Trials and tribulations

I have been feeling wonderful! My cancer seems to be in “drug induced”remission! It has been a journey for sure. Last year at this time my medications seemed to be working but weren’t. My liver was taking a much needed break from all this nonsense and stopped filtering the way it should. My belly was growing and growing. I didn’t know why? I was hardly eating anything. I couldn’t fit in my clothes or a booth at a restaurant, I couldn’t tie my shoes, and since I am kinda short 5’2” I couldn’t reach the clutch and fit behind the steering wheel of my mini! I didn’t know what was going on? I felt pretty good otherwise. Almost everyone I know with cancer gets skinny, I on the other hand looked and felt about 15 months pregnant! What is happening? This is crazy! This was starting to get out of hand I would get out of breath easily and it was getting hard just to roll over in bed. Help!
So back to the hospital. Of course this is where I find out about my liver and they drained over 4 liters of fluid from my abdomen. What a huge relief. I felt like a new person. They also did a liver biopsy since there were cancer cells in the fluid. There was a small amount of activity found in my liver…great. About 3 weeks later I am back at the hospital and they drain off over 6 liters of fluid, this sucks, literally! So now it is either get a drain put in for me to use at home or go to the hospital all the time to get it drained, either way yuck! So they surgically put this tube in my abdomen and send me home with bottles and bandages. I can’t even look at it! It doesn’t really hurt just seems super gross. This tube hanging out of my side. I couldn’t drain it at first, my husband took on that roll. It wasn’t hard to do, just creeped me out. We got 1000 mil liters a day at first.
Then in January of this year I finally got accepted into a clinical trial. After two infusions the amount of drainage stopped and they took the tube out! I am so thankful. It was a life saver at the time, bad things can happen with fluid just floating around in your body. But don’t get me wrong I’m happy to have that thing gone! And with a little more time you won’t even be able to see the scar…maybe my Victoria’s Secret career can still happen! Lol The body is an amazing thing!
The trial medication seems to be working. I have to get an infusion every 3 weeks and we are working to get the dosage right for me. As with all this stuff there are side effects. I get nose bleeds, I’m cold all the time, my hair was thinning, I get little sore bumps on my skin in various places, crazy thirst and when I get too much I get oh so tired! I have had to take a break two times to get a little relief from these things. I found out that collagen peptides help with hair! I go back for my next infusion this week and they are lowering my dose. Hope it works!

Don’t forget

Photo by Todd Trapani on

Wow! These are definitely some strange days!
Frustration, confusion, and disgust have been the norm around here lately. Everyone is out of sorts due to this Coronavirus. I am actually not sure what I think about it?

I am considered high risk due to my health issues, so I am trying to be cautious. I like a good challenge so I took it on as a time to really be good to myself. I have been working out, planted a garden and been allowing myself down time to just really relax and be grateful for my life. I’m not good at relaxing, but I am learning.

Actually my life is not so different, we live in a rural area not very affected by the virus. Our neighborhood is small 6 houses down a mile long dirt road. We get together and have backyard cookouts and go riding atvs. I am outside working horses, playing with the dogs, or gardening most days. Our little family is very germ conscious. For weeks I didn’t go to the grocery or feed store, my husband went. So things were going along well. However as the restrictions are loosened and I go out more, I am finding it ridiculously stressful!
We wear masks and depending on the situation (gas stations) gloves, we keep social distances, we sanitize everything that comes in the house, wash and sanitize our hands. Toilet paper and cleaning supplies are still hard to get. This is all getting very tiresome. Masks are awkward and uncomfortable I find that I touch my face so much more adjusting my mask then I ever did before. Some people appreciate you wearing a mask and some people hate you for wearing them. With lots of places still closed you are forced into the few things that are opened so there are tons more people herded together like cattle into stores and the check out lines. I am forced to be around more people and for longer amounts of time then ever before!
What is up with the plexiglass? Unless you are coughing or sneezing in someone’s face what is that doing? All the clerks I see have to reach around them anyway, hand you your possibly contaminated change and/or have to come around them to scan your items. The other day I ran into a store looking for a specific birthday gift, couldn’t find it, however I found some deodorant that I needed, went to the checkout saw the line of 50 people, put the deodorant back and left! Not wearing any deodorant will help with keeping social distance! I’m all about trying to be safe and not spread the virus I’m just not sure what’s going on? Now remember we do live in a rural area so we are not seeing first hand all the people struggling with this virus but people around here are either very cautious or they don’t believe it at all. The people that don’t believe it seem so angry and think you are being manipulated by the government if you are wearing a mask. People are on edge. I watch how my friends and family are dealing with all this. We are all tired. The news is not helping with their flip flopping information and underlying agendas. Are we being controlled or are we protecting ourselves and our loved ones? Memorial Day 2020… What would the people who died for our freedom think of all this? I am amazed at all the mixed messages, does anyone really know what’s going on?

