Thursday, March 31, 2011


Imagination, Dreams, Daydreams, Wishes, these things have been on my mind.

I read somewhere that if you can imagine it to be true it can happen. I witnessed first hand how your imagination can make things happen. I spent 4 days in Disney with Tina and her family. While we were there we went to see a movie on Walt Disney.

His imagination created the fantasy world we were in. His dedication and perseverance created Disney World. He never gave up, time and again he lost his life savings but he had a dream and he followed that dream. Today it is hard to believe he created this Magical Kingdom where children and parents can come and be in a Fairyland. Somewhere you can forget your troubles and just be a kid.

I looked around me and saw his dream. I thought to myself, what separates him from me or anybody else for that matter? He had an imagination and he believed in his dreams. We all have that imagination, the ability to daydream and wish for our lives to be different.

We all have the same ability, to dream, to create, to wish for what it is we want our life to be. I came away energized to think that I can have a dream and my perseverance to follow it will make it come true. We create our life, we surround ourselves with the people we want in our lives. We chose our surroundings and our careers and our cars, our homes, our partners. Look around you... is your life the way you want it to be? do you have a dream? a wish? a desire? Notice what you pay attention to. Notice who and what is in your life. Think about the small changes you can make that will create a difference in your life.

I realized this week that I am in charge of my life, I need to take care of me and dream my dreams. I want to pay attention to what matters most to me.
On the plane ride home I took out a notebook and wrote somethings down that would make a difference in my life.

~To get up early and write
~To meditate or just sit in silence so I can hear the answers to my questions
~To stretch my body so I am not so tight
~To take a walk or get outside no matter what the weather
~To have a garden
~To let go of the little annoyances in life
~To let go of any guilt
~To stop and talk to people instead of rushing through my life
~To notice what and who matter to me
~To simplify my home, my office, my life in general
~To write daily and long term goals
~To make time to daydream

These are just some of the things I want to incorporate in my life. I want to live in the moment and enjoy all that is around me. I created my world and I want to enjoy it. No matter what the circumstance of my health are I am still living my life day by day, minute by minute and I do have some say in how I enjoy it!

Take some time for you~ make a list of what is important to you. Make a list of your wishes and dreams. Don't let life pass you by with busy~ness and clutter. Enjoy your life TODAY!

Friday, March 25, 2011


GOOD NEWS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We headed down to JEFF this morning for an 11:30 appointment with the Liver Surgeon. In the past this doctor has been pretty late with appointments and we've had to wait sometimes 2 hours before we were seen. He also was quick in the room to talk to us, sometimes not even siting down when he came in. He is a great surgeon but not all that good with a bedside manner.

Today was different. We were seen exactly on time and maybe sooner! He came into the room and sat down facing me. I had a list of questions in my hand but believe it or not he answered every one without me asking!!!

I had a good feeling as we sat talking to him. He told me he reviewed the discs and not just the reports.  "You are doing great!" The bigger spot on the right side of my liver is now small enough to be scooped out~ a far cry from taking the right side of my liver out!!!
The smaller spots although there are a lot of them, altogether would fit on the head of a pin!!!! He is not even sure they are cancerous. He said if he went in to burn them he may not even be able to find them.

His suggestion was to make an appointment with the colon surgeon to have him do a biopsy of my colon tumor to determine if the "Lighting Up" is from cancer or radiation. To get his opinion on whether or not he want to remove it now or just take a "Wait and See" attitude.

If the wait and see is what he wants I may go on"maintenance" chemo and they will just keep checking on me. I found out today that this is a LIFE long process... the checking for Cancer.

If the colon surgeon determines that taking out the tumor is best, the liver surgeon will be there as well to scoop out the spot on the right and burn those pesky little spots on the left. Same incision, so I won't look like a french door window with scars running up and down my midsection! THANK GOODNESS for that !!!! Down time from  surgery is greatly reduced from 6 to 8 weeks to 2 to 3 weeks!!

All in all we walked out of his office floating on air, I feel like I've been given a gift, a reprieve, a good report card!!! This is fantastic news.. I am still taking it all with a grain of salt (the only thing my taste buds detect anymore~salt) until I see the colon surgeon but I feel good about his reaction to all my tests and at least I feel like the past 7 months of chemo has accomplished something.

