Monday, December 8, 2014

MRI results

Sorry it's taken me so long to post- I just don't have the motivation lately. I
had my repeat brain MRI last week... My Radiation Onc was happy with the results... She said there was vast improvement and the results should get even better over the next 2 mos (there were still small spots, but no big ones) ... Max "effect" would be in 8 weeks... So I'll have a repeat MRI scan end of Jan ... And I'm still working on titrating those PO meds.... I'm up to 4tabs a day (5 is the goal). It's a targeted chemo therapy that crosses the blood- brain barrier called Tykerb (but it's giving me bad diarrhea and I have no appetite) .. Oh and can't forget the extreme exhaustion, I just want to lay around- and I have no energy to do anything. 

With the Christmas Season upon us, it makes the fatigue especially difficult- but no worries, thank God for Amazon! The puppy, Tucker, has adjusted well and is already part of the family (okay not house trained yet but making progress:)

So my lazy self is plugging along, grateful for all your love and prayers and looking forward to the Holidays. 

All my love,

Friday, November 21, 2014

Saddling up!

I had my appt with Dr. Fellin last week along with my treatment of IV Hercepton and Zometa. All went well. We are working on getting an acceptable dose and schedule of the PO chemo drugs (Xeloda and Tykerb) as they are giving me awful watery diarrhea (and other SE like fatigue, swollen/ painful cuticles, dryness). They are known for the diarrhea so Dr. Fellin is working on a tolerable does for me. See, the diarrhea shows that something is working, and my headaches went way, so we are going to really try and find an acceptable dose for my body. We have to weigh pros and cons and find an acceptable, livable treatment option. I’ll restart Xeloda too but not for 2 weeks .

The upside to all this is with having breaks with the meds, where I have some good days feeling myself (well except for the fatigue). I’m having my repeat Brain MRI 11/24 and an echo (since Hercepton can cause Heart issues); I have it checked every 4 months), and a couple of Doctor visits for check ups! Still just taking it one day at a time and living in the moment.

This last health bump in the road was the hardest yet- probably because I didn’t feel myself; I was unsteady, tired, apathetic and just wanted to sleep. Oh and ravenously hungry (from the high dose of steroids I was on). I gained 10+ lbs! Half came off with the diarrhea so I guess it was good that I gobbled down so much! The meals many of you brought me were so delicious and I ate everything! 

I’m finding it harder to “get back to normal” as I’m so tired most of the time. I do push myself to get up and just push through it. I’m taking walks and practicing my yoga. It reminds me of that quote “No matter how you feeling, get up, dress up, and show up.” I guess sage advice for all of us! The puppy is helping. He is full of energy and unconditional love. He had settled into the family so well!

I came across a quote by John Wayne (of all people!) “Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway” … So I hope you saddle up and I’ll join you on this wild ride!

So I’m soldiering on, still feeling humbled by your generosity, support, and love...

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


So the good news is I'm starting to feel myself, getting my mojo back, headAches only when I get overtired (which can happen easier now- I need 2 naps a day!).... So Still very tired but compared with how I felt before I'll take it! I think I'll keep improving! Isn't it miraculous the power of prayer? You all have been so wonderful, I'm still humbled by the outpouring of love and support.... People say I'm so strong and it's amazing my attitude- but really how else could I be? "You never really know how strong you are until being strong is your only option"..... I choose to live, take one day at a time and make the best of it. I know we have been dealt a shitty hand but I can honestly say I feel eternally grateful for the rest of everything: my life has been everything I could ever want- and I truly mean that- I have Been so blessed... With INCREDIBLE parents and family, friends who are there for me and make life so fun, a fulfilling career that I not only love and am so passionate about but I'm very good at, a supportive loving husband who respects me, cheers me, and is my best friend and a home and neighbors within a neighborhood that is cozy, safe and fun and of course 3 beautiful children inside (and out) who are so caring, loving, smart, and who I'm so very proud of! I've been so fortunate my entire life to not have to suffer personal grief .,, I did lose my grandparents but I was so young and oblivious....but I know others who have and how they suffer. That's why I'm so into this mindfulness (living in the moment), taking only one day at a time, it works, it helps me cope, it reveals how beautiful life is! So updates- I had my herceptin infusion Wednesday and saw dr Fellin- all is stable! Well except for the 8 lbs I gained eating your delicsh food. started the PO chemo Friday (so far just having what he said loose stools- so I guess I'll loose those 8 lbs easily 😊) repeat brain MRI is 11/24...And soldiering on! Love to all of you... Cause really love is what it's all about.... Some of my mojo quotes: "The key to happiness is letting each situation be what it is instead of what you think it should be." "What you think you become. What you feel you attract. What you imagine you create." Buddha

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Taking one day.....

Good Lord.... Taking one day at a time ...and so should you!

