Wednesday, December 31, 2014

# 80 Goodbye 2014

What can I say about 2014?  Quite the year and when June rolled in, the real learning began as I became a reluctant and unintentional student.  No one signs up for this class but as long as I'm here, I might as well reflect and pass knowledge on to others. If nothing else, I feel better revealing my newfound wisdom (said with tongue in cheek) and that is good enough for me.

I could say nothing and everything about this disease.  Have I stopped learning?  No, the learning curve is still curving around as I attempt to put this new bend on my life in perspective.

This list will most likely expand as the years go by and is not in any particular order--a random sampling of thoughts on the last day of 2014.

                    What I have learned from cancer

1.  Confirming that I married the best husband...ever
2.  Loving my family more intensely-- as if that were possible
3.  Support from friends does wonders
4. The one person avoiding me in the grocery store is overshadowed by the scores of others lining up for hugs
5.  I will never ever say this is the best thing that has happened to me
6.  Becoming a health foodie is working for me
7. S*&t happens
8.  Blog writing has been a therapeutic outlet for ranting and saying silly stuff and feedback from others
9.  Looking forward--7697 more blogs to write
10.  Living life to the fullest--a cliche, but a truism
11.  Every ache and pain is not the cancer growing--my ingrown toe nail was not cancer of the toe
12.  There are more ways to beat cancer--Reading about the medical and the alternative aspects of healing
13. Pity parties are overrated
14.  I am in charge of my well being
15.  Massages work wonders
16.   Reiki is magical
17.   Be angry and then let it go
18.   Being positive and upbeat all the time can be wearing
19.  Getting a "pass" on anything (cleaning or cooking :))
20. Nature has healing powers
21. Meditation is life changing
22. Cancer sucks.

That's all for now.  Goodbye to 2014 with hopes of promise and good health for 2015.

Thanks for reading #80 of 7777.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

# 79 If Need Be, I Will Remain Toothless

The worst of the worst happened to me the other night.  My nightmare of nightmares.  It is a --I can not believe it -- cataclysmic scenario.

What? What shocking calamity occurred that warrants an entire blog entry? First, the background story to gain a little sympathy since Rob has not shown even a minuscule amount of compassion to my plight.

We both have one of those electric toothbrushes that needs charging every week or so and due to lack of trunk space (according to Rob who thinks one more small device would rack havoc in his packing), brought only the single charger for us to share.  To give him some credit and make me not look like such a whiner, we placed it in my bathroom and agreed on mutual custody of the said appliance. The morning of the impending mishap, Rob had left his toothbrush in the thingamajig to be revived for another week. (Special side note from Rob--"I had given her a heads up".)

Jump forward to the evening of hell for me.  As I'm brushing away mindlessly diverting my thoughts from the boring task at hand I glanced down and realized that I was using his my mouth...on my teeth--blakeeeekkkkkk! I screamed bloody murder with foamy toothpaste dripping down my chin. Rinse, spit, gag...repeat...several times.

I know we have been married for 36 1/2 years and have shared plenty of saliva but brushing with his toothbrush produces an involuntary gag reflex every time I even think about it--oops, excuse me for a moment.

I'm back and there you have it.  My worst nightmare happened, I barely survived and contrary to Rob's belief, I am NOT a high maintenance--don't mess with my toothbrush--woman.

Thanks for reading # 79 of 7777.

Monday, December 29, 2014

# 78 Friendships

The degree of social support you experience even affects the likelihood of cure if you do wind up sick.  A University of California , San Francisco study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology investigated the social networks of nearly 3000 nurses with breast cancer. This study found that the women who had been socially isolated before their breast cancer diagnosis had a 66 percent higher risk of mortality from any cause and a twofold risk of breast cancer mortality.  The nurses who went through cancer alone were found to be four times more likely to die from their disease than those with ten or more friends supporting their journey.  In fact, the data suggests that friendships may be even more health-inducing than having a spouse. In the same study, having a spouse did not show a survival benefit--but having many friendships did.  
From the book, Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself,  by Lisa Rankin.

Regarding that last sentence, no, I have no desire to rid myself of my top notch, by my side spouse but found the study a no-brainer when it comes to friendships. I've been fortunate to be surrounded by the most supportive and loving women on the universe.  When I was diagnosed last June, they encircled me like the wagon trains of old with their unconditional love--and it keeps on going.  Everyone should be so lucky to have a set of besties (thanks, Chelsea, for that word) in their lives to pick them up and push them forward.  That's what they do for me.  Push me forward.  Thanks, buddies.  I owe you one...or two... or three...times over on whatever you need.  You are saving my life.

Thanks for reading # 78 of 7777.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

# 77 Chelsea's Entry

The entries have been arriving and I am overwhelmed and touched by the responses. Chelsea, thank you for this eloquent piece and congratulations on another cancer free year.

