Welcome to my blog!

Hi, and welcome! If you’re reading this then I have successfully done something technical: transferred a Caringbridge site to a blog. Whew, that was hard. No really. Computers are just not my jam, I’m sad to admit. A huge thank you my friend Christine, who is that rare combination of creative and tech-savvy, for helping me find my way in the blogosphere.

“Interrupted Stories?” Ah yes, the title. I explain it a little in the “About” page on here (yes! I created a page!! I had to rest afterwards. It hurt my brain), but basically it came out of the idea that we think we’re living one story, only to have life chuck a major plot twist at us. The story we thought we were living, or were planning on living, gets hijacked and we have to find our way in a new story. And find a way to make it our own. For those of us type A, planner people, this can be particularly challenging, but it can also be an interesting exercise too. And holy cow, it can be funny.

If you’re new to this blog, you should know that I like to laugh. And I tend to see things through a humorous lens. Yes, cancer is serious business, but I am very firm in my resolve to not let it take away who I am. I will not give it that kind of power over my life. I definitely have my somber moments – we all do – and I will share them as honestly as I know how, but when things crack me up I’m not going to hesitate to tell you about it. Because the only thing better than laughing is laughing with friends.

So thanks for making the switch to the blog, my awesome friends. I love having you along for the ride.


Riley walked into the kitchen just now as I was cutting butter into flour with a pastry blender.

“What are you doing?”

“Making pie. It’s my one year cancerversary today.”

“Really? That’s a thing?”

“Yes. Yes it is.”

It is very much a thing. I’ve been feeling the weight of it for a week or so now, as events remind me of things from a year ago. Thanksgiving – when I was blissfully unaware of what the next week would bring. The day after Thanksgiving – when I noticed an odd shimmering in the periphery of my vision on one side. The next day – when I discovered I had a small blind spot on that side too. Two days later – when I called the opthamologist and insisted I be seen because I had been on Google and was pretty sure I had a torn retina. The next day – when, all alone at the opthamologist, I was told that I probably had cancer. And then the next day, December 4th – when the retina specialist confirmed the diagnosis and it was official: I had cancer. Each day this week I’ve relived the events from a year ago, sometimes wistfully, sometimes with a chuckle at the total absurdity of it all, and sometimes with a profound and melancholy sadness. Today I had a doctor appointment right down the road from the opthamologist’s office. As I drove by the building I could see the place in the parking lot where, after just barely managing to hold my emotions in check in the office, I ran to my car and exploded in violent sobs. I remember it vividly – sitting there, with my head reeling and my heart breaking.

It’s been quite a year. Even without the other two rings of my three-ring health circus, it’s been a learning experience, to say the least. I read a quote recently from a woman who told her doctor, “I’m sorry, I just don’t know how to have cancer.” Obviously, it’s a different experience for everyone, but we all do have to figure out how we’re going to do this whole cancer thing.

So that’s really been the challenge this year: how do I have cancer? And how do I make it a part of my story without letting it become my story? I’m still working through it, to be honest. I’m still looking for that magic formula, but I think it lies somewhere in the tension between forgetting and remembering…

Forgetting. It’s nice when I can forget I have cancer. It means being free from the Kung Fu grip of fear. It means I can focus on other things and just go about my life like a regular person. And it means I get to stop being such a freakin’ hypochondriac – yes, sometimes things just hurt, and it doesn’t mean anything. Pain in your side can actually just be the ghost of burritos past and not metastatic liver cancer. Living in that hyper-vigilant, what’s-going-to-happen-next kind of fear is no way to live. Yes, a little forgetting is nice.

Remembering. I don’t want to totally forget, because to be reminded that you have cancer is to be reminded to live. To really live. Like you mean it, like it counts. Remembering I have cancer can lead to a sucker punch by fear, but it can also be a kick in the pants to do the things that really matter (and what’s with all the violent imagery? No idea. Guess I’m feeling feisty today too). Facing the fragility of your existence brings everything into laser-sharp focus. Suddenly the jerk who cut you off in traffic lacks the power to totally wreck your day. Because you don’t want to waste precious moments on dumb stuff like that, do you? No. None of us do. But we get so caught up in the minutia, the things that ultimately don’t matter. Remembering I have cancer redirects me – to live my life to the fullest, to be patient and gracious and kind to others, to be fully present in every moment, to do the things I want to do now instead of waiting. I told Rich a while back that I want us to go away for spring break this year. Someplace warm with a beach. You hear about people going on a tropical vacation when they find out they’re dying, and I thought – why wait till a bad scan to do it? Let’s go. Bring on the umbrella drinks.

So that’s where I’m trying to live these days: the intersection between forgetting and remembering. When I hit that sweet spot, it’s a good day. When I miss, it’s a less good day. Because really, every day we get to live is a good day. Some days are just better than others.

I have so much more I want to write about, but if I take any longer, my family will never eat dinner. And, I promised myself a martini when I was done, and I reeeeally want that martini. So I will just have to share my other thoughts and observations about this past year in a future post.

And that’s the other huge takeaway from this year: I have some incredibly wonderful people in my life. Thank you all for the support, prayers and encouragement. Your love has been such a powerful force in my life and my family’s lives this year, and we are so very grateful. I want to hug you all. And I just might, so consider yourselves warned.

But first that martini. Happy one year cancerversary.


Time to ditch the metals

Hey everyone! Let me start this off by saying I have absolutely no updates on the cancer. I don’t go back to Mayo until March, so I don’t anticipate having any cancer news for you until then. My vision in the left eye continues to deteriorate, but slowly. For the most part I’m adapting pretty well, and half the time when I think “oh my gosh it’s gotten so bad!” it just turns out I have a gigantic thumbprint on my glasses. Still figuring out the glasses thing – like how do you check on anything in the oven without them fogging up? And I seem to have accidentally purchased a magnetic pair of glasses, as they attract every spec of dust, dirt and grime. Seriously, glasses wearers, how do you not spend every waking hour cleaning them? Ah, the mysteries of life…

No, the purpose of today’s post is to fill you in on the latest development in the three-ring circus that is my health. My Facebook friends know this, so apologies for repeating. The good news: the metal issues are going to be resolved. The bad news: the only way to do this is to have my hip replacement replaced.

Yep. ‘Cause I mean, what on earth was I going to do with all my free time before my scans in March? Just deal with the RA? Please. That’s just one thing. Where’s the challenge in that?

I actually had an inkling of this in September, when I started having some discomfort in the hip, along with a catching sensation and some weird noises (try explaining THAT to your yoga class. “It was my hip! Honestly!”). So it wasn’t a huge surprise to learn after my repeat blood work that my metal levels were even more elevated than before. The repeat MRI didn’t show anything new, but when I went in to chat about it all with my orthopedist last week, he was clearly bothered by the metal levels. And quite honestly, as a person with cancer and 3 autoimmune diseases (yes, I have 2 others – Hashimotos and Reynauds, but I’ve had them forever and they are no big deal), I’ve been troubled by the potential effects of high metal levels on all that. He did offer me the option of waiting 3 months and then retesting everything, but when I pressed him for his opinion he just sat back and sighed, “Your metal levels keep me awake at night.” Well then.

So I will be saying goodbye and good riddance to the metals (and my hip) on January 15th. Why so long? Because we are going to Disney World with friends in early January for the marathon and half marathon, and my orthopedist is totally cool with waiting till after that. He even said I could do the half marathon! Not sure how feasible that is, given my current level of pain in the hip, but at the very least I am walking that sucker. I might even try to walk the marathon – I cringe at what a long day that would be, and after doing the half marathon the day before it could simply be out of the question, but it would be my 30th marathon. And type A folks like me like nice, neat, even numbers. If I don’t do the full, I will have awesome friends to hang with, and we will all be cheering on Rich and Riley (running his first marathon! I’m so excited!). So it’s a win-win. Then I go home and have my hip replaced a few days later. Such fun.

Speaking of fun, I see my rheumatologist in a few weeks, at which time I get to inform him that my oncologist wants to cut my RA meds in half. My rheumy’s a pretty low-key guy, but I can’t imagine this going to go over well. I will be sure to tell you all about it if it gets entertaining.

If all this news sounds rather lighthearted, let me explain that I am currently in the middle of The Week of the Girlfriends. I have had quality girl time every day this week, including twice with friends from out of town that I don’t get to see often. Girlfriends are just good medicine. They’re good for the soul. So I’m feeling pretty upbeat about everything this week. It’s just hard to get down about stuff when you are surrounded by people who love you and support you, no matter what crazy crap life tosses your way. Seriously, get out and have some quality friend time – you’ll be glad you did.

During lunch with my dear friend Melissa (which included her mom and two of her friends – life lesson: great people know great people. Get to know your friends’ friends), I got chatting with Elaine, who said she’s been following my Caringbridge posts. “Is it weird that strangers know your story?” she asked. The simple answer is no. For one thing, as any mom knows, having kids means not having secrets. My sweet Tessa, at the age of 4, loved to tell total strangers – bank tellers, grocery clerks, the guy at the car wash – random things about me: my age, how much I weighed, that my actual hair color was gray, that I couldn’t wear a bikini anymore because I had babies and my stretch marks were “REALLY bad – Mommy, show him!”…yes, I gave up on privacy right about then. But in all seriousness, I am just humbled that anyone would care enough about my story to read this. Life can be tough sometimes, but having other people along for the ride makes it better. Even if I haven’t met them.

So that’s the scoop for now. I’ll share more details about the hip stuff when we get closer. December 4th is coming up – my one year “cancerversary” as I’ve heard it called. I’m hoping I can slow down enough to reflect a bit on the year. If I come up with anything deep or profound I’ll share it here. I’ll probably share the shallow and stupid stuff too, because that’s just funny. And I do love to laugh.

I have my rough days too, please don’t think it’s all rainbows and cupcakes, but for the most part I’d say life is good. I’m just having one of those weeks where everything is funny to me. I’ve learned to take these times as the gift that they are, rather than judging them or waiting for things to shift.

Thanks for laughing with me. I’m grateful for all of you!

Sinking the battleship

Hey everyone, sorry for the wait. I really did intend to do a more comprehensive post last night, but once we got home I was so exhausted all I could manage was opening a bottle of wine and making dinner (in that order, thank you very much. Ok wait – first I hugged my kids, and then I put on sweatpants. THEN I broke out the booze. I know, I know, nice way to celebrate a healthy liver…). And now I have family visiting, which is awesome for me, but not for anyone who was hoping to get some more details on my day at Mayo.

It’s a weird, surreal thing being at Mayo. It’s like time completely freezes. You never go outside because all the buildings are connected by this huge underground level. And there are shops and restaurants down there, along with tons of other things, so you really don’t have to leave. And all around you is this mix of sterile, professional doctors and administrator-type people, and tense patients and families. There is a palpable sense of emotions being held back as we all swim in this weird dimension where there is no time. Which is probably why it is such a jolt to return home, to a place where time as been happening while you were gone, and now you have to somehow re-enter it. It’s like suddenly having to jump onto a moving treadmill. Which is hard, because after all the physical and emotional exhaustion, all I want to do is find a quiet place to just sit and reflect. To exhale slowly and say to myself, “Ok, so what really just happened?” I feel like I should take a walk in the woods, or sit on a bench overlooking a lake or something. Instead I jump onto the treadmill and sprint to catch up. It’s all good – I’m grateful to be living a full and busy life – it’s just an awkward transition sometimes.

So it was a looooong day, but it was only one day (not two, like before), which was very nice. All of my did-the-cancer-spread tests were in the morning, then we had a break before we headed up to ophthalmology for the rest of the day. That’s always tough because they turbo dilate me right away, leaving me with nothing to do but observe the other people in the waiting room (more about that in a later post) and listen to bad musak (“Nadia’s Theme” AGAIN! Seriously, they need to get some more uplifting music).

Some things about the opthamolgy department don’t change. I see a lot of the same nurses, doctors and techs. I was in the same exam room for my visual acuity check as I was last time – I know this because there’s still a sticky note on the desk with words scrawled in red sharpie: “If you ‘borrow’ it, bring it back!” The same woman dilated me, and the same guy, ZB, did my eye ultrasound (maybe it’s Zeebee or Zibi, I don’t know. By then I can’t read name tags). He makes having an ultrasound wand pressed really hard directly onto my eyeball actually rather tolerable – a sweet man with an awesome Russian accent, who likes to whisper to himself during the exam. “Now I have to find scan I like and I measure…” He always makes a joke about the chair having an eject button. And I know that when I see Dr. Pulido, he will be wearing a cool tie, cooler glasses and fun socks. Oh, and my favorite: I know that at the very end of my stressful, emotionally exhausting day, when I finally know my results and am walking out of the exam room, Dr. Pulido’s assistant Kim will give me the world’s most awesome hug.

I find all this sameness very comforting.

I was also comforted and encouraged by all the messages of support and love – comments on my post here, facebook messages and comments, emails, texts and phone calls – it was amazing. I felt so completely surrounded (in a good way), it just warmed me from the inside out. So thanks to all of you who reached out. And thanks to everyone who sent thoughts and prayed for me. I continue to be blown away and deeply humbled by that. I felt those prayers, I know I did. And the ways God has shown up big in this whole thing is material for another post. Suffice it to say, He rocks.

Ok, so details – you thought I’d forgotten about that, didn’t you? All right, you may have been correct. I did get off on a tangent a bit there. Well as I nervously sat there in the exam room for my last appointment of the day, waiting for my results, with my heart racing every time I heard footsteps near the door, suddenly Dr. Pulido threw the door open and burst into the room. Before he was even fully in the room, he grabbed my hand excitedly and exclaimed, “You’re doing GREAT!” Oh, those are sweet words to hear, and the best way ever to see your oncologist! He proceeded to tell me how fabulous my scans and lab work looked, and then he pulled up the pictures of my eye – side by side with pictures from back in December. Quite honestly, I’m never really sure what I’m looking at. It kind of looks like the Death Star with a big, ugly cloud of smog over part of it. But Dr. Pulido was very excited to show it to me. The tumor is thinner now, which is fantastic, and the base hasn’t gotten any wider. Apparently that won’t shrink until the tumor gets thinner, and this is normal, so it’s all good. But what he was positively ecstatic about was the color. “Do you see the change?” he asked. Ummm…yes? It was pretty subtle to me, but to his trained eye it was a dramatic and definititive shift to a “battleship gray” color. “That means it’s dying. We hit it hard.” Sinking the battleship. Oh yeah.

So my tumor is sinking – I mean dying – and my scans showed the cancer hasn’t spread. I don’t have to go back for 6 months now. The only negative bit that I encountered in the whole thing was the realization that my oncologist and my rheumatologist do not see eye to eye on how to treat my RA (oh ugh, totally unintentional pun). So this is going to be an ongoing project: trying to bring the two parties to the table to negotiate. So far, we’ve been doing this whisper-down-the-lane thing with me and the doctors and their asssitants, but I’m going to have to find a way to get them to talk directly with each other. Maybe I’ll have to enlist my fearless internist to act as secretary of state, brokering a deal. Whatever it takes. We just need to find a way to treat my RA without compromising my immune system to the point that I’m at greater risk of the cancer spreading. And it would help if they agreed.

But, that’s a project for another day. I’m still celebrating the sweet victory of clear scans and a tumor on the run. I’ve never been a big fan of the color gray, but I kind of love it now.

Thanks again for going on this journey with me! I hope you’re savoring the victory too. Score one for my battleship-sinking army!

Good news!

Hey there! I’m still getting my eyesight back so this will be brief, but wanted to quickly share that today went well! The tumor is indeed shrinking (more on that later), and the cancer hasn’t spread. I will absolutely post more later, but for all who have been holding their breath with me, just a quick thank you!

MRI done!

MRI done!

Together now: 1-2-3….EXHALE!!

You are all awesome. I love my army!

Scans tomorrow

Well it’s finally here – the next round of scans. It’s funny how far away September 29th sounded initially, but it seems to have arrived rather quickly. The bad news is, I’ve been insanely busy and preoccupied in the past month…the good news is, I’ve been insanely busy and preoccupied in the past month. No time to sit around and worry about the upcoming tests. And that’s probably a good thing.

Tomorrow we head to Mayo first thing in the morning for what will be a long day. I’m grateful, however, that they got me scheduled for all of my tests and appointments in one day (last time it was 2 days). I will be sure to post here as soon as I have eyes that can focus, but keep in mind that can take a while – ah yes, the turbo dilation. I’ve missed that. They use at least three different kinds of drops to dilate me, and then numbing drops before the eye ultrasound, leaving me with nothing to do in the waiting room but stare at the floor tiles and listen to the world’s worst musak. I mean honestly, last time I was there, the first song I heard as I nervously awaited my first test was “Nadia’s Theme.” Come on, nothing says “you’re going to die” like Nadia’s Theme – and a bad musak version of it at that. Yes, someday I will take over the Mayo Clinic, and the first thing I will do is change the music. Just to something a little less morbid.

I have, however, mastered the art of not panicking in the MRI: the eye mask. Yes, as simplistic as it sounds, I have found that if I can’t see that I’m being stuffed in a tube, I can pretend that I’m not in one. It works, don’t judge. It’s a little harder to completely zen out and go somewhere else for liver MRI’s, though. After putting the world’s biggest needle in your arm (the nurse warned me last time. Holy cow, she wasn’t kidding), they put this cage around your chest and then you have to follow their instructions to breathe or not breathe. So I can forget about sleeping, but between the cancer and my hip, I think I’m getting the hang of this MRI thing.

Speaking of my hip and/or high metal levels, there’s nothing to report there. I’m still following orders and not running, and we’ll repeat the blood tests at the end of October. If my levels are still high, we’ll repeat the MRI (MRI’s!!!! I totally LOVE those!) and then go from there.

As for the rheumatoid arthritis, my oncologist said no to methotrexate, but agreed to let me take Plaquenil. And as much as I don’t care for the side effects of prednisone, that stuff was magic. Magic, I tell you. I don’t think I really had a sense of how much function I had lost in my left hand until I got it all back. It was totally worth having to pee every five minutes. I’m serious. And since the Plaquenil takes months to start working, my rheumatologist gave me more prednisone to keep on hand in the event that I have another flare up. So while mentally I’m still trying to wrap my head around this newest addition to the three ring circus that is my health, physically I’m doing pretty well.

Which leads me to how things are going emotionally. Honestly, I’ve been doing well for the most part, and I’m feeling pretty good about tomorrow. I ended up having a liver ultrasound last month due to some funky bloodwork, and everything looked good. That doesn’t mean there’s nothing there, but it does mean there’s nothing big there. As warped as it sounds, I find that comforting. And I think it’s just going to take time to get used these scans – both the anticipation of them and the actual tests. For instance, I’ve already learned that once all my scans and tests are done and I’m finally, nervously sitting and sweating in my oncologist’s exam room, the door is going to open at least once, maybe twice, and someone who is not my oncologist will come in and do an examination. Seriously, I’m waiting breathlessly for my results, and the door moves – suddenly my heart starts beating so fast I get this buzzy feeling – but the person entering the room is merely one of my oncologist’s fellows, who can tell me nothing. They do the same exam that the nurse did and the oncologist will do, and while I understand that this is important for their education, it’s unnerving to say the least. But I’m expecting it now, which makes it a bit easier.

The other thing that makes all this easier is the massive support I’m receiving. I am ridiculously blessed with the most amazing friends and family. People who are willing to laugh with me, cry with me, pray for me, let me vent, encourage me and inspire me – it’s probably not easy walking this journey with me, but they’ve never abandoned me, never even rolled their eyes at me (or at least they’ve been kind enough to wait till my back is turned…). I feel like I have an army surrounding me.

So, army, if you feel inclined, I would welcome your prayers for tomorrow. I’m praying that the scans will show that the tumor is definitely shrinking, and that the cancer hasn’t spread. If you would add your voices and hearts to that prayer I would be grateful. Also, I’d appreciate prayers for my kids – that they will have peace tomorrow and be able to go about their classes and activities without the distraction of worry.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and for your support! Hopefully I’ll have good news to share tomorrow!


Hey everyone! Let me quickly get you caught up on the last month of “stuff”, and then I will explain the exasperated tone of my post…

First off, my permission to run lasted all of 48 hours. When my orthopedist had more time to think about it, he decided that we needed to find out if the running was causing the high metal levels, since the MRI was inconclusive. So, I got a phone call (luckily just after squeezing in the most lovely 8 mile run) telling me to knock it off. I am, of course, not happy about it, but I want answers and if this is what it takes, so be it. I’ll have my blood work repeated at the end of October, and if it’s still funky they’ll repeat the MRI to see how the fluid on the hip looks. Then I guess we’ll go from there.

The oncologist then weighed in (not directly with me, more in a whisper-down-the-lane kind of way that took 2 weeks) and said he knew of no connections between cobalt and chromium levels and melanoma, and he didn’t see a problem with waiting to see how things shake out. So no insight or clues to anything there.