Larger than life

I woke this morning to the almost deafening sound of birds! Birds chirping, singing, whistling it was amazing. We have so many birds here. Yesterday I saw the new sandhill crane baby! Seems kinda early but we had an extremely mild winter. After just one little rain shower everything has turned green, a vibrant fluorescent green! It’s almost startling since it seems to have happened overnight! As I walked down to the barn, dogs running and playing by my feet, cats greeting us for the walk, the sounds and colors swirling around me were almost dizzying. I thought about how many times I have walked this path and how each season it feels new. I am happy. The horses nicker softly as I come to feed. Chickens making happy sounds as I gave them some pieces of fruit. Right now we have baby squirrels in the house. They lost their home so we have been bottle feeding them, they are almost ready to be released but still energetically slurping up their bottle. Dogs crunching their kibble, fish hungrily snapping up flakes. It gives me a warm feeling when everyone is happily eating and content.

It makes me appreciate these little morning rituals more knowing that I am here, I am alive. A few years ago I was not so sure. I am now more assured then ever that I am going to be fine. Every night before I go to sleep I tell myself that, “I am healthy and I am strong”and it is true. I went to the hospital last week for my monthly checkup and treatment and my bloodwork looks great! The new meds are working, my markers are down! My doctor is happy, we will stay the course. I feel fantastic! Of course I still have aches and pains but I can deal with them. It took a long time, much longer than I ever could have imagined, but my strength and confidence are growing every day.

I have started painting again with a new revitalized energy. I am moving in a more abstract direction and I am loving it! Each painting is an exploration of the paint and materials that I am working with. I always thought of myself as an explorer! My new work has a freer more energized feeling to it. My soul is happy. This work has been a microcosm of my life. I can’t believe the struggle it has been to get to where I am now! But I am bravely, well most of the time, moving in the direction of my dreams. I am selling off as much art as I can, no reasonable offer refused! To finish building my studio. I need a bigger space! I have been feeling a little claustrophobic in the tiny spare bedroom studio that I have been using. I want to go bigger, bolder, larger than life!

New Year, New Me!?

Wow! It has been a while. I have been busy with so much. So much. New doctors, new career goals, new energy, new meds, new strength and direction! It has taken a remarkable amount of time( I really had no clue) to feel better, really feel better! I am still dealing with my cancer but I am feeling better all the time. I was in remission for a little while. And wouldn’t you know it, when I really started to feel good my tumor markers started to go up. I don’t know if tumor markers are all they are cracked up to be but the doctors monitored them closely. I am grateful for all that. I found a new facility that offers a more wholistic approach and the doctors there are wonderful. But the best thing is… I only have to go once a month! You wouldn’t believe what a difference that has made for me. I drive 6 hours, all my tests and treatments are done in one place so after a day or two there I drive back home and basically don’t think about cancer, or disease, or doctors, or tests, for another month! It is very liberating! I get to be a normal person for a little while! While I am there I see a nutritionist, a naturopath, a mind body counselor, a chiropractor, as well as my oncologist and, the best part is,  they all work together! And on my behalf! I feel confident in the things they are doing for me so that frees me up to think about other things, most importantly, my life!

That’s me in the black!

I am living my life and following my passions. I was hired to cook and be a chef liaison for four days at New Years, working for a celebrity and all that that entails. I was able to push my fatigue aside and get it done and I had a great time! Thats not to say I wasn’t tired and sore for a few days following. But I was still happy to be able to do it at all! I am learning to trust my body again, its not quiet what it used to be, but its getting there!

I have started my riding school back up and I am teaching children how to ride and take care of horses. I have two new ponies in the barn, thanks to some wonderful friends. The barn work keeps me pretty busy but I love it. I have started riding my mountain bike again, not very far, but still! I am starting to feel like me again! Doing all these things gives me purpose and my confidence is coming back. I may have cancer, but I am not cancer!

Star Seed Salad

A Matter of Choice

A few weeks ago I received a notice for Jury Duty in the mail. For some reason jury duty strikes panic and fear into just about everyone. I saw the mailer and was thinking, “Oh no! I have so much to do! Now I have to stop what I’m doing and go to this?! How can I get out of it??? I mentioned it to a few people and everyone was like, “Oh that sucks! Sorry about your luck.” I’m pretty sure they were just thankful that it wasn’t them. So, my mind started racing, what to do?

I have been to jury duty before about six years ago, it wasn’t actually that bad. Believe it or not I kind of enjoyed it. It was very interesting to see how our justice system works. Luckily it was all done in one day, jury selection, trial, deliberation, and results. Would I get that lucky again? As I settled into the thought of having to go again, I realized it is more about attitude. Jury Duty is usually not fun or very exciting but it is our civil duty, and it is not that awful! I just decided to be positive and go with an opened and curious mind, just a change of pace from my every day routine. A small inconvenience for this wonderful country that we live in.

I must say I am a little apprehensive because of my health issues. Not that they are bad… but if I get sequestered for days, yikes! So I get some paper work together about my health and head off to the court house early Monday morning. As I am driving there I am kind of feeling good, something new and different to learn about. It was easy getting in, no lines or waiting. Walked right in and sat down. A nice little lady came in and talked with us about what to expect, luckily there where only two short trials scheduled for today. This nice little lady also said that if there is any reason that we might have any problems about serving talk to the judge. So I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do? I felt kind of ashamed about trying to get out of my civic duty. And actually I didn’t really want to, but I was just worried about anything happening to make the trial last for days. So as the line of people trying to get out of duty got shorter I stood up and brought my paperwork confirming my stage 4 cancer and talked to the judge. I told her I wasn’t trying to get out of Jury Duty, I was just concerned about the length of the trial. She said I was excused (cancer card finally came in handy! Lol) but she assured me the two trials coming up today would be short and I could stay if I wanted.

So here I am…I could stay or I could go. What should I do? I already decided I would stay, but now I have been granted the ability to leave. There are so many other things I could be doing today. But I am already here. So far the process has been smooth and easy. Ok… I’ve decided… I think? I’m staying! Looking forward to whats ahead, I hope it’s interesting, I hope I get picked. About 15 minutes go by and the nice little lady comes back in. She says, ” Don’t you just love it when things come together?” Then she told us we were all dismissed! Crazy how some things work out. So I served my duty and got home to enjoy the day by 10 am. So it certainly wasn’t that bad at all, crazy!

It’s Been A While

I know it’s been quite a while since I last blogged. I am fine. I have just been super busy. Felt like I couldn’t slow down long enough to share my thoughts. As I am feeling better and stronger my passion for living and life has come back with a vengeance! The weather here has been amazing!  I had a super bad case of “Spring Fever” I have been gardening and landscaping like crazy. I have planted vegetable gardens, flower beds, and trees. I have trimmed and raked and watered until my hands feel like they are gonna fall off! We built a new deck on the house which we are enjoying immensely! I have put up some solar lighting and a few wind chimes. My place is becoming the little oasis I had imagined.

Everything is in bloom, even some things I thought I had lost in the freeze! The fruit trees are loaded. I have so many peaches on one tree I had to prop up the branches! The hummingbirds are back. The resident Sandhill Cranes have a baby. All the critters here at the farm are fat and sassy (including me)! I have been working out, trying to get back in shape. It is good to be alive! I am starting to hike again well…last week I went canoeing with a friend and kinda sprained my knee. So, I have to take a few days off, but thats alright. I have been religiously practicing my cello! I love playing so much! I hope I am good enough to just really let loose and play one day. My puppy (Tallulah Bleu) turned a year old last month. She is amazing. We have graduated obedience and rally class so far, looking forward to whats next.

Oh my goodness! One of the best things that has happened is that I am painting again! Finally! I have completed 6 paintings in the last 2 months. I just couldn’t do it when I was sick. I was worried that I would never get back to it but finally, the passion is back! I have found a new direction with my life and with my work. I guess nearly dying can give you that perspective!

