Sunday, December 26, 2021

I Sing the Body Electric

What I am about to say is difficult to say the least...I share this with you because an important thing has happened to me as far as my cancer goes and once again I write this as a way to inform, inspire and work out my own feelings. I do not write this for praise, or to be told how strong or brave I am...I write this to because my blog is my living testimony to what cancer is and does to someone...our stories are never the same but it is my hope that I can reach some women and we can save some lives...

Some of the things I will say in this blog may seem icky and gross. But they are natural body functions and I trust if you are reading this you took biology. I have to speak frankly about what happened to me because it is the only way I can teach about this disease.

I hope you will read and share and help save some lives...over 5 years ago I wrote a blog ("Unstoppable") to let everyone know I have cancer...I feel like today I need to do an update to that because at that time I had no idea the hell that was ahead of me. I was almost flippant about what I was about to go through and at that time thought it was a tiny minor cancer...little did I here my friends is what it's like to face the beast..


Hello Darlings...

I have cancer


That is the most terrifying thing I have ever said.

But I say it to claim it so that I can have dominion over it.

To go further:

I have Stage 4 Uterine Pappilary Serous Carcinoma


I've said it and now I claim it: I have cancer again

Yes, once again El Diablo is back and he's reeking havoc on my body

A routine scan has shown that there are metastisis and my CA125 is higher than it has been in 5 years so I am in trouble.

El Diablo is back and this time he took me by surprise again.

I was just minding my own business enjoying my new knees and wham the rug is pulled out from under me just in time to ruin my Christmas.

But such is the beast that is Uterine Papillary Serous Carcinoma.

A cancer you have probably never heard of...until me...

it behaves quite badly and recurrences are never good

I have a recurrence of the cancer

there I said it and I own it

(and I am trying not to say "my" cancer because after an amazing counseling session with my dear friend/therapist/soul guide/heart sister Chausey I am claiming what is real but not claiming it to be me or mine...there is cancer but it is not MINE)

Now I'm about to give you a lovely review session of all the fun that has happened to me since November 2016...if you want to skip it (there is no extra credit for reading it other than you get the chance to say "dear God no wonder she knows all the nurses by name") scroll to where it is underlined and I say to start reading again...if you want the full premium package of this blog keep going from here...

Until I was diagnosed I had not known anyone personally who had Uterine Cancer. I had a few friends who faced cervical and sadly a lot of friends who had battled breast...but until I got this I didn't know anyone who faced it.

I've always been scared about getting cancer...and I have a dear friend I love and admire who battled stage 4 Ovarian cancer and she beat it...and it scared the holy hell out of me knowing what she went through.

I have another friend who battled breast cancer 3 times and has gone through hell with it and while she battled I cried with awe at her strength. 

Both of those women became my "roadmaps" as how to handle all of this...along with other friends who have battled cancer.

My journey to knowing I had cancer was a long one. Because the symptoms and signs of Uterine (and Ovarian) cancer are quite silent...or they look like something else (menopause). You can't feel the cancer (like a lump) and the main sign is bleeding and all women of a certain age bleed. There are no screenings like a mammogram or colonoscopy. There are no easy reliable tests.

But not all women realize that once you have stopped bleeding you should not bleed again.

In the spring of 2016 I started to feel "off"...I knew something was wrong inside my body.

I figured it was menopause.

I went to my GP and she ran tests and sent me to the cardiologist.

I had a stress test and ultrasounds of my heart and all kinds of other tests but all that it showed is that my blood pressure was a bit high and my cholesterol was a bit high but otherwise my heart was in great shape despite being overweight.

My thyroid was fine...we even had an ultrasound of it to be sure.

So I went on blood pressure medicines and a statin and I didn't feel any better.

I was due for my annual well woman exam so I went to my gyno Dr. Gorgeous and told her how I was struggling to lose weight, was tired a lot, and I felt "off". This was May, 2016.

She did my exam and all seemed ok and my pap came back negative so she sent me to the endocrinologist to see if there was something there.

The endocrinologist checked my thyroid again and my cortisol levels.


God I miss "normal"

Hell what is normal? I don't even know anymore because my body has become a game of whack-a-mole and has been since 2016. 

When she told me that everything checked out ok in my endocrine system I started crying out of frustration...she assured me she understood and agreed that yes there probably was something going on with me but it was not my endocrine system.

That was July 2016.

So I sent my son off to college in August and I thought: "now it is MY time...all the invitations I have turned down, all the things I have not done, all the sacrifices I have made to raise my kids and be a good and present mom are now done and I can focus on me. Maybe I can even meet a nice man to have a relationship with---it would be nice to date and have someone. Maybe I can just get to know me for a while and learn what it is like to be just me".




I've learned not to make plans anymore...when I do God lets me know I'm not in control.

Two weeks after sending the kiddo off I woke up in a pool of blood in my bed.

I've had bad periods but not that bad.

A few weeks later it happened again.

A tingling started inside my brain that something was wrong but every time the word "cancer" entered my brain I swatted it away.

By October I was not only having periods from hell with clots the size of tampons but then I began to bleed in between my periods...and I was on the pill to control that...

After 10 days straight of bleeding I knew I had to do something.

I saw my gyno and she began to run tests...she confirmed that my bleeding was a sign that there was something wrong and we needed to get to the bottom of it.

And I was in a lot of pain.

Like needing pain meds kind of pain.

I had an ultrasound of my uterus

it was "normal"

except for fibroids...which we knew were there...

I had a CT scan...

It was "normal"

just an enlarged uterus (the size of a uterus that is 3 months pregnant) and some enlarged lymph nodes...

nothing to panic about...

but she also ran a blood test called a CA125 that measures proteins given off by cancer cells.

"Normal" is under 35...

I was in the 600's...

yeah that was not "normal"

Y'all I'm a high achiever and I like to be the top of the class but this was one time that my overachieving was not in my favor...

Dr Gorgeous and Dr Hubby (her husband who is also a gyno) knew that there was trouble ahead and so I was scheduled for a D&C (and biopsy...but I wasn't aware of that at that time).

On November 4, 2016 I went to their office and had a D&C and Dr Gorgeous took a lot of biopsies because she could see from the scope that there was something wrong...

That morning after the procedure and after a few tears it was decided that I was going to have a hysterectomy but first we would wait for the pathology results to see what the heck was going on.

Cancer buzzed in my head again but again I swatted it away and went on doing my job at the school.

But the possibility of cancer being the cause of my troubles kept creeping into my head.

GOTT (the smartest man I know who just happens to be my work hubby and male bestie) said "you don't have cancer until they tell you that you have cancer". The man is not only the greatest teacher ever but he also knows just what to say to keep me calm (although sometimes when he says "I just want you to handle it" I want to throat punch him...then I handle it...)

I held on to that nugget of great advice.

Dr. Gorgeous would call and text to check in on me...the pathology was taking a lot longer than we expected.

The pain got worse each day.

A lot of pain.

Like take a Tylenol 3 every night when I got home pain.

My uterus was screaming to get out.

I prepared for my hysterectomy and while I was literally on my way to the hospital for my pre-surgery labs and screening I got a phone call from Dr Gorgeous.

She told me to pull over.

You know that bad news is ahead when you are told to pull over...

Kute Karen was along for the ride so she held my hand while Dr Gorgeous informed me that the cells in the biospy were abnormal and the pathologist was trying to pinpoint what it was but it did indeed seem to possibly be cancer.


How did I go from being a woman who was looking forward in life to one who's life might end?

I did the pre-op stuff but Dr Gorgeous warned me that most likely she would not be doing the hysterectomy.

An hour later, on November 14, 2016 she called me back and said she had cancelled my hysterectomy and gave me the name of the oncologist I would be seeing later that week.

It was cancer

We didn't know yet what kind but yeah...cancer...







My world stopped.

I needed an oncologist?




And then I went to the liquor store and bought the biggest bottle of vodka I could find. I also booked my bikes at Revolution so I could ride nd yoga myself into not going insane.

I ran into a friend when I was in the parking lot of the liquor store. She saw me in my car and as she walked up she found me crying.

She held my hand and helped me out of the car and pushed the basket in the liquor store and was very "present" for me at that moment. I don't think I would have gotten my vodka without her...

and dammit I needed vodka

My next step was to call the oncologist office and make an appointment.

I have an oncologist.

There I said it and I own it

Actually I have 2 now...both are totally badass

Words I never thought I would say.

Thanks to my gyno they already had an appointment booked for me for the end of the week but they needed information...I numbly gave it to them, took down the address of where I was to go and felt like I was living in some surreal dream and I was very ready to wake up.

On Thursday, November 17 at around 7 o'clock I got the call that made it all become very real.

The pathologist had confirmed that I had Uterine cancer.

Some sort of rare, agressive kind but that is what it was.

Dr. Gorgeous called me and in the kindest and most loving way possible she told me the news.

We cried on the phone a bit and I kept thinking "this can't be real".

After I hung up with her I took a stiff drink and called my Aunt Jane (she is my "person"...she's my best friend, my confidante, my mom, my aunt, my rock...).

I had to say the words out loud.

"I have uterine cancer"





So now we knew...

When the words go from "it MIGHT be cancer" to "it IS cancer" your body and mind literally feel like you have been punched. 

(and just a nugget of advice here---DO NOT ever tell someone who actually HAS cancer about the time you "might" have had's not the me on this...)

