Graduations + Good Scans = Happiness



1. The receiving or conferring of an academic degree or diploma.

2. The action of dividing into degrees or other proportionate divisions on a graduated scale.
I’ve been a little busy lately. Both my children recently graduated, Michaela from college and Max from high school. First up was Michaela. 

We ventured out to Washington DC for a fun and memorable weekend. It was a beautiful sight watching Michaela receive her diploma. You see, Mark and I were not sure I would be around for this day. 

While we were waiting for the graduates to walk out, Mark turned to me and said that he wished every day that I would live long enough to attend the kid’s graduations. Thankfully, wishes can come true. A week later it was time to celebrate Max’s graduation.

Like Michaela’s graduation, I was thrilled to be at Max’s. At one point I had watery eyes, looked at Mark and told him I was so happy to be here. I am hoping to be around for another four years. I need to witness Max graduate college and Michaela graduate from law school. I think I will be at both.

The graduations were a happy time for my family and I was feeling great. I wanted and wished this feeling to last forever. Did this wish come true?

I had my nine week scans this week. They consisted of a bone scan, a pelvic, abdomen, and chest CT scan, plus a brain MRI. I met with Dr. M yesterday to discuss results. Guess what? Another wish has come true.

Dr. M said my body scans looked great. All tumors are smaller in size. This is wonderful news.  There was an issue with my brain MRI. Whoever read the scan thought one of the tumors was worse and one was better. Dr. M got in touch with my radiation oncologist, Dr. K, at midnight to get her thoughts. How cool is this… doctors discussing my health so late at night. Reading the MRI report was scary, but Dr. K said I was stable and to just monitor. More wonderful news. Yay!

Last week I had an appointment with my endocrinologist due to the thyroid cancer. We do not do much in regards to this cancer because it is slow growing, but the thyroid is suppressed through medication. On this particular visit, Dr. B recommended I get an ultrasound, since it’s been a while and I am still here. I guess the thought was that I wouldn’t live this long. Ha! 

Today I had the ultrasound. More good news. It appears the cancerous nodule on my thyroid is smaller in size than it was 2013. I’m not sure how this happened and I’m not going to question it.

I love happy occasions and good news. The last couple of weeks have been filled with both. I hope they continue. 


A Rebirth

Flowers have popped up from the ground. Tree buds have opened up. People are sneezing. This must mean one thing……Spring has arrived. The season of rebirth.

Although Fall is my favorite season, I enjoy Spring. I love flowers and plants, and am now planning what I will be planting this year. Last year at this time I was very weak, and had a difficult time getting my yard in order. This year I am looking forward to my planning coming to fruition. 

Like Spring, I feel as though I am experiencing a rebirth. After receiving ten brain radiation treatments, I am no longer having double vision or blurriness. My face is not numb, and my jaw is feeling much better. I am absolutely thrilled with the results. Three days after radiation was complete, I began a new chemotherapy treatment. 

I was a bit nervous beginning the new chemo due to its side effects. Fever is one of these side effects. Why should I be nervous about something that almost killed me last summer?!? I have had two treatments so far, and I am happy to say the side effects have not been too bad. I am feeling more alive and positive about my health than I have in a long time. It’s a great feeling to have. 

My family and I have some happy occasions to celebrate this Spring. Michaela, who graduated early (December), summa cum laude, with a double major in Political Science and Communications from George Washington University, will have her graduation ceremonies soon. We are looking forward to attending.

Max will be graduating from high school, and committed to attending the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s College of Information and Computer Science. Mark and I are very proud of Michaela and Max.

Enjoy the warmer weather of Spring, and don’t forget to tiptoe through the tulips. 

Lights, Camera, Action….

Hello Mermaids! It’s been quite awhile since we were last together. So much has happened in this time. Let’s begin with the good news.

Towards the end of February I received an email from ROCK’N ROBIN PRODUCTIONS, which “is a full service broadcast and digital production company creating new and exciting programming for network, cable and online audiences.” It is headed by Robin Roberts who is best known as co-anchor on Good Morning America.

The email explained an upcoming Robin Roberts five-part series about advanced breast cancer featured on My blog was found during a search for this series. I was interviewed by the company and chosen to be part of this series as a woman living with advanced breast cancer. I am truly honored. Filming was so fun and exciting! I don’t want to give anything away, but I will let you know all the details when I can including how and when you can view the series online.
Health-wise, things went downhill after filming.

I started having double vision. It just happened out of the blue one day. I thought it might not be anything of importance until it was there the following day. I put a call into Dr. M. My nurse practitioner called me back, and it was decided I would need a brain MRI. Oh great, the dreaded MRI. But, I knew I needed it… ATIVAN, are you there?

