via I love Valentine’s Day…and it’s not for the reasons you think


Valentine’s Day is a luscious nipple of Venus (notice I use the singular?) nestled between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. A yummy sweet spot on the calendar full of playfulness and the promise of spring just around the corner.

It is the child like memories of the holiday, not the grown up ones fraught with expectation and disappointment, that make me swoony for Valentine’s.

Earliest recollections involve Elmer’s glue paste, blunt edged scissors, red construction paper, doilies and glitter. The squeak of patent leather Mary Janes and the rasp of cable knit tights on knobbly grade school legs. The cloying chalky scent of pastel Brachs candy hearts and Hershey milk chocolate kisses. White lunch sack mail bags taped to the fronts or our tiny desks. When dinosaurs roamed the earth…

It was silly, playful and a time to try on the word “love” as in, “ I love my friends! I love my dog! I love ice cream! After grade school, you could give yourself a hernia from all of the heavy lifting associated with “love”.

I personally am pretty sure that relationships give you cancer, but that is for another post…


Ditch the idol worship of a singular other, and find the sweetness for yourself and the wide bandwidth of ways in which you love all of the people in your life.

*Make a valentine or two. Or three, or twelve. I love making valentine’s. Old school. Glue, scissors, pretty colored paper, images, words. Don’t make a list or even feel you need to give every human you know one. Make as many as you feel drawn to make. Pleasing creative project of love, not laborious task. Think about the person you are making them for as you make it, Or as you write in a store bought card. Put the energy of how you appreciate the ways they contribute to your life Or don’t even make cards, do nothing but draw or cut out heart shapes on pieces of paper, thinking about the people you are thankful for. I swear to god it lowers your blood pressure. The Zen of Making Shapes.

Make one for yourself. Seriously.


* Get yourself some flowers. A single stem or a dozen. The kind of flowers you really love, not what you are told is the “traditional flower of the love language”.

I am a tulip girl myself.

A bouquet of flowers lasts about a week and should make you smile every single time you look at them, unless you have no soul. A nice bouquet is super cost effective when you factor in the number of smiles it will elicit over that course of time. Do it.

Wander the streets and give flowers to people you meet, or hand deliver single stems to loved ones.

*Have a fabulous glass of champagne. Don’t like champagne? That sucks for you.


*Savor some kick ass chocolate. No waxy milk chocolate crap, unless you like that, not that I am judging, but I am,… a little bit. Again, quality not quantity. Sea salt, caramel, Mayan chili, nipples of Venus. If you need a pair, by all means have two. They are small.

*Go for a walk. Outside. No matter what the weather, tip your face to the sky and breathe deeply searching for the scent of spring. It’s there. Lurking like a faunish surprise.

Valentine’s day makes my mouth water with sensory saturation. Geranium reds, Peony pinks, deep raspberry, ruby red grapefruit, creamy coral tulips and roses so red they are almost black. This color vortex, the sweet tender heart shaped curves, the bite of a crisp cold glass of champagne, the dense sweetness of the darkest chocolate. The underside of my skin feels lined with cashmere, so snugly am I in my own arms.


Now, do any combination of these activites any time of year on a random, surprising yet regular basis and don’t wait for someone to do it for you. Keep things spicy with yourself.

You are worth your own attention. I know I am.



20 days ago I pulled the plug on my radiation treatment. One week ago I met with my oncologist and said I wanted to discontinue my every three week watered down chemo infusion.

I am officially done with treatment. Whew…

Man, how my body loves not being radiated. It’s crazy! Two weeks ago I looked like Freddy Kruger and now I do not. You see only the faintest territorial outline of the radiation field. Like a faded map of where a forest fire cleared the land. The new skin fresh and pink as kitten pads. I owe this to my own magical healing salve I created, and the relentless will of my body.

The ability to regenerate is awe inspiring.

Although the radiation treatment crossed a threshold that felt injurious to me, the continued chemo infusion simply felt like overkill.

Cancer treatment is a broad over arching bandwidth designed to be as aggressive as possible for as long as a person can tolerate it and have the treatment not kill them. So your job as the patient is to pay attention to how you feel, how your body is tolerating treatment, communicating with your doctor and make the call based on that. A protocol is created, in my case 30 radiation treatments, and I completed 21. Then my body felt that if I continued I would cause irreparable damage.