I sat on my sofa after those calls, continued with that stiff drink and knew my world and my life had changed forever.

How was I going to tell my kids?

How did I get cancer?

Uterine cancer? What the hell was that?

My uterus had given me the two greatest gifts of my life---my kids...and now it was trying to kill me.

I don't know how I slept that night but the next morning Aunt Jane picked me up and we drove to the Cancer Center.

The Cancer Center.

A place I am now so familiar with that I know everyone by name.

But that day, November 18 2016, when I stepped off the elevator and saw the words "Cancer Center" on the wall I wanted to throw up.

I looked around the waiting room and saw some VERY SICK PEOPLE.

How did I get here?

That woman who was bald and shivering in a blanket---would I end up like her?

The man in a wheelchair who could not stay awake---was that going to be me?

The woman who looked to be in so much pain---was I going to look like her soon?

I was called back to a room and like some sort of magical miracle Dr. Gorgeous showed up and came into the room to hug me.

And then she said "this is where I go from being your doctor to being your are now her patient...and I am here to support you but I am going to leave before she comes in so she knows you are here to listen to her and do as she says. She is as good as they get so trust her."

We both cried, hugged again and she left the room and told me to call her when after I met the oncologist.

I call my oncologist Dr Rockstar.

Because she is.

And when she walked into the room I knew right then and there that she was going to save my life.

Got an immediate full on doctor and woman crush on her.

Her first question:

Do you know why you are here?

I said "yes, I have uterine cancer"

She said "ok, the hard part is over... now we do what we can to fix it"

I liked that she was ready to go and do whatever it took to take care of me.

I sat in that exam room and as fearful as I was at that moment I also knew I had been led to the right doctor for me.

I asked her about chemo and radiation and she said "one step at a time" and we scheduled surgery.

Or rather TRIED to schedule surgery.

It was the end of November and there were a lot of surgeries scheduled because it was near the end of the year and all the "I can have this surgery now because I met my deductable" people were having their elective surgeries and despite having 30 something ORs there wasn't a lot of room on the schedule to get me in.

But Dr Rockstar pushed.

And I told the scheduling lady that I had cancer and she needed to get me on there.

The told me I would not know until the day I was scheduled if I was for sure going to have the surgery.

I prayed.

So 10 days later, on November 28, I got a phone call confirming I was going to have surgery and to go to the hospital.

I didn't need to be there until noon but I had had to stop eating and drinking at midnight before. 

These days they let you drink up until a few hours before but 4 years ago that what still the norm.

Aunt Jane and I checked in at the hospital and after 3 more kinds of check ins I was given a little room to wait in until it was time for the uterus to get yanked.

Dr Gorgeous and Dr Husband showed up for moral support and Dr Husband made sure I was going to be put into the best darn room on the gyno floor and Dr Gorgeous took Aunt Jane to get something to eat because it was going to be a long day.

I brought a tiara with me so I wore it along with my hospital gown.

Because I'm a princess y'all and everyone needed to know it.

It was a long afternoon of waiting...I could hear the helicopters landing so I knew that Life Flight had just brought another person in that was going to need an OR more immediately than me...

Finally around 5 the anesthesiologist came in to tell me it would be soon...after that a resident came to say that Dr Rockstar had napped, eaten and was ready to battle some cancer.

Dr. Rockstar walked in about 6 and told me she was going to do everything she could. 

I told her I wanted to live so please save me.

I got a big hug in response to that...

She went to get ready and I was wheeled over to the pre-op area and once there the curtain drew back and there was Dr. Husband.

I started bawling...

he told me Dr Gorgeous was parking the car and that they were scrubbing in.

I honestly felt so much love at that moment my fear was gone.

(and yes I know how blessed I am that two of the best gynos in town were there for my surgery).

5 hours later Dr Rockstar went to the room where Aunt Jane was waiting and she filled her in.

It wasn't a pretty picture and Aunt Jane said she looked like she had been to war.

And she had...

with my uterus...

The disease had spread and was also in lymph nodes that she was unable to remove because it was far too risky.

At that point I was staged at Stage 3 but that changed once Dr. Angel saw my scans 6 months later.

Recovery was hard...and knowing that I was facing chemo and radiation made it harder.

Since that surgery I have had 4 more trips to the OR thanks to cancer:

a hernia repair because I lifted heavy things too soon

a spinal fusion on my L4/L5 disk

a spinal fusion on my L3/L4 disk

another spinal fusion on L3/L4 disk that decided to disentigrate

I have also had:

6 rounds of carboplatin/taxol

25 rounds of pelvic radiation

3 rounds of brachytherapy (internal radiation)

30 rounds of radiation to lymph nodes in my neck (boosted by weekly rounds of chemo)

a year of cisplatin/gemcitibine chemo every 3 weeks

(then got allergic to cisplatin)

5 months of gemcitibine chemo every 2 weeks

and then the miracle of Keytruda/Lenvima which is immuntherapy and chemo pills and was on that from December 2019 until March 2021. 

I kept my hair because I cold capped but chemo took my lashes and brows for a while.

My weight has blown up thanks to constant steroids being prescribed.

I have fought cancer pretty much non-stop for 4 years and 4 months...

Cancer will take your dignity and modesty away...and when it is a gyno cancer you learn to quietly accept that you will have the most intimate parts of your body exposed and examined.

I have a cancer that has a terrible prognosis...but I plan to be an exception to that rule.

People say I'm brave...inspirational...strong...a warrior...

I do not know if any of that is really true...

because there are days that I am so weak I don't want to get out of bed and it's not the cancer but rather my own exhaustion of having to constantly fight this beast.

I may be brave but I cry every time I am poked with an iv and every time I got on the table for radiation I was terrified.

I do not think I am anything special...I'm just a woman who was put in front of a lion and told to fight.

On March 12, 2021 I finally got to hear the words I had wanted to hear for so long:


My wonderful oncologist Dr Pretty P told me that...we hugged, we laughed, we cried...

I couldn't believe it was real.

I beat the beast.

El Diablo was vanquished.

I could go on with living my life without cancer treatments.

She was very careful to say "I'm giving you a break".

She never said "you are done"

or that I was cured...because UPSC is pretty much impossible to kill

But at that moment my Aunt Jane and I got to celebrate what had seemed impossible.

Immunotherapy had saved me.

So I booked a knee replacement and lived through the hell of that.

And then my colon decided that colitis would be a fun thing to try and I ended up with diarrhea for over 2 months nonstop.

The gastroenterologists say it was my body's reaction to the Keytruda.

I got so sick I had 2 trips to the ER because of it and a hospitalization for a week along with a super fun colonoscopy that is miserable if you are healthy and damn near impossible if you are really sick.

I was really sick.

They had to give me ativan just to get through the prep so I was pretty much a drunken sailor the whole time and the prep was so vile it made me sick to my stomach.

I have to give praise and thanks to my charge nurse who finally put a stop to the prep once she realized how sick and weak I was and that I had not had a morsel of solid food for 5 days so yeah I was pretty clean down there. My nurse argued. He won't be my nurse again. She gave me a sleeping pill and held my hand.

and just because I am an over achiever it was noted in the colonoscopy notes that my prep was EXCELLENT so take that nurse who would not listen.

When they were about to start the colonoscopy the nurse asked if they could do some prep stuff before they sedated me and said she did not want to sacrifice my dignity. I told her that I lost 90% of my dignity having to lay bare ass up on a radiation table for 5 weeks and what was left of that dignity had blown away the night before when I was forced to use a bedside toilet and ask a nurse to wipe me because I was too weak (and she was the kindest woman ever).

Cancer makes you forget modesty when you have the most intimate parts of your body examined and prodded. You just have to let it go and get over it otherwise you won't survive.

I've given up modesty

I've given up dignity

I've given up vanity

I have scars everywhere. 

My legs are now both blown up with lymphedema and I will never be able to live without compression on them. There is no cure. I will forever have thighs bigger than most people's waists no matter how much weight I lose. My lymphatic system is just not keeping up.

My gut now has a mind of its own.

Thankfully I now have 2 new knees but it is hard to use them properly because of the swelling from the lymphedema.

But at least the joint doesn't hurt...

But the rest of my joints do hurt because thanks to the medicine induced colitis and the Keytruda my joints now are subject to peripheral spondyloarthritis (it is a miracle I know that is what it is called because the rheumotologist told me that one hour post colonocopy so instead of the world's greatest nap I had to deal with him).

My right wrist is so bad there is a will likely get worse and might need surgical intervention.

Cancer has caused me so much emotional pain but the physical stuff has been's a little list for you in case you are faced with some of the fun things I have experienced:

Here is how I rank the pain I have experienced from worst to least painful:

spinal fusion #1 (sciatic nerve involved)

L3/L4 disk shredding and laying on sciatic nerve (hence the surgery above)

recovery from knee replacement #2

frozen shoulder (prior to surgery...once fixed the angel choir sang)

waking up from knee replacement #1

recovery from knee replacement #1


hernia repair

childbirth #1

spinal fusion #3

spinal fusion #2 (hey morphine I see you)

childbirth #2

ectopic pregnancy (but very emotionally painful)

tummy tuck and breast implants

meniscus repair #1

meniscus repair #2

gall bladder removal

pain in my left lower leg coinciding with colitis

D&C for miscarriage

hysteroscopy to find cancer

I don't remember how I felt after my tonsils were removed but I am sure I was a big diva. I insisted I would not have them removed by anyone other that Doc Martin (my mother's OB and family friend) or Doc Johnson (a heart surgeon and family friend). I believe they flipped a coin to see who would do it but I insisted on seeing both of them prior and Doc Martin carried me to the operating room and kept saying "it's ok Niecey". The poor man also had to stitch me up once on my hand. He was a saint. 

