Category Archives: Family and friends

Woven

Woven

For eight years I have been working on my memoire. When I was feeling up to it, I would write never having any expectations for a book, Maybe it would be a kind of history I could share with family. Maybe it would just end up in my trash.

As time went on I felt a sense of healing when I recounted uncomfortable memories from my past. And, as I transferred my pain onto the written page I began to see even more clearly how God had been weaving my life’s story.

What once seemed like a series of very rough patches prepared me for what was to come. Much of it might be shocking. A friend who edited the book said I took my clothes off and ran naked down the street! But, the many, many wonderful people I met along the way are important pieces of this story. (You know who you are!)The pain I had endured was transformed into abundant blessing. The love I received was greater than anything I could have ever dreamed of.

Soon, this book will go to press. It will be available on Amazon. If you choose to purchase it, the proceeds will go to research to help us discover an early detection of pancreatic cancer. Maybe it will save lives. Expecting to publish late February.

More importantly, my truth will clearly reveal how having a relationship with Jesus Christ will change your life forever and give you peace and comfort as you live out your own trials and pain. If you are searching for something missing in your life, maybe this book will lead you to what I discovered.

We all have a story, a testimony that we live each and every day. We can choose how that story ends, happily ever after or not. I believe we are all woven into unique pieces of fabric if we just place our trust in the one who is walking beside us every step of the way it will float through the air toward heaven and be beautiful to behold.

Thinking outside the box – UPDATE

Thinking outside the box – UPDATE
Fourth of July fun at Z-Farm

The past few weeks have been an emotional roller coaster ride for my family, friends and me. Confirming that the malignant adenocarcinoma had returned to the head of my reconstructed pancreas and having my oncologist tell us without treatment we have just months would send any human being to a deep dark place.

Having survived the absolute most fatal cancer for eight years has truly been a miracle thanks to God, you my prayer warriors, my fantastic medical team of primary care doc, surgeons, radiologists, gastroenterologists, radiologists, oncologists and the PA’s and nurses who assist them at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL.

But, realistically, we always knew there would be a day when the cancer would take over.

For a time we placed our complete trust in a non-approved trial drug Herceptin Hylecta (trastuzumab and hyaluronidase-ovsk) recently used as immunotherapy treatment for early breast cancer in HER2 positive patients, with great success I might add. Tests were run to determine the DNA of my tumor and provide the best possible match for the gene therapy. The prayer was that I might be the first pancreas cancer patient to receive the treatment…and that it would destroy the cells. That was truly our only hope.

When we asked if surgery could be performed to remove the tumor, the answer was no, there has not been success in the past with patients with similar medical situations. So truly our only hope was in the trial drug. So, we began the infusions.

Entering the chemo suites that familiar smell and feeling rushed over me like a bad dream. But, I knew this treatment would be different. My oncologist told me I would not lose my hair, I would not experience nausea but would possibly have a rash. A rash? I could surely handle that. But, it was just returning to this place I had avoided for two years, that sick feeling returned. I was happy to see a familiar face, a nurse who sat with me the entire infusion watching for adverse reaction but more importantly, chatting in light conversation.

As the test reports came in my case was presented by my oncologist to the Thursday tumor board, a group of up to eighteen Mayo docs from different departments. (Get a second opinion? Why when you have eighteen of the finest doctors in the world collaborating over your MRi’s, scans, blood work and pathology reports.)

One of the surgeons attending that day probably said, “Oh this is Judi, I am familiar with her case. She is the one who defies all of the norms with her PC.” But most importantly, he thought he had a solution. He presented his ideas to the board and they all agreed.

Shortly after the meeting my oncologist phoned. His excitement came right thru the phone as he explained what the surgeon was proposing. He told me surgery was being offered to me and to expect a call from Dr. Stauffer.

When Dr. Stauffer called I listened intently to his plan. He began by stating, “Judi, we need to think outside of the box with you.” He explained they would like to surgically remove the tumor, a suspicious lymph node behind the mesenteric artery as well as a lesion that had shown up for years on my liver, but had not grown in size in any of my scans. He said, if you agree to the surgery, I believe it can work.

