Monday, January 31, 2011

Monday morning and I'm out of bed for the first time since my treatment Wednesday afternoon. It gets harder and harder to be in bed with flu like symptoms, every round. I have two days to feel good before I go back for the end of round 6. It looks like I may get two weeks off before we begin the next phase of treatment. Two weeks sounds like heaven. Two weeks of living like a normal person, minus the job I love, of course. Maybe I'll get my closets and cupboards cleaned out! The downside to having a large house with lots of rooms and closets is it's difficult to remember where things are. we love our house, but the two of us and our dogs didn't really need a 2500 square foot house on almost an acre. We bought is because we thought my mom was going to move in with us. Plans changed, the market fell, and we have too much house.

Jean will be here soon for my yoga session. It will feel wonderful after 4 1/2 days in bed! I'm going to take a break from writing this to get ready and I'll write more later.
Yoga today was lots of twists and deep back bends to help my stomach. The scar tissue feels stretched out and not "crunchy" anymore. All of the yoga with Jean and Cathy have helped my poor little stomach to recover much more quickly than it did last time. I love the dreamy feeling I get after yoga!

It's another gorgeous day out, after a gloomy and slightly wet weekend. I will attempt a walk today, but I have a feeling I won't manage an entire day out of bed. The fund raiser put on by Chris and Sue Molina and the teachers is going to be at a local winery, and the owners donated the space. People are so kind and so generous.

Here I am, practicing with Cathy at Yoga in the Vines in 2009:

Namaste, Jill

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Strange Symptoms and New Weapons

It seems that my body reacts slightly differently to each round. For some reason, my sense of smell seems to be enhanced and contributes to my nausea. I tend to have these strange feelings that are hard to describe. You may recall that my scar tissue felt "crunchy" and my stomach often feels "squishy." That means very little to anyone but me, I'm sure. Last night I felt like I had drunk a bottle of perfume. I know how strange that sounds. I don't even have any perfume in the house! Later in the evening I felt like I had heart burn. Chemo affects the gastrointestinal tract, so this symptom is not unusual. Fortunately I have been sleeping well so I get a reprieve from these symptoms. I spent this rainy morning watching the men's final of the Australian Open, in bed with Casey, Ben and Bella. It has been blissful. We had hot cereal (thanks, Chris) with bananas, blueberries and coconut milk. We add ground flax seed to mine, which gives me omega 3s and keeps the chemo constipation at bay. Yummy, healthy, cancer fighting. Green tea also fights cancer, so that's what I drank. It feels really good to eat food that is healthy for you. Your body appreciates it and responds in kind.

This is Cate, my gorgeous niece, in Tahiti. Love this girl!!

I finally got around to ordering food from the Wellness Kitchen in Templeton. All of their food is local, organic, and cancer fighting. I ordered soup,two entrees, a grain salad and the chicken bone broth. Each dish has two servings, so that will be 8 meals for me. All Casey has to do is heat it up for me until I feel well enough to do it for myself. These meals are a major weapon in my arsenal against cancer. With all of the love and support that continues to pour in, the yoga, the visualization, the prayers and intentions going out on my behalf, the cancer fighting meals...cancer doesn't stand a chance. Vanquished, forever!!

I will spend today taking it easy. I'm reading one of the books Kimberly sent me, about Julia Child in Paris. Gorgeous book - makes me want to see Paris again one day, this time with Casey. It also makes me want to learn to be a more gourmet cook, like Julia and Kimberly! Thanks Kimberly, you always send just the right thing. I love you, my dear friend.

Tomorrow I'll get up and do private with Jean in my living room. Tuesday I'll go to Cathy's studio for yoga with the yogaflirt women, who are all so inspiring and so supportive. Wednesday a private with Cathy, then the second and last part of round 6. I saw the physician's assistant before this round, and he thinks I will have two weeks off after that. Then they'll do another CA125 and I'll meet with my doctor to discuss what happens next, based on those results. It will be in my belly port, and it will be harsher than the IV chemo. I feel so much stronger then I did the last time I had the IP chemo, but it is intense. It made me so ill I ended up in the hospital a few times last time. Hopefully it will not be like that this time.

Two weeks off sounds like heavenly bliss to me right now. I hope it happens!

It's harder than you think, spending all this time in bed. I'm grateful for my google TV, for netflix, for books, for Casey, for my dogs...but it's getting old. I have to keep reminding myself that this is part of the battle and I have to stay strong and happy. With so many people behind me, how could I be anything else?

Namaste, Jill

Friday, January 28, 2011


The kindness continues. Yesterday I received a package from my dear friend Kimberly, who moved into my neighborhood in the 6th grade. She knitted me a gorgeous blue hat with daisies in it, and I didn't even tell her that I love hats with flowers on them! She also sent me some wonderful smelling soap and two books I haven't read. One of them is the book the film about Julia Child was based on and I've been wanting to read it. Here's to friends who know you so well they send you the perfect gift! I love you, Kimberly.

Yesterday the online donation site the yogaflirt women set up for me went live. Again, I feel so humbled. My sweet and generous yoga teacher, Cathy, who has already done so much for me, started it off with a $100 donation. Colleen gave $500, after I already had the pleasure and the privilege of teaching her two awesome daughters. I love you, McCall women! Bob and Kathy Canepa contributed $100, and an anonymous donor $250. Boy, do I feel grateful and humble.

I felt pretty bad during the night last night, and I threw up this morning. I felt better afterward. I'm fine as long as I stay in bed. Sydney is still home sick - extremely unusual for her to miss a week of school - so I'll have to wait to see her again. Get well, Sydney.

Today's image is of Casey, singing to me while David and I walked down the aisle!

Namaste, Jill

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The first of my Fund Raisers if off and running and it is a big lesson is asking for help and in humility. I am humbled by everything people are doing on my behalf. I have been determined, from the beginning, to ask for help when we need it. I never thought we'd need financial help, but then I didn't know there is a cap on donated sick leave. The teachers have generously donated their sick leave time for a total of 12 month's worth. These days are precious. One never knows when they will be needed, and they do figure into retirement. It's big deal for the teachers to have donated so many of them, and Casey and I appreciate it beyond belief. Now that they are not allowed to continue to donate beyond March, I will lose about $8,000 of my pay. So, while it's difficult to ask for financial help, I had to do my part. There are quite a few people working on my behalf, between the yogaflirt women and the teachers, who are working with Chris Molina. My job was to simply send out messages to friends and family, asking for help and directing them to my online donation site that the yogaflirt women set up for me. If I missed sending you one and you would like to help, I'll put the url at the bottom of this post.

I am also going to attach a picture of Cathy to this post. She was here yesterday, doing a private class with me and helping me with my anxiety about yesterday's treatment. When we were through I had that dreamy, relaxed feeling you get at the end of a massage. She helps me, so much, and she has been since I first waked into her yoga studio in October of 2007. I am so grateful that she was my first real yoga teacher. All of the privates I've had with Cathy and with Jean have been priceless and have deepened my love for yoga.

Yesterday wasn't too bad. I sucked on a coconut candy so the smells wouldn't bother me. I did dry heave twice, but was able to keep from starting a puke fest. Last night I felt very toxic. I could taste the chemo, or maybe the steroids, and I felt enveloped in poison. It's better today and I only feel slightly nauseous, so far. I have not been up on a Thursday after treatment for awhile, and I will be back in bed soon but it's a good sign that I am able to get up at all. I also slept about 12 hours last night!

Sending big love to everyone who has been so kind to me and continues to help and support us. Knowing how loved I am on another bright, sunny day warms my heart and makes me strong.

Namaste, Jill

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

On Tuesdays before treatment I go into my oncologist's office and a nurse draws blood. They check my white and red blood cell counts, among other things, to make sure I'm healthy enough to withstand another round. They draw the blood out of my port, it only takes a minute, and it's no big deal. Until yesterday. The smell of the antiseptic Valerie put on my skin before she accessed the port seemed to assault my senses and I became thoroughly nauseous. I had to concentrate to keep from throwing up on the floor. On the drive home, I sat with a grocery bag on my lap and listened to Michael Franti intently to keep from throwing up. I got into bed early and took my anti-nausea medication, which helped. I'm OK this morning, but even more anxious about today's treatment. I do the treatment sitting in a recliner chair in a room with several other people who are also doing chemo. If one of us starting vomiting I imagine it could easily influence the others and we could have a barf fest similar to the barfing scene in Stand By Me!!

Cathy is coming for a private class today, and she told me yesterday we are going to work on my anxiety today. She and Jean both always know just what I need! It was wonderful going to Cathy's yoga class yesterday, once again. Marcie, the massage therapist I went to last week, was there next to me and to her right were two of her three daughters. So nice to see a family practicing yoga together!! They are all wonderful women.

When we arrived home yesterday, the mailman had left our mail on the porch because there was a package. Susan Mattson Honeycutt, who moved to Eureka in junior high and lived a block from me, sent me an adorable top and two packets of aromatherapy for the bath. It made my day! One thing cancer shows me is how kind people are. Pretty much every time I go to the mailbox I find a card or a present from someone. When I was sick in bed after my last treatment a beautiful bouquet of flowers arrived from my friend Debra in San Diego. Debra is also from Eureka, but we met in SLO town. Those flowers are still in my bedroom, and they are beginning to fade now but they lasted a very long time. Thanks, Susan and Debra. The love, kindness and generosity coming my way really helps me to stay strong. I am blessed to have so any wonderful friends and a community who supports me.

I started Facebooking the last time I was sick to keep people informed. It has turned into such a blessing. I have connected with so many friends, strengthened so many relationships and I get to still be involved vicariously in my student's lives. For me, Facebook is all about the connections. I really enjoyed the responses to the describe how you met me post. Between Facebook and attending all but one reunion, I have made a whole new group of friends from my high school class. I am really looking forward to our next reunion!!

Casey's metaphor for the cancer battle is going into the tunnel. I feel like I get to be out of it on my week off, but this afternoon I go back in for the start of

round six at 2:30. Think of me and send some no puking on the floor karma my way so I don't start a puke fest, OK?

Namaste, Jill

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Enjoying my day before round six begins

Stella Blue has a new battery and hopefully that is problem solved. Tomorrow I'm going to take her to the car wash - I think she's mad because she hates to be dirty and she is a mess, inside and out. :) She's a pretty girl and she wants to be clean! Casey, the dogs and I walked to the shop to get her this morning. Fortunately our mechanic is about 1/2 mile from our house. Convenient!

Last night I went over to Rick and Mary Gross's house for dinner. Rick used to be a chef at 1865 in SLO, and he's a fabulous cook. He's also an abalone diver, and they always give me abalone when they have me over for dinner. Abalone is my number one favorite food in the world, and it costs about $40 in a restaurant. Rick cooks it to perfection and it is AWESOME!! I was very happy, plus it was good to get out of the house. Casey didn't join me because he was up early again yesterday and didn't sleep well night before last.

I'm going to Cathy's yoga class at Yoga in the Vines at noon today. Again, happy to be out of the house, happy to be driving Stella, happy to be practicing with

Cathy, happy to be seeing the yogaflirt girls...overall, just happy! I'll have a private with Cathy tomorrow, then round six begins tomorrow afternoon.

I called my oncologist's office yesterday abut the mouth sores. They told me to gargle with warm salt water and they'll check it today when I go in for my pre-chemo blood draw. It doesn't look too bad, but it doesn't feel too great. It's worse at night, probably because there's nothing else to focus on. Brushing my teeth makes my tongue burn. I feel like there are sores just waiting to come out...I hope I'm wrong. I hope round six doesn't make the problem worse. Chemo is just so much fun - not!!

I was watching Charmed this morning, and Casey actually sat down and watched the end of it with me. He sometimes seems to enjoy the plot, although I think he really enjoys the beautiful women in skimpy outfits! You gotta love that they live in San Francisco but are always dressed for summer. Pretty funny - Casey watching a few minutes of Charmed and I've been watching football, basketball, and tennis with him! We change each other in small ways, just by loving each other.

It's another gorgeous, spring like day, and Maria is cleaning our house as I write. She cleaned the windows in the front before she even came inside - she is awesome! Several people have sent me the info about the free cleaning service for cancer patients, but we already have Maria and we are not about to replace her. She is too good and too sweet! I just finished filing, which is something that has been making my kitchen messy and has not been done in several months. It's nice to get something accomplished while someone else is making our house sparkle! It will be totally clean until about five minutes after Maria leaves, and then the dogs will track in leaves and stuff from outside, they will drip water all over the clean floor in the kitchen, and dishes will start to appear. It's nice while it lasts!!

I plan to enjoy my last day of my week off to the utmost. I hope everyone out there is doing the same. Sydney, get well sweetheart. I miss you!! Here's to round six vanquishing those nasty cancer cells and bringing my CA125 down to a 7 like Bonnie's - way to go Bonnie, my sweet FTC sister. Love you!!


Monday, January 24, 2011

I am posting this picture of my yoga teacher, Jean, so that everyone knows he is not a woman, and that his name has the French pronunciation, Like Jean-Luc Picard. He was here this morning, and I got the "lovin' on Jill" variety of yoga. Love that Thai massage! I find that the more yoga I do prior to Chemo the better I handle it.

I'm sad that my lovely week off is ending but I am resigned to my fate. The sore on my tongue has spread a bit, and I have s few other places that feel sensitive. Every time I see my oncologist or his PA, they ask if I have had any problems with sores in my mouth. It has not been a problem, until now. My tongue and my throat look pale, which I'm guessing is due to my low blood count.

I keep picking up books to read and then they turn out to be about cancer. Shows how prevalent it is and that everyone is affected by it in some way. The current book is about scientists who are doing research, trying to find better treatments or a cure. It has to do with the politics of getting published and the timing and ethics of it - wanting to publish first and get the credit before someone else does and all that. The desire to make your mark and make your name. At least this one isn't about a character that has cancer, because as I said before they tend in die in fiction. Dogs and cancer patients don't survive in fiction!

Despite my good intentions I took no walk yesterday. The days speed by and it's evening time before I know it. I have been watching so much football and basketball with Casey that I know who the players are and I'm actually starting to enjoy it, which is uncharacteristic of me. I used to watch football with my dad because no one else in the family watched with him and I felt bad for him. He would teach me about it, so I do understand what's going on. Pat Conroy's book about basketball helped me to understand that game, and since he was a point guard I get Steve Nash. I have come to appreciate Koby and his end of the game three point miracle saves, and I admit it's fun watching Blake Griffin. Nothing like being house bound to make me take an interest in something that used to bore me!!

Today will be about preparing for treatment. Getting the laundry done, cooking some food, preparing mentally. Doing some visualization that involves vanquished cancer cells, that sort of thing. I'll finish my book and start a new one, take a walk, maybe brush my dog some more. It's weird, knowing that in three days I'll feel like I have the flu and be bed bound for four days. If I feel bad, imagine how bad those cancer cells feel!


Sunday, January 23, 2011


It's a beautiful, sunny, Sunday morning. I went to bed early and slept like a rock. I feel great today! Casey is going on a mountain bike ride. I'm thinking Bella and I may attempt the trail today. We live near a trail that accesses the Jim Green Trail, which goes around Chalk Mountain near the golf course. The trail that goes to the trail is fairly steep and makes me pant a bit even when I'm not dealing with cancer. I have not felt up to it so far, but I'm inspired by the chapter in the Anti cancer book on exercise. The author ran with his dog throughout his year long treatment, and he wrote about one woman who took up karate. I know yoga is keeping me strong, but I need to step up my walks. When you are undergoing treatment they caution you about not dealing with animal feces. For this reason, I can't take Ben unless Casey goes too. Ben always poops, even when we just go around the block. My Bella has only pooped while on the leash twice since we've had her! It's hard to leave Ben behind - I have to put him outside and sneak out, hoping he doesn't notice and get his doggie feelings hurt.

I feel noticeably better since I have been making more conscious choices about my diet. When I eat something I shouldn't, I start to feel what I describe as squishy. My stomach starts to feel squishy. Casey is always trying to figure out exactly what that means! It's not full on nausea...hard to describe. The muscles in my stomach felt crunchy while they were healing and I can't really explain that, either. I can say that it no longer hurts at all to laugh, sneeze, or cough, and that's a beautiful thing! I can sit up in bed like a normal person, I can turn onto my stomach while having a massage or sleeping, and I can get out of the bathtub without too much difficulty. Taking a shower feels wonderful again. It was torture to shower for the first two months after surgery

and impossible to sit up to get out of the tub. I have always taken fast showers, but now I find myself in there much longer, luxuriating in the fact that it feels good again. Cancer makes you appreciate the little things.

I have always been a person who is made easily happy. My mom used to laugh and say "You're such a simple child." As a child I was shy and quiet (hard to imagine if you didn't know me then, I know) and played for hours by myself. I have never been someone who is afraid to be alone. I have lived alone more than once in my life. I went to Reggae on the River alone five years in a row. Before I met Casey I used to take my dogs, Molly Jones and Margy, and go up to Big Sur camping alone. This is on my mind because Sabrina posted a beautiful video about being alone. I think it's important to learn how to be alone and happy with yourself. This is the way to becoming more self aware and to loving yourself. If you don't love you, why would anyone else love you? It starts in your own heart.

So, do something today to nourish your soul and make yourself happy. Get some exercise, eat a healthy meal, hug your dog and send a shout out to the universe for your good health. Send one out for me too - the cancer is vanquished and it's NEVER coming back. Cancer cannot survive against the power of my mind and the minds of all of the people who love me!


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Stella Blue is misbehaving again. Same problem - refusing to start. Put her in the shop yesterday and she's still there. She thwarted my desire to attend a yoga class at the studio. It seems to be an electrical issue. When she was new, Casey and I went to see Paul McCartney in Sacramento. Roxy, my previous van, had her ignition where Stella's ciggie lighter is. In the dark after the show I put the key in there and sparks flew. Could be related to the current problem. Casey thinks we should sell her and buy something else, but I love my hippie hotel. :(

Sydney called this morning and she's sick, sounded terrible. We were so excited to see each other on one of my good weekends. So far I have been sick in bed for every visit. Danny didn't come yesterday because his little boy was sick and he didn't want to expose me. Hopefully he'll be able to come today. I do appreciate my friend's sensitivity about my inability to be around anyone who is sick, though.

I have four more days to feel normal before round six begins. So not looking forward to it. The last round made me pretty ill and gave me a canker sore. Chemo can cause cankers. and then you have to be very careful that it doesn't lead to an infection. I read online that honey will make them hurt less and go away faster. I started putting honey on it on Thursday and it was noticeably smaller on Friday and almost gone today - pretty cool thing to know!!

I had a massage yesterday. Marcie Lukasik works at Divine Touch and The Wellness Kitchen and she is wonderful. She specializes in cancer patients. She worked on my acupressure points, used hot stones, and made me feel blissful and wonderful. Near the end a feeling of profound well being washed over me. I will be going back! Her youngest daughter, Hannah, was my student when she was in 7th grade and her oldest daughter, Becca, was my yogaflirt teacher for levels three and four!! Gotta love living in a small town. I recommend a massage with her no matter what the state of your health is - she has the magic healing touch! Let e know if you want her number.

The Wellness Kitchen is Templeton makes local, organic, cancer fighting meals. You can order from them every week and pick up on Tuesdays. It is surprisingly inexpensive and I'm going to start doing it. I'm getting to the point where I'm doing everything the Anti Cancer book recommends. Just me and my arsenal, kicking cancer's sorry butt to the curb.

I'm done with you, cancer, and you are not ever coming back. I have learned many valuable lessons from you, but it's time for me to get back to my life and live cancer free for the rest of my days. You are vanquished!


Friday, January 21, 2011


As I was watching Idol last night, I was marveling at all of the 16 year olds who were auditioning and at how confident they all are. That made me think about the kids I know in Atascadero, my 16 year old niece, and Susan's kids. I came to the conclusion that this is an amazing generation. They all seem to brim with confidence. Catherine, my niece, is so accomplished and confident that it's exciting to know her. She's attending a charter school in Sacramento, and my brother tells me she has become the student spokesperson for the school. She is getting top grades, she is working at Starbucks, and she has an exciting new internship which is part of her school's curriculum. She is the director of youth programs at a youth center in Sacramento, and she assures me it's "legit."I tend to just marvel at her. She is more confident and mature at 16 than I was at 26. My sister and I were not able to conceive, so she is all we've got in terms of her generation. She's enough. Not only is she very intelligent, she is beautiful inside and out. She told me last night she has decided to attend San Francisco State. Her maternal grandparents live there, so she has spend a lot of time in The City (as we northern Californians call it). I love San Francisco myself, and have always thought it would be amazing to live there. I'm so excited for her!! Susan's kids, Cassidy and Trevor, are both confident, amazing kids. Susan has raised them to be independent and strong. When they were small, she let them explore the world, within limits of course. I was always impressed that she was never the type of mom to say no to them because they might get dirty or make a mess. She has taught them to be fearless and confident in their abilities. I know countless students who are very impressive people. Katie and her fierce determination to educate herself and have a better life, despite obstacles in her way. Brittany and her awful home life, yet she is relentlessly positive and has earned excellent grades her entire life. I have had so many students over the years who have started writing a novel while in junior high. All in all, I think that this generation is exceptional and they are going to do great things. I think when it's time for them to be in charge they just might make the world a better place. I feel so blessed to be a part of so many young people's lives. I can't wait to get back into my classroom. I have a bumper sticker on the podium in my classroom that says: "Kids aren't the problem, they're the solution." I feel confident about trusting the future to today's kids.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Dreaming, Bella, Idol and Vermont

Facebook finally let me post yesterday's blog. I'll try not to write anything "abusive or spammy" today. I think today's post is going to be a mishmash of random thoughts.

I slept well last night. I have so many hot flashes during the night that they wake me up. Last night we slept with the heat off and the window open. It was wonderful for me, but Casey froze and woke up with a scratchy throat. It was 46 in here!! I have been having very detailed dreams every night, and Casey says I should share last night's in my blog. I was in SLO for Farmer's Market and it was very crowded because there was going to be a concert in Mission Plaza...and Aerosmith was playing. Suddenly I heard a boy telling another boy he was going to "kick his ass." I realized I knew both boys, so being the teacher I am, I ran to intervene. When I got to them, my friend Sarah Warren (former roomie and teacher from AJHS who now lives in Colorado. I miss her...) was standing there. I gasped I was so shocked to see her. She said "Didn't you get the telegram I asked Patrick to send you, telling you I was coming?" (Patrick was my boyfriend in my early 20's and Sarah has never met him) I said "Why would you ask Patrick to send it? Everyone knows he's unreliable!" (Apologies to Patrick!) Then we were at the concert, watching Aerosmith, and Casey was there and also David and Chris. Every night, I have these long, colorful, detailed dreams. Sometimes I wake up tired!!

I'm a total geek for American Idol. When it first started, Casey tried to get me to watch it but it conflicted with Gilmore Girls so I didn't - no DVR's then. I came to it a few years in, but now I love it and Casey tolerates it! I thought Steven was just amazing last night, so was Jennifer, and so much talent! I actually still have half of it left to watch because I watched it over from the beginning when Casey quit working and came to bed. The girl from Kosovo was amazing, and I love all of the 16 year olds!!

Bella escaped from the yard again last night. We have a large drive through gate that Casey has nailed three boards across to keep her in. One of them came off, apparently in the wind the other night. I let both dogs out, and Ben immediately came scratching at the door to let me know Bella was misbehaving. I opened the door and could hear her tearing at the gate. I went out and she was already on the other side. I pushed on the gate and I swear the gap was only a few inches. Bella has been described by more than one friend as a small horse. I don't know how she did it!! I will put a picture of her st the end of this so those of you who don't know her can appreciate this. Every time she has escaped it has been a full moon. I guess she wants to get out and howl at it!! We caught her in front of the next door neighbor's house - Casey rode up to her on his bike and grabbed her. Stress averted, Casey to the rescue!

I was googling around the other day, looking for retreats for cancer patients. I discovered that every year there is something The Stowe Weekend of Hope. It's a three day long retreat/conference in Stowe, Vermont. The workshops are free, and every hotel in Stowe, Vermont priovides free rooms for cancer patients and their families who are first time attendees. I have always wanted to go to Vermont. This year it's in March. We are hoping to go, and to meet up with my Fallopian Tube Cancer Sister, Bonnie. Bonnie lives in Boston and we connected on the Crazy, Sexy Cancer web site when we were both first diagnosed. She relapsed pretty much the same time I did, and had pretty much the same surgery I did two weeks later. We have grown close via email but would love to actually meet. This may

be our chance, depending on where we are in our treatments in March. I'm going to ask my oncologist if he can arrange my treatment schedule to make it possible. What's two more plane tickets on the credit card, right?

I feel great today. I'm going to go to Trader Joe's all by myself and yoga this afternoon at the studio. One of the last chapters in the Anti Cancer book is about how much better cancer patients do if they exercise throughout their treatment. I think I need to step it up. On the days I feel bad I tend not to practice yoga or take a walk. I believe I need to force myself to get out of bed and move, even when I'm nauseous. It's a goal...

I plan to have a productive, wonderful day!!

Namaste, Jill

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Insomnia. As soon as I take a break from my anti-nausea medication it comes back. It takes me two hours to fall asleep, I can't stay asleep, and I wake up way too early. This morning Casey and I both woke up at 4 am, but didn't realize we were both lying there awake until around 5. He had to get up twice at 4 am for a skype call from India and now he has developed a habit. I slept about 4 hours last night, and woke up several times during that time. Given the yoga yesterday and the walk we took, I should have slept soundly. I have tried everything - yoga poses, ambien, a hot bath, sleepytime tea...nothing works. They gave me 12 mg ambien that apparently puts most people out for 20 hours and it only lasts for me for about 4 hours. Tylenol pm works, but I can't take that several times a week.

While I was lying awake this morning I was thinking about how lucky I am to have Casey. I do believe I have the world's most wonderful husband. He went for a night mountain bike ride last night because Susan and the kids were coming over, and even when I feel well he won't leave me home alone. The first time I was sick, there were a few times when I would become violently ill out of the blue. It was always after I had chemo in my belly port, and I haven't even had that yet, but he still doesn't leave me. He wanted to drive me to yoga yesterday - I have only driven Stella Blue twice since September. He takes me to every chemo session and doctor's appointment. He asked me to marry him after the cancer diagnosis, when the future was uncertain and I was not much fun. When I'm sick, he waits on me, checks on me constantly, does all of the grocery shopping, cooking, takes care of the dogs...pretty much everything. He makes me laugh, all of the time. He has a silly side that fits perfectly with mine. Neither one of us likes to argue or fight so we never do. No one could take better care of me than Casey does. The Anti Cancer book talks about how people who feel loved and cared for have a much better chance of survival, and he certainly does that for me. Whenever I have had a scary medical procedure I am comforted just by holding his hand. Being married to Casey has a lot to do with my positive attitude and my strength. In the beginning, after the surgery, I was suffering from anxiety in the evenings. He would come and sit by my side, play his guitar and sing to me. He is a very talented guitar player and singer-songwriter. He has written lots of songs for me. Every day I'm thankful for Casey and I wonder how I would manage this journey without him. I am a lucky, grateful woman and I love him with all that I am.

Namaste, Jill

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Getting Out!!

I am having the best day!! I just got home from a yoga class with Cathy at her Yogaflirt studio. It felt so good to drive Stella Blue, listen to Michael Franti and be out and about on a beautiful, warm, summery day. Michael's latest album is so happy and positive. It never fails to inspire me.

The yoga itself was, of course, amazing and wonderful. I knew everyone there, and discovered that Becca's sister was my student when she was in the 7th grade. Randy was there and he recognized her. So awesome to practice with Randy again, too. I was amazed at the poses I was able to do. I did forearm stand, and it has been four months since I have done a real inversion. I'm gratified that I have the strength to do so. I did bound side angle pose, pigeon pose...the only thing I still can't do is a vinyasa. For you non-yoga people, that is going from plank pose down to up dog and back to down dog. My core is still too sketchy for that, I guess, and I believe I have some fear about lowering down to my belly. If you had seen me just day before yesterday you would be blown away that I can do any of this. I owe this to my private classes with my rock star teachers, Jean and Cathy, and to 15 months of yoga after my last battle, and to levels one through four of yogaflirt. The yogaflirt warm up is amazing and builds lots of strength, and swinging on that pole takes more strength than you would expect. It's amazing how much strength you can gain from a class that happens once a week. I firmly believe that the universe sent me Cathy and Jean so that I have the tools to overcome this cancer. I am meant to grow and learn from this cancer journey, but I am also meant to kick its butