We Are All Doing the Best With What we Have and Where We Are.

I got pretty angry yesterday.
It was after I got sad.
Which was after I had spent ten hours in front of my computer working on answering emails, sending out remind messages, responding to seesaw work my kindergarten students submitted and making little voice recordings for each child on every piece of work, talking on the phone to colleagues because I can’t just walk over to their rooms and ask questions, texting all day about what comes next in our plans which we are working so hard to make simple yet challenging and equal for all, and didn’t eat lunch again because I realized I hadnt eaten at 3 and by then it was too close to dinner, while also occasionally calling out, “Are you kids still working?”
I took a “break” at six thirty and went to check on my three children who I haven’t sat with or checked on since last Monday when we were told to come up with something in two days time to give to students, and haven’t stopped working since.
Quinn is ok, but misses social interaction with friends. Maddie is frustrated, because she loves school and challenges and is now doing work all day long with no clue how her AP modified tests will count, if she will even take regents, and no matter how hard she works on assignments, her grade may just end up as a P for pass.
Then? I checked on Morgan. I sat on her bed, we talked, and I remarked her hair is getting long. That’s when she showed me.
She has another bald spot. Her alopecia is back.
I asked why she didn’t tell me, and she said I’ve been so stressed with work she didn’t want to get me upset.
Not I was so stressed because of the cancer…. but freaking work.
Then we ate dinner, and my kindergarten team continued our communications and worked on something to cheer up the students to send to them each day for the next few days. Then I cried on the couch and my colleagues said they’ve been tearing up too.
This is after seeing all over Facebook parents who complained that their kids had no work for two weeks, and now complained their kids have work. Some districts told teachers exactly what to do, and some said just do something and do it fast. Some districts have communities that are vocal about supporting teachers, and some have people posting to email the BOE and Superintendent if you don’t hear from your child’s teacher.
During a pandemic.
How about, email your child’s teacher and check in? If you don’t hear from them, email the principal? If you don’t hear from the principal, then email the Superintendent?
Even better, if your child’s teacher has been staying in contact during a PANDEMIC, go ahead and email the BOE and Superintendent and say how thankful you are that in this unprecedented time, this person is still taking care of your child.
I have several colleagues who have lost their parents during the past two weeks. People I know and love. They are STILL working through their grief. In normal times they would have taken off to process this huge loss in their life. Instead? They are trying to get through their pain and learn a whole new way of teaching.
I dont understand how people can point fingers during a worldwide crisis, and still try to make teachers look like the bad guys?
My children’s teachers have been communicating with them. My middle schooler and high schooler have been self sufficient. Quinn’s teachers have all been fantastic. They are all riverhead teachers. They have all been fantastic. There is no one else I would want to work with my children right now.
Yes, there are a ton of sign ins and codes and platforms. If you think signing in to them is hard and a pain, try figuring out how to retrieve everyone’s log in codes and passwords and then explain it in English and Spanish and try to give step by step directions for virtual log in to families whose children are FIVE. I even printed them all out, cut them out, wrote alternate codes, taped them to paper, took pictures of each one and texted them individually to each family.
For fun, let’s add side effects from immunotherapy, and still shaky from having the rigors attack during infusion the day before and being afraid you were dying alone.
So please:..
Everyone is stressed.
It’s hitting everyone that this is going to be longer than anyone wants.
Everyone is trying their best, and sometimes people who point fingers should instead put their hands together and clap for the very people they are trying to attack. Praise does so much more for people than pointing fingers.
I went to bed feeling exhausted, and a failure as a mom and a teacher in this town.
Then?
I got another email at ten o’clock or so from my principals. I was almost afraid to look.
Instead…
it was a picture of a handwritten card.
Thanking us so beautifully for all we did, and simply stating they “see” us, even though we aren’t in the same space. It said a lot more, and I cried again.
We are going to get through this.
It will be easier if we take deep breaths, stop when you are overwhelmed and remember to live even when life seemed to have come to a stop.
If you are overwhelmed or your child is overwhelmed, email your teachers instead of complaining on social media. Social media won’t solve your problem, but the person you email and have communication with probably can. No one wants this.
So let’s work together to try and do whatever we can and whatever we are able for ourselves and our children.
Today is a new day.
Let’s try again.
In Jesus’s name, amen.

