Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

Just finished my second week of the trial! Hooray!!  On Monday I will begin receiving the drug in it's full dose.  I am so looking forward to it and seeing all the amazing things it will do. Just as a reminder, this drug is not a cure, but rather a band-aid (who cares as long as the crazies are not growing!).  I'll be taking it as long as it is working for me, which could be years or until there is another treatment that is better for me.

Teya is sitting here with me and we just finished watching Kris Carr's vlog together. I love sharing her messages with Teya.  Don't know her - well you should check her out.  She's the friend I've never met. Her blog is Crazy Sexy Life and the link is on my blog list.   She is the most inspirational woman I know and because of her, I am as healthy as I am.  I may have cancer, but I am still healthier than I have ever been - physically and mentally.  She introduced me to the plant based diet including green smoothies and green juice as well as yoga and meditation.  Don't know where I would be today without her.

Last day of 2010.  Although there were a few black clouds, it was a great year for me.  Blessings are everywhere in my life and now is a good time to reflect on the past year.  I got to spend a lot of time with family.  From visits in AZ, a summer of vacationing with family to Disney World.  We had some really good times this past year and those memories will last forever.  I have the best friends a girl could ask for and this year has brought us closer together.  It is amazing the good that comes from the bad.  This past year has shown me the love of those around me and how supportive friends and family can be.  They have given me laughter and been there to listen and encourage. I felt the love of so many through phone calls/texts/emails/blog comments, prayers, meals, house cleanings, handmade blankets and all the other thoughtful gifts I have received.  You all make me stronger and I give thanks to all of you.

I can't say the year was bad when I felt so much love throughout the year.  So as I say good-bye to 2010, it is with a smile and warm heart.  Not, thank goodness it is over.  I look forward to all the joy and blessings that 2011 will bring into my life.  I hope the same for you.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Second week of treament

I am again at my doc's office for my second dose.  I took it about an hour ago and I feel great.  Tired from the Christmas extravaganza weekend, but other than that, I feel great.  I'll be here for another 10+ hours today and in every morning for a blood draw. This is the last full day and week of daily blood draws as this is the last week of the two week trial.  Beginning in January, I'll be in the rollover study and will receive the full dose which I'll take at home and see the doc once a month.  I'm thankful that I was able to get into the 2 week trial  but I look forward to getting into the rollover study and getting the full dose.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Great week

This week has gone great.  No side effects and I'm excited to be on this treatment.  Monday the 27th will be my second and final week of the study.  One more 11+ hour day and one more week of daily blood draws then I am finished and will begin taking the drug at home.  I look forward to receiving the full dose and not having daily blood draws.  A small price to pay for getting what I want, but I'll still be happy to not have a daily poke.

Last Monday my good friend Claudia came to doctor's office and brought me lunch and stayed with me for 4 hours.  We had vegan chili and a salad.  Oh and she made me celebration cookies.  (She's a dessert chef ya know.  Check her out - )  Her celebration cookes are the best in the whole world!!  Teya thinks so as well.  Lunch was terrific, but her company was fantastic.  Thanks Claudia!!  You are such a great friend and I am so blessed to have you in my life.  You can make me laugh like no one else and your stength empowers me to be a better leader for myself.  Thanks for everything!

Ok, Teya and I are going to make some Christmas cookies.  I'll post some pictures once were finished.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Monday, December 20, 2010

First day of treatment

I am sitting at my doctor's office and just took my first dose!  I am in a 2 week clinical trial and I will need to be here today for 10+ hours.  Yep, 10 hours.  Claudia is visiting me today and bringing lunch.  What an awesome friend she is!!  Today and then again on Monday the 27th, I will need to have blood drawn every 30 minutes for the first 2 hours and then every 2 hours after that up until 10 hours.  It is a part of the trial to measure absorption and then how the body gets rid of the drug - Tuesday - Friday of this week and next I'll come in once a day for a blood draw.  During the 2 week trial the dosage will not be the normal dose.  After these two weeks, I'll get rolled over into getting the drug without any of the blood draws and it will be the full dosage.  I"ll be taking the drug at home once a week.  I'll then see the doctor once a month and get scans every 8 weeks.  I'll be on the treatment for as long as it is working.  My doc explained it like this.  If you have a pipe with a leak and you put your hand over the lead, the leak stops.  If you take your hand off, the pipe leaks.  This treatment has not been proven to cure, but manage.  That is fine with me.  As long as there isn't growth, tumors don't hurt you.

Side effects should be minimal, but with everything it is a wait and see game.  The drugs effect everyone differently, so we'll see what effects it has on me.  Should be minimal nausea and fatigue with the most common side effect being non-melanoma skin cancers.  My skin will be checked once a month for any changes.  I'll have photographs taken of my skin to compare.  If anything looks funky, we'll remove it.  There hasn't been any cases of having melanoma lesions only non-melanoma. 

I also found a lump just below my left breast. My doc looked and it is on my last CT scan, but was not indicated by the radiologist.  He says it is not in the breast tissue and is just under the skin which leads him to believe it is a melanoma tumor.  We are not going to biopsy it, but will keep a close eye on it.  Once I am on the treatment I should be able to feel it getting smaller.  A good indication it is working before I have a scan.  I'll have a scan just before I begin the rollover (full dose) so that we know the size of the crazies.  This will ensure that we are comparing before and after treatment sizes.  This is just in case there was growth or shrinkage since my last scan in November.

Have I mentioned how much I LOVE my new doc?  Not only is Dr. Gordon highly knowledgeable about Melanoma (YES!), he is also one of the most caring doctors I have met along my journey.  During our initial consultation, he thoroughly answered all our questions and we didn't feel rushed.  We were at his office for over an hour during which he left the room to research some questions.  Seriously! I haven't had a doctor yet that has left the room to research a question. Nothing against my Tucson buddies, but there we left without all our questions being answered with a "come back and see me in a week" response. Another 4 hour round trip drive and co-pay later we may have our answers.  I also need to rave about all of the nurses and staff.  They are all so friendly.  Everyone I pass smiles and says hello.  Awesome doc with wonderful nurses, I couldn't be happier!
Anyhoo, I'm really excited to begin today and have the drug begin to work in my body.

