Friday, June 27, 2008

What a Workout...

Sully and I had a Wii Sports Bonding session late yesterday afternoon. While he really wanted me to play Lego Indiana Jones with him I respect that that is his special bonding time with Mike and personally I wanted the physicality of bowling, tennis, baseball, golf and boxing. I need Sully to make a new Mii -- one that looks closer to the new me -- sans a full head of hair.
I have to tell you it really is a workout and is so much fun that it doesn't seem like "exercise."

And there is nothing like hearing the crowd roar when you have gotten 8 home runs in a row!

Ancora Imparo

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Creative Writing...

While I am feeling a little tired lately which I will explain in a bit I am not letting that stop me from moving. So while I was on the move today I went to weSpark and participated in a couple of classes. It has been such a gift to be able to go and participate in the things they offer. Mike and I have met some truly special people there. I thought I would share a little about weSpark for those unfamiliar.

weSpark Mission StatementweSpark is a special place dedicated to enhance the quality of life for cancer patients and their families and friends. weSPARK provides, free of charge, a center where one can join with others to share their experience, strength, and hope. weSpark offers multiple services designed to heal the mind, body and spirit of all those whose lives have been affected by cancer.

weSpark Founder

Wendie Jo Sperber was an actress, mother and breast cancer warrior. When she was diagnosed in 1997, she was devastated, yet determined to live. She soon realized that although the physical treatment was difficult, the hardest battle was to be fought on the emotional front.

So today's classes were Tai Chi.

Which I really enjoyed.
The music was beautiful and it was wonderful to feel muscles move that have not been used in such a long time. The instructor was delightful. Such a sweet man.

Following Tai Chi I went to the Creative Writing Class.
The facilitator gives you a prompt and then you write for a few minutes and share what you have written with the other participants.

The first prompt was the song "Circle of Life" from the Lion King soundtrack.
This is what I wrote and shared:

I am thinking I am destined to take that trip to Africa and find that vessel that I discovered on my guided imagery journey -- to see that country and experience those magical people. Go on that long talked about photo safari -- see gazelles gliding -- giraffes grazing and lions at play. Sleep amongst the stars and celebrate with my family or is this music reinforcing my love for the theatre geek that I am and have always been.

There is nothing like the rush of live theatre or live TV. Now that my career has changed by choice and by my cancer where does that take me? I don't have the answer. I mean I know making myself healthy is the number one priority but I mean after that. Where am I headed? It has made me, who prefers to have all my ducks in a row a little anxious -- after all I do holiday shopping in July -- so is the lesson to not be an eternal planner? Hmmm. I have to think about this a little more.
The next prompt was the statement "Unwrapping Present"
This is what I wrote and shared:
Shiny paper package before me
Shake it
Rattle it
What can it be?
Mystery unfolding
Anticipation leads to glee
A tiny little Butterfly just for me
Porcelain wings with colors as vibrant as gems in a kaleidescope
Copper antennae
And a marble base
A symbol of beauty, style and grace
And what of the giver who presented me with this trinket?
A gift from an angel with an eye on me
The last prompt was a photograph on a card that was passed around the class for all to take a look at. It was a picture of a woman and beneath her was a quote by Dorothy Parker which read "All I need is room enough to lay my hat and a few friends". This is what I got from the prompt and what I shared:
A vibrant smile. The picture on the card symbolized another celebration of life. How many times have I seen this? How many times will I see this? Another one who lost there battle. A mom, a wife, a friend, a daughter... too many people, too many vibrant smiles, too many lives cut short, too many times to say goodbye.
Following creative writing I had a couple of minutes to sit and visit with Bonnie F. the fabulous facilitator of my in treatment support group. It is such a joy to be in a room with her. She has the most amazing smile of anyone I have ever met. Her whole face lights up. She radiates pure joy.

After this exceptional morning Mike and I headed off to my weekly oncology appointment. Like every week they check my levels to see how I am responding to chemo. Today's report is that my white count is low which leads to fatigue (thus feeling tired) -- and as a result of the lower counts I need to be on the look out for signs of infection -- you know the typical sore throat / fever type stuff and stay away from sick folks.

Off to get some rest.
Ancora Imparo

Monday, June 23, 2008

Good Fortune Indeed...

We went for Chinese Food last night with our dear friends S, K, C and J. When it came time for fortune cookies I did what I always do -- take the cookie that is pointing towards me.