Xoxo

Keri

Rigors, Mouse Power, and the Cloak of Immunity Immunotherapy

Once again, yesterday was a day that was both beautiful and scary.
I have anxiety every time I go for treatment, so add on a new therapy in a new place and without rob by my side and everyone in masks because of a pandemic that they say could kill me if I get it so stay isolated…
Deep breaths going in.


The Southampton Phillips Family Cancer Center is beautiful. I had my own cubicle with a skylight and glass wall dividers with a scene of beach grass.

It turns out that my nurse knew a friend from high school, one of my secret nurses, a mom of a young man who both helped with my fundraiser at Jeni’s Main Street Cafe, as well as my sorority sister who gave her a heads up I was coming.
God always puts people where and when I need them.


It started out smoothly, we accessed the port, and waited for labs to begin the infusion. I walked to my window and there was rob in the parking. I called him, he got out of the car and sent me an air hug and love.
Every girl who grew up in the eighties wanted a John Cusack moment from Say anything where he holds the radio up.
That was my moment.


The situation was not one I ever dreamed, but let me tell you, seeing him in the parking lot and as what I needed to breathe.
The herceptin was administered over an hour and a half. I did a Facebook live video to show my friends I was ok. I sent a video to two friends.

I called another. I spoke to my mom and dad. My four year old niece snuck a call to me in her bedroom, and we giggled together.
It wasn’t too bad.
Then?
The perjeta was administered and when it was almost done I felt like I was going to die.
I had spent most of the day feeling warm, so warm that I didn’t take a blanket and took off my sweater. Suddenly I started to get very cold and put on my sweater. It didn’t help. Then i asked for a heated blanket and my nurse Laura looked at me shivering and said she was just going to sit and watch me. Then I asked for another and another blanket.
Then?
I could not stop shaking. My whole body was out of my control. Laura got another nurse and they stopped the infusion. I was 95% done with it. They decided to give me steroids. That didn’t help quick enough so I got 25 dose of Benadryl right into the port. Usually I would get it piggybacked with saline because it hits you hard when administered alone. Then they gave me another 25 of Benadryl. They tried to get me to drink hot tea, but by the time my shakes subsided enough it for them to hold up to my mouth it was cold.
I thought I was dying. That an allergic reaction was going to kill me and I was alone without my family. I tried to call rob but couldn’t figure out my phone. Finally I got hold of him and Laura explained I was having a reaction.
Imagine how rob felt knowing he couldn’t be with me.
They kept monitoring my blood pressure and it had spiked high, and they kept the oxygen thing on my finger. I worked and worked to get the shaking under control, but couldn’t. It lasted a long time, about forty minutes. They called my doctor and she said i would not get the rest of the dose. My breast also started throbbing, so badly that I wanted to cut it off.
They need to watch me for an hour after my body calmed down, and since I was the only patient left in the place, and because it was so severe, they let rob up with precautions.
I was so out of it they had to use a wheelchair to get me to the car.
I cried all the way home.
Apparently what happened is called “Rigors”.
The perjeta has mouse protein in it and my body may have recognized it as an invader and reacted. Spider man got bit by a spider and got spidey powers… I wonder what will happen to me? Will I like cheese more?
Immunotherapy also revs up your immune system. My immune system has not been able to see the cancer cells so they kept in growing. Yesterday the Harry Potter cloak of invisibility was ripped off the cancer cells and I am saying the immune system began to unleash full force and fury at the cancer invaders.
Like…”What the bloody hell? How did those guys get in? ATTACK!!” All the pain in the breast was my immune cells kicking the crap out of the cancer cells.
The hardest part was walking into the house all drugged up and out of it. My kids saw me like that, Maddie went to her room, Quinn looked scared and went to his room, and Morgan stayed on the other couch by me. Rob went and explained to the kids I was ok and had a reaction and just was drugged up.
Seriously. Today starts distance learning for them, I have to start distant teaching and we all just had a traumatic day… during a pandemic… after being isolated for weeks now and still have weeks to go.
The Benadryl wore off hours later but then the steroids kicked in around 11 and I had some more side effects.
I also spent last night praying so hard for a riverhead police officer who was in a horrible car accident while in pursuit of a criminal . Please continue to hold him, his family, and all of the officers and first responders who went to the call as well as know and love him.
My sister had been in an accident years ago and her patrol car flipped. It brought me back to that moment. I texted her late into the night as she stayed with her officer that I loved her.
It was not a stellar day for the women of my family.
Today the distant learning plan is being released. We were given two days to prepare a plan and handed it in a week ago. Today parents will see it. Please be patient. It may have been “spring break” since Thursday, but my whole school has been working long days trying to teach ourselves learning websites, contacting families, and so many zoom meetings and texts and emails that I have lost count.
I was in a zoom last night for an hour and half with my colleagues. I was still out of it, but I can tell you there isn’t anyone working harder than the teachers. We are the invisible ones lately, but I’m taking off the cloak of invisibility and telling you… we have been working non stop to track down families, making sure they are getting food, and wondering how this will all work while working blindly and remotely.
I love my colleagues, and we are fighting for the ones who don’t have access to technology, the ones who will be left behind in all of this mess. Education in America means a fair and equitable education for all. FOR ALL. No matter your skin color, income level, language, or ability.
Even during a pandemic.
Today it begins.
The distant learning.
The homeschooling or “crisis learning” as I call it.
I’ll be dealing with side effects and trying to teach my own kids and keep track of their learning while also working and doing the same for 23 other children.
Pray for us all.
And please… stay inside. I wore an N95 mask yesterday for my own protection and now know why medical staff have bruised and red faces. It hurts your ears with the band, it hurts your nose where it is fitted.