I'll keep everyone posted.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

More Great News!

No Chemo!!!!!!!  The doctor, Dr. Gordon, I saw on Friday is running a trial with the B-raf drug.  I start the 20th.  The drug is a pill that I will take at home and there are little side effects. This is one of the drugs I wanted and I'm so excited.  I'm getting ready for The Martin Christmas Party, so I'll post more later.  I just wanted to tell everyone the good news.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Some good news!

Finally remembered to call my doc and got my MRI Results which were good - NED (no evidence of disease).  Yipee!! I needed some good news.  Thank you God for keeping my brain healthy!

I have an appointment with a new doc on Friday.  His office is also running the clinical trial that the Arizona Cancer Center docs want me in.  Good thing is he is in Scottsdale, about 15 minutes from home.  I'm hoping to get a recommendation from this guy and not just information regarding the trial.  I did hear back from one of our friend Jaci's contacts at UCLA and he is recommending I pursue a more recent treatment.  (Can't say it enough - thanks Jaci!!) I am definately on board with this type of thinking.  It is just trying to find the drugs/trial I need.  He gave me some things to ask my doc in Tucson and I look forward to getting the answers on Tuesday when I travel down there.  I have been unable to get an appointment at Mayo until 12/30 which I think will be to late.  I'm not sure I am comfortable waiting that long to begin a treatment.

Other than waiting around for docs to call, I still feel great!  Went to yoga last night and it was amazing.  Just what I needed.  Can't wait for tomorrow night's class already.

I'll update again after my appointment on Friday.

Monday, December 6, 2010

No News

I got no news from anyone today.  I'll keep you all posted as I hear anything from my docs and specialists.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


I did not receive the results of my MRI on Friday.  I was really busy.  It was my last day at the school and then after work I went straight to Teya's school to volunteer in her class.  After school she has gymnastics until 4.  My doctor's office closes at 4 and I didn't remember until after then.  I am taking it as a good sign that they did not call.  If it is bad news, then tend to call right away.  Once I speak with them tomorrow, I'll update.

We went out last night to celebrate our friend's, Rob Sutton, birthday.  It was so much fun to be with good friends for an evening out.  Most I hadn't seen a long while.  I am so blessed to have great friends that speak their concern and love with tight hugs and not words.  I wasn't sure what to expect, but was so thankful to have a night of catching up and laughter with friends without discussing the big C.

Have a great Sunday!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


I got my results from my CT Scan and they were not good. They were actually worse than I could have expected. The tumors in my lungs have grown and now there are more. There is also a new .5 centimeter mass where my right kidney used to be.  I don't even know how to put my emotions into words except, I'm devastated.  Beyond this crap though, I feel great.  All of my blood work came back healthy and my lungs sound great nor do I have shortness of breath or pain.

I had an appointment with my onc in Tucson and his recommendation is a clinical trial that is testing a breast cancer chemo against an approved melanoma chemo (ABI-001 vs. DTIC).  It is a radomized study.  I'm not confident in this treatment option as there is another drug that is proven to be successful with Melanoma.  The drug was suposed to be approved by the FDA Chrismas Eve, but they postponed it until March 2011 to get additional data.  There is an open study for this drug at MD Anderson in Houston, TX.  My Uncle Art and Aunt Diane live there and I know they would take care of me if this is where I need to be for treatment.

So, anyways, this is a difficult decision and I am seeking other opinions to make sure that the treatment we choose is right for me.  I'm hoping to get an appointment with The Mayo clinic in Scottsdale.  I faxed them my medical records Tueday night and I hope to hear from them tomorrow. Also a wonderful friend of ours, Jaci, is helping us find other opinions through her contacts in the world of cancer.  We are so grateful for all she is doing for me.

Any of the treatments that are available will wipe out my immune system as well as possibly kick my butt with numerous other potential side effects.  I could be in treatment for the next 6+ months.  Because of this I have to quit my position at the Pre-School and this Friday will be my last day.  I am so sad to have to leave.  As one of the teacher's (Miss Laura) put it, it is my happy place and it will be hard to leave such great co-workers (who really are a second family) and great children and their families.  Friday will be a hard day for me.

Due to the spreading of my cancer, I am having an MRI of brain tomorrow.  We need to ensure that this nasty stuff hasn't made a home there as if so that would be a totally different treatment.  Should have the results on Friday.

I am praying for guidance in my decision and healing.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

No news

No news to report. We leave in the morning to Disney World for the week of Thanksgiving. We're meeting Todd's family there.  We are excited!

I'll update when we return.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Finally Feeling Better

Sorry it took so long for me to update.  This round was much more difficult than the first.  I don't want to go into the details as I was miserable, but I will say I didn't feel good until Friday.  The lingering ailments are fatigue and nausea.  I am wiped out by 9 and the nausea is only in the morning now and goes away with breakfast.  I'll have a scan on November 19 to determine the success of the treatment.

So, I am finally feeling better - thank goodness!  I was able to go into Teya's class on Friday for their Fall party and yesterday we went to Schnepf Farms.  Had a good time at both and was thankful that I felt so good.  Below are some pictures of the past month.

Teya's Sock Hop

Cowgirl ready for Hoedown Party

Fall Party in class 

 Schnepf Farms
 Petting Zoo
 Hay Maze
 She loved the big slide

 I also took a ride down

Teya loved the corn maze

Teya coming down big slide

Friday, October 15, 2010

Round 1, Part 2 done...

Hey all, Todd here. Well, Tina has officially completed Round 1, part 2. She finished last night, completing 11 of 12 more than last time! She had some low blood pressure issues at the beginning of the week, but those seemed to clear up and she was able to get through it. She is a superstar!

She will be heading home sometime Saturday, and her mom is staying this time though Tuesday, which is great news. I can be the best care giver I can, but nothing like having her mom here. Sunday and Monday were miserable for Tina last time, with constant chills, sweats, flu like symptoms, and basic drug withdraw symptoms, so hopefully this time those are minimize. Last time by Tuesday things started to get a bit better, hope the same holds true this time around...

