Wednesday, December 25, 2013


Merry Christmas to all!

Spent Christmas Eve at my niece Melissa's house, where she made a feast of foods and desserts.  I was determined to photograph all the food, but after appetizers, I got glassy eyed, and forgot all about it.  There was a delicious Lasagna, and for dessert, all home made... 7 layer cookies, strufulli, and Mexican wedding cake.

yummiest baked clams

Logan introduced Superman to Christmas

Jimi (Mel's dad), JC, Melissa, and Logan

The Hostess with the Mostest

beautiful boy

scrumptious appetizers

Melissa and me

Melissa, and my sister

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

knitted with love

I am so lucky as to have quite a few online friends that I truly cherish.  There are a choice few, though, that stand out among the rest.  My friend "Leek" is one of them.  We've known each other for about sixteen years now, I believe, and have shared a lifetime of changes.  We know each other in private forums that have been kept by another dear friend, "Detes", over all these years.  All of us having met in a very special, but now defunct forum, called The Waking World.
Leek is a knitter extraordinaire, and knowing that I would be losing my hair, she made me wonderful hats in my favorite colors to keep my head warm.  On top of that she knitted this beautiful shawl, and an amazing goddess doll.  How lucky am I?

Thank you so much Leek.  I treasure these things.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

the process

Here are a few free draws I did tonight.  The first one is of me getting chemo, with a small inset in the bottom where I am getting the wbc injection the next day.  The others are when I'm getting expanded.  (Expanders are put in the chest wall.. this is a hard silicone implant that is then filled with saline (150cc at a time for me) every couple of weeks in preparation for the eventual reconstruction.)  This is to stretch the skin for the permanent implant.  Free draws are just crude drawings that take a few minutes each.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

and the boys

Last time I posted some pics of Evie's female cats, and here are her two male cats, Sam (white) and Rocky.

Both were rescued from a shelter.
Sam turned out to have some issues.  He is deaf, and seems to have almost autistic tendencies, not making eye contact, etc. And jumping away when you go to pet him often.  He is also endearingly polydactyl.

Rocky was originally going to be fostered by Evie, for a month.  Well, long story short, that turned into Evie keeping him.  He was sick from a babe, about 8 weeks old.  It turned out he had a mass on his brain that was seen on MRI.  He was sent home with tons of medicines, and a prognosis that he would have 6 to 8 weeks of quality life, before he started going blind, falling over, and a host of other horrible things.  Well, we administered all that horrible medicine to him everyday... it was so sad for him, making him froth at the mouth, and he was nearly dead in our arms.  But he would eat... everyday he would eat like a champ.  There were many people praying hard for Rocky.
Well, it is over 2 years later now, and Rocky has rallied, and is such a beautiful healthy cat.  "Getting stronger, getting stronger"... you can almost hear the music every time he walks into the room.

And speaking of boys... here's my great-nephew, Logan, at Pre-K, in his pilgrim hat.  He's going to be 4 years old on Dec 9th!

Now, an  update on me.  Went for my 2nd round of chemo  yesterday.  Have to get the Neulasta injection today.  Going to keep a log of when symptoms of side-effects start, and subside, so I can get an idea of how this process flows.  Feeling fine so far, but it's usually after the shot that stuff starts... at least it did last time.

Friday, November 29, 2013

yesterday, Thanksgiving Day

I bought these small blue legal pads just before I went into the hospital for the mastectomies, thinking I would have something poignant to say in those early waking moments, but I was mundane, and just want to get on with it.
Now I write in them when I'm away from the computer (where I usually write), only to put them on the computer eventually.  Like the joke at the bottom of this says:  "I have nothing to say."  "You should blog about it."
Evie has some water colors in an old palette.  Took some shots of that.  We still have morning hair and disarray or I'd take a couple of pics of us.  Maybe later, when we're feasting.
Taking pics of 3 of the 5 cats, too.  The 3 girls; Cassie, Kohlette, and Sapphire.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

late november

Late November.  I think of my novel and  how late November occurred more than once.  I liked the idea of snow always being in the offing.  And it snowed a lot in that book.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day.  My mother is in the nursing home, and will be there till the end of January, they say.  She has an infection in the bone where the decubitis ulcer is located (on her sacrum).  She is devastated, thinking she will have to stay there forever.  We tell her that's not so, that she will go home.  She's too vibrant not to.
So, that is hard.  She will be there for Christmas and New Years.  Such a damn long time.

Theresa is making the Thanksgiving feast, but has little room in her apt this year, so me and Evie will get delivered food from her when Melissa is on her way home.  Can't wait.

Me and Ev are now just hanging out on the bed, me writing, her drawing one of her Ladies in Hats.  Bordeaux Red.
There's a clock on 86th Street that plays bells now and then.  I can't make out the tune, though.