I received a call from my nurse practitioner a few days after the MRI. It wasn’t the worst possible news, but it wasn’t the best. It appears I have another cancer growth on the outside of my brain. That’s the good news. No, really, that’s good news. The bad news would be if the cancer was inside the brain. See, it’s always about perspective.

The following week after receiving this news, I had CT and bone scans. Two days later, I met with Dr. M to discuss CT and bone scan results and review the results of my MRI.
Things went way downhill.

The PARP inhibitor I have been on apparently was not inhibiting PARPs. The lesions on my liver grew, and there is a new nodule on my lung. Oy!

So, what do we do now? First, I need to have brain radiation therapy for 10 days. That’s right. The double vision became worse, and now I have blurry vision, right ear pain/hearing loss, numbness on the right side of my face/head, and jaw pain with my right lower jaw moving way over to the right side of my face. Second, we begin a new chemotherapy called Gemcitabine. I will receive this treatment on a cycle of two weeks with chemotherapy and one week of a break. My infusions won’t start for a few weeks though since radiation must come first.

I started my first brain radiation treatment yesterday. I had to wear a head mask, which makes it very uncomfortable. Brain radiation is quite scary when you learn the symptoms and side effects associated with it. The main symptoms of brain radiation are fatigue, rash, and swelling. Additionally, the symptoms you are already experiencing can get worse. The rare side effects include blindness and paralysis. The radiation oncologist, Dr. K, explained to me if we did not do radiation, the cancer would continue to grow and cause these side effects anyway. Well then, zap my brain! I remember when I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, going to radiation without a care what would happen, but I digress.

The sooner we finish up radiation, the sooner we can start chemotherapy. I’m looking forward to telling those cancer cells to take a hike. The weather is going to be much warmer soon, they won’t mind.

The Circle of Life

From the day we arrive on the planet
And, blinking, step into the sun

There’s more to see than can ever be seen

More to do than can ever be done

There’s far too much to take in here

More to find than can ever be found

But the sun rolling high

Through the sapphire sky

Keeps great and small on the endless round

It’s the circle of life

And it moves us all

Through despair and hope

Through faith and love

Till we find our place

On the path unwinding

In the circle

The circle of life

~ Elton John, Tim Rice

Many people  do not feel comfortable talking about death, but guess what, we’re all going to die. Yep, it’s true. We’re born, we live, and then we die.  It’s the circle of life.

Weeks ago I met with my Rabbi to start planning my funeral. Many friends thought this would be upsetting for me to do, but I found it to be rather comforting. I like to be prepared and I like to do things my way. 

I learned that preparing to die involves lots of planning. Part of the planning involves choosing a funeral parlor, a cemetery, a casket, a gravestone and the type of service you would like. Healthcare proxies and Wills need to be updated as well. Mark and I will do this together. I’m happy that I can help now so this burden doesn’t all fall on Mark.  I think planning for your death is something everyone should take advantage of while they can.

I’ve been working on my legacy for my family. Journals for my children are almost complete and I’ve been teaching Mark how to prepare some of his favorite food dishes. I really need to teach that man how to use our fancy oven. To convection, or not? 

When I met with my oncologist, Dr. M, two weeks ago, I told her I met with my rabbi and we started to plan my funeral. She told me I was doing well right now, but it was a good idea to plan. This led me to ask some questions. 

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I’m on a new treatment. Dr. M is aware that I like to know what the future holds for me, and she’s comfortable answering my questions. I asked her what happens if this new treatment does not work. She explained there may be clinical trials that I could participate in or other chemotherapies to try, but there will come a time when treatments may become dangerous if I become too ill. 

During this past spring/summer I got a taste of being very ill. It was just awful in so many ways. I remember saying I was not ready to die, not the way you’re thinking, but because I was not prepared. I used to be superstitious, believing that if I was prepared it would speed up my death. I don’t feel that way anymore. 

There are so many things I would like to see and do, and I hope to have the time to do them. When the time comes to leave this planet, I’ll take comfort knowing I was ready, and that I prepared my family to move on. 

Are you there god? It’s me, Susan

Happy and healthy New Year, Mermaids! I wish you all wonderful things for 2017.

I would like to say good riddance to 2016. It wasn’t the best year for me, but it ended in a wonderful way. Michaela graduated a semester early from The George Washington University with a double major in Political Science and Communication. She graduated with highest honors, Summa Cum Laude, and honors in both her majors. We are beyond proud. Max, who is a senior in high school, is waiting patiently to find out where he will attend college in the fall. We cannot wait to find out!!

Between all the studying, college applications, jobs, and my health, it’s been a bit stressful for my family. What to do?
I decided it was time to go to my happy place. That place is Walt Disney World. We have been many times before, and this trip brought back many happy memories, especially for Mark and I. We had a great time, and it was the perfect way to end the year. Now, back to reality. 

