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.
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.



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.
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.



No matter what

Twilight Zone to Flatten the Curve

Twilight zone.
We are living in the twilight zone.
Let me explain to all of you people who think this is a joke or ridiculous why it’s not.
When rob and I drove to the hospital, we passed by the breast center where all of my appointments used to be. There was a blue line painted on the road, and a nurse in a mask was in the driveway. It’s been turned into a coronavirus testing area.
Rob pulled up to the new building and I got out. I didnt get two feet inside the building before a nurse wearing protective gear including a clear face shield stopped me. I had to stand about eight feet away from her with the security guard at the desk and answer the questions she asked me. Had I been to China, India, Iran, Germany, France? Had I traveled domestically the past two weeks? Have I had a fever or cough? What was my name? Then she had me approach the table and there were boxes of golf pencils. She took one out with her glove and placed it on the check-in form. She said no one had touched the pencil, asked me to sign the form, then throw out the pencil.
The kindergarten teacher in me cringed, as I buy those pencils for my kids because they are easier to use for fine motor, and here it was being thrown out.

I even got a sticker showing I passed the screening.

Then I went into the check in area and stood six feet from the counter and checked in. After that, I was sent to the waiting area. It’s a huge area… and I was the only one there.
It’s usually full.

It reminded me of the 80’s movie, “Night of the Comet”.

Chairs all over had paper signs saying to not sit in certain chairs so patients could keep a safe distance away from each other. I sat all alone and texted by doctors assistant to let her know I was there and to bring the blood biopsy kit.
I saw one of my chemo nurses from upstairs, and she promised me that she and the other nurses would be there for me on Thursday. We always hug, but yesterday we air hugged from across the room. I was called in to the port access room, and I was the only patient in there. My tomcat joe’s sister is engaged to the nurse educator’ son, and she came in right away to check on me. The nurse who was accessing my port and taking the labs and blood biopsy was new to me but had heard about me. I explained a dear friend had just gotten diagnosed with cancer and got a port that morning. I asked if I could videotape the port procedure and she said yes. I sent it to my friend so she could see what it is like to be accessed and have things done with the port so she can ease her mind. What we don’t know is always scarier. My doctors assistant also came in and we filled out forms as the blood biopsy was taken. It will take some weeks to get results. I hope the virus doesn’t extend the waiting period.

We finished and I texted rob to come back with the car.
I did it.
Today I wait for tumor markers to come back.
I also want to explain something to everyone. Hospitals make a lot of money from patients. Procedures and surgeries are being cancelled. It’s not a joke. People who have been waiting for surgeries are now being told they have been postponed. Cancer patients are going into appointments alone and stressed, and everyone knows stress is not good for anyone.
I also have something very important to tell you.
If a loved one has to go to the hospital, you cannot go in. If someone you love might be having a heart attack, or a stroke, or have an accident…no one can be with them. You drop them off and wait.
They are all by themselves.
So from now on, keep your phone with your charger. If you are admitted, you are the only one that can keep your family well informed about tests and procedures and how you are until a nurse or doctor, who is probably overwhelmed, can update your family.
That’s if you are able to text.
If not, your family will have no idea what’s happening, and you will not have someone by your side to advocate for you, keep you company, or listen with an extra ear to what doctors are saying to you. Make sure you designate a health care proxy.Should you be one of the people, (elderly or immunocompromised), more in danger to get the disease, and you get the virus, and you are lucky enough to get a respirator, you won’t be able to speak. The time to document your wishes is now. AARP has advanced directive forms by state on their website. You can also fill out a POLST, physicians order for life sustaining treatment, which is not synonymous with advanced directive and varies state by state.
I know this sounds morbid, but as a stage four patient for years, you want decisions made before you need decisions made, and of you are on a respirator you may literally be “voiceless”, so with this action now, doctors can honor your wishes.
Let me tell you, there is no scarier feeling than knowing your loved one is in a crisis, and you cannot be there. It’s a helpless feeling and scary.
This is not a joke, and if I see one more person ask for play dates or complain, or want to meet up for drinks or have a quarantine party… after seeing how seriously these nurses are taking it first hand, and knowing but not knowing what is coming to them…
your social distance is now a social responsibility.
Lives depend on it.

It’s also twilight zone with schools. The governor, who dug his heels in and would not close schools days ago, has done a quick 180 and is now closing everything. He announced yesterday afternoon after waiting days that he is closing NY schools until April 1… and only gave districts until midnight last night to come up with plans for feeding families, distance learning, and childcare. Oh, and the state Ed department can change their plan. Many believe it will be longer than April 1.