Now I am not listing these as a way for you to be impressed (I had to think about how many times I have been in an OR) but yes I am correct in saying that having frozen shoulder was a bit more painful than one of my knee replacements. If you get one go get it manipulated ASAP because there is no getting comfy with that going on. Ugly stuff. Most likely caused by the Keytruda.

As for the sciatic stuff if you ask a certain few of my friends and family who witnessed me during the throws of that they will shudder and throw up their hands and say "I don't wanna talk about it" because someone (someone being me) was refusing to go to the hospital (because Anice doesn't love going to the ER). I have to say I think we all have PTSD from it...

And now I have another compressed disk so it's just a matter of time before one morning I wake up with a backache and then suddenly I fall on the floor and can't walk.

They want to give me a myelogram which sounds super fun since they puncture your lumbar spine and remove spinal fluid and inject dye into it and then you have to lay flat for hours after to prevent spinal fluid from leaking out.

Raise your hand if you think that sounds like a fun test!

My disks are compressing because of the radiation I received. If I need another surgery it is, according to my neurosurgeon, very complex and very long. So long his protege will do it and not him as he no longer has the stamina to do that sort of surgery. Kute Kristi was with me when that news was delivered and we both just sat there numb.

So from March until now I have basically been like a game of Jenga and we have been waiting for the tower to fall. 

Knee replacement #1

Colitis all summer with joint pain (and having to miss my sistah wife's birthday)

Knee replacement #2

back issues with the compressed disk (so my legs sometimes just give out) so I use a walker unless I am at home...

I'm still in PT and I have lymph therapy 3 times a week

So where does the cancer fall into all this mess?

(and dear God I am impressed if you are still reading all of this...but I want to put it all here as a testimony to what happens with cancer treatments)


So on Monday Dec 20 I went for a routine CT to check my lymph nodes and abdomen for signs of cancer.

I wasn't worried but I popped an Ativan so that I wouldn't be such a wreck as to make my aunt nervous too.

I drank my special kool aid and waited, got my IV and fabulous Debby (who always does my CTs) put me on the table and I prayed.

The next day the report came up and it states that there is an increase in the size of the nodule on my adrenal gland and another nodule abutting my left kidney. This is in comparison to the CT I was given in July

where there is zero mention of anything on my adrenal gland

the report on July 13 states my adrenal glands as "normal"






The explanation I was given is that different radiologists see different things so that may be why the first guy missed it...would have been nice to know that in July...

There is about zero chance of me getting a PET but the radiologist recommended onco ordered a CA125 so we could see if there was an issue

Well folks...


My CA125 was 14 in February

it is now 211

the highest it has been since my hysterectomy

So I'm in big trouble

because a recurrence of UPSC is never good...not at all...

I've told my kids and family and some friends who need to know. 

Last night my convo felt straight out of the movie "Terms of Endearment" because I had to say some very hard things to my kids...but they had to hear it.

My onco tried to call me but my call blocker stopped the call so I have to wait until Jan 3 most likely to know more. I have talked to my pharmacy doc and they are on it. They are trying to get everything lined up but I would still like a PET so we can have more answers.

But a CA125 of 211 is a pretty big answer.

I'm not in pain other than joint pain. I hate pain meds. I get off them quickly.

But right now I am on some anxiety meds and I think I will need an antidepressent this time because this is going to be hard work. My body is likely to react in weird ways (like the colitis).

I should have known something was up when I started losing more hair than I did when I was on chemo. And my energy level ebbed. And my swelling is worse. 

I'm trying to find my unicorn power but honestly it is in the basement right now...might even be the sub-basement or perhaps the sub-basement of the sub-basement. It is there but it is low on energy and hiding...

maybe we should try to do like we do for Tinkerbell and all clap hard and say "I believe" (if nothing else I do live for applause)

I'm trying to be positive but unless you have had an actual recurrance of cancer you can't begin to understand how scary it is and what it entails. 

I've endured surgeries and terrible infections that put me in the hospital and there are more to come.

I want to live

I want to have a next chapter in my life

I want to see my kids do awesome things as adults

I've lost my parents and I wish like hell they were here to tell me it will be ok...I miss them every single day and I do not want my kids to miss me every day like that until I am nice and old. Well at least old because by then I might not be so nice...

My dad and mom passed away at 59 and 60 years old respectively and here I am at 57. 

I don't want my kids to know that pain of missing me until I'm hitting my 80's or so...which is 23 years at least from now so I'm good with that...

So what I need most from everyone is support and prayers...and maybe some chicken fried steak or take me to the hospital when I get sick.

Pedicures when omicrom is not raging sound good...

Valet parking...yeah I need that...

get me out of the house (again when omicrom is not raging)

spin rides and yoga flows

Meals when times are rough and I don't have the energy to cook...

But mostly just prayers and can't imagine how powerful having someone say to you "what can I do to support you" is until you need it...or how beautiful it is to be told that you are in someone's prayers.

I have a lot of living to do and I plan to do it. 

I plan to fight like hell again.

But honey I am tired...not gonna lie it's been brutal and nonstop for 5 years.

I honestly never trusted that I was truly cancer free...often I found myself saying I was still a cancer patient because I was so used to it.

I finally trained myself to say "cancer survivor" because there was no evidence of disease so I needed to move on...and I did..but somewhere in the back of my mind I knew things never turned out as I planned and that something was going to topple it all over.

Once again I feel like I am about to get on the tightrope.

When I was first diagnosed I told GOTTESS (my sister wife) that I felt like I had been dropped on a tiny ledge on a sheer faced cliff...

I can't go down or climb up because there is no foothold anywhere...there is only a tightrope that leads to somewhere I can't see. 

I have no choice but to get on that damn tightrope again and start walking. I can't run or I will fall. I have to walk slowly and carefully and keep looking ahead. I can't look down or the fear will overtake me. I can't look up or I will lose my footing. So I have to walk. Slowly. Carefully. And stay on the tightrope and keep going because I know there is good on the other side. I just have to get there.

So I will take my overweight, swolllen, scarred like a roadmap, out of shape body with thinning hair and hardly any lashes and all my wrinkles and love this body. 

It is not sexy or pretty

And all the cute little filters in the world can't change who I really am...they might look fun to post but it's not the real me...I can give myself doe eyes and lashes and a thinner face and no wrinkles on social media but when I see myself in the mirror it's not real it's just an illusion...I'm 57 and I know my skin is not like a baby's...and I know I have bags under my eyes and they are not the size of a Disney princess...I am exactly who I am...

and I can tell you I am all brave and shit and that I am gonna go into this pumped like it's the super bowl but there is no filter in the world that can cover up the fear and anxiety I have over this...

because that would be as fake as the filters I see on social media...

I can't make my cancer have big doe eyes and Barbie smooth skin to be pretty to's damn ugly....and what it does to me is damn ugly...

And yes I am a damn unicorn but I am also mad as hell that I have to go through this again...

I was so ready to get off Mr Toad's Wild Cancer Ride and just settle for riding Dumbo for a while but no now I have to go get on the Tower of Terror...(and if you do not know these Disney World references then I feel so sorry for you...)

I hate hate hate hate hate this damn cancer

and it is time it left me for good

I want a divorce from El Diablo and I want him to go away forever

But right now I am still chained to him so I have to figure out how to break the chain and get to the impossible place of No Evidence of Disease (NED) again. 

Keytruda and Lenvima saved me before. 

Not without a lot of trauma but it did work and my docs think it will again.

So I will return to the Cancer Center and I will once again sit in a chair in the infusion room and they will pour chemicals into me to fight the cancer. 

And I will once again smile and laugh with my nurses and be grateful

And I will march forward toward health and hopefully at this time next year things will be managed. 

And there is an excellent chance I will be in treatment for the rest of my (hopefully very long) life.

I'm not ready to throw in the towel...I'm picking it back up, wiping away the sweat and going back into the ring to fight once more.

Thanks for being on this awful journey with me...I'll know more soon...but for now I am grateful for prayers and support.

And thanks for reading this...I know it wasn't a fun wasn't fun to write...

But if I am going to be filter free then you get it like it is...wrinkled and messed up...cancer is ugly...but I intend to beautifully fight it with strength and love and by loving myself...

Ok #TeamUnicorn---you know what to do: START PRAYING

Inspiration Song: "I Sing the Body Electric" from the movie "Fame"...a song I truly love...because I know my body is going to do amazing things...I sing this song often to remind myself that I can be strong and I can burn with the fire of ten million stars...

I sing the body electric
I celebrate the me yet to come
I toast to my own reunion
When I become one with the sun
And I'll look back on Venus
I'll look back on Mars
And I'll burn with the fire of ten million stars
And in time, and in time we will all be stars
I sing the body electric
I glory in the glow of rebirth
Creating my own tomorrow
When I shall embody the earth
And I'll serenade Venus
I'll serenade Mars
And I'll burn with the fire of ten million stars
And in time, and in time we will all be stars
We are the emperors now and we are the czars
And in time, and in time we will all be stars
I sing the body electric
I celebrate the me yet to come
I toast to my own reunion
When I become one with the sun
And I'll look back on Venus
I'll look back on Mars
And I'll burn with the fire of ten million stars
And in time, and in time we will all be stars
And in time, and in time we will all be stars

Bye Darlings...cancer sucks...that's all...