When I met with my oncologist and suggested I was done with this part of treatment as well, he shared a brand new study that just came out of Italy tracking women with HER2 positive breast cancer and the use of herceptin (a chemo drug especially formulated for this type of cancer). The study tracked the benefit of staying on herceptin for 6 months versus 12 and the percentage of benefit was …..drum roll please…..2%. Two. No, I did not forget a zero. My decision was even easier to make.

There is no tumor to deal with. My scans before I began treatment and after surgery were clear. I completed 12 rounds of hard core chemo (taxol, herceptin and perjeta) and then 6 infusions of herceptin/perjeta. I think my house is clean.


I have a three month check up and then a six and then once a year.

Of course it is cancer, and cancer can be a ninja, but I feel solid in my decision. My radiologist and oncologist are completely supportive of my decision. They greatly appreciate my participation in my own process.

I could do every protocol there is and die. Or I might live. Or I could do nothing and live. Or I might die. There are zero guarantees. The first time I did this it was horrifying to have no guarantee, until I figured out, there is no guarantee about anything at all. Ever. You can only make the best decision you can and then move forward. Over and over again.

Living your life is all about getting over that. That is why it is so precious.

Thank you cancer treatment for recalibrating me. Again. I am listening closely.

Thank you my sweet body for taking the hit. Again. I am listening closely.

Much more closely, I promise.

Let’s get us healed up. We’ve got some living to do.

Roberto Ferri Giudizio Universale (2)


I made it 21 treatments. 5 days a week for 4 weeks. Plus one. Then I said, “enough.”

Just because you can do something, should you?

My initial first weeks with radiation were rather uneventful. Slightly fatigued, resting well, attending Pilates or barre classes when it felt right. No real reaction to my skin, until week three. Using calendula oil, lavender, shea butter and aloe. Overall, manageable, not horrible.

Last Wednesday I awoke with tremendous pain in my sternum that radiated around to my right scapula. It felt like I had a rib out. My bones hurt. My teeth hurt. No one symptom unusual, but suddenly it was all happening at once and the tolerance threshold closed over. When I lay in bed trying to sleep, it was difficult to get comfortable and I was aware of the long, long ride I had been on and it was taking a serious toll. Instead of feeling like a process that was difficult, I had an awareness that it had shifted into a place that felt injurious to me. I had crossed a line from therapeutic to harmful.


By Monday the bone pain was stronger and the internal sunburn and bled up to the surface a nasty reddish/brown, and beginning to blister and ache. I went in for another round and was actually unsure if I could lay down and be still. We discovered that I could, and after sharing with the techs my recent physical aches and pains, they had me speak to the doctor on call. They were concerned about my heart. After vitals were checked, and a more in depth discussion ensued, it was concluded that my heart was not responsible for my pain. In conclusion the doctor on call looked at me and said,”Do you think you are done with your treatment?” I was surprised and exhilarated to have someone offer that to me.

So I sat with that, turning it over slowly in my mind for the rest of the day. I felt much better than I had the previous two, but still a heightened sense of internal danger.

I slept alright and woke up with a quiet sense of knowing. I was through with treatment. I could go no further and feel that I was not destroying myself. Up until this moment I have not felt that way. Chemo did not feel poisonous to me, but medicinal. I trusted the process. Even as I was afraid of radiation initially, that too changed and I could see the merit in it. Trusting the process. Trusting my doctors. And then I found a place where my body said, “Nope. Done”, and I would trust that.


I went to my appointment Tuesday and asked if I could see my radiologist before I did treatment and she was already booked, so I went ahead to change and do my final treatment. As I walked back the techs asked me how I was doing and I said I was not well and thinking I might not continue. They very kindly said, “You do not need to do this. If you would like to see your doctor first that is fine. This is not uncommon. Do what feels right for you.”

I said, actually I did not want to do treatment but wanted to talk to my doctor first. Vitals were taken again, I waited. My radiologist entered the room with the most understanding smile on her face. “You’re done aren’t you?” I started to cry and said, “I am fucking done!”. She laughed and said, “Well, if you are fucking done, then you are making the right choice. You know your body very well, and I trust that you know what feels right. It is always your decision. My protocol is 30 sessions and we did 21, but if it feels that you are causing harm, then let’s be done.” I gave her a huge hug and thanked her again for seeing me, respecting me and listening to me. She asked how I felt, and I said calm and deeply relieved. She lit up and said, “Then you are making the right decision. I’ll see you in one month.”

