Monday, October 24, 2016


After 6 days in the hospital and yet another section of my colon snipped out,  the Pathology came back and that annoying little mass buried deep in my gut is NOT Cancer.  (Go ahead and put down your device and go open a bottle of champagne, before you continue)

The afternoon I found out, my surgeon had already made rounds and crossed town back to his office when he read my results.  That man got back in his car and drove back to the hospital to tell me the news in person, THAT DAY, instead of making me wait until the next morning.
At this point,  I would like to apologize for all snarky remarks I have ever made about health care providers to date,  because that man deserved a mouth kiss! 

Due to mutual wedding bands and the fact that I was sitting naked in a chair, surrounded by my Father-in-law,  a nurse manager and my surgeon (more on that in a minute) we settled on a high five.  Oh, and then I burst into tears.

Those tears released 4 months of fears that had been buried almost as deeply in my gut as that stubborn mass.  Every time someone said the word cancer,  my gut clenched,  every time a commercial for cancer research crossed the screen,  time stopped just long enough for a surge of panic to hit my heart like a lightening bolt.  As the days passed by, consult after consult and after the second doctor suggested beginning chemotherapy preemptively when the mass could not be biopsied,  my anxiety began to creep into my sleep,  where my level head and positive reasoning did not stand a chance.

In the weeks preceding my surgery,  I am not certain now how I functioned,  I was so deep in my head that the only thing that saved me was a week long escape to my favorite place on earth with my favorite people on earth,  where the waves, wind and the laughs kept my soul light.

So anyway,  back to being naked...that's a hard cliffhanger to walk away from. 
 I am an unapologetic introvert,  I like to be alone. I am an awful patient,  When I am sick,  I am grumpy.  When I am grumpy,  I want to be left alone.  When someone slides a knife 9 inches down the center of my abdomen,  and it hurts to breathe,  I do not want to smile,  I do not want to make conversation,  I want to drink morphine like Kool-Aid,  watch trashy television and sleep.  THAT.IS.ALL.

When I checked into the hospital,  they asked if I had special requests and I told them,  NO VISITORS.

The day I received my results,  the nurses had set me up with my bath.  AKA,  sat me in a chair with a basin of warm water and a clean gown.  They left the room,  telling me to page them when I was ready to have my back washed and get dressed.  At this point, I was not to stand up at any point without a nurse present.  Fast forward 10 minutes when I had done all once could do without using a core muscle.  I called the nurse.  30 minutes (and a half dozen nurse calls later) I was still sitting in my chair,  wet,  naked and with a dirty gown draped over me when my Father-in-law popped in to check on me. SURPRISE!
Now,  my family understands my grumpiness and generally overrules me to show me some love and I LOVE them for it! So,  as I sat with my hand holding my gown to me,  I filled in my FIL on my progress so far. About 10 minutes into our visit Dr. Marvelous came busting in, and 30 seconds later,  my left hand was holding my gown up,  my right hand was handing out high fives and I was crying as the past 4 months of panic and fear shot out of my body in relief.

I wish my story of being saved was prettier but this is about I expect at this point. Looking back on it now,  as I am snuggled into a cashmere throw, sipping coffee at home, next to my husband,  the only thing that stands out are the words "It's not cancer" and I can laugh at the naked memory.  But in the moment,  or rather the 45 moments after the 3 of them left the room,  I was ready to burn the hospital to the ground,  and if I could have stood up unassisted,  I would have freakin done just that.

 I mean, It's not like I needed to be wearing Prada with an updo when I got the news but being nestled into my hospital bed wearing 2 of those sexy yellow gowns would have been pretty amazing.

However,  I am cancer free.  I am 662 days Cancer FREE.  So, today I am snuggled up with coffee and Lifetime movies and tomorrow... Well,  I am back and I will be living life more ferociously than ever before, loving harder, pushing further and embracing this freaking gift of Life that yesterday I feared was lost.

Oh and I am going to drink wine...a lot of wine...

Saturday, October 15, 2016

A week in the life...and lessons in flexibility

This weeks cocktail napkin looks like;
  • Un-Pack vacation bags
  • File hurricane insurance claim
  • Pack hospital bag
  • Call dr1, remind him to call dr2 (remind them to stop being egomaniacs so they can work together,  if you accomplish that, apply for job at the U.N.)
  • Schedule swim lessons
  • Confirm surgery time
  • Confirm when no more wine can be had!!!
  • Finish vacation wine before above time
  • Meet realtor to view house you are in love with
  • Confirm with Dr how long after anesthesia, you should wait before bidding on said house


  • Surgery


  • Read last 6mo of US Weekly
  • Watch all Real Hosewives of anywhere, US (except Miami)
  • Download candy crush (again)

My brainiac tumor board "party of 20" have convened and after a lot of shoulder shrugging and raised eyebrows we have decided to go ahead and cut that damn mass out.  Apparently, my insides are like Slimey the ghost.   

So, if this mass is in or a part of that Slimey mess,  any attempt to biopsy, or suck it out could spread it.  Now, it may not be cancer but because it is tucked deep, deep in my gut, and surrounded by grossness,  the plan is to just go in and slice out the chuck of my small intestine that is wrapped around it, so that they do not disturb the little jerk.

I am imagining it will look something like this; Go ahead and click the pick if you want a DIY recipe for Homemade Halloween Slime :-)
 If you would like to make your own Halloween slime,  Click Here

My initial reaction was a bit of pouting because recovering the last time they took out a chunk of my intestines was not fun They assure me they are taking out a much smaller chunk this time though, I am not certain that makes a difference.  They have not 'technically' agreed to make certain I come out of surgery a size 4,  but I have given them permission to suck out any fat cells that get in their way so if my post surgery selfies look suspiciously like Jess but with the body of Giselle,  well,  I suppose I will owe those doctors that case of beer that I promised them. 

I am typing this as we drive from an amazing vacation and while this vacation was a lesson in patience and flexibility thanks to Hurricane Matthew and a town under water, it was a week of memories that I will cherish forever.

This morning, Bean and I got up to continue a 6 year tradition of watching the sunrise on our last day of vacation and we sat in the early morning rays,  wrapped in a tattered quilt next to amazing friends and I was reminded that these experiences and these memories and just being with the people you love is the most important thing.

So, as we head home,  I am planning the next 48 hours and trying desperately to not to over plan in a fit of panic because Tuesday morning, I go into surgery and will be in the hospital for the next week or so. Last time, I was caught off guard and had no warning so I am comforted a bit at being able to coordinate Beans schedule before I check in but if I know me I will end up in a tailspin at the end no matter how calm I try to keep things.

So if you think about it on Tuesday,  say a little prayer or send some good juju into the world because fingers crossed,  this mass is all that gum I swallowed as a teenager and not the return of cancer.  

Monday, October 3, 2016

Holy Long Overdue Update Batman

This update is long,  long overdue.  Saying this summer has been a whirlwind is the understatement of the century!

We stumbled upon a house that we loved,  put an offer in had it accepted,  put our house on the market,  lost the house we wanted in a bidding war and sold our house the next day. 

We then did that all over again,  a month later.

We  repeated the whole cycle once again 2 months later and finally after losing 3 houses,  we sold our house and last week moved into a temporary rental as we continue the search.

(Watching our Pod being whisked away)

The whole process seems surreal and to be honest has not hit us.  There was not a single tear shed over the house we spent our life in,  because there was never a final day.  We took almost 3 weeks to slowly transition into the rental so by the time closing came around,  we had been living somewhere else for over a week. 

  On top of that, we have been so very busy with the normal onslaught of fall activities and a new school year that there was simply not a moment free to get all boo-hooey. 

  I mean, I came close the last day that I walked canning jars filled with margaritas next door to share with one my best friends and neighbors,  we have shared what feels like a lifetime of adventures together and have watched our daughters grow up side by side.  Saying goodbye to barefoot walks down the sidewalk in yoga pants carrying a bottle of wine was far harder than I thought it would be.  Truth be told,  the day I packed up Beans toys  I cried.  I loved her room and I loved all the memories in that room and while I loved our house saying goodbye to this room was the tough one. 

On top of all that,  In July when I went in for what should have been my 18 month “No Evidence Of Disease” scan,  I did not get to take a selfie with “NO Evidence of Disease” scrawled over my test report.  I mean I did not get a “cancers back” diagnosis but I did not get the definitive it’s not back either.  Instead I got a weeellll,  there is a mass and it could be something but maybe not.  (INSERT roadside meltdown and 24 hours of silence here).  So,  fast forward 3 FREAKIN months of countless visits to radiologists,  and biopsy docs,  surgeons and bartenders as we tried to get to the bottom of this whole mess (which could or could not be a mess).

Yup,  FREAKIN Whirlwind!

So bottom line,  the little mass was there since I had cancer the last time,  he shrunk during chemo and now he has grown a bit since and is also wedged deep in my gut,  where he cannot be biopsied or cut out laparoscopically.   The Biopsy docs suggested I start chemo “just in case”,  needless to say, my response to them cannot be recorded here. 

   So, this week while I organize grocery lists,  pack for next weeks vacation (which will be along the shores of the coming hurricane),  review spelling words and oh yeah,  work full time,  I am also fitting in bloodwork and surgical consults in preparation for gut surgery when I return from vacation where the lil bastard mass will be forcibly evicted via yet another 8” abdominal scar. 

 Additionally,  since I am headed for yet another week or 2 in the hospital recovering from once again having my abs sliced apart,  I am headed to UPENN tomorrow to meet with my very own Tumor board for a second opinion!  For one thing this rental house is great but it has 2 recliners in the living room (Think Joey and Chandlers apartment on Friends).  Recovering at home is an added struggle when you do not have a “Home”,  Our comfy sofas are stored,  my bed is stored…the tattered quilt that my grandmother made for me that I drag out for comfort every time I get the flu, is stored.

I am not keen on letting another freaking cancer baby go all “Predator” in my belly BUT if it is not cancer,  if it is something to not worry about,  or perhaps the marble I swallowed as a kid,  well it just makes sense to talk to a couple of the biggest cancer geeks in the country before we go all Edward Scissorhands.

So Tomorrow morning,  I go to the local hospital for pre-surgical labs and from there to UPENN for a second opinion (and a stop at Hip City Veg,  where I plan to make my husband eat vegan buffalo chicken).

I have tried writing this update countless times since July and once I even succeeded but the next morning,  when I read it,  in print,  it just felt so real and there was so much going on and honestly,  I simply could not handle all the feels. So down it came and back into my happy tent of all emotional avoidance I went.

So,  you know,  if you wake up tomorrow and think about it,  go ahead and say a lil prayer,  shake your good juju moneymaker or just send some good into the universe by buying the frazzled mom, trying to quiet a screaming kid at the Target register, a cup of coffee, because if all goes well,  these brainiacs will tell me I have been dramatically picturing the worst case scenario over nothing at all and they will send me skipping into the eye of Hurricane Matthew without a worry in the world.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Shaking up the design for the new House

This summer, as we shop for a new house I find myself redesigning and redecorating almost every home that peaks my interest on the Internet. By the time,  we make it to the house for the showing,  I have laid out our furniture, picked paint colors,  replaced the counter top and selected the new sofa,  that the dog will definitely NOT be allowed to jump on...for the first month!

The funny thing is that somewhere in this crazy process. My entire personal design aesthetic has gone through a rather drastic change. I work with color and pattern and texture all day every day and so my house is neutral. When I tell my family I'm repainting, they laugh because they know that a wall might be going from beige to greige.  I cannot help myself,  I love color but at home I have always wanted neutral because it is calm and TIMELESS. 

I see so many new colors and patterns on a regular basis that I know I will fall out of love with them just as fast as I fell in love with them, so generally they have no place in my home unless they are an accent pillow.  Admittedly, I have a severe accent pillow problem.

Lately,  these possible houses that we have seen and that I have tried to imagine as our future home have been re-imagined with big bold bright patterns and Vibrant pops of color.
 Where I once dreamed of falling asleep in a room like this;

I now find myself thinking of a room like this

I always imagined Bean's room filled with white and soft pink 

now I imagine pops of color and big pattern

Perhaps,  it is because I am just ready for change,  the last couple years have changed me in many ways and they have made me want what I want and where a few years ago I would have looked at a bright wall covering that I loved and said no because I knew the love would not last,  now,  I find myself saying..."hell,   you only live once,  if you want an emerald green and pink wall paper with life size it!!
 My "future house" pinterest board is so confused and has no idea what to suggest and how could it with changes like this?

I have the feeling that this new house is going to end up feeling very, very different from the last!

If you love the pictures,  click on the links and be transported back to the world of pinterest to see where they came from! 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Another Day, Another Scan

My baby sister had a pet scan yesterday.  She will not get her results for 6 days, 14 hours and 3.5 minutes (assuming the doctor is on time...ok so let's make it a clean 6 days and 15 hours).  Even when I am not with her, I can feel her anxiety coursing through her veins, I can feel her taking long slow breaths when her heart begins to speed up in panicked anxiety, or maybe that is me.  

We talk about being cancer free as being a closed book and it is. There is no chemo and there is no radiation, there are no feeding tubes and no daily shots to the stomach, yet you do not simply close the door and walk away. 

I look back at my blog and see big gaps in my story. I have written about many of my sisters milestones and yet when I reached my own, I was unable to find the words. I thought for weeks, about what to say and then, as it began to feel like old news, I simply let it pass.  I tried to wrap my head around what I was feeling.  I tried to capture a pretty feeling of elation but to be honest, it is a slightly hollow elation and it is nearly impossible to fully describe the joy without the shroud of mistrust and fear showing through. 

Still I am forever grateful for my experience, it has made me embrace life more fully. It has made me cherish the mundane moments, (not laundry...I will never look back on time spent doing laundry with a smile). 

Today, I hold tight to the silly conversations with Bean that we have in the car as we run boring errands, I turn my back on cleaning and choose instead to curl up with a book in the summer breeze.

Summer is my Super Bowl and I am soaking it in minute by minute.  Still, as we await the results of my sisters scan with my next scan approaching in the coming weeks, it is hard to remain very zen like. I look at every new bruise as an indicator that the cancer is back, I am suspicious of feeling tired, even when I know I am tired because I stayed up a few extra hours to barrel through a few more episodes of 'Orange is the New Black'. 

My days are both ordinary and so very extraordinary in many  ways and not so very different from anyone else.  I simply have an extra narrator nestled deep within my soul whispering 'what if' as I mix a margarita and pad gently into the sun soaked backyard, armed with water balloons, a giggling little girl and her dog.