On Beyond Cancer

My life with metastatic breast cancer

Eating well July 12, 2014

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This last month has been a tough one, and I’m really thankful to all of you for your positive messages, help with the kids, chemo buddies, and all the other things you do to take care of our whole family.  Lately though, lots of people have been feeding us, which has just been wonderful.  I’ve got a few photos of the yummy food we received:


Farmers market care package from my dad and stepmom. Potatoes, tomatoes, zucchini, cherries, raspberries, peppers, peaches.


Baked potatoes and all the fixin's  from my friend Cheryl's mom, Maryann.  She is an amazing woman and had herself surgery only a month ago!

Baked potatoes and all the fixin’s from my friend Cheryl’s mom, Maryann. She is an amazing woman and had surgery herself only a month ago!


Platanos maduros (grilled plaintains) and corn tamales made by my cousin Marie.  Food was delicious but the best part was a great visit with her and her sister Sandy!

Platanos maduros (grilled plaintains – my fav) and corn tamales made by my cousin Marie. Food was delicious but the best part was a great visit with her and my cousin Sandy!


Rice and beans also made by my cousin Marie.

Rice and beans also made by my cousin Marie.


I don’t have pictures but my mom brought me casseroles, orange juice, and her famous macaroni salad.  My mother-in-law and father-in-law often invite us for swimming and dinner.  I put the kids in their pj’s and brush their teeth before we leave, then we get home and pop them into bed, so easy.  Also, my friend Cheryl made us a lovely pasta dinner this week.  Thanks to everyone, you are so fantastic.  It’s also a special treat to try new dishes!


Peppermint & Ginger Comfort Kit August 27, 2013

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Another organization providing items to cancer patients, Peppermint and Ginger Comfort Kits, Inc., focuses on personal hygiene and oral health items.  They sent me this box of goodies.  So far I have been really enjoying the peppermint tea – it is great for mild nausea.  They also included a special alcohol-free mouthwash designed to help prevent mouth sores (listerine type mouthwashes are a bit too harsh).


Cancer freebies from Sharsharet August 21, 2013

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I recently came across an organization called Sharsharet, that has some excellent resources for women with breast cancer.  The organization has a specific focus on Jewish women, a subset of whom have much higher than average risk for breast cancer, but they provide services to all women.  I spoke with a social worker who asked some basic questions, created a custom packet of information and useful items for us, and then offered to provide over the phone counseling if I needed someone to talk to.  A few days later we received this in the mail:


A “busy box” filled with toys, puzzles, and craft items so the kids have something to do when I’m not feeling my best.  Ethan really likes the Lunar Lockout logic game.



A beautiful children’s book for kids who have a parent with cancer.



A resource packet with various brochures and DVDs, specifically geared to young women with small children, with pamplets for my mom and husband too.



A makeup kit that included eyebrow stencils (pretty cool if you need them).



Patient Resources: Free Services January 7, 2013

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Since I’ve started this blog, a few people have asked me for information for friends or relatives with cancer.  I thought I’d write a few posts on this, then put them together as a resource page on the blog.  The first topic is free services for cancer patients. There are many different programs that offer free services, products, or experiences for cancer patients; the majority of these are not specific to breast cancer.  Here are a few:

Comfortree Housecleaning Services – This organization provides monthly, non-toxic housecleaning services for cancer patients in select NJ counties.  They were a great help to us following my surgeries and are just lovely people.  (Check the top right of the homepage and you’ll see photos of some of their patients – the boys and I are in one of them.)

Cleaning for a Reason – National organization that connects you with cleaning services that are willing to provide free services for cancer patients.

One Gift– This is basically the Make a Wish Foundation for grown-ups living in NJ.  They fund experiences for cancer patients such as getaways and celebrations.  This group sponsored our trip to the Adirondacks in 2010.

For Pete’s Sake – An organization that provides respite vacations for young adult cancer patients and their families from the NJ, PA, and DE area.  Most trips are to locations on the east coast of the US.  The organization has two donated homes outside of the Disney area.  They sponsored our Disney trip in 2012.

Crickett’s Answer for Cancer – Provides free lymphedema sleeves, wigs, and spa services to women with breast cancer.  Not specific to low income.

Good Wishes Scarves – Free beautiful headwrap or scarf from L Erickson USA.

If you know of other organizations, let me know and I’ll add them to my list.


