or so which i thought. The biopsy could tell us new mutations we could target, or if the cancer itself has mutated.
2-there is a worldwide pandemic going on. If you listen to the news, people going through cancer are among the highest risk. A new double chemo therapy will once again bring my immune system down. Should I trust in God that the cancer is slow moving and holding off on chemo for three months won’t give it time to grow everywhere, and will give me and my team to find better options based on the biopsy?
3-hospitals are preparing to be overwhelmed. I just read an article that cargo planes may be used to deliver treatments as borders close. Is going to a hospital even safe right now for someone like me? Will they be able to keep me on a steady schedule? Will the supply of chemo be continued or disrupted? You think your life has been challenging with this virus? My life is now in even more danger than before. How is this even possible?
4-I emailed Donnie. There is a four hour time difference. I’ll get his full response today, but Erin saw him briefly in passing and filled him in. He said I have a good life force, I’m not elderly, I’m on a good protocol, and should wait for the biopsy results. That I am in better shape than most under the circumstances. I sent him my lab work and today I will get a deeper answer after he sees them, as one of my liver tests came back high.
5- I emailed my herbalist. His response? “The decision should come from you and Rob. Since the chemo is not working and is wearing you down, so if they have nothing less toxic and carry more promise to offer you, then it is sensible to take my herbs for say a 3 months period to see if they can be helpful. I am confident the herbs will significantly improve your health but I really do not know how much it can stop the progression of your breast cancer., particularly now the cancer cells have survived so much chemo and have mutated to be much tougher to deal with.” It was not as confident as he sounded in Florida. He then emailed again after seeing my labs and said its obvious the chemo is not working because the breast cancer tumor marker is rising. He reiterated that taking a break from chemo and just using his herbs, even if they are not successful, will leave me stronger to start a new line of treatment in three months.
5- I messaged another friend who has become a sounding board and knows all of my team except my doctor. At this point, chemo has not been helping much and is damaging my body. The cancer has been mutating and changing with each treatment and getting stronger. It has never been attacked by my herbalists most powerful herbs. The goal is to stay as strong as I can for as long as I can. My herbalist has been helping women for dozens of years, and this friend has met many. So have I , at the last annie Appleseed conference.

That was my day yesterday. I was with my kids and also getting emails and updates about how to proceed in these unbelievable times with regard to school. People, please. Take it easy on criticism of teachers. Everyone left work Thursday with no idea we would be closed for weeks. Teachers are people too, and also dealing with the stress of these times. Now schools are taxed with coming up with plans on how to teach remotely, as well as feed communities…. in only a few days in high pressure times. Everyone is anxious and worried. No one knows when we will really come back. No one knows what will happen with regents and AP exams and testing. Please don’t add more stress to the pile. Read, have your kids write, limit the news they hear, exercise, tackle cleaning and organizing. They should definitely write in a journal, because when they have grandchildren, this will be their Pearl Harbor, or 9/11, but in a different kind of way. I hope they look back and remember how the world came together, neighbors looked out for each other, we flattened the curve and saved many lives, and they heard of or knew a kindergarten teacher who lived for many years after.

I did all the emailing while trying to keep calm in the face of my children being home with me. I was dealing with three crisis at once. My loved one in the hospital and limited information, the cancer results, and a pandemic. Seriously, God? I’ve got Jesus on my boat sleeping, and you just allowed my boat to go into the Bermuda Triangle.
Rob was at work trying to figure everything out as well. He is a small business owner. So let’s add that stress to the day. He’s got employees to care for, bills, jobs. And a wife who is texting updates from all of the specialists all day.

That was my Saint Patrick’s day. Everything always happens on holidays with me.
Three phrases have helped me over the last few years.
“Day by day”.
We have to take everything day by day and not look too far into the future. We never know what’s coming. Would you have believed a week ago that the word would be shutting down? Probably not. Get through each day, sometimes each hour, or each minute.
“I’ll be ok, no matter what.”
When rob and I got married, our phrase to each other was “no matter what”. Meaning we would love each other no matter what happens and stick it through. So I have added that to my self talk. I’ll be ok… no matter what.
“Jesus.”
I just say His name out loud. That alone gives me strength to go on.

My kids are scared. When I told them the chemo isn’t working, they got quiet. Maddie said, “You’ll keep going, right”. I said I’ll keep going. My hope is for a long time.
I also hope that teachers don’t assign too much work. It’s different to work all day in school than in home. Learning new material is hard. Teaching it to yourself is harder.
I’m struggling as a kindergarten teacher. So much of what we do is hands on. Explicit instruction. They need socialization and questions and play. I’ve been using my remind app and sending messages every day. I’m getting pictures back of my students as they do some of my suggestions. We are staying connected.

Tomorrow I go to see Dr Stopeck. I’m hoping she has her voice back. I’ll be alone with her, and have to call rob and have him conference in. Not having his physical presence when I have to make a life or death decision is hard.
Thank God I love my doctor as a person, and I could not imagine having to do this alone as a newly diagnosed stage four patient without years of trust between us behind me.

Still, the thing is, there is someone out there… actually, a lot of people out there..
That have it worse than me.
That have it worse than you.
Let’s stop complaining and be grateful.
Let’s stop complaining and find ways to get through by helping each other.

Jesus is still on my boat. I know I’m in the Bermuda Triangle and now there is a big storm coming. Everyone on the boat, (except Jesus of course), is worried. They’ve stocked the boat with plenty of toilet paper and water and canned goods, and now we wait.
Keep your eyes on Jesus. He may be sleeping.. but He is in the boat.
I don’t know what I’m going to do…
But I know this…
we will be ok, no matter what.
In Jesus’s name, amen.

Xoxo

Keri

No matter what