Monday, November 28, 2016

#498 I Refuse to Get Bucked Off In This Rodeo

Dr. Ruth O'Regan
I'm back after a difficult November and am ready to slash back against cancer with force.   Do you hear the blood curdling scream of anger?   The ugly fact is I do not have the time to wait for the Moonshot to deliver the money or cancer organizations to figure out who gets how much funding.  I need answers and a cure NOW.

  Recent scans disclosed this *$&# cancer has decided to outsmart the faithful drug that has been my daily companion for twenty-six months.  A brief side note--the longevity of this treatment is almost an unheard occurrence in the stage iv community.  Although it's been a good ride--manageable side effects--the gig is up and it's time to move on.

This somewhat bump-less joy ride came to an end with progression found in both hips, pelvic area, upper arms and shoulder blades.  My favorite onc doc broke the news to me with the reassurance of another drug up his sleeve for tackling the next rodeo (or round of treatments, however, I like the sound of rodeo--makes me feel like a cowgirl).

But I digress...

With this down right crummy news it is with more gusto than I would have previously announced that One Woman Many Lakes will be partnering and raising funds with none other than the one and only

UW Carbone Cancer Center here in Madison, Wisconsin. 

 The UWCCC is a nationally recognized leader in breast cancer and specializes in research that translates to specific drugs and treatments for people just like me.  This is what I need right NOW.  I can not wait five more years and hope to figure out why my cancer cells mutated and spread to other parts of my body. Hope is not a strategy.  Research with money backing it along with top notch researchers will give me the treatments I need... and that is a hopeful strategy.

The brilliant Dr. Ruth O'Regan (from UW Carbone) and her band of heroes have devoted their lives to saving my life along with my 250,000 friends living with MBC.  She and the others will not allow 113 sisters, mothers, friends to die every day on their watch as they seek to find the link to end this dreadful disease.  I'm thrilled they are willing to ride in this rodeo with me, and for that reason I support their valiant efforts with a little ($$$) help from my friends (you!).

Stay tuned to what you can do to help--we need it more than ever before (written by someone who is a little undone by the latest scan).

Thanks for reading # 498 of 7777.

Friday, November 25, 2016

#497 No Words But Getting There

The next generation

Just begin.  One word at a time and maybe the rest will follow suit.  Since my sister's unexpected death and now the news of my cancer spreading, I have found it difficult to concentrate on anything except getting from day one to day two.  Writing was once my refuge.  Now there is no consolation.

Heavy burdens to carry and as I trudge forward through the murkiness of life I am mystified by our belief of a blissful carefree existence where everything goes as planned.  Wrong! Life never received the "happiness" memo and although deep down in our gut we understand it as tragedies do occur, we still carry this wild belief that if we follow the rules we will live happily ever after--prince (or princess), glass slippers and all.

But I must look on the bright side--the glass half full--the "gather the troops 'cause we are going to win this one". Reflecting on the months prior to my week from hell we were blessed with a much anticipated new grand baby and my daughter's wedding that took my breath away with the beauty and family love surrounding us.  Those are the things I cling to and comfort me when feeling overwhelmed.  Good things do happen so when we get blindsided and punched in the gut, we remember with sweet memories soothing our broken-hearted souls.

  I will wallow when needed but to move forward I must continue to advocate for more funding and research for metastatic breast cancer.  My campaign has intensified, my purpose deepened because I now fight to stay alive to be there for my sister's children and grandchildren.  I am their champion to find a cure so they will live long lives without this disease lurking in their future.

 My sister is smiling thinking of me as the caretaker when she was always the master at watching over all of us.  Rest now, Kathy, and we will take it from here.

Help me help them and all of our children.  Go to and donate, get involved and stand with me. This would make my sister pat you on the back with the words, "Good job and thanks".

Thanks for reading #497 of 7777.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

#496 The Circle of Life

Grandpa with little Jordan Kathryn
I can not make sense out of it.  I am living with stage iv metastatic breast cancer--a deadly diagnosis with horrible statistics if you want to stay alive.  33 months is the median survival time.  I am on month 29 and still hanging in there hoping to pass the next milestone.  But this is not what has me completely undone.