I then saw my new internist, and first of all let me say how much I LOVE her. I came in and told her everything I had going on and she didn’t put on her Nikes and sprint to the nearest exit. Quite to the contrary, hers was more of a “bring it on” kind of reaction. I like that. After a thorough exam which included an ultrasound of my heart (I don’t know why, but it was cool looking), the most detailed family history I’ve ever been asked to give, and a complete review of my other doctors’ reports, she candidly declared that I was a mystery. Boo. BUT, she wasn’t about to throw in the towel. She ordered a bunch of blood work and told me to see a rheumatologist, and then report back in a month.

A rheumatologist? Oh yes. I’ve neglected to mention it in my posts here, but I’ve been having join pain, stiffness and swelling in my hands and feet for the last 3 months. I totally chalked it up to the metals, since they happened at the same time, and my internist agreed that the timing was suspect. She thought that a rheumatologist might know if there was a metal connection or not. I was game, since it had gotten to a point where I couldn’t make a fist with my left hand (it’s ok, I told people, I punch with my right hand).

I love my rheumatologist. He’s a super great guy, and another one who didn’t run screaming when faced with the task of caring for me. And he has a good sense of humor, which is important to me. However, neither of us were laughing when my blood work came back: I have rheumatoid arthritis.

Hence the title of this post.

I mean really? Is this truly necessary? I kind of thought I had enough going on, but sure, let’s add something else, shall we? Now, the thing about having cancer is that you start to measure everything by “Can it kill me? No? Ok, we’ll deal with it.” This is hardly tragic, but it’s not a tiny thing either. And it’s all complicated by the cancer thing – because a lot of the big guns in the rheumatoid arthritis-fighting arsenal are a little sketchy when it comes to cancer. So I’m going to have to get every RA medication ok’d by my oncologist. I already have a call in to him about 2 meds. We’ll see how many weeks of talking to nurses and assistants it takes to get an answer.

In the meantime, I’m starting on prednisone tomorrow (and very much looking forward to getting thirsty and fat – my previous experience with the drug). If the oncologist is cool with it, we’ll start methotrexate in about 4 weeks, and then see if we need to hit a biologic med or not (but those are the ones that are especially sketchy with the cancer stuff, so we’ll see). If we can treat it aggressively I could even end up in remission for the RA. I would like that.

So the plan is now as follows: start treating the RA, get my scans at Mayo at the end of September (and hopefully see that the tumor is on the run and everything else is clear), go on vacation (yay!), then revisit the hip and metal levels. Oh, and not have anything else come up. Seriously.

That’s the scoop for now. If you’d like to linger in the Land of Jen (and really, who wouldn’t? It’s full of fun and surprises!), I will tell you a little story…. (Or you can be done reading. Really, it’s ok. That other stuff was really long.)

Back to a month ago…

Initially I handled the moratorium on running with a great deal of poise and grace. I should have known something was up right there. But the emotions eventually caught up to me – at 10:30 on the night before I was scheduled for a long bike ride with some girlfriends. My tire wouldn’t pump up, and the more I tried, the more it deflated. I just couldn’t get it to work, and as I began to get more and more frustrated, I had the thought, This wouldn’t be happening if I could run! Aaaaand the next thing I knew I was having a meltdown rivaling that of any petulant two year old. Like a full-on tantrum, complete with wailing and throwing things. So much for poise and grace. Once I pulled myself together enough to determine that the tire was flat (and I have no idea how to change a flat), I had the desperate thought to text my girlfriend Jeannine. She is a dear friend and a hard core runner, and her husband is big time into cycling. Did I mention it was 10:30 on a Saturday night? Yeah. I did that. I asked if I could bring my wheel over, and they graciously agreed. So, at 10:45, I pulled into their driveway, and before I could even exit my car they were out of their house like a pit crew. I stood there with my swollen, tear-stained face and meekly held out my tire, which Marty took and immediately began working on. I turned to Jeannine and just whispered hoarsely, “I can’t run.” She nodded and hugged me, and we stood there silently while Marty finished fixing my flat. And then I was on my way back home, with a repaired wheel and a mended heart. That’s the kind of friends I have: friends who will hug you and love you when you have a flat – knowing all along that it was never about the flat.

So thanks to you all. I am blessed to have your support, love and prayers.

And I hope my next update is really boring. Just sayin’.

Who is that mysterious woman?

