Saturday, April 30, 2011

Out of the Blue

It was dinner time and my home was quiet. Clint was upstairs meditating (snoring) and I was in my kitchen starting to prepare dinner.

The phone rang, when I said hello I was totally unprepared for who was calling.

Susan? this is Doctor (my colon surgeon), "How are you?" "You have been on my mind day and night"
Well doctor, I have been on my mind day and night! this decision is not an easy one and I have been back and forth with my options for a few weeks now.

He told me that the problem with me is that I did too well on my chemo, there is almost no Cancer left in my body, my liver surgeon says that he is not even sure that the smaller spots are Cancer. The larger of the spots is very light with only a small uptake of energy showing on the tests.

That is what makes my decision harder I told him. Why would you want to operate if you can't find anything is my question. How can I justify going through these major operations now?

He spoke with me for some time, letting me know the pros and cons of both side~waiting or having the operations now.
It was my longest and most productive conversation with him in almost a year.
I had a list of questions and concerns a mile long, they have been going through my mind endlessly these past few weeks. We discussed every possibility and it's consequences.

This conversation gave me hope and also a foundation allowing me to make a decision I can believe in.
My prayers were answered, my hopes stirred and my belief in doctors restored.

I have an appointment with the Liver surgeon on May 17th and at this time I will find out his concerns and suggestions and then I will go with my gut~so to speak!

This simple conversation, this phone call out of the blue, put my mind to rest, gave me hope and strength and belief in myself and the link to answers I need.

That phrase that runs through my mind to calm me~" Every little thing gonna be all right" is finally true!!!!!! In my heart I know that every little thing IS gonna be all right!!!!!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!!! Buona Pasqua!!!

These are not my words but I wanted to share them with you~Happy Easter~ Buona Pasqua a Tutti!!

You are strong. . . when you take your
grief and teach it to smile.
You are brave. . . when you overcome your
fear and help others to do the same.
You are happy. . . when you see a flower
and are thankful for the blessing.
You are loving. . . when your own pain
does not blind you to the pain of others.
You are wise. . . when you
know the limits of your wisdom.
You are true. . . when you admit
there are times you fool yourself.
You are alive. . . when tomorrow's hope means
more to you than yesterday's mistake.
You are growing. . . when you know what
you are but not what you will become.
You are free. . . when you are in control of
yourself and do not wish to control others.
You are honorable. . . when you find
your honor is to honor others.
You are generous. . . when you
can take as sweetly as you can give.
You are humble. . . when you
do not know how humble you are.
You are thoughtful. . . when you see me
just as I am and treat me just as you are.
You are merciful. . . when you forgive in
others the faults you condemn in yourself.
You are beautiful. . . when you
don't need a mirror to tell you.
You are rich. . . when you never
need more than what you have.
You are you. . . when you are
at peace with who you are not.

Friday, April 22, 2011


What to do?
I met with my oncologist on Tuesday afternoon, I had a cooking class that night and I had to be home by 5 PM. It was not such a good idea to schedule both in one day. It was an emotional doctor visit for me. He was going to give me my options for further treatment.

He did just that. He came in closed the door and sat down facing us. He told me when he conferred with the liver and colon surgeons their recommendations was to operate. He also said that he would go along with that decision BUT I had to take in consideration all my options and end results.

There is not guarantee that even after 2 operations to remove where the tumor was in my colon, along with a colostomy and take out the spot or spots on the liver that the Cancer may still return. In the same organs or in others. There is no way to predict what could happen. Therefore he told me that I need to weigh having the operations and going through at least 6 months of recovery to get back to where I am now or take a wait and see attitude and in July have the scans and tests done again to determine if the Cancer spread or grew or jumped around in my body.

Do I risk going into surgery and getting an infection, staying in the hospital for longer than a week, having a colostomy that may or may not be able to be reversed?
Only to have the Cancer come back again, do I wait and see and just take a chance that my colon is clear? The PT/CT scans and blood work are not perfect, he told me there is no way to really predict how much Cancer is left after Chemo, the only sure way is by a biopsy. The colon surgeon could not find a thing when he did the exam a few weeks ago but the scans say there is activity in my colon... could it be from the radiation I received back in the spring of last year? Yes it can.. so now what?

He told me to consider quality of life and do I really want to go through some major surgeries if I don't really have to? so many questions and so little answers. His advice was to meet again with both of the surgeons and try to pinpoint exactly what they want to do as far as surgery. Will the liver surgeon do a Laproscopic surgery requiring a shorter stay in the hospital and thus less side effects, what are the percentages of colostomy reversal?  There are no guarantees and maybe that is what I was looking for. I am faced with a battery of questions about the rest of my life.

