all is well here. Tim is 100% for an old guy.. No, you’d never know it though, he’s gorgeous.
My symptoms are so much improved that waiting for january tests is no concern. Of course, the infusions cause fatigue and you do what you need to do about that.

Matt is doing very well, living the clean life, being an exceptional father. and enjoying his new chef position.
Alaina is well, you guessed it, cute. Puppies kittens, baby- anything is cute but she does charm us as do all of your little ones in your life.

Matts toughest task will be managing money. Isnt it too easy to spend? Calling my nieces and nephew who handle money beautifully as well as alll the Day Generation 8 to send him tips.
his current number is 205-789-5409.
So dont overdo the holidays slow down and enjoy….. Love, kathy

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Raking in the Leaves

I may load and unload
Again and again
Till I fill the whole shed,
And what have I then?

I don’t really have a shed, but I do have leaves.  Maybe we can rake some leaves.  It is a nice warm day, for early December.  Actually, it is a pretty ordinary late fall day here.  I think it is about 70 degrees (20 Celsius maybe).  “You won’t need your jacket, but maybe some shoes is a good idea.  Do you know where your shoes are?”  “Da!”  Socks go on quite easily, then shoes, and we are ready.  Where are the rakes.  I have one good one, and one that is missing about half the fingers, or tines, or what are they called.

“Yes, the dog may come with us, but he might want to take a nap.  We can let him sleep for a little while.  And Kathy too.”  “Dibi! Da, Da!”
Okay, shoes, yes, then the rakes are right where they are supposed to be.  Oh, but really we should sweep the deck first.  No, I already did that, and there aren’t enough additional leaves to worry about yet. The gutters are full, yes, but I am not (we are not) climbing up there.  Not today anyway.

So, we start here by the gate and rake and push the leaves down the slope of the lawn towards the compost pile.  Well, it is a pile of composting material.  I think of it more as a organic land fill, and it sort of works for that purpose.  Kitchen scraps go in there.  (Sometimes, I let things go bad because I think the compost would enjoy it.  A banana, say, or a piece of melon.)  The dogs occasionally dig in it (egg shells maybe), and sometimes there are potatoes growing, or melons, or leeks.  I have never harvested anything out of it though.  “Here, you should wear your scarf.  It will keep the sun off your head, and since you have only a bit of hair, it might help with sunburn.”  “Mah!”  Yes, it is yours, and surprising (to me at least) you keep it on.  It makes you look a little older, though a little older is still pretty young.  Bony, red, head.  “Da!”  “No, he’s sleeping.  We should be a little quiet here under the window.”

So, I push the leaves along the fence, and expose the fat, green St. Augustine grass growning underneath.  “You should plant a little St. Augustine” I hear my father say, “Nothing can kill that.”  Not completely true, but close enough.  That St. Augustine was a gift from a friend, who had planted some in his yard and gave we the leftover from his pallet.  Maybe ten years ago, and it has been spreading through this yard ever since.  It is a pretty good yard now.  I rake to try and save it for another year.  The other spot in the yard that I rake is in the front a spot of zoysia.  That too, was planted about ten years ago, but it never grew much until recently when we had some trees fall, and let in some sun.

“Oops, here, pick that up.  We should wear hats in the sun.  Yes, that is your rake, and yes, I know it is really too big, even with the missing tines, or fingers, or whatever they are.  Though, can it be too big with the missing tines.  Can it be any way at all with the missing tines, since they are not even there?”  I don’t really expect an answer. “Maaii!”  “Yes, that’s true.”  That’s a good guess, most of what everyone says must be true.  Even what I say about the rake being too big.

So, there is our pile of leaves.  And what have we then?  Well, a pile of leaves that we can shuffle through.  We can fill the treads of our shoes with dirt, and get our pants full of leaf debris.  When I was in kindergarten (or maybe first grade) our teacher would make us empty our pant cuffs before coming in after recess.  We had a contest regarding who could pack the most sand into his cuffs.  We will need to take our shoes off outside.  An exposed piece of St. Augustine we have to run around on, and throw the ball for Drake, when he wakes up.  Well, yes, and some weeds to pull (I almost said, ‘pick’, but ‘pick’ is what you do with flowers.  Weeds must be pulled.)  But don’t worry, I won’t make you pull weeds.  We can wait til spring and pick some flowers.  I think there will be daffodils right over there.  “Hehya!”

“Must be lunch time.”

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Scans good

Sept 11 CT’s: Chest showed mostly stable if not slightly decreased lesions. Abdomen and pelvis clean. Buy some stock in Halaven!
Tim seems 98% back to normal. Matt and Kayla are working hard and the dog and cat are better. Well, the cat wants to be KING and if he is not treated royally he will show you what he can do to your hardwood floors.
Happy autumn, good luck with school on every level and much love to all.

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Just a good note: today is the 2 year anniversary of learning that I had metastasis, the next day  being told I had 2 years.     TAKE THAT prognosticators!