The last few months in my town people have bashed the schools. They said they would be ok with split sessions. Now everyone is complaining schools are closed and they better send more work home and feed the children. Apparently even a world pandemic doesn’t stop complainers.
I’ve never texted so much with my colleagues as I have the past few days. Teachers from all over are making Facebook groups to collaborate and share and figure out how to navigate the twilight zone. All while taking care of their own scared children.

It’s not the same all over. You may hear of one district handing out chrome books to everyone. Not all districts have chrome books because the state never fully funded them and couldn’t get what other districts have. Not all district have English speaking families. Some families aren’t literate in any language. Those are the children I worry about the most. It doesn’t matter what is sent home, parents can’t read it. Not everyone has internet access. Some families have three or four children, how can they all share one computer if they get longer assignments?
Let’s add on top of that high school seniors. Your senior year is what you have been waiting for your whole school life. Suddenly your last sport season may be taken away, your last school play, your last spring concert, your prom… so families are dealing with sad and upset teens who also cannot go hang out with friends.
Let’s put on top that all non essential business are closing. So families are now worried about paying for food and bills. Some don’t have health insurance. Some have grandparents who live with them, or loved ones with medical conditions that we hear over and over are the ones above the curve, and if we don’t flatten the curve, those people won’t even have a respirator should they need it.
So schoolwork is not the top priority right now for those families.
Some parents are trying, and realizing it is much harder than they though to teach their children. Parents are stressed, kids are stressed. Some have the work, some don’t.
Listen carefully.
If your child reads, writes every day in a journal, and practices some math problems similar to what they were learning this month (addition, subtraction, multiplication facts etc)…. they will be ok. Look through their past homework or binders and have them review vocabulary.
I think it’s more important that when they are older and tell their children and grandchildren about this time in history, they tell them not about the stressed parents and hard times, but the beautiful memories they made learning to bake or cook. When they started their garden. When they had family game night. When their parents told them about what life was like and had family history hour. When they walked in the woods for hours or on the beach and found shells.
Remember the movie, “Life is Beautiful”, about the man and son who were in a concentration camp but the father made it a game?

Limit the news, because it’s scary to adults, let alone children.
Restaurants are still open for takeout. Get gift certificates if you can afford it. Help keep these business alive.
If you’ve learned anything from me these past three and half years, it’s that you may not be able to control what is happening, but you can control how you react.
There is always… ALWAYS… something to be grateful for. Even if it is just that you opened your eyes today.

It’s Saint Patrick’s day. Wear some green. Listen to some Irish tunes. Try to talk like your Irish all day to your children. Hide green shamrock drawings all over your house.
I’ll be praying for news for a loved one, and praying for good tumor markers for myself.
Every day has brought more and more distressing news.
May the luck of the Irish be with us all.
In Jesus’s name, amen.



A Prayer for us All.

Today is a national day of prayer.