So I guess I better clear up just what is going on, yes I could be in a better place, actually, but I'm fortunate and in fact I'm just at the beginning of my her2 treatment options ...  Radiation, her2 specific chemo, more radiation if I need it etc... Although her2 is aggressive and fast it actually is a benefit to me, we can kill it quickly... Do I have years- no... Do you have years- I hope so but I guess that's up to a higher power anyway... Kinda what I was saying when I needed my mindfulness mojo back.... It's only been 3 weeks for me to grasp my new reality and I desperately need to center myself and live in the moment again, easier said then done- try it.. It takes a conscious effort and often you have to block out the other "noise". I don't want to seem ungrateful for all the heart touching well wishes- I've heard from friends near and far and my heart swells with the knowledge that I've touched so many lives.... But I thought this might be the perfect opportunity to share what makes me smile with joy... I simply just need you to say "I love you Kellie, you and your family are in our thoughts and prayers and have Faith in what is to be, whatever that is to be, in the meantime we will soldier on together!"

I'm trying to get a semi normal routine back- it's how I cope, and I don't do laying around real well, it will be slow at first but I hope to soon be up and about more! So send me your mojo- I may not text back but I assure you I get every well wish...mojo is just the thirst to live, a funny text, a kind word, a pic of Jamie Frasier (ok Damon too) a good recipe (I'm starving all the time from steroids), a life quote... Or Just love...💜

Some updates:
Radiation is done for now- rescan11/24 to see if I need more, I'm grateful for the break cause I'm fried (literally on my forehead) and lost what little hair I had - but was assured it would grow back by Xmas I'll 
Continue with IV hercepton, Zometa and start po (pill) form of perjeta which crosses the blood/ brain barrier (no need for inthathecal chemo now)

Results of Pet and MRI spine: good news! My scans showed improvement from Feb, my spine and bones with no active disease, lungs better, watching liver but nothing really new (except brain).  We'll just cont with antibioties. . rescan brain in 6 weeks, and take one day at a time. I still have my headaches but most likely that's due to brain swelling from radiation... So that should improve with healing.

We are about to get a puppy- yes u read right... A French Bulldog... I have a good excuse, The tumors effected my reasoning... ;) But we Can't wait, he'll be here mid-Nov and I can't wait! I need this....

I love each and everyone of you, am so grateful for the support we have and wish for you to continue to live in the moment with joy at this unexpected gift we all were given... Lots of love, Kellie

Friday, October 3, 2014

knew it would….

I guess I'll just begin where you all need updates. Yes, I did have a headache that sent me to the ED last week, I couldn't wait it out for my scheduled STAT MRI Tuesday. I just progressed to unbearable headache pain , then with only a 7 hour ED wait, I was admitted Friday night, had a CAT scan and subsequent MRI - both showed what suspected- Brain Mets, non operable as they are small and scattered. Good news is that they are not blocking blood flow, just giving me a wicked  migraine, and oh so tired. Plan is for daily radiation to my head for 10 days, consult with Neuro Onc to see if i'm a candidate for intrathecal chemo (directly to the brain). As Herceptin does not pass the blood-brain barrier. Ill also have a spinal MRI (all ) three sections) to see that's going on there, then if approved another PET and maybe a spinal tap. Continue with Hersceptin, Perjeta, and Zometa my full-time job will be this for a while. Still waiting to see how I make out with the head radiation, some say I will gain some of my suburb functioning back- or at least my stubbornness so I can work but we'll see. The one positive thing is I don't even feel like working now, so no worries there.

I'm again so humbled by your outpouring of support, and feel a little frustrated I can't' respond back to everyone of you. But please now that I have gotten each of your well wishes and prayers, kind notes and thoughts for concern. It means so much to me and my family to know there are so many on our team.

I've always said this but can not stress it enough, live for each moment, cherish your health, be nice to each other, life is precious and short, enjoy the little things for one day you'll look back and realize they were the big things.

Love, peace, friendship,

Thursday, September 25, 2014


Yes, I know it’s been a while since I posted… I’m sure you’ve guessed by now that I’m not 100%. It started about 2 weeks ago, just before my last treatment actually. I developed a headache, hoped it was “just a cold” coming on- which it was. In fact, all the kids came down with the same cold symptoms (headache, congestion, runny nose) but when their cold past, my headache remained (and now with a little dizziness). I have to admit that making it all worst is my mind wandering to grim scenarios. I finally broke down and called my Onc dr. He already knew about the headache because I had mentioned it at my last appt 2 weeks ago, but it had just started and I wanted to wait to see what happened (yes I was too afraid to do any testing then). No surprise he ordered a head MRI, so we can rule out brain metastasis. (I’m scheduled for Tuesday 9/30/14).

Many of you know that this scares the hell out of me. I can deal with metastasis to anywhere else but have always been so afraid of any brain involvement. For many reasons but foremost in my mind is that the growth would cause ME to not be ME anymore. I pride myself on my self-efficiency, I can cope cause I can soldier on, keep things as normal as possible. It scares me to think that I wouldn’t be able to do this, doesn’t scare me for my sake but for that of my family. I guess I know too much, would be better off ignorant but as it is….