Oh I guess I have to catch you up…   Brain scan: “fantastic”.   Eyes: “these tumors are shrinking beautifully”.  Back: feels much much better.   Lungs:   Feel better, scans September 11.    Tim:  Poor thing keeps getting fevers and does not feel too well.   Ill let him tell….

Jeremy: bladder infection, not too thrilled with the pottying he did but he’s on meds.   Drakes on steroids.   Matt: struggling to be healthy and happy.  I’m the healthy one!   Except I look like Don King with anemia.



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June 2012, fun in the summer

Dear Friends and family.
Very good news: Eye doctor is very pleased with shrinking tumors in both eyes. He said they will continue to shrink. Woo hoo!
Wonderful, wonderful trip to NJ. Arrived right at the last chance to party with Aunt Mary for bday. Donna, Rich, Tom and other cool Martin-Nichols were there.
Then to the shore. Barbara opened her house-full-of-fun to me.

Just being able to watch Tara and Dana with their families was a gift. Good talks with Barb and Don.
Tim came later but got to see Barb and Don, Dana and family. Great dinner with cuzzin Mark as well. Mark, a heart of gold and a face of a thousand expressions.

Birding was unbelievable. Still a lot of shore birds, warblers, RUDDY TURNSTONES and more null at Brigantine and Cape May. Watching horsehoe crabs mate is amazing.
Voice went out while birding in salt air…..
Voice: ENT looked at my vocal cords Friday. I was thinking there was a polyp or worse making my voice go out. They ran a video scope which showed that the cords don’t open much. So they think my shortness of breath is due to tight vocal cords. Tight vocal cords most likely due to pressure on nerve that opens them. Nerve that opens them comes from chest.
Hoping that the 6 week break in Halaven for rads did not let things go too crazy in the chest.
Why so complicated? 80% of my body is capable of living, having fun, helping others. Not ready to let the 20% stop the fun ……
Best to all with your joys and struggles.

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somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done SOMETHING good

Results of the three month CT scan on chest, abdomen, and pelvis: essentially the same. This is REALLY good news. The boogers arent setting up camp in abdomen, and pelvis.
My medical Onc was totally understanding about my little tantrums: “I want my eyes treated NOW”. And she will let me have chemo back as soon as I get back from NJ. Unfortunately, the treatments delay my flight out, so will be traveling on Aunt Marys birthday instead of kicking back with her all day.

I don’t know, things are going so smoothly. Hope that’s true for every one of you.

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I love birding

Yesterday I asked Tim “why dont we go to Limestone Park after work some time?” He said, “How about tonight?” I got excited. “Well I’ll have to cook that chicken today and put it up.” “We can have a picnic”
What a gift! We cooked, loaded up, and made it to Limestone in time to see the black ducks that are a surpirse to everyone. Beautiful weather, beautiful viewing, and a perfect picnic.
And we get to do it in NJ in June, so life is good.
Everyone gets medical problems as time goes on. I’m lucky to have the best of the best treating my shopping bag of problems.
Today was the first eye treatment and it went quickly and smoothly. 9 more. Then Ocean City NJ, family, cheesesteaks, ocean and great birds.

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vissi d’amore

Vissi d’arte, vissi d’amore,
non feci mai male ad anima viva!
Con man furtiva
quante miserie conobbi aiutai.
Sempre con fè sincera
la mia preghiera
ai santi tabernacoli salì.
Sempre con fè sincera
diedi fiori agl’altar.
Nell’ora del dolore
perchè, perchè, Signore,
perchè me ne rimuneri così?
Diedi gioielli della Madonna al manto,
e diedi il canto agli astri, al ciel,
che ne ridean più belli.
Nell’ora del dolor
perchè, perchè, Signor,
ah, perchè me ne rimuneri così?

We are a little early, so we get directed into the bar.  Did we tell them to meet us here?  Or were we supposed to go to the hotel?  No, they said we will meet in the restaurant.  Highlands.  Kathy orders a Shirley Temple.  I get some water.  “I have to go to the bathroom.”  So I wait, and think I should call them.  But as I am trying to find the number, yes, find it, certainly not remember it, here they are.  Steve and Yay.  So we are out for dinner.
“I want a glass of champagne.”
“I think I will get a vodka rocks.”
“Yes, I’ll have a vodka, instead of the champagne.”
“Okay, three vodka rocks.” (Was it Stoli? something nice anyway.)
“Vodka rocks.  Half of dad’s drink.”
“Yes, he always had a double vodka on the rocks.  Or maybe just a shot when no one was looking.”

Okay, the tables ready, and we are dressed appropriately for the dining room.  Coats, ties were maybe optional, but why chance it.  Anyway, I don’t get much opportunity to wear ties anymore.  So, good.  An old jacket from what was a suit years ago.  I guess one does not gain weight everywhere at once.  I didn’t anyway.  Steve is worried about his shirt/tie combination, but it is fine.

Our table is in the corner.  Two chairs (Steve and Kathy) and two on the bench (Tim and Yay).  The table can be adjusted, a bit too close, or now too far away.  We are not fat.

Mark brings us menus and, more importantly perhaps, the wine list.  It is a long list, but Steve finds something from the right bank.  That is a kind of Bordeaux, right.  But still I can’t resist something from the left.  A different bank, maybe, but still.

Saint-Émilion Château Haut-Segottes, Grand Cru 2006
Margaux Château Deyrem-Valentin, Cru Bourgeois 2001

Oh, and there are a variety of oysters offered as appetizers.  I remember seeing one of those cooking shows on TV and they were preparing some sort of Appalachicola oyster dish.  Not raw, some sort of baked maybe.  I don’t really remember, as with everything I try to remember, it is only about half correct.  Fortunately, I am happy to be an antirealist about the past.  We get to make it up as we go along.  We can, as a matter of fact, always hope to have a better past.  As, for example, maybe those dinners involving the double vodka on the rocks were not so enjoyable as I remember.  But the vodka rocks right now are pretty nice.  That seems pretty mixed up to me right now, but someday, I will try to figure it out.  Anyway, I remember the old vodka, in the manner of this vodka.  Which makes my past life better.  But maybe I am just making stuff up.  Yes, maybe.

The restaurant empties out.  The people at the table next to us are leaving.  “What do you recommend?” “Oh everything is wonderful.”  “The snapper is excellent”.

Mark comes with the wine.  He, or someone, recommends the 2001 as the first selection.  He primes the glasses.  The wine service occupies the table next to us that was recently vacated.  I guess we are lucky.  A late Saturday meal.  Risotto, veal, pork, scallops, grits, oysters (the smaller ones, “We just prefer the smaller ones” . . . strawberries, french press.  What else?  You want me to remember?  Would it help?

I am wondering whether I will ever again remember anything correctly.  It would be nice if I would always err on the side of pleasant, and then never be corrected.

Well, for at least a few days, and one special night, we are treated pretty well.  And that’s not just how I remember it.  And I am not quite sure why I am treated this way.

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No new eye tumors or growth

We’ve been waiting to see the great ophthalmologist to see how the eyes look.
He sees no change, which is good, because breast cancer tends to shower tumors into the brain and eyes.
He recommends radiation therapy and we hope to move forward next week.
We all think this means that the new chemo, Halaven, is holding the existing metastatic disease in chemo prison. :*)

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March in Bloom

Hi, dear family and friends,
It is getting so pretty here with azaleas, pear and cherry trees, and daffodils and tulips in bloom. Somehow the first wave of pollen has died down.

Where to start re Kathy’s chronic illness? As always, Im sure I feel better than many people our age.

Speaking of age, did I tell you we got a bird spotting-scope for our birthdays? Wonderful for birds of course, and we recently saw Jupiter’s moons from our Callaway Gardens hotel balcony.

Okay. I have stage iv breast Cancer which means there are deposits in the body apart from the original tumor, which showed up in 1997. Thats a long good ride.
The locations of these gypsy clones are in 4 categories and tend to be followed in their own different ways.
1. Chest. Multiple nodules in lungs, with lymph involvement within the lungs, which is probably making me cough and hoarse! This is treated by chemo. The lymph involvement will be the trickiest problem so far…. we have to get that under control.
2. Bones. Scattered in spinal bones, no impingement on nerves or cord. This is treated with the same chemo plus Xgeva.(Look it up it is really interesting.) I also had a round of radiation to 2 spots.
3. Eye. It is a very common for breast cancer to migrate to the retina; the good news is there is only one and I have no loss of vision. Treated by chemo, possibly radiation if needed.
4. Brain. Few chemos can get to the brain, so we have a brilliant neurosurgeon following this and treating it with gamma knife. Had one yesterday. This is super lucky, as I told you before, because most women are getting Whole Brain Radiation. You would not want this is you did not have to have it!

NOW. Saturday night we went out to listen to one of our 2 favorite bands, Blue Galaxy, and I danced and sang until 11 pm. No booze for me, not needed. The music gives me so much energy. Maybe its a legacy from the Capitol records we listened to 20 hours a day growing up. (But I dont recommend that to you young parents out there)

So, I rest, then go do what I want to do, rest, repeat. The tricky thing is to be mindful of Tim’s needs too. He works a good week at UAB, takes care of bills, all outside work, and much more.

Matt is riding the bronco-horse-of-life and doing pretty well with a tuff ride. Alaina is starting to talk. Both parents working, we get to babysit some evening when Tim and I are BOTH home as I drop things frequently, Broken dishes, spilled drinks, and the cat who lands on his feet. No real harm.

We may go to the gulf beach tomorrow!

Thats all I can think of…. please ask if not clear.


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