Here is what I am praying for.
-God, be with all the of college students who were the first to be affected. These young men and women are our future. They make friends who become family, and had to leave quickly. Especially the seniors, who are not sure about graduation ceremonies. The senior athletes, who have played sports for years, and their final season of play may be gone, meaning they won’t play this sport they love competitively again. Ceremonies and celebrations and sports are important. Lord, be with them.
-God, be with the high school students, who are now wondering what will happen to their AP exams, and regents. They’ve worked so hard all year and there are so many questions. Be with the athletes who also wonder if they will play, the musicians who wonder about their concerts, the actors who wonder about their play. Lord, be with them.
-God, be with the younger children, who rely on their schools to feed them. Who love their teachers so much sometimes they call them mom. Who love to have stories read to them. Who love to play with other children. Lord, be with them.
-God, be with the teachers. Be with the administrators. They always think of other children besides their own. Help us all navigate this time with grace, mercy, and compassion. Lord, be with us all.
-God, be with the families who are now struggling with what to do with children who are home for a week, a month, or in some states indefinitely. They are their child’s teacher now more than ever. Help the families who struggle to feed their families and rely on the schools for two meals a day. Help the families keep their children busy and happy. Help them with making ends meet financially. Lord, be with them all.
-God, be with the small business owners. The restaurants, yoga studios, juice bars, title companies, taco places, movie theatres, ice cream shops, specialty shops, child care, all the people who help make our local places that we live so great. Help them find ways and receive help so they can survive this time and be ready for when everyone comes back out. Lord, be with them all.
-God be with the supermarkets workers and the pharmacies. They are the ones working to keep those at home fed and healthy. The supermarket workers have seen the best and worst of people the last few days. Give them patience. Give those who interact with them patience and compassion, as they are away from their families and interacting with others. Lord, be with them.
-God be with the politicians. Our country has been a mess. Help them learn how to work together. Help them see they are representing all of America. And God, please be with Mayor DeBlasio and Governor Cuomo. They are playing with lives and creating more stress. Help them wake up and close schools in NY now. Lord, be with them all.
-God, be with the elderly, especially those in nursing homes that have closed their doors to visits from loved ones. They are part of our greatest generation who we all owe a debt of gratitude. Be with their families who cannot see them, check on them, sometimes even call to hear their voice because of dementia or hearing issues. Lord, be with them all.
-God, be with all of us with underlying medical conditions. Life has not been easy before this. Now it has become even harder and scarier, hearing over and over about death, and if it gets as bad as italy, we won’t even be treated. Give us peace, courage, strength, and strong immune systems. Lord, be with us all.
-Finally, be with the first responders, the nurses, the doctors, the hospital staff. They have been preparing and know it’s the quiet before the storm. They have been watching italy knowing that could be us in two weeks or so, while also watching the ones around them not taking it seriously and going to bars and parties and play dates saying it’s a hoax. Those people who are calling it a hoax and having house parties and going to bars will get treatment over people like me if we both get sick and hospitals are overwhelmed and need to make a choice, Lord. Help them realize they need to help people like me and the hospitals and stay home. The staff will be putting themselves at risk and worrying about bringing it home to their families… if they even decide to go home. May their hands be your hands, may their spirit stay strong, and may their bodies stay healthy. Blessed are the peacekeepers and healthcare workers. Lord, be with them all.

Friends, perhaps we take this time to reset. Press pause. Reconnect with our families, when we spend so much time going here to there. Learn a new hobby. Remember what it is like to cook. Go outside and breathe fresh air every day. Be still.

If we all do our part, it won’t be as bad. It will be hard, but together, we can do hard things. Love thy neighbor by staying away yet connected and checking on them. Find creative ways to look at the bright side. It’s possible. If I’ve been able to continue my life these past three and half years after a stage four terminal diagnosis, and find ways to laugh and love, and be careful because of my immune system… you can too. Breathe, eat some fruits and veggies, and exercise.
Love one another and look out for each other.
Send out love to everyone and be grateful.
In Jesus’s name, amen.



Villains and Heroes and COVID-19

Here’s what I have found to be true as a cancer patient.

When I am scared, I need to be surrounded by people sending me love. Comforting me. Saying they will help me if I need.
It never helped me to be around people who said things like “F*ck cancer”, or were angry people. Energy and vibrations matter.
This past week in America has been hard for everyone, but especially the elderly, the immunocompromised, and the ones who love them. Hearing over and over that they are the ones who will die, when we have been fighting another beast trying to kill us, is hard. It’s like we’ve been in the arena fighting the lions and are exhausted when suddenly, the gates open and in come the bears.
Here is what is making it harder.
Depending on the news organization or social media feed, we are either all going to get it OR it’s just a cold or it’s just like the flu. The government and people aren’t doing enough, OR it’s all overblown and ridiculous and people are stupid for preparing and shutting down. It’s a political game, and either the politician and party you support is doing enough OR the other side is doing too much.
Perspective matters here.
Science matters.
I found through the cancer journey that it is important to read true studies, become informed from all sides and then figure it out.
I’m wondering how many people who are saying it’s all a hoax and overblown are reading the same studies and articles as me.
Compassion and empathy is what is needed here.
To many, if you are in the 80% who will be fine if you get it, great. I truly am happy for you.
It means you are some of the luckiest people on earth and have won the life lottery because you haven’t been dealing with death and disease, and old age is still far away. You don’t know how lucky you are.
It also means you are going to be either the heroes of this story in the history books, or the villains.
Because if you are the 80%, and you have compassion for the elderly who are frail and scared and not as mobile as they used to be, you can help them. You can do welfare checks of your elderly neighbors. Offer to go shop and leave it on their stoop. Nursing homes are now shut off to families. Have your kids mail them letters. Make a strangers day. This generation gave you the country we have been living in. Comfort them during yet another scary time.
If you are the 80%, and you have compassion for those with cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart and lung issues, transplant, breathing conditions, you can help them…instead of saying over and over that this is ridiculous and they are the only ones who will die so they should just quarantine themselves and let everyone else go about their lives.
Stop overreacting over the 20%.
It’s smoke and mirrors. Twenty percent seems small. One in five doesn’t. Out of one hundred million people, that would equate to twenty million. Saying it differently changed it.
The 80% can be the heroes.
They have the superpower. They have the ability to “flatten the curve”.

