Category Archives: Thoughts

Mile 12

I am mile 12.  When I found out I was mile 12 I cried.  I was humbled to be asked to be mile 12. Being mile 12 was suppose to help my friend Nicki but instead I think it helped me even more than it helped her.

Last week Nicki sent an e-mail out to ask for some help from her friends. Nicki was going to run a 1/2 marathon in Victoria, BC on Sunday, October 13.  She has been dealing with some very serious health problems over the last year as well as other life issues.  As Nicki wrote in her e-mail :

” …I have stubbornly continued to run. It’s felt important to me to run and race because I’ve told myself that, if I can run, I can’t be “that” sick. And, even though my health has been challenging and frustrating, it hasn’t gotten the best of me.”

She was telling her coach how she thought  that she might not be able to complete that race. This is what her coach said:

“So this is what you need to do: Use this as a race to focus on the good in your life. Pick 13 positive things or people and dedicate a mile to each of them. Use the energy they will send or give you to get through that mile. Don’t worry or focus on the time, it is not important this time around. You are doing the race because you love running and the race atmosphere. It is a freedom different from other things in your life and brings out your strength and determination. You win by getting to the finish line. So clear your thoughts, focus on you and your loved ones. Make me one of your miles and I will send so much energy you will float to the next miles before you know it. Draw in energy from the greenery around you and there will be plenty of it along this beautiful route. Keep up, not down and know there are a lot of us supporting you.”

That is what Nicki did and she chose me as mile 12:

“Mile 12. Loretta. Because you are one of the strongest, most determined, bad-asses I know. When I need to feel strong, I think of you because you inspire me.”

Why you ask, am I writing about this?  I think this is a wonderful idea for anyone going through chemo and/or radiation.   A many of you know, before I started treatment I was given a beautiful gift of bracelets, flowers and words of encouragement. I have one bracelet for each week I was having chemo (20) and each radiation session (33).

53 bracelets to remind me of everyone sending me positive thoughts.  Well wishes written on slips of colorful paper helping me get through these difficult months.  I put the bracelets in a basket that also contains all the words of encouragement.  I like to randomly pull one out and read it.  The words and the bracelets give me strength.

Nicki completed her 1/2 marathon.  I am on the way to completing my treatment. Never underestimate the power of positive energy and the love of friends and family.  Never hesitate to ask for their help.



Snickers, Cheetos and Peach Fuzz

The last three weeks have been mentally and emotionally difficult.   I am not sure why. They just were.  I obsessed over the amount of lung being radiated.  I cried after the radiation simulation.  I had to come up with a couple of “Plan B”s for the house renovation.  I was talking with a friend and told her that I sometimes just felt like crying and eating Snickers and Cheetos.

On Monday, I had radiation simulation.  This is where they position you on the table using the mold that was made a couple of weeks ago.  I had to lay in the mold with my arms over my head and not move for about 30 minutes.  It was not a pleasant experience.  I got another tattoo (this was a surprise as I wasn’t told that it was even a possibility) and the entire area to be radiated was outlined in ink.  They really like to draw on you in radiation oncology.   X-rays were taken to be sure everything lined up correctly and to double check that the radiation plan was good to go.

After the simulation was finished, I was told to look in the mirror at the outlined area so I would know where to put the aloe vera type gel given help with radiation burns.  I stood in the dressing room and the reality of my situation got the best of me.  I cried.  It seemed like an awfully large area.  It is a quarter of my torso.  There was ink everywhere.

On Tuesday I had my first radiation treatment.  I was able to sit down with the radiation oncologist and discuss my lung obsession.  She patiently showed me the cat scan films and we went over each picture.  She showed me what was being radiated and the dosage.  Yes, a good portion of my lung will be exposed to radiation but only a very small bit will get a large dose of radiation.  I am not so much obsessed now.  Just mildly concerned.  My daughter-in-law, Rachel, was able to go with me.  Today I went for the second radiation treatment (only 31 more to go!)  My sister, Christine is visiting for a week so she will be my radiation buddy for a while.

The house renovation “Plan B”‘s turned out just fine.  Sometimes a “Plan B’ is better then the “Plan A.”  We now have a toilet in the master bathroom and the tub is almost ready to be moved from our bedroom into it’s proper place in the bathroom.  The tile and paint are finished and the vanity top will be installed tomorrow.

As to the Snickers and Cheetos…  While I did have Cheetos at a dinner party some weeks ago, I have not eaten them since.  Also, no Snickers have been purchased or consumed.   So that brings us to the peach fuzz.  Below is a picture of my current hair style and you can see the fuzz for yourself.