Anyway, Tina will update once she is able, but just wanted to give you guys the latest...

Friday, October 8, 2010

Feeling Good

Sorry, I haven't been up for blogging.  I came home on Saturday afternoon and was in bed for the day/night.  Woke up Sunday not feeling well.  I had chills and sweats all day.  And I really mean all day.  I didn't have even 5 minutes when I wasn't cold and sweaty.  This lasted from 5am Sunday morning until 7am Monday morning.  Thank goodness I felt well enough to travel down to Tucson to see Dr. Hersh.  Once there, he informed me that the chills/sweats that I had been experiencing was a great thing.  It means that my immune system is working in high gear and pumping out the good stuff that kills tumors.  This was great news!  Made it easier to deal with the symptoms knowing that my body was fighting.  Also found out that my Lymphocytes counts were up.  These are the cells that target and kill tumors.  Again, great news!

Monday - Wednesday I felt like I had the flu and then coming down from the flu.  Finally on Thursday I felt better.  I was able to take Teya to school - first day driving in a week and a half!  Then spent the rest of the day with my friend Kelly.  It was great to be out of bed and off the couch.  Friday was another good day.  I went in to Teya's class and helped with a paint project and then went back for her last gymnastics class.  She got 2 1st place certificates and 1 2nd place.  She was proud and I was proud of her.  We are now getting ready for a Sock Hop dance at her school.  She is so excited.  I got her a cute pink satin dress with poodle on skirt.  I'll post pictures of her all dolled up.

I don't know how to begin thanking everyone for your support.  Thanks for the phone calls, cards, flowers, emails, texts, prayers, visits, dinners, etc.  All have made the last weeks manageable.  Every word of support and encouragement has lifted my spirits and made me stronger.  This is a difficult treatment and your support has meant a lot to me and my family.  As I gear up for next week, I get strength from the support that you all have given me. I look at the flowers and cards, read the words of encouragement and it helps me get ready.

My mom gets in town Sunday morning and we look forward to spending the day with her before we head down to Tucson on Monday.  Thank goodness she can be there with me.  Couldn't do it without her.

Friday, October 1, 2010

A quick update...

Greeting all....Todd here. Just wanted to give you guys a quick update...

I have been getting the play by play from Tina's mom down in Tucson, and it seems Tina has been a rock star! The overall treatment is suppose to be 14 treatments over the span of 5 days, but according to everyone, no one ever makes it to all 14. Making it to 10 is considered a 'success', and I guess that is Tina's doctors goal. Some only make it 6-8 treatments. Sometimes they will have you skip a treatment so the body can recover, getting other issues in line (low blood pressure, etc)...

Well, up until this afternoon, Tina was 9 for 9 in treatments! As the days have gone on, it seems that the treatments are starting to take their toll though. She seemed to be doing much better the first couple of days than recently...but I guess it is normal that the 3rd day brings more of the side effects. Evidently, she spent most of today just sleeping. Of sleep does a body good! She was actually suppose to get a 6PM Thursday night, but they ended up skipping it. She may get one more 2AM Friday, and it sound like that might be it...

Anyway, just a quick update. Once I talk to Tina/Rose, I will give you a better update until TIna can...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Getting Started

Checked into the hospital at 1:00.  My room is much bigger than I expected.  I have a TV with DVD player, a bathroom, window (I can see the mountains), couch and recliner chair.  I'm able to wear my own clothes and move around as much as I like. 

Here is a picture from my room.  I have one of Teya's pink fuzzy blankets and my own pillow.  The pink cheers up the room.

I am now waiting for treament to begin.  We were hoping to begin at 4, but we are running behind.  I have met me doctor and nurses and they are fantastic.  They are all experts on my treatment and I feel good about being in their care. They do have something to give me to help with most of the side effects, so that makes me feel better.

My monitors do not like me typing.  I have the pulse thing on my finger and it keep setting off alarms. Pretty annoying.

I'll keep updating as I can.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Getting Ready

I finished my tests and got my port put in on Friday.  I'm sure I passed everything and am ready to begin.  Getting the port was a smack in the face reality check and I am SO thankful that Claudia was there with me.  She really helped get me through that day. I could be honest with her about how I was feeling and she helped keep things light with good conversation and humor.

My mom arrived this morning, thank goodness, and we spent the day relaxing and then shopping.  I found out that I will be able to bring in food, my laptop, clothes, etc., so we bought some food and I made some food to bring.  I wanted to have some comfort foods or foods I know I like to help me eat.  I also got some new PJs - nice, soft and warm PJ's.  Hopefully they will help keep me warm.

I am so thankful that my mom can be here with me.  She is a great support and I know that she will make sure that I am taken care of.  Todd will be here in Phoenix with Teya.  I'm grateful that Teya will have one of her parents during this week.  I am also thankful that a wonderful friend of mine, Annette, will be picking Teya up after school.  I don't know what I would do without her.  Her and my great friend Kelly have really helped us with Teya.  They have picked her up from school and taken care of her whenever we have needed over the past weeks.  They are a blessing to have in our lives.

There are so many others that I need to thank.  All the ladies, teachers and moms, at my work, PFT.  They have been such a support to me.  They have taken turns bringing us dinner and this has really been great.  And then there is the owner, Linda, and office manager, Kathy.  They have been awesome with allowing me the time I need for surgery, dr. appts and now treatment.  Thanks to Jeri who is my partner this year.  This is her first year with the 3s and I haven't been able to be there for her.  She has done a great job transitioning into the class with the help of Janet, who stepped in for me.  Thank you Sarah for loaning me Eat Pray Love.  It will be nice to have a new book to read.  Then there is Linda P., who made us 2 casseroles and stopped by for visits. CB & Jon who loaned me movies and some books. All the people who have sent me cards and well wishes.  Thanks to all the people who are praying for me.  I can feel the support!