 As my mom and good friend Molly point out its better to know what we are dealing with so we can just tackle it too, like we’ve done up to now. And no sense getting upset until we know what that is, getting upset goes against all mindfulness practice. I have to remind myself to live in the moment, take one moment at a time and let Faith be bigger than my Fear. I know for me it’s the unknown that is the hardest to deal with, once I know (even if it’s the worst case scenario) I’m much more able to cope and soldier on. I knew there would come a day when my winning streak would end or there would be a bump in the road, but I had hoped to get a little more of a break… On a positive note, I’m pretty sure I still have HER+ cancer, so even if it has travelled to my brain, the hope would be that it would shrink if I could get an infusion to the brain (blood infusions of herceptin do not cross into the brain). But I am getting ahead of myself, I may just have a sinus infection.

 It sucks that I (we) have to live this way, being afraid of every little symptom, playing out grim scenarios, playing what if… but as I’ve said many times, I am so thankful for every minute I am given, I take pleasure in the here and now, look to each day as a gift. If only everyone in the world could have this outlook, it sure puts life into perspective. My good friend from college, Anne Marie, has been sending me an inspirational card EVERY week since I’ve been diagnosed. The cards are beautiful, sometimes a beautiful drawing or picture and other times a relevant quote or reminder I’m not alone.

This came a few weeks ago and I wanted to share:

Is about celebrating the moment and that we’re not guaranteed or owed another day
and how cool it is that what we hide can actually be the fuel towards our glory and
that it’s not so bad being proven wrong

Is about welcoming the blind turn and the possibility that there’s no such think as coincidence
and that it’s never too late to pick up a guitar or a paintbrush or to make an amend
or to make a new friend

Could be about rekindling a past flame or igniting a new one or
shapeshifting from a dreamer into a doer or savoring the caress of a love long gone

Means whatever it is you want it to mean because

Is a celebration of you and your path

‘cuz it could go at any second
you rock.

Friday, August 22, 2014

I don't have a toothache!

I had another dose of Hercepton, Perjeta, and Zometa Wednesday. My check-up with Dr. Fellin was unremarkable, all is well, lung stable, and even better so is my weight (despite splurging while down the shore). I’ve been introspective lately and reexamined my resolve to take life one day at a time. Yesterday, a pillar of my online cancer support warrior group passed away after walking with inflammatory breast cancer for almost 2 years. She was full of life, always had a snarky remark, lifted our spirits with humor and compassion. She is at peace now, and left behind many who loved her. I hesitate to use the words fought cancer or lost the battle, as cancer is not a fight or battle and no one wins or loses. There is no rhyme or reason why some of us are “cured” after minimal treatments and others keep on progressing and will always walk with cancer. I do know that cancer changes your life either way, you have to be mindful and appreciate each day. Life and health are a gift many of us take for granted. My therapist gave me an easy way to remember this, ask yourself if you have a toothache. I bet you don’t right now. But if you ever did, remember how horrible it was, it was all you could think about, each day was misery. So when I wake up in the morning, I don’t think about my Stage IV terminal cancer… I think hooray I do not have a toothache today, my body does not ache, I can breathe easy, no headaches, actually I feel terrific! Others are not so fortunate. This brings me to the ALS ice bucket challenge. At first I was appalled. How could people, not touched by the disease, throw a bucket of ice over their heads AND to make it worse post it on Facebook? How insensitive… and what about a cure for breast cancer, or all cancers, but what I soon realized is how brilliant it was. EVERYONE knows about the pink ribbon, survivor walks, save the tatas…. But how many people knew or donated to ALS research, hardly anyone. ALS is a horrific disease that deserves a cure just as much as breast cancer. (One note when donating to breast cancer charities- look for those that fund research NOT awareness like The Breast Cancer Research Foundation at Lastly, next you see me I’ll probably be sporting a new, cooler hair do as I’m ready to rock the Sinead O’Connor look! Take care everyone, here’s hoping you don’t have a toothache! Love, Kellie

Friday, August 1, 2014

The best therapy… chocolate, puppies and laughing with friends!

Dear friends, I’m still feeling terrific! And I’m still astonished that 125 of you are still following my blog! It started as a way to keep family and friends updated with what was going on and turned into a sort of therapy for me. However, these past few weeks bought the best therapies- chocolate, puppies and laughing with friends! Despite feeling well, both physically and mentally, I understandably have my occasional moments. A family trip to Hershey Park with the kids was wonderful (thanks to my work friends)! We had a terrific time (and got to eat chocolate!). Then my BFF invited the kids and I to visit with her sister’s dog’s 10 new 5-week old puppies! Oh my they were adorable- something about the innocence of 10 puppies- both the kids and I couldn’t get enough! Sometimes it’s truly the little things in life that reaffirms how awesome life is. Lastly, a very good friend set up a girl’s night out, to simply paint pottery. Again, this simple task, along with some drinks and laughs, was the perfect medicine.- I’m still smiling!  

