Archive | April, 2011

Happy Birthday to my amazing Mom . . .

30 Apr

Today is my Mom’s birthday. She is truly a remarkable woman.

Happy Birthday Mom! I love you so much!

To say that I would not be here if it were not for her is true in many more ways than the fact that she brought me into this world. The past two years have been a rough go for our family. Cancer happened to all of us, not just me. It hit my parents particularly hard.

My Mom is the most caring and selfless person I know. She has been here for me every day in so many ways. I have leaned on both of my parents so much in the past two years. I do not know how I would have come through this without them. I still do not have the results of the scans from last week. I hate to put my family through the waiting. And my friends too. I am guessing I will get the results soon. Perhaps Monday. I am praying for good results.

Today we will all get together for dinner for my Mom’s birthday. We are not having a party, she wants to celebrate later (she said she needs a little more time to warm up to the idea of turning 75). I think she wants to wait on a party until she knows that I am healthy and cancer free.

I have every intention of having a party for her. But, for now, it will be dinner.

Please feel free to post a birthday message to my Mom here . . . I will make sure she sees it!

Thank you for your continued prayers.

Love and peace,


Sometimes you just have to have ice cream . . .

26 Apr
Dairy Queen

Sometimes you just have to have ice cream . . .

Yesterday I had scans (a chest CT and a bone scan). I am now waiting for the test results. Obviously I am hoping that all is well and that I get good news.

It took three attempts to get a vein that would take the injection for the bone scan. It is frustrating and uncomfortable. But, it is what it is. Unfortunately, my veins do not seem to want to cooperate.

I have learned through some recent reading that Tamoxifen damages your arteries and veins. Lovely. Chemo damaged my veins (so I am told). But, I was also told that over time my veins would heal. If Tamoxifen is causing damage, then I wonder if my veins will get a chance to heal up.

I guess I am worrying about things that I should not worry about. I just have a hard time not thinking ahead, not thinking about the “what ifs”. What if I need more treatment and my veins won’t cooperate? You can drive yourself crazy thinking about what ifs. And, I will be the first to admit that I can dwell on what ifs.

A friend of mine took me to my appointment yesterday. And, my parents also came and met me there. My Dad had an appointment pretty near by. But, he also had students that he postponed in order to stick around and be with me for part of my afternoon. It was so sweet of my parents to do this. But, it is par for the course . . . it is what they have done from day one . . . they have always been there for me, always. I am so grateful for them. And, grateful for my friend today too. She drove a long way to pick me up, spent the day with me and drove me back home. We managed to fit in a nice lunch, an ice cream that I am not supposed to have (but, wow, did I enjoy that ice cream – Dairy Queen, vanilla soft serve cone, dipped in chocolate . . . a little piece of heaven from my childhood) and some window shopping.

My parents coming and my friend being with me changed the entire day. I would have been in tears I think over the three attempts to get the IV in. It seems so stupid to be that weak. But, there is something about it, I feel fragile and kind of helpless when I watch my vein infiltrate when they try to push fluid in and then they pull it out and move on to try the next vein and so on. I can’t help but wonder what happens if and when they run out of veins.

But, when I walked out of there and back to the waiting room and saw my friend smiling and my parents clearly reassured by her presence, well, it made such a difference.

I don’t know what my results will be. I am worried. But, hopefully I will get good news. I am just very grateful for today, for my family, for my friends and for everyone’s prayers.

Oh, and I am also thankful for Dairy Queen.

Thank you for your continued prayers.

Much love and peace,


I ran a 5k and . . . my apologies for the “F” word . . .

24 Apr
Angry Talk (Comic Style)

Beware: bleeping needed for this blog post . . .

Hello all,

Yesterday I ran my first 5k post cancer. I walked some of it, but, ran most of it and made a point of running the hilly portions. The game I played was: “If I can make it to the top of that hill without stopping then my scans will be clear.” Or, “If I can make it to the top of the next hill without stopping, then, even if I don’t get good news from my scans, I will survive.”

Is that a bit sick? I don’t know, but, it is what was running through my head (no pun intended) while I was running.

The run was really tough for me. It was a on a dirt trail that was pretty uneven. So I jarred myself around a bit. Also, the last time I ran (at all) was two months ago. I know, kind of stupid to think you can run a 5k without having run at all in some time. But, the pre-cancer Lisa could do that no problem. Still, I planned on walking.

So I lined up at the very back of the race start (elite runners go to the front, walkers go to the back of the starting line). I waited for the walkers to start walking – the crowd in front of us had to move ahead before we could start. But, when it was our turn to start, it didn’t feel right to walk. So I ran.