This is difficult, I want to do the right thing for me but at this point I just don't know what that is.
My gut reaction is to skip the surgeries and just wait and see and maybe this will all go away, but am I being naive? am I risking the chance of this appearing somewhere else and then my option for surgery is taken away?
He also told me that at this time he would not recommend more chemo, my body has taken all it could and it would be more detrimental than helpful right now.
This is weighing on my mind, awake and asleep it is all I think of. No one can answer this but me. I try to sit and find a quiet space in my mind and heart and listen for the answer. I pray I make the right decision.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Dinner Party Cooking Class

I whirled around the house on Friday in anticipation of my Hands on Cooking Class, the theme was "Dinner Party."

I had all my ingredients purchased and I assorted everything by recipe. Making a station for each recipe.
I had 12 on my guest list and as I folded the aprons and dishtowels I thought that this was going to be a fun night!
It was!
Each person came through my door excited to be here. A glass of wine to relax and then my instructions, as well as a tour of the kitchen and location of pots, pans, knives, pot holders and anything else I could think of that they would use. Peggy and Clint stood at the ready, anxious to lend a helping hand and do all the dirty pots and pans and dishes.  A hand on class is exactly the way it sounds, YOU prepare the food. Each couple took a different recipe and before I knew it there was a kind of bedlam in my home filled with laughter and fun!
We cut and trimmed and sauteed our way through the night and before we knew it our meal was ready. These people were good!!!! The food was displayed on  beautiful pottery and we ate on gorgeous antique china dishes and by candlelight.

The food was brought out hot from my big oven and we sat around my big old table and enjoyed the fruits of out labor. It was great fun and everyone promised to comeback soon!


Anticipation, that song is running through my mind.

I am prepping for a Girl's Night Out Cooking Class  for tonight and for tomorrow night. I am busy. That does not stop my mind from wandering and going to places I would rather not think about.

Tomorrow I have a 2:15 appointment with my oncologist for what should be a review of what all my doctors have discussed as well as my options for the next step and any questions I could think of. I know it is cutting it close with a class tomorrow night at 6 PM~ given their track record of being on time. It was the only appointment open so I took it. I am anxious to hear what he has to say. I have gone over every conceivable scenario in my mind.

I think I am doing OK, until I find myself in tears for no reason, crying in the shower, silently sitting and thinking way too much! Clint, bless his heart knows me well. He told me last night as he wiped away the tears that were rolling down my cheek without me even realizing it, "it's OK, you have a lot to think about" It will be fine, don't worry"

So the song that I want to sing is "Don't worry, be happy!"Every little thing gonna be all right."

I am really ready for this to be all over, but I know I still have a road ahead of me. Surgery? who knows, I am sure that is what the surgeons will push for~ can I hold off? will it be detrimental to my health, will this Cancer come back full force hurtling me to where I was in last April? Will I have to go back on the dreaded chemo. those drugs are still affecting my body, I have neuropathy, tingling and numbness in my toes and fingers, I am off balance, bumping into walls and doorways, I am achy all over, stooped sometimes like a little old lady, hard to stand up straight. My sense of taste is still dull, I get tired easily and often. My emotions are on edge and I cry easily.

On the other hand and I always like to look at the bright side, I am working as much as I can, my hair (soft fuzz) is starting to grow back and I don't have a chemo pump dangling from my waist!

I think I will take my own advice and take each day, each moment as it comes, trying hard not to look too far ahead. Accepting what is and knowing it will be OK no matter what.

(But I still want it to be OVER!)

Friday, April 15, 2011

A visit with Jonny

A few years ago, almost 13 years actually, my daughter Tina met a young man while on his honeymoon in Jamaica. They became fast friends and have stayed in touch all these years.

Jonny was from Quebec and had a very sexy accent as well as a promising career as a NHL linesman.
He traveled extensively as an offical for the National Hockey League. Each time he came to this area, we would get together, mostly having dinners at my home and sometimes going out. We went to visit him in Quebec one winter and he took us to the Maple Syrup Festival. It was great fun as we tried all foods made with maple syrup we even ate frozen syrup dipped in the high snow that covered most of Quebec, even in the Spring!

When he bought a home in Tampa we went to visit him there too, meeting his wife and small children. We as a family have remained close all these years. His kids have grown up and so have we. Time passes but we still all stay in touch!

Last year when the Flyers were in the town, he got us great seats and an after game visit to meet all the players. We had a ball. Jonny is now one of the top linesman and was asked to participate in the playoff season~ a great honor for a linesman!