My reaction was, “What have I got to lose?” He replied, “You have nothing to lose and life to gain.”

I have received two infusions to date and am scheduled for a third in early August. Scans and tests will be reviewed to check results of the infusions and to be used in the open surgery that will be performed August 17th.

Many of you are praying for me and as you have heard me say in the past, I truly believe this is the explanation I have for my survival. God is listening to your payers, and granting them. For this we are eternally grateful. So, again, I am asking for your prayers for the doctors and nurses on my care team to receive what they need to have a successful surgery. Again, not just for me but to make surgery a possibility for other PC warriors with resectable tumors.

Thankful for all of my prayer warriors and thankful for a surgeon who is willing to think outside the box.

This man…

This man…

Happy Father’s Day to this gem! What an amazing man you are. Your love of God, LIFE and love itself are just amazing examples of how to live your best life on earth. You are a loving son, brother, husband, father, uncle, poppa, entrepreneur, and friend to countless others. Never a day goes by that you don’t thank God for the blessings He has showered us with. You make others want to be better. You make us all laugh and are constantly on the search for the next family adventure. The love that you show to all of us who know you is your hallmark. We hope you feel the love this Father’s Day and every day. I am so fortunate God placed you in my life as my best friend, soulmate, caregiver and traveler on this journey called life. We love you to the moon.

And then there were three

And then there were three

It has been quite the learning experience since we purchased our farm in Western North Carolina’s Cane Creek Valley. Neither Tommy or I had much experience with animals other than domestic dogs or fish. The dreams of our “Biggest Little Farm” being home to sweet farm animals has taught us what farm life really is all about.

Our beautiful farm with thirty-two acres, seven pastures, an open barn with four stalls, a goat barn and pen and two chicken coops enticed us to offer a forever home to any and all types. But, we knew we needed to start slowly. We wanted to find the perfect caretaker to watch over our flock and provide the time for daily chores of feeding mucking stalls and protecting what have become our mountain pets.

Fortunately we found Danny. Born and raised in this small mountain town, he owns horses and works for other neighbors attending to their properties and animals on a daily basis. He is a great fixer and can tackle any job that might arise. And, if he doesn’t know how to fix it chances are pretty good he has a cousin who can.

We started out with seven Lavender Orpington chickens recommended by our niece who has a small farm in the Eastern North Carolina coastal town of Wilmington. She searched Craigs’ List and found a breeder just twenty miles from us. Upon visiting the breeder we purchased seven six week old unsexed chicks. (The seventh chick lived just two days.) And then there were six.

It was fun preparing the chicken coop to meet Brie’s specifications. Her Dad and brother helped us with repairs while I visited the local feed and seed to find chicken pellets and bedding she said would provide the proper nutrition and make their new home comfortable.

It would be another four and a half months before the chickens would attain sexual maturity and begin to lay eggs. Our hope was that at least one of the fluffy lilac feathered birds would be a rooster, but it was too early to be sure. It ended up all six were hens.

Most of the summer was spent watching those six chickens grow and embrace their surroundings. When we added two goats to the adjacent goat pen and barn they all seemed to live in harmony. When the grandchildren visited, especially the five youngest age seven to just months old, they were intrigued by these gentle birds. They would rush out of bed mornings to let out the chickens so they could roam free range on our fenced land.

Pets need names we agreed. But it was impossible to tell them apart and the names the children tried to attach to them didn’t seem to stick except for one name…”Karen”. There was one Lavender who was always lagging behind or on her own agenda picking at bugs and seeds as the rest of the flock quickly waddled back to the coop each afternoon when I called them to return for the night. Typical to her name, Karen was the exception.

As they matured we were thrilled to see the small brown eggs they produced. Each afternoon we would collect one, then two then four or five of the most delicious eggs on the planet. The kids learned how to gently wash the clear dry membrane from the shells and place the eggs in cartons in the refrigerator to await breakfast the next day. If the membrane was not washed clean, the eggs could be kept on the kitchen counter indefinitely. It was a personal choice.

By late fall the golden and fire-red leaves had fallen and the mountain took on a completely different appearance as winter approached, the first signs of the seasons and the circle of life at the farm. Birds of prey began to soar and dart through the sky. Red-Tailed Hawk were famous for attacking chickens, but our neighbor felt our chickens were too plump for the hawks to carry away. So we just admired the beauty of these large birds visiting our home.