Going into my second week off chemo.  I feel a lot better.  It starts up again monday, the 2nd.  This will be right about the time I'll start losing my hair.  Sort of the face of cancer, isn't it?  Nothing much I can do about that.
I have a precious online friend (for some 15+years), who is a knitter, and she's making me a couple of hats.  Can't wait to see them.
Bought myself a couple of bandannas already.  It'll be a whole new thing covering the head like that.

Evie probably thinks I am writing something profound here, as she adds color to the page.  She'll say "Well, it was sorta profound" after hearing it, knowing she's pushing it.  Ha ha.

Wishing you all the happiest Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

the continuing saga

My world is mainly focused on breast cancer, and getting rid of it.  There is not much else on my mind.  But, my poor mother was admitted to the hospital again, with inflammation of the bone where her bed sore is.  It's a bad situation, and I feel so damn bad for her.  I have 3 doctors days next week, including one operation (to get the port) on wednesday, so I won't be visiting much.  The following week starts my chemotherapy (on the 18th) for the next 8 weeks.  After that, it's radiation for  6-7 weeks, the radiological oncologist said, 5 friggin days a week.  Learned all the many horrible side effects of radiation the other day.  The one that bothers me the most, besides the burning peeling skin, is that it could mess up the cosmetic results of the reconstruction.  Does it ever end?  Have an ENT appointment tuesday, because something was "spotted" on the PET (they didn't tell me this at first) in my throat.  I have had GERD for many many years, and I'm hoping it's just a nodule of some sort that's benign.  I certainly don't want to hear of more cancer, that will flip me out.

Friday, November 1, 2013

a day late and a dollar short

A day late, but here are a couple of pics of Logan on Halloween, and with his mom.  She said he had a great time, and made out well, trick or treating along 3rd avenue, with a couple of buddies.  He's just getting so big!  My darling Superman, Logan.

Hmm, couldn't post the one of Mel and Logan... had copied it from Facebook, where Mel had posted it.  Sometimes that happens with pics copied from FB... something's up with their file codes, I guess.
So... it's November!  This year just went whoooooosh.  Still in recoup mode after the operation, which is not much different than the mode I'm usually in, hehe.  Truth.  Had one drain removed yesterday, but the other is still going strong, so hopefully by next week it will be out.  As part of reconstruction, I started to get "filled" in the expanders.... the nurse injected 150ccs of saline into each expander ... this stretches the skin in preparation for the implant, and is done for weeks to months, every week.  I was told there would possibly be pain, but it's not much different than the tightness that's already been there from the start.
No word on when I'll start chemo or radiation yet.  I guess I will know soon.  Gonna be a strange holiday season.

Sunday, October 13, 2013


Just an update on what's been happening.  I had the bilateral mastectomies on friday, and stayed in the hospital over night. At my sister's now as she is taking care of me while I recouperate.  I don't know what I'd do without her honestly.  Feeling some pain, but the percocet helps some.... not as good as the morphine they gave me in the hospital, though!  Going for a walk later on to get some exercise.   The drains are a huge hassel, one on each side.Ugh.  Still needing prayers and good thoughts, of course.  That always helps.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Neil Young Reverie

Listening to Harvest Moon, by Neil Young. Been a while.  Reminds me of early morning road trips with Doc, in the van, going to deliver auto parts to dealers down in Philly.  We'd eat at Nifty Fifties, and play Neil on the cassette player.  I'd take pictures of him while driving.  Profiles of a road man, at least back then.  He'd have lots of other good tapes to play, but I remember Neil the best, of course.
I'm listening to music to take me away from the real world for a little while.  Too many big looming things, and not enough time to ready myself.  So, later for that, at least for today.
Listen to music.  Old time reverie.
"Do you want to get lost?" he'd ask.  "Sure" I'd say.  So he'd take the wrong road and we'd find new vistas along the way, and new camera shots to be had.  Shot with Tri-X film back then, and a yellow filter on my lens.  Loved my black and white.

I'll find some other music and see where it takes me.

I chose more Neil (duh), this time with Crazy Horse, from the Live Rust album.  This reminds me of several things... Me and Steve, 'cause we were heavily into him together, which was nice.  Reminds me also of my cousin Ed, who came to a Neil Young concert with me.  And the music is so him, as it is so me.  Reminds me of myself, my true inner being.  Ballads to hard guitar licks.

Oh, to live on Sugar Mountain.  When the concert hall was quiet I screamed out "Sugar Mountain!"  And the next song he played was that.  I was just like it was for me, you know?  Amazing.

Listening to "Comes A Time" on the Live Rust album, and that reminds me of Jim, which is funny, because I heard "You've Got Mail" and sure enough it was an email from him.  Nice synchronicity.

After the Gold Rush... reminds me of high school and yearbooks that quoted the song.
"Look at mother nature on the run in the  1970's"
"Thinkin' of what a friend had said, I was hopin it was a lie." reminding me of my friend Joanne who had broken out friendship with a conversation to me mom.  I wasn't worldly enough" she had said.