Last week I had my bone and CT scans. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but I had an idea something was not right. I lost quite a bit a weight again in a short period of time, and I just wanted to sleep. Hmmmm…..

I met with Dr. M two days after the scans. Unfortunately, the tumors on my liver are growing and multiplying….ugh! Dr. M made mentioned how I always know what is going on with my body. Sometimes I wish I was wrong.

I was taken off the Eribulin (chemo), and began a new type of treatment called a PARP Inhibitor. I take 8 pills in the morning, and 8 pills in the evening. If you would like to learn more about PARP inhibitors, please go to my Facebook page. I have a little video posted from Dana-Farber which explains the treatment:

I am of course disappointed with these latest scan results. I start questioning why my treatments do not last very long. After discussing this with Dr. M, I turned to my spiritual side.

I am not a religious person, but I do believe in God, and have nightly conversations. These conversations happen when I am in bed, and they involve thanking and begging. I speak not only of myself, but family and friends, too. Some may refer to these conversations as prayers. 

I also have conversations with my mom and dad, who I miss dearly. I believe they can hear me, as does God. I also believe that no matter how often I ask them to make me healthy, it may not happen. It might not be in the cards, and I am at peace with this. 

For now, I will take this new drug, and hope it helps with minimal side effects. I will continue with my nightly conversations and, as always, keep on living. I have many happy events in this new year.

Dream On





a series of thoughts, images, and sensations occurring in a person’s mind during sleep.



experience dreams during sleep.



a frightening or unpleasant dream.


I love to sleep and I’m thankful for this because I sleep a lot. I’m a night owl and usually drift off to sleep around 2:00am. I’m most definitely not a morning person and the morning is when I enjoy sleeping the most. Friends know not to call me before 11:00am. I will not answer.

I dream quite a bit during my sleep and often remember those dreams. Some dreams make me happy like when I dream of my parents or vacationing somewhere tropical with Mark. I wake with a big smile on my face. Some dreams make me sad like having advanced breast cancer. Oh, wait…..that’s not a dream, that’s my life.

I’ve been dealing with breast cancer since August 2010. It was 2013 when the cancer cells in my body decided to wake, probably from a nice dream, and have one hell of a party. Since then, I feel like my life is one big dream, or more like a nightmare. Wake me up, please!

It was a nightmare when I was too weak and tired to take a shower, or walk up the stairs, or eat, or had to sleep 17 hours a day, felt nauseous, could not drive, was hospitalized, recieved many blood transfusions, missed my children’s important events, and more. These were agonizing times and I wanted someone to wake me up from my nightmare. I wanted my life to be the way it was before August 2010.

In a sense I did wake up. This is the life I was given and I could be miserable or I could continue to live. I chose to live. 

I will say that I don’t think about what my life would be had I never gotten cancer. I’m a firm believer that things happen for a reason….good or bad. Yes, I believe I was meant to get breast cancer. I am using my experiences living with metastatic breast cancer to educate about this disease. 

These days I am feeling well, well enough to go on vacation to my happy place, Walt Disney World, along with Mark, Michaela and Max. How can you not be happy at WDW?  



Halloween, Halloween 

Oh what funny things are seen
Witches hats, cold black cats

Broomstick riders, mice and rats!
When I was teaching, I always enjoyed singing, and sharing this song to my young students during the month of October. They would giggle as they acted it out, and would scream in delight the word RATS.

I have always had a fondness for Halloween, and I am happy my family shares this fondness. We enjoy dressing up, and decorating our yard. We also hand out full size candy bars! We are pretty tame when the little children come trick or treating, but once they are done for the night, beware of things that go bump in the night. Mark and Max get a kick in scaring the older kids. It’s quite funny. 

I can only remember one Halloween that I wasn’t thrilled with. It was 2010 and I had a round of chemo a few days before, and a terrible cold. Michaela was recouping from pneumonia, and Mark took Max trick or treating. We didn’t decorate much that year, and Michaela and I dreaded everytime the doorbell rang. We took turns answering it. We were miserable.

Scary movies, scary costumes, and scary jack o lanterns are all part of Halloween. For those with metastatic breast cancer, scans are quite scary for the duration of their lives. I usually don’t let the scans bother me much. They are what they are, and I can’t change the results.

I will be getting scanned soon. This time I am feeling a bit uneasy. The reason for feeling this way is because my treatment options are running out. I am hoping that this current chemotherapy I am taking will last for quite a while. If the scans do not look good, I will need a new treatment. I keep reminding myself I can’t change the scan results, and my super smart oncologist will know what to do next.

Now, back to something fun, Halloween. I hope your jack o lanterns glow bright, bats fly by the moonlight, witches cause a scary fright, and many trick or treaters roam the cold dark night. Wishing you all a spooktacular Halloween. 👻💀🎃