I had my tx with Herceptin and Perjecta Wednesday, met with Dr. Fellin and all is well. Labs came back normal. We are just keeping a close eye on my breathing and lungs as he heard a little fluid in the right side, nothing new though so we’ll just monitor. I’m able to walk everyday without getting short of breath so I will soldier on. I’m looking forward to vacation down the shore (Sea Isle City) with the family, always a highlight of the year for me and the kids… something about the smell of the salt air, the sand between my toes, and the warm sun on my face (oh and of course Yum Yum ice cream in my belly!).

Thanks for your continued kind words, love and prayers. I'm so grateful for each and every one of you! 

Happiness does not depend on what you have or who you are, it solely relies on what you think. ~Buddha

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Bra blues…. but oh so thankful!

Oh well, my short-lived bra buying spree has ended in lymphedema. Figures! I wore my new bra just once and ended up giving myself bad lymphedema in my upper arm/ trunk. If you don’t know what lymphedema is follow this link:

After two weeks of compression garments, drainage exercises and shoulder rehab, it is mostly resolved and I feel much better. So, my new bras got a new home and I'm back to my sports bras (which are way more comfortable anyway). Oh well, it is what it is.

I saw Dr Fellin today and so far all is good. He had a medical student with him and when reviewing my case with her said I had a "miraculous response" .... Oh I love that! I like to think it's all of your prayers. So we will continue with just Herceptin and Perjeta (and Zometa) for now. I'll get blood work next time. I'm so thankful for this break and for feeling so well... Unfortunately, I know other cancer warriors who have not had it so well and it reaffirms to me how precious each glorious day is. My physical therapist nonchalantly said for me to envision myself growing old, like visualize Ella graduating from college, Princeton he said thinking that would be therapeutic to me but I steadfastly refused...I am living in the moment I told him, being mindful of the now and that's all I'm capable of, it's the only way I can live and cope so effectively ... Looking too far in the future causes panic and I'm not giving into those feelings. I can handle living well today and that's all I need to do... Poor guy, he needs to stick to rehabbing my shoulder and leave the rest to my psychologist!

But he had me thinking again about the kids and I reread this poem I saved for them... I wanted to share cause it is so perfect...

I wanted you more than you ever will know
So I sent love to follow wherever you go.

It's high as you wish it. It's quick as an elf.
You'll never outgrow stretches itself!

So climb any mountain...climb up to the sky!
My love will find you. My love can fly!

Make a big splash! Go out on a limb!
My love will find you. My love can swim!

It never gets lost, never fades, never ends...
if you're working...or playing...or sitting with friends.

You can dance 'til you're dizzy... paint 'til you're blue...
There's no place, not one, that my love can't find you.

And if someday you're lonely, or someday you're sad, or you strike out at baseball, or think you've been bad...

Just lift up your face, feel the wind in your hair.
That's me, my sweet baby, my love is right there.

In the green of the the smell of the sea...
in the clouds floating the top of a tree...
in the sound crickets make at the end of the day...

"You are loved. You are loved. You are loved," they all say.

My love is so high, and so wide and so deep, it's always right there, even when you're asleep.

So hold your head high and don't be afraid to march to the front of your own parade.

If you're still my small babe or you're all the way grown, my promise to you is you're never alone.

You are my angel, my darling,
my star...and my love will find you,
wherever you are.

by Nancy Tillman

Remember to be mindful, live in the present and live with purpose! Keep those prayers coming…. love to all of you.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Chemo vacation

I dutifully showed up for my Onc appointment on Wednesday for my 6th treatment. Honestly, I was not looking forward to it as I still felt run down from my last, but psyched myself up and got ready. To my surprise, Dr Fellin suggested a “chemo vacation”. He gave me the option but steered me toward taking a break from the hard-hitting chemo (taxotere) and just get the antibodies (herceptin and perjecta).  I’d get a break from Zometa as well (every 6 weeks vs. every 3).  He also suggested we wait on the scan, let my body heal and recover and see how it goes. If I got any symptoms back then we’d continue with the regimen (and get scanned).  This way we can see how I do with just the antibodies. He pointed out my labs were all normal (and when my bone mets were active I had high phosphates) and I was not experiencing the symptoms I had before.  Even my echo was normal (EF up to 55-60% which is terrific). He said, spend time with the kids and enjoy- oh it sure is the “little things”. 

So, I only received Herceptin and Perjeta yesterday and boy do I feel terrific today! I agree with him that at this point it’s better to preserve my body and mind. The way I see it I’ll always need some sort of chemo, and as time goes on and the cancer gets smarter and resistant, I’ll need more and more powerful ones. So if I can take a break here and there I should seize the opportunity. So the plan for now is to get hercepton and perjeta every 3 weeks and zometa every 6. Scan if I get symptoms or this regimen stops working.  My hair will stop falling out and the only side effect will be loose stools and occasional diarrhea. I’ll take it! This will be the best vacation I ever had!