Monday, August 9, 2021

I Am Woman

Before I start this blog I have a few "housekeeping" items to address. I know it's been a while since I blogged and I still have not fully expressed how it feels to be told "you are cancer free" and I have a whole lot of fun to share with you concerning ER visits, hospital stays and colonoscopies...but the other day I was struck with the "feels" and felt like sharing this instead. What I want to drop in here has to do with the term "woman". When I say "woman" I mean ALL women, not just those who's assigned gender at birth was "female" which goes to say that I also believe that trans women are "women". My blog: my opinion. I know many of you will not agree and what I ask of you is before you pass judgement if you do not know and have a relationship with a trans person it is very difficult to understand. I have trans people in my life that I deeply care about and love so for me the issue of trans is a non-issue. So I may say some things that sound odd like "born with female organs" and that is why...and, because I am human, I may say some things that don't directly represent the trans community because I write as a stream of consciousness.

Also there will be some very frank discussion here about body parts and things that happen when you are sick...this is not for the faint of if you clutch your pearls at the mention of diarrhea then you better skip this blog...because there is that and more...

My blog: my opinion

so to all the women out there---I salute you...ALL women...

Hello Darlings!

After being sick for most of the summer I am finally starting to feel like myself again. So a few days ago I felt good enough to get out and run a few errands: pick up a little lunch, go to the teller machine and pick up curbside groceries and carry them into my house and put them away...

As I was driving along I had my 70's radio station blaring and Helen Reddy's "I am Woman" came on and I, just as I did when I was a young girl, began singing along with the song.

I was driving and singing and then I realized I was crying...tears running down my face...

because that song has taken on new meaning to me over these last few years

In my youth it was an anthem of female empowerment and women's liberation...but the other day as I sang along I felt the lyrics in a new way and one that reflects how I feel having conquered cancer.

Recently I posted a quote that said "Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know" (Pema Chodron).

And that my friends is how I feel about my cancer...

it's like it was with me for so long because it had so much to teach me about myself...about relationships...about what is truly important...about trust...about health...about healing...about listening when I needed to listen and questioning when I needed clarity...about grace...

grace with myself and with others (and with my poor poor doctors and nurses)

It was a long period of time not knowing whether I was going to die...whether I would ever be free of El Diablo...whether I would see and enjoy a future.

Because I wasn't lucky enough to come out of the OR cancer free...yes the tumor invading all (and I mean ALL) of my female organs was gone but there was still cancer lurking in those pesky lymph nodes...

But I fought on because I had absolutely no choice.

No choice.

No. Choice.



Because that's what happens when you are have no choice.

Oh yes I do realize that some people find that the treatments aren't worth the pain and loss and suffering and opt to rely on faith or just accept their fate and face the end of life with more grace than I could ever have but that was not me...

I wanted to fight

Because I know the second act of my life is around the corner (or maybe it's my third act? I'm not a playright so I'm not sure ok maybe we roll with third act if pre-cancer was one act and cancer was another and now post cancer...oh well I am getting lost in minutiae)

But I know I have more living to do.

So for all of you who think of me as a warrior, or brave, or whatever---if you were in my place you could and would do exactly as I would find the best team of doctors for yourself and put your trust and faith in them and modern science and medicine. My fellow cancer warriors will agree.

I'm nothing special

I'm just a woman who got the hell jolted out of her when she was told "you have uterine cancer"...

I did what I had to do...

As the song lyrics say:

Oh yes I am wise
But it's wisdom born of pain
Yes, I've paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong (strong)
I am invincible (invincible)
I am woman...

That right there my friends is what broke me...what sent the tears down my face and new comprehension washed over me...

The lessons I have learned were born of such tremendous physical and emotional pain I could never have comprehended when my journey started.

And the price...

Oh the price...

Let's start with the "easy" stuff because the biggest price, the loss of my body parts, is the hardest one of all and some of you, especially men, might think it was easy...but nooooo....

Let's add up my "bill":

3 spinal fusions because my spine was weakened by radiation

Now I have this colitis situation which they think was caused by the very drug that saved me...

colitis that completely robbed me of and ruined my summer and I had to miss some very special events because of it...

the colitis has caused me no end of loss of dignity...and I do mean loss of dignity...because at 2:30 am when you are too weak to clean yourself up after going to the bathroom (in a bedside toilet no less) because you are having to do a colonoscopy prep while you are very ill---yeah you give up dignity and you don't care who comes to help you at that point...and you cry...

I've had moments where I have had to reach for the adult diapers...not just with this colitis but because of things like radiation or medication...humiliating...

or times I have had "accidents"...once with my daughter present...

I have a hernia from my incision

I've gained so much weight because of lack of exercise from being sick and all the steroids that have been pushed into me trying to get me well and now joints aching with pain tied to the colitis so no exercise for me...just as I was proving I was a badass at physical therapy...

My knees are so much worse off than they should have been had I been able to have replacement surgery sooner

I will forever, and I do mean forever, have a left leg that is twice the size of my right leg thanks to lymphedema because of the cancer in my lymph nodes. It's not unnoticeable. My left thigh probably weighs a minimum of 5 more lbs just because of the fluid in my thigh. Fluid that will never go away. Fluid that I can push through and sort of get my lower leg under control but there is no good way for me to have compression on my thigh. And it shows. And it causes me to waddle as a walk and I might never wear pants again. A situation that will forever require me to be in compression every minute of every day except showering. A condition that will require that I use a compression pump every single day. Forever. It's not something that can be fixed, repaired, or reconstructed. I can't go in and have surgery and suddenly my lymph nodes will do their job and I'll have a normal leg again. It doesn't work like that. The bit of experimental surgery they do have is very risky and not very good and not covered by insurance so it's a total gamble.

I'm allergic to drugs now thanks to all the things that have been pumped into me...

And the one that is hard---I lost the very essence of feeling like a woman. I know women have hysterectomies every day but mine was a little deeper...a little more taken from me...things that are too private to discuss here but not only were my hormones wrecked but parts of me are gone that there is no repair for or reconstruction.

I'm being frank here...because a hysterectomy for cancer is a little different than one for other reasons. I'll just say " the cut is deeper" and leave it at that.

And all the cliches of menopause hit me at one time because I was not in full blown menopause when I was wheeled into that OR that day but I was when they wheeled me out...

And I could get more frank here and discuss that not having a partner also makes this difficult because honestly I don't know what I would be like romantically...I'll just drop that there and walk away and let you figure out the rest because it's too much and too transparent...

but I also don't want to shy away from the brutality this disease has caused.

(and God I live for the time when I don't feel the need to list all the things cancer has robbed of me...I'm sure y'all are tired of hearing it too...)

I've always found it ironic, and I have said so many times, that it was the organ in my body that gave me the greatest gift---my two kids---that tried to kill me.

I grew two full term humans in that uterus (and two angel babies).







Something I have never ceased to marvel at...I mean not only did I make these people but they are freaking marvelous

I never felt more like a "woman" than when I was pregnant...I mean I have always been a girly girl and I love pink and lipstick and heels and pretty dresses and being very feminine but being pregnant made me feel like I was connecting with my ancestors and all other women who had a human form inside their bodies...I felt like a woman at 28...

And it's also never lost on me that I have many dear friends who because of circumstance or health or their own body's issues were never able to experience the joy and incredibleness of having another human inside their body and I grieve for them. Infertility and miscarriage and stillbirth are painful and heartbreaking. For my friends who had their chance at having children robbed for them I feel a great loss if it had been their wish...and for my friends who became parents through adoption I feel great love that you were given the gift of a child to be yours...

All of this being said I don't equate being pregnant to womanhood but for me pregnancy was what made me most feel like a powerful strong woman---until cancer made me stronger (because I had a cancer that only someone born genetically female can get). Cancer made me more of a badass woman than anything else in my life...because I was fighting for me and all the women who cancer was robbing of our female organs...

Through the years I experienced many painful things: physically, emotionally, spiritually...


but none more so (other than the loss of my parents and dear grandparents and my "extra parents") than the brutal pain and trials I have experienced these last 5 years.

Spring of 2016 I knew something was wrong with me...I knew it...I felt it...things weren't "right" and it wasn't just pre-menopause. I was off. And I told GOTT and he said he would support me as I went on the journey to find out. When your work hubby says something like that you feel blessed...

What followed was seeing my General Practitioner, my gyno (with a clear pap smear that 6 months later there was cancer in my cervix), a cardiologist, a endocrinologist and an ultrasound of my thyroid. Then the bleeding started...and all hell broke loose and if you have been reading this blog for a while you know what happened next...

"you might have cancer" became "you have uterine cancer"

and there my life did the biggest pivot thus far

(and please tell me as you read the word "pivot" that the Friends episode with the couch and the staircase made you say "pivot" in your head like David Schwimmer...)

I had to pivot...

or in my theatre terms: PLOT TWIST

because leading up to it I was just a divorcee getting one kid off to college while the other one was finishing up and I figured it was my time to shine.

It was my time to shine.

But not how I had know, because of the plot twist...


I had thought I would find a boyfriend and enjoy being an adult in a relationship that didn't force me to alter everything about myself in some way.