After all is said and done all three doctors will determine what is next. If the operation is a go I still have to wait at least 8 weeks for the AVASTIN drug to get out of my system as it creates problem with healing.
So I have an 8 week rest, my hair (fuzz) is growing back slowly, I am gaining my energy back and I am starting to feel like myself again. All wonderful!!!

This day that I expected to be filled with anxiety has turned out so differently.
My mind created a worse scenario than actually happened, which if you think about it, is always the case.

We left the office and had a nice lunch~ I even ordered a glass of wine to celebrate!
I am thinking on the positive side and blessing my life and all the people in it who have prayed and supported me with encouraging words, flowers, soup, plants cards and tears and hugs, all of it has lifted me up and made me strong enough to face this adversary.

I am truly blessed and grateful.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


This week has been up and down. I went for all my required tests in the begining of the week and the wait for the results had me on edge.

Today I called my oncologist and left him a message "Please call me with the results!" I know I will see the liver surgeon tomorrow but he is a surgeon, although an excellent one, he is quick with his visits and gives me little satisfaction. My oncologist spends more time, answering my questions and going over all details. I wanted and needed to talk to him.

Last time we saw the Liver surgeon I told Clint to trip him when he came into the room just so he would stay in the room longer so I could talk to him!!!!

Almost immediately my oncologist called back.

I sat at the kitchen table, phone in hand, pad of paper nearby with Clint on the extension to hear what I didn't.
He started off as he usually does. "Well.... I have both report, I see that things are stable"
STABLE!!!??? are you kidding me, 7 months of side effects and things are JUST STABLE!!!!!!

He calmed me down telling me that this was a good thing, the Cancer did not spread to any other organ. The biggest spot on my liver reduced from a nickle to a dime, the other spots are so small that the PT/CT scan didn't pick them up but the MRI did.

As far as further treatment, he told me he needed to discuss my options with the Liver surgeon after he sees me tomorrow and the Colon surgeon, who I dread seeing but now have to make an appointment to see. They have to re-examine the colon to see why it is still "Lighting Up" for that matter all the spots are still "Lighting up" but he told me it could be from the radiation I got last Spring.

So where am I now? I am thrilled that it didn't spread, I am disappointed that there is still "activity" as they say. I am in limbo. I am hoping to have more concrete answers tomorrow, but I am finding that nothing is concrete!!!

The news I received was not bad news by any means, but I am finding out that there are no black and white answers to Cancer. It is a process, a journey, a hellva trip to be sure!!! I am on the roller coaster of life, holding on for dear life, screaming, laughing and crying part of the way, but the good news is that I am still on the roller coaster!!!!!

So I have news but I don't have answers.

But the sun is shining and I am cooking for a class tonight and I am in good spirits and I will take this moment in time and enjoy it best I can! Life is fragile and I am fragile in some ways and in other ways strong.
Tomorrow will bring more "NEWS."

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Waiting Game

It is Wednesday and I've had all my tests. I've been stuck and prodded and probed and injected, now I have to wait.
Wait for the Doctors to read the test, wait for the Doctors to call me, wait for my appointment with the liver surgeon on Friday.
Wait Wait Wait~ during this waiting period I try to stay as busy as possible. I don't want an idle mind that can fill with fear at the drop of a hat!
I am sending my body messages of healing, love, hope and strength.
I envision my liver clear of spots, my colon free of tumors. I am sending positive energy my way. I am also receiving so many emails and prayers and good energy from everyone. This has got to help!!
On this rainy day I am in the kitchen cooking. It is soothing to me to be stirring and sauteing and cooking my way to a free mind!
I am playing the waiting game but I am doing OK.
The MRI last night felt like I was inside church bells in Tuscany. The booming I heard for an hour or so was transformed to a place in Italy.
I can see now how powerful my mind is!!
I thank everyone for their kindness and encouragement during this waiting period.
And so I wait wait wait.. for news hopefully good, and a plan.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Calmed Down

Yesterday's post was full of grief and fear. I couldn't help it, no matter how hard I tried to be upbeat and celebrate the fact that I was off Chemo and I did it for 7 long months full of side effects and uncertainty. I was still scared, probably more emotional and fearful than any other time.