On another note, I finally went bra shopping with my new set! I was secretly looking forward to this ever since I had reconstruction last December but was side tracked with all the cancer mets and drama. So off I went to Macy’s…. I did not need forklift support (they pretty much stay up on their own) so I felt like a kid in a candy store- I could literally get ANY type of bra there. I have never-ever in my entire life been able to pick out ANY bra- underwire or none, lace, push-up, demi, strapless, padded, sports ….. they all fit! (And I could even get the cheap ones). I have to admit I had fun.  Again, it sure is the “little things”.

Thanks as always for your love and support,

“Enjoy the little things for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” – Robert Brault

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

…. Rhinovirus!

I finally have something to update!

So it was taking me a lot longer to “recover” from this last treatment. Usually by 1 week I’m up an about as usual… but this time I was still dragging. In fact I was really dragging, my throat really hurt, and I had bad congestion. I still soldiered on and even pushed through last Saturday that started with dropping Ella off at Bounce U for a Birthday party at 10:00, watching Abbie at her end of season softball event, then watching Tommy’s team win a game toward the minor league championship, spending time with Krista, Brayden and my parents, with the day ending going to a very hot and humid BreastFest fundraiser… oh boy this would exhaust anyone, so when I got home I collapsed on the bed and said I’m done. I had the chills but thought it was ‘cause the air conditioning felt sooo good. But when I took my temp. it read 100.7.


I threw off the blankets and waited 20-30 minutes…



I knew I had to call the on-call Onc as any fever is a bad fever when on chemo, especially as this was day 10 of my chemo cycle where my count was the lowest. The Dr. did not hesitate and off to the ER we went. I could write a whole blog about what we saw (and smelled) at Jefferson’s ER on a Saturday night but basically, after only 6 hours in the ER, I was admitted for neutropenic fever … which is low white blood cell count combined with a fever. I was swabbed, cultured, examined from head to foot, repeated my story and symptoms a million times, all to find the source of this infection. It is a very serious thing to get an infection when you’re neutropenic. I was given IV antibiotics, fluids, medicine for my throat (which turned out to be thrush) and put on precautions (when everyone and anyone has to wear a mask and gown to get into my room). After two days of negative results, they gave me a shot to boost my WBCs (this is typically given after each cycle but since it can cause bone pain, and I was otherwise healthy, my Onc did not prescribe it for the first few cycles). Well it worked- my WBC’s went from 1.1 to 5.2 (normal is >3), and my neutrophils went from 381 to 2862 (normal >1500)! And the results of the virus panel came back that I had Rhinovirus … although this sounds horrific, it’s just the common cold! So I was sent home Tuesday.

I feel so much better. Amazing what a few WBCs can do! So I’m back on course, treatment #6 is next Wednesday. This hospitalization reminded me to center on the positive, be grateful I am tolerating the treatments so well, as many others on the unit were not so fortunate. I will have many ups and downs, and this will not be my last hospitalization, but today I can say I feel terrific. And if you remember- I am just taking all this one day at a time, living in the present, being attentive to the now.

The mind is everything. What you think you become.” - Buddha

Monday, June 2, 2014

The good, the bad and the ugly…

I again struggle with what to write this week as I feel I’m just plugging along with treatment and life. I debated about what you wanted to know, did you want to know all the ugly details of cancer treatment ? Like how I got sick this round (started from both ends (yes at the same time ;( and now just occasional stomach rumbling and diarrhea; how my thrush is acting up again and causing throat ulcers or that I look like a plucked chicken as most of my hair has fallen out? I actually feel that I’m very fortunate that these are the worst of my side effects. It could be a lot worse…. As evident when I called my Onc to relate these side effects, he asked if I could still swallow and eat despite the ulcers? Umm, yes I replied “then no worries about the throat ulcers”. Then he asked, “do you have chills and a fever with the diarrhea?” No, I said and I only had it a couple of times. Although he was sympathetic, he again was not worried and sounded relieved. He prescribed dyflucan again for the thrush, instructed me to take Imodium and call if anything got much worse. The laundry list of possible side effects is unbelievable and I’m very lucky to have minimal reactions.  I feel bad, but really not thaaaat bad.

So maybe I can share a good thing that happened today. Since, I’m not sure the plucked chicken look is in, I wore my wig for the first time to work. I decided to just rock it and not think twice. To my utter surprise, the gas attendant at the Wawa on route 70 actually flirted with me and said, as he handed me back my card, “Don’t ever change your loveliness”, wig and all. Okay, so yes he looked like he just got out of jail, and yes I was driving the van with the kid’s stuff thrown all over, and I did double check the receipt with the pump, but it felt nice that despite I knew that I was wearing my wig, this guy just couldn’t tell! So when you see me, wig-and-all, remember the gas attendant liked it!

I’ll be getting an echo next week to check my heart function and my 6th treatment will be 6/18; with a repeat scan thereafter. I’ll update everyone once I get the results, let’s pray for shrinkage, major shrinkage!

Thanks as always for your support and love.

In memory of Maya Angelou, my two favorite quotes by her:

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

"You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them."

Friday, May 9, 2014


I’ve had a good couple of weeks. I began walking again and doing yoga- light. I had my 4th treatment Wednesday (5/7/14). My blood pressure and heart rate have finally  returned to normal (they were very high these past couple of months- most likely stress), my weight has stabilized (I was losing  a little weight), and my labs all came back normal (except that my White Blood Cell count is low but not critical- WBC’s help fight infection so I need to just be careful). The plan is to finish the 6 treatments with Taxotere then have a scan (either a PET, if insurance pays, or a CT) to check for response. Most likely in June. I’ll also be due in June for an Echo to check my heart EF. I will continue with Perjeta, Herceptin, and Zometa indefinitely. I basically am feeling good, just tire more easily. So, still just swimming and living in the moment.

I’d like to share my discovery of Mindfulness. Many people have mentioned Mindfulness to me: my yoga instructor, social worker, nurse. It was not until my therapist recommended two books- The Art of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh and Full Catastrophe living by John Kalnat Zinn that I began to fully understand what it means. I thought it was an abstract mediation practice that I would never have time for- but I was wrong. Mindfulness is what I’ve been grasping at while I say “live in the moment” and “take one day at a time.” It’s about being aware, being present, and learning to appreciate the here and now. I highly recommend anyone looking for some peace to look into it! It has truly helped me to center and pay attention to the present.

Thank you all for your continued support and prayers, I’m truly blessed!

“According to the Buddha, life is available only in the here and now, the present moment. He said, “The past is already gone, the future is not yet here. There’s only one moment for you to live, and that is the present moment.” If you miss the present moment, you miss your appointment with life.”

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Hope cookies, homemade nutella, and a Holiday....

Sorry, I've neglected my own blog. I honestly thought about it, I just didn't know what to say. I feel like I've said it all, that there really is no hot-off-the presses update. I'm just soldiering on, but with some fortification from much needed meds (Lexapro), a therapist, and goodies from you (I'm amazed at your thoughtfulness; from hope cookies, to homemade healthy treats, to taking ALL my kids on a WALKING tour to Franco's and Rita's, to a work collection to send us on a mini get-away!).

I had chemo tx #3 last Wednesday (4/16/14), yes it took all day again, yes I felt crappy after but at least I felt crappy "down the shore" and was able to just sleep it off with my family around me (and raid Easter baskets for chocolate). I did get a couple of good days to take in the ocean, which to me is restorative and calming.  When I met with Dr. Fellin, we discussed my treatment regimen and decided that, although I seem to be responding very well to the chemo,  we will continue with the full 6 treatments with taxotere (so 6/17/14 should be the last for a while, I'll still have the antibody chemo infusions every 3 weeks forever but they are targeted so do not have the same yucky effects) ... I'd rather be overly aggressive then stop early because of the few side effects (namely the hair loss and fatigue). Speaking of hair loss, Dr. Fellin was amazed at how much hair I still have left (to me I feel like that it's not much), but it's not lasting. I'm thinking probably by next week I'll be sporting my new hairdo (aka wig).

Otherwise I feel good. No pain, just very tired and my stomach is not right most of the time- but this doesn't bother me. The Lexapro has really helped, I'll get an anxious thought but then I just acknowledge it and it fades away, no drama, no tears. I also had my first visit with a therapist who was very helpful, I like her. She gives me new ways to think about things and reminds me of my own motto/ strength: to live for/ in today. It was funny though when we were ending the session, she said yes, you need to continue with therapy- you think? Ha, I guess I have a lot on my plate.

Thank you for your continued support, love, and prayers,


PS: I thought I'd share with you what is on my office wall at work (and I did this prior to ever being diagnosed!)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The elephant in the blog......

It's been 1 week since chemo and as predicted I'm feeling better each day...Well physically that is. I did have my 2 days of what I call "yuckiness", earlier this time as it started Friday morning and lasted till Sunday morning, but each day since then I'm feeling better. All that's left is tiredness. Oh and lots of hair loss.... I had hoped it wouldn't but it is. I probably should shave it like last time but I'm still holding out that I can last a little longer. So I've pulled out my scarves and will see....

So to the elephant in the blog.... Up till now I've been so focused on updating my physical symptoms and treatment regime I've completely ignored the elephant in the blog- how I feel about all this. I know I've said I'm just going to keep swimming, dancing in the rain, yadda yadda, but it's been increasingly hard to soldier on. I think it's the hair lost, could be the weather, but I know it's that this just sucks, cancer sucks. I have not been able to use my usual coping method, i.e. running, so have decided I need another, so either therapist or meds or probably both! I saw my PCP yesterday and he hooked me up with both! So we'll see, it will be interesting to go to therapy as I've always felt like a sort of therapist myself... I'll be able to compare notes of the advice I would have given me- which you know would be "just keep swimming", "take one day at a time", "it's all in how you react", "instead of waiting for the storm to pass, learn to dance in the rain"...... Oh and I'm sure the meds can't hurt!

My heart still swells with joy with the outpouring of your support,

Xoxoxo, Kellie

An old Cherokee told his grandson, "My son, there is a battle between two wolves inside us all. One is Evil. It  is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies, and ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, & and truth."

The boy thought about it, and asked, "Grandfather, which wolf wins?"

The old man quietly replied, "The one you feed."

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Still swimming.... Dose #2

Today I had my second chemo doses.... In addition to the pre- meds (Benadryl, steroid, Pepcid, zofran), the her2 drugs herceptin and perjeta, the yucky taxotere, Dr. Fellin added Zometa for the bone mets.... Phew I'm exhausted just writing them out! It was easier today as I did not have that bone pain I had last time..I slept through most of it as the Benadryl really knocks me out..... Dr. Fellin (onc) was happy to see me feeling and looking so good. I asked how long I was to be on taxatere (it's the one with all the annoying side effects and if the her2 drugs are the ones working then maybe I don't need it so long and ok cause I'm losing my hair and dread it again... I know it's so petty, but I feel so ugly bald, no one ever really saw me without a wig or scarf except my family but I see it, Jason and the kids see it and it's hard... It's hard being 40 let alone a bald 40....ok enough of the pity party- it's really the least of my problems and I'm grateful there are drugs to shrink these rumors.... And as a good friend said- I rocked the pixie cut;) OKAY, so dr Fellin said the " protocol" is 6 rounds of taxatere, but if I'm doing well, ie tumor shrinkage, then maybe we can just do 3-4... So we' ll re-scan and see.... Probably after # 3 or # 4.

So, I felt terrific these past couple days..... So hopefully once this taxatere clears I'll be back to that terrific feeling again.... Usually by Monday... Until then, I just take it easy and get lots of rest.

I officially told the kids tonight, they of course already knew something was up- I mean lots of delicious meals and treats, flowers, and gift boxes being delivered by good friends and Mom Mom doing our laundry...Pop Pop driving me to "work".... They are smart and knew... But it felt good to talk it out with them. They do not know the extent of it, just that I have cancer again in my body so need the medicine that gets rid of it, and yes I'll lose my hair again, will have days that I'm tired but good days to- and that was it, back to eating dinner... I think they saw me get better last time, I'm doing my best to "carry on" and not disrupt our busy life so they are fine. I'm planning on finally seeing a therapist as I need someone (impartial) to talk through these crazy, fluctuating feelings I have so will talk about the kids as well....

Thanks as always for your prayers.... and for helping me to Keep Swimming!

Love xoxoxo, Kellie

He said, "There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow, so today is the right day to love, believe, do, and mostly live"- Dalai Lama

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Even better.

Another week has passed and the pain is still gone! I do ache in my spine and legs a bit (esp. later in the day or after standing) but nothing like before! (and nothing a little Motrin can't help). I'm feeling very good otherwise, just tired. I wish I could strap my running sneakers on and go for one of my famous runs, but I'm afraid I would only make it to the end of the block. I did go for a walk last week (2 miles) and went to yoga but was exhausted after both. Maybe after the next treatment I'll get another miracle boost.

My bad reflux turned out to be thrush, ewww, I know TMI, but it's common with chemo. Dr. Fellin Rx dyflucan and it instantly resolved- yay for Dr. Fellin (he is so wonderful). We've also tapered and d/c my Prednisone as my breathing is much better.

Since I'm feeling much better I'm working. I'm fortunate to be able to work easily from anywhere! Online, e-mail, texting- I'm always connected to my students and co-workers! Working is important to me, first because I love what I do, and second it keeps my mind busy... otherwise it wanders to places I'd rather not go right now. So, still Just Swimming!

We've been so fortunate to have many delicious meals delivered to us this week - your generosity is amazing and we so appreciate it (The treats too!).

Thank you for everyone for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers, my heart swells with love for all of you!

Love, Kellie

"Never let the sadness of your past and the fear of your future ruin the happiness of your present"

Monday, March 10, 2014

What a difference a week makes....

I'm so happy to share that the terrible spine/ bone pain has not returned. Ever since chemo last Wednesday I have been fine and so have not had to use any percocets. I'm actually in awe of those hers2 blocker drugs and how immediate they worked! My breathing has also improved and my shortness of breath almost resolved. My system took a few days to work those percs out (including, no lying, double doses of Miralax, Metamucil, 1 bottle of Mag Citrate, and no less then 3 enimas- ewww!) but I'm finally back to semi-normal.

I am dealing with bad reflux which is a very typical side effect of the chemo I'm on, but I will have the doctor Rx something to help (I'll take reflux over the others any day). I have to admit and would be lying if I didn't say, I'm nervous to lose my hair again.... but I got through before and I'll get through again. There might be a chance it will just thin, so we'll see. It would not start to happen until after the next chemo dose.

So the plan is to keep on living, taking it one day at a time, being grateful for small (and big) miracles and continue to pray for these chemo drugs to do their magic. It is not the path I had invisioned for me or my family, but it's the one we've been dealt and so will make the best of it. My, our, goal is trying to carry on and keep things as normal as possible - cause really what's the alternative? Worrying, being sad, not getting out of bed is not really living at all. All we can do is Just Keep Swimming!

As always, THANK YOU for your concern, thoughts, well wishes, and prayers.... I'm so humbled by your kindness....

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Treatment plan….

Although I had a very long day yesterday ( I was at Jeff from 9- 3:45), I'm happy to have a plan (and chemo) started. Dr. Fellin has prescribed chemotherapy every 3 weeks- Herceptin (Hers2 blocker); Perjeta (Hers2 blocker); and Taxatere (regular yucky chemo). Then after a couple of cycles, to add Zometa IV to assist with the bone mets. We'll re-evaluate the taxatere in a few months (maybe give me a break if possible)… but most likely will always be on some form of Hers2 blocker, but these chemo drugs do not cause the annoying side effects as the others. However, with taxatere, I will have the fatigue, funny taste, toxic feeling days 2-4, and hair loss but maybe to a lesser degree as it's only one chemo drug (vs. 2 like last time).

I was still having the terrible bone pain as of yesterday, but once I got home and laid in bed was amazed that it actually let up! I don't know if it is psychosomatic or the chemo working already but I'll take it anyway. I was living dose-to-dose with my percocets and didn't even feel like I needed one last night or this morning, took it anyway as sometimes the pain rebounds worse, but it's promising that it has gotten better (this is what we were really hoping/ praying for).

I have a wonderful healthcare team, and feel comfortable and well looked after at Jeff. My infusion nurse is a current MSN student of mine so she took extra good care of me. So now it's just continue with chemo, watch for improved symptoms, and re-evaluate after a few cycles.

We are so grateful for your prayers, support and well wishes… when asked if I have a support system at home I tell my healthcare team the best there every was! You all know I do not do well with accepting help (losing control), I need to work on that, but am grateful for every request to help, for every card, note, text, e-mail… it's amazing to feel so loved. And I love everyone of you so very much!

"One day she finally grasped that unexpected things were always going to happen in life. And with that she realized the only control she had was how she chose to handle them. So, she made the decision to survive using courage, humor, and grace. She was the Queen of her own life and the choice was hers".

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Port… check!

I've had a rough few days but today woke up feeling a bit better. I had my port placed yesterday and that seemed to have gone well. Dr. Berger (my surgical oncologist) tried to get another tissue sample from a lymph that we thought felt swollen but was unsuccessful (the needle biopsy didn't work either). So, we are just going to treat it as a hers2 positive cancer and see how it responds. An option may be to get a liver biopsy in the future but for now I'll start chemo tomorrow. Not sure of my schedule yet, Dr. Fellin (Oncologist) will discuss that with me when I see him, (probably every 3 weeks).

I'm starting to have spine and bone pain so this is making things more difficult to be my usually get-up-and-go self… with the Breast Cancer I did not "feel" it so was on the go most of the time. However, I have resorted to taking Percocets around the clock, which work on the pain but have other side effects to deal with (sleepiness, constipation, fuzzy feeling)…. taking it one day a time works!

I'm so humbled by the outpouring of support, prayers, and friendship. I know how much you all want to help, for now we just ask for you to keep us in your prayers! I will definitely speak up if we should need help with anything else!

Love you all,

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Why I'm blogging ...

I'm using this blog to update family and friends on my journey. I'll post findings, how I'm feeling and what's next! Please feel free to leave a  comment and check back for updates.

It all really started May, 2012 when I was dx with Stage III invasive ductal carcinoma at the age of 38 and was subsequently treated with 6 rounds of Chemo, left breast mastectomy, and radiation. Since my cancer was Hers2 positive I was treated with herceptin iv for a year. It was estrogen and progesterone negative so hormone therapy was not warranted (i.e. Tamoxifen). At my reconstruction surgery in July 2013, DCIS was found in tissue of my right breast so had a right mastectomy with final reconstruction Dec 5, 2013.

A few days after my Dec 5th recon surgery, I noticed a cough which I thought was reflux and treated it with Prilosec. It takes a few weeks for Prilosec to work and I thought it got better but by mid- January it was still there. My rad onc thought my lungs sounded clear but ordered a chest X-ray which was normal. A few more weeks went by, cough still there and now I was short of breath going up stairs. And my back, neck and shoulder muscles were very sore from all the coughing. I had a chest CT scan (2/20/14) which showed "spots" on my liver, lung, sternum and spine and pneumonia in my lower rt lobe. PET scan (2/24/14) confirmed but also revealed spots on my femurs, scapula, and pelvis and my lung (not so much lesions but in the lymph system of my lung's weblike outer lining).... Pneumonia is better if not gone, and my cough muscles finally relaxed. I had an echo (2/21/14)  to get a baseline of my heart EF (ejection fraction) which was good at 45%. I still have SOB (shortness of breath), probably from the ca on my lungs, so was prescribed prednisone to decrease any inflammation.
- have port placed Monday (3/3)
- depending upon results of lymph biopsy (2/25/14) (results will determine if the cancer is still hers2 positive so should respond to Hers2 receptor blocking chemo), start Chemo.

Thank you for your continued support and prayers.