Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Sweetness

This week Madeleine's high school choir performed at Chez Chemo, as my friends and I call the infusion room at our clinic. She recently cut her waist-length hair for Locks of Love! These are just a couple examples of why I am such a lucky mama. (And these lucky ducks are performing in China in March.)

Wishing you cozy holidays full of blessings,



Thursday, October 28, 2010

New Metaphor for B.C.

Everyone keeps talking about the rollercoaster of having cancer, which it is: Wee, my scans were great. Eew, it's time for another one.

The rest of the time it is, in my opinion, like walking a tightrope. Fall one way, and you're blissfully oblivious or even, God forbid, cocky about the whole thing. Fall the other way, and the beast has robbed you of hope.

And then there's the "elephant in the room" that becomes apparent when we lose a friend.

Is this a circus, or what? If that's the case, I'm going to (in my mind, at least) get one of those sparkly outfits and make the pretty horses dance.

Love to all, and happy "awareness" month,


Sunday, October 24, 2010


Jeanne, Marie, me, Sue, and Sandy at our 'slumber party' with Carrie.

Friday I lost a sweet friend and guiding light, Carrie Madden of my support group. Carrie had inflammatory breast cancer, a scourge that makes my disease pale in comparison. (The pathology is completely different, even though the disease starts in the breast.)

Carrie wasn't supposed to make it past November '09, but canceled those plans, so to speak. Instead she eked out another year with the help of some big-gun chemo until a few months ago when she declared 'no more drugs, no more scans.' For a year, she'd been bearing the inevitable with grace and peace: a brilliant gift to all who knew her, cancer or not.

A month ago, several of us spent a Sunday afternoon with her. We all piled onto her bed and talked about a boatload of topics, from the mundane to the philosophical. It was one of those spontaneous, perfect times that will stay in the memory.

Carrie echoed in her actions what our group members all know: It's so much more than a band artificially assembled. Carrie specified that all memorial funds go to the IV League...our group with the name inspired by our 'elite' Stage IV status. (The country club nobody wants to join.) We are blessed that Austin's Breast Cancer Resource Center created our group, a lifeline in many senses of the word.

Thanks to all for your loving support.--Sally

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Good Scans!

Just back from Houston, with happy scan results. Nothing visible in the liver, and bones stable. Thanks be to the deity!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Guinness Is Good For You

Hank and I have just returned from an 11-day adventure driving in Ireland, our 30th anniversary cum cancer-antidote trip.

Talk about good for what ails you:

Glorious sweeps of pastureland—it really is that green! ....Crashing waves with the spray hanging in the wind..…200-foot precipices overlooking the Atlantic (“next parish, Boston”)……Petite mountains that rise so quickly it’s as if they’re enormous…..Bossy sheep that like to play “police checkpoint.” Hearing Gaelic spoken on the Aran Islands. Butter for breakfast, butter for lunch….and later, Guinness.

And, of course, pubs, pubs, pubs. I am a new groupie for anyone who plays the flute-like, melodic uilleann pipes (smaller cousin to bagpipes). Also, I seem to have caught on with the men-over-70 set; it’s something about the wig.

We visited several neolithic stone circles where I channeled my inner druid, and Hank caught a glimpse of his. One of my many favorite moments: standing in a cow pasture, all stillness but for a few songbirds, face to face with a 12th-century Celtic high cross. No bustle, no entrance fee. Just us and the ages.

Hats off to Hank, the safe and daring driver and taker of 900 pictures. And even more hats to Hank's parents, who held down the fort while we were gone (even though they're moving on Friday!).

Love to all,


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Phew! Dodging Another Bullet

That whizzing sound that breezed past my ear today was made by my latest PET scan report. Fabulous news! My liver lesion, that un-friend that showed itself in April, has shrunk and--better still--did not even register as cancerous activity on the scan. The radiologist noted "improved metastatic disease" in bones and elsewhere and that "no definite new disease is noted."

This means that the Taxol continues to do well, and I'm staying that course. Back for followups in September.

The side effects have thus far been quite manageable. My acupuncturist has done worlds of good in counteracting some nerve damage in my toes, and my hair continues to grow. Am a tomboy this summer, which (considering the 100-degree weather here) is not altogether a bad thing.

Off tomorrow to visit my mom and my Uncle Cleave in Connecticut. There are few things calmer or prettier to me than a New England summer day; thanking my lucky stars for the ability to enjoy that in a relaxed fashion.

Best to all,


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Here We Go Again

As of Tuesday, I did go back on Taxol. Keeping my fingers crossed for minimal side effects, though am noticing a bit of an 'ick' feeling and a little more toe tingling. Glad I've gotten cracking on accupuncture, which restored all the feeling after the last series. Also may get started on some Chinese herbs--they're working wonders for my daughter's tricky stomach. I am reading the breakthrough book, "Anti-Cancer," by a research doc/cancer patient, and am ready to roll on some major dietary changes and other lifestyle improvements. Fortunately, we've already gone vegetarian at home. 

Best to all, 


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Out, Damned Spot!

That's my lovely liver in photo #1 and photo #2 shows my doc reviewing my full-body PET scan. He rightly says he sometimes "hates his job."

Well, my five-month vacation away from Cancerland is over--and then some. I'm just back from Houston, and yesterday found out that there has been some disease progression in my bones, but more importantly, migration to my liver. Fortunately (hah!) it is just one spot.
I meet with my "Austin genius" on Tuesday (it's lovely to have more than one). Most likely I'll return to Taxol, as that worked so beautifully, quickly, and without nausea last fall. The plan has been to "rechallenge" with more Taxol when the time came. However, this is a "visceral" vs. bone metastasis. I don't think this changes the drug, but theoretically it could.
Please take note that I am using my ladylike English-major language to describe all this, but inside I am cursing like a sailor. I had mentally prepared for this news but there's nothing like hearing it from the horse's mouth. As usual, my Research Department husband is on the case and getting ready to chow his way through the Internet, as a couple of trial things have come into the discussion. The kids, bless them, are taking this in stride.
Good thing I've got three wigs. Oh, man, isn't it disgusting that I can always find a positive within the oobleck. Pollyanna does what she has to do to get by! I do have MUCH to be thankful for, including all of you who read this.
Speaking of life, am planning a weekend with just my girls to see "Wicked" when it comes to Dallas in June, plus retail therapy. Caroline's escaping uniforms after eight years and needs clothes for high school. (Excuses, excuses!) Then, it's back to Dallas in August with Henry to see our beloved, beautiful, precious Red Sox play the Texas Rangers.
Kisses to all!
Sally the Tough Nut

Thursday, February 25, 2010

No New Is Good News (Plus, Check Out This Wig)

At Dr. Ueno's office, after reading my good PET scan report.

Happy kids at our recent Bandera getaway. I took them on a "Mom's secret surprise" weekend, with the location only revealed upon arrival.

Just back from Houston, and we do not "have a problem"! Tuesday was the usual "extreme scan-over" marathon. I drew the radiologist known to be very picky and less liable to commit to conclusions. But the worst she said about a couple of bone spots was "indeterminate": It's hard to read bone, and often healing bone will look like this. So we continue to be optimistic, particularly since she never used the C word (or the M word, for that matter) in her impressions.
So...I celebrated by going to a wig shop. I was innocently trying this blonde wig on, just to check the style. And I said to myself, "Not bad. So, why not?" And let me tell you, the husband is digging it! Stay tuned for more wigs to come. If a wardrobe of wigs is OK for Dolly Parton....
Fun update: We had a terrific time in Bandera...We had a lovely trail ride and the kids rode a second time and got to canter...Hank summoned his inner Eagle Scout and made a fabulous campfire...Sally is getting the kids (at least a little) interested in star watching in preparation for Big Bend next month.
Oh, and thanks to my late dad, I bought a Honda Odyssey. My 10-year-old van had to be put into "car hospice." Now I am sittin' purty! And the DVD player will just the thing for the wide-open spaces of West Texas.
Love to all,

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A New Look

It's...back! Did someone get the color wrong? Oh, well!
Which inspired me (with apologies to Neil Young, "I Almost Cut My Hair):
I almost combed my hair
Happened just the other day
It was getting kinda long
Could have said it was in the way (of my wig)
So I, by and by
Sometimes let my "freak" flag fly
Cause I feel
I'm owing
Someone who's putting off her mammogram. Someone who thinks we've "conquered" breast cancer. Someone less lucky than me.
Love and kisses,