Steeplechase Christmas Party January 6, 2013

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Our family was invited to the Steeplechase Cancer Center Christmas party again this year.  The party was sponsored by the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office.  Children of cancer patients were invited for dinner and a visit with Santa.  Each child received a gift purchased by one of the officers.  The highlight of the party was Santa’s arrival on the SWAT truck.  This year the boys also got to check out the inside of the truck, which they really liked.


Here we are with Santa.


Lots more Disney photos thanks to Sara and Ken November 15, 2012

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Visiting with Mickey!

Here’s one of my favorites, but you can see lots more on Ken’s facebook page here.

I’ll eventually get them all into an album and some of Christmas cards… But enjoy!



Back from our Florida trip November 12, 2012

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We got back yesterday afternoon from our Florida trip.  It was a fun time.  We had a lovely 3 bedroom home to stay in near Disney and my sister was able to stay with us too, which was great.  It was a bit chilly for Florida weather, so we didn’t have a chance to try out the pool.  We went to Magic Kingdom, Universal Islands of Adventure, and Sea World.  We also went mini-golfing and had two special meals at theme restaurants – T-Rex (with animatronic dinosaurs) and Sharks Underwater Grill (tables right next to the shark tank).  The travel was a bit rough, 12 hours each way since we had connecting flights so we are all pretty tired.  I still need to get all the pictures together, but here are a couple of fun ones.

Ethan meeting Mickey Mouse. Sara got us Fast Passes for this (and many rides) so there was no wait! Awesome!

Ethan pretending to get his hand bitten by a leopard statue. So dramatic!






Thanks to For Pete’s Sake for sponsoring the trip!


Starting 3rd cycle – quick update October 25, 2012

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Hi everyone.  Just a quick update for you.   I’m starting the third cycle of Xeloda today.  Since it looks like it’s really working, I’m going to keep taking it for as long as it keeps working and the side effects don’t give me too much trouble.  The one week on/one week off treatment schedule was much easier.  I did start having some trouble with fatigue last weekend and I just crashed Monday and slept most of the day.  I called the doctor to have her review my bloodwork and she said that I’m slightly anemic, but it’s likely the fatigue is just a side effect of the drug.  I’m taking B-12 now and trying to get more protein and iron into my diet.  She also told me to get more rest and slow down.  Ha!  I’m going to try to aim to get to bed earlier a few nights a week, but we will see how that goes.


Earlier this week I got some lovely flowers from my college friends Missy and Alana to celebrate the good news on the tumor markers.  Thanks ladies!  I’ll post a picture soon.


Also, Tuesday we got our travel itinerary for our trip to Orlando.   Yippee!!  We have tickets for Walt Disney World, Sea World, and Universal/Islands of Adventure.  Our flight schedule is a little crazy because it’s a tough week for traveling from Newark to Orlando – all of the kids are off from school for the teacher’s convention.  We have a connection in Chicago on the flight there and one in St. Louis on the way home.  I’ll definitely be putting together lots of things to keep the kids busy.  The house that we’ll be staying in seems really nice.  Plus we’ll get to spend lots of time with my sister.  Should be a wonderful trip.


A care package arrived for me today :-) September 26, 2012

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My friend Candi sent me this lovely little care package of spa goodies. I think she actually made them herself. Too bad this isn’t a scratch and sniff blog, because they smell wonderful. Thanks Candi! If you are reading this can you tell me what is in the tiny pot? I’m definitely taking a nice long bath tonight.


Got a great massage last Friday September 25, 2012

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With the new treatment plan, I forgot to mention that I had a great massage last Friday.  My in-laws, Jeff and Jolene, were kind enough to treat me to a massage at the spa where I went for my Diva Day.  It was supposed to be to help me recover from my Faslodex shots which were canceled at the last minute.  I had a different therapist this time who was also excellent.  I really enjoyed the hot towels and the aromatherapy eye pillow that she incorporated into the massage.  I also took advantage of the steam room and had a cup of tea in the lounge before going back to reality.  Thanks Mom and Dad!


I should also mention that I frequently come home from work to find that my mother-in-law has washed all my dirty dishes  and bought us groceries.  What a huge relief!  Without her we would probably have no food or clean plates. 🙂


Maybe socks like these.

In other news, our cat Neo is really enjoying the Bag Balm.  He must realize that it’s for animals too.  Maybe I ought to get him little cat socks so we can moisturize his paws.