Mary’s friend, Sandy, talked about connections and communities of support. Here is my story:
My connection with Mary is limited, but so significant. My first year teaching was Mary’s last. I knew her name, but never got to know her. Fast forward a few years and we meet up again at Mary Weber’s annual Cook for the Cure. Fast forward another year or so and I’m diagnosed with breast cancer and working my way through the two years in which UW Carbone Cancer Center pretty much owns my life. Another small move through time and I learn that Mary is diagnosed.
This, for some reason, makes me feel like I know her enough to hug her the next time I see her in the coffee shop…..sporting fresh chemo fuzz hair. There is an unspeakable bond that forms between women who have gone through chemotherapy. And cancer. And everything that goes with it. Because of this, I now consider her a friend.
Fast forward again. I’m through my battle and Mary is also done with hers. I’m getting ready to RSVP for the annual Cook for the Cure and I learn through Mary, herself, of her devastating news – the M word – “metastatic.” The word that somehow becomes more fearful to cancer survivors than the original word “cancer” ever was. I locked myself in my bathroom (away from my kids) and cried. I cried for quite a while given the limited relationship I have with Mary. Based on my tears, you would think we were besties. None of our mutual friends wanted to tell me that Mary was facing the M word. You see, us survivors like to think that the M word doesn’t really happen. Or at least it just happens to other people. Mary becomes the second friend I’ve had that has faced the M word. Both bring a level of fear bubbling to my surface that I’ve managed to keep at a nice simmer way, way below. My heart aches for these women. I feel heavy sorrow and sadness for them and their families. It drains the hope that I have for myself, my family, and our future.
Fast forward one last time to Mary’s blog. Unbeknownst to her, she’s reducing the heat on my M-word boil. She’s unknowingly giving me courage to remember that M does happen, but it can be handled with grace. It can be dealt with while simultaneously living a full and happy life. It can be used as a way to connect people, enrich their lives, and remind us all of everything we have to be thankful for.
I just, one week ago, celebrated four years since I was told I have cancer. I’m thankful for every breath I’ve taken since then.
And I’m thankful that Mary Gooze is a woman that I am connected with.

This is for you, Chelsea, the lucky number *7*.

Thanks for reading # 77 of 7777.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

# 76 The Gift of Giving

I'm back and ready to write after spending Christmas night worshipping the porcelain Buddha and yesterday in recovery mode. Not sure if it was the tamale eaten at the toy giveaway or just the regular old flu bug that got me, but today I am up, moving a little better and ready to tackle another entry.  This crazy commitment of writing daily keeps me going until yesterday when I was not feeling the blog love.

What I wanted to share yesterday will be today's entry--hence--the explanation from above.

Rob and I were fortunate to be invited--through his Rotary connections-- to distribute toys to children in the Mecca area in Southern California Christmas morning.  This is a dirt poor part of the state with hardworking inhabitants who allow the rest of us to enjoy fresh picked vegetables, green manicured lawns and immaculately clean condos on our arrival.  Quite frankly it is appalling to me the discrepancies of the rich and poor in our country but I digress and will do my soap box standing another day.

Back to our "Toys 4 U" kind of day. Our job was to monitor the toy areas and constantly restock  when the supply dwindled as children filtered through the maze of gifts strewn on the table tops.  I don't know how these donations were collected but if the givers saw the look on the faces of the 1300 children as they wandered through picking up their one toy and a small stocking stuffer they would render it priceless.  I was in charge of the 5-10 year old boys so was able to reintroduce myself to those magical matchbox cars and a multitude of transportation vehicles along with items that seemed foreign to anyone over the age of ten.  Some little fellows were shy as they approached the table and had to be encouraged to pick out their precious gift.  Rob witnessed one young man scoping out the toys, picking one that seemed a tad young for him, and then presenting it to his little brother sitting in the stroller.  The warmhearted lesson of giving was immediately learned from an unselfish 10 year old boy.

As always our hearts were full from seeing others celebrate and benefit from the kindness of strangers.  Love this season of reaching out and will pledge to continue this warm fuzzy feeling throughout the year.

Me in an elf-like pose

Hours spent patiently waiting for a toy

Thanks for reading # 76 of 7777.

Friday, December 26, 2014

# 75 The Cat


Many have asked and so will report on the cat, a real thorn in my side despite how my children rave about her lovable personality, who is living in feline heaven right now roosting on a jumbo-- can't believe this is in someone's home-- climbing apparatus.  My hope is that she will permanently settle into her new pad--bless the sweet woman who took her in--and live out her remaining years up on her perch.

 Please do not send me hate mail or the virtues of cat ownership.  I have owned cats all my life and have loved almost every one of them until dear Muffin entered the scene.  She began as a nice cuddly kitten but in her second year of life she suffered a near death experience with kidney failure and, as a result, seemed to take all her medical woes out on me.  We just weren't into each other--never have been and never will be.  Unfortunately for me, she has an array of adoring fans--my children and daughter-in-law and naturally, Rob--so she is well protected from a one way trip to the vet.  Of course, when I tell these Muffin lovers to take her...please take her, I get the usual excuses and backing away reasons for the impossibility of having her live in their homes.

The cat lives on, the children are happy and my only hope is that she has an attitude adjustment while on her mini vacation from her worst nemesis.

Thanks for reading # 75 of 7777.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

# 74 Merry Happy Birthmas

Merry Christmas to all my family and friends.  May this day be joyous and full of goodwill as you make merry on this glorious holiday.

and a special Happy Birthday to my eldest.

Who would have thought that 33 years ago this little bundle of joy born at 2:08 AM would grow up to be the comedian who makes his sister stop breathing from laughing so hard and a rebel rouser to his easily influenced younger brother.  Aaron, the funmeister, who also is smart, kind, generous, engaging and is the shining star in our lives.  I could go on and on about this gem of a man, but will  stop here to avoid the parent prerogative of embarrassing him--even at his advanced age.

We love you.

Thanks for reading # 74 of 7777.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

#73 On the Night Before

A little Christmas Eve humor today.  My apologies to the author as it was swiped from some jokester website.

"A group of chess enthusiasts checked into a hotel and were standing in the lobby discussing their recent tournament victories. After about an hour, the manager came out of the office and asked them to disperse. ''But why?'' they asked, as they moved off. ''because,'' he said ''I can't stand chess nuts boasting in an open foyer.''