And just like that it was over. I changed for the last time and walked slowly out into the day. At ease, unafraid and completely exhausted. In relaying this to a friend of mine, he likened it to standing with the tide coming in from all directions squeezing you in from all sides up to your eyeballs, standing on your tip toes trying to control your breathing and then it sucks completely away leaving you reeling. Yes, exactly that.

A very quiet couple of days to gather myself up. Slowly ascend to the surface and the light. I continue to have an infusion every three weeks until April, (hmmm…..we’ll see) but the heavy lifting is over. I rode that bull long enough and I am leaving the arena. Walking out, not carried out on a stretcher by a bunch of clowns…(or dentist clowns, or clown dentists. Clendists…I digress)

I am officially retired.

Now, I’m going to find myself a big ass belt buckle…









Source: The Iron Tide Recedes…


My first round of chemo was startling in its immediacy. Feeling each drug as it dripped into my system, each with its own particular temperature and the consistency of the fluid in my veins. Body on red alert, “Whoa, whoa, whoa! What the actual hell are you doing here?” I lay in bed those first couple of nights crying and thought, “there is no way I can do this. I need to stop.” Then that feeling rolled through, and it was time for the second treatment. Then the next and the next and you surrender to the rhythm, allowing the chemo to do its work and to allow yourself to be carried along. You do this 12 times. There is a comfort in this altered space that only you inhabit.

Allowing yourself to be reconstructed. Choosing the reconstruction and not clinging to the old frame work.

Let me make it clear that exactly zero, zero parts of having chemo can be considered having a good time, but the last two weeks were the most challenging by far.


As you near the end of 12 rounds of chemo, you start to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s not a train, and that is great! After the initial euphoria you remember that you are not finished, but now entering another phase of treatment, one completely unknown to you, and instead of once a week it is 5 times a week for 6 weeks. You have to meet with a radiologist, whom you do not like, so you begin to wonder if you are going to do this at all, but what if it comes back. What if I didn’t do everything I could, and I leave my daughter without a mother and my mother without a daughter and me with no more time on this fantastically complex blue orb, which would suck because I love it here, so your surgeon gives you a name of another radiologist and you meet and really like her, and she makes you feel like you are making the right decision and asks you lots of questions about yourself and doesn’t treat you like a cow being herded through processing pens, and you think “I can totally do this and I will be fine. People live through this all of the time!” and then you feel the serpentine anxiety and mind fucking fog of the chemo, as you are now on week 11 and almost at full saturation and it whispers to you, “what you mean is that people die of this all of the time, so who do you think you are? You are in denial. You are not paying attention. You don’t live in the real world and imagine that somehow other rules and scientific and biological laws do not apply to you and maybe this is how you got where you are now, or maybe, just maybe it is your belief that you can move through this differently that will be the very thing that will save your self absorbed ass.” Soak. No rinsing. Only soaking.


You are fully saturated, suspended like a fetal cow in a jar of formaldehyde, equal parts density and buoyancy. You can see through the glass, but everything is different. You are not like you were before, and that is just fine, because we are never like we were before and if we think we are, we are not paying attention and we are not growing. You reside in this particular space in time, until you transition to the next phase.

A full two to three weeks after you finish chemo, the weighty liquid iron rises up out of your bones and your limbs and presses into your brain, making your thoughts distort and emotions spill out of your eyes and ears in unexpected and overwhelming ways, as if someone was slowly stepping on top of your head, compacting and compressing you. No empty space. Every molecule inhabited with uncertainty, both unnerving and wildly liberating. You know nothing! How much space that allows for you to contemplate new ways of being, understanding and living. A clean slate of what is possible.

You had become used to the feeling of chemo. It was familiar. You are startled to discover there is a tiny, tiny, tiny bit of grieving at no longer feeling quite that way. You still go every three weeks for an infusion, but it is a watered down version of the chemo cocktail, with a very subtle sort of fall out. Each infusion a flooding and clearing. Rogue cells broken up and washed away. A new landscape.


Gradually, you find yourself on a different shore. The iron tide has receded, the mind is calm, your strength and energy returns, and then….it’s time for radiation.

Phase Two…to be continued….



In the last two weeks of chemo, your nails get streaked and shadowed as the last of the cells die. Yellowish brown, like dirty animal claws. The highest of the chemical cocktail tides pushing its way out of your very fingertips. You have hit maximum saturation. You have been like an Egyptian hairless cat for months, that money you save on razors and the warm blankest at the hospital being the big bonuses of the treatment. Also, no eyelashes. Well, okay, three randomly placed ones on each eyelid and no eyebrows. The over all effect is one of a lizard. A friendly Geiko insurance kind of lizard, but a lizard nevertheless. Freaky!