They can’t stop it, but they can slow it down enough so hospitals full of the the true superheroes of this story can help more people live.
Picture a speeding train. Everyone on board is the elderly and immunocompromised and medical staff. The 80% can either shout at it that it’s not really that fast and they aren’t on it so they are fine…until it runs off the cliff.

Or they can run to the train and start trying to hold it back, slow it down, so the medical staff can get everyone inside off.

We have to think, why are all major sporting events shutting down? Disney world and other atttractions? Broadway?
They are the heroes.
Yet here is the conflicting part.
Governor Cuomo and Mayor Deblasio.
Cuomo went on and on about how serious this is. How NYS has the most cases in the country right now. Then he said he is lifting the 180 day rule for schools to be in session in order to get state aid. State aid is so important. Public schools will crumble without it. He owes my district thirty million dollars still. Aid is a big deal. I was like, “Finally! He has a heart!”
Then came the fine print. What he didn’t say is that it is only lifted IF the district used all of their snow and vacation days first AND they closed because the department of health or the state shut them down. He said he is leaving it to the district’s discretion.
He said he won’t close schools in NY because the kids need the two meals a day and parents need the babysitting essentially so they can go to work. Then he said kids will all get it no matter what you do to protect them, but the good news is 80% will recover.
If that man had a mustache, he would be twirling it while he said that as he watched the speeding train go off the cliff.

Then deblasio said he is keeping schools open in NYC. Again, because of two meals and babysitting. He would be the stooge next to the mustache twirling Cuomo.
Which leaves the local districts holding the bag. They are seeing state after state after state shut down schools for the next few weeks. But their governor and mayor are playing money games. In communities like mine where most of the town badmouths the schools and decision makers, if they don’t close they will be bashed for putting lives in danger. If they do close and it wasn’t by directive or DOH or the mustache twirling governor, and it goes longer than two weeks, we don’t get state aid. Which would then cripple us in the future.

It also pits district against district, as state tests are coming up, and regents and AP exams. Is this what it is about? That seems like a ridiculous thought. I mean, colleges are closing for the rest of the year and going online. But from what I understand, any online work or time spent working through school closures doesn’t count to the 180 days for public schools.
Life just got harder for families.
All of us.
I got a call yesterday that I can no longer have anyone accompany me to the hospital. Which means rob, who helps me with the frozen therapy for my hands and my feet and spoon feeds me ice chips so I dont get mouth sores can’t come. I can phone conference him in to my doctor appointment, but it’s not the same. Ask my principal what it’s like to be with me during a phone call about my life. That poor man had to stand in for rob when I got a call at work and he saw the Keri you all don’t see. A crying, in shock, shaking Keri. It’s not pretty.
Life is going to change for a long time for us all.
The 20% needs the 80% to be the heroes.
Do what you can to keep us safe.
Be kind.
Be helpful with your words.
Human touch is healing, and that’s been taken away from us. So use your words to help heal.
I went to the beach with the girls yesterday, and walked either far behind or far ahead.
I reset myself.

We can all reset our world.
We have become so divisive lately.
Perhaps this is a test.
Maybe we reconnect with each other. Families spend time with each other and play games. Go for walks outside. Reconnect with nature. Write letters to strangers in nursing homes.
This is our chance to show what’s in our hearts. If your the 80% and schools close, perhaps volunteer to man mobile food pantries. I think of the black and white movies during World War One when everyone stepped up and did their part.
Will we do the same now?
Love thy neighbor as thyself.
God bless the school leaders who were just thrown to the wolves by their state leader. I pray they make the right decision, and the community supports them.
God bless everyone in the hospitals and first responders as they prepare. They are the true heroes in my book.
God bless us all.
In Jesus’s name, amen.