I don't really understand my feelings but I can say that maybe I just needed to let go, let go of the cheerfulness, the optimism, the face that I have been trying to wear for the last 7 months. I  felt exhausted yesterday, not only physically but mentally and emotionally, drained, all I could do was let the tears slide down my face and be in the moment. I tried hard to change that and then at one point I just let go. I needed to feel those feelings, those emotions. I needed to know that yes, this is a scary thing I am going through and yes, I am not sure of my future. But you know what ? when I woke up this morning I realized that no one knows their future, no one is promised tomorrow, we are all in the same place.

So I started this day realizing that I will be emotional this week, along with fear and uncertainty ~these emotions will follow me until I take all those tests that will tell me if the chemo worked, how much did it work and what is next for me.

It will be a long week but at least, hopefully by the end of this week I will have some answers, another plan maybe, and harbour hope that I will be OK.

I have yet to congratulate myself on these past months, I will do that soon, I did what I needed to do. I stood tall in the face of this Cancer and now I will do whatever I have to do ~ the next step on this roller coaster ride.

So I am drying my tears (some of them anyway) and looking ahead. The fact that I am working and teaching cooking classes is the best thing I can do right now~keep busy and be in the moment.

I wish you peace in your life and in mine too!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Feeling Down

Teary, grumpy, crabby, weary, scared, emotional and nervous.

I feel like I can rename Snow White's Seven Dwarfs with all these emotions going on. I cry at the drop of a hat or if anyone asks how I am doing they will be in for a surprise waterfall from me. I am short tempered and grumpy. I am nervous about these tests results. Will they bring more chemo? did they work? will I have one two or three operations in my future? how will my life change after this? What is next?

All these thoughts are right there in the forefront and it is hard to turn them around. I go to sleep with them swirling in my head and I wake up to the same thoughts. This is the toughest part.

The chemo nurse said to me on Wednesday as I was getting infused with my last chemo "You went through the worst" You did it" You are strong" You will handle what ever comes your way."

Funny deep down I know all that but it is the unknown that scares me to death. I hear so many horror stories and read so much .. to me this is all up in the air. When my doctor can't commit to my future how the hell am I suppose to commit? I want to expect the best, and I do~ but what if?  Silly nonsensical question but there floating in my subconscious non-the-less. All the doubt I can have is right there in my mind, through my breathing, through my trading bad thoughts for good ones, it resurfaces again and again.

I have a busy week next week and that is probably a good thing. I have my PT/CT scan, my MRI of the liver, my appointments with both the oncologist and the liver surgeon to discuss the results and the future. It can't come soon enough. I need a plan, I need reassurance, I need hope, I need support, I need a HUG!!!!!!!

It is not like me to be an emotional mess but here I am weepy, crying, and scared. I guess it is normal but I don't know what is normal anymore.
The nurse just came to DE-access my port and remove the bag of 5FU that I have had hanging on me since Wednesday, I couldn't wait to get it off, I had enough, enough chemo, enough of this Cancer ~ENOUGH!!!!
So it has been 7 months not counting the previous 6 weeks of chemo and radiation last Spring, a year of this... enough already!

Sorry to be ranting and raving but that is all I can do right now! You have been with me through this up and down ride and you are here with me now.

Thank you for that, for the prayers and thoughts and encouragement I have received. It made this journey so far~bearable.
And so I await my future, I will keep you posted.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Finn's Cooking Class demo at his school

This week was "FINN" day at his preschool. As grandparents we were invited to come and participate in his celebration.

I chose to do a cooking demo, and also talk about his Italian heritage of course.

The kids were excited. They each received an apron and we had a brief discussion on food likes and dislikes. I also asked the kids about Italian cooking and what their favorite thing was about Italy. One little boys answer came as a surprise and got a laugh from me! His answer to my questions about his favorite thing in Italy!~Ferrari's ( I don't blame him) he also said he loved Polenta, my favorite food too!!!

We did fruit skewers with strawberries, melon and grapes and celery with cream cheese and raisins also know as ants on a log. The kids had fun and so did we! It was a great way to celebrate Finn and be included in his special week!!!
Here are some pictures.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Tomorrow I go down to JEFF for what they say is my last treatment in a series of 12.

I have been on chemo for 7 months now, I think it should be my last. The doctors won't commit to anything until all the required tests have been done. I am to see the liver surgeon too, for an MRI of the liver once again. This will all determine what is in my future. Operations? more chemo? did the Cancer spread? the uncertainty of it all is very stressful, almost more so than the treatments. I wake up in the middle of the night without a plan, without direction for my future.