Until one day in late December…all six chickens would visit our main house searching the gardens for bugs and seeds. I would always reward them with a treat of dried mealworms when they tapped on my kitchen door windows. They expected a treat from their adopted mother.

One afternoon all six chickens had made their daily visit. I was talking to Tom on the phone when I looked out past the deck to see a large Lavender laying on the grass very still! As I frantically ran to it’s aid I heard the cry of the hawk as he observed me from a nearby maple tree. I ran to the house to grab my phone to take a picture. When I returned, the hawk was back perched on the chickens back. After videoing for a few seconds, I flung my arms at the predator and he flew back into the tree.

The other five chickens were gathered under the evergreens in a nearby garden. They looked like statues as they huddled to protect one another. After removing their fallen sister, I attempted to entice the group back to the safety of their coop. Once inside they remained for three days. Now there were five.

Tommy and I spent most of January at our home in Florida as Danny cared and protected the animals in our absence. Each day I would have him report on all of the animals but mainly wanted to know if any more chickens had been attacked. Regretfully, one day he reported that one more Lavender had been lost to a predator. Now there were four.

When I returned to the farm in late February, I was sad to see the remaining flock. They seemed as sad as me. They had changed their routine, never to return to the main house and staying in the thicket adjacent to the chicken coop. But, one late afternoon as I was walking down to put the chickens to bed, I heard squawking. I noticed the goats and the donkeys gathering and looking toward the coop. As I ran toward the noise I found the injured half-dead beauty laying close to the fence. While I knew I couldn’t help her, I searched the coop to see where the other three were hiding. As I peered in the dark coop I didn’t see any signs of the others.

I ran along the fence calling the ladies and ruffling the bag of dried worms that always brought them running for a treat. Nothing! Finally huddled like a statue along the fence I found one lonely chicken. I managed to entice her back to the coop where once reunited, the two others hiding behind their food bin began to make soft sounds. And then there were three.

What we have learned in this short ten months of farm ownership is what nature provides is there for the survival of many others…all of them having a unique purpose.

The beauty, the miraculous purpose of each animal has touched our hearts. But the true lesson, all Gods creatures big and small are all part of the circle of life.

Today I saw the first sign that spring is coming. I saw a red-breasted Robin. There is always hope.

Hebrews 1:10-12  “In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.”

A little slice of heaven

A little slice of heaven
A little slice of heaven

Whenever I think of it the song that plays during the marketing video created by the previous owner loops through my mind. We finally found our legacy property to be enjoyed for generations after a three year search in the beautiful mountains that surround Asheville. It had to be special. It truly is a little slice of heaven.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsxKYVqrMYM

We dreamed of having a place for our large family to gather or even just visit to escape the heat of the Florida summers or to enjoy the winter season with an occasional snowfall and of course to enjoy farm animals or relax by the fire along the creek. And God led us to this amazing place. Something for everyone to enjoy as our forever getaway.

This month we celebrated my seven year survival from Pancreatic Cancer. There are no numbers that support this miracle. We give God the complete glory for this . I know He sees the desires of our heart. He is capable of not just answering our dreams but He is capable of complete healing.

We found a place to relax and discover more of God’s masterful creation on earth. All the while creating memories with family and friends.

While there will always be bumps in the road, we cherish each new sunrise with hope knowing today is not the day. And, we will make the best of it.

Waiting for the shoe to drop…

Waiting for the shoe to drop…

October 15th, 2019 was the last time I had a Gemzar Abraxane infusion (chemo therapy) for my pancreas cancer that had metastasized to my lungs. The decision to stop treatment was one I made prayerfully and on my own. As a six year survivor of a lethal cancer with a five year survival rate of single digits, this was a bold move.

My Mayo oncologist, Dr. Mody’s reaction to my decision was surprisingly positive. Last fall I was feeling the effects of prolonged treatment and could actually taste, smell and feel the chemo that had been a part of my life since July 2017 when it was discovered the cancer had moved to my lungs. But, I had become so fatigued and ill, he agreed I needed a break. The holidays were approaching and I wanted to be able to enjoy every moment with my family and most of all my grandchildren who asked when they walked into the house, “Mia, are you in bed today?”