I opened my cookie anxious to see what fortune awaited and laughed out loud.
Since I am half-way through Chemo I thought this was most apropos.

Ancora Imparo

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Much Better Thanks...

Happy Sunday!

I am thankfully feeling much better today.
The wonkiness has subsided and I am feeling more like myself.

The sun is shining or blazing.
The birds are hiding in the shade and we are retreating in the air conditioning.

Ancora Imparo

Friday, June 20, 2008

Hitting the Couch...

Today started off pretty rough.
I just didn't feel well.
While I continue to feel extremely grateful that I only have 2 Chemo's left I gotta tell you I just felt wonky for most of the day. Which can best be defined as queasy, achy, tired, emotional, out of sorts and just generally unpleasant. I am not having a pity party over here. I just felt blah.

I spent most of the day on the couch.
While it is a lovely couch I was hoping to part company with it so we can take a walk around the block but it is currently 8:00P and 91 degrees.

I am happy to say that I feel like the fog is beginning to lift and am hopeful that by Sunday I will feel a lot more like myself.

Sully and I had a little relaxing time together.
He continues to be handling all of this well.
We are keeping our conversations open with him and keeping our senses of humor.

I went to my support group yesterday we all had some similar issues to share. It's helpful to hear other peoples perspective about the challenges they are facing. I walked away feeling so blessed to have the support that I have -- to be dealing with breast cancer and know that I am not alone. To know that so many are continuing to send their thoughts and prayers not only for me but for Mike and Sully as well.

Ancora Imparo

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Chemo #2 is Through Through Through...

Happy to report that Chemo #2 is happily a thing of the past.
It was an uneventful day yesterday.
My levels continue to be good -- so much so that I did not need a neulasta injection (boosts white blood count).

My oncology appointment started at 11:00A, Chemo began about 11:30A and we were home by 3:00P. It was nice to be done earlier in the day.

Once again I had an arsenal of snacks but have been keeping to the bland side which has proven much better this go around. Staying Dairy Free has helped incredibly. I can not tell you how much I am missing ice cream but with my eye on the ultimate prize it is truly minor in the scheme of things.

I took some of the time during Chemo to start sewing on Sully's patches for his new Webelo uniform which we will present to him tomorrow night at the bridging ceremony. I am happy that that little task is behind me.

Today I went to physical therapy and my therapist (also a BC survivor greeted me with a "hello baldy.") I have to say I found the humor in it -- it's not like I look like I have a full head of hair anymore. I am anxiously awaiting the new bandanna's I ordered on ebay.

In the meantime my friend M and I exchanged this thread on IM today.

She wrote: Kabbalists say when you cut your hair you lessen all the judgements
so it is only normal to assume that when you lose the hair you lose all the judgements. so you will be blessed with no harsh judgements from here in!

Have blessed judgment free day.
Ancora Imparo

Sunday, June 15, 2008

One More Hair Cut...

As promised I wanted to share my new hairdo with all of you.
I think I look a little like a Monchichi.

Seriously, I am really happy that I had my hair cut short. [#6 setting on shears for those familiar with that type of hair cut.] While I am still losing quite a bit of hair and it is any ones guess as to what will be left in the weeks to come -- psychologically speaking seeing little teeny hairs in the bottom of the shower is a lot less overwhelming then the sheer magnitude of a couple days ago. Not to mention it is a heck of a lot easier to take care of.

Here is a pic I took tonight.

While it looks really short in my groovn' self portrait let me assure you it is getting shorter by the moment. One little itch of my scalp followed by one little scratch on my head and several short hairs jump ship -- when out and about I am getting fond of wearing bandannas, scarves, baseball caps and hats. Sully's first reaction to my T-shirt turban that I sported the other day was that I looked like a Muslim which he has proclaimed he isn't too fond of. He has also shared that he is not fond of my short hair (which we remind him is getting shorter every day) but he is getting used to it. Last night he did say that my head coverings now resemble a Pirate. And since we all have a fondness for Jack Sparrow in our household all I can say is... Savvy! (We are blessed that our child is comfortable enough to speak his mind and share what his thoughts and feelings are.)

Mike asked when was the last time my hair was this short and I had to think about it. Honestly it was when I was a baby and my hair was growing in... which made me think that when I get to the other side of Chemo and am free of treatment it will be a rebirth in a sense -- my new hairstyle is all part of the process. Some say your hair falling out is a sign that the Chemo is working. I like that idea a lot!