Second to Last Taxol – Moving Week

Well this post is just a bit late!  What a week it has been.  It started out like the previous 11 weeks, Chemomonday.  My buddy for the day was Alexa.  Thank you Alexa.  We did the usual  – take the ferry and walk to SCCA.  We stopped at Whole Foods on the way to pick up lunch and for me to hop into the bathroom to apply Lidocaine and Saran Wrap to my port.  I know the bathroom code by heart.  They never seem to change it. We then finished the walk to SCCA and checked into the lab.

The lab was really quiet for a Monday.  This is very unusual.  I was able to get my favorite port accessor, Bo.  He is very good and I have seen him for more than half of my chemo visits.  After lab, we went to the 5th floor, checked in for chemo and sat down to wait and eat lunch.  This is were the story gets interesting (not really but saying it sounds good.)

While hanging out, my left ear started get red and hot, what I call Hot Ear.  It occasionally happens to me and goes away after a bit.  Well this time it didn’t go away but continued to spread until both ears and my face were red.  This was not the flushed face I usually get on Tuesdays after Taxol.  This was the white eyed, red faced, raccoon look of an allergic reaction.  It was red and hot and hot and red.  A very attractive look to accompany a bald head and angry, rashy arms.

When my chemo nurse, Cathy, saw me she was like “What’s up with your face?”  I said I didn’t know and that it wasn’t only my face with an issue but my foot needed a little looksie, too.  (On the Saturday before chemo my left foot was swollen on the top just below the middle and second smallest toe.  The skin in between the toes was sloughing off and just plain yucky.  While the swelling was down, the skin was still pretty bad off.  I am such a joy to take to chemo!)

Cathy called the lab to see if they had used anything new while accessing my port.  They hadn’t.  She then talked to the oncology nurse who talked to the oncologist.  Those chemo nurses are on the ball and take really good care of their patients.  I was given IV Benedryl for the allergic reaction.  In about 10 minutes my face started looking better.  in about 20 minutes it was almost back to normal.  No one knows what happened, just one of those mysterious things.  It happened again the next day, but not to the same extent.  As for my foot, again, who knows what is happening.  I was told to soak it in an astringent solution and apply Neosporin.  It was so much better in a few days that it is hard to believe how bad it had looked.

On Tuesday, we moved.  Yes, we moved.  We moved about 50 yards into our construction zone.  I hired Hill Movers and they sent three guys to carry our belongings from one 3 story townhouse, 50 yards down the street, into another 3 story townhouse.  This is almost like a movers worst nightmare.  Loads of stairs in both homes with no driving break in between.  They were awesome!  And they were tired.  David and his friend Nick stopped by and helped with the move.

On Wednesday my dear friend (and Realtor) Eileen came to help me move the rest of the stuff that the wasn’t ready for the movers.  It turned out to be way more than I thought. Eileen must have made twenty trips (just like the movers) to the new townhouse.  We got some unexpected help from a friend and his two boys who happened to be in town on a visit.  Thanks Jim, Logan and Taylor.  Wednesday night, the move was finally complete.  Eileen, you rock and I owe you big time for all your help.

Thursday I was exhausted. Scott came home from work and worked on the house for hours.

Friday I was exhausted. (I do have a separate story about my encounter with PHONE GUY that my Bainbridge Island female friends will appreciate.) Scott came home from work and worked on the house for hours.

Saturday I was tired. Scott worked on the house for 12 hours.

Sunday I am tired.   Scott is still working on the house.

Our contractor has been working as much as possible but there is a lot to do.  The final product is beginning to emerge and it is a beauty!  Scott has done the lions share of unpacking while installing the kitchen, helping lay the floor, building out a closet, setting up the internet and cable, and doing a million other things.  I, on the other hand, feel like a slug.

Would I recommend renovating and moving at the end of six months of surgery and chemo?  I am not sure I would.  But I would recommend not putting your life on hold when a great opportunity presents itself.  The cancer treatments are temporary.  The renovations are temporary.   We seized the moment and we are very happy that we did.

Taxol Thunder!

Hello faithful BooBooBooB readers.  It’s been a while since I gave my very twisted perspective on this so here goes (turn away now if you can’t stand stories about bodily functions):

Today was the third-to-the-last Taxol infusion and I didn’t go.  David went which was great for both of them, I think.  Unfortunately, Loretta is still on The List (and the List Update) but she is too nice to actually use it when she can for her advantage.  As it turns out, she wasn’t on the right list (the one that said she was going to show up today), they got a semi-private space, the drugs were wrong, and the nurse was new to Loretta.  It’s never like that when I am there.  I’m lucky I guess.  Anyway, it all came out okay and now she is alternately tired and buzzing around.  The buzzing comes from the steroids that she gets with every infusion.  The tired comes from this being the 14th infusion of drugs that are killing or severely wounding parts of her.