Plot Twist

Getting the email about two tumor markers dropping but not knowing the numbers was stressful. (Even with five exclamation marks from my oncologist.)
We still didn’t get the fax of the results, so I texted my oncologists assistant and i literally got the text with the numbers three minutes before the call with Donnie.
It wasn’t as much as I had hoped, but it was still a drop. Had they both gone up, I would have chosen the totally herbal route.
Pressed pause…
detoxed heavily.
Used natural herbs and prayed.
But now… once again… “plot twist!”
Hence the life of a metastatic cancer patient.
Calls with Donnie Yance are a master class in medicine and plant medicine. I record it and take notes. Yesterday was four pages of notes. And I had to look up a bunch of things when we finished.
Hearing him say that there may be a time to just do herbs but now is not the time was important. He explained how complex the cancer is, and he knows every mutation inside and out. If there is a chance that doxil is finally starting to work, we cannot throw it away yet.
Is it actually working? Time will tell.
In the meantime, we are adding some new things.
I’ve got a week and a half before the next tumor marker test and we will know more then.
This is exhausting.
He is very happy with my chem panels and other labs. He said I am in good shape otherwise… and have to lose weight.
Which is incredibly hard when I get steroid push and am on chemo and stressed.
So now we work on that as well. My goal is forty pounds by July.
I received my new batch of stronger herbs and the special cinnamon. It’s a potent cinnamon tea he has me drink, and another hard thing to get down.

There is little pleasure in eating or drinking for me these days.
Eating and drinking is just for nutritional medicine now.
I’ve got to find other sources of comfort for when I’m stressed. Hot baths are out because of the chemo. Reading books is challenging because it tires my eyes. I’m looking forward to nicer weather. Perhaps just sitting in the sun will be enough.
I’m sharing a lot, and getting so many private messages and texts from others in this situation. It’s hard to respond to everyone. Just know I send you all love.
I’m up and preparing for the day.
May we all find comfort in ways that heal us.
In Jesus’s name, amen.



The Work

Benadryl knocks you for a loop when they give it to you. You feel like you are drunk and feel sleepy for hours.
Until it wears off…and the steroids they gave you keep you up all night long.
Fun times in Cancerland.

We left the hospital with only one tumor marker back of the three… and it’s three times higher than it was a month ago.

That will keep you up as well.
Today I’ll work all day and most of the afternoon. I’ll leave at 2 and run to take Donnie’s conference call with rob.
I’m anxious as to what he will say about our leaning towards stopping chemo and just going with my herbalist. They know each other from years back.
I’m still feeling peace, and have to work hard to keep it. I’m laying it at God’s feet, but it will be hard to hear educated people on my team tell me they don’t support it and the reasons why, should that happen. They’ve spent years and years studying cancer.
I’ve spent three and a half living with cancer.
As a teacher, I’m open to new ways of approaching teaching children. Times change, different material becomes available, more research, and each child is different. I find that the material made by teachers is usually the best. They are in the arena, doing the work, instead of people who have never even taught the grade or have been out of the classroom for years.
Doing “The Work”. I came across a podcast with Oprah Winfrey as she interviewed Byron Katie. She discusses the four questions.
When you are upset, find out what it is that is truly upsetting you. Write it down. Then ask yourself four questions.
1-Is it true? This is a simple yes or no answer. Be still and see what arises. If it’s a yes, go to question two. If it’s no, go to question three.
2-can you absolutely know that it’s true. If it’s a yes, ask yourself again and shine a flashlight on that moment of time and ask again.
3-How do you react… what happens?.. when you believe that thought? Notice and write down how you treat other people, yourself, what addictions or obsessions begin to appear when you believe that thought?
4-Who would you be without that thought? Take time to observe and reflect the question again but without the thought . Drop your judgements.
We do turnarounds.
We switch the story. With disease, we place all the blame in the body. But the story we are telling ourselves is in our mind, our thinking. Let the professionals and choices you make help the body, and you work on your mind. Believe the good story.
Everything happens FOR me, not TO me.
Gratitude is what we are without a story.
Reality is always kinder than the story we are telling ourselves about it.
I am a seeker of approval. I always have been. It hurts me deeply when people are unkind to me. Deeper than it should. I need to let go of wanting approval. That’s hard work, and all in the mind.
The hardest question I have to turnaround and release is about rob and the kids. With cancer, the thought of leaving this world and leaving them alone takes my breath away.
Because I think they won’t be ok.
But when I went through the four questions… i realized.
They will be fine.
Oh, grief and sadness are normal, even for a lifetime. But they will be ok.
Rob is an amazing father. I couldn’t have chosen a better one to help raise children with. My children have been raised to be good and kind. They have all they need.
So my thought of them not being ok?
It’s not true.
They’ll be great.
I’ve watched the Facebook feeds of families of friends who have loved ones who have passed from cancer.
They are all ok.
So yesterday… after listening and learning and reading about “The Work”…
I released my biggest fear.
Which brings me to the next question.
Am I going to be ok?
The answer to that one… is up to God.
There’s a song written by Jenn and Brian johnson. “You’re gonna be ok”. I’ll leave a link in the comments.
Today, may we all ask the hard questions, turnaround the story we tell ourselves, and be still. The answers are better than we think.
In Jesus’s name, amen.



My East is Your West

We are up and getting ready to head to the airport.
What a week.

Somehow, against all odds, we ended up here at this conference. My oncologist encouraged me to come, we booked two last minute flights and two different hotels, had the funds thanks to the go fund me from the fall, and my parents took the kids and the dog.
There was a reason for me to be here.
Yesterday’s speakers were great.

Jane McLellan is remarkable. Stage four ovarian cancer along with another health issue, and she is still here over twenty years later. She did what I have been doing… research. She is much smarter and better than me, and discovered how to use off label drugs, repurpose them for cancer, and how to pulse them for different phases. She also spoke of the cancer stem cells. Chemo kills the tumors, but the cancer stem cells are so minuscule and float around and outsmart the medicines. There are multiple pathways it uses for energy. She has a metro map that explains how to cut off the cancer sources of energy.

Another woman spoke about fasting. Listen, it’s hard… I know. I’m starting a three day fast today (although I am eating breakfast because of the plane ride). She said something that was so profound to me. It’s hard to fast because our hunger is uncomfortable… but there is something else.
It’s hard to fast because we use food for emotional comfort. We turn to food to feel better. If we take away food, especially during emotionally hard times, what do we use to fill the gap?

Dr Gregor also spoke and made the case for a plant based diet. His speech was full of research. You can’t argue with it. He also showed slides of how corrupt companies and the government can be. He showed ads from the 1950s that spoke of how good smoking was. When we go to the doctor and complain of illness, do they ask what you are eating? Or do they just prescribe drugs which give you side effects that you need more drugs for?

Rob and I will be signing up for a one mont challenge that is free. I’ll look up the link and share it later.
I am walking away from the conference in a calmer place than I walked in. I am at a crossroads. I have been taking chemo after chemo after chemo and none of them are working. My herbalist wants me to stop, give him three months, and see what happens. I messaged a friend who has used him for years, and she said whatever he tells her to do, she does. She stopped and is now NED. I ket another man, a pharmacist with prostate cancer, who also was told to stop by my herbalist. He is now NED. A new friend I sent to him yesterday met with him and he told her she needs chemo, so we know he isn’t anti chemo.
When we met the woman yesterday who is a researcher at John Hopkins who stopped chemo and uses my herbalist, right after we were told about her by Rick Shapiro… we took it as a sign.
Then we went to the beach, I put my feet in the water, and thought maybe it wasn’t. So I asked for signs of butterflies.

At the beach
We placed a rock for a special boy

If i saw three butterflies i would know.
Wouldn’t you know, as we walked along the shops, we saw butterflies.
One was a statue of a lion with butterflies coming out of its belly, one was butterflies on a dress, and one was butterflies in a store.

We ate dinner over a tree that changed colors; and it was called a wishing tree.
In the sky above it was one star, or maybe a planet. We made a wish.

Then, we told our waitress about the conference and the decision we may be making about eastern medicine over western, and she said to look at the sign past the tree. It’s has all these letters that light up at different times and spells out words.
“My East is your west”.

We came back to the hotel and who did we see again?
My herbalist at a table by himself. We went over and talked once more.
It’s a hard decision .
But one I feel more comfortable making
Should we need it. I’ll do chemo tomorrow and see what the markers say.
Then we make our choice.
I keep hearing the poem in my head. Two roads diverged in the woods, and I took the one less traveled. And that has made all the difference.
I hope you all learned something this weekend. God led me here and if you saw
Something for yourself, it was meant to me.
I’m so grateful to Ann Fonfa, “Annie Appleseed”, for being so brave and strong and sharing her story. She is also saving my life through these conferences and her story.
I cant wait to hug my kids today.
Please pray for safe travels and healing.
In Jesus’s name. Amen.



Leap Day

It’s been a while. I know.