In January of 2018, a CT scan revealed one of my numerous lung spots had doubled in size. It was recommended that chemo be administered every two weeks. So, for as many months I had endured the treatment that would produce flu like symptoms days after and keep me weakened and nauseous.

In mid October of 2019, I contracted an intestinal virus somehow that caused me extreme vomiting and diarrhea and landed me in the hospital for five days. However, the nausea continued after the virus subsided.

The oncologist described my condition beyond the virus as nausea brought on by prolonged chemotherapy…something in my head!

If you follow my blog you know I am a faith filled person. I consider myself to be strong and able to handle discomfort pretty well. While I know the dire statistics that come with this diagnosis, I face life with confidence that God is in control. He determines when He will call me home, not the doctors who treat me with the science He has given them.

I believe He has work for me to do to increase awareness and fight for much needed research that will one day find an early detection for this cancer that kills nearly 20% of us diagnosed within one year.

In the last six years my husband, family, doctors and close friends have supported me unconditionally. They have provided the care I need, whatever it might be, along each set back. God and they have seen me thru some very difficult times.

But, this cancer, that I now look at as a blessing in our lives, has given us so many positive changes. It has brought our family closer to God, closer to one another and also empowered us to start a foundation to fund important research that will result in a simple test that could be administered to patients presenting with family history, predisposition or early symptoms that have been dismissed in the past as other less serious digestive issues.

Every six to eight weeks I go to Mayo for scans and bloodwork to determine the status of my cancer. It is always a time of anxiety and concern as the date approaches. However, I have learned to listen to my body and believe that while I am feeling as good as I can, the cancer must still be at bay.

The last three scans have reported as “stable”. This means that the 13 spots in my lungs, while still evident and growing very slowly, are not at this moment out of control.

I chose to carry on and take in each breath enjoying my family and friends in gratitude for the life we have been blessed with so abundantly until the day …

…the shoe drops.

HOPE

HOPE

Today our family celebrates the six year anniversary of my diagnosis of pancreas cancer. With a five year survival rate of just nine percent, I stand in amazement that I am still here. In the past six weeks the world has faced the possibility of losing life. Are you celebrating each day or are you gripped with fear that you could be touched by this global pandemic? Let me tell you, the one thing that has sustained us over our journey with pancreas cancer…HOPE.

Hope comes in many forms. It may come in the birth of a child, the positive report the doctor delivers, or the simplest of things…a freshly budding flower reaching for the sun.

We have a choice every day to have hope or be gripped in fear. It is proven that our emotional state effects us physically. While there are many things out of our control, we can control our minds. I choose to have hope.

Even in the direst of situations, we can find reason to have hope. My diagnosis six years ago lifted a haze from my eyes. What appeared to be the worst news possible has become a blessing to me and to my family. We approach each day with gratitude and a new appreciation for life.

Thanking God every moment of each day for the gift of life He has graced me with. It all comes from Him.

“For I know the plans I have for you.” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11.

Coronavirus 2020…from my perspective

Coronavirus 2020…from my perspective
Coronavirus 2020…from my perspective

It came creeping into our lives from clear across the globe. We all saw the images of mask and Hasmat clad Asians fighting this intruder that came to steal lives. But, we continued living life, denying any possibility it could touch us personally, something so far removed from our comfort zone thousands of miles away.

Then it was reported there were additional cases popping up around the globe. Italy was struck with a vengeance reporting numerous cases, China began to report deaths and more European countries disclosed rising numbers. When the virus had reached US shores with active cases reported in Washington DC, New York and California the level of fear escalated. Suddenly we were forced to consider the dreadful possibilities.

Now the federal government took heed. Slow at first to respond to the world wide outbreak, it was no longer possible to ignore. The President brought together the worlds top disease control experts and heads of corporations to consider next steps. And they began to take action.