Thanks for reading #73 of 7777.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

# 72 Tis the Season

 It is the holiday season and everyone feels the spirit of giving, tax deduction time is right around the corner and, as usual, I have a huge favor to ask that comes not only from me but my 155,000+ unmet and reluctant metastatic breast cancer friends.  To get right to the bottom of this request and laying it on the line-- it is and always will be about raising money for the mets clan.  Many of you have gone above and beyond with your generous donations to American Cancer Society so this is not a solicitation for your financial help.  It is a plea to copy and send the letter below to five (or more) people who probably have no idea who I am nor read my blog but must be giving and kind people if they are your friends.

Like yesterday's entry pointed out, we are all connected by 6 degrees of separation so direct this request to five people you know and have them ask five people they know and maybe just maybe we can generate enough money to connect us all as we strive to thrive a little longer.

If you are receiving this letter, you are a friend of a friend of a friend who has decided to help me out, and I sure could use your assistance.  I have metastatic breast cancer (Stage IV if you like numbers) and am on a campaign to raise awareness and money for the fight of my life.  Diving headlong into researching this disease I have been appalled at the lack of funding ( less than 7% of  the money invested in breast cancer studies) and awareness that affects the one in three women who, after the initial invasive breast cancer diagnosis, will develop metastatic disease.  For myself, my first round was caught early, I had the usual surgery/chemo/radiation treatments and thought that never ending medical year was over.  Unfortunately, 18 months after the last treatment, the cancer returned and this letter brings me to your doorstep.  Any donation amount to the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network  may help find answers to this disease that touches so many of us and would also provide the perfect write off for a tax deduction.  Regardless if you choose to write a check or not, please forward this on to five other people to raise awareness to the forgotten 155,000+ living daily with metastatic cancer.

Many many thanks from the bottom of my heart.

Mary Gooze

PS.  You are now considered a friend so join me at and hear me rant over and over again about MBC.

My very best words can not express the gratitude I feel towards your attention to this incredibly important issue in my life.  I will simply say-- thanks from "my people to your people" for paying this forward.

Thanks for reading # 72 of 7777.

Monday, December 22, 2014

# 71 Six Degrees

Dare I say this is an entry from one of my oldest and dearest friends around--certainly not an age insult, just the fact that she has been by my side for many years.  My high school, college, sorority sister and now an adult grown up friend wrote this intriguing entry.  Since she has been incredibly successful in life (translation--a busy busy person) I appreciated her taking the time to send this to me.  Thanks Sandy for contributing and for the connecting compliment.

From Sandy Barkman
Six Degrees of Separation
There exists a theory that everyone in the world is connected by six degrees of separation.  One day my lunch crew was discussing this and someone said they didn't believe this theory; adding, "Look at all the people in Africa that we don't know."  I quickly threw in that my friend Mary's son was in the Peace Corp in Africa and that got us connected into Africa. 
Malcolm Gladwell in his book, The Tipping Point, differentiates people with rare gifts into three categories - one of which is the "connector."  Without getting overly technical here, I would say that Mary Gooze is a connector.  Mary has connected all of us who read her daily blog into a community of support.  
As I read Mary's posts, the comments, and the "likes," I see a community of people with one or two degrees of separation.  I recognize some people from high school and college, which is where I met Mary.  I recognize her children from her annual greeting cards.  I am curious about others - please post in the FB Comments how you connected with Mary and ultimately this extended community of support

Thanks for reading # 71 of 7777.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

# 70 Spike the Hike

Be the best you can be.  My new mantra in my next twenty-one+ years of living.  I know, I know-- many mantras have been referred to in the past sixty-nine or so entries but as we were hiking today this slogan popped into my head and a light bulb lit up registering the thought,  "Could this be the next possible blog entry?".

"The best I can be of what?" I asked myself.  I decided to break it down to a manageable size by selecting a random activity for a day, week or month that will highlight my unparalleled number one self--a confidence booster if there ever was one--and push me to excel to the next level (whatever that means but this is my blog, my rules so anything goes).

Hiking would be the first on my list to tackle.  Living in Southern California with the sun big and bold in the sky and the outside thermometer registering a high degree that does not have the freeze your face off factor, we have found plenty of opportunities to practice my new mantra on the numerous trails (according to the book, 140 Great Hikes in and near Palm Springs by Philip Ferranti) in the area.

Today was one of those days where the temperature was perfect for an outdoor rigorous activity so donning our boots with poles in hand we hit the trail running. Well, not actually running but briskly walking through masses of palm tree oases and hopping over rock filled streams.  A divine experience all around.  Did I master "the best" yet?  Not sure but since I am the sole judge and jury of my self determined mantras, the creme de la creme began emerging from me and that, ladies and gentlemen, might be my spike the hike slam dunk.
Stream crossing # 20
Thanks for reading # 70 of 7777.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

# 69 Dreidel Dreidel Dreidel

Happy Hanukkah to my Jewish friends on the 5th night of this holiday--the night of charity giving.  My gift to you is this hysterical and dated rendition of Adam Sandler's Hanukkah song. Enjoy! via

Thanks for reading # 69 of 7777.

Friday, December 19, 2014

# 68 Proverbs from Africa

As we sat around the kitchen table today, our West African Peace Corps son shared a few proverbs from his village which then evolved into a discussion on Africa and the wise sayings from that continent.  In the next 7000 or so days, this blog will feature many of the sage proverbs we can all learn and aspire to include in our daily lives.

From Togo and specifically Tamimou--David's friend and mentor for two years:

To make an omelet, one must break an egg.

A dog that eats bones has confidence in his ass.

The tortoise's time will eventually reach its destination.

When the dogs are hunting, stay inside.