We are always shedding dead cells and skin and hair and aging and transforming, but chemo treatment simply magnifies that which usually goes unnoticed. During the last two weeks the nails have become brittle and broken half way down the nail beds. New growth is coming in healthy and pink. Pushing its way out. My head stubble is getting longer by the day. Hopefully eyelashes are not far behind.

The last week of chemo, as well as the first weeks after are surprising. Unwinding is not linear. It is choppy. Three steps forward, two steps back. Or one forward and three back. Full of energy, or incredibly tired. I do not push through. I rest when my body says to. Sleep is my bestest friend.

A great excitement when you know there is only one more, you are almost done! The horse is racing back to the barn but suddenly it veers right, because, you start radiation in 10 weeks, so you are NOT done yet. Not yet. Not only not done, but stepping into yet another unknown experience of which you should have no preconceived notion of how you will respond. Oh yeah. Shit. I almost forgot…

There is nothing to “get back to”, only where you are now and the unknown you are heading for each moment. Not attempting to recapture, or replicate, but allow something fresh and true with where you are right now to emerge.

When I share these images and these stories, it is so that others who have never ridden this ride, can have a glimpse into what it is like. It is a knowing smile and secret handshake I offer to those who have.

I continue to love the alien that I have become. She who emerged from this deep inner space adventure, stripped down to bare bones, spare and unadorned.

Next stop…Radiation Land. Stay tuned…


On my birthday 4 months ago



Chemo #1


Chemo #3

20170628_102910 (1)

Chemo #6



Chemo #12


Chemo #10


It is so lame to come to this party so late, but here I am. (Hangs head in shame.) Trying to catch up on Game of Thrones, as Season 7 is days away. Just days away, I tell you!

I have a task.

I had to work to enter Game of Thrones. It is not a friendly land. At my daughter’s insistence and with her guidance I crossed over the threshold. We were two episodes into the first season, when she paused the show, looked at me and said, “right now….this is as happy as these people are ever going to be.” She was not kidding. That is sobering.

The last two weeks in my reality have been rough. The creepy physical fallout of chemo has fortunately remained within the same bandwidth through out this round of treatment, but the psychological/emotional mind fucking that had skipped me for the most part this last 12 weeks, unexpectedly popped up like a leering demonic jack in the box and punched me in the face. Ouch.


Rest assured, there is much writing flowing from this time. Stay tuned.

The last two days the smoke has cleared and I found level footing again.

Today was the final chemo. 12 of 12. I will continue to have an infusion of herceptin every three weeks, but without the taxol which is the component that kicks your ass the hardest. I will be finished with that in April.


So what the hell does Game of Thrones have to do with any of this? I had started writing this thesis worthy discertation on why the show is so great and compelling. (Yeah, yeah, everyone else on the planet already knows this and has for years. Sit down and be quiet and watch the episodes!) I discovered that once you get past the Primary B’s of the show (beheadings and butt sex) it is the feel good show of the year!

Who knew?!

Thank freaking god I do not live in Ye Olde Times of Yore dealing with that bleak and hopeless nightmare wondering how and when you will be dismembered. Shit, I am just chillin’ in my air-conditioned house baking in some chemo. This is mild in comparison.



I have the next eight weeks off to heal, and work, regain my health and work out before I start 6 weeks of radiation. A brand new unknown fire to walk through. Radiation coupled with the continuing infusions of herceptin. Then I shall emerge into a new life and a new routine and I am reasonably sure that being on the Night Watch fighting white walkers is not part of that, but then, you never know what’s in store in your life.

You see, I have these dragon eggs….




“Sometimes the bear will eat you. Sometimes you eat the bear. “ -Joan Armatrading-

I am interested in option C…

One of the most challenging aspects of cancer entering my world, has been the language and energy that surrounds it. “War on cancer. Fighter. survivor.” It is angry, aggressive, destructive. Prompts fight or flight response. Cancer is more nuanced than that. It needs to be listened to.

Trust me, I don’t want to have cancer take over my body. I love being here on this planet as a human being in a fragile yet wildly resilient skin suit. I am thoroughly committed to living cancer free for a very, very long time, and I am not storming through the brush with a machine gun and a blow torch, screaming “Fuck you cancer! Die! Die! Die!”, going all Rambo and shit on it.