He is in town for the first two games and wanted to stop by to say hello.

I had cooking classes all week so I couldn't meet for dinner but he was able to drive here for a nice lunch today. I made all the things he loves and we had a wonderful, if short visit.

It is so nice to stay in touch with friends over the years.

Last year when Tina made the call to tell him I had Cancer, he told her that at every game as he dropped the puck to start the game he whispered a prayer for my recovery. He told me today that he does it each and every time for all the games he participates in. To me, this means so very much!
I told him today~ keep up the prayers~ it is working!

Here's to friends and prayers and love across the miles!!!

Thursday, April 14, 2011


What can I say, my week and past days have been tiring, exhausting, fearful and sometimes mellow.
I tried to stay in the positive. I did as I was told and called the colon surgeon on Monday to give him a number where he could reach me anytime of the day or night the following day.

The doctors were having a conference on Monday night, my name was on the list. They would put their heads together and let me know their decision regarding my next step in this battle with Cancer.

I slept fitfully on Monday night expecting a long day on Tuesday, jumping every time the phone rang.

I was pleasantly surprised when early in the morning around 9AM or so I received a call from my oncologist. I was happy to hear his voice because I knew that he would take his time explaining everything to me and he did.

The first thing he said to me was that the surgeons wanted to operate, no surprise there, that is what they do and I was told that an operation to get all the tissue out was a good thing. In his next breath he said
"You have very LITTLE Cancer in your body" Hurray!!!!!!! He told me the surgeons do this every day~ take out colons and livers, but to me it is a very serious Operation with a good amount of down time. He feels that I must weigh my options and give this all some thought. He suggested I make an appointment with him next Tuesday and we will discuss everything, the pros and cons of what is to come next. He told me to think about this and also write down any questions that come to mind and we will go from there.

So.... nothing definite yet, but I am moving forward at least. There is a lot to think about~do I want these operation~NO is my first response but do I want this Cancer to come back~ No is my response to that too!!! what to do... So I am trying not to speculate and just go with the flow and know that I will make the right decision for me. I know that in my heart I will do what I have to do to be able to go on with my life and to me that is so important. I want to live my life everyday. It is so precious to me. I re affirm that every morning when the sun peaks out behind the darkness of night. I have another day, a gift and I want to keep receiving that gift.
So I will wait until next Tuesday when I hope to have more answers, in the meantime I am enjoying each blessed second!!!!
Happy Spring to you! Enjoy your moments in time too!

Friday, April 8, 2011


I've been to all three doctors, the oncologist, the liver surgeon, and yesterday I went to the colon surgeon. I've had my tests doing exactly what the doctors are telling me to do. A good girl always!

I had quite a surprise as he danced into the room with his white coat flying behind him, in kind of a hurry to be sure!
He said"Oh I haven't seen you in a while, maybe last April"

No~ I said, you saw me April 15th after I was first diagnosed and then again on May 3rd where you examined me again, and on May 27th another exam (I just love these)..Then again on July 7th after I finished my chemo and radiation.  You examined me and told me there was no sign of the tumor~just a scar, again on August 12, when you sent me to the liver surgeon, I started chemo for the liver on September 15th and finished on March 8th. I told him all of this so he could know what was going on and remind him of who I was!

He walked into the examining room without looking at my chart or MRI or PT/CT scan. I provided him with a run down of the last year. His response" Wow you know everything!" Yep~ it's my body and my life we are talking about here!!!!

After a very thorough and uncomfortable exam with him wiggling the tube in and out of my colon. He Says" I can't find anything, nothing, not even a scar, I don't know what to do!"Oh my ~he doesn't know what to do??? I've heard this from all three doctors at this point. Kind of has me wondering~DON"T DO ANYTHING THEN!!!!!!! I am cured! or so I think. They have other ideas I am sure.

He hands me his card and says call me on Tuesday~we have a colon-rectal conference with all the doctors on Monday night, I will put your name on the list and then we will decide what to do next.

Soooooo still no answers. I am finding out that there are no answers, just more questions. I was under the wrong impression that I would have some idea of what will come next~but no, not yet anyway.
Now don't get wrong I am thrilled to have him say he couldn't find anything! not even the scar, but he saw where the scar was~isn't that the scar? where the scar was???? I am confused, maybe he is confused too !!!

When I finally got home I thought to myself~go to the Doctor you feel the most comfortable with and that is my oncologist~bless his kind, patient heart!