While all of this was swirling around the globe, our own little space was preparing for our annual PLAYERS party. For twenty-seven years we held a week long party for friends, neighbors and customers. Living on the perimeter of the TPC Sawgrass Dye’s Valley Golf Course first tee box and just steps from the guarded entrance to the PLAYERS, we loved the event and the world-wide notoriety it brought to our sleepy beachside community. Club trucks pulled into the normally vacant lot next to our house and PGA Tour golfers paraded past to see if they could change the loft of their driver or try a new putter, in preparation for Thursday’s first round tournament play. It was all very exciting.

Houseguests arrived daily, friends who had been making this annual trek for many years appeared around our outdoor bar. It was a wonderful camaraderie that had developed surrounding this event. While uncertainty swirled around us we felt removed from fear and doubt and happy to have perfect weather as we walked the cart paths of the pristine TPC Sawgrass Stadium course unaware of what was to come just days from then.

Governor DeSantis appeared on television to report the first cases in Florida and necessary mitigation steps needed to be taken to slow spread of the now deadly virus. Those with compromised immune systems and underlying health issues and the elderly were most susceptible to death from the virus. He explained the new term, “social distancing” to remain self quarantined and avoid contact with others thru hand shakes and hugs and wash our hands often.

Well, I thought to myself, I will be careful. However, accessing our group and the number of compromised or elderly invited to our home throughout the week and to the celebration of life party Friday evening, made me begin to worry and consider steps that might need to be taken to ensure the safety of our family and friends.

About forty friends and family paraded through our home Wednesday to watch the practice round. It was perfect weather to walk the grounds and perhaps sit on a hole as my father in law loves to do, watching as the pros play through. Our cares seemed to drift away with each drive of the golf ball.

Early that day the television screens in our outdoor bar turned from golf to a press conference. Jay Monahan, PGA Commissioner of Golf announced with regret there would be no spectators allowed on the course. This was necessary to keep players, volunteers and fans safe amid the Covid -19 spread. This announcement would change the complexion of the entire tournament. I was glad I had made a decision not to walk over to the tournament. I needed to be careful.

It was eerie sitting around our backyard bar with only a handful of friends. Fear and uncertainty was slowly building. Thursday however, the number of visitors began to increase, We all wanted to support the tour. We had made our plans, tickets had been bought, flights had been taken, hotel reservations confirmed. Most were here…now what do we do? We decided to make the best of it. We continued to watch golf and band together amidst this unfolding nightmare.

Then Thursday late afternoon Jay Monahan made another announcement that shook us all to our core. The 2020 PLAYERS was cancelled at the end of play of the first round. This would be the first of many cancelled tour events. And, they were cancelled not postponed. This was serious.

On Thursday I shared my concerns with Tommy about holding the celebration of life party. It was not responsible to continue our plans. We agreed to cancel.

Over the weekend our family pressed in. Beach gatherings were perfect as the children played together in the fresh air and we huddled under the sun tent sipping our beverages. Even though there was not a cloud in the sky a dark cloud was hovering over us. Uncertainty could be felt breeding fear.

Mass on Sunday was half attended. Very few children could be seen and we all prayed for discernment. No holy water, no touching with sign of peace, no wine for the Holy Eucharist, rules that needed to be followed to protect one another.

Friends and houseguests made plans to return home as further mitigation eluded to the cancelling of flights and possible quarantine. Monday I dropped my father in law off at the ghost town of an airport. There were very few cars on the road. Schools were out on spring break so no school busses. Many employers ruled employees must work remotely from home. Grocery stores had turned into scenes of chaos as shoppers hoarded toilette paper, tissues, wipes, sanitizer, water and food for what might be weeks of quarantine.

What was happening? It seemed like something from a movie…an apocalypse. A global pandemic had been declared.

Each day government authorities made more closures. School would not return after spring break, businesses cancelled huge trade shows and meetings having an impact on local economies cancelling flights, hotel and restaurant reservations. Restaurants, bars were forced to close. Nursing homes were off limits to visitors. You can find broker online if you need any kinds of investment advice. .this meant I could no longer visit my 95 year old Mother, nor could my brother. Social distancing needed to be practiced now more than ever as the arrival of tests revealed increased number of cases now reaching to every state in the US. The stock market roller coaster dips and gains grabbed us all where it hurts. Sell or continue to watch our life savings diminish?