I do not like the energy around “killing, destroying, crushing, obliterating etc.”

I believe that cancer shows up when something is out of balance, and our inner world goes off kilter when our outer world is out of balance. Our outer world on a global level is seriously out of balance. We are endlessly bombarded with too much work, too much stress, too much information, too much worry, exhausting relationships, toxins in every form in our environment. Even if we love what we do, we can still be pushing too hard. Idling too fast. I know I have. God, have i ever.


Yes, I am actively participating in chemotherapy. Today is #11. One to go. The plan is to begin radiation in September. I have doubts and questions about this. These are treatments that target killing cancer cells. I am aware of that, but I am choosing to see it as a process of cleansing my system. Wiping the slate clean. Cancer cells are healthy cells that have gone rogue. The treatment is to get rid of the rogue cells and create an environment where they won’t return. Then we have to do everything in our power to support our immune system, our adrenals, our nervous system, digestive system and tend to our emotional state.

Cancer shows up to call us out to be uncompromisingly honest with ourselves and how we are living our lives. Will you listen, pay attention, and make changes? Or will you angrily, fearfully ignore the guidance and attempt to hurry up and kill it so you can go back to living your life exactly the way you were before.


I am sitting quietly with my cancer and listening closely. There is no going back, only creating something completely different. There is a difference between timid and shrinking and strong and silent. What can I change in my life and the way I respond to it? Where to put my energy and attention to transform it? Neutralize it.


How do you enter the cave knowing there is a bear in there and not be terrified of waking it? Do not cower in a corner, endlessly striking matches and straining your eyes, but listen to it breath in the dark and be okay with that. Maybe in some odd way you can cohabitate. Sleep with the bear. We won’t disturb the cancer, the cancer doesn’t disturb us. Cancer is always present in our bodies, but it takes a trigger to activate it. Can we put the gun down and do something else?


This approach resonates with me, and I am working with that stratagem.

I embrace Stratagem C…





One of the most common experiences during chemo is a loss of appetite and nausea. Food tasting off or with a metal aftertaste. Difficulty keeping weight on. This has wonderfully, not been my experience. I am flourishing like Jabba the Hut with my bald head and insatiable appetite. My physique modeling itself after Lord Varys, the eunuch on Game of Thrones.

Hot. So hot.

Early on in my treatment, I had a reiki session, which was utterly quenching, as my body was screaming “what the actual hell are you doing to me? Again!?”It was also unsettling to feel my energy, my interior landscape, so far off-center. After my session, I was talking with my friend and he remarked how hard he could feel that my body was working. The image that came to his mind was of a group of men endlessly shoveling coal into the furnace on a steam ship and this huge steel mass cutting through rough roiling waters. We now refer to my eating, as “time to feed the Coal Men”.


I rarely feel hungry, it is more this need to eat. My body needs fuel and the furnace can never be sated. I graze through the day. Mostly healthy, sometimes not. Protein smoothies, green juice, roasted chicken, watermelon, hummas and veges. A fine burger, vegetable sushi and seaweed salad, Annies Mac n’cheese, (comfort food) Indian food, sometimes pizza. All of the things, do I eat.

On the super challenging days, there is a hang-over quality to my gut, that craves grease. French fries do the trick beautifully. French fries are their own food group in my world under any circumstances. Since my metabolism is sluggish (ironic understatement) from the chemo, and I have ceased the two hours of exercise I have done for years, 6 days a week, I have gained 10 solid pounds. Not my favorite, but my body needs to be fed and for me to be gentle. I walk every morning and every night, even on the bad days. Not power walks or hikes, but a flowing deep breathing, walking meditation. Moving the molten liquid through my veins, my lungs, allowing it to infiltrate thoroughly and clear a new clean path.


No dance, no yoga, no gym time. Not that I physically can’t, but it feels wrong in my body. I am learning to listen, instead of powering through. Surprisingly, it is not hard to not do. I am excelling at it. I am golden in the Not Doing arena. I am motivated to seek Pro Status in Not Doing. Until it is time to Do again.

Loving people in my community bring me food three days a week. It is an absolute blessing. I sit on my porch, looking out over the bow of the ship as it cuts through the waves, the choppy seas, breathing deeply despite the weight in my chest. Feet planted under me, knees soft as I roll with the movement. I rock with the ship and I feed the Coal Men who work so diligently. This is my job, and it has my full undivided attention.

I salute the Coal Men and my generous community. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.