I called him on his cell hone, he gave me that number when I was first diagnosed and I have not misused it at all, but now was the time to use it! I called, he picked up and I spoke with him, giving him the run down on doctors visits and comments. He told me I did the right thing by calling him, that he would get together with the other two doctors and get back to me next week. Weighing the possibility of surgery with a more soft approach, I was so relived to hear that! Hurray!!! finally something concrete. Someone who cares. I know that I have good doctors but they all don't have the time or the patience for talk as he does. I thank God that he is my doctor!

So here I am on this rainy day, with nothing visible in my colon (great news) and a possibility of an non-invasive next step. Hurray Hurray!!!!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Expect the Best Today

We open our eyes in the morning to a new day. What is the first thing that comes to your mind as you greet the new day?

All the things you have to do, you think about your day but how do you feel? Do you think it will be a stressful day, a busy day? a day filled with a to-do list? That is how most people greet their day. As a to-do list ~expecting rain or traffic on the way to work, dreading your obligations, thinking the worst.

 A new and different way to look at each new day is to EXPECT THE BEST! What do you have to lose?

Nothing  really, expect miracles to happen, expect the best things and thoughts and needs to come your way. Think and imagine that your day will go smoothly, that you will have all you need and greet any problem with calm and certainty that it will all work out.

Today my day will be wonderful!!!!!

Hows that for positive thinking?

Set your self up for success instead of failure. Enjoy the gift you have been given, a new day, a morning filled with expectations for the day~ Great Expectations, the best for you always.

I always say that you deserve the best in life and that is so true, we all deserve the best so why not wish for it, think it and you know what? If you look on the bright side, you will be happier and more able to handle any situation that comes your way!

When you lay your head on your pillow at nighttime, think of your day and give thanks for all the miracles that happened, for all the opportunity, for all the blessings you received.

Thank your body for doing it’s job, breathing, digesting and standing and sitting, going through all the motions that we don’t even think about. Thank your feet ~they hold you up, thank your hands that handle all your daily tasks, thank your brain for creating your world, be thankful for all the good, for all that you have. Don’t dwell on what is lacking or what you want or think you need. You have everything you need in your life, think about the good and good will come your way.

Expect the best today and see what the universe brings!!!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Little by Little

How can we change our lives for the better? We all want to have a perfect life or as close to perfect as we can. That is not always the case, as a matter of fact it is seldom the case. Circumstances and people get in the way. I use to think that my family was dysfunctional. Now I know that most families have some sort of issue going on, no matter how wealthy, professional, smart they are, somewhere in their family there is some one or something that is off. No one has a perfect life. It just doesn’t happen. We all have issues, they are just different for everyone.

So what can we do to realize our dreams and make our life more like we want it to be? This can be a daunting task for sure but if we take baby steps, make changes little by little. You would be surprised at what you can achieve.

I took this idea and translated it to other things as well. I wanted to walk daily so instead of thinking to myself, I don’t have time or I don’t feel like it I made it a point just to go out and walk around the block~what could it take? 5 to 10 minutes? but I realized that as soon as I walked out that door and took the first step of my plan, it was easy, easier then I thought. So instead of just walking around the block I did more each day, some days I didn’t feel like doing more and that was OK too.

Just this weekend I knew I had to give my kitchen an all over cleaning.. it was a big job and I had been putting it off for a while. So I decided to do my “ little by little trick” I would clean just 1/4 of the room, one corner~ top to bottom, as I started and finished I decided to tackle another corner before I knew it the whole kitchen was done, just like that little by little.

Start with a list, for your personal life, your work, your relationships, your goals. Take a baby step to change what you want to change. A baby step everyday. You can do this, if it is too much, reduce the time or task, make it manageable make it work and DO IT!!!

You will be surprised at how much you can accomplish by doing this and how many changes, good changes will come your way.

Live life in the moment and take it little by little, you will be where you want to be in no time!

Sunday, April 3, 2011


There are a few things in life that make me feel good, one is sunshine.

Although I don’t mind a rainy day, I even love a rainy day sometimes, but sunshine streaming through my window in the early morning give me so much joy!

I feel uplifted by the sun. It enriches my day making me feel I can do anything.

What I really want to do is sit outside with the rays warming my face and gathering the energy that the sun provide.

A robin was bobbing in my garden this morning, I thought~ spring is in the air. The branches on my trees have started to bud and before we know it spring will be here in full force. Warm days and cool nights, Plants starting to bloom. It is a new beginning for all of nature and I take it as a new beginning for myself too.

I believe in the magic of Springtime. The miracle of all these living things somehow making it through a harsh winter and blessing us once again with new growth.

Life is like that, you have ups and downs and sometimes you can feel as barren as a tree in winter but little by little you come around to a new thought, a different opportunity, a new beginning.