I feel truly blessed to have so many people in my life, some I know, some I don't, supporting me in so many ways.  Thank you to everyone!

My mom and I head down to Tucson tomorrow morning.  I have a dr.'s appointment to go over all the test results and then we'll contact the hospital to see if there is a bed ready.  If so, we will go and get me checked in. I'll then begin treatment tomorrow afternoon/evening.  This is what I am hoping for.  I do not want to wait until Tuesday as this will push back my getting home by a day.  As I type this I am nervous, but hopeful.  This will be my miracle.  At the end of these 20 days, I will be free of this cancer.  This treatment will be hard, but the result will be worth it.

One of the hardest parts was telling Teya.  I think this was harder than the treatment will be. I was honest with her and she knows about the cancer and the treatment.  It is so hard to look your little girl in the face and tell her about this, but we were both strong.  We cried, but mostly just talked about it.  She is one great little girl and it will be hard to say good-bye to her in the morning.

I am going to try to blog while I am in the hospital, so I can keep everyone posted on how I am doing.  Feel free to call.  If I don't feel up to talking, I won't answer my phone and I'll return your call if I can.

I now need to try to get some sleep.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Sorry I haven't updated my blog this week has been a busy one and I'm a little overwhelmed.  We have decided to do the IL-2 treatment and if all goes as planned, I'll begin on Monday.  I have some pre-tests and then I'll be in the ICU so it just depends on if there is a bed available.  Today I went down to Tucson for a Pulminary Function Test, passed that.  A big THANK YOU to CB for driving with me.  Tomorrow I will be back in Tucson for a Nucleaur Exercise Test and a Port Placement. An early THANK YOU to Claudia for coming with me for this trip and driving me home.  Tomorrow won't be as easy as today.  The port is an outpatient surgery and I'll be a little sore and out of it for the ride home.  Also, I can't eat after midnight tonight until the port is in place which won't be until about 1 or 2 in the afternoon.  Watch out, I'm going to be cranky.

Info about the stress test:

Info about the Port:

Also, Todd and I spent 3 hours in the ER Wednesday night (everything is fine).  I was having leg pain in my left calf all day Wednesday and I talked to my docs.  They told me that the blood work that I had done on Tuesday resulted that the blood thinner I was on, warfarin, was not doing anything - meaning my blood levels were just like I wasn't taking medicine.  So, they thought I may have a blood clot in my leg and sent me to the ER for an ultrasound.  3 hours later find out no blood clot, but that I have injured muscles and tendons in the calf of my leg.  Thank goodness no blood clot and that the pain in my leg was explained.  I just need to rest it as much as I can and it should heal itself.

I am so tired right now, I'm going to bed.  I'll need to get up at 4am AZ to leave at 4:30am to be in Tucson by 7:15 to begin my day of lab work, stress test and port placement.

I'll update soon.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

MRI Results - GOOD!

Quick post to let everyone know that my MRI (brain) Results came back clean!  On our way to Tucson now and will update later.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

More Results

Sorry it has taken me so long to post the results from my latest visit with my docs.  I needed some time to process the information.

I met with doc and he confirmed that the tumor in my kidney was melanoma. We reviewed the results from my CT scan and he explained that I have 3 tumors on my lungs.  A 7mm on my lower right lobe, a 8mm on my lower left lobe and a 2mm on my left lingula (small area of the left lung). He is not recommending surgery as he believes they are to small for a surgeon to find and since this is the second time a met has come to my lung (initial in 2008).  He is recommending a chemo treatment.  His first recommendation is a treatment called High Dose IL-2.  It is nasty, but in the words of my doc, my best bet for a cure. Yes, he did use that word which I haven't heard him utter in the 4 years I have been working with him.  In his experience this treatment has worked with melanoma patients with mets in their lungs.  Although he believes this is my best option, I am scared of this treatment.  It requires a 5 day stay in the hospital a 9 day break and then another 5 days. This is round 1.  If it shows success (tumor shrinkage), then I would do a round 2.  I would get a 15 minute infusion of the drug every 8 hours for the 5 days.  Some of the side effects include vomitting/nausea, pain, itchy rashes, fatigue, kidney damage.  That last one is the biggie for me as I now only have one.  At this point I only know of the treatment being offered in Tucson (a 2 hour drive from Phoenix).  If this is the treatment we choose, my mom is going to fly out here to be down there with me so Todd can stay in Phoenx with Teya.  Teya will need to have one of her parents and as much normalcy to her life to get her through.  This will make it easier on me as well knowing that she is at her home being taken care of.

I had a follow up PET/CT on Friday and will have an MRI of brain (no symptoms - standard follow up) on Monday.  I am then heading back down to Tucson on Tuesday to discuss everything with my doc.  I have a list of questions for him to help me decide. There are other treatments out there that I'll discuss with him.  I am also looking into a second opinion with the Cancer Treatmet Center of America in Good Year, AZ.

Here is information regarding the IL-2 treatment:

The other treatments that are less toxic are:

Ipilimumab, this is the one that has been in the news.  I can't get it right now for 2 reasons: 1) I haven't failed another chemo treatment and 2) my tumors are not at least 1 cm.  This drug is going to be reviewed by the FDA on December 25, 2010 and will hopefully be approved soon after.  This drug has been in clinical trials for 10 years and is really promising as it is showing long term results.  1-2 years NED (no evidence of disease).

PLX 4032 - There is a BRAF mutation that has been found for melanoma tumors.  Mine is being tested and if it comes back positive this might be an option for me, but it isn't showing long term "cure".  It has shown close to a 80% response rate in terms of tumor shrinkage or stopping of growth, which is fantastic news, but then progression of growth is shown about 8 months later in a large number of patients.  If I do have this mutation then I would like to discuss my case with the docs running the trial to get more information. 

I'll keep posting as I get information and make decisions.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Cosmopolitan teams up with Melanoma Research Foundation

I just found out the magazine, Cosmopolitan, has teamed up with the Melanoma Research Foundation to raise awareness for safe fun practices.  Cosmo is setting up a grant for MRF which will go towards new research for treatment. The last treatment that was approved for treating advanced melanoma (like mine) was back in 1998 and this treatment is only about 15% effective.  We are in desperate need of new treatments.