And feeling like you are dying and knowing your loved one is in the parking lot is an experience you never want to have. Trust me.
So stay home. Stop the driveway drink hang outs. Stop letting your teens get together. The sooner we do this, the sooner we get back to our lives, and the medical staff and first responders can rest.
They are all heroes. My nurse knew I was religious, and when I was shaking and crying and wrapped in a blanket cocoon she held my hand and prayed over me.
Thank you, God, for sending me Laura yesterday.
I’m going to try and sleep another hour or so before getting the kids up and ready for school and myself ready for work.
May it be a peaceful day.
In Jesus’s name, amen.

Second Book of the Series Begins Today

Remember the first oncologist I had who said my life would now be like a book, with chapters that would get shorter and shorter until it ended? The first one I fired?
Well, turns out I dont have a book.
I have a series.
Today, the first book in the cancer series ends, and spoiler alert…
I don’t die.
I start a new book, in a new place for now.
It’s like someone hit a reset button, and I’m back at the beginning.
Today is the first day of my life as a woman being treated for triple positive metastatic breast cancer.
Yesterday I went for the echocardiogram. Rob pulled up to the doors of the building and I stood far away from the door because there were signs all over to not go in. A woman came to the door, opened it a crack, and asked me my name and why I was there. Then she slid the door closed again and checked a list. It felt a little like Dorothy when she got to the emerald city, or a spy movie.
Then she came back and said I was allowed in, but because of the chemo I’ve been on, I should put on my mask and gloves. I prepared myself, put my PPE on, looked at rob, then walked in.
I was the only patient in the whole place.
They said I could have a seat and I said I would stand, but they assured me they sanitized the chair for me. I made small talk with desk staff and then they were called for a meeting, and I was called for my echo.
Everything went well, until she said there was a part she couldn’t see that clearly and wanted to inject me with contrast. They would have needed an IV, she assured me it wouldn’t affect my liver or kidneys, but I refused and told her to push as hard as she had to, so she did, and it worked.
It ended and left. As soon as I walked outside I carefully took off my gloves and mask and used a Clorox wipe to rub down my phone and door handle and sanitizer on my hands.
We got home at 10:30 am and I went back to work. I know it’s spring break, but I’m checking in on my families every day through my remind app. Yesterday I called them all on the phone again. Today I’ll be in a chair for five hours or so, and they said it may be a tough three weeks with the loaded dose. I wanted to sound good and energetic with my families while I can.
It’s all overwhelming for everyone.
Upper grade families are used to their kids using technology at home for educational purposes. I spent all year telling my families to get them off the tablets and play. There still hasn’t been information given about how or when work will be released, and “spring break” ends tomorrow. The families are all anxious, on top of the worldwide pandemic.
Communication is everything.
Instead of hitting them all at once with new log ins and apps they can use, we decided on my team to do a gradual release. We got them all into one app on Friday, and yesterday got them all into another. It was an insane amount of work and time, but worth it.