I am a planner, a list maker, I want an idea of what will happen or have a plan, something that will be concrete.

I am finding that nothing is written in stone as they say. My mom has a saying "Carve it in ice."I feel my future is carved in ice, subject to change at any time.

This is the most stressful time for me... the not knowing ... the wondering and guessing. I am usually teary, grumpy and fearful during this time. I am not looking forward to it. Laughter, to me is the best medicine, a medicine I will take over all others!!!!

It seems to me that as much as I hated getting chemo and feeling so sick at least I knew what was next, now all I see is uncertainty. It is scary.

I've been teaching cooking classes in the past few weeks and I was starting to feel like myself, the Susan of old, the women with the dreams and jokes and smiles and lots and lots of ideas. I want to stay that way. I want to laugh and smile and enjoy my life and I find now that I do this one day at a time. My plans don't stretch far and that is OK. I will get through this time and then gather all the info and make a plan, a plan for my future, a plan of hope and love and laughter. Oh and don't forget strength! I need the fortitude that inner strength provides. It will give me peace and that is all we can really ask for in life.

Enjoy the small moments that life gives us, a beautiful sky, a child's smile, a good meal, and the love of those you surround yourself with and the peace that comes with the knowledge that we are where we are suppose to be and really have everything we need right inside of us.

I wish you peace!!!

Santina and Lidia

My mom is 83. She is a spit fire! Always was, she raised canaries when she was a teenager, took the EL into town and tried all sorts of food. Ate in restaurants herself because her friends wouldn't join her for the "exotic fare." She married my Dad in an arranged marriage, knowing him on a few months before they were wed.
She has dabbled in stocks and to this day still reads the Baron newspaper, keeping up on what is going on with the market.
She is a fabulous cook and cooks a big lunch for my Dad everyday. She loves to go to the casino and plays blackjack and craps... no slots for her! She is a 4 foot 8 inch dynamo!

She also LOVES Lidia, watching her religiously everyday, she has every one of her cookbooks and talks about her constantly. So when I saw that Lidia was coming to the William Sonoma store in King of Prussia to sign her latest cookbook, it was an easy decision to make.
I called her and asked if she would like to go, her enthusiastic yes was all the answer I needed.

I had been down in the dumps for a few days and I was ready to get out of the house. So off we went. She promised to buy me a pot when we got there and true to her promise I now have a beautiful Martha Stewart heavy enamel pot. I love it !

I stood in the line that snaked outside the door and around the store, patiently waiting for Lidia to arrive while my mom a "born shopper" shopped of course!

Lidia arrived a little before 3PM with her daughter Tanya. When our turn arrived for the book signing my Mom was smiling from ear to ear. She told Lidia how much she loved her and her mom, who is often on her TV shows and then looked over at her daughter and said " I like you too" so funny!!!

Lidia asked my mom her name and she proudly said Santina di Bonaventura, Lidia seemed impressed and threw both hands in the air and sang out my mom's name. It was a great Italian moment and the smile on my mom's face was priceless!

It was a fun day and it brought me out of the funk I was in. I aspire to be like my mom, full of life and always smiling!

Monday, March 7, 2011

A scenic lookout

Have you ever taken a car trip?

Driving somewhere special, we only think of our destination, we are in the car reading (only if you're not driving I hope), listening to music or just zoning out. We pass through beautiful country and don't pay attention to a thing. Along the road there are usually signs for a scenic lookout, a pull over stop that is NOT a rest stop but a chance to gaze out at the beautiful countryside, a lake, a mountain, a sunset. All within our reach, all within our gaze, all we have to do is stop and take a look. Interrupt our journey for just a little while to gaze upon the spectacular.

Life is sometimes like that. We wake up each morning and go on our way to do the things we have on our lists, go to work to make a living, take care of our kids, our family. We don't stop along the way, not enough time, gotta get all this done in a certain period of time.

BusyBusyBusy, we lead busy lives, too busy to stop at the scenic overlook and gaze at the beauty that surrounds us. I am not just talking about mother nature, but also the people we have in our lives, or the people who we meet for only a couple of minutes in our day.

Do we take the time to talk ? to have a conversation? to find out how a neighbor is doing, how WE are doing? Not likely! we just go on, the day passes by in lightening speed without us noticing anything except our chores and our to do lists.