With a donation of $10, you receive a matte-gold cord bracelet.  A donation of $25 will get you 3 bracelets.

Here is the press release which includes information regarding Melanoma and the Research Foundation:

Here is where you can donate:

Just in case you don't click on any of the links, here are the important facts you should know:

From Cosmo's donation page: "Skin cancer is a serious, often deadly disease. If you have advanced melanoma, your life is measured in months. It’s the fastest growing cancer in the world, and is hitting young women hard. Melanoma is the leading cause of cancer death in women 25 to 30-years old, and the second leading cause of cancer death in women 30 to 35-years old. "

Please take action to protect yourself and not have the mindset that skin cancer is nothing to worry about or that this will happen to someone else.  I wish someone would have educated me, so please let my experience educate you and keep you safe.  No one is saying to stay out of the sun, just practice safety in the sun.  What we are saying though is stay out of the tanning salons.  I know some of you are still using them.  Seriously your fake tan is not worth risking your life.  Learn to love your skin as it was created, not by changing the color of it.

Thanks, have a great weekend and stay safe in the sun!

Sunday, September 12, 2010


I got my results for my scan Wednesday about 15 minutes after the scan, but have not posted them as I hadn't yet spoken with my mom. The results were not good. I have 3 blood clots on my lung and a few suspicious spots. I had to get on a blood thinner right away and I will be taking it for a few months to prevent further clots.  The clots should dissolve on their own, but there is a chance that they can move around (i.e. brain and cause a stroke).  For this first week, I have to give myself shots - one in the morning and one at night as well as take a pill (warfarin or coumadin as you may have heard of). The shots work right away and the pill takes 5 - 7 days to begin working, so that is why the docs put me on the shots right away. After the first week, I'll only have to take the pill and I'll have to get blood work done weekly to manage the amount of warfarin that I will need to take.

Not sure about the spots yet. I see Dr. Hersh this coming Wednesday and hopefully he'll have some additional information for me regarding the spots as well as his recommendation on treatment. This hit me pretty hard and I had a hard time dealing with the news - I'm still processing it actually.  Also, I'm not sold on this warfarin solution.  I consume a lot of green leafy veggies and when you are on a blood thinner you are advised not to consume a large quantity of these veggies as it has an adverse effect on the medication.  Basically our liver produces proteins that helps our blood clot and vitamin K increases the amount of proteins that are produced.  Green leafy veggies have a high amount of vitamin K.  Warfarin works to produce a lower number of blood clotting proteins, so in order for the drug to work properly vitamin K should not be consumed in a large quantity. 

I consume a large amount of green leafy veggies as they are known cancer fighters. I am not comfortable with reducing the amount of cancer fighting foods in my diet.  It scares me actually.  I believe that I have been able to fight off my cancer so far because of the changes I have made in my diet.  I know my cancer has returned since my diet changes I made 2 years ago, however, it was contained to one location.  I truly believe that my fight against cancer does not end with surgery or western medicine/treatments.  I fight each day with what I consume, trying to keep my stress level low (this one seems to be the hardest) and activity - yoga and just moving in general.  Because of this I am going to find someone to help me manage all of this as it is too much for me to do alone.  I am going to be looking for a Naturopathic Doctor - someone who will incorporate western medicine and nutrition.  If anyone knows of a good one in the Phoenix area, please let me know.  I would much rather see someone with a referral if possible.

I'll post an update once I see Dr. Hersh on Wednesday.  Please do not expect a post on Wednesday as my appointment isn't until 3pm AZ time.  It is a 2 hour drive there and back, so I most likely will not update my blog until Thursday.

Thanks everyone for your continued support and prayers/positive vibes.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Scan tomorrow

I have my CT Scan tomorrow morning (all organs).  Any prayers, good thoughts, vibes, energy - whatever you got - for clean results would be awesome.  Thanks!

I'll post the results when I get them, but probably won't be until Friday.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Update from dr.'s visit

Went to see Mr. Melanoma (Dr. Hersh) down at the Arizona Cancer Center in Tucson.  We did not talk about treatment as in his words he hasn't seen melanoma be a solid tumor in the kidney in the 40 years he has been practicing.  So, he wants to have his team do additional testing on the tumor to ensure that it is definately melanoma and not kidney cancer.  Results from the hospital's lab indicated melanoma, but he wants to be sure and I'm all about a second opinion to ensure that we are treating the right cancer.  He also wants to talk to his group of doctor "friends" and get their opinions. I have a follow up appointment on September 15th with him and should have a better idea what we are dealing with.  I am also going to schedule another CT scan of my organs before this appointment.  This way we should have all the information we need to make a decision regarding treatment.

So, for now I will continue to concentrate on healing and staying positive.  I am going to go back to work tomorrow and see how it goes.  I'm really looking forward to being back at work and meeting all my new students and getting to know them.  I'm starting off slow with working Tuesday and having Wednesday off just in case it was to soon.  If all goes well, I'll be back again on Thursday.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Good and The Bad

I haven't been writing lately as so many things have happened that I have had to deal with. Some good, some bad.  I am strong, but for a while there, I wasn't sure I could stand.  Finding out that the beast was back was a shock to my system.   I really believed the results would not be melanoma.  I couldn't deal with it while in the hospital as I was on too may drugs, so I was numb.  Everything hit once I was home. Then I found out a friend of mine died and my mom left.  It has been a rough few weeks, but I am moving forward.  Baby steps for now, but soon they'll be big dinosaur steps.

My mom left this past Sunday.  That was a hard day.  There was a hole in my chest that lasted til morning.  Then it wasn't gone, but eased to an ache.  Her support while she was here was amazing and I don't just mean all the things she took care of: cooking, cleaning, watching Teya, etc.  She was there for me emotionally when I really needed it and it meant the world to me. Thanks Mom!