So any way, I am back. I hope to hear from you all. Tell me what you have been up to. I have lots more to share. Love and light to you all!

Florida Freeze!

B2784127-FB09-40F5-8357-06B32E70DA12This morning I wake up to freezing cold! It’s 22 degrees here! You may not think thats a big deal but this is Florida! BRRR! It’s rare that I want to stay inside but after I feed all the animals I am staying inside today. We are kinda spoiled here in Florida. Most of the year we are outside. Even on super hot summers you can usually enjoy the early mornings or evenings. The problem here is we are not used to this kind of cold! Non of us, people, plants, animals. The last few winters here have been pretty mild and all the plants have been thriving. So this cold weather causes a whole lot of extra work, blanketing horses, covering plants, turning on hoses, so the pipes don’t break, uhg. And getting all bundled up to go outside with jackets, and gloves, and scarves, and hats, and boots, makes me feel claustrophobic, like I’m in a straight jacket or something! And then after all that, the next day it can be like 80 degrees out! So you never actually have the time to get used to it. The cold is usually short lived so you have to go and uncover everything plants, animals, etc. Everything turns brown and ugly and they say not to cut back the brown stuff because it can protect the plants the next time a freeze blows through. So now you get to enjoy all the ghastly dead looking plants in your yard until spring!

I’m really not complaining I embrace it all! It is actually quite refreshing as long as you don’t have to stay out in it too long. The dogs love it, they are running around the yard like maniacs, this is Lulu’s first winter. The horses are spunky and spry, snorting and prancing. The frost on the ground looks beautiful shimmering in the morning sun. I am very lucky to be able to stay in my warm cozy house, today I think I will try a new recipe,  Winter Vegetable Soup with Turkish Meatballs*! Sounds delicious and nutritious on this cold winters day.

I’m sure, even with my best efforts, I will lose some plants to the cold. Some trees are too big to cover, sometimes a cover blows off in the middle of the night, sometimes you forget that one little plant hiding in the corner. Nature is amazing and tenacious! I am already catching ” Spring Fever”! I can’t wait to see what pops back up this spring!

This recipe*is from Eating Well magazine, I can’t wait to try it!



Soups On!

Today I am having trouble sitting here and writing. It is beautiful outside and the weather is calling me. I have had a cold for a couple of days so I am trying to take it easy and give myself a chance to recuperate. I haven’t had a head cold in years and this is really annoying! I have been on a roll, eating healthy, and exercising. Yoga everyday which is definitely helping the mobility in my shoulder. As I said before, I have been taking back some control in my life and getting on with it! I was really feeling wonderful and then this…a head cold! Runny nose, watery eyes, headache, sneezing, sniffling, whining. Yes whining! Why now when I have so much to do? Funny. Is there ever really a good time to have a cold?  All I can say is this needs to hurry up and get on outta here so I can get back to my plans!

This is the time of year for soup. I love soup. It is so warm and comforting. I am going to make a huge pot of French onion soup, one of my favorites. And everyone knows a good hot bowl of soup is good for what ails ya! I just found a recipe that uses five different kinds of onions, scallions, shallots, yellow, red, and leeks. I make my soup with a beef broth and a little pinch of cloves. I remember one time, when I had a cold, I made this soup and when I was chopping all the onions my eyes started watering, my nose started running, loosening up all the congestion in my head. Not a pretty sight but afterwards my cold was gone! Onions have many healing properties. I am hoping this works again! Ta ta for now I have to go get chopping!


1 lb mixed onions

¼ cup butter

2 pints beef stock

2 twigs of fennel

1 clove

salt and pepper

1 tsp sugar

provolone for topping

splash of brandy

Slice onions, cook in butter in a large cast iron pan until transparent. Bring stock to boil and pour over the onions. Add fennel, clove and seasoning. Lower heat and simmer 30 minutes. Carmelize sugar in a long handled spoon by holding it over heat until it melts and turns a lovely golden brown, stir into soup. Remove soup from heat. Add brandy. Serve with a nice toasty french bread. If you have oven safe crocks, put the toasted slice of bread in the bowl, ladle in soup, then put a slice of provolone cheese on top. Put the bowls on a cookie sheet and place under the broiler for just a few minutes until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown. To your good health, enjoy!!!


Just a little bike ride?