What has turned my life upside down is the sudden loss of my fun-loving, talented crazy younger sister due to complications from a double knee replacement.  It is mind boggling, devastating and crippling right now.  She was not to die first--that was my doom. We didn't have time to discuss how, after I was gone,  she was to continue to parent/advise my three adult children (yes, they will always need additional parenting), fawn over my granddaughter and watch over Rob.  She, along with my older sister, were going to carry on, share the memories of our childhood, be there for each other.

And now she is gone and my heart is breaking.  Not only for the loss of my best friend but for everything we had left to say to each other.  I am told to cling to her memories, cherish the good times and time will heal.  Right now "carrying on" does not seem possible. I want her here by my side because she was the one who gave me strength to keep going.

Sixty-two years old, recently retired from a successful teaching career and a new grand baby on the way. How does life switch gears so quickly?  Her legacy of love left behind include her beloved husband--sweethearts since eighth grade--and her four rock star children who would make anyone proud to even know them.  The super stars of her life were her seven grandchildren--Baby Jordan Kathryn arrived on Friday.  Their grief is palpable as they try to make sense of her loss.

Her numerous lessons taught us how to live--grab on to life and swing from the highest tree.  Learn and teach others was her mantra.  Case in point--she helped me make a quilt for my unborn granddaughter when I was at my lowest point after finding the cancer in my body.  At the time I could not even fathom rising each morning let alone be around when my first grandchild arrived.  She somehow knew I would hold this precious bundle in my arms one day soon.  Her no nonsense approach was to "get sewing and get it done"--and we did.

Anyone who has a sister knows that special bond.  A bond that ties you together with love, memories, laughter.  She knew me better than I knew myself.  Did she know I would survive her death and would be the one responsible for being there for her family?  Maybe she was aware of her limited time and that was why she seized life with such gusto.  I will miss this about her.  Even though I was the older sister, she was the wise one who taught me.   Sage beyond her years.

It has been a crushing blow but tomorrow will come and I will get up with a smile on my face when I picture her sewing her quilts or laughing at a joke. My loved ones will be hugged a little tighter, a little closer because of her and I will remind myself how lucky I was to be her sister for sixty-two years.

Thanks for reading # 496 of 7777.

Monday, November 7, 2016

#495 Give Us More Than a Dime for Much More Time

My heroes: Dr. Bonnie King, PhD and Dr. Christopher Contag, PhD

These are my heroes.  No red flowing capes or pointy things on their ears with a mask covering their grins; simply super heroes disguised as "Champions for the Metastatic Community".  They are researchers who are using their brilliant minds to find a cure and are the well deserved recipients of one of the METAvivor research grants for metastatic breast cancer.  Hallelujah!  They understand we need answers NOW and are doing something about it.  Thanks to METAvivor for recognizing and rewarding their talents.

Now you may ask, "But what can I do?".  You can make a difference.  Your donation today will help us achieve our goal of $20,000 by the end of the year and get us one step closer to giving us more time. Remember, it is all Heather and Maggie wanted and what we wanted for them--TIME.  It didn't happen, however, there are thousands of Heathers and Maggies clinging to the hope that these researchers and other like-minded pioneers in the field will find a magic combination of drugs to give us that precious commodity.

Here's a brief synopsis of what this grant will do.

Christopher H. Contag, PhD
Professor, Departments of Pediatrics, Microbiology & Immunology, and Radiology 

Bonnie L. King, PhD
Instructor, Department of Pediatrics

Stanford University

Modeling Therapeutic Strategies for Breast Cancer Metastasis to Bone 
In this grant application we propose to study the “vicious cycle of bone metastasis’ in our human bone culture model. We will: 1) Develop methods to measure how much bone is being broken down, 2) Demonstrate that we can reverse bone destruction in our model with bone targeting drugs currently used to treat bone loss in osteoporosis and metastatic cancer, and 3) Measure the effects of these drugs on breast cancer cells growing in human bone tissues. These experiments will show that we can measure the cell and tissue responses that occur during late stage bone metastasis, and modify them with current drugs. This will prove that our model can be used to test new, more effective approaches to prevent and treat breast cancer metastasis to bone.

Discovering the illusive jackpot of a cure is not a simple task to undertake but if Dr. King and Dr. Contag are game so are we to support their research.  To make sure they can continue their critical work go to and donate.   All of us with the disease, along with our children and spouses and grandchildren and friends, will be forever grateful for our precious extra  TIME.

Thanks for reading #495 of 7777.