A day after my surgery, I suffered a great loss.  A melanoma warrior, my friend Pete, lost his battle.  He was a great man and someone who gave me loads of support.  He was passionate for life and living each day to it's fullest.  He was always level headed and optimistic.  He was there in celebration for the good and helped me through many dark days.  I miss him.

Here is some good to end this post on a lighter note. Had an appointment with my Kidney Surgeon last week and he said that everything was healing nicely.  Told me to be active, but cautious.  No heavy lifting or anything strenuous.  Just listen to my body and not go beyond it's limits.  So, I've been resting and healing for the past weeks and I am getting better. Each day I wake my body feels better. The recovery road is a rocky one, but I'm making my way. I can drive and spend my days off the couch which is great! By the end of the day I'm beat and sore, but it is great to be moving.

As for my next step, I have an appointment with Dr. Hersh in Tucson at Univ of AZ on Monday (8/30). I'm looking forward to this appointment to receive direction and treatment options.

My next post will be about the good.  I got all the bad out, so now I can concentrate on the good things.  It is good to air out the bad to make room for the good.  As my yoga instructor says, breathe in the good and out the bad. 

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Resting at Home

Finally made it home Friday morning.  I needed to stay 2 additional nights as the surgery was more than expected.  The tumor had grown and had spread down a blood vessel, so the doc had to cut me open on my lower right abdominal to get everything out. This is in addition to the 3 laproscopic incision that were made on the right side of my stomach.  The pain was a lot to manage, but with everyone's help I made it.  I'm glad to be home.  I just feel better out of the hospital.  Teya was having a hard time and was really crying Thursday night for me to come home.  It was so hard to be stuck in a bed and not be able to get to her. 

I was thankful that I was released the next morning.  It took me a few hours to get settled in and I feel much better today.  The downside is that my dad had to leave this morning, but I am thankful that he was able to come during the week.  We had some fun before the surgery and his help was greatly appreciated during and after my surgery.  Kept Teya busy and happy which was less stress for me.  My mom is staying for another week.  Thank Goodness!  I'm going to need her help.  Although I am feeling better at home, I am no where near being independent.  I am currently waiting for her and Teya to return from dropping of my dad at the airport and then out for breaksfast, so I can take a shower.  I'll feel a ton better once I can have running water on me.  I could only have sponge bath's in the hospitals, which helped, but they are nothing like a full shower!

Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me and my family with prayers and well wishes.  It has helped and we will continue to need them as I recover and move into my treatment.  My doctor is currently testing my tumor for a marker and will be talking to the experts down in Tucson.  We will then discuss my treatment options.  I don't know anything about what treatments will be available to me, but when I have some information I will post about them.  I'm a rare case with Melanoma in the Kidney, so I don't know what direction my doctors will recommend.  I'm scared, but ready to continue fighting.

Ok, I'm tired from catching up on FB, so I'm going to relax and I'll post more later.

Again, thanks to everyone!


Friday, August 13, 2010

Home sweet home...

Well, finally Tina is home! First thing this morning she got released from the hospital, and she was on the couch resting by 10:30. Everyone, including Marley, Bo and Kitty, is glad she is finally home. I will get her to do a post here soon, so be on the lookout...


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Yet another night...

Well, unfortunately, just found out Tina will be spending yet another night in the hospital. We were hoping she was going to be able to come home at least today, but the doctors want to keep her just one more night to be safe. She is doing well, and her pain is a bit better, but she is still having a bit of trouble moving around. Some tests earlier revealed some weird blood counts in some of her test, and blood pressure is a bit low (which is normal for Tina) , so they are just being cautious with her. Her latest tests all came back fine, but another night it is, as they want to be safe. Hopefully it won't be too long a night for her, and we can get her home in the AM. A lot of you have called about coming over to visit or bringing flowers, so hopefully Saturday might be a good day. Give me a call, and I can give you the latest...

Once again, thanks for all the support...I know Tina (as well as the rest of us) really, really appreciate it...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Out of surgery...

Hey all, Todd here...

Well, Tina is out of surgery and surpringly, she seems to be doing well. She is having a bit of back pain, but her surgeon Dr. Brito said she did great and noted the surgery was a difficulty of 8.5 on a scale of 10. Once they got in there they seemed to find the vein leading to the kidney from the a bit 'thicker' as he said, so he decided to take that out a bit more of the renal artery than they were anticipating. Might have been some trace cancer cells in there, that hopefully we will find out from testing. Initial tests say the main tumor was indeed melanoma (which would be rare), but again, I think we will know more from any tests they do...

Next steps for her is sleep, sleep, sleep! They think she will be able to head home tomorrow afternoon, but there is always a chance that it will be the day after. Of course the sooner the better, as how anyone can sleep in a hospital is beyond me. Between all the poking and proding, it is louder than a truckstop. Hopefully she can get some good quality rest...

Anyway, may give an update later if Tina isn't up for it...but I am sure she will chime in soon. Thanks all for the thoughts and prayers...they are much appreciated!


Monday, August 9, 2010

Getting Ready

Surgery is tomorrow morning - 7:30am.  It will take 3 hours and I'll have at least one day in the hospital. I'll have someone update my blog tomorrow with how everything is going.

My parents flew in to be with me and my family.  I am once again thankful for all they do for me.  They arrved Saturday morning and we have been enjoying their visit. As for me, I'm nervous, but ready to be done, ready to move on, ready to face the outcome - the next stage in my journey.  I am hopeful that the surgery will be the end of this chapter.  Please pray, visualize, send good vibes, whatever you got, that the surgery will go as planned and that the results of the mass in the kidney is not cancer.

Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me and my family.  We all need the love and support right now.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Quick post about surgery.  My surgery has been scheduled for Tuesday, August 10th.  I'll take all good wishes and prayers.  Thanks! 

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I have spoken with my doctor's and it has been decided that I will have surgery.  The surgery has not yet been scheduled, but will hopefully be soon after I get back from my MI vacation.  I will post the information once I know.  The surgery will most likely remove my right kidney.  If there is a way to remove the tumor and save the kidney, my sugeon will, but because of the location and size, he is 90% sure that the entire kidney will be removed.  I am trying to prepare for that, but it is difficult thinking about losing a kidney.  I am lucky that the tumor is confined to one kidney and that my left is a healthy, fully functioning kidney.  I have been told that most people live a long and healthy life without limitations with one kidney.  I know all of this, but this is my body, my life and as happy as I'll be to have the unhealthy kidney removed,  I will mourn the loss.  Don't get me wrong, I am good emotionally, I'm optimistic and I am strong.  It's just a strange feeling knowing that one of your organs will be removed.

Teya and I are currently in MI with my family and we are having a great time.  Todd will join us in a week and a half.  I look forward to the rest of the vacation for relaxation and fun.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Good news first - my MRI results are clean and clear.  All lymph nodes and organs, with the exception of my right kidney is clean and clear.  All great news!

Bad news - docs believe there is a 3cm tumor on my right kidney.  The follow up PET did not give them a definite answer.  I am seeing a kidney specialist on July 12th.  I'm hoping there is another test or two that can be done to determine what the spot is before having surgery.

I had a hard time hearing the news, but today I am at peace and optimistic.  I haven't really thought about it until I got on Face Book and realized that I better write something before everyone thinks I am under a rock or something :)  This isn't the best news, but it is also a time to evaluate where I am at emotionally and physically with my healing and make any adjustments I need to remain healthy.  I am optimistic that regardless of the final diagnosis that I will be fine.  I feel strong and that I will make it though this next challenge of my journey. 

I want to thank all of you who have reached out to me and my family with your prayers and well wishes.  It means a lot to me to have your support.

We are patiently waiting for the arrival of my parents who have been delayed in Detroit for 3 1/2 hours!  I look forward to seeing them soon.  Todd, Teya and I are traveling to MD to see Todd's family this Tuesday and I look forward to all the relaxing that will be had on that vacation.  Just what I need right now.  We get back to AZ the day before I see the kidney guy.  I'll update everyone then.

Again, thanks for all the prayers and well wishes.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


It is that time of year for my 6 month scans - CT - organs and MRI - brain.  I had my CT on Tuesday and something showed on my kidney, so I am doing a follow up PET Scan on Friday which will provide a better look.  My MRI is tomorrow, Thursday.  I'll have all results on Tuesday the 22nd. 

I ask for any prayers and any good vibes you can send my way for good results.  I'll post on Tuesday to let everyone know my results.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Summer - It's Time for Sunscreen

It is almost summer time - well, for AZ it is summer - so it is time to start thinking about sunscreen.  I wear sunscreen all year around, but I'm sure most people do not, so this is my reminder to you to lather up.  It is recommended that we use a broadband (UVA and UVB protectant) of at least SPF 30.  You need to apply 10 - 15 minutes BEFORE going into the sun.  Your sunscreen will have the recommended time.  You will then need to re-apply EVERY 2 hours.  There is no sunscreen that will protect all day. The highest UV times are 10am - 4pm. During these times it is important to either find shade (clothing, umbrella, tree, etc.  you get the picture) or put on sunscreen and re-apply.  It is very important to re-apply so I am saying it twice.

Also, there is a lot of talk about Vitamin D lately and I believe we are in a state of low Vitamin D levels as we as a society have gotten good at applying sunscreen and finding shade - Good for Us!  After my diagnosis, my primary doc tested my level and I was extremely low.  I am now taking a high level of supplements.  I do try to get some Vitamin D from the sun, but it makes me nervous so I normally rely on my supplements.  I came across an article that I thought was really informative about Vitamin D.  Read here: .

So have fun this summer, just please try to be safe and protect your skin, body and health.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Where has the time gone

I can't believe this month is over. It went by way to fast.  Started off great with lunch with 2 good friends, CB and Sara.  And ended it the same way.  We girls met at Z Pizza, organic style, this afternoon for lunch.  It is so great to get together with these girls.  I always leave with a smile on my face and in my heart.  Not only are they great friends who are there for me in so many ways, but they are also insightful.  Health, fashion and nutrition.  I always come away with something new.  Love these gals!

Easter was such an event it will need it's own post.

The end of this month means that the Kindergarten year is almost over.  I can't believe she is almost a 1st grader!  As Grumpy says - No More Growing!  She has had a fantastic year.  Her grades are awesome and she is reading really really well.  We are so proud of her.  She also met some good friends this year.

Our group of friends had our annual Home Brew & Chili cookoff.  It is a good size event with at least 50 people in attendance.  Todd brewed beer and made chili.  Unfortunately he had technical difficulties with his keg beer and everyone didn't get the chance to try his 2 beers.  His Orange beer was fantastic and most likely would have placed this year if it hadn't run out.  Bummer!

We had a close friend's 6th birthday party last Sunday.  It was at a park with laser tag and gaming.  It was a lot of fun for all.  The weather was fantastic!  (This is a great time of year in Phoenix.)  It was great to celebrate with them and Teya enjoyed playing with friends - old and new- at the park.

After the party we came home and enjoyed the outdoors. Teya tried to go swimming. The pool is still a bit cold, but she got in.

"I'm freezing!"

Okay, now I'm ready

I'm in!

Now I'm out - time to warm up

Not by laying in the sun, but bundled up - she went in to the hot tub after that. She is to darn cute!

The highlight of the month for Teya was that she got a 5 gallon tank with 4 fish. Meet Bella, Daisy, Pinky and Bo.  The yellow one is Bella.  Of course the tank is pink and princess.  The fish love the castle and it is fun to watch them swim in and through it.  Teya really loves it when they play in the castle.

She's way excited!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Lunch with great friends and good food

Teya and I had lunch with CB and Sara on Friday at Whole Foods.  We went to the one on Scottsdale Road just South of the 101.  They have a mini cafeteria inside and wow is the food good.  I was excited to see all of the vegetarian and vegan dishes they had.  CB and I I tried a couple of tofu dishes that were great, Sara enjoyed the pizza and sushi and Teya also enjoyed a slice of pizza. We then had a scoop of Sorbet.  It was great to catch up with girls and have a yummy healthy lunch.

With my lunch I had a Quinoa and Black Bean salad.  It was so good I had to try to make it.  I made it for dinner tonight and it was awesome, so I thought I would share the recipe.

For those of you who are not familiar with Quinoa (pronounced “keen-wa” ), it is a gluten-free and cholesterol-free whole grain that is packed with fiber and protein. One cup of cooked quinoa provides 9 grams of fiber and 15 grams of protein.  Quinoa can be used in place of rice or any other whole grain.


1 teaspoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped (I used 4 as I love garlic)
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth (I started with 1 1/2 and added another 1/4 cup after about 10 minutes as mine was soaking it up and I like a softer grain)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

I added:
1/2 cup zucchini chopped
1/2 cup red pepper chopped
1/2 to 3/4 can of diced tomatos with green chilis - 10oz can


1.Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic, and saute until lightly browned. (If using my additional items add zucchini and red pepper)

2. (Again if using my extras - add tomatos & chilis with liquid).  Mix quinoa into the saucepan and cover with vegetable broth. Season with cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes,

3.Stir frozen corn into the saucepan, and continue to simmer about 5 minutes until heated through. Mix in the black beans and cilantro.

I had mine serving over a bed of spinach.  It was delish!

Hope you like it!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Great weekend with Family & Friends

Had a great weekend.  My Uncle Art and Aunt Diane, who live in Texas, were in town.  Went out to dinner with them and my Uncle Ernie and Aunt Gwen, who snowbird in AZ, Friday night at Brio.  I had never been there, but it was good food. Aunt Gwen and Uncle Ernie have a place in Apache Junction and Teya and I went there on Saturday to spend some time with all of them.  It had been quite a long time, years, since I had seen them so it was great seeing them and catching up.

Uncle Art

Aunt Diane
Aunt Gwen and Uncle Ernie

n Sunday we met with good friends for lunch and then a spring training game (well some of the game).  Jason Lasky and his wife April were in town from San Francisco.  We had lunch downtown Scottsdale at the Grapevine and then headed to the spring training game - Giants vs. Padres.  Teya was with us so we made it to about the 5th inning and then it was time for us to go.

Teya and I are on Spring Break this week.  Not sure what is on our agenda, but I guess we better go do something on this awesome day - mid 80s!!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Good Health and great weekend

St. Patrick's Day was one year from my last cancer surgery.  It was a great feeling to have a year of excellent health.  Celebrated with flowers from Todd and The Snow Family and then pizza from Z Pizza (my fav) and sundae's.  Mine was topped with Girl Scout Cookies - Thin Mints - yummy!  Teya's was topped with a variety of sprinkles and candies.  We then rented a cabin in Christopher Creek (just outside of Payson) this past weekend.  Me, Todd, Teya and Marely went up Friday night and The Sutton Family joined us Saturday afternoon.  Friday night and Saturday were a little cold for my taste, but the cabin was a really good time.  Of course, Sunday was the warmest day - not that we went there for the warmth, I just prefer it :).  Friday night we had dinner at a local restaurant - take out so we could be with Marley - and then played some games.  Saturday we went for a nice hike before The Sutton's arrived.  It was pretty chilly with a lot of wind, but we were prepared with lots of clothes, so we were good. There was still some snow on the ground in the shaded areas, so Teya was extremely excited to get to play in some snow.  The snow patches were pretty large and deep.  I would fall to mid-shin in places, so she got a pretty good experience.  We then went back and had lunch while we waited.  Once they got there we went for another short hike and found some more snow for the kids to play in. Fun, fun, fun!

The "resort" has a fenced in area for dogs, so Marley got to have some fun off the leash.  There is a play area for the kids.  Not like the local parks, but the kids loved it.  All in all it was a pretty cool place. The cabin wasn't spectacular, but it served it's purpose for all 8 of us with 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, kitchen including stove, fridge, microwave, toaster, coffee maker, camping grade plates, cups, silverware, pots and pans, a sitting area with fireplace and tv with local channels.  The best part for the kids was the loft.  It had a low ceiling, but the kids could walk.  There were 4 kid size beds up there and the kids absolutely LOVED it!

We forgot our camera, but took pictures on our phones.  I'll post the pictures once we get them uploaded.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

It's been awhile, but there's good news

It has been a really long time since I have written.  Just can't seem to find the time. I'm not complaining as it is a good busy.  My days are full with working til 3, when I then pick Teya up from school. She loves Kindergarten!   Monday is Teya's dance day and she still loves her class.  As of today, she has choosen ballet as her favorite.  I practice yoga Tueday and Thursday nights.  It has been the best thing I have done for myself.  My body enjoys the stretching and my mind enjoys the break.  Also, I get to catch up with a good friend, Sara, who got me excited about the class as the instructor is fabulous.  Wednesday's I work til 6, which is a really long day.  I love the kids, but I'm exhausted at the end of those days.  Teya comes back to the school with me and gets some extra playtime, so she loves that. 

Teya doesn't like it when I am in the office on my computer.  She complains and basically drags me out.  I have been wanting a netbook or laptop for the mobility. Well I have finally gotten one and I am SO happy.  My new laptop arrived this week and it is awesome.  Hopefully now I can stayed better connected online.

My health is awesome.  Next Wednesday, St. Patrick's Day, will be my one year of being cancer free. It was a year ago that I discovered a melanoma on my left breast and had it successfully removed.  It is also a year and a half out from my lung surgery.  I couldn't be happier!

I have been cleared by all doctor's except one.  In December I had my CT scan of organs and MRI of brain and eye.  Everything came back NED (no evidence of disease).  Since then, my eye doctor, dermatologist and dentist all have given me a clean bill of health.  So I have been cleared inside and out.  At the end of this month I see my oncologist who will run my bloodwork, but with all the other tests coming back healthy, I have no doubts that my bloodwork will be good as well.

For those of you reading this on Facebook, I will be removing the feed and this will be my last blog post.  I want to get back to writing in my blog and it just isn't something I am going to publish in facebook any longer.  It just doesn't feel right.