Before you say "uh, Mar the ribbon is upside down" let me explain.
Yesterday, I heard a 5-year cancer survivor speak at the Providence Saint Joseph Cancer Survivor Day. I was really taken with what this lady had to say. One day during the course of her treatment she looked closely at the awareness ribbon and came up with something truly inspiring. She now shares this vision with others.
The bottom loop of the ribbon forms a teardrop, honoring those who've paved the way for us. The top forms a "V" for "Victory" as every day more of us are winning the battle against cancer.
Her name is Mary Ann Madden and her campaign is called "Turn the Ribbon 'Round." After hearing her speak I turned the awareness ribbon on the back of my car 'round. I am now waiting for someone to ask me why it is upside down so I can tell them about Mary and her vision.

Tomorrow I will begin taking the anti-emetic meds in preparation for Chemo #2 (Tuesday.) I am hopeful the side effects will continue to be manageable.

Happy Father's Day!
Ancora Imparo

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Like Clockwork...

Hi All,

Just like my Chemo literature outlined I hit day 14 and have begun to
lose my hair. While I am tempted to go to the nearest Barber and have them shave it all off I am listening to what Mike and my Doc have suggested and will wait a few more days to see what exactly my hair will do on its own.

Will it all fall out?
Will it thin out tremendously?

Will I have patches of Baldness?

I met a woman recently who told me she awoke one morning after her hair started to fall out and looked like Bozo the Clown which prompted her to immediately get her head shaved. And no, she did not awake to find she now had a bulbous red nose.
So I am simply waiting. A lesson in patience I suppose. In the meantime I am wearing scarves so as to keep my hair to myself and not share it with complete strangers. Monday I attended a Look Good Feel Better workshop sponsored by the American Cancer Society and hosted at St. Joseph's Hospital. It was a nice way to spend the afternoon. I found a lot of the information really useful. Once again I found myself validated with the choices that I have made and once again I am counting my blessings and expressing my gratitude to have such amazing support through all of this.
I got the following in an email today and it made me laugh out loud. So I hope you will
enjoy it too. Thank you NP for sending another funny thing my way.
I rear-ended a car this morning on the way to work. There we were pulled over alongside the road and slowly the other driver got out of his car and . . .you know how sometimes you just get sooo stressed and then suddenly some little thing will strike you as the funniest thing in the world? Well I could NOT believe it . . . the guy was a DWARF! He stormed back to my car, looked up at me, and said, 'I AM NOT HAPPY!' So I looked down at him and replied, 'Well, which one are you then?
I am off to bed. Not sure who I will awake looking like but I will be sure to let you all know. Here are a couple of thoughts:

Whatever or Whoever I end up looking like -- I will be sure to post new pics in the next week or so. Sweet dreams.

Ancora Imparo


Monday, June 9, 2008

Something Worth Sharing...

Thanks to NP for sending the following that I simply had to share with you all.

Live your life in such a way that when your feet hit the floor in the morning, Satan shudders & says...

'Oh shit...she's awake!!'

Ancora Imparo

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Chemo Watch...

Howdy Friends,

Salutations from Chemo Day #12.
I am happily feeling really good.
We had a wonderful weekend being proud parents at Sully's school play.

Sully was truly terrific.
He was a great Mowgli.
All the kids did a fantastic job.

I was so happy to be there -- feeling good and enjoying the moments.

We'll return to the oncologist this week to check all of my levels (the results from last week illustrated that I'm responding well to treatment.) The side effects continue to be manageable. My hair is starting to take the leap and jump ship hair-by-hair. I am truly okay with this. I know it is only temporary. When I was initially diagnosed that was the one thing I was really freaked out about but guess what? It's only hair and in the scheme of things so minor. This treatment will help bring us closer to our long term goal of being together in our retirement community in Palm Springs and seeing Sully grown up with kids of his own.

Wishing you a good week.

Ancora Imparo


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A Good Cause...

Hi Folks,

I know you must be thinking two blogs in one day... but there is a good reason for the new post. I got this email from my friend Lisa S. and asked her if I could add it to the blog. I totally support her efforts. If you have every wondered about doing a longer walk I say GO FOR IT! My sister Jen and I did the 2-day walk three years ago. The entire experience was amazing for both of us. If walking is not your thing and you want to support the cause in another way please click on the link below to show a little support.