A lot has gone on. Quick update for you…

I had another round of doxil. It went well. I even tried to channel my inner Jennifer Lopez from the Super Bowl, but her pole dance is very different from my pole dance.

Not even close… ha!

Then I had another MRI of the liver. It was, as my doctor called it, a “mixed bag”. Some tumors got smaller and one got bigger. So we decided to wait to check the tumor markers. On Monday I went for labs, and then got an email my doctor wanted to speak to me. That is never good.

I ran to the main office, my assistant principal gave me his office, and my principal came in to help me get through the call and take notes. Usually that’s robs job, as when I hear bad news I tend to go out of body and into shock and only hear the bad news. Not many principals sit in on hard oncology calls, but he did, and he takes great notes.

The markers all went up. In fact, so much so that my doctor was surprised. It could mean two things. One, the cancer is on the move and resisting yet another treatment. Or two, it’s tumor die off and it’s finally responding after several weeks of changing dosing and timing.

We are praying for die off. We decided to try one more round of chemo and recheck. Which means I’m still in the blur.

Still in the storm, but I still have Jesus on my boat.

My doctor encouraged me to come to the Annie Appleseed conference in Florida this weekend, which means last minute plans to fly out and get here.

At the airport

During a coronavirus panic…

We took every precaution on the airplane

Which brings me to today.

The extra day.
That’s what today is.
Every day is a gift, but today is actually a real extra day.
Leap year day.
Last Sunday I thought to myself I would make a special memory with my kids. Make a whole day of memories, so that next leap year day, if I wasn’t here, they would remember how special the extra day is.
Instead, here I am, one week later, in a hotel in Florida at a cancer conference once again trying to figure out how to move forward, and states away from my children. My sister is once again going to make it magical for Quinn while I’m gone. Thank God for sisters. Maddie and Morgan said they are going to do homework, and all three are being surrounded by love by my mom and dad.
I just want to cry right now, even though I’m so grateful to be here today. It’s hard to be away from them. Especially at a conference that is all about the thing could take me away from them forever.
So it’s time to pivot mentally and speak of my blessings. Gratitude is the attitude to pull myself out of the dark.
This conference is my blessing, and all the people here.
It truly is amazing. Everywhere you go, there are outliers.

Ann Fonfa is force of nature, and her husband is so kind. Ann runs a tight ship, and keeps everything on time. The food and snacks she has delicious, dare I say… “mint”…and she has an air purifier so we don’t breathe in “hotel air”, as well as special water.

This is our third conference and although some of the information we have heard before, it’s a refresher and a kick in the pants so to speak. Eat organic, more fruits and vegetables, eat the rainbow, remove stress and toxic people, increase spirituality, hydrate, exercise, breathe deep, meditate, yoga, trust your intuition, take charge of your medical care and health, increase positive emotions, supplements, accept support, and above all… love.

There is something unexpected that has happened at the third conference I never thought about. The people you meet.
Let me start with Rick Shapiro. Every one of you who follow me should get his book, “Hope Never Dies”. It’s an easy read and you can open up any chapter and feel hope. Somehow, God put him and Rob on an elevator last year. And this man managed to get rob to engage in conversation… and make such an impression, rob came to me excitedly to tell me about this guy and his book. We met him last year, I sent him a friend request, and this man has become my Jiminy Cricket. The whisper in my ears whenever I need it. He sends me messages to relax and take care of myself, to make sure to fast every chemo, even about college searches. It was great to see him again and we’ve had multiple informative conversation here.
Get👏🏻 his 👏🏻book👏🏻.

I’ve also been able to reconnect with other cancer thrivers. One woman I met my first year and have seen her each time. Nicole is a wonderful woman, former teacher, and her son has a story that i told her should be shared in every school.

I saw Terlisa Shepherd, a thriver who has been thriving for decades. She is a powerful voice for the metastatic community and one of my heros. Valencia also walked in with Terlisa and getting hugs from these two strong women started off my conference day in the perfect way.

Women can look different one year later because hair grows back. It gave me hope to see so many women looking so good. Nancy sent me a message to look behind me and she actually had a ponytail! There are two women here who flew from California and London. I follow them on Instagram.

Pink bows and me, and jen cronje, and they are both using my herbalist now. In fact, jen from London is going to fly here every two months to get his herbs. She also gave me a thriver necklace last night. I love these women.

There is also laughter. Two women we met last year keep us in stitches. Connie and Gladys, and you wouldn’t think there would be raucous laughter at a cancer conference, but there is. We hear about therapies, but it’s different to meet people who have actually done these things.