Some of you might not know that we came from the East (Right) Coast where we both grew up and lived for the first 17 of our almost 30 year marriage.  In the summer on the East Coast it is common to have afternoon thunderstorms that momentarily cool the place off and then add to the steam (the cooling period is anywhere from 10 to 30 seconds after the rain is finished).  I loved those thunderstorms.  They were sometimes huge and ferocious, sometimes just in the distance so all we heard was the distant rolling thunder.

“What’s this have to do with Loretta?” you may ask.  Well, last night, she did the most amazing simulation of that distant rolling thunder that I have ever heard.  It was like the real thing.  Only it was her guts.  The Taxol is going after all of the fast dividing cells in her body including those lining her gut – from mouth to [other end].  This often makes it hard for her to eat (the mouth part), painful after eating (her stomach and intestines) and, later, [redacted].  The thunder simulator was the middle part.  It sounded like a distant thunderstorm: active, booming, powerful.

I thought it was amazing and wonderful.  She didn’t share my feelings.

She (we) are looking forward to that day when she can really start to heal from the inside out.  When she can start to regain her amazing physical strength and rebuild her emotional strength.  This has been a hard road and it has made her weak.  I still see the glimmer in her eye from time to time and know that it is there waiting for the chance to come back and take control once again.  Two more Taxol infusions to go.  Surgery (which we will find out more about this Friday) and radiation are next.  The thunder simulator’s days are numbered.

Thanks to all of you.  The support we have both received has made this a lot easier.  It is hard to imagine going through this without all the support we have gotten.

Sixth Taxol – A Day in Pictures

Today’s post will mainly be a pictorial.  I have reached the 1/2 way point with the Taxol.  YAY!!! Diana came with me again today.  Unfortunately, she has a bad cold so had to wear a mask the whole time we were at SCCA. image

Diana was banished to The Chair behind The Stuff.  (We drink copious amounts of water.)

photo 3

This is me waving “Hi” to my nephew Anthony who was going to get this image via text.  Sorry, Anthony, no exclusive photos for you.

photo 1

Baldy and Snotty climb the walls as they wait for labs.

photo 2

Diana got this picture of me taking a picture of me and my pump.


Self Portrait with smirk and slight googlie eye.  (It is hard to know where to look when taking a self portrait.  I chose to look at two things (who can make up their mind?) thus the googlie eye.)  Note the slight green pallor.  I hope it was the lighting.


The long-awaited self portrait with me and my pump.  I love my pump.

Some people go out and buy pumps and put them on their feet.  Not me.  Pumps are for fluids that go straight into your heart where they do bad things to bad cells.  I once showed up at work with two different color pumps – black and blue.  It was a long day.

The Wall

It’s been quiet here on the BooBooBooB even though I often ask Loretta if she is going to write something.  She always intends to but often runs out of time or steam.  More often than not it is the steam she is short of.  Even casual athletes are familiar with the concept of “hitting the wall” – when they get to a point where fatigue overwhelms them and makes going on seem all that much more difficult.  Loretta has hit the wall when it comes to her chemotherapy.

She will tell you that she seems to “hit the wall” about three quarters of the way into whatever it is that she is doing.  She’s almost there now in the chemo.  The symptoms caused by the chemo are starting to get her down.  We knew this was going to be a long slog and that we had to look at it as one day at a time but it is easier said than done.

On the other hand, she is able to do a lot more with this course of drugs than she was with the last.  That might be one of the problems – she feels like she can do more so she does and makes her really tired.  It’s great for her mentally but still hard on her physically.

Like every other time that she has hit some kind of wall, Loretta will get through this one,  In two months she’ll be done with the chemo and can have her port removed (something she is REALLY looking forward to).  Then there is that pesky surgery and radiation but we’re not thinking about that yet.

She has an appointment with the oncologist tomorrow so I’ll be going and will post pictures of the infusion tomorrow.  I know you all look forward to seeing pictures of Loretta sitting in an infusion room.  Maybe we will come up with some other kind of picture.  Her sister Diana is here so maybe she’ll come up with something interesting.

We haven’t heard many jokes from you in the last month or so.  We’re always looking for a good joke.

This week in T-Ville

I am waiting for my third round of Taxol to start.  After today I will be 1/4 of the way through this round of chemo!   Taxol is kinder and gentler than AC.  Fatigue can still be an issue but all in all I am feeling better.  Yesterday (and so far today) I felt pretty darn good!

