Dancing With Dreams

March 15.2022

“Now is the time to pick your favorite dream.” That’s what Dr. Fischer, my  anesthesiologist, said to me just before I was given a kiss by Jim for good luck, followed by a sedative to help me relax. Dr. Fischer was superb in her willingness to spend as much time as was needed with me before surgery. She listened to my past experiences with anesthesia and promised that I would not wake up in pain, nor would I experience any nausea. She delivered on her promises. She never said she would do this but I have a feeling that she was letting me know what was going on all the way through my surgery, reminding me that I was having the most wonderful dreams and that all was well. I wanted to be somewhat cognizant going into the operating room because I wanted to see the robot my surgeon would be using to look and probe deep into my abdomen. There was a potential dream/perhaps reality/out of body moment when I was looking across a large room with several people milling about, a giant machine taking up most of the space. That’s all I remember until I woke up eight hours later in the hospital room where I’d spend the night, an anxious and exhausted Jim there to greet me. 

Surgery didn’t go as planned. The two to three hour procedure ended up being five and a half. Dr. Whittier went above and beyond to get both my ovaries and fallopian tubes out. Three hours after she started, she removed my left ovary and fallopian tube (the one which had shown the most growth). After much searching and dissecting, she was able to trace the blood supply to my right ovary but because of scar tissue formation caused by the cancer, my ovary was adhered to my bowel and extremely difficult to see. She couldn’t take it out without potentially causing significant complications. She most definitely gave it her best, of this I am quite sure. While she was too humble to say so, her colleagues let me in on some of the details of her efforts.

It’s still hard for me to say how I’m feeling about this.  Getting news while still under the influence of drugs gives an otherworldly spin. My thoughts ranging from:

Well, one is out.  That’s better than none!

But the other ovary is still a problem, isn’t it?

That was the best sleep I’ve had in …

What do we do now?

I met with my SNMWO (Super Ninja Most Wonderful Oncologist) last Monday and we discussed the possibility of radiation. It would be very tricky in that area but he is going to reach out to Dr. Edson (who did SBRT to the lung nodule in 2019) for his opinion. In the meantime, I received Enhertu infusion #25 on March 7th.  We dropped the drug dosage a notch to help with side effects and so far so good.  The nausea hasn’t been as bad even though fatigue hit me hard a week out.  Of note, I experienced an infusion reaction about halfway through which surprised everyone, me included. Cheri and Shannon were on top of it, stopping the drip until my heart rate and BP came back to baseline before restarting. Thankfully, we didn’t need to employ additional drugs to stop the drug reaction.😐 I helped out by quietly focusing on my breathing, moving with the energy, visualizing my dreamscape while talking with my body. I’ll get infusion #26 in a couple of weeks followed by a PET/CT sometime mid April.

This is where the dance comes in.  Experience lies in the past, shaping our expectations of the future. This is why setting intentions, such as Dr. Fischer’s suggestion that I choose a good dream before receiving anesthesia was so powerful. And while I can’t prove it, I believe it’s one of the reasons I have healed so well and never needed post surgery pain meds other than Tylenol and Advil.

Even without the desired outcome, I’m putting this experience in the win column. 

Lucky Number 7

I experienced a Christmas miracle this year, yep, a downright honest-to-goodness miracle. My December scans showed resolution in the area of my lung that we were concerned could be progression. All other watched lesions fell within stable parameters and we didn’t need to be concerned just yet with a change in treatment. Christmas Day was spent watching Ben diligently rip the paper off his presents to get to the surprises inside. At ten months old, he was a bit confused with our delight at watching him do something that didn’t seem that out of the ordinary. Paper shredding is a favorite pastime. We on the other hand, found Christmas magic in his every move.

As we fast forward to my January scans, a size increase in another watched tumor was enough to be logged as progression and I am out of the trial.  While it has been at times challenging, I am grateful for the 16 months I was in this trial. We saw shrinkage of my cancer burden and until a couple weeks ago, stable scans.  I am also beyond grateful for the amazing professionals I’ve met through this trial. Your expert care and friendship has been instrumental in the treatment’s success and I recognize you for the angels you are.  So what’s next?  My spectacular oncology team has already set into motion next steps. I’m feeling good and in a good place to try another treatment and so I will. I’ll share more when the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed.

We had an interesting discussion at our last lung cancer support group meeting.  When is enough, enough? We often find ourselves moving in starts and stops from a hypothetical question to one that can become all too real. Quality of life and balance become catch phrases as we maneuver through our unique uncharted territories. We all do this our own way, in our own time and there are no right or wrong answers. 

Before I was diagnosed, I remember making the statement that if I was ever diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and my only option was chemotherapy, I wouldn’t do it. It was easy to make this statement then, I never believed I’d ever have to make that choice.  Let it be said that there are innumerable shades of gray in the black and white lines we draw in shifting sands. I have a unique perspective from where I sit, watching the lines continuing to blur in and out while contemplating my seventh line of treatment. 

And so here we are. I welcome the continuing adventure and will do my best to meet it head on with authenticity and of course – Love.

It’s Not About The Hair…Well, It Kinda Is.