Watching all of this unfold before my very eyes I began to see some good come from all of the negative. Parents were finding great projects online so as to slow any possible decline in their children’s educational advances. Families were preparing and eating dinners together. Our busy lives were coming to a complete halt. We were forced to slow down, press in and trust God, that He would control all of it, that there would be good coming from the chaos.

My friends began to share God wink stories. Personally, I thought of how the Holy Spirit had nudged me to make a decision to take a break from chemo last November, allowing my extremely compromised immune system to build a bit before Covid-19 hit. If this had happened in November, surely I could be even more susceptible.

One of my friends had lost her 99 year old Mother who lived in assisted living facility where she would visit her twice daily a month before Covid-19. She would never have been able to stay away from her sweet Mother nor would she understand why her loving daughter was not visiting. Surely God had taken her before these restrictions were put in force.

A beautiful baby girl was born to my dear friend’s daughter, her first grandchild. St. Patty’s Day would forever hold new meaning for this family. But, God sent them something to focus on, to ease their fears.

Seeking a deeper meaning to the situation revealed the positive results swirling around me. The world had come to an immediate halt. I believe most of us secretly longed for this respite. Families were forced to be together inside their homes for two weeks or more. Working from home remotely, virtual schooling, nursing homes and hospitals refusing to allow visitors, all sports cancelled, beach closings, churches closed and offering virtual masses, dentists offices closed, social distancing, no hand shakes, hugs or kisses. Everyone urged to wash hands frequently, keep six feet apart, no more than ten people gathering, special early hours for the elderly to grab what they needed from the grocery. Restaurants offered take out service as they closed their doors to dining in. Unlikely corporations turned to manufacture of ventilators, masks, gowns, drug companies rushing to find drugs that could be effective in fighting Covid-19.

Suddenly everyone was joining together to stop the spread of the virus as our homes became our best refuge in the storm.

But…everyone isn’t fortunate to have safety and refuge at home. Some are faced with limited food, verbal and physical abuses we can hardly imagine. While we are tending to our own, we need to pray for and consider how to help those who need us.especially the children. Maybe a phone call, a delivery of groceries or information on any options available.

The virus had effected everyone regardless of if they were infected.

Pull together by thinking of ways to fight this global pandemic. Let’s all do our part. Stay safe and pray.

Scan Update

Scan Update
Scan Update

The holidays were really wonderful this year after taking a much needed three month break from chemo treatments. My last infusion was October 15th and the immediate reaction was extremely difficult. I began to have nausea and digestive issues, chill and fever that afternoon. Two days later I visited the ER for fluids and to attempt to stop the symptoms that were continuing. I was admitted and remained in semi-isolation for five days.

After many blood tests and digestive scans it was determined I had contracted some sort of viral infection. Liver enzymes were spiraling in the wrong direction and I was weak and losing weight.

Several IV antibiotics were prescribed and in a few days, as soon as the liver enzymes began the slow return, and the nausea and such stopped, they sent me home.

To say I was dreading the two week appointment for my next chemo treatment was no exaggeration. But, I headed to Mayo for bloodwork and my oncology appointment. As soon as Dr. Mody entered the consultation room I announced I was going to take a break from my treatments.

His reaction was welcomed. “Good”, he said, agreeing with my unusual non-compliance. “Let’s take a break till mid January and see what we need to do after a CT scan.”

We left his office in high spirits and Tom began to make holiday plans for a trip to NYC and our annual Christmas Eve Open House. I was ecstatic.

We filled the next three months with family fun, parties, trips and dinners. Within a few weeks, I was back to feeling almost normal. Well, better than I had in many months.

I tucked my fears deep and partied on, knowing full well I would have to face the CT scan in January and whatever results it would declare, I would have to accept.

Laying on the table during the scan I prayed that whatever God’s will for me would be, we would handle it. I have the best doctors in the field of oncology to lead me and several treatment plans both conventional and even a little experimental to choose from. But, I knew we would handle the news no matter what it was just as we always had with courage and strength found solely in our faith in God.

My blood work looked good, well better then it had, we only needed now to hear what Dr. Mody would reveal.