David with Tamimou and his family in Togo

Here are a few more to consider. ‘Children of Saba’ is an exciting 3-part series of novels – an epic tale of power, honour, glory, majesty, adventure, filled with the proverbs and wisdom of our African forefathers. ‘Children of Saba’  is now available on AMAZON.COM. 

African Quotes on Wisdom
  • Wisdom is wealth. ~ Swahili
  •  Wisdom is like a baobab tree; no one individual can embrace it. ~ Akan proverb
  •  The fool speaks, the wise man listens. ~ Ethiopian proverb
  • Wisdom does not come overnight. ~ Somali proverb
  • The heart of the wise man lies quiet like limpid water. ~ Cameroon proverb
  • Wisdom is like fire. People take it from others. ~ Hema (DRC) proverb
  • Only a wise person can solve a difficult problem. ~ Akan proverb
  • Wisdom is not like money to be tied up and hidden. ~ Akan proverb
Thanks for reading # 68 of 7777.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

# 67 As a Matter of Fact

The facts, just give me the facts.  I spend time searching on the internet trying to understand this disease and the following article from Metastatic Breast Cancer Network offered the best overall summary.  A little education class today in case you are wondering.

1. No one dies from breast cancer that remains in the breast. Metastasis occurs when cancerous cells travel to a vital organ and that is what threatens life.
2. Metastasis refers to the spread of cancer to different parts of the body, typically the bones, liver, lungs and brain.
3. An estimated 155,000 Americans are currently living with metastatic breast cancer.(also called Stage IV breast cancer) Metastatic breast cancer accounts for approximately 40,000 deaths annually in the U.S.
4. Treatment for metastatic breast cancer is lifelong and focuses on control of the disease and quality of life.
5. About 6% of people are Stage IV from their initial diagnosis.
6. Early detection does not guarantee a cure. Metastatic breast cancer can occur 5, 10 or 15 years
after a person's original diagnosis and successful treatment checkups and annual mammograms.
7. 20% to 30% of people initially diagnosed with early stage disease will develop metastatic breast cancer.
8. Young people, as well as men, can be diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer.
9. Like early stage breast cancer, there are different types of metastatic breast cancer.
10. Treatment choices are guided by breast cancer type, location and extent of metastasis in the body, previous treatments and other factors.
11. Metastatic breast cancer is not an automatic death sentence. Although most people will ultimately die of their disease, some will live for many years.
12. There are no definitive prognostic statistics for metastatic breast cancer. Every patient and their disease is unique.
13. To learn more about National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day on October 13 and to access resources specifically for people living with metastatic breast cancer and their caregivers, visit

Thanks for your willingness to learn along with me and for reading # 67 of 7777.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

# 66 The Road That Shouldn't Be Taken

First of all, this is a notice to any robbers, thieves or bad people surfing the internet-- DO NOT TOUCH MY HOUSE!  We have the police on alert, neighbors snooping around for suspicious behavior, a loud and alarming security system and a dog that will tear you apart and spit you out so don't mess with me, my house or my vicious attack dog.  You have been warned.

With that said, we are out in the not too sunny state of California waiting for the rays to pop out and shine down on us, however, no complaints on today's 60 degree temperature reading.

Our trip here was pretty much a non adventure until we hit Texas--more on that later.  We survived Kansas thanks to a recommended podcast on NPR titled, Serial.  Fascinating radio listening and it made the miles fly by.  This was notably helpful since America is a pretty big place even when you start in the middle and head west.

Back to Texas--We were buzzing along the highway, it was dark, we were tired and had about an hour left of driving before we would reach civilization.  Remember, Texas is known as the Lone Star state which seems an inappropriate moniker without a lone star in the sky to guide us along its miles and miles of vast uninhabited emptiness.  Traveling over the crest of the hill, we saw fires burning, hundreds of cars and trucks at a standstill and no red flashing lights so whatever happened, just happened.  My sweet but impatient husband couldn't wait my suggested five minutes to see if traffic would clear.  Nope, he had to make a u-turn because he knew there had to be a shortcut to get us off this blocked highway and to our hotel sooner rather than later--big, big mistake.

The road--and I use this term loosely--was a step above a cowpath winding through the back side of what I imagine Hell might look like in Texas.  Picture the color of huge pools of the blackest of black oil at the bottom of a deep dark well--are you getting the idea--on a road that hardly could be called graveled (Robert Frost's poem title, The Road Not Taken, seems appropriate here) and, to top it all off, in a state where I do believe the chainsaw murders began.  As Rob posed as the master navigator,  I drove swearing and muttering under my breath that if we make this out alive, someone (like the person sitting next to me in the car) will pay for this-- the road swerved left and I went straight--because I couldn't see a darn thing.  Slamming on my brakes and then screaming a few choice words, Rob quietly said, "I think we turn left."  REALLY?  Turn left as if there was a left turn lane or a light or... something.  Remember NOTHING was out here except for a few bunnies hopping in the middle of the path.  One thought did cross my mind--food, we could survive on bunny meat for at least a week if we didn't become victims of a chainsaw murder.

After what seemed like hours of twists and turns on this-- shouldn't even be considered a road-- road,  we found an outlet and departed this maze to find the highway to heaven leading us to our --never thought I'd see it-- hotel room.  If I wanted to be like a Texan cowboy who could hold my liquor, I would have tied one on but instead kissed the parking lot ground and the civilization surrounding it.  Rob was completely unfazed by the whole ordeal and calmly announced we only had a twenty minute delay in our arrival time.  Of course this was reported from the bathtub he had to sleep in that night.

Fortunately, all's well that ends well--we've made amends, he is no longer in the bathtub sleeping quarters and shortcuts are, from this day forward, prohibited on any future trips.