5FFC9C53-E95E-4D63-95BE-1056B4ADCB46Sunday I went for a little bike ride on the greenway. It has been years since I had been out there. What an amazing place, practically in our back yard. People come from all over the country to ride the mountain bike trails there. I went with a few friends, we didn’t go far, but I was thrilled! I am starting to trust myself again, and it feels good!

I think that sometimes when things happen to you and you feel out of control and/or overwhelmed your mind kinda shuts things off. Like I can’t deal with all of this right now, check back later. Last year was kind of a blur for me. People would say things like “Oh you are so strong, what a fighter.” I never understood what they really meant by that? I didn’t have a choice. I had to deal with it. I had to leave it to professionals that, hopefully, knew what they were doing. Uncomfortable tests and needles and poisons (chemo). Bone marrow tests, and the constant blood transfusions. Crazy steroids and medication with terrible side effects. Feeling so weak and almost passing out in the beauty salon, embarrassing and scary! I never thought I would or could ever imagine myself here, doing any of this! At the time it was either do it or die! Not much of a choice! So you just accept it and deal with it. Your hair falls out, you don’t feel like yourself, you don’t look like yourself. It seems you become a shell of who you were. Your thoughts and dreams are put aside, you are just hoping to survive. It is all pretty overwhelming. Not to mention, regular life is still going on with all its own trials and tribulations.

Of course, I tried to stay positive, but I’m not gonna lie, things got tough sometimes. Its also hard on your family and friends who don’t know how to help you or deal with you. The hair comes back, your face becomes familiar again, the constant doctor visits subside, you start to feel reminders of who you were before. I think I am beginning to understand the whole,” you are a fighter” thing now. As I mentioned before, my recent test results have been coming back good. Now is the time you have to be brave, brave enough to fight and take your life back! For some reason, actually many good reasons, my mental fog has lifted! I am alive and I am going to be stronger than before. I have new perspectives, I have a new appreciation for life. I didn’t want this article to be about my cancer, I wanted to share with you how a small shift in my attitude, my mental state, made a huge, HUGE difference! This happened last week and I can tell you for the first time in a very long time I feel like I can breathe! Now I have choices and I choose to take my life back into my own hands. I am pushing myself, working out harder, hiking, being disciplined, eating healthy again. I bought myself a new pair of hiking shoes instead of some slippers! Taking care of MYSELF the way I know how! My aches and pains have almost miraculously diminished!

I went for a little bike ride on the greenway, what a marvelous day!

Almost Over

I’m not sure what I think about 2017. It was a tuff year for sure. It had it’s ups and downs for me. People just seem so tense and there is drama at every turn. I think I will be happy to leave it behind.

For some crazy reason I carry this dread around, I have cancer. And it makes me do strange things. I think that I put it out of my mind but, its always there lurking in the back of my thoughts.  Why is this hurting, what is that from? Will I ever get stronger? Will I just have to live with this pain in my back, thigh and shoulder? I think we all know that we are going to move on one day but when you have a diagnosis like cancer it brings it a little closer to home. Maybe I should pamper myself more? Maybe it doesn’t matter if I get back in shape? Maybe I shouldn’t  push myself too hard, I might hurt myself! Damaged goods, etc., etc., etc. NOT ANY MORE!!!

This December has been a a month of tests, medical as well as personal. I am coming to some conclusions. This month I had a Pet Scan, mammography, ultrasound, X-rays, blood work, more physical therapy, and a new medicine, zometa. The medical results are in, and I am happy to report that everything looks good! Weeks of test results coming back good, more and more reassuring! This week I went to an orthopedic oncologist, the last of the tests and consults for this year. Besides his findings that most of my aches and pains can be reversed, the most important thing this man said to me was, “Live your life, if you don’t, cancer wins.” Just like that! That was all I needed to hear! This was the icing on the cake! I came home feeling revitalized, like a new person! I am not a patient! I am not cancer!

That evening I got Liz back! I started really working out! I decided to quit physical therapy, although it helped, I can do the exercises and stretches at home without wasting so much time driving to PT. I am hiking with my dogs again! I am eating right! I even pulled the old mountain bike out! I feel like me again and its only been a few days! I am looking forward to kayaking and riding the trails again. The weather here has been amazing and I will be spending a good portion of my time outside, living my life!