I embrace the ups and downs of life, without them we would be bored and not really appreciate all we have.

Sit in the sun, enjoy these days of light and budding flowers..wind chimes tinkling in the soft breeze, robins visiting us in this, the beginning of Spring. 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

An Anniversary

This was not an anniversary I expected to have.

On April 6, 2010 I was diagnosed with Colon Rectal Cancer. A huge surprise to be sure.  I first heard the news and made all my doctors appointments, the course of treatment was 6 weeks of chemo and radiation daily followed by an operation to remove the tumor. I thought to myself OK~ I'll be done all this by November and then I can resume my life.

I was in for a big surprise. Nothing is like you expect it to be and Cancer is not predicable. I found that out!
After undergoing the treatment and then having more test low and behold it had metathesized to my liver. Another course of treatment was prescribed.
This time 12 of a more serious combination of drugs given every other week, if I could tolerate it. Some weeks I did OK others times I was violently ill. This treatment took 7 months for me complete, along with it came various side effects, some of which I am still experiencing.

I lost my hair but not my sense of humor. I blogged weekly to keep in touch with family, friends and clients. I learned that the power of prayer does work. I learned that I have so many people in my life that care about me. I learned that I am strong and that I need to live my life no matter what happens. I learned that this Cancer can happen to anyone, no matter how healthy you think you are. I learned to take care of myself and take life minute by minute. My life was not on hold as I first thought. I was still living whether I was sick or not.

I had so much support this past year and every wish, thought, prayer was helping me. Keeping in touch with so many people was a blessing I will never forget. I saved each and every card and all the emails that I received this past year. It is a reminder to me of all the positive energy that came my way. I am so grateful for what I have in my life. I realize that I am not alone and I don't think I would have been able to do this if not for the support of my family and friends and clients.

I learned to be grateful for what I did have in my life and try not to dwell on"why me?" or "how the hell did this happen?" There are no answers to those thoughts and they do no good. I am an optimistic person and I rather laugh and smile than cry~who wouldn't? Not to say that I didn't have my breakdowns, I did. They also taught me a lesson. It is OK to cry and be sad and wish this never happened but I always bounced back to me again. I am thankful for that too!

So as I look back on this past year, I realize that I am still here, I am still fighting, but I am living my life too. This is not going to go away. The surgeon and the oncologist both said that they will be checking on me my whole life. I am a fighter and a survivor and so I know I will do this, no matter what comes my way I will handle it, hopefully with grace and humor and strength.

So I thank each and every one of you for all your support, prayers, gifts, flowers, love, hugs, kisses and for being there for me. You are on this journey along with me and I hope we can both learn from each other.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Taking care of YOU!!!!!

One thing I have learned along the way is that you are responsible for YOU. If you are waiting to get a physical or a colonoscopy or a mammogram, don't expect someone to make the appointment for you or bug you to go to the doctor.
We as women always take care of everyone else, the kids, the husband, the wash, our parents, our neighbors, our friends. We usually put ourselves last and if we run out of time in the day it is usually our needs that go by the wayside.
I am realizing on this journey through Cancer that I need to take care of ME. It doesn't mean I am selfish, actually it is the opposite, because if I take care of me I will be stronger and then able to take care of all the people in my life who depend on me.

Taking care of you can mean lots of different things. You can view this as getting a pedicure or a manicure or a massage~ all these things are great ideas. They comfort us and make us feel good.

I am not  a fussy person but I like to stay at least a little bit polished. I don't want my nails to be chipped even if I am not going anywhere. I like my hair trimmed, my eyebrows arched, I want to be put together. I am not always put together but I always feel better if I take care of myself. It makes me feel good and if I am happy then the people around me are happy too.

Taking care of your self means keeping up with your health, getting fresh air daily, doing some sort of exercise on a regular basis, eating right, drinking water, stretching, having some quiet time for just you, smiling more, laughing more, letting all the little worries and aggravations of each day go.

Sometimes it is just not worth getting mad or upset about some of the small things that can happen to us on a daily basis. Like being in a traffic jam, use that time to stretch or think or let your mind go blank. We are in situations regularly that we can't control but we have the ability to control our reactions. Next time someone gives you a hard time ~smile at them.. see what happens.. it is surely not what they were expecting and it can change the outcome of a bad situation.

I encourage you to take some time for you, take care of you. If you have a medical issue and are putting off going to the doctor I can tell you that it won't go away on it's own and sometimes our fears stop us from finding out what is wrong and we put off getting it taken care of and then it's too late. So please take a minute, look at yourself and love yourself. Your body is yours for all of your life~take care of it!

Give yourself some tender loving care~ you deserve it!