Update Time!

Margaret is a Nurse Practioner that has been part of my Dana-Farber team since my first visits in 2016. While I was a bit disappointed (because I’d been doing phone appointments and even skipped my day of tests in late January) that Dr. Janne was away , I was excited to see Margaret because it had been quite a while. “God, your lungs sound GOOD!” she exclaimed. That was after marveling over my longevity on this TKI (Lorlatinib) and in general. And that exclamation was after asking a million health related questions as she caught up with my progress, which she’d been studying for the appointment. Just before the appointment, she had consulted with other oncologists and radiologist about that day’s tests to confirm that I continue to be stable. My blood work (except for the cholesterol which is elevated due to Lorlatinib) remains normal, normal, normal. Not sick with stage IV cancer normal, just NORMAL. In this cancer world where so many things are not normal in my body, it amazes me that my system stays so strong and well balanced.

When you look at my CT scan and the report, you might understand why she asked about my breathing, and admired the sound of my left lung. Here’s some of the report:

“Similar left upper lobe to superior segment of the left lower lobe groundglass and consolidative opacities, architectural distortion, reticulation, and traction bronchiectasis representing radiation fibrosis. Bibasilar subsegmental atelectasis (partially collapsed lung, but usual for me).” But then the magic words! “The central airways are clear. . No suspicious pulmonary nodules. Stable radiation fibrosis in the left lung. No evidence of recurrence.” My abdomen scan (No new sites of metastatic disease in abdomen and pelvis.) and brain MRI ( Which usually says unchanged lesion in occipital lobe, but this time said No intracranial metastases!) were equally good.

The drive was fine, Dan does so well. There was some rain while only 32ยบ and dark on the way, but the roads were not slippery. Traffic was heavy near the city, but we arrived on time. Coming out of the city after the already long day, traffic was heavy and quite slow, especially around an accident area. We left home at 4:15 AM and returned home at 8:45 PM. So, all in all a very long, yet very productive day filled with hope. As always a day made easier knowing the goats and dogs are being well cared for.

My next day of scans (chest, abdomen), MRI, blood work, and oncology appointment will be in August. That means a hopefully uninterrupted summer of finding joy in the everyday every day with Dan, the dachshunds, and the goats. We’re looking forward to a summer of gardening and being at camp. I’m looking forward to learning more about natural dyes, stitching, and whatever art play presents itself.

I’m doing a stitching project for the Craft and Fundraise Challenge for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. This is my project so far. I think it will become a journal cover. If you’d like to donate or follow my progress, I think this link will take you there: https://www.facebook.com/donate/5974691142618785/

Thanks for reading, thanks for caring, thanks for your continued prayers and positive energy. Please, always have hope and try to find joy in the everyday every day.

Trip trap, trip trap Over the Rainbow Bridge

For the year or so before I was diagnosed (Jan. 2016) I was trying hard to convince Dan that we needed alpacas in our family. I was sure they would be a great retirement hobby for me. (I was still a few years from retirement.) I think it would have happened had cancer not burst that, and every other dream bubble at that time.

But then, thanks to a diagnosis of ROS1 and crizotinib, I began to live a bit. “Okay”, I thought. “I’m not going to be able to work until retirement and we don’t know how long this medication will keep it’s foot on the cancer, so no alpacas (too much work, especially if we have to rely on others to help), but maybe…” And so, two tiny sweet Nigerian Dwarf goats, Dottie and Matilda, joined our family the spring of 2016.

That spring and summer were glorious. The two little goats were such a delight. They provided such entertainment to us, to the dozens of school children who came for a Fun Day at camp, and to my Camp Gramma campers (my grandchildren). Anyone who saw the two little goats (Dottie with her black spots and Matilda a beautiful reddish brown) that summer can still see them side hopping down the hill in the field with children running beside. An image that fills my heart with joy.

Last week our sweet naughty Dottie died in her sleep. She was only seven. She had been ill on and off, and treated by the vet and us following the vet’s directions for a while, but always felt better. But this time despite the vet’s and our best efforts whatever was wrong was simply too much for her body to overcome.

I could go on and on about how loving, friendly, and fun our sweet Dottie was. She loved us so very much. She would sit in our lap very contently when young. She especially enjoyed shoelaces, hood strings, and coat zippers. Dottie was always the first to want to help mend the fence, trying to observe closely and give advice. She was the most charming of goats, a delight to have in our family.