I ran the first mile without stopping. There were just a few small hills. But, it was tough. My body did not want to do what my mind wanted to do. It was painful. My chest hurt, it hurt to breathe. The muscles that were moved from my back and wrapped around to my front to create new “breasts” hurt, hurt, hurt. My ribs hurt a lot (and it is this pain that is the reason for tomorrow’s scans). Fuck. It feels like I have broken ribs. That is what it has felt like for over a month. That can’t be good, can it? I don’t know.

But, I ran. I ran out of anger. I ran out of fear and I ran to try to run through this fucking cancer. But, it doesn’t work that way. You can’t just run from it.

I did a lot of thinking during the run. I had fits of anger and moments where I fought to hold back tears. What have I become? A ball of emotions, out of control. That is where the anger comes from and why it sets in. I get angry to keep from crying. I get angry to try to stop making sense of things. I get angry as a feeble attempt to regain some control over my life, over my future . . . as if throwing something (across the room or a fit) will change something.

Anger is not a healthy state for me and so I have to let it go. I ran some of that anger off yesterday. So that is good.

I am both proud of myself and disappointed: disappointed that my body doesn’t work the way it used too, disappointed that I felt so much pain, but, proud, really proud, that I ran in spite of that pain. This cancer trip is full of dichotomies and oxymorons.

I used to feel invincible. I used to think I had good genes (my paternal grandmother lived to 101 and was in excellent health throughout her life). I was proud to be the one that could run towards the front, go farther than many, hike longer, faster, swim far, climb, run. I felt strong and it made me feel safe.

The loss of that physical strength and endurance has changed my perception of myself. Case in point: I ran out of gas the other day (chemo brain be damned, or, just plain forgetfulness).

I ran out of gas at the exit of a shopping center parking lot. It was not very convenient for drivers wanting to exit the lot. But, it wasn’t a big deal either to simply drive around me. Yet, I was repeatedly yelled at (yes, I had my blinkers on. And, I waved people around me). But, several drivers honked their horns, aggressively backed up (as if my being in their way was the worst thing to happen to them that day) and drove around me. Some even proceeded to either give me a dirty look as they passed by me or make gestures and one even rolled down their window to yell at me. Not a single person asked to see if I needed any help. It is a crazy world these days. Sad.

Triple A came to my rescue. But, it was intimidating to wait there. I felt vulnerable.

In the past I would not have found this frightening or intimidating. Whether it was true or not, I really believed that I could physically defend myself. I really believed that I could outrun an attacker if necessary. And, with the history of my family, the murder and rape of my maternal grandmother, I am very aware of the real need that one might have to outrun someone. I felt safer thinking that I could physically defend myself. But, that was the pre-cancer, pre-surgeries-Lisa. Those days seem very far away.

Still, I did run that dang 5K. It was my “fuck cancer” 5k. I hope there will be a “fuck cancer” 10k and a “fuck cancer half marathon” (I have one in mind for this fall). I want to be here. I want to live. I hope I get to do that half marathon cancer free.

I appreciate your continued prayers and the positive vibes sent my way!

Much love and peace,


Update . . .

20 Apr

Hello All,

I am still waiting for approvals for the scans that my oncologist ordered two weeks ago. I had hoped to have these scans already. Anyway, it is what it is. In the meantime, I am just trying to keep my mind off of it and stay positive. It is a difficult time for my parents and my family. They are worried. I am worried and I am afraid. But, I can not spend every waking moment focused on worries and fear.

Today I am researching some financial resources for a friend of a friend who was just diagnosed with cancer. Sometimes trying to focus on helping someone else is the best thing. If nothing else, it reminds me that I am not the only one who contends with these same fears. I am praying for him today and hoping that he will be well.

I am also working – I have two new book orders – one from a local law bookstore and the other from University of Hastings Law School Bookstore. It is exciting. I am praying and hoping for good health.

Please keep me in your prayers. I greatly appreciate it.

Love and peace,


More Scans . . .

8 Apr

I saw my oncologist yesterday. She is concerned about symptoms I am having and has ordered a bone scan and a chest CT. Hopefully everything will back okay. It is unnerving to say the least. I don’t know exactly when I will have the scans. There are approvals to get first. But, I imagine I will have scans within the next couple of weeks.

I am in pain a lot these days. It could be post treatment pain. Apparently cancer patients can develop pain years after completing chemotherapy. So, hopefully there is a non-serious reason for the pain.

I appreciate any prayers and/or positive thoughts you can send my way.

Much love,


Appointment tomorrow . . .

6 Apr

Tomorrow I have an appointment with my oncologist. I originally thought it was for Wednesday (wrote that in my prior blog post). But, it is in fact tomorrow. I am anxious about it. I sent a list of my concerns to my oncologist via email so that she could have it ahead of time. She got back to me quickly and said that we will address everything during my appointment. Hopefully all will go well.