I am a great person for planning and for lists. I love lists, it makes me feel like I am accomplishing so much. Doing doing doing... but lately I am learning a new lesson. The lesson of noticing. Paying attention to the day, the sun, the breeze in the air. Taking the time to really have a conversation with someone I meet. Taking time to get to know a different way, a different environment. Taking the time to see how I really feel.

The Cancer has forced me to notice. Notice how I feel physically and emotionally. Take the time to take care of me, take the time to listen to what my body needs, to what I need in this moment. It is not always easy. We have been trained at an early age to do ... do this~do that, up until we lay our head on the pillow and sometimes into the night, we make plans and lists.

Our days are passing us by. Our life is passing us by and we cross off the stuff on our list without taking the time to smell the roses, enjoy the sunset, savor a meal, give someone you love a kiss for no special reason other than you love them!

Stop what you are doing, take the turn to the scenic overlook in your life. Take time to notice who and what is around you. Take the time to appreciate all that you have in your life, something simple as a fluffy pillow, a friend who is always there for you, good music that makes you want to dance. Take time in life for the good things, they are all around you ..
You just need to stop and NOTICE!!!!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The limit

I think my body has reached it's limit. I have been tired, queasy and just plain sick these past few days after my infusion. I was expecting to feel good and I was in for a surprise.

I had plans for this week, just fun plans. Maybe take a ride to Lancaster, maybe go out and eat, maybe take my mom shopping... maybe maybe,that is a big maybe, I am too tired and sick to my stomach to do anything but lay down and even that is not comfortable. I think my body is saying ENOUGH!!!!

It has been over 6 months now that I am on this chemo for the liver, not even counting the 6 weeks of chemo and radiation I had back in the Spring... enough already...
I know I have one more treatment to go On March 16th. My Doctor tells me he can't predict what will happen after the tests, the tests will determine that. More chemo?? oh God NO! operations~ I am not looking forward to that either.

This Cancer is an unpredictable disease as he says. The road is filled with unexpected twists and turns. He knows I am a planner and I want to make plans for my summer but he is not promising a thing. I guess he doesn't want me to be disappointed or let down so all the questions I asked last Tuesday were answered with a "I don't know" Well See" The tests will tell. " No answer really... just questions. I am trying to keep my head up but the tears and the fears have a way of sneaking in when I least expect them to. I want to be strong and brave, but that is not how I am feeling.

So this week I will give in to these feelings of helplessness and uncertainty and give in to the tears and just rest. Maybe that is what I need more rest!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


I just came back from my infusion. We left this morning at 7 AM and it is now 5 PM.

I am tired, queasy, jittery from the steroids and sick to my stomach. I just want to lie down but I can't. As soon as my head hit the pillow all I could think about was the class last night. TOUCHED BY CANCER ~Cancer and a room full of brave strong people, fighters, positive, smiles on their faces and hope in their hearts. They came for food and fun and maybe a little inspiration. I gave it all I had.

You can be touched in so many ways. A big strong hug, a smile from the heart, a soft pat on the back, a cancer diagnosis, a bad day. We are touched everyday both physically, mentally and emotionally.
The faces of the people in my living room said it all. They are warriors, they made a choice to live in the moment, to live each day fully and to touch and be touched as much as possible.

A touch can be healing, to feel someone hug you with love in their heart is the best medicine I ever had.

I received so many hugs and kisses, a bouquet of Roses with a card that said "Welcome Back" and I am back, back from the fatigue and side effects that I lived with this past year. Back to doing what I love~ cooking and talking and laughing. It went by fast I can tell you that much and came with many twists and turns. When you are in a situation like this you learn, maybe the hard way, to go with the flow. It is too hard to swim upstream, much easier to just let it happen and take away any drama that may come along.

The people in my home last night didn't ask for this to happen, probably didn't expect it to ever happen but here it is and we are learning as we go, as my doctor tells me time and time again, everyone is different and goes through this journey in a different way but we all have one thing in common~ we are fighters, we are brave and strong and we cry too! We do what we can and hopefully listen to our bodies. We are care takes of ourselves and other.

Everyone had a wonderful time, Laughed a lot, ate good, fresh, bright, tasty food and left with smiles on their faces and maybe just a little inspiration to lift them up!

I know they inspired me with their love and support and the fire in their eyes that this is life and in the end it will all be OK.

LOVE to all of you! Now I am going to bed!!!!!