March 19th, 2011 | 3 Comments »

I apologize for the long hiatus. No big news to report from me – you can interpret no news iss good news!

In the meantime, the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear plant disasters in Japan have been deeply disturbing to see and hear about. Based on e-mails and calls to Japan, the really bad disasters are focused in the northeast in the prefectures of Ibaragi, Miyagi and Fukushima. Tokyo, while not suffering from the physical disaster, is hurting from disruption to the distribution system and lack of food on shelves. My take is it’s more about distribution and not about lack of food. Due to rolling black outs in Tokyo, I understand it can get quite cold when there is no energy. Everyone I’ve contacted or asked about seems to be fine (even if cold or unable to get the types of food they would prefer).

The following are some suggestions provided by the American School in Japan on ways to help.

From Outside Japan

Donations to the Red Cross fund for Japan
(http://www.redcross.org/)
*Donations can also be made through iTunes

Donations to Doctor’s Without Borders fund for Japan
(http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/donate)

Donations to NGO funds through Paypal
(https://www.paypal-donations.com/pp-charity/web.us/campaign.jsp?cid=-12)

Donations through Global Giving
(http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/japan-earthquake-tsunami-relief/ or by texting JAPAN to 50555 to donate $10. The donation will be added to your next cell phone bill)

Donations to International Medical Corps
(https://www.internationalmedicalcorps.org/SSLPage.aspx?pid=1967 or by calling (800) 481-4462 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (800) 481-4462      end_of_the_skype_highlighting. You can also text MED to 80888 to donate $10, which will be added to your next cellphone bill)

Needless to say, the trip to Shikoku and the 88 temples is on hold until things return to normal. Earliest would be some time spring of 2012.

More report soon on other things. Please keep those living in Japan in your heart.

XXOO, C

Posted in Uncategorized
January 23rd, 2011 | 4 Comments »

Maybe I’m getting used to warmer weather over the years. In any case, this winter has been the coldest I can remember in Maryland. Today the low was (ostensibly) 8 F. That’s crazy for this area and I can’t recall it getting that cold in the 11 years we’ve been here. It all fits with our theme this year though. Rachel, Becca and I have just finished Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Long Winter” (I am grateful we live here and not in North Dakota where the blinding and hazardous blizzards attack on a regular basis) and that just about sums it up. Spring, when it arrives, will be most welcome. Read the rest of this entry »

December 20th, 2010 | 11 Comments »

I can’t start this blog without acknowledging former US Presidential candidate, John Edwarwds’ wife, Elizabeth’s, recent passing on December 7, 2010. Despite her courage and eloquence, what a tragic event. The fact that she was unable to live “another 8 years”  as she wished, until her youngest (currently age 10) was older, is particularly painful.  Her book, “Resilience: Reflections on the Burdens and Gifts of Facing Life’s Adversities” (Broadway Books, 2009) gave me great courage when I read it in January as I was just beginning to deal with the diagnosis for metastasis. The book inspired the name of this blog. Read the rest of this entry »

November 15th, 2010 | 4 Comments »

Thank you so much for sharing the excitement of my recent good news on the cancer front. It is wonderful to be able to share it with you.

I still get back pain if I’m not careful, so there’s plenty that I need to work toward. Walking is great, but sitting/standing for long periods of time and running or jumping definitely make my back ache. While I always have cancer on my mind, somehow back pain, in and of itself, seems more manageable. I’m just trying to take it easier. Read the rest of this entry »

November 6th, 2010 | 19 Comments »

I really apologize for the long hiatus but have some pretty amazing news to share! Based on my pet scan last week (Oct 25, 2010), the assessment is “there is no definite evidence of active malignancy at any site on this current exam.”  While the Pet scan isn’t as detailed as some other scans and doesn’t include the brain, this is really exciting news and per my oncologist is “incredible.” Wow!