And that's what happened...

minus the boyfriend part...

I had a relationship but the relationship was with cancer and once again I was having to alter everything about myself including my body after my beloved surgeon oncologist cut it all out

It was my time to learn all about myself and my relationship with ME and with others and with what was truly important in my life...

You can bend but never break me
'Cause it only serves to make me
More determined to achieve my final goal
And I come back even stronger
Not a novice any longer
'Cause you've deepened the conviction in my soul

And that was when I decided that I was going to beat cancer.

There was no other choice

I could sit around and wallow and worry and cry about it or I could put on my glitter and fight

So I fought...and trust me if you were faced with what I was faced with you would fight just as hard and as well too because YOU HAVE NO CHOICE

you can't wish cancer have to fight it

So to all of you who so very kindly and sweetly say I am an inspiration and you admire how strong I am I want you to know that you have all of that inside yourself as well...just as strongly as I do...and I pray you never have to face it and do it.

I told Dr Rockstar that I was going to beat this unbeatable cancer. The one they can't cure but only keep you stable. The one that requires treatment all the time and no end. Because in 2016 that was my fate--I had the bad kind and only poison was going to keep me alive...poison from chemicals and from radiation.

I told her she was going to be able to say I am cancer free...I told her I knew I would hear those words from her...I told her she was going to be known as the doctor who beat UPSC

(and sadly I still haven't gotten to hear those words from her because she did a fellowship and left me in the more than capable hands of Dr Pretty so she got to say it...but this Friday I hear she is back and I have to go up for a port flush so I think I am gonna make her say the words...just because I need to hear them from her...)

I told her that she needed to keep me alive until science caught up with my disease and that is exactly what happened...I went from "you will need chemo for the rest of your life" to "immunotherapy saved me"...

I told her I was gonna beat it and get my knees fixed so I could live my life fully....and yes along the way some other things happened (see above) that will make it so I won't be quite able to do that but I'll be better than I was anyway...

Because you can bend but never break me...

and it only serves to make me more determined than ever

And you, yes YOU could do that do...but like I said I hope you never have to

Cancer really was a great teacher even if El Diablo was a total asshole about it...sometimes our best teachers are the ones we like the least.

I learned so much about myself---things that make me cringe--when I go back and read my old blogs about myself before the cancer and after my divorce and when I was all feeling myself thinking I was cute when I was thin and healthy...

I read those blogs and marvel at the ignorance about thinking that because I had lost over 100 lbs that I was really something special.


my body taught me that to live like that I couldn't enjoy myself and I had to work too hard...and then my body proved it was in control by making it virtually impossible to try to lose weight

because when your body is secretly fighting cancer it really can't be bothered about losing fat in your big butt...

And now I am trying so hard to lose the weight I have gained...just trying to get myself to a place where when I look in the mirror I don't want to cry...

the problem is some of the fluff (thanks to lymphedema which also affects my trunk and pelvic area) will never go away...and now all the inflammation is bloating me so there's that so I mostly avoid the mirror and just know that I can only do what I can do to try and be healthy.

I mentioned to my GI doc that I was trying to lose weight and God bless her her response was "you have other things to worry about...we can deal with the weight later...let's get you feeling better'...yes my name for her is Dr Guts and Glory...she's good stuff...

I am woman watch me grow
See me standing toe to toe
As I spread my lovin' arms across the land
But I'm still an embryo
With a long long way to go
Until I make my brother understand

And now I am ready to find out where my journey takes me that is outside of just cancer stuff...yes I will forever have to deal with some of the side effects of what has been done to me but I'm about to be a real live Jamie Sommers and be The Bionic Woman once I get my other knee fixed (I wonder if I will be able to leap on top of buildings...probably not but at least I will be able to walk!).

I'm ready to put what I have learned into action...maybe in a book...maybe by doing some public speaking and sharing my story and how I grew from it...I'm not sure what that next step is but I'm ready to take it and raise awareness about cancer (especially uterine), cold capping, and how positivity and believing in yourself can conquer impossible things.

I still have a long way to go to fulfilling my life's promise...God gave me my life and now I need to use it for good things...for positivity...for change...for awareness...for whatever He sees fit to have me do because I feel like He didn't save me just for me to clam up and and selfishly live my life and just say "ok that's"

God made me a woman so I could experience all of I could experience something that only someone who was gendered female at birth could experience. Not the giving birth part (that was special) but so that I could lose the organs that some would argue biologically make me a woman (although I believe trans women are also female even without those parts). I needed to lose that essence of what I felt was my womanhood so that I could bring awareness to a disease that I knew no one personally had had so that maybe it got a few of you to the gyno...or a mammogram...or the dreaded colonoscopy...

because if watching me suffer scared you even just a little bit then it was a good thing...because I want you scared enough that you listen to your body and that you have your checkups and testing.

I want you so scared that you fear that drop of blood you see on the toilet tissue and you get it checked out...

I want you terrified when you feel a lump

I want you frightened as hell when something feels off and you know your body is not behaving...

I want you scared so that you act on it and you face it and you walk into that mammogram or suffer that colonoscopy prep or go to the gyno after 5 years to make sure you don't end up like me.

I acted fast but my body did not give me the full signals fast enough

You need to listen to your body and be scared so you call that doctor's office...and then I want you to face that fear and know you can handle whatever is placed before you.

Because you can do it...I did and so can you...

I want people to know that they have the power to do what I did...and I know not everyone wins their battle against this horrible disease---I've lost friends to many forms of cancer---but I want to be sure that all of you know that I'm nothing special.

I'm just a woman who was told she had to fight.

And so I did...

Because I am strong...

I am invincible...

I am woman...

And now, to quote not only the marvelous Helen Reddy but also Katy Perry: YOU'RE GONNA HEAR ME ROAR...

Get ready...I'm gonna make a lot of me be loud...

Inspiration Song: "I am Woman" by Helen Reddy...because I've been down there on the floor and no one's ever gonna keep me down one and no El Diablo...and by the way people she not only sang the song---she wrote the dang thing!!!

Here are all the full lyrics not chopped's powerful when you read it...
I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an' pretend
'Cause I've heard it all before
And I've been down there on the floor
No one's ever gonna keep me down again
Oh yes I am wise
But it's wisdom born of pain
Yes, I've paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong (strong)
I am invincible (invincible)
I am woman
You can bend but never break me
'Cause it only serves to make me
More determined to achieve my final goal
And I come back even stronger
Not a novice any longer
'Cause you've deepened the conviction in my soul
Oh yes I am wise
But it's wisdom born of pain
Yes, I've paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong (strong)
I am invincible (invincible)
I am woman
I am woman watch me grow
See me standing toe to toe
As I spread my lovin' arms across the land
But I'm still an embryo
With a long long way to go
Until I make my brother understand
Oh yes I am wise
But it's wisdom born of pain
Yes, I've paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to I can face anything
I am strong (strong)
I am invincible (invincible)
I am woman
Oh, I am woman
I am invincible
I am strong
I am woman
I am invincible
I am strong
I am woman

Bye Darlings...let me hear you roar...let my beautiful women friends feel all the womanly things about themselves and share it...and I'm gonna roar a lot more now because I feel like I need to ROAR more and share more to glitter up this world...I am strong, I am invincible...I am WOMAN

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Because You Loved Me

 Hello Darlings...

It has been forever since I blogged...and I still owe you a blog about being cancer free and how that all feels but honestly I am still processing all of it...but I promise soon to let that all out...

But today---today is my no good terrible hard day...

Because 16 years ago I lost my mom

My best friend...

My travel companion...

My "nurse"...


I am forever blessed that her sister, my Aunt Jane (aka the best person in the world) stepped in and has taken on all of that in place of her.

Honestly I am so glad my mom didn't have to see me go through cancer.

It would have killed or...or been a disaster--not sure which.

She would have been full-on Shirley McClaine in "Terms of Endearment" with the nurses if I needed pain meds...there would have been pounding on the counter and yelling at the nurses and Debbie would have been a terror. 

She would have been hovering over me after chemo treatments and would have driven my oncologists and neurosurgeon crazy with questions. 

She would have been pained to see me in pain...

She would have been grieved to see me suffer

And, in her own inimitable way---she would have turned MY cancer into something about HER...and that is just fine...that was Debbie...

I miss my mom every day...every hour...every minute...every second...

I hate that she missed watching my kids grow and graduate high school and college.

She would have been so proud of what an amazing woman my daughter is and how incredible my son is. She would have loved being with them as adults and being thrilled by all they have done.

My mom was beautiful and fun to be around. She loved her friends. She loved church. She loved her family more than anything but God.

My mom had flaws. 

We all do.

Sometimes those flaws were hard to handle.

But most of the time I looked beyond them and just saw the woman I loved most in this world. Just like she did with me.

My mom taught me to cook...and how to dress...and how to make a comfortable inviting home...and how to have fun at holidays...and how to love water and exercise...and how to love theatre...

I miss my Daddy too...just as much...but my mom and I were closer and most days I probably called her at least 3 times a day just to talk or run something by her.

When she died I had her phone and I would use it to call my cell so that I could hear the ringtone I gave her (Edna Mode from The Incredibles saying "Kisses Darling I am sending you kisses"). I did that so much my ex husband finally tookt he phone away from me.

I have things I find impossible to part with because they were her things. She would make me throw or give them away if she was here...

I was so overcome with grief when she died that I laid in my bed and did nothing but take my kids to school and pick them up.