My herbalist is amazing. It started off a little rough, as he has been seeing so many people here he was confused at first and thought it was ovarian cancer. He didn’t like the plan my doctor was following at all, became annoyed and said “so stupid!”, which made me scared. He really pushed me to come off the plan and only used his herbs, until he asked if i had pain. I mentioned the pain in my breast and he got confused as to why, and when I said because of the tumors… suddenly he had clarity and remember it was breast cancer. Then he agreed with the plan and said it was smart. Phew.
He was not happy with my energy. He still said he wished they would give me a break because he is only keeping me from collapsing with his herbs, and wants to unleash his powerful herbs which would kill the cancer. After looking over all of the labs and the mri, he made a decision to use some of them anyway. He said he has to be more proactive and attack it and break it into pieces. He also said my insides are cold. He spoke of a tree in Southeast Asia, indonesia, where he is going to get special cinnamon bark and have it ground up into a powder that i will add to hot water and drink. It will bring “fire” into my body. Donnie Yance has also spoken of cinnamon. My herbalist said his cinnamon is special, because the kind we get from stores is from twigs. His is from this special tree and is bark. He still thinks we are ok, but right now I am not good. He said “you be ok, you liver not pretty, but you be ok”. He said his liver Mets patients are doing well.
He wouldn’t accept any money from us, just a donation to Annie’s foundation. Another presenter told us he is also being used by the king and queen of Sweden and they fly him there and back when needed. He is a humble man, and we are so thankful God placed him in our path.

We didn’t step outside at all once the conference began. Here i am, a New Yorker in Florida in February… and am in a hotel coneference room all day. By the time the conference ended, we were too tired to go out to eat, so we ate dinner here.
Perhaps tonight when the conference ends we can get the energy up to go to the water. I known everyone is saying to go, but remember, I’m on week two of chemo, had an emotional two weeks, flew last minute, two hotels, and am listening to cancer talk all day, with chemo coming again on Monday.
I’ll do my best.

Yesterday we met Dr Robins, and ate lunch with him. He is a fascinating man, and word with intravenous ozone therapy. Some people here have done it and say it’s amazing. He is also a Rotarian, and he and rob had great conversation. We may add it to my plan… waiting to see what happens.

Today is Jane McLellan who wrote “How to Starve Cancer”. I met her last year and we had lunch with her yesterday. She is brilliant. We will also hear from Dr Gregor who wrote the book, “How Not to Die”. I’ll keep posting and doing some live videos. I am also meeting for the first time another Facebook friend, so I’m exited for that hug.
Today is leap day year. Although it’s not going to be what I planned, I am making memories. And in four years, I’ll be here to look at my Facebook memories and be grateful I came here.
Today, may we all make memories, heal, laugh, and fill our hope cups.
In Jesus’s name, amen.



The Broom Moment

So, the thing is…
Apparently brooms can always do what we all had them doing last night.
Some people are going to make fun of everyone who did it and call them gullible.
Not me.
I was on the couch, exhausted, when I first read it. I got up, got a broom, and saw it actually stood up on its own when I thought it wouldn’t. I called Quinn and Morgan and Maddie and we all laughed and laughed.
I took a picture and put it up, which was followed by multiple friends putting up pictures and lots of laughter.
Laughter is always a a good thing.
There are reports now that it was always possible, people just never tried it before.
It was always possible…
Like when Dorothy found out she always had the power to go home the whole time.
That’s what I’ve been living on the past three years.
Someone told me that Jesus is always with me, and has the power to heal me, and I’ve been praying for that ever since.
Making a broom stand in a kitchen is nothing compared to what I’m asking for… but seeing everyone believe in something so little and then actually trying it because they saw pictures makes me remember the phrase,
“We walk by faith, not by sight.”
I get glimpses of complete healing when I hear stories of people still alive twenty years after their diagnosis. Those glimpses are few, so I need to rely on my faith more than my sight.
Those stories are the ultimate broom picture.
We were told to be like salt, to bring out the best flavor in ourselves and others. Use words to glorify Him and all He does. Some use their words to break down others or make fun of others, or always speak negatively. What kind of words and actions will you use today? Will you be the “salt of the earth”, or just use salty language?

Today, may we all walk by faith…
And maybe use the broom to brush away those who make fun of the little child in us who came out last night to play along.
In Jesus’s name, amen.