My 10th Cancerversary and Graduation

Today is my 10th cancerversary of appendix cancer diagnosis back on February 5, 2010. Unbelievable. I remember when I didn’t think I would be around to see my daughters finish elementary school and enter middle school. Not only did I get to see those milestones but now one is in college and the other a sophomore in high school. My husband has been forever supportive and my extended family and friends have been with me all along. Thank you to all for your love and friendship!

Additionally, I have graduated from MD Anderson cancer check-ups! I always hold my breath before these visits but the tests indicated that I still have no evidence of disease.  After almost 10 years of cancer scanning appointments, I am now released into the wild!

I asked my artist friend, Maria Vittoria Sesta, to create a piece of artwork that expressed my emotions and have given it as a gift to my doctor.

Dancing out of the dark and into the light.
Artwork by Maria Vittoria Sesta

I feel so blessed and grateful for another year!

Your life is your story.

It’s November 30, my “new birthday” once again.

Seven years ago, I had surgery at MD Anderson Cancer Center to remove a second appendiceal adenocarcinoma tumor after two prior surgeries, six months of pre-surgery chemo, three more months of post-surgery chemo (just in case) and a whole bunch of support from family and friends.  My doctors removed a completely dead tumor even though the odds were not in my favor.

So today I will celebrate and revel on my “new birthday” again by: Continue reading

The Real Questions

Yesterday, November 30th 2016, was my SIXTH anniversary with NED (no evidence of disease) after my journey with Stage 4 nonmucinous appendiceal adenocarcinoma.

I will never know why I had cancer. Or why I am well and still here. Instead of searching for answers to those questions, I would rather address the real questions that matter, like these that I came across recently.

  • Did I offer peace today?
  • Did I bring a smile to someone’s face?
  • Did I say words of healing?
  • Did I let go of my anger and resentment?
  • Did I forgive?
  • Did I love?

I try my best to answer ‘yes’ to as many of these as I can every day but I’m only human and I always fall short! Crazy as it sounds, it’s not always easy to carry the weight of being well, of being given more time after staring down my possible death before I was ready. So how do I live my life now?

I’m trying to make choices each day to pay it forward, be present, listen and participate.  One of the ways I try to to do these things is by being there for my small “tribe” of fellow appendix cancer survivors.  I’m also grateful for the opportunity to help other cancer survivors by participating on the MD Anderson Patient and Family Advisory Council. As part of this group, I’m able to give my input on ways to improve patient care at MDA.

My doctors (my heroes) don’t know why I had a complete response to chemo and surgeries. There are only 50 -100 people diagnosed in the U.S. each year with my particular flavor of appendix cancer. Meaningful data is difficult to glean from such a small group. So I may never know the answers to the why and how of my cancer. For now, that’s OK with me.  I’ll stick to living my life as best as I can by trying to answer the real questions.

My Story on Cancerwise (MDA blog)

In addition to still being alive on the planet six years after my cancer diagnosis, one of my other day-to-day blessings is getting to connect with other appendix cancer survivors.

One of the big drivers in deciding to start this blog was the opportunity to connect with other appendix cancer patients, particularly since there was so little information out there and I hadn’t met anyone with the same type of cancer.

Over the years, I’ve made many new friends and we have been blessed to share stories, experiences, treatment survival strategies, laughs, and tears.

Many thanks to Cancerwise, MD Anderson’s blog, for featuring my story in their blog this week where I discuss taking an active role in your treatment.

Click here to read the Cancerwise post.

Appendix cancer survivor: Take an active role in your treatment
March 07, 2016



Day 6 post-op update

Things are trucking along in Houston here at MD Anderson, with a steady stream of pain-killers, sleep, walking and “soft foods” (yum).  Still don’t know how that soft-food-thing is working out.  I do like the Carnation Instant Breakfast.

My epidural was removed yesterday which was replaced with oral painkillers. Ouch!  The transition was tough, but it looks like we’ve finally struck a good balance with the pain meds. Continue reading