I’ve finally also spoken to every single family on the phone. The ones who went “missing” had me losing sleep. My first questions to every family were, “Are you ok? Do you have food?” I have seven families who now need food. It’s higher than last week when I called. I reassured the parents that when the district decides to let them know what the plan is, I’ll be checking in again. I spoke in English and Spanish and everyone understood me. I told the parents that no matter what the plan is, they do what they need to stay sane. If their child is fighting with them over this, take a break. If it’s going to rain on the weekend but be beautiful during the week… do the work when it rains and go enjoy the sun. Mental and emotional health first….always.
I spoke to all of my students and they miss school so much. I promised them a big hug and a dance party when we see each other again…and I have hope that we will.
I’m visualizing a June full of reconnections, last minute proms, graduation ceremonies. I’m picturing my first group of kindergarten children who are now seniors in their caps and gowns and tuxedos and dresses. I’m picturing my kindergarten students now having the biggest playground and popsicle date ever. If you can see it, it will happen.
I finished at about 6:30 pm, realized I didnt eat lunch, ate a quick salad, then went on a zoom meeting about technology at 7 pm.
I haven’t hung out with my kids in days, and apologized for the worst spring break ever. They’ve been watching this guy called the Tim Tracker on YouTube who makes videos of Disney world. I swear I’m going to take them there again and make this all up.
I don’t know how I am going to teach from home all day while also helping my kids. This is not homeschooling. This is crisis teaching, and it’s a big difference.
Today I walk into a new cancer center to begin the new book of this journey. Rob is dropping me off then heading home. That’s killing him. He has been by my side this whole time.I’ll ask the nurses to give me a 45 minute heads up to text him when he should come back. If I’m not giving any drugs that make me loopy, I’ll do a live video and see if anyone wants to keep me company. I’ll call family, maybe read a book or listen to a Joe Dispenza meditation I bought.
Today is the new cancer beginning, and then this week is the new teaching experience beginning during a pandemic. It’s like one new life changing wasn’t enough, I’ve been thrown a pandemic, a new diagnosis, and my job has completely changed… in one week.
Seriously.
It doesn’t even sound like a movie because it’s too crazy. Well, maybe not as crazy as sharknado. But if Ian Ziering shows up…
A dear friend of mine met with my herbalist in a clandestine meeting yesterday to see if he can help her. She called me last night and he said yes. She told me that when she showed him pictures of us together his face lit up. He also said the tea tastes like cheap wine, and he told her it will taste like mine and said, “Keri, she can drink the tea all day”. I dont know where he gets his wine from, but mine tastes like mud and mushrooms. She loves him just as much as me now. He is such a blessing.
Please pray for me at 11 am. Maybe I’ll do a live video around 12 if I’m up to it.
Today, may I be covered in protection as I head out again to the outside world with an invisible enemy, while I try to get rid of the enemy within.
May I be full of courage, peace, joy, and healing.
In Jesus’s name, amen.

Xoxo

Keri

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