I was costuming my first show and I had things to do and desperately needed to get back because I owed it to GOTT and the kids but I couldn't move.

Finally one day I dragged myself to the shower, threw on sweats and went to school. I had hoped to avoid the kids but ended up going into the Fine Arts Center and the entire 8th grade was in there with the champlain. One sweet child saw me and soon I was surrounded by all of them wanting to hug me and show me love. 

It was an incredible moment and I realized that working with kids is healing to me.

And it is why I do what I do...those kids are healing...and along with my own children they are why I do what I do...

I could go on and on but usually on this day I just reprint the eulogy I wrote about her. And if you want to know a bit about how she introduced me to Musical Theatre you can read my blog "What I did for love". I can't read it because it makes me cry and cry...

A few years ago I wrote a blog about today and I re-read it before writing this was about 5 or 6 years ago and I spent that day riding at my beloved Revolution. That was a magical day because Marvelous Mel let me cry it out on the bike. And it cemented my friendship with Sweet Sonia and Sweet Sandra. And Beautiful Britta brought me a cupcake that day that said "celebrate" and it really made me re-think how I spend this day. 

I don't want to sit and cry all day anymore. I don't want to mourn her...I want to CELEBRATE her and be happy.

So I do.

And today I will.

And so now---if you want to join me in celebrating her---here is her eulogy which tells you all the ways you can honor my mom.

I can't exercise because I'm about to get my knee replaced but I am drinking water, eating something with butter, and spending my afternoon and evening at school with my beloved students.

Debbie Shelton was one of a kind...

I think she would be proud of me and of how I fought cancer and very proud of this eulogy...

Today we honor my mother, celebrate her life, mourn her death, and rejoice that she continues to grow in Christ. I gave some thought about what to say, and if I even could say anything---for those of you who know me know that I am seldom unemotional and easily give in to tears. But I will try my best today to do this for my mother because I know she would want me to. And heaven knows, I do love an audience, especially a captive one…and we have full house today…

When I was trying to decide what to say, what message to give, how to best honor her, so many thoughts and ideas came to me. I could speak about her past and give you a boring history of her life…not that her life was boring, but rather just me droning on and on about what she did. We have been to life celebrations like that and about the time that the speaker gets to the high school years of the deceased, we are often nodding off. I also thought about telling you just about what a great daughter, mother, grandmother, sister, and friend she was---but we all know that about her. You couldn’t speak to her without her mentioning her children, grandchildren, or family. Many of you know us and our children by name even if you have never seen our faces because she talked so much about us.

I thought about sending you all a message of peace, love, and our resurrection through Jesus Christ, but I think Father John had that covered and did it much more eloquently and elegantly than I ever could.

So, after some thought and prayer, and talking with my Aunt Jane, and a hope that I will be doing the right thing, I have decided to ask you all to do some things to honor her. I think it is the right thing to do, and I hope you all will do these things in her honor and memory---and it will please her greatly.

Not to steal any thunder from David Letterman, but I would now like to present to you the 10 things you can do to honor Debbie. I will borrow from his style and count backwards down to one, ending with the 2 things she would think are the most important.

Number 10---Cook with butter! My mother was a fabulous cook…she learned from her father who was also a great cook. She rarely produced a dish that wasn’t incredible tasting. She ate a healthy diet and enjoyed good food, but when she cooked, she cooked with butter. Most of our holiday meals centered on her delicious food and she didn’t skimp on the good stuff. So when you do anything in life, and not just when you cook…don’t skimp on the good stuff…make everything you do full fat, whole hog, and ignore the calories.

Number 9--- travel first class and see this world. It’s not always feasible to fly first class, but why not give up some of those frequent flyer points and get to your destination in a little more comfort? My mother always tried to do that…and she was always more comfortable for doing so. She loved to travel. She loved to go and see my brother Beto and his family in Africa----it’s a magnificent country and she loved to be there. She loved New York City---we traveled twice there with Camiel but she made many trips there and she never tired of the city. She took ordinary vacations to ordinary places but she also loved to travel to exotic and fun places like Hawaii, Bermuda, Egypt, and Europe. Even when she visited my sister Katie and her family in Fort Worth she turned it into a vacation. She loved to go places---whether she was traveling with her children or with friends. We took so many fabulous trips together and I know that I will miss having her as my favorite traveling companion. So get out there and see this world…and send my mother a postcard in a prayer.

Number 8---Sleep on a lot of soft pillows. My mother’s bed was a soft, safe haven for my children and my sibling’s children…all the grandchildren have slept in Nona’s great big bed, surrounded by all of her soft pillows. Sometimes our entire family would pile into her bed. My mother had guest rooms but my sister Susan would always sleep in her bed when she came to visit because Mom’s bed was the best. Everyone who was at her house at some point would find themself lounging about on my mother’s bed. My mother made bed-making into an art form. Her pillows were soft and plentiful and her sheets were luxurious. But translating that to real life, what she did was to create comfort around herself. We can all honor her by splurging on the creature comforts in our home and create that safe, soft haven that welcomes us.

Number 7---take more pictures. My mother took more photos than anyone I knew---she also managed to display them all. If you were at the funeral home yesterday you saw just a smidgen of the photos she had. And if you were there yesterday I sincerely hope you saw the marvelous video that my Aunt Gayle put together with some of Mom’s photos. She loved photos of friends and family and usually had her photos to the developer within hours of taking them. Take photos and share them with everyone. There is no greater artwork in this world than the human face.

Number 6---Keep a clean house. I have failed miserably at this…she was such a tidy house keeper and I am nothing but a mess…never dirty, just messy. Her home was ready for “Better Homes and Gardens” to come and photograph it at any moment. When her father died she took on keeping the house to help my grandmother out when she went back to work. I was told a story about her neat-nick ways that makes me laugh. Back in the early 60’s, when my mother and her siblings were young, my Uncle Phil was home relaxing. Suddenly my Uncle Steve ran through the house yelling “Run for your lives!” and raced out of the house. My Uncle John soon followed suit and jumped out the window. The next thing that Phil saw was my mother making a mad dash through the house and she forced Phil, along with Jane, Gayle and the others, out of the house. When my grandmother came home she found 5 of her 6 children waiting on the front porch, locked out of the house. It seems that my mother had done her cleaning and they weren’t allowed back in---no matter what. Her housekeeping skills continued on to her adult life. She had a maid that had absolutely nothing to do. She threw out her clutter and kept things so organized. Her closet is a work of art. She never had to worry that her house wasn’t tidy enough for anyone to drop on by. Speaking of which, that brings up:

Number 5----Throw more parties! My mother was the hostess with the mostest. Martha Stewart had nothing on her. She gave great parties. She was the social director for whatever community she lived in. When I was young I can remember sitting with my sisters and brother and watching all of my Mom and Dad’s friends come in to the parties they gave. They had fabulous parties…costume parties, hunting parties, dancing parties, teas, casino parties, bridge parties and benefit parties. They entertained heads of state and heads of the school. We loved to watch her get dressed for a party and always were amazed that she could look so beautiful each and every time. Our home was the gathering place for the web of friends that she had in Kingsville. I remember Sunday afternoons spent with our family friends coming by---the kids stayed in the pool until we were long past the prune stage, the dads would stand around and drink beer until it was time to watch Peyton cook the burgers, and the moms would lay in their chairs sunning themselves while wearing curlers in the hair covered by a silly cap or bandana. Why those women lounged in the sun in hair curlers is beyond me, but I can still see that group of people at my house as if it was yesterday. She could even turn a hairdressing adventure into a party. In the early 70’s I remember her friends showing up, armed with home “frost your hair” kits, Lancer’s Rose wine, and cigarettes for those who smoked. The would seat themselves around my mother’s long vanity area and pull each other’s hair through the frosting caps…all the while yakking and drinking wine. As the evening wore on my sister Noel and I became hot commodities because we could pull the hair through the caps for them when they got a little too tipsy to do it right. They would emerge a few hours later, full of wine, full of fun, with head’s full of frosted hair---they all looked a little like Bea Arthur in her “Maude” days…and my mother was their queen. Those were some of the greatest times of my life, and I think my siblings will agree. Most of the best times were never a planned thing…it was just that everyone knew that our family and my mother would welcome everyone and no one had to put much thought to it. Have a party---we are, because she would want us to!

Number 4----Support education. It was so important to my mother that we got an education. I know the day my sister Sarita graduated was one of the proudest days of her life. My graduation from A&M was a triumph for both of us because she never went to college. Her siblings went to various universities and she was proud of their accomplishments. She tried to give us the best education possible. While in Kingsville she sent us to an amazing Episcopal school. When the time came to educate my own children I feel so blessed that I too found an amazing Episcopal school for my children. I use what she did for us as a blueprint for how to raise my own children and I was pleased that I can give such a wonderful educational gift to them. My mother loved going to St. Francis and seeing her grandchildren perform, or attending grandparent day, or even just picking them up in the carpool line. She so believed in the school that she participated in the school’s capital campaign and regularly gave to the Annual Giving program. But her dedication to good education didn’t stop with her grandchildren’s school----she gave scholarships to A&M, helped build on to our school when we were children, and she helped out with various projects at Texas A&I when she lived in Kingsville. So give to the school of your choice and support it well, she would really like that.

Number 3--- Drink more water and exercise more. Was there ever a time that we didn’t see her drinking water? She never ordered anything in a restaurant but water. She was a connoisseur of water and she drank it by the gallon. She always had a bottle of water and kept several pitchers of it in her fridge. It’s good for you and won’t interrupt your sleep…so toast her with your next glass and drink it more often. And get out there and work out! My mother loved to exercise…she was in amazing shape and she worked hard at it. She loved to walk with her friends in the morning and she also loved going to the Houstonian to work out. She enjoyed trying all kinds of classes but usually stuck to her walks with friends when the weather was nice. I know that she managed to get many of you out of the house to walk with her and I only wish she had made me do so more often with her---then I might fit into more of her gorgeous clothes! Take care of your health---she would want you to.

Number 2---Go to church. My mother loved coming to St. Michael’s. She loved this church and she loved the Catholic Church. She often walked to mass from her house so that she could exercise both her body and her spirit. She loved her faith and she clung to it. She loved Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and God. She prayed for all of us…so let us all remember her in our prayers and thank God for her life because He did such good work when he created her.

Number 1---love your family, spoil your children, but ridiculously spoil your grandchildren. My mother was the most beautiful and wonderful mother a person could have. She did the best she could after the divorce and I think we all turned out pretty well. But where she really shined was in the “grandmother department’. Nona, as the grandkids call her, was the best grandmother a child could have. She spoiled them rotten and loved them with the fiercest of loves. She taught them so many things and she could spend hours listing their virtues to anyone who would listen. She was devoted to her mother and she loved her brothers and sisters so very much. She was the oldest child and was their second mother since some of them are much younger than she was. Her family, children, siblings, and mother and grandchildren were the light in her life…and she was such a strong light in ours. We will all be a little dimmer without her to shine on.

In closing I want to finish with a story of how all of this got put into perspective for me. Over the last few days I have been told so many things and been given much sympathy and advice. But the true meaning of how I, and those of us who loved her, are to carry on were best expressed by Connally Dull. Connally is the sweet 3 year old daughter of my good friends Christy and John Dull. I left the Dulls, Connally, and her 2 sisters at my house to go and sign the papers to release my mother’s body to the funeral home. The Dulls said they would stay to answer the phone and the door while George and I were gone. When I stepped back into the house I began to cry once again. Connally looked up at me with her beautiful big eyes and opened her sweet mouth and said “Why you crying? Your mommy in HEAVEN!” I couldn’t have said it better myself…Sometimes it takes a child to put things in perspective.

Inspiration Song: "Because You Loved Me" by Celine Dion...because she loved me I learned so much...

Bye Darlings...if your mother is still living do me a favor and call her and tell her you love her...I would do anything to be able to do that...

Mommy I love you...

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Cold as Ice

 Hello Darlings...

I really wish I was updating you on my fight with El Diablo and all that had transpired (surgery! frozen shoulder! another infection!) but that can wait...two weeks ago we had a weather situation (putting it mildly) here in Texas and I have FEELINGS about all of this...and I know my fellow Texans do too...

So the week leading up to the ice/snow/apocolyptic storm we were warned we were getting a major weather event and we needed to prepare...

And we all thought "ok, we handle hurricanes---so we can handle this!"


And many of us were hoping for snow and all the cute Insta ready moments it would provide:

  • cute pics of our houses in the snow
  • kids in snow
  • snowmen we build
  • looking cute in our cold weather gear

And we could post all those photos and admire each others snow pics...


There was nothing cute about the Snowpocolypse.

Or should I call it Snowvid?

Or maybe "all of winter in one week"?

We were told to expect "rolling blackouts" throughout the night on Sunday night/early Monday morning.


yeah we got that...we can handle an hour off of biggie...

We were told to shut off water lines (I am physically unable to do that so I had to hope for the best)

We were told to wrap pipes (I did that with some help from my daughter's partner---they were a big help as I am not the "handiest" of girls nor do I get around well enough with my bad knee making me unstable so things like kneeling down are impossible).

We were told to fill up bathtubs for flushing toilets (I forgot)

We were told to stock up on groceries as roads would be impassable---so many of us filled our fridges with food and set about to making warm comfort food that would get us through the cold snap.

I had planned meals and had what I needed on hand to keep myself fed.

On Saturday I was blessed to be able to receive the COVID vaccine but the day was an ordeal and my plan to come home and wash my hair went by the wayside...

Sunday came and I figured "I'll just wash my hair tomorrow when I am bored at home"...

Big mistake

huge by Sunday it was a shameful amount of days since I washed my hair...I do not know how people used to go so long without washing their hair but I am getting an idea. I only wash my hair once or twice a week becaue it is so delicate since my first chemo and my hair adjusted.

My hair is NOT adjusted to how long it was since it was washed. Suffice it to say that by the time I got to wash it (and myself) it had been a very very long time...

Not cute...

thank you snowpocolypse!

So Sunday night I made myself a Valentine's supper (because I love ME!) of a steak and some asparagus and a salad and took a hot shower (sans washing hair because it was cold) and went to bed. (and I won't even go into how depressing it is to once again be alone on Valentines Day YET AGAIN for the 10th year but honestly longer than that because my marriage was a big dud for years before)

I had dripped my faucets, opened the cabinets, set the air down to 67 to not stress the grid, turned off all my lights and went to bed and prayed for the best.

My anxiety was running high knowing what was to come so I gathered the cats in bed with me and settled down to watch some mindless tv.

(BTW if you are a child of the 70's there are now some channels that show old 70's shows like Charlie's Angels, Little House on the Prairie, and Hart to Hart...very easy to relax to)

I finally felt sleepy about 1:30 so I turned on my Calm app and was listening to a calming bedtime story like I usually do after some deep breathing and was prepared to sleep through the night no matter what was ahead.


And I do mean a big huge loud scary thunder crash that I am sure many of you heard.

I learned later it was called ThunderSnow or is it Snow Thunder?

In any case it scared the daylights out of me and little Angel (my sweet little old kitty) and she sat upright and shook with fear.

Then the hail started...

it was beating down on the roof and the house and making quit a racket...

Needless to say my peaceful going to bed was no longer an option.

The power had flashed off and I thought :and so it begins...

I looked outside at the falling hail (it was bigger than a good sized pea) and thought that maybe the rolling blackouts had started. Or worse...a damaged power line.

I jumped on Facebook to see that the whole neighborhood had gone dark so it wasn't just me...

I also learned others had lost power then around the city as well. One friend lost hers 15 minutes before me so I was feeling relieved thinking it was probably a controlled outtage. 

Wide awake at that point I watched Facebook for comments to see what was happening to others and when my friend who was 15 minutes ahead of me got power back after an hour and 15 minutes so I expected that mine would return 15 minutes later or so.


3:00 am came and went

3:30 am came and went

Finally at 4:00 am I passed out exhausted and more than a little scared.

When I woke up there was all that cute white snow I had wished for and the power had been out for 6 hours and my house was a toasty 45 degrees.

No I didn't take pics for Instagram...

And I didn't have cell service...or rather I did but it was very very spotty...sending a text could take minutes or not at all.

I bundled up and wrapped the cats in blankets and shivered.

I thought about all my friends and loved ones who were doing the same.

And I was super grateful for the warm fuzzy robe I was wearing that is a constant reminder of yet another battle I once had with the ex who thought it was a frivilous use of money when we were once on vacay. I am grateful I didn't listen to him when I bought it.

I tried to figure out how to turn on the fireplace as I had never used it.

no...not once in 8 would think...but no...

And I had shelves built since I moved in and looked in vain for a pic of the space before so I could see where the little "hole you put the key in" would go but in my panic and distress I failed to see the "before" pics.

I pushed a few things around in the cabinet but the room was somewhat dark from no power and the inside of the cabinet is a dark almost black color of grey.

So I, as one of my former student's would say---"Guy looked".

(Guy looking: looking for an object and then when not found after a 10 second scan you yell for wife/partner/girlfriend/mom/dad/husband/brother/sister/the dog/anyone more responsible than you to come help you find what you are looking for. Which 9 times out of 10 is right where it should be. Former student who taught me this term would lose costume pieces and me or my girls would find it in 10 seconds...he would "guy look" and we would "mom look"...btw Guy Looking is not just exclusive to males...)

I texted the former owner (sweetest guy ever) who said it should have a key but at that point my panic was climbing higher as I got colder.

And then realized that even if I located the place to turn it on I probably shouldn't use it anyway since it had been so long...even though it was just gas logs...

but I knew having a fire might make the difference between being able to withstand my house and not and had I taken a klonopin and settled I might have found it.

Because it is right there in the cabinet.

As it should be...

But I digress...

I thought about going out to my car and warming the cats and I up in there but I had parked my car in such a way that I could not get to the handle to pull to unlock it so I could manually lift it.

So I sat down to cry and prayed my tears would not freeze like they did when I last snow skied...

And then I went to lay down and eyed my klonopin again and should have popped one for my anxiety but I decided to power through by reading Bridgerton and thinking about how handsome Rege-Jean Page was in the Netflix series as I read the exploits of The Duke and Daphne.

I fell asleep (because I had very little the night before) and dozed about 20 minutes and woke up to the phone ringing...

It was KuteKelly

And she was having none of it with me stranded in a cold house and she had power.

She wouldn't take no for an answer and she informed me she would be there in 20 minutes and to be ready. And yes the cats could come.

So she got to Casa Frio (usually Casa Bonita but #freezing) and loaded up me, my bag, my pillow, my walker, my cats, a litter box and my lymphedema pump and off we went to her beautiful WARM home.

We settled me---got some side eye from the kitties---and headed down to her den to catch the news and see what was going on.

She made us a lovely early supper of salad and turkey burgers and we were grateful for food in bellies and warmth and lights and the wine or cocktails we were planning to make.

And then we were plunged into darkness.

Yup...less than 2 hours after I arrived the power went out.

We thought "rolling blackout" and knew my power was still out but chalked it up to something wrong with the service line (like ice).

We moved into her living room and sat by the fire and she dispensed with cocktail making (she makes an incredible vodka/peachy/cranberry thing that is pretty much witchcraft), gathered the dogs, lit candles (and by "we" I mean her and I sat like a lump on the couch petting a dog) and watched "Black Panther" (and cried...AGAIN) and laughed and passed the time.

It became apparent that the power wasn't returning so she took me upstairs and grabbed another blanket and a flashlight and got me settled.

I was so exhausted by the day's events that even as cold as it was (maybe in the 40's?) I went to sleep.

And slept hard...and thankfully did not need to get up as it was freezing.

The cats, who usually hate to be under covers, burrowed themselves into the bed as close to me as they could). They were cold and confused...but mama was near.

I woke up Tuesday to Kelly making us coffee in her french press (she has a gas stove) and her hubby offering to make us some eggs...yes please!

We heard from my neighbor that our street got power back at midnight so we (I mean they...because stairs are hard for me) loaded up the kitties, the litterbox, my suitcase, my pillow, my blanket and my lymphedema pump and walker and we headed back to my house.

The power was OFF


It had lasted 12 hours (yay my food was saved!)

The house had heated up to a perfectly toasty 61.

I told them to leave me and I would be fine...

and I was...

cold but fine (they didn't get power back either)

so I lit every candle I own and found my battery operated ones and sat bundled in my chair drinking hot broth because I didn't want to open the fridge. 

Fun fact: my house smelled like the Yankee Candle section of a Cracker Barrel (btw I love me some Cracker Barrel). It is possible to have TOO many scented candles going (thank you $9.99 annual 3 wick candle sale at Bath and Body Works).

Once I had the candle situation under control I set about to make sure I had water for flushing toilets because it was a tiny trickle. 

My neighbor across the street gave me a large bucket of pool water and brought it to my door...and I went outside with my big stock pot and scraped snow into it and melted the snow (I have a gas stove) so I could flush the toilet. 

I passed the time playing games on my phone and being grateful I had charged my brick charger so I could recharge because I was on my way to becoming a Spider Solitaire master and Flood It was not proving to be a big challenge...and yes it is possible to play too much solitaire...and Dragon was unimpressed with my wins...

The temp in the house plunged down to 51 (not bad compared to other friends) and Angel (the little old kitty) wandered off inside the house and found a warm (relatively speaking) hiding spot and refused to budge.

Dragon and I spent another night huddled under the covers.

KuteKelly called the next morning to inform me that her power had just come back on and invited me to come and be warm. I told her I would just stay for the day as I had not located Angel and didn't want to do a repeat of me and half my house having to go to hers...

I knew I had to get my food out of the fridge so I grabbed it and put it outside since it was colder than a fridge out there. Luckily my butter was still very hard so I caught it in time.

I spent the day being warm next to her fire and her hubby heating up the delicious veggie soup she had made and being so grateful I had a friend who was so kind. They had water issues with the house so we did the "flush the commode with pool water" trick.

I learned that trick in 1989 when we had a freeze here in Houston and all the pipes were frozen.

That time I had insisted on getting a bath. We had power but water was a tiny trickle. So I heated up pool water on the stove to a boil and carried it up and down the stairs (funny how I can't do that now and it saddens me that I can barely carry a cell phone upstairs since I must hold onto railings). I made myself a hot bath and the ex invited himself to it so before he could get in I poured an unseemly amount of Coco Chanel bath foam into the bath to keep him from invading the bath he had poked fun of and I had worked hard to get.

(Still in the freeze of 1989) I bathed and we went to my mom's house where she had a guest who showed me how to take the powder room trash can and fill it with pool water and dump it into the toilet bowl.

Well color me impressed...I didn't realize that is how a toilet worked.

BTW the man who taught me that trick was none other than Dr Red Duke (his wife at the time was a friend of my moms) and it was reason #453 that he charmed me (along with that Aggie ring he proudly wore that was worn out from all his scrubbing)...Trauma surgeons know all the tricks...

But I digress...

KuteKelly and The Hubby even made it to the store to get flats of water for them and for me (so grateful for that) and we settled in to watch The Blind Side and have a little snack of cheese and nuts and some wine.

Right as we were drying our tears from Blind Side...THE POWER WENT OUT.

They dropped me at home (by my insistance) and headed to a friend who lived further out of town that had power and water pressure for showers and laundry (and the power went out 5 minutes after the arrived so there's that).

As we drove through my neighborhood the only lights were the gas looked eery...

But less than 2 minutes after we arrived THE POWER CAME BACK ON.

They left to head to a shower and I waited for the power to go out again...

It stayed on an hour...

It stayed on another hour...

I finally felt safe enough to put the food in the fridge and to cook a bit of dinner.

The power made it until 10 and I felt like maybe I was out of the woods.

I boiled water to soak the dishes and headed to my bedroom.

Another "wipes" bath and I finally got to use my lymphedema pump for the first night in 3 days.

I was finally starting to relax and was most of the way through using the pump and...


Darn...I was in the middle of my Real Housewives of Salt Lake City reunion...

I turned on the battery operated candles, got out of the pump, wrapped my legs in my bandages (yes, this is EVERY SINGLE NIGHT OF MY LIFE) and got ready to knuckle down for another cold night---grateful that my fridge was once again down to the proper temp.

I played Solitiare again hoping to get sleepy and checked the neighborhood Facebook page and saw a few people got their power back and...



Oh thank you God, the Son and the Holy Spirit for loving me...and my neighbors and friends...

because we all know ERCOT does not!

I had a fitful sleep because I had PTSD that the power was going to go off again so I left my celing fan on to know if it went off. We were told to use as little power as possible so I had been conserving all evening since it came back on.

I woke up the next morning to the house being a fine and toasty 66 and this time Angel decided she better sleep warmly next to mom.

The power has remained on since

And I am tired of resetting the clocks on my appliances...

I made it through the storm with much less loss and problems than others.

My house never got below 45

I was always able to eat

I had 3 very cold nights but plenty of blankets

I had a friend who shared her home with me

I always had water even if it was a trickle

I did not have any pipe issues

I had friends who were out of power from Sunday night until Thursday and the didn't even get small chunks of time with power being back on...I at least had 12 hours in the middle of it

Friends who have whole rooms in their houses having to be torn out (and one who had to move)

Friends who did not have water and some still don't

landscaping lost pretty much all over the city

and we all now shudder at the thought of snow

I learned a lot those few days and not just that I prefer to be hot over being cold.

I learned that friends who will not take no for an answer are the best kinds of friends to have

I learned that once again this city is so much more resilient than the rest of the country thinks we are...this also goes for the state of Texasa 

I learned that going with the flow when given no choice is the only choice

I learned that I need to have my fireplace inspected and make sure it is working before next winter

I learned that I have more candles than any woman needs but I am grateful for them

I learned that a cocktail when you are cold is a warming thing

I learned that a friend that says "you can bring the cats" is a friend indeed

I learned that I can do hard things alone but it is better when you have a someone...especially if that someone is a friend

I learned that I am a damn good solitaire player

I learned that I should have taken some anxiety meds 

I learned that my anxiety is really fueled by stress

I learned that as much as a worried for myself that I can't stop being a mom and worried more about my kids and family

I learned that I am really happy I have a cell phone charging brick

I learned I can't read when I am stressed

I learned that a hot shower is truly a blessing

I learned that putting off hair washing day is not a good idea

I learned that the sound of a toilet tank filling is a soothing sound

I learned that I really really appreciate my dishwasher

I learned that putting food outside when the power is out is a good idea (thank you Marvelous Martha for that suggestion)

I learned that I can be my own company when I have a tv but notsomuch when there is no power or internet

I learned that I need to park my car in a better placement in the garage before the next storm in case of power outage so I can open my garage door

I learned that I have amazing friends who all love and check in on each other

I learned that being challenged with mobility makes things like this much harder

I learned I want my knee fixed more than ever

I learned that I need to get some hose bib covers for next winter

I learned that my old lymphedema bandages can be a pipe cover and plan to do that next time

I learned that we need to demand better from the powers that are supposed to take care of us as a community (I am looking hard at you here ERCOT)

I learned I could do things I did not think I could do...but then again I have been doing that for 10 (and most especially the last 4) years now

I know I am most certainly not the only person who went through hell...all of us did. I know that many many many more people had it so much worse than I did.

But I am proud of how we all came through it

And doing hard things is just something I have had to get used to 

And next time it snows...I'm going somewhere else!

Inspiration Song: "Cold as Ice" by Foreigner...because I hate being cold as ice...and I don't think I will ever be excited for snow again..seriously

Bye Darlings...I hope you came through the storm many of you had it much much worse than me...and I just wanted to share a glimmer of what some of us went through for those who don't understand how Texas got crippled...I know places that get snow all the time don't understand why we were in such distress but we know we were unprepared for what we were put through...