I had three interesting encounters with strangers and cancer this week.  The first happened at Home Depot when an employee came up to me and tentatively asked me if I was a cancer survivor. I was about to say, “Well, I am standing here aren’t I?” but decided not to be flippant   She was a breast cancer survivor who had been through treatments a few years ago.  It was very nice to talk to her and hear her story.  She was not so lucky in the support department.  While she had one friend who took good care of her, her family was not supportive at all.  She is doing well now.  Our conversation ended with a hug.

My second cancer encounter occurred outside Classic Cycle.  For those you of not from around these parts, Classic Cycle is the bike shop below the condo/townhouse we are renting.  I was passing by the shop and a man in an orange “Fuck Cancer” t-shirt came out.  Well, my friend Dee had sent me the same sentiment t-shirt in black some weeks ago and it was the first one I had seen on somebody else.  (I haven’t had the courage to wear it it public yet.)  I asked him about the shirt and we got to talking.  He is a nurse that was just diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer.  He was on his way to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance to meet with a surgeon to get a plan. He said a lot of people stop him and ask about the shirt.  Some people even want to take his picture to send it to someone they know with cancer.  Our encounter ended with good wishes on both our parts.  I hope he will be okay.

My third encounter occurred in a deli.  I was in Poulsbo (a small town near Bainbridge Island) and needed to eat.   As is often the case these days, trying to decide what I actually want to eat can be a lengthy (difficult, indecisive, i.e. not easy) process.  I decided to stop at Jak’s deli because they have Boars Head products.  The deli has been there about 5 years and this is the first time I have ever stopped in.  There was even an on-street parking space in front.

While waiting for my sandwich to be ready, I overheard a women talking about starting radiation the next day.  She went on about how it was lucky she hadn’t waited to see the doctor and other such things.  A minute or so after she finished her conversation, I went up to her (not my normal thing to do) and told her I was going through treatment myself.  I was wearing my hat so I tipped it up so that she could see my bald head.

She looked at me and said, “I have something for you.”  I was a bit startled because she talked to me like she had been waiting for me to show up.  She said she had it in her car. She got up from her lunch and practically ran to her car.  She came back and gave me a book called “Jesus Loves You.”  She told me that I just needed to open it to any page when I felt sad or worried or afraid and read what was there.  She told me I was beautiful and that Jesus did love me and that I was going to be okay.

I had a hard time holding back the tears.  She was so sincere and kind and loving.  We parted with a hug (people really do like hugs.) I got to the car and started to cry.  The encounter was so unexpected.  I was in a place where I had never been before and walked in at the exact time this women was telling her story.

Were these three experiences coincidences?  I think not.  I think each of us needed something from the other at that time.  The woman at Home Depot needed to share her story and I think she felt truly happy that I have such a great support system.  The cycle store guy and I shared the reason we decided to seek care at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.  And the deli woman needed to give me the book and I needed to accept it along with all the other amazing gifts I have received.

So, that is what was up in T-Ville this week.  David was my chemo buddy today and I forgot to take a picture of the two of us at chemo.  So instead I will include this picture of me wearing my special t-shirt.  One more bracelet down.



The night before

Ahhh, the night before chemo.  The creeping anxiety of knowing what is to come the next day.  The love /hate relationship with the drugs (and radiation when the time comes) that make me feel bad but will ultimately keep me healthy.  I call them “insurance.”   My take on this whole cancer thing is that I am cancer free.  It was all removed during surgery.  The chemo and radiation are just “insurance” to a long and healthy life.   So while there is the creeping anxiety, there is also the certainty of that long and healthy life that comes with each chemo and radiation treatment.

Arms Around Bainbridge

There is an organization here on Bainbridge Island called Arms Around Bainbridge.  Arms Around Bainbridge began in 2007 with seven friends, a thirty mile swim around Bainbridge Island, and one vision: to provide financial and emotional support to Olivia Carey as she battled ovarian cancer (Olivia was my friend and colleague.)  It immediately became apparent that Olivia’s challenges were not unique.  Since 2007, AAB has helped and supported other residents in financial crisis due to life-threatening illness.  Recently, cyclists, runners & rowers have joined to assist AAB in raising funds for current & future recipients.

On May 19, there will be a Spin-A-Thon  fundraiser at Island Fitness.  A group of friends/students/clients has put together a Team Loretta.  Please consider giving to this worthwhile organization. While I am not a AAB recipient, your donation will help serve more people who need help during the most difficult time of their lives.

Thank you!