Got up at 5:45 AM this morning so I could get on the road in time to make my 7:45 appointment at Abington for my first radiation treatment. The weather was not that bad, and the drive was easy. There was very little traffic, and Nan and I made it to the hospital in 20 minutes from her house. Then I received the very disappointing news that my radiation would be delayed until Wednesday — reason being that the physicist who was in charge of my treatments lives in NJ. He had driven to Abington and was there, but he had major concerns about getting back to NJ this afternoon. He has a wife and children at home, and he did not want to be stranded and leave them alone to cope with the storm should it get wicked. The nurse changed my wound dressing, and I was sent on my way with a new bag of supplies.

I totally understand the rationale and agree with the wisdom of the call, but I was very disappointed. I was so psyched to get this show on the road so I could get the catheter out on Friday and back to taking warm showers. So the plan now is for me to start radiation on Wednesday, have treatments through Friday, and the weekend off. Treatments will resume next Monday and Tuesday with the catheter being removed on Tuesday afternoon. I do hope that come Wednesday there is no further delay.

. . . and so it is



A maroon Honda space vehicle appeared through the fog and whisked me and my friend Nan to the planet Abington and deposited us at the Rosenfeld Crater, a highly classified scientific area for human testing, research, and treatment. After I completed a questionnaire and signed research documents, we were led to a waiting area where I was told to undress from the waist up and don two gowns. I then knew I would be turned over to the alien force. These aliens were so highly evolved they could energetically reform their molecules to take Earth-human form and speak any language.

The first alien was Karen who led me and Nan into a large room which was dimly lit. In the middle of the room was a table enveloped by a large cylinder. Lights flickered, and four other aliens entered the area. Karen positioned me on a very warm, gel-like cushion, and I was permitted to move my arm and torso until I found a comfortable position. The gel gradually hardened until it formed an impression of my body. This impression will be used as I go through further testing so that I am in a stable position at all times.

Once I was stabilized, the other aliens clustered around me. One introduced himself as “Sully.” It turned out that Sully was the lead scientist, and he inserted a “key” into the device which had been implanted into my breast. Standing to my left was a very young alien called Michael. He was still studying in the radiation-oncology field and was there to observe and to interpret for me as the procedure progressed. I was told that the first step in the procedure was a CAT scan to be certain that the device was positioned properly.  The aliens left the room, and the lights blinked off;  the table moved me into the cylinder, which made me feel like I was travelling into the bowels of a jet engine.  Bands of silver whirled and whirred and clanked. Lights winked. The table moved back and forth several times before completely exiting. The lights came on, and the aliens scurried back into the room. I was told that the device was beautifully positioned (THANK YOU, Dr. DuPree!).

I was given a copy of a scanned image of my device which showed me that it resembled the shape of a paintbrush. It is inserted right into the breast where the tumor had been excised and where the radiation will be directed. Seven long tubes, each about 6 inches in length, hang outside my body cavity. “Sully” proceeded to insert a long wire into each tube. Measurements and calculations were made until the alien crew were satisfied that all was prime for the treatment phase to occur next week.

Then Nan and I were escorted to another area to have the wound opening cleaned and bandaged. Alien Leslie informed me that I would need to do this tonight and twice daily over the weekend until I returned to Rosenfeld Crater next Monday. Nan had the brilliant idea to videotape the procedure with her camera. In the process I realized that it would be impossible for me to do this myself due to the inaccessible location of the device. Fortunately, back on Earth I have friends who will be able to assist me. We were sent out with a huge bag of bandaging supplies. The valet retrieved the maroon space craft from its docking point, and Nan and I boarded for an uneventful flight home.

. . . and so it is

another hurdle negotiated

Dr. Beth DuPree talks about cancer not being a surgical emergency but an emotional emergency. I suddenly realized the other day that many of the emotions I have been experiencing are so similar to what I felt twenty years ago when I broke my ankle and endured a two-year recovery. For me, it has been a curious mix of feeling vulnerable, alone, lost, and floundering. Any type of catastrophic medical issue is life changing and requires one to be able to reach within for strength to overcome and heal both physically and emotionally. What drew me to Dr. DuPree was the fact that she strongly believes in a marriage between Eastern and Western medicine. She is truly the physician of the future. Please take a moment to view this video clip of Beth DuPree.

As most of you know, I already embrace many aspects of Eastern and holistic healing/wellness. I incorporate acupuncture, massage, energy work, reflexology, and chiropractic into my normal wellness routine.

Yesterday I went to Dr. DuPree’s office in Southampton for the insertion of the balloon catheter which will deliver the radiation to a very specific area. Not knowing what to expect, I was apprehensive.  I was grateful that Fran was with me as it helped me keep my mind off the procedure. The procedure was quick. In spite of a lidocaine local, it was still quite uncomfortable, especially since I was still very sore from last Monday’s lumpectomy.  Fran was permitted to remain in the room during the procedure. Later in the evening after the lidocaine wore off, it was very painful. Fortunately I still had pain meds left-over from surgery. It took two doses to even get a slight relief, and fortunately I was able to get a good night’s sleep. I’m more comfortable this morning.

It’s another hurdle negotiated, and I’m approaching the finish line!

. . . and so it is


Met with Dr. Patel this morning at Holy Redeemer Hospital and found out that the rest of my appointments this week had been changed. I walked into the Cancer Center feeling very vulnerable, and the “switcheroo” just knocked me off balance.  I was told that the balloon catheter procedure had been changed to tomorrow at Dr. DuPree’s office in Southampton, and that I was to start antibiotics tonight. In addition, the simulation appointment at Abington Hospital was moved up to Thursday. Dr. Patel reviewed everything of which I needed to be aware, and he answered all my questions.

On my way out, I wandered into the Cancer Center reflection garden. What a lovely spot. I had my Canon G12 with me, so I did some photography. Nothing like getting behind a camera to ease the mind. I think this brick work is a metaphor for the spinning feeling I had this morning.

I also want to express my gratitude to all of you who have left comments, emailed, stopped by to visit, sent cards, and said prayers for my journey and recovery. Thank you so much!

. . . and so it is

a weekend with the dogs

The Nor’wester Readers organization annually sets up a booth at the Tyler Park Crafts in the Meadow event. It’s a wonderful outdoor art and craft show/fair which hosts high quality art work and crafts. It’s a wonderful opportunity for us to do fund-raising as well as publicize the amazing work we do with our therapy dogs in the schools.

Being one of the Directors, I feel committed to participating in this event — an easy task because it is always so much fun! Given that I am still recovering from surgery, I did reduce the number of hours I attended and did not help with set up or tear down. That’s difficult for me because I feel that my limited participation is an inconvenience to those who have to do all the physical work — talk about feeling guilty! Saturday I took Hannah, and today I took Heidi. I was so proud of Heidi — being a 9 month old pup, she was remarkably calm and well behaved. I guess I shouldn’t have expected any less from a pup who earned her Canine Good Citizen (CGC) title at the age of 5 months!! That’s Heidi in the photo.

I came home yesterday quite exhausted and sore. Ice soothed the aches, and I got a great night’s sleep.

I’m trying to psych myself for a rough two weeks ahead.

. . . and so it is


next steps

I finally got my pathology results late afternoon yesterday, but wanted to wait for additional information before updating all of you.

First of all, my margins are excellent. This refers to the area around the tumor and is important in determining whether I am a good candidate for the balloon catheter radiation. The lymph nodes came back negative which means there is no metastasis.  What wonderful news to get. I was so happy I cried.

Along with the pathology results I learned that my radiation treatment is going to be moved up. Originally it was tentatively scheduled for the end of November, but now I will be having radiation the week of October 29th through November 2nd. I will be reporting to Abington Hospital daily for two treatments per day with a span of 6 hours between treatments. I guess I’ll be making that trip with my eyes closed by the end of the week!

I’m scheduled for a follow-up with the radiation oncologist, Dr. Patel, on Monday, the 22nd and a “sim” appointment on Friday the 26th at Abington, also with Dr. Patel. I’m not sure what a “sim” is, but I am guessing it is a simulation so that I know what to expect when I start treatments on Monday the 29th. I will see Dr. DuPree on Thursday, the 25th for my post-op follow-up, and she will insert the balloon catheter in the office at that time.

Along with all these results and appointments, I also was told that my tumor is hormone driven. It was strongly estrogen and progesterone positive. I wonder if that’s why I’m still getting “power surges” (my description of hot flashes) twelve years post menopause?! Because of this, there is a good chance that I may need to take an anti estrogen – aromatase inhibitor drug.  I asked if that would be Tamoxifen, and Dr. DuPree said that Tamoxifen is used with breast cancer patients who are PRE-menopausal. She feels that this drug is less invasive and has fewer side-effects.

I spoke with a friend who has had the balloon catheter method of radiation. She said the catheter was not painful, but that it is a bit uncomfortable and a nuisance trying to get into a comfortable sleep position. No showers permitted while the catheter is in place. She said she managed to get into the bathtub and wash without getting the bandages wet. Because tub access is difficult for me with my fused ankle, I guess I will be a little on the stinky side during radiation! Just kidding — I’ll be restricted to standing sink baths to control the stink!

. . . and so it is


Waiting for the pathology results — a bit anxiously.

Had trouble sleeping Monday and Tuesday nights, but last night I finally had a good and restful sleep. I am feeling like myself, and have not needed any type of pain medication the last two days. I’m comfortable driving and going out for easy errands. I’m still restricted to light lifting for the time being.

Hannah and I will be going to Welch Elementary tomorrow morning  for our weekly therapy dog visit, and I will also be joining the Nor’wester Readers “gang” at the Tyler Park Crafts in the Meadow event this weekend. We’re hoping for good weather!

I’ll post again as soon as I get the pathology results. . .

. . . and so it is.


I had my lumpectomy surgery at Holy Redeemer Hospital yesterday.  Just as I was about to leave the house, Nan surprised me and stopped by to give me a good luck hug and lots of positive, healing energy. Fran and I had decided to use my car, so I picked her up. She was wearing a pale pink shirt and jacket and carrying a pink quartz stone given to her by my surgeon, Dr. Beth DuPree. The only pink I was wearing was my underwear.

Once we arrived at the hospital, things progressed quickly. I was taken back to the day-surgery area and prepped — oh those exquisite warm blankets. The nurse had trouble accessing a good vein which was a bit uncomfortable. Fortunately, she gave up and called for another nurse.  Fran was allowed to come back at that point, and I was wishing that she could have hooked up my line since she is a home infusion RN for Jefferson Hospital. The second nurse successfully got the line going, and Dr. DuPree stopped by to touch base. While we were talking, I suddenly started to cry. I’m not exactly sure why, but I guess it was triggered by an immense sense of feeling vulnerable. I got hugs from both Fran and Dr. DuPree which made me cry more!

Dr. DuPree was ready to roll, but we were still waiting for the anesthesiologist. He finally arrived and introduced himself as Dr. Bradley — I asked if that was his first or last name — Dr. Joe Bradley. I told him I wanted the least invasive airway possible. I hate general anesthesia and always get a sore throat from the airway. He promised me he would take good care of me.

Dr. DuPree and a nurse both walked me into surgery, and she held my hand while we were rolling. I was still feeling a little weepy. They got me onto the surgery table, and announced that I was about to be put under. Dr DuPree later told Fran that I said at that point, “Nectar of the Gods!”

Everything went smoothly, and I woke up in recovery, feeling very thirsty and shaking from the anesthesia. The nurses were great and managed the pain quickly and efficiently. In no time at all I was taken back to the day-surgery area where Fran joined me until I was discharged.  We left the hospital around 2:15 in a downpour, stopped at the drugstore for the pain prescription, got a bite to eat, and then home.

Fran stayed with me until she was confident I would be OK alone, and later Wendi and Nan both stopped by with flowers and dinner. I was pretty groggy, but spent the bulk of the evening curled up on the sofa with ice and “the girls.” They both knew something was different and stayed very close.