Love and peace,


Knowledge is power . . .

4 Apr

Knowledge is power (once you get over the fear of what you know). I learned a lot today. I am not glad of what I learned, but, I am glad that I learned it.

It has been quite a month. So many good things.  And some difficult hurdles. Today was one of those hurdles . . . except that I haven’t made it over the bar yet.

I went to a breakfast put on by Susan G. Komen today. I brought my Mom with me. It was the first session of an ongoing education series. I learned a lot. There were three speakers. One of the speakers was a breast cancer research scientist who specializes in HER2+ breast cancer.

His talk was about the progress made since 1991 in breast cancer treatment. He highlighted breakthroughs over the past two decades, Herceptin being one of those major breakthroughs. His research is specifically focused on HER2+ breast cancer. According to this researcher, HER2+ breast cancer now accounts for 25 to 30 percent of breast cancer cases, and, it is the most aggressive form of breast cancer.

He put on a very informative presentation. It was clear and easy to follow . . . unless you were me, sitting in that room, taking in the statistics and sitting next to my Mom who heard much of this information for the first time. My head was swimming, it is still swimming a bit. And so, I came here to write. And, quite frankly, I do not know what to say.

I see my oncologist this Wednesday (The Rockstar, as some of us affectionately refer to Dr. Sara Hurvitz at UCLA). I am grateful to have her as my doctor. She is very frank with me, encouraging too, and, very, very smart. A good combination I think. My plan, at this moment, is to have a frank discussion with her about my future and what she thinks lies ahead. I say it is my plan “at the moment” because I think I will likely chicken out. You see, I learned a little more than I bargained for today.

I know I am not a statistic. I know this. But, it doesn’t mean that I am always able to tune out the ugly statistics. I was not expecting to hear a lecture about HER2+ breast cancer. I have read up on it plenty. But, it sounds like there is new information about HER2+ breast cancer. There are two known mechanisms of HER2 cells. It is one of these known mechanisms that is blocked by the drug Herceptin. Unfortunately, there is, according to this researcher, at least a third mechanism. He said “there is a secret mechanism with HER2” and that is what we are working on trying to identify. He kept saying there are “secrets” to HER2.


I did not allow my Mom or Dad to come and see me during chemo weekends. I had friends (incredible friends) who took care of me. I did not want my Mom and Dad to see what it was like. By the Sunday after chemo I was over the worst of it and so that is when they would come to see me.

Now, here I take my Mom to this “breakfast” and expose her to charts and graphs and statistics all blown up on a screen bigger than life. And that is the trouble . . . cancer can be bigger than life. And, it can take your life . . . even if you don’t die of it . . . if you allow it. And that is the challenge I think, to live in spite of it, to live above it. I think, for the most part I succeed in that. But, every now and then I get pulled under a bit and I struggle.

I spoke with the research scientist after his presentation. He asked me about my family history and about my diagnosis. He commented on how young I was for this type of cancer (although I know a few women my age and younger with it). He winced too much for my liking. I know he is not my doctor. And, even though he is an MD/Phd, he is a scientist, not a doctor who sees patients. I guess I just didn’t expect him to wince so much when I answered his questions. Maybe he doesn’t often see his statistics off of the page. Maybe when one walks up to him and talks to him it is difficult or awkward. I don’t know. All I know is that it left me a bit sideways.

So I guess by now, you have figured out that I was a little thrown by this breakfast. I wasn’t expecting a talk on HER2 cancer and I wasn’t expecting to learn something new about it. But, it gave me a lot to think about. I am very glad that I am seeing my oncologist on Wednesday.

I am having symptoms that are not so great. I am especially frustrated because I did not even know that these symptoms were anything to worry about. In fact, I didn’t even know these were symptoms. How is it that I did not know what to be on the look out for? I really feel like there is a disconnect of some kind. And quite frankly, I am really upset. I have had symptoms for a few months now that I did not know were anything to worry about. Hopefully it is nothing. But, the fact that I did not know to even be on the look out for these symptoms, is upsetting. And, scary. It stinks.

I work hard to stay informed, to stay on top of things . . . that is really all I can do. But, if I don’t know what to be on the look out for, then I lose time and with cancer, time is precious, you need it on your side, you need to find out as early as possible.

I am sorry for sounding grim. I came here to write, to get this off of me. I can’t get out of the body I am in, but, I can try to rid myself of some my thoughts.

I am sure that there could be non-worrisome reasons for these symptoms too. And, like I said, I am really glad that I am seeing my oncologist this week. I expect she will run some tests. My hope is, of course, that all is well.

Please say some prayers and send positive thoughts my way.

Love and peace,