Hi all,

Hope this email finds you all well. This November, I have decided to take on the challenge of walking 60 miles over the course of three days, to support the Breast Cancer 3 Day walk which benefits Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the National Philanthropic Trust Breast Cancer Fund. I will be walking on November 21-23rd, 2008, along with thousands of other men and women taking this journey with me.

I do not think I know of one person who has not been impacted by cancer. Just the other day I was watching a young girl dancing in a dance recital, and for the first time in her 11 years of life, her mother was not there to watch her as her mother died from cancer. Last year, we lost a family friend to cancer and this year, we have another friend recently diagnosed with breast cancer (This courageous woman already has lost her mother and step-mother to breast cancer). One of my most significant clients I have worked with was working with a mom who lost her 9 year old daughter to cancer. These examples are unfortunately only a few of the stories we all know and share.

I am so grateful to have the ability to use my legs. Life is a valuable gift ! Let's help others get the lifetime they deserve. Every advancement in breast cancer research, treatment, education and prevention in the last 25 years has been touched by a Komen for the Cure grant. They are working hard to build a future without breast cancer.

For those of you who know me well, I don't love exercising. Yet, I want to appreciate the fact that I can exercise and walk ! You can help me in my efforts by donating to this signficant and worthwhile cause. Whatever amount you can contribute would be greatly appreciated !! Donate it all now or spread it out ! I will feel your support as I am training and walking !!

Thank you for your support,

Lisa S.

Click here to visit my personal page.
If the text above does not appear as a clickable link, you can visit the web address:

For more information about the Breast Cancer 3-Day, Susan G. Komen for the Cure or the National Philanthropic Trust Breast Cancer Fund, visit or call 800.996.3DAY

Thanks for checking the blog and for supporting the cause.

Ancora Imparo

They Said "I Do!"

Sunday was simply beautiful.
My Dad and S got married in a lovely ceremony surrounded by family and friends.
Those in attendance got to really experience our blended family.
They even got to see my 2 year-old niece moon everyone as she grew very tired of her pull-up mid-ceremony. It was definitely memorable.
There were a lot of toasts, roasts and heartfelt thoughts that were bestowed upon the newlyweds.
I for one was truly happy to be there.
It is so wonderful to see my Dad so happy and to see the twinkle in his eye.
Cheers to my new Mom and my new Sisters and their beautiful families.

So here I am 8 days post Chemo #1 and how am I feeling now?
Happily I have had more good days than bad.
I have noticed that it is not a day thing it is more a block of time thing.
It's really interesting how things can change in a few hours.
The side effects have been manageable thus far.
The fatigue I would imagine will be more of an issue as my Chemo's progress. I am trying to take it easy and nap when I feel tired. I am also trying to exercise regularly -- walking on the treadmill so I can avoid the sun as I am really sun sensitive due to the Chemo or as a family we have enjoyed some early evening walks. Yesterday I took an amazing Yoga class at weSpark (more on that later.) My tummy has had a mind of its own and while I can say hooray I have not been plagued by extreme nausea (thanks to a lot of anti-emetic meds) I have had my fair share of tummy troubles. A conversation with a nutritionist today gave me some helpful hints and modifying my diet seems to have really helped in the last day plus. The other recent addition has been a bit of insomnia -- anyone who knows me knows that I am a pretty good sleeper. I have been known to nod off during a not so good movie making it as my Grandma M used to call it a great "nap movie?"

The last side effect I have been experiencing needs its own paragraph. I was talking to Sully's Head of School on Monday and mid conversation it happened.
I had my first hot flash.
There I was on the ramp having a lovely conversation when all of the sudden it happened. I literally started fanning myself with what I was holding -- the choice was a plastic bin or a small Pyrex dish. Like I said, there I was fanning myself with the plastic bin (what? you really thought I would use the Pyrex dish?) and realizing that right there at that moment it had begun. I have to tell you when you have a hot flash you are HOT!
OMG are you HOT.
It is like you have a boiler inside of you and it suddenly releases MOLTEN STEAM and all the while you are looking like a lunatic while you shed layers of clothing to cool down and then you wonder if anyone else in the room, car, mall, supermarket, bank, post office are feeling a little warm. For those that have experienced this you know what I am talking about.

Ancora Imparo