My my, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)... a "me" piece of music.
It's better to burn out than it is to Rust.

I gues this was a Neil Young music piece today.

On a whole, his music reminds me of my sister and Melissa, which is very cool.  Think of Tree when I hear "Cinnamon Girl", and Melissa when I hear "Old Man."

So many fine tunes that you can take so many different places.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

scenes from a wedding

I've known my friends, Amelia and Jeff, for over 40 years, and today their baby girl, Mia, got married.  I went to the wedding with Melissa and JC.  A good time was had by all.  When the ceremony was finished, they played The Beatles, "All You Need Is Love", and that just thrilled me.  So here are some pictures from the wedding.  May Mia and Jimmy continue to love each other forever and always.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

a few days of rambling

So, I have been diagnosed with breast cancer.  I resist saying I "have" cancer, because I don't like the conotation of that.  It is just visiting a while, and will soon be kicked out.
Throughout all this I think of Melissa, and know that she knows every step I'm about to take.  She is helping me by taking me to see the different surgeons, and sitting in on stuff, so as to be a second set of ears.  I know she is busy in her life, and I really appreciate the time she has made for me.
It is just weird that we are going through this one after the other.  I mean, she just finished all her surgeries and treatments this past july, and then I go and get diagnosed at the end of august. 
And my poor sister and mother have to live through the worrying.
Right now I am waiting for the PET scan results, which tell if there is cancer elsewhere in the body.  That is a scary one.  I expect it to come out clear, that's all I can say.
This is all very surreal in a way.  You just go through the motions of what you have to do until the day of the operation, when it gets all too real, I would think.
At first when I saw the plastic surgeon he was telling me I'm not a great candidate for reconstruction because of my weight and my smoking.  Really bummed me out.  Despite that, he explained all the different types of recon available, and I would opt for the expanders like Melissa had, I figured.  I left that office feeling like I wouldn't be able to get the reconstruction, and I did a bit of crying.
Next, when I saw the breast surgeon, she spoke as if the recon was a given, and when scheduling my surgery (Oct 11th) she made sure the plastic surgeon was available, too.  She said if anything went wrong along the way, they could always take out the expanders and stop it.  I'm glad I will at least get a chance at it.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013 4am
The PET scan was clear.  No other cancer in my body, Thank God.
It is all coming very quickly, just a couple of weeks away, more or less.  And I know what I am in for having witnessed Melissa just having gone through it all for the past almost two years.  I am not as young and fit as she is... a perfect female specimen.... So I do not nearly imagine I will come through with such flying colors as she did, but I'll make my way as best I can.
I don't know how she did it at her age, it would've devastated me.  And I guess it did her, of course.  But man, she handled it all so well, God bless her.
I have no great qualms about losing these saggy breasts I have now.  I don't like looking at them, and they get in the way.  But I want breasts, even if they are fake ones.... that's why the reconstruction is important to me.  I think I will be able to handle it... it's just  a feeling.  My body has always healed well, I think.  I don't want to wear prothestic bras, man. 
As for the cancer, since that's what this is essentially about, I am certain it will disappear once the surgery is done.  Hopefully it's in just one of those lymph nodes, but I think they take out a bunch of them, just in case.  And one will be taken out on the other side.  They will cut all this shit out, I'm sure.   And then there's the chemo.... although no one's spoke to me yet about whether I will get chemo or radiation, or both, but I'm assuming chemo at least.  That's going to be a tough haul.  My body won't be happy.  I'll have to work on that in some way.  And my hair will fall out soon after that.  Wow, it just keeps getting better, huh? Geez.  Tree says she thinks that will affect me the most, and I'm sure it won't be pretty.  I just hope facial hair goes with it, that'll be one plus.  Of course, whatever goes will come back again.... after a time. 
What kind of photojournalistic view should I take of this?  Well, this could be the first of the journalistic part, but I need photos, and self portraits are not easy with at least a tripod.  I will be enlisting the help of Melissa and Evie to take some pics of me along the route of treatment.  I wanted to do that with Melissa... had a pic of her at her first chemo (but before the chemo started), but never followed up on it, because it felt kind of intrusive, really.  Maybe I will feel that way about my own self, too.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013 9pm
I am having a big scare about insurance and whether I will get the needed coverage for an operation with the surgeons I want.  I have to see about getting supplemental medicaid benefits for medicare.  That would involve paying a monthly spend down.  It's all a big headache to me, and I feel like I have no time.
Other things going on, too, that I don't want to write about, but that weigh heavily on my mind.
Sometimes the truth about one's life can be too vivid, and not everybody needs to see that.
I'm not sure when or if I'll post this on my blog.
Tomorrow is my primary doctor, and the plastic surgeon after that.