Thanks for reading # 66 of 7777.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

# 65 The Finale

Gail Tsukiyama
Hi, Mary -
If my Facebook message works, I don't mind you sharing it with your family and friends.  I'll leave it to you to decide.  Keep writing and sending best wishes for your continued strength and courage.  It's important for all of us to remember that each day is precious.

"Each day is precious"-- she just moved to my #1 position on my favorite author list.  If you haven't read one of her books, do so.  Her words will reach out and caress you in a gentle mind embracing hug that occupies your thoughts and touches your heart.

I did not want to keep bugging her about a blog entry especially since her next book is on the cusp of completion and shouldn't be delayed. Using her magnificent way with words in an email seemed completely sufficient for my ulterior motive of allowing me a four day break from blogging; and the bonus was her eloquent correspondence.

Thanks for reading # 65 of 7777.

Monday, December 15, 2014

# 64 And Then I Said...

Dear Gail,
I was thrilled to receive your message this morning--so thrilled I spilled my coffee!  Absolutely anything you care to share is fine--it can be a poem, essay you've written or anything else.  No need to create something new.  As I eagerly await your next book, I don't want you to delay writing it even for one minute. Your Facebook message would be sufficient if you wouldn't mind me sharing it.  My blog is not for public--friends and family only.  Again, thank you from the bottom of my heart for responding to my request.  I look hearing from you again.

Do you love it that we are on a first name basis?

Thanks for reading #64 of 7777.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

# 63 And Then She Said...

Dear Mary -
Please forgive my delay in getting back to you.  I've been in and out of town during the past few weeks, and I'm only now catching up with my correspondence.  I'm so sorry to hear about what you're going through. But I think it's a wonderful thing for you to have started your blog.  There's nothing more powerful than words. So thank you for your inspiring words to me, that my books have given you comfort.  I'm in the midst of writing a new book, and have been having some difficult days.  It's my eighth book, and I must say, it doesn't get any easier.  Your message to me was a wonderful reminder of why I sit down day after day and keep trying to tell the stories.  I should also tell you that I've never written a blog, and wouldn't know where to begin.  Could I send you a poem, or an essay I've written about books and reading for you to put up?  Because I'm working on a new book, I don't have time to write anything else right now.  But I'd be honored to contribute something.
All best wishes and Happy Thanksgiving -

My thoughts--This knocked my socks off-- and she has "difficult days" writing her 8th book!  Makes me feel a whole lot better when faced with the occasional writing block on my daily blogging.

Thanks for reading # 63 of 7777.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

# 62 Ms. Tsukiyama

Several blogs ago I requested help on blog writing and received several wonderful entries.  Besides posting on this forum, I wrote a personal note to some of my favorite authors to see if they would be interested in submitting a piece.  For the next four days, I will share my email correspondence with one of my best loved authors.  To say I was thrilled to hear from her is a vast understatement (I have also been delighted to hear from all of you so keep writing).

Dear Ms. Tsukiyama,
I am a huge fan of yours and have read and been inspired by your words.  I recently was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer so your books have become more of a comfort than ever before. In fact I have included a quote from one of your books on my blog that helped get me through one more day. I started writing mostly for therapeutic reasons—every day for 7777+ days. It’s a lofty goal both for writing and me hanging on for that long, but I need a break now and asked friends to submit a short entry.  Plus, I will be traveling to India without access to internet and I’d hate to miss a day!  With that said, I am personally inviting you to send in an entry.  It can be as short or as long as you care to make it.  One caveat, it can’t be about me.  I think people are getting tired of hearing me rant about cancer and the lack of funds, etc.  so this can be about anything else—fiction or not. 
No problem if this doesn't work for you—it never hurts to ask--but thanks for considering it.
Mary Gooze

Tune in tomorrow for her response.

Thanks for reading # 62 of 7777.

Friday, December 12, 2014

# 61 Who Me, Worry?

“Worrying is carrying tomorrow's load with today's strength- carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn't empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” 
― Corrie ten Boom

So yesterday I stressed about what I would hear at my monthly oncology visit.  Worry, worry, worry--the first, last and middle names of every cancer patient.  Dr. A. reported my good looking numbers and the plan to maintain the course we began last August.  The hip pain may simply be a chronic symptom and shuffling should be suspended for the time being.  Besides that disappointing or sigh of relief news (remember my love/hate relationship with running?), we will maintain our course and escape to Palm Springs at our regular scheduled time. Sunshine and warm temps--here we come!

  Now on to building my strength and leaving the worries behind knowing that it doesn't do diddily squat to lose sleep over this @*&% disease and besides, I have more blogs to write, mountains to climb and lakes to swim to spend one more second fretting about it.

Thanks for caring and reading # 61 of 7777.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

#60 Reality

"There are more things to alarm us than to harm us, and we suffer more often in apprehension than reality."  Lucius Annaeus Seneca
As I prepare for my monthly oncology appointment, no matter how positive or healthy I am feeling, apprehension lies in the frontal lobe of my brain and wiggles with alarm that there might be something else lingering about in my body that decides to make its presence known.  Time to practice my newly learned meditation skills and repeat Lucius's mantra about alarms and harms and reality.  I am okay. I will beat this. I am stronger than this disease. Phew!  Feeling better already. Thanks for listening.

Stay tuned for a health update tomorrow.

Thanks for reading # 60 of 7777.

#59 HO! HO! HO!

A funny thing happened on the way to St. Mary's Care Center.  Rob was kidnapped by elves and transformed into none other than the real SANTA. On his return home after the festivities, he couldn't stop talking about his incredible experience.  Made me wish I could be Santa for a day.  I suggested he write about it so here it is--Santa Rob's first blog.