August 18, 2019

Pre-cancer, when someone would ask, “What physical attribute do you like the best about yourself?” my response would be, “My hair!” I had lots of it and like my astrological sign of Leo, it was my mane. In the 80’s it was “BIG”. In the 90’s it was still “Big” but not as “BIG”. In the 2000’s, “BIG” became relative and I added highlights and color to my still long, but less “BIG” tresses. My hair spoke to me. It reminded me of my femininity and I was adamant about not cutting it until I was very old or no longer capable of raising my arms high enough to put my mane into a ponytail.

Chemo changed all that.  

In May of 2017, shortly after I started on my second line of chemo, I had my head shaved. I didn’t want to wait for the day when it came out in handfuls. What remained of my long hair fell to the floor as Hana applied the clippers, a precursor of the changes yet to come. The day was significant because I had members of my posse with me. We made a day of it, taking pictures, lunching, it was a celebration of female camaraderie and support. There were no tears shed as these women fortified me and  I didn’t dwell that day on my shaved head as my pate was quickly covered by a beautiful natural hair wig. Over the next couple of years, I developed a love/hate relationship with my wig. It was hot. At times it felt like there was simply too much of it. Traveling was a challenge as was washing and styling. More and more, I found myself with a baseball cap, ignoring the wondering and often times, pitying looks.  

Changing treatments allowed my hair follicles to regenerate and slowly but surely, my hair grew back. No ponytail, only sassy, spiky, easy to deal with short “BIG” hair.  It felt pretty amazing. My wig was placed out of sight, no longer a reminder of hairless days, relegated to a shelf in the closet surrounded by darkness behind a closed door. 

But, the last time I found myself facing chemo and losing my hair it didn’t hurt this bad. This time it hurt and I mean physically hurt. My dying hair follicles were screaming in agony as I looked at Jim with tears in my eyes and pleaded with him to use the clippers we use for grooming Tess to shave off my hair. Being the good man that he is, he complied as I cried. Hearts were breaking in the back yard as Tess, hiding hyper vigilant behind glass doors, made ready to run if the clippers came in her direction. After the deed was done and my hard earned hair growth was swept up and tossed, I once again plunked a baseball cap on my freshly exposed scalp and we headed up for a few days of mountain therapy. Grateful not to be in pain, grateful that there wouldn’t be hair falling out in our mini house on wheels, grateful for the respite of the mountains with my man and my dog. Grateful that I had a few days to process the return of this crappy disease.

My wig has reemerged from its previously relegated position as closet shelf placeholder.  Washed and trimmed, I wear it when I want/need to go cancer incognito.  With or without my wig, I can feel my leonine alter ego once again noticeably thriving. Perhaps a bit wiser, more realistic and most importantly…still alive.  

Treatment update:

The first month of treatment (infusions once a week for three weeks followed by one week off) is behind me.  I started round two on 8/12 and I’ll get a two week break following treatment #6 on 8/26, perfectly timed so that I can be in Dallas to speak at Foundation Medicine’s annual meeting in September.  Scans are scheduled for September 16 and I’ll get results from my Super Ninja Most Wonderful Oncologist on the 17th.  While my neutrophils are taking a hit, my tumor markers are responding favorably. The side effects are mostly the same as before, raw tongue and fatigue being most bothersome.  I continue to rely heavily on acupuncture, massage, meditation and Love to ensure I’m doing everything I can to help mitigate the damage to healthy cells while encouraging the medicine to work. xoxo

What Was That Again?

I wish you could read my mind

as it would clear up my words.

Pinterest wisdom

July 9, 2019

There are many reasons I can think of that make writing update posts difficult. Sometimes, I am still in the throws of processing recent findings and I’m just not ready to go public with the news, be it good or bad. There’s also the fact that sometimes words are woefully inadequate to truly get across what I want to express. The reality is, I can’t control how you will interpret what I write or say and you can’t know how I struggle to get my deepest intensions across.

To make my point, these were the most impactful words written on my recent biopsy report: 

“Metastatic adenocarcinoma consistent with history of lung primary.” 

Packs a punch doesn’t it. I think the radiologist got his point across pretty well but I still came up with a few of my own interpretations:

1)“WOW! They must have gotten me mixed up with someone else.”    

2)  “I knew I shouldn’t have had those 8 desserts and 6 glasses of wine.”                           

And my favorite:

3)  “ARE YOU  F***ING KIDDING ME!”                                             


Pain and Guilt 


I haven’t yet worked all the steps for this latest round but I believe Dr. Elisabeth Kubler Ross would still be a tiny bit proud.

After more than a week of discussions and opinions followed by more discussions and opinions, we decided today that the best option is for me to go back on systemic treatment. Since Taxotere and Cyramza worked so well for me in the past, I will return to a similar doublet. Taxol will be the drug of choice this time around along with Cyramza. This regimen won’t be as toxic, but the trade off is time; i.e., instead of getting treatment once every three weeks, I’ll be getting treatment once a week for three weeks with one week off and repeat.

I again say farewell to my hair, eyelashes, eyebrows and appetite and Jim and I will rekindle our relationships with the nurses in the infusion room. In the meantime, I’ve been digging deep and unearthing my backup mojo. Looks like I’m going to need it.

Sometimes the reality of this crazy cancer world I find myself living in, sweeps the rug right out from underneath me. Yet, while I’m floundering through the air, I can often catch a glimpse of sublime love and gratitude.

I know this because I’ve interpreted that God works in mysterious ways.