When we first got the two little goats I kind of assumed that they would outlive me, but I knew Dan would love and care for them. (We’ve since added two fainting goats, Buttercup and Daisy.) One should never assume anything in life. I’ve learned that well in the past seven years. Last summer I felt sad that while I could do chores, I couldn’t spend much time with the goats because of high humidity and breathing difficulties. I hope this summer will be different.

So now there are three. Matilda seems to just be carrying on. She has seemed to be much more attentive to me when I’m at the barn. This morning she gave me nose kisses like our Daisy does. Buttercup and Daisy seem unaffected. I guess goats are resilient, much like human kids often are.

So please close your eyes and imagine a little white goat with black spots happily side hopping across the Rainbow Bridge. That will be our sweet, precious naughty Dottie.

Another year!

Please, when things seem hard, look inside and find a glimmer of hope. A stage IV cancer diagnosis, or any “terminal” disease diagnosis, is such a sudden, terrible reality check. In a few days I will pass my seventh “cancerversary”. Seven years ago, on the first Sunday in January 2016, someone finally x-rayed my lungs. We then began this journey we’re on, what I consider my second life this time here on earth. In those next few months those close to me thought they might lose me. But it wasn’t meant to be. And here I am today, still with stage IV lung cancer (here, there, and pretty much everywhere), but a thriving cancer survivor. Please, feed that little glimmer of light, let it shine bright. Always have hope.

This second life we’re enjoying has been such a blessing to me. I have loved looking for new learning opportunities, even when cancer forced me to let go of many things I had so enjoyed in my former life. Hope is, I believe, what made it possible for me to say, “No, cancer, you cannot, you will not steal my joy.” I have made finding joy in the everyday EVERY day a priority.

Recently a friend sent me a copy of her 2023 Calendar book she published. It is filled with words of inspiration, words she hopes will be source of inspiration for her readers as they/we travel through life. When I received it in the mail just before Christmas, I decided to have a sneak peek to get a dose of inspiration to carry me to the start of the year. Her introduction made me certain I would enjoy this calendar and find it a source of inspiration as I travel to 2023. Imagine my awe when I turned the page and read: January 1, “Find joy in the everyday every day.” Corinne Pert. Wow, my words that have carried me through this journey with a special kind of hope, peace, and joy are now the words chosen to inspire others as they begin 2023. Wow, how very wonderful. My hope for others is that they give this simple, yet powerful mindset a try. From sunrise to Ruby Jean dachshund kisses at bed time, there are a multitude of joy filled moments in my day.

Hope and joy lead to peace within, I believe. My 2023 wish for everyone.

I don’t have a health update to share today. Just that I’m helping to positively change those statistics about lung cancer survival, and being at a research treatment center means others will benefit from my treatment journey.

This winter I’ll be cozy and warm in our winter home, on “our” side of the mountain, with Dan, the dachshunds, and the goats, with family nearby. Crafting, reading, and finding joy in the everyday every day. Blessed.

A beautiful day for a drive

Today was a spectacular autumn day for a drive. While Dan drove (Thanks, chauffeur, support person, and best friend!), I saw three deer, turtles on rocks, a lingering heron, swarming flocks of birds (unidentified, but songbird size and hundreds of them), and of course turkeys. The leaves as you head south were still beautiful.

And best of all? Those three sweet words – SCANS LOOK GOOD! No change in disease or in the blood work. So after a five hour drive south, a blood draw (all okay) and IV in, brain MRI (everything unchanged!), CT scans of chest (fibrosis unchanged), abdomen (same liver lesions, sclerotic lesions), and pelvis (pesky spot still there), IV out, and then a 4.5 or so hour drive home, we were greeted by hungry goats and happy dachshunds. Dr. Janne called for my phone appointment just as we drove into the driveway. Nothing needs to be changed, and we return in three months. A beautiful day for a drive.

Week of Scanxiety

It happens. Your appointment is coming up in a few days, a week or so, and the scanxiety creeps in. Are these muscle pains new? Could be I’ve done more walking on different terrain and stair climbing. Is my back lame from moving or …? Is this “my” neuropathy or … Why am I so tired? Could be I’ve gone nonstop doing things I love to do while getting settled again at home for the winter.