Apparently, newly cancer free areas which are recovering can be pretty raw and painful. I’ve had some back pain down my spine for parts of the last three weeks and was very concerned that it was an escalation of the intermittent cancer seen in my spine in the Spring.  As a result, the Pet scans showing no cancer in the back came as a genuine and complete surprise. The next MRI in January will provide another chance to see results and ensure that the brain is clear of all tumors as has been expected — a reminder that the left side tumor in the brain is gone, the right less than halved in size and expected to disappear after the stereotactic radiation in September.

In the meantime, I am down to just the herceptin once every three weeks with zometa every four weeks to help with the leaching of calcium. The diagnostics continue but this is MUCH easier than what I’ve had to deal with so far. Jeremy will now get some freedom as he has diligently come to nearly every chemo appointment with me.

I do need to say that my one month at the Federal Executive Institute for the Leadership in a Democratic Society training was incredible. Such wonderful people, amazing classes and lots of opportunities for learning and self reflection. It was a once in a life time opportunity and I LOVED it! Thank you EPA! I also attended (gulp) my 25th year college reunion at Earlham College in Indiana at the end of October. How amazing to see so many familiar faces after so  long. Everyone looked so darn good and is doing such interesting things. Go Earlhamites!

I promise to write more regularly, but am very happy to share the no visible cancer news! We’re all still a little stunned with the news and I feel more humbled and grateful (and a little skittish about it) rather than wanting to scream and shout yet. Don’t want to do anything to offend the cancer spirits, if you know what I mean. However, I hope you’ll feel free to say a little “yahoo!” in your heart with me! Thank you for your on-going support and for continuing to read this blog! Wow, this has all been so unexpected.

With more soon!! xxoo, Constie

Posted in Cancer, Treatment
September 22nd, 2010 | 5 Comments »

It is amazing that I have already completed the first phase of treatment (radiation and chemo) and am starting the second. The past 6 months have gone past so quickly, it’s hard to recall how it all transpired and all the steps along the way. Just yesterday, I completed the stereotactic (SRS) radiation to the one remaining brain tumor. It took nearly 2 weeks for the radiologist to plan it, but my part was pretty easy. It was a 1 hour ordeal. Not too bad except for the discomfort of having a bald head in a hard plastic mask screwed against a hard table for the duration. I am on steroids again to deal with the inevitable brain bloating but no notable side effects that I’ve noticed, aside from a persistent inability to sleep. Read the rest of this entry »

September 8th, 2010 | 6 Comments »

What a week it has been! On Tuesday (9/7), the oncologist shared the results of some recent diagnostics. It seems that the smaller of the two brain tumors has disappeared, as have both of the tumors in the lungs — what’s left is mostly scar tissue. There is some diffuse metastases left in the spine but things seem to be getting better. In a word, she feels the recovery since February has been amazing. Wow!  Not quite out of the woods, yet, though. Read the rest of this entry »

August 10th, 2010 | 3 Comments »

It has been an interesting few weeks. While the news that my cancer has been subsiding has been good, I continue to deal with small niggling issues. One of them is odd intermittent pain in various places. It never lasts long and rarely occurs in the same place over periods of time. However, the painful headaches I had in succession, albeit briefly, last week were a bit disconcerting given their intensity. They took my breath away. I mentioned it to my oncology nurse, like I have a whole succession of pains over the last few months, which have generally been acknowledged and shelved by the doctors. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Advocacy
July 23rd, 2010 | 14 Comments »

What a fascinating thing that there can be several ways to treat the same problem. With great thanks to a friend who introduced me to him, I went to a gifted naturopathic healer this weekend that was able to largely solve my hearing loss problem in about an hour. How amazing is that? The extent of his ministrations included pulling my neck and (almost painfully) massaging my hands. I guess the take away here is that parts of the body are connected in unexpected ways and that some people are just incredibly intuitive and gifted. I am just tremendously grateful to have a good portion of my hearing back. It makes such a difference! Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Treatment
July 12th, 2010 | 12 Comments »

I really do apologize for the long hiatus! Between a short stint up to Maine to see family and dealing with a whole new level of exhaustion due to low hemoglobin levels (low oxygen levels), I have been terrible about keeping up! On the other hand, being back in the office (and now permanently in the Toxic Release Inventory Program at EPA), I am finding new energy where I didn’t think there was any left!