For 35 years my Rotary club puts on a Bingo party at the St. Mary’s Care Center. Although I’m Jewish, I have been fortunate enough to be Santa and visit the residents who can’t come down to Bingo.  If you ever want to really feel the holiday spirit try handing out gifts to strangers. The look of joy on everyone’s faces and hugs for Santa are like the commercial--priceless--or skip down the halls with a 4 year old holding your hand on either side, singing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”. But the best was when we finished our rounds, sang a song to all those at Bingo, and then my elves hugged me and said, “I love you, Santa”.

Festively submitted by,
Rob, The Almost Real Santa

Thanks for reading # 59 of 7777.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

# 58 Just Swim

"Swimming: From the outside looking in, you can't understand it. From the inside looking out you can't explain it." Author unknown.

The joys of swimming.  I've been paddling through the water since...who knows when the first splash happened; and discovered the thrill of being surrounded in a substance that enabled me to float on the surface or dive into the depths of silence.

Stroke by stroke--lap after lap.  I can't describe the passion for it nor can I explain what motivates me and other swimmers to plunge into the water on any given morning, afternoon or evening to swim back and forth again and again in our confined lanes.  All I know is the serenity gained from the steady repetitive strokes keeps me returning for a temporary distraction from above water worries and an escape into an underwater wonderland of bliss.

The water is your friend.  You don't have to fight with water, just share the same spirit as the water, and it will help you move.
Aleksandr Popov

And move it will. Last August my swim across Lake Washington convinced me that I could move anything blocking my path and I am out to prove it again.  Next March my goal is to swim across a lake in Arizona to continue to raise awareness for metastatic breast cancer and, of course, root out money for research.  In a spirit of camaraderie, I will find another mets sister to swim with me and show the world that we are indeed alive and well and plan to remain that way for years to come.

Thanks for reading # 58 of  7777.

Monday, December 8, 2014

# 57 Mr. Hawking Dancing to Stayin' Alive

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass.  It's about learning how to dance in the rain..."
Vivian Greene

Last night I joined a group of friends to see The Theory of Everything, a movie about Stephen Hawking-- the prominent scientist from England.
  1. Stephen William Hawking CH CBE FRS FRSA is an English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author and Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology within the University of Cambridge. Wikipedia
 Ms. Greene's quote (sent by a dear friend) should be tattooed on the brilliant and talented  forehead of Mr. Hawking.  If you haven't heard about this movie or thought about seeing it, my advice is to Go! Go! Go! This man did not simply dance in the rain, he's been boogieing/jazzing/hip hopping for over fifty years while having an outlandishly good time. I'm certain he will not stop until the jukebox is unplugged or the band falls over from exhaustion. Lessons to be learned from a master living in the infamous storm of life.

Thanks for reading # 57 of 7777.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

# 56 Dilemma in the Dress Department

Reminiscing today about an event that, if it hadn’t actually happened to yours truly, wouldn’t believe it even if it was on the internet.  Let the story begin.

A couple of years ago, my husband and I were invited to a very fancy smancy wedding in a major city in Michigan-- black tie, la di da affair.   This was cause for severe angst on my part because “formal evening wear required” are not phrases in my slightly unsophisticated vocabulary nor in my REI/Eddie Bauer laden closet.

Gearing up for this adventure, I took two highly qualified styling friends (honest as the day is long) to a consignment shop to find an inexpensive, dazzling knock it out of the park kind of gown. After trying on racks full of lovely little numbers, I found one that was Visa card friendly, thin enhancing and black tie worthy. I’ll admit I felt fabulous in it, however, no amount of confidence could hide the underlying apprehension floating around the dress and me wearing it in this—out of my comfort zone—situation.  

Fast forward to the gala affair where Rob and I sat in the temple parking lot (feeling like creepy fashion stalkers) scoping out the dresses of the other women arriving at the wedding site. Suddenly, Bingo!  I did it!  I hit the proverbial nail on the head for evening attire as women arrived prancing into the venue looking just as fabulous as I felt in my long flowing attire. My dress phobic anxieties drifted away as I gracefully stepped out of the car feeling like a million bucks.

Imagine my horror (the word doesn’t do justice to the stomach lurching, scream wanting to surge out of my gaping mouth feeling) as the door opened and standing right in front of me was a drop-dead gorgeous, approximately size two, sweet faced woman--IN MY EXACT SAME DRESS! I recoiled in fear, but my nightmare had only begun because when I whirled around to escape to the bathroom there were eight, yes, EIGHT more just like her. I had selected, out of all the gazillion dresses in the world, the exact duplicate of the “formal wear” that these young exquisite bridesmaids would be wearing down the aisle! Whispering to Rob in a guttural voice through clinched teeth with eyes darting from side to side like a caged animal ready for slaughter, “ Kmart—we must go to Kmart for another dress.” His response—“Relax, no big deal, all the men look alike in their tuxes.” The phrase, Men are from Mars…came to mind along with the vision of strangling him as he comfortingly reassured me how lucky it was to be in the wedding party as the tenth bridesmaid.

Needless to say cowering in a back corner of the reception while trying to cover up with my itty bitty shawl was a futile attempt to become invisible in a sea of pewter colored gowns—all nine of them—as I counted the minutes until this evening of fingernails screeching on a chalkboard was over.

Despite my wish that the floor would open and suck me into a big black hole to take me out of this humiliating experience, no one said a word or brought attention to my mortifying dilemma which proves that our preconceived minds can sometimes make a monumentally big deal out of nothing. Well, it was a big deal and on sleepless nights, haunts me to this day.