Anyone with stage IV cancer and regularly scheduled scans (mine have been at every 12 weeks for a while now) can understand and relate to this. For someone who does a pretty good job (if I do say so myself) of going about life finding joy in the everyday, it’s an unnerving feeling. I often don’t realize that it’s happening until I’m caught up in it. Today was an Aha! moment. As I completed my fourth check-in (blood draw, brain MRI, CT scan of chest/abdomen/pelvis, oncologist appointment) I came to the section that caused me to pause and say to myself, “You do a fine job of staying alert to changes while keeping focused on finding joy in the everyday every day”. And then, after grumbling to myself about why they couldn’t use answers for one test in the questionnaire for the others, I enjoyed a second cup of coffee while writing this post.

Thursday’s weather should be fine for a drive south to Boston. Thanks to my sister and our daughter and grandchildren I know the dachshunds and the goats will be fed and visited. Hopefully no one will be greeted by four goats grazing on the lawn. They think “the grass is always greener”…

Below is a screenshot of what caused me pause – the screen where I had to confirm my medical condition. And, two photos from my kitchen window this morning! Thanks for reading. Always have hope!


“Steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty.” That’s what living with stage IV lung cancer requires. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way” is how our dachshund Rusty lives his life. He has taught me much about the will to keep going. After multiple back incidents involving paralysis, back surgery, months of recovery, pain medications, he keeps on trying. Yes, lately at the age of 14, he sleeps more and moves around less, but he continues to enjoy life.

Yesterday was the perfect example of us finding a “work around” so we could have a grand adventure. Dan, Rusty, Ruby Jean, and I all climbed on the four wheeler for a mountain ride. Note I didn’t say “hopped” on the four wheeler, but that’s really okay. Ruby Jean helped Dan drive and Rusty laid across my lap in back of Dan. Now I can imagine friends and family trying to picture that scene! It was pretty funny. Up the mountain we went. Ruby Jean was so excited her little tail never stopped. Rusty just soaked it all in, not a bit nervous.

We traveled the fire road and woods roads up the mountain, across our “new to us” family land, behind Dan’s dad’s to our land we bought several years ago, to the back field of the “new” land to sit on a rock in a spot Dan has loved and dreamed of owning for his entire life, and a ride into the forest before heading back down the mountain. It was the best of adventures, one that Rusty would not have been able to do any other way, and I surely wouldn’t have all in one trip on a summer day. Perseverance, finding joy in the everyday.

When you see the photos of this adventure, note the freshly mown fields. Those were mown by Dan’s 88 years young dad. I’m guessing getting up on that tractor isn’t very easy, but the joy he has tending those fields! Perseverance: steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty.

Find Your Place of HOPE

First, again I received good news after my blood tests, scans, and brain MRI! Still stable. Such a great feeling! We made another day trip to Boston, with a phone appointment with Dr. Janne and a fellow. It’s so reassuring to have scans and within hours have your oncologist say he has met with the radiologist and reviewed my results. Knowing you have a team with the highest level of expertise and access to research taking care of you is invaluable. Life saving in my case in January 2016, and likely again when I had leptomeningeal progression. And, this marvelous team, which extends to the office staff, even worked through all my new insurance issues. I had to do nothing. I didn’t even have to change the tire when we had a flat on the highway (along with the other person that ran over the same sharp, unidentified object) on the way home. Thanks, Dan! (He drives, waits with me, drives, and always gets me there and back safely.)

When newly diagnosed patients ask what is important, I say that there are two things. First, find an expert, someone who specializes in the cancer you’ve been diagnosed with. And second, find a place of hope. This is my response after hearing so many stories of people with inadequate care, and/or doctors who offer no or little hope. The first may seem obvious, but is hard to find in rural parts of our country and many parts of the world. The second is often overlooked, but ever so necessary. I just can’t believe how many people are told that with stage IV lung cancer you should get your affairs in order and likely have a few months to live. No hope. This is so wrong. At Dana-Farber, even at what seems like the most hopeless time of your life, they give you facts and a treatment plan, and offer hope through what a successful treatment plan will do. No sugar coating, but clear hope offered in a kind and confident manner.

People often think I must be in remission or cured. Nope. Stage IV lung cancer can be treated, not cured. If you’re lucky, like me, to have a specific type (ROS1 in my case) that has been discovered and has a targeted therapy it responds to, then you can expect to be on your targeted therapy until your cancer finds a work around. For some, that’s a few months. For others it is a few years. For a very few, it is a decade! And, new treatments are being developed and tested all the time (a long process though).

In the meantime, cancer treatments have many side effects. I repeat this to be a voice for the many who may look “healthy”, but are actually living well (as I am) with a disease, or may be really struggling. Right now I have a slightly collapsed lung. Maybe it’s not just the high humidity that’s been bothering my breathing. This has resolved in the past, so I know it will again. And then there’s the neuropathy. One of the reasons I keep stitching is to keep my fingers working. They’re in sad shape. I drop small things a lot and can’t pick up small things easily. But I’m still stitching! The neuropathy has crept up my hands to my arms, and up my feet to my knees, but it is tolerable, no medication required. High cholesterol from Lorlatinib? There’s a med (or two in my case) for that. I’m sure you get the point. Just be kind and considerate please. We don’t know everyone’s story.

My latest art play, in addition to stitching (just started a Christmas fabric journal), is natural dyeing of fabric and papers, in addition to eco-printing. Started with onion skins because they’re always (in my experience) successful, and some purchased madder extract (because that is supposed to also be successful). What a great science experiment! Animal fibers (wool and silk) dye differently than plant fibers (cotton, linen, hemp), and each slightly different from the others. Lots of variables – pre treating, pH, mordants, modifiers, time, and so much more. Great learning for me. And don’t worry, I’m still making journals!

Our garden is doing well. We’ve had lettuce, greens, and peppers. Peas and zucchini soon, and then so much more hopefully! The blueberries on the mountain are ripe. Dan and I, the dachshunds and the goats are enjoying our summer. Finding joy in the everyday Every day.

I appreciate your continued support, love, positive energy, and prayers. I hope you are living well and finding joy in your everyday. Thanks for reading!

Milestones and Goals

It’s been a while since I posted. First, my last scans and MRI were stable, and that is GREAT news. I’ve also passed a giant milestone – I’m on medicare with seemingly no major insurance glitches. Fingers crossed on that one! I’ve kept the same insurance company for my medicare advantage plan that I’ve been with for nearly 30 years. It was though quite the merry-go-round to make sure that everything was as I needed for it to be. When your insurance company covers a few hundred thousand dollars per year for your tests and treatment, you need it to be right. So, again, fingers crossed.

When I was first diagnosed and seemed to be dying, I was quite bummed that I wouldn’t live to be old. My life plan was to live to 100, and I happily announced middle age at 50. After all, our grandmother was just shy of 100 when she died. Cancer took the wind out of my sails on that one. But then came hope. Hope from the best of oncologists, hope from targeted therapy drugs developed by the best of researchers. Best because of their expertise, best because they care so much about their work, their patients.

But back to milestones. A granddaughter’s college graduation, two grandchildren’s elementary school graduations, with two more this year. Health events for family members that I’m glad I was around to help. A one year “cancerversary”, now SIX. Last year I passed a milestone I had feared, dreaded, and hoped for – I surpassed the age my dad was when he died of lung cancer. 64 years, four months. I was diagnosed at age 58 and 64 seemed almost unreachable. Treatment has improved so very much since 1994. I wish he had been able to benefit from today’s treatment.

Today was another milestone. Today, for the second time since my diagnosis I renewed my driver’s license. I hoped, but didn’t expect, to do so once again. I didn’t even mind saying that I was 30 pounds heavier, thanks to my Lady Lorlatinib, my targeted therapy drug with special side effects to prove she’s reaching my brain. I’m certain there’s so much more that this gift of time has given me, even with the isolation of COVID.

I’ve two personal goals, my every day resolutions. First, to keep my body, mind, and soul as healthy as I can. And secondly, to find joy in the every day every day. Happily ever after looks like what you make it, no matter how long it may be. Always have hope.

Soon Dan, the dachshunds, the goats, and I will be spending our summer at camp. The spring has been filled with trap and boat work for Dan, art play and the everyday for me, and lots of baseball and softball games to watch.

Sending hope to those fighting for their homeland and democracy in Ukraine. Hoping that everyone here and around the world has an awakened awareness of the importance of democracy.

Different companion, same results!

Last month our daughter accompanied me to my day of tests and appointments at Dana-Farber. One of our dogs is having some problems and we made the decision that Dan would stay home with the dogs. This gave me peace of mind, but was stressful for him. Not because of dog care or worrying about me traveling with our daughter (of course not!), but because he worries we won’t be together when I get news I need him there for. At least I think that’s why.

Everything went smoothly. My scans and MRI reports included the word UNCHANGED over and over. When you have Stage IV Lung cancer, and you’ve been “stable” for four years, unchanged is a remarkably wonderful word to see.

A change in my routine was no more “nasty drink” prior to chest, abdomen, and pelvic CT scans. Yippee!! Seriously. Yippee!! Evidently it has been determined that it is no longer necessary. Huh. I wonder how much of that stuff I’ve needlessly consumed. Oh well. Yippee! Seriously.

Boston was requiring masks when inside. The weather was very pleasant and we sat outside between appointments. Other than going to Dana-Farber, we stayed in our hotel room, reading and eating bon bons. No, no bon bons. We did have a fridge, keurig, microwave, and room service – it seemed safest. We had a nice visit together and an uneventful trip. Everything I hoped for. Thanks, Mandy, for being a great companion. And to Dan for staying home with the “children”.

Now we can settle in for winter, watching the birds (even cardinals!) and wildlife (especially a little porcupine), and enjoying the company of each other, the dogs, and the goats. Hopefully with boosters and masks, we will be able to spend time with family. I remain filled with hope for all cancer patients as each and every day advancements in research are bringing new treatments. Thank you to all who keep me in your thoughts and prayers, with hope for my future. I’ve heard people remark in other situations, “What do thoughts and prayers do? How does that help?” It does matter. It does help. Today I heard Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear describe the impact and importance of the outpouring of love they had received in the aftermath of the tornadoes. That is what the thoughts and prayers are. Love. Love to all.

Still “looks good!” (After all these years)


Good scans and MRI, cholesterol down to high normal for the first time since beginning with Lorlatinib, and all other blood work is fine!!! That is an amazing report for a stage IV lung cancer patient. I will continue to just deal with the scarring (fibrosis) in my lung caused by radiation. I can breathe well inside, even on humid days, and I’ll enjoy the less humid days all the more when able to be outside playing and working. Other side effects, while they affect me in ways that sometimes are distressing or painful, they are manageable and unchanged. I’m in great shape for the shape I’m in, and that’s just how I hope it stays!

One of the best things about this trip (the best next to the “good scans”) was that Dan could go in with me. The last time that happened was February. Patients only, unless a first visit, had been the rule due to COVID. It just felt so much better to have him with me. Just think about the people who had to receive devastating news with no one to be there for them. A phone’s hug or hand squeeze… Happy and relieved to have Dan with me.

Thank you for your continued positive energy and prayers. I continue to be filled with hope as I find joy in the everyday every day. The world has so much work to do on so many fronts. Compassion and kindness are “free” and something we can all contribute. May you find joy in your everyday.

See the light ahead?
Rochelle, Rochelle

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Mixed Media Morsels & more

Tips, Ideas, and Inspiration

Frantic Shanti

Mindfulness, cancer and the stuff in the space between your ears.

polepole ~ breathe

Living with metastatic lung cancer; a story of life, my life, now

Pat Schulz Paper Art

Where the creative mind meets paper

Boo Diagnosis, Great Life

NSCLC Stage IV Squamous Journey (Lung Cancer)

Faith, Family & Friends

Living with stage IV lung cancer - By Lysa Buonanno

The Frugal Crafter Blog

Groovy craft projects, crafty recipes and other artsy stuff.


The Official Blog of Lung Cancer Social Media

Forest Wolf Programs

Build your relationship to Nature with Forest Wolf as your guide.

Roads End Naturalist

Educating myself and others about the natural world as I wander and ponder at road's end.


Keeping you abreast of Gwen's lungs one post at a time.


Life with advanced lung cancer: tips, tricks, insights, and inspirations

Naturally Curious with Mary Holland

An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide - maryholland505@gmail.com


Just another WordPress.com site

Gray Connections

Perspectives on Lung Cancer, Research Advocacy, and Other Stuff

life and breath: outliving lung cancer

for the terminally optimistic

%d bloggers like this: