Thursday, June 21, 2012


Cara is in remission, biopsy of her bone marrow shows ABSOLUTELY NO LEUKEMIA CELLS.

Thank you thank you thank you for all your prayers and love for Cara, and for me.

Joy. Joy. Joy.

Her long and challenging treatment continues, but at least we have the awesome news it's working.  Please keep Cara in your thoughts and prayers as she continues this journey towards complete wellness and healing.

Joy.  Joy.  Joy.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Where I'm Headed

This angel is from my Uncle Jody's garden, and now this angel boy sits on my front door step, and greets us as we come, and blesses us as we go.  I miss you Duncle, but still feel your presence, especially when I feel a little sorry for myself and I can hear you say "Get a grip Dearie!"

This is Marie from Relay.. I have been reading your blog since we met and I can't tell you how much your story has helped me. Thank you for giving me so much hope. My radiation is going well. The burns are just starting to happen. Just taking it one day at a time. 


Hello Marie.  Hello Sister.  It's always grand when another Sister is placed on my path, then she goes back into the archives of my blog, and retraces my journey while she is making her own.  This helps me, to help you, and I have been so blessed by my new sorority, my tribe of The Sistahs of the Cancerous Breasts.  I can't emphasize enough the importance of finding your tribe, there is nothing like being part of a community who has been there done that, and gets what you're going through.  It's so important.  Hi Cara, I'm reminding you Girl to find your peeps, it will help you tremendously.

Thank you one and all for all the love and concern for Cara.  It was a great surprise when I went to this year's Cancer Survivors Day celebration and had several people come up to me and ask about Cara!  That was wonderful to know that a year later some of the people I met when I was the keynote speaker last year were not only still following my blog, but without our knowing it, had been praying for Cara.  Thank you so much.

Cara is getting through her leukemia treatment like a real trooper, she's had some scary twists and turns as a result of her body trying to cope with the barrage of treatment, including several hospital stays for a fever, or bad allergic reaction to platelets, or low ANC numbers, but she's done her best to handle all of it as best she can.  She and her family are getting through it, one day at a time.

Cara posted this self portrait from the ER where she was quarantined, with a sign on the door that read "Door to remain closed, otherwise alarm will sound."  Yikes.

I had to laugh, cause that photo sure looked familiar - yup, this is my self portrait in the chemo chair.  The door was open, but I couldn't escape, all hooked up to da good shit in the green vinyl chemo chair!  Oh my goodness, I just gave myself a SHIVER!

Continued support and prayers for our Cara girl are still much needed, and if you'd like to help out towards the enormous expense of her care and treatment, you can visit this link to Cara's Cure.

During Cara's recent hospital stay, she was happy to see her little friend, Sierra, another leukemia patient.  Sierra is a real doll, with a happy smile and hug for everyone.  She was notorious for running the halls of the pediatric oncology wing at UCSF.  It got really exciting when she figured out how to push the handicap button and open the automatic doors leading out into the rest of the hospital.  And there she goes!  Somebody catch that kid!  Stat!  Sierra also learned how to keep pushing the hand sanitizer pump till it was a goopy pile, and then would finger paint in it.  Cara said when Sierra would plop on the floor, that was her way of saying "OK Mama, come pick me up, I'm done."

Sierra and Cara, at UCSF

Cara is doing her best but it is a hard hard road, and from what I've seen, it's far worse than breast cancer treatment.  I told Cara that I was once the reigning Queen of the Glitch, and if I had one more doctor say to me "Gee, we've never had that happen before" I was going to go cancer girl crazy on somebody.  Cara has taken over my position, and despite some very rough days, emotionally and physically, the new Queen is a real trooper and still manages to keep her sense of humor.

Make no mistake about it - 

I love you Cara.  I'm really proud of you.  Keep going.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about the direction of my blog, and if I even had a direction I still wanted to go in.

Then it occurred to me, Part A of my blog was everything associated with diagnosis and treatment.

I have now figured out what the Part B is.

It's called Survivorship.

That's what I'm going to be talking about in the coming months, and leading up to my try at reconstruction next Winter, for the millionth time.

When you go through cancer treatment, there is a huge team of people taking care of you and helping you through treatment.

Once you're done?
You are pretty much on your own to navigate through survivorship. 
It may be over for all of them, I completed treatment, but it's not over for me.

I am living in a body I don't recognize.
I have several issues that are collateral damage from cancer treatment, included being thrown head first through the windshield called MENOPAUSE.

I had so much amazing awesome incredible help and guidance and care through cancer treatment.

I need a new team to help me navigate this one.


I'm grateful to be alive, and two years out from diagnosis,
but I'm having a hell of a time finding my new normal.

A hell of a time.

Welcome to life after cancer treatment.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Willow Glen Relay for Life, 2012

I sure had a great time at the Willow Glen Relay for Life!  First it was a bonus opportunity to reconnect and spend a great day with my high school girlfriend Connie, who lives in Willow Glen!  Thank you Connie for the grand tour, taking us to all the great neighborhoods in Willow Glen and Los Gatos, and showing us all around downtown San Jose.  What a beautiful area, and wonderful day, then dinner and a walk in San Jose's Japan town with you and John.  (Thank you for the lemons John, I sure enjoyed them!) What a cool neighborhood, San Jose's Japan town, so retro and filled with several busy Japanese restaurants, noodle houses and shops!  I loved it, and got a kick out of one window display with all kinds of Japanese pottery and a t-shirt that read "Shitake happens."  Yes it does Baby, yes it does.

Connie and I, in front of the Buddhist Temple
The next morning I was the survivor speaker at the Willow Glen Fight Back ceremony.  What a great morning, and I was so warmly and affectionately received.  It was just wonderful!

Pam Shore, Fight Back Chair

Terri Di Salvo, Event Chair, with Kate Bailey, ACS Staff Partner

Terri and I, a couple of grateful survivors!

A fellow breast cancer survivor, Marie.

It has been so rewarding for me serving as a Hero of Hope for ACS Relay for Life.  I meet so many incredible loving people, who are so generous to me.  I received two handwritten thank you notes in the weeks after speaking there:

Debbie, Just wanted to say thank you for coming to our Relay.  You are wonderful.  In the last 12 years your closing ceremony was the most moving.  Thanks again.
-Sherry, Survivor Chair

and this one:

Dear Debbie, Thanks for coming and telling your story of survival at the Willow Glen Relay for Life.  You are an inspiration, a shining ray of hope, and a courageous warrior.  Your story moved me heart and soul.  I related to it on so many levels as a survivor, caregiver and person that has been affected too many times by this horrid disease.  Relay for Life and people like you have given me the strength to stand up to cancer and fight back for all of us.  Sincerely,
-Terri Di Salvo, Event Chair, Willow Glen

This is just a win win situation, because I can't say enough about what this does for me, especially the moments after I speak and Relayers come up to meet me, shake my hand, tell me their stories, hug me and say very kind things.  It does a whole lot for me, especially the hugging.  Amazing, to hug a stranger, and yet feel such connectedness and grace and healing.

I met Marie there that morning, a fellow breast cancer survivor, a sweet sweet newbie.  She had an enthusiastic Relay team in her honor, Team Marie and the Save Second Base Gang!  I wanted to know who they were all walking for, with so much spirit.  They all pointed to Marie, and I went in for the hug.  Marie got teary eyed and apologized "I'm sorry, I'm just crying all the time through this..."  Awww.  Hello Sister.  There there now.  There there now.  Are you kidding, don't apologize, I am the Queen of the Soft Weepers now!  If you see this Marie, I hope radiation is going well for you, you ordered the Miaderm cream and hang in there Lady, it gets better, it gets better Sister!!  You got this! and how fabulous all your supporters!!!

This whole experience with ACS Relay for Life has been life changing for me, first as a survivor and participating at my wonderful fabulous Vallejo Relay, and now making the rounds as a Hero of Hope.  I still have my moments as I move forward where I look over my shoulder, worry about the future, fear it coming back, but every Relay I've attended and all the wonderful survivors and caregivers and supporters I've met keep me going, keep me hoping, keep me fighting back, keep me motivated to do my part for a world with more birthdays,

until there's a cure.

Releasing of the doves at Willow Glen Relay

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