My son Scott and daughter Lindsay accompanied me to the appointment as Tommy, my Jospeh was unable to attend. He texted to let him know the results immediately. It was great to have them with me.

As Dr. Mody entered the room I felt a rush of worry. He rushed thru the “hello’s” and as his eyes met mine he said, ” The scan was stable. Everything looks the same.” My eyes filled with tears of joy and the kids both joined in my elation. Dr. Mody suggested we go two months before another scan and no chemo treatments.

Had I continued my treatments I would not have been able to make the sweet memories our family and friends shared during this holiday season. I was once again thankful to God who had lead me to this bold decision.

Prayer is powerful. Family, friends, everyone was praying for me. I knew by the texts and phone calls I received they were lifting me up.

My Jospeh and I count our life in increments of weeks and months, choosing to be grateful for even the days we are able to be together. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone lived this way? After all, none of us are promised tomorrow.

Thanking God for His favor and for my family and friends who battle with me every step of this journey.

I tucked my fears deep and partied on, knowing full well I would have to face the CT scan in January and whatever results it would declare, I would have to accept.

Christmas – Chemo vacation

Christmas – Chemo vacation

The metallic taste and the nausea would begin the moment I thought about my upcoming chemo infusion appointment. Don’t get me wrong, Mayo does everything to make the experience relaxing and comfortable with their individual chemo suites complete with a sofa and table for a guest or two and a large smart TV complete with library of about fifty or more top movies /series including The Mayo Clinic – Faith-Hope- Science, a film based on the PBS documentary by acclaimed filmmaker Ken Burns and his associates Erik Ewers and Christopher Loren Ewers. But, it still wasn’t enough to take the feeling away from the poison dripping slowly into my surgically implanted port, working its way into the chambers of my heart and disbursing throughout my body, seeking out those pancreatic cancer cells it was intended to destroy. I truly could taste it smell it and, after 14 months of chemo, I dreaded it.

Truth is, I had somehow contracted a viral infection days before my last infusion October 15, 2019. My already compromised body now was taking on a chemo cocktail that would make a healthy body sick. But we had no way of knowing. The bloodwork taken prior to the chemo prescription being prepared didn’t show anything unusual. As soon a I returned home from my infusion I became ill. This was not my typical routine. The nausea had never come on strong and hard the first day. It was always sort of building and hit hard around the third day after.

Two days later I was admitted into the hospital in semi-isolation to determine the source of my nausea and digestive issues. Five days later I went home only when my liver enzymes reported they were heading in the right direction. Doctors agreed it was a viral infection. It took another three weeks for me to recover. I had lost my appetite and about 12 pounds and was weak from being in bed.

Whatever it was….I didn’t want to experience it again. In just a few days I was scheduled to have chemo again. I could taste it and feel it and was dreading it already.

November 11th I was scheduled and dutifully reported for my blood work and oncology consult with Dr. Mody. But, as soon as he walked into the consultation room, I told him I had made a decision…I was not going to be taking chemo today. I was taking a break. he smiled and said “Good.”

His reaction was just what I hoped it would be. Medically we both knew I should be taking it, however, emotionally I just couldn’t do it. I think he saw that too.

We agreed to schedule a CT Scan mid January. That would give me a three month break. I could enjoy Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years with our big family. It was perfect.

And, enjoy we did. Grocery shopping, planning the Thanksgiving meal, Tom’s Dad coming down from Cleveland, it was great. Then Christmas decorating, cookie decorating, shopping, wrapping and celebrating, a quick trip to NYC, holiday parties and family, family, family. We were overjoyed.

What will happen January 17th with the CT Scan? Only God knows. We trust that He will lead us to the perfect decision of what treatment, if any we will choose. Until then, I will enjoy feeling whole and not missing out on one moment of one day.

Thank you for this time precious Jesus.

Thomas and Olive
Grandpa, Lindsay Mick and Jude – TPC Tree Lighting
Christmas Decorating
Hudson Yards Lunch
Scotty, Blake, Taylor, Abby, Olivia and Tommy – PVIC Christmas Eve
Taylor, Tommy, Mia, Jayden, Olivia and Abby
Del Frisco’s
Family dinner