Friday, September 27, 2013
Well, went to the plastic surgeons office yesterday, and really just spent time with his nurse, who explained all the pre-op and post-op instructions.  Lots of information, and it had my head spinning.  She said I might wake up from surgery WITHOUT being reconstructed, and that made me cry.  It all depends on a test they do during surgery, with a machine called The Spy... which sees if there is adequate blood supply in the chest wall to proceed with reconstruction.  Because I'm a smoker, it may not be adequate, in which case they wouldn't proceed with it.  It's going to be a little devastating to wake up to bad news like that.
I have to get blood drawn at a lab, and a chest xray before I can get medical clearance, and I still don't know what's going to happen with insurance and crap like that.  There is just too much to do before surgery, and not enough time to do it, it seems.  I'm getting very tired from it all.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

saturday morning haiku

hot coffee 'tween friends
leaves beginning to crumble
a recurring theme


the mystery box completed

As you can see, there is another section above, called The Mystery Box.  This was a project that me and Evie started at the beginning of this year, and it has taken us till now to complete it.  If you'd like to read along, you should start at the bottom of the page and read upwards.... the most recent post being at top.  It's not much to read, and I would like to share the project with everyone.  Let us know what you think.  Just click on The Mystery Box, above.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

the results

I wish I could say these are the results of a horse race, or something fun like that.  Today I went to see the surgeon, and found out I indeed have breast cancer in my right breast.  It is staged very low, and I know I will be alright.  I take a lot of strength from my niece, Melissa, who just went through all this.  I have a large support system with my family and friends, and even here online.

I will keep you updated on my journey.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

mammograms and biopsies

Well, I went for the mammo on friday, and it turns out they found calcifications in the right breast, and they set me up for 3 biopsies right then and there.  I wasn't expecting that.  I had a needle aspiration biopsy on the lymph node, which was pretty painful, and Stereotactic breast biopsies at the other 2 sites.
I have to follow up with a surgeon this week.  Keep good thoughts for me, if you will.

Nothing much more to tell.  Mom's still at the nursing home, and hopefully improving.

Logan has taken to using Melissa's cell phone camera from time to time.  She finds pictures of the fan, the tv, the remote, on her cell, and the other day he took a self portrait. 
A few months shy of his 4th birthday, I'd say it's a good time to start getting into photography. :)

Monday, August 26, 2013

late sunday night

Just a ramble tonight.  I have no pictures to show, which is always a drag... but I just haven't been carrying my camera with me.
Been visiting mom at the nursing home from time to time.  Got a look at her bedsores, (2, not 1 as I thought) and was horrified by the size and depth of them.  Got me and my sister sick to see that.  I'm afraid for my mom, and how long this might take to heal.  She has lost all her nerve endings, so feels no pain from this.  I don't even know if that's a good thing or a bad thing, really.

Myself, I've got a busy (for me) week ahead.  Need to see a surgeon for a swollen lymph node under my arm, on tuesday.  Wednesday I'm going to get my hair cut, hopefully cutting off the last of the brown, so I can be completely gray/silver/white.  On friday, I'm scheduled for a mammogram, which I've never had, and am not particularly looking forward to.

Well, let me see if I can find any pictures taken by others (i.e. Melissa and her partner, JC)

Melissa and Logan holding hands

Logan and JC about to play soccer

Melissa (waving) running the Percy Sutton 5k yesterday

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

get rid of word verification!

To those of you who still use word verification, could you please STOP?!  It is hard to read, and sometimes takes two or three times before it goes through correctly.  Why not just moderate your comments, so you could head off spam.  The word verification isn't fair to your readers, and probably keeps a lot of people from commenting.  If you don't know how to shut off the verification, ask, and I'll figure it out again and tell you.

Meanwhile, I am trying just once to get past a word verification... after that, it becomes too much of a bother.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

old friends

I am blessed to have life long friends.  Of course there is Evie, who I've known for over 38 years, and luckily get to see every day.  Then there are my old friends, Amelia and Jeff... I've known Amelia for 43 years, and Jeff just a little less than that.  I don't get to see them very often... sometimes years can pass between visits.  But when I see them it is like we just take up where we left off.  There is no distance or time that can undo that.
I visited them earlier this week with Tree, Melis, and Logan.  Jeff didn't get home till late, so we didn't have that much time with him, unfortunately, but it was a great day all around.
Amelia worked on a pair of pants that I needed taken in, having lost 3 sizes since I last wore it.  She is quite the seamstress, and this outfit was for her daughter's wedding, come October.  I was going to take them to a tailor, but she insisted.  I couldn't refuse.
It was a day filled with love.  Their house is like that.  It's very refreshing.

sharing some good food, and pretzels, too!

Tree helping Logan with penmanship

Amelia at the sewing machine

Jeff playing Angry Birds with Logan