Oh, and the dress, you may ask?  What happened to this trashy piece of garb I abhor?  Back to the consignment shop waiting for the next black tie affair knowing that for this to happen again, the lottery jackpot would have to land in my lap—-not once but twice on a full moon with hell freezing over. 

Thanks for reading # 56 of 7777.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

# 55 Again and Again and Again

The article below is from the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network website.  My never ending, won't stop until I'm heard, rants are in the parentheses.

A greater understanding of what MBC is and how it differs from early stage breast cancer is needed among patients, their families and HCPs, researchers, and the public.
  • The focus on “fighting” and “beating” breast cancer has led to the creation and dominance of a breast cancer “survivor” identity, which masks the reality that women who have had early stage breast cancer can develop metastatic disease. ( Masks the reality.  This is why I rant.  Wake up researchers and the public supporting them and NIH.)
  • The focus on screening and survivorship can stigmatize patients who experience a recurrence or are diagnosed at stage IV—they may be perceived to be at fault for the cancer’s progression. ("Oh, you must not have listened to the wake up call when you got the first diagnosis." Helllllooo, every woman I know who has gone through cancer once changes something in their lifestyle so do not tell us it is our fault.)
  • The effects of public and professional misconceptions or lack of understanding about MBC can negatively influence decisions made by patients and their doctors regarding treatment and quality of life. (We are living breathing people who want the best care possible so give us the options.)
  • More can be done to build the understanding of HPCs about how to discuss treatments and quality of life, including palliation with their patients. (Always more.  We are on somewhat of a timeframe so the "more" needs to be sooner rather than later.)
This is why our voices must be heard.  Stay tuned because I'm not finished yet.

Thanks for reading # 55 of 7777.

Friday, December 5, 2014

# 54 Wild Thing

 Another gem to ponder today.

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do 
with your one wild and precious life?”

How about a wild blog entry for me?  Just a suggestion...

Thanks for reading # 54 of 7777.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

# 53 December 4th

It's my half year birthday today and in celebration (every day is a celebration) of all the memorable events in history since 1951, I discovered what happened on December 4th with the help of Interestingly, nothing was recorded in 1950--were they gearing up for '51?  Overall, it is pretty much a sleeper of a day so if you are browsing through this before bed, zzzzzz to you.  My favorite--Matisse's Le Bateau hung upside down for 47 days in the Museum of Modern Art.

1951 - Superheated gasses roll down Mount Catarman, Philippines, killing 500 people
1952 - Killer fogs begin in London, England; "Smog" becomes a word
1954 - The first Burger King is opened in Miami, Florida, USA
1955 - Mgr Alfrink installed as Archbishop of Utrecht
1956 - 22nd Heisman Trophy Award: Paul Hornung, Notre Dame (QB)
1957 - 2 commuter trains collide in heavy fog killing 92 (St John's, England)
1958 - Dahomey (Benin), Ivory Coast become autonomous within French Community
1958 - Finnish government of Fagerholm resigns
1961 - Museum of Modern Art hangs Matisse's Le Bateau upside down for 47 days
1961 - The female contraceptive 'pill' becomes available on the National Health Service in Britain
1962 - US performs nuclear test at Nevada Test Site
1963 - Pope Paul VI closes 2nd session of 2nd Vatican Council
1964 - Beatles release "Beatles For Sale" album
1965 - "Roar of the Greasepaint" closes at Shubert NYC after 232 perfs
1965 - Gemini 7 (Borman & Lovell) launched
1966 - Sandra Haynie wins LPGA Pensacola Ladies Golf Invitational
1968 - Following a civil rights march in Dungannon, Northern Ireland, there is a violent clash between Loyalists and those who are taking part in the march
1970 - Unemployment in US increases to 5.8%
1971 - The UN Security Council calls an emergency session to consider the deteriorating situation between India and Pakistan.
1971 - McGurk's Bar bombing: the UVF explode a bomb at a Catholic-owned pub in Belfast, killing fifteen Catholic civilians and wounding seventeen others; this was the highest death toll from a single incident in Belfast during 'the Troubles'
1973 - Pioneer 10 reaches Jupiter
1974 - Dutch DC-8 charter crashes in Sri Lanka killing 191 Moslem pilgrims
1975 - 6 South Molukkans occupy Indonesian consulate in The Hague, 1 dead
1977 - Hollis Stacy/Jerry Pate wins Pepsi-Cola Mixed Team Golf Championship
1977 - Jean-Bedel Bokassa crowns himself ruler of Central African Empire
1978 - Dianne Feinstein is named SF 1st female mayor
1978 - Pioneer Venus 1 goes into orbit around Venus
1979 - Cleveland Cavaliers retire jersey # 7, Bingo Smith
1980 - 2 months after death of drummer John Bonham, Led Zeppelin breaks up
1981 - According to South Africa, Ciskei gains independence Not recognized as an independent country outside South Africa
1982 - 48th Heisman Trophy Award: Herschel Walker, Georgia (RB)
1982 - China adopts its constitution
1983 - US jet fighters strike Syrian anti-aircraft positions in Lebanon
1984 - Hezbollah militants hijack a Kuwait Airlines plane, killing four passengers.
1984 - 6th ACE Cable Awards: David Bowie: Serious Moonlight by Anthony Eaton and HBO
1985 - "Les Miserables" opens at Palace Theatre, London
1986 - NASA launches Fltsatcom-7
1986 - Neil Simon's "Broadway Bound" premieres in NYC
1987 - Karlstad skates world record 10 km (13:48.51)
1988 - Actor Gary Busey critically injured in motorcycle crash
1988 - USSR performs nuclear test at Novaya Zemlya USSR
1990 - Due to Persian Gulf crisis gas hits $1.60 per gallon price in NYC
1990 - Iraq announces it will release all 3,300 Soviet hostages
1990 - An Iraqi official reports that Iraq will withdraw if it can retain control of the Rumailah field and keep Bubiyan and Werbah islands; also says that demands that the Palestinian issue be treated separately would not be surmountable
1991 - Muslim Shites release last US hostage Terry Anderson (held 6½ years)
1991 - Pan American World Airways ceased operations
1991 - Patricia Bowman testifies that William Kennedy Smith raped her
1992 - Somali Civil War: President George H. W. Bush orders 28,000 US troops to Somalia in Northeast Africa.
1993 - Dan Jansen skates world record 500m (35.92 sec)
1993 - A truce is concluded between the government of Angola and UNITA rebels.
1994 - 83rd Davis Cup: Sweden beats Russia in Moscow (4-1)
1996 - 7th Billboard Music Awards: Alanis Morissette win
1996 - NASA's 1st Mars rover launched from Cape Canaveral
1996 - Orlando Magic tie NBA record of fewest ponts scored since inception of 24 second clock losing to Cleveland Cavalier, 84-57
1997 - "Diary of Anne Frank" opens at Music Box Theater NYC
1997 - Nizar Hamdoon warns that Iraq will not allow oil to flow during a third six-month phase of the UN's oil-for-food sale until the UN approves an aid distribution plan
1998 - The Unity Module, the second module of the International Space Station, is launched.
2005 - Tens of thousands of people in Hong Kong protest for democracy and call on the Government to allow universal and equal suffrage.
2005 - 94th Davis Cup: Croatia beats Slovak Republic in Bratislava (3-2)
2006 - An adult giant squid is caught on video by Kubodera near the Ogasawara Islands, 1,000 km (620 miles) south of Tokyo.
2011 - 100th Davis Cup: Spain beats Argentina in Seville (3-1)
2012 - 29 people are killed by a mortar attack in Bteeha, Syria
2012 - Typhoon Bopha makes landfall in the Philippines killing at least 81 people
2013 - Xavier Bettel becomes Luxenberg's first openly gay Prime Minister
2014--My added event--Cure for cancer discovered because the NIH increased funding to research with billions of dollars.  Congress and the House said, "Enough! Let's work together and find a cure."

That's all folks, thanks for reading #53 of 7777.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

# 52 No Wallowing Allowed

Wallowing versus action. 

Five months ago, right after my diagnosis, a decision had to be made.  Wallow in self-pity or get up with fists flailing ready to do battle.  On the one hand, wallowing seemed easier--crying, feeling sorry for myself, indulging in unhealthy eating habits, receiving comforting words from well wishers--but was it really easier?  When reality hit I decided to say no to the self absorbed unhappiness because it could have driven me into a whimpering fetal position with an additional twenty pounds of flubber and a big loser stamp on my head.  No one wants that future.

Fortunately the depth of self destruction never sunk that low when I had an epiphany of how action was the preferable route to take on this new and unfamiliar journey of life.  Stumbling along the unknown while systematically looking for distractions, I found a way to refocus negative energy into a more positive and healthier approach. By researching and then ranting about my findings, I am beginning to feel and act like an activist.  It sure beats crying jags and moping. Now you may better understand my blogs about metastatic cancer research/money/injustice of funding/any other tangent I rally about, because it is my voice coming through loud and clear using this unique form of therapeutic energy.

Thanks, and I really mean thanks, for reading # 52 of 7777.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

# 51 You Can Make a Difference

The following information was copied from the MBCN (Metastatic Breast Cancer Network).  If you wish to write a letter, obviously the beginning should read, "I am a constituent who has a friend living with metastatic (stage IV) breast cancer." This needs to be done today before the final vote.

You can help me fight this if we join our hands together and, instead of wringing them, use them to communicate the need for more funding.    

Let's make increased funding of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget a priority of the next Congress. 
At our recent MBCN Conference at UNC in Chapel Hill, many UNC speakers urged us to write to our Congressmen/women and Senators to restore the cuts to NIH funding over the past several years.
To send an email:
  • Click on this link to find your Congressperson and Senators: 
  • Click on your state and then find your representative's name and click on it. 
  • On the representative's page, you will then see CONTACT highlighted in red. Click on the link next to it and complete the information. They will usually ask for your Name, Address, Zip Code,etc. There will then be a space to copy and paste the letter which we've printed below.
  • Don't forget to send a total of 3 emails: your 2 senators and your Congressman/woman.
  • Sending a letter by mail is not a good idea because it goes through a long security process.
Thank you for your support in doing this!
Shirley A. Mertz
President, MBCN

I am a constituent who is living with metastatic (stage IV) breast cancer. I ask your support and passage of a 2015 federal budget that increases funding for the National Institutes of Health to $30.36 billion--this is $211 million or .7 percent above the FY 2014 level-- as proposed by the Director of the NIH and our President. The NIH funds important biomedical research that increases basic scientific knowledge that is applied to reduce illness burden and lengthen lives.  
Congress' commitment to NIH funding has declined significantly since 2008. When inflation is taken into account and the costs of research are considered, the decline in funding has meant that fewer good research proposals are funded and talented young scientists leave research and seek opportunities in other professions. Congress' decrease in funding for the NIH has slowed medical advances and hurt patients.

Please show that you are committed to the people of our district and state by talking with your Congressional colleagues about the need to support the NIH Director's proposed budget and pass a budget to reflect his request.

Thanks for writing and for reading # 51