So after a long week of waiting, the MRI results are in and we know….nothing. The good news is that they didn’t see anything alarming and I’ve been cleared to run while we figure this all out. The bad news is, no one seems to have an explanation for my sky-high cobalt and chromium levels. The MRI showed bursal fluid and that’s it. What that means, I’m not sure, but it doesn’t have any surgeons sharpening their scalpels, so I’ll call it good. The physician’s assistant I talked to today said my orthopedist wants to take a watch and see approach, repeating blood tests and MRI in 6 months. That is, however, a long time to be hanging out with a potential carcinogen coursing through my veins, so at my request the dude himself will be calling me either this weekend or Monday to chat more about it. In the meantime, I decided it was time to bring my oncologist to the party, since we don’t know this is a hip-only thing now. He will be calling me as well. Hopefully somebody can figure this puzzle out! I always thought being mysterious sounded sexy, but I’m not really liking it right now.

Thank you all for the positive thoughts, well wishes and prayers! Hopefully this is just a speed bump on the marathon course of my health journey. I will, of course, keep you all posted as things come up, but it sounds like this is something that won’t be quickly resolved, so don’t worry if you don’t hear from me. Just know that any rhythmic thumping you hear is just my head against the wall (it’s ok, I have a hard head!). Gotta work on that whole patience thing… But first, I’m going for a run 🙂

My magnetic personality?

Hey everyone! Sorry I haven’t posted anything. I really did intend to give a little “I’m doing great!” shout-out once a month, since that’s about when I start receiving worried emails and texts from folks, but life has been crazy busy (in a fun way), and there really hasn’t been anything to report. And that’s really the rule of thumb here: no news is good news. If you don’t hear from me, that’s a very good thing. It means I’m busy living and enjoying life!

Up until a few days ago, there was really nothing to update you on, aside from some more FAQ’s and random observations on living with cancer. The new plot twist actuall

My first half marathon post hip surgery

My first half marathon post hip surgery

y has to do with my hip (and if you’re Facebook friends with me, you’ve heard this, so you can skip to the next paragraph if you want. Totally legal). As most of you know, I had my hip replaced just a little over two years ago, a hip resurfacing surgery, to be exact. The bionic life has been glorious – no pain, great range of motion, and after a year I was allowed to start running again. Most of you also know how important running is to me – I’ve run 29 marathons, that’s how much I love to run. It’s more than exercise, it’s therapy, creative thought time, alone time or social time, time to challenge myself or time to relax and enjoy the scenery. I love meeting people at races, reading the funny signs that spectators hold up, high-fiving little kids on the route, and I love, love, LOVE finish lines. I have been so very grateful to have all that back in my life, courtesy of my oh-so-awesome bionic hip. So it was a bit of a shock last week when, in the middle of a college visit with Riley, I got a call from my orthopedist’s assistant. Apparently routine blood work revealed that my metal levels are “off the charts.” This is something that can occur in people with metal on metal implants, but it is rare (ah, but getting rare things is my specialty! Rich says I should play the lottery.). My X-rays at my two-year checkup were great, and my hip feels awesome, so the doctors are scratching their heads on this, because it doesn’t add up. So, I’m having an MRI on Monday (it’s been over 2 months since I was last stuffed in a tube. I was starting to miss it…). If they see any evidence that the metal is wearing or that my body isn’t tolerating it, I have to swap out my awesome, running-friendly hip for a traditional, no-running-allowed hip. Oh yeah, and have major surgery and all the recovery and PT that comes with that. Not cool. But the flip side of it is the possibility that my hip will look fine, and then we have to figure out why I am so overly metallic. I mean, I’m totally cool with just avoiding magnets for the rest of my life, but when you add in the cancer thing, that could be a game changer. Of course, who knows, maybe my radiation treatment is what is causing my excessive metal-ness in the first place. Anyway, I’ve been told to stop running for now, get the MRI and we’ll go from there. I will, of course, update you all if there’s anything happening. If, however, it’s determined that I’m a medical mystery I might be too busy banging my head against a wall to post anything.

So, enough of that. On to cancer updates – I mean, that’s what we’re all here for, right? The short answer is I’m doing very well. Thank you, good night.

Ok, if you want more, I will give you a few FAQ’s, for your enjoyment:

1. “How are you feeling?”
I’m feeling fine. Really. It’s a weird thing to have cancer and yet feel completely healthy, but I haven’t had chemo and all that goes with that, and my radiation was so specifically targeted at my eye that the only side effects from that are limited to my eye (unless, of course, we find out it’s responsible for my metal levels).

2.”How is your eye?”
Not too bad. My vision is definitely getting progressively worse, but it’s happening so slowly that I barely notice the changes. I’m still getting used to limited peripheral vision on my left, and I have multiple bruises on the left side of my body to prove it. I’ll figure it out eventually. My eye does get dry, itchy and/or irritated sometimes, but I think the doctor said he can get me eye drops for that.

3.”When are your next scans?”
September 29th. Same exact stuff I had in April, and hopefully with the same results – no, better results. We want to hear that the tumor is shrinking in ALL directions. Personally, I’d like to hear that it shriveled up and died, but they said it’s too early for that. But a girl can hope, right?

So that’s the scoop for now. Summer has been grand, and as long as I can avoid more surgery it will continue to be grand. Full of soccer games (Riley’s team made it to state!), college visits (seriously. Don’t ask where the time went) and tons of dance (Tessa, not me. She made the high school dance team and it will apparently be our life for the next 8 months or so. She is, of course, loving every second). And I am loving every second too. It’s a grand thing to be alive, especially at this crazy busy time in the kids’ lives. I love that I have a front row seat for all of it, and amazing family and friends by my side. Thank you all for always lifting my spirits, encouraging me and making me laugh.

The Crazy Lady has left the building!

Yes friends, I kicked the crazy lady to the curb, just before hopping into the car with Rich and speeding out of the Mayo parking ramp. After two very long and stressful days, we are outta here! (And before you worry that I assaulted someone, the crazy lady is a reference to my last post. Fear not. I totally passed my psych evaluation.)

The news is good! Very good! My chest X-ray, blood work and liver MRI came back clear, and my eye scans look promising. The tumor has shrunk in height, but not in width. Dr. Pulido said it’s very normal for tumors to shrink in height first and then in width, so this is fine. The one thing that was a little amiss was some fluid buildup around the tumor, causing the width of the tumor to appear wider when it’s probably the same. For this reason he wants to see me again in 5 months, rather than the typical 8 months, but assured me that he’s just being overly careful. He’s not worried, so I shouldn’t be either. In fact, he kept repeating “you’re doing well” throughout our entire appointment. He finally told me it was because I totally failed the handshake test. “When I came in and shook your hand, it was freezing. You’re nervous, I can tell.” Uh, yeah. Little bit. Feeling weak, a little numb and kind of buzzy (they turbo dilated my eyes again), I got up to leave and his assistant Kim, who I love very much, hugged me and whispered “congratulations.” And that’s when I lost it. Because that’s when it started to become real. After so many sleepless nights spent rehearsing possible scenarios in my head, the reality that I had just gotten the best one washed over me with that hug. The elation would come later. This was pure relief.

There is nothing more maddening than having THE BEST NEWS IN THE WORLD and not being able to share it. As I mentioned though, they had turbo dilated me, so I couldn’t see anything. I thrust my phone at Rich and quickly dictated a brief Facebook post (after calling my parents, of course. I’m pretty sure my mom’s been holding her breath for the last two days. Breathe, Mom!). And now that the knots in our stomachs had relaxed, we came to the collective realization that we were starving, so we went to grab some food. As we sat at the table, my phone kept lighting up, and each time it did and to Rich’s great enjoyment, I impatiently held it to his face and begged him to read it to me. This continued for the next few hours, until my eyes recovered enough to read the messages myself, and just about when I think Rich’s patience with being my seeing eye husband was wearing thin.

But oh, those messages! Over the last few days I have just been so overwhelmed by all the ways people have reached out to support me. The caringbridge comments, Facebook posts and messages, texts, emails, calls – I have never felt so completely surrounded and held close (except maybe when I’ve been in an MRI machine, but that’s different). I can’t even begin to express how thankful I am for those constant reminders that I’m not alone in this fight, those repeated assurances that no matter what happens, I am loved and supported. I’m also completely humbled by all the people who don’t even know me, but have faithfully lifted me and my family up in prayer. I wish I could hug you all.

Speaking of hugs, we’re almost home and I think I have some happy kids to hug. Of course, this is just one of the early miles in the marathon that is my cancer fight, but I just climbed a major hill, I’m on a really good pace and I’m looking forward to an easy, flat section for the next 5 months. Maybe a water stop too – it just won’t be Gatorade in my cup. ☺️

So grateful for you all,