Pathology results will come back in 2-3 days, and hopefully they show that there is no metastasis.

. . . and so it is

war horse

On Wednesday, October 10th, four of us went into NYC to see the play WAR HORSE at the Vivian Beaumont Theater in Lincoln Center. We had unbelievable seats — 3rd row from the stage left. I lost all sense of time, and often I struggled to hold back tears and audible sobs. I was totally immersed in the drama of Joey, the horse, and his years at war.  There are no words to describe the mastery of the equine puppets; incredibly phenomenal hardly pays tribute to the puppeteers who transformed the artificial horses into living and emotional animals.

Monty Roberts, author of the popular best seller THE MAN WHO LISTENS TO HORSES, served as a consultant and teacher to the cast and puppeteers. Roberts says that he really did not ” . . . refine their interpretation of the language of Equus.” He merely created an environment and they learned. Roberts recalls that in the course of working with these city kids, he “lost sight of who I was, where I was, and what I  was looking at. Joey, the lead horse, was coming to life! I could feel it long before I could believe it. The young people involved with WAR HORSE were successful in moving this old cowboy to an emotional state.”

I delayed my surgery to embrace this experience, and I am so glad I did. Being a long-time horse lover and equestrienne, the experience evoked many old memories and feelings of being astride on my beloved Lark.

The photo above is a close up I took of one of the theater posters outside Lincoln Center.

In two days I will have my surgery. But for one wonderful day in NYC with friends, I did not even think about it.

. . . and so it is

going to the dogs

Earlier this morning I wrote post on “juicing,” but before I could publish it, it disappeared into cyber-space.  Just a message and a simple reminder to write about that which is closest to my heart.  Those of you who know me best know that I’ve always loved animals. I had cats all the years while I was teaching and  simultaneously pursued my passion for horses and dressage in my spare time.  And when I made up my mind to retire after 37 years in education, I knew I wanted to do therapy dog work. Hannah entered my life exactly three weeks after I retired as an eight week old puppy, and so began my sojourn into the psyche and joy of canine energy. I spent many hours socializing and training Hannah, and she went to work as a registered therapy dog at the age of 16 months. I always knew I wanted to add a second dog to the household, but the timing was not right until this past March when I saw Heidi and bought her, all within the space of 24 hours. While Hannah is bold with a streak of stubbornness, Heidi is the opposite. Heidi attained both her AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy and Canine Good Citizen titles at the age of five months. She has amazing focus and drive to please. She will be eligible to test for her therapy dog title in January, and it is my hope that she will join the ranks of Nor’wester Readers as a canine assisted learning dog.

I took the photo above when Heidi was ten weeks old, and Hannah was four.

Shortly after I received my breast cancer diagnosis, Hannah sustained an iliopsoas strain. She was in excruciating pain and required heavy-duty pain and anti-inflammatory drugs to keep her comfortable. I was extremely upset — even more so than about myself! It just gave me a sense of overload. Given that Hannah was not her normal, cheerful self at a time when I was trying to sort my own emotions about my diagnosis felt a bit like a double whammy. The injury also put our therapy dog visits to our third grade class on hold because Hannah was unable to get in and out of the car under her own power. I did have to lift her on occasion, but hoisting 60 pounds of solid Labrador Retriever is not easy! The vet, who diagnosed her injury told me that it would most likely be a one to two month recovery.

In the meantime, I decided to take Hannah to my chiropractor, Dr. JP Kallelis, who is an AVCA (American Veterinary Chiropractic Association) certified animal chiropractor. He did some amazing soft tissue work and adjusted Hannah. She felt so much better afterwards. A week later I had her back for a second treatment, and since then I’ve seen an amazing turn around. My friend Nan gave me an essential oil mixture for pain which I have been using to massage the area. When I get the bottle out Hannah comes for her rub-down. She really enjoys it.

Heidi watches all this with lots of interest and tries to butt her way between us for some attention. These two wonderful dogs have been so therapeutic for me. I am so FORTUNATE to have them along with such an amazing support system of friends.

. . . and so it is