Thanks for the questions on the MRI. It’s actually a rather astounding thing. Turns out the two brain tumors which were radiated (full brain radiation as opposed to specific radiation to the two tumors themselves) are now half gone! The 3.5 cm tumor is down to 1.6 cm and the 1.5 cm tumor is down to 0.8 cm. Go figure! It didn’t even occur to me that these tumors (which were stopped by the radiation in March/April) could actually disappear. Wow! The oncologist’s words are that the recovery is “remarkable.” That’s the most positive we’ve heard her yet. Read the rest of this entry »

June 20th, 2010 | 6 Comments »

Now that the cancer seems relatively under control, I have been going stir crazy staying at home! After much effort, I finally got back to work on a part-time basis last week. I was able to use this opportunity while I have someone back-filling me in my permanent position to make a case for spending a few months working in a different part of EPA. I am now temporarily in the Toxic Release Inventory Program, which is great fun! It is wonderful to have an opportunity to learn more about programs that are specifically intended to help the public rather than the work I’ve focused on to date which has managed programs which support EPA’s internal workings. I owe great thanks to those who were able to make this opportunity finally happen for me — a heart-felt thank you! Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in How am I Feeling
June 8th, 2010 | 19 Comments »

Jeremy and I finally visited with the oncologist yesterday and are VERY pleased to share with you the following results between January and today (6/8):

  • A “significant decrease” in one of the lung tumors from 1.4 cm to 0.9 cm
  • Improvement in the multiple densities in the right lung (these were previously defined as small tumors)
  • Healing in the lumbar and spine where there was diffuse cancer growth
  • All other organs are stable and there is NO new growth
  • My CA 27-29 blood marker is BELOW the threshold of 37!

Bottom line — this is really impressive progress in a short period of time! The oncologist was VERY positive and felt the Carboplatin was instrumental in giving me a leg up in the healing. So, it is a relief that even as the number one YUCK factor, the Carboplatin really did its thing. Thank you, Caroboplatin!

The next steps will be the continue with the existing Taxol and Heceptin. The way forward seems very positive since the results have been so good. MANY thanks to all of you who have been such a support. I could not have gotten through the yuck factors, not to mention so many other things, that have made this recovery so tough. Thank you!!

More soon! XXOO, C

Posted in Cancer, Treatment
June 7th, 2010 | 2 Comments »
Team Constie’s Resilience

Thanks to the many who participated, contributed, or were there in spirit for the Constie’s Resilience Team at the Komen Race for the Cure in  Washington, DC on Saturday June 5th. What an AMAZING race! We had a great turn-out and special thanks to Chris and Ariadne for organizing it and making it happen and to the many others who helped in so many other ways. Also, thanks to all those who woke up so early!  Thanks also to Duncan Brown who very generously made beautiful lavender T-shirts for our group!
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Advocacy
June 3rd, 2010 | 1 Comment »

For those who will be involved in the Komen Race for the Cure. Here is the latest on Metro, Start Times, the VIP Tent and registration if you are still interested (open until 6 pm Friday, tomorrow). Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Advocacy
June 3rd, 2010 | 6 Comments »

Thank you for the thoughts on exercise! Clearly Qigong is a big favorite. I have also really enjoyed yoga. Walking as been good when I’m feeling OK.  The entire family has been hit with a cold and we are all struggling with coughs, stuffed noses, laryngitis, etc. What a shame…and on Rachel’s birthday too. Incidentally, the weather here is now in the 90s at the high end. In any case, once I am better, I will get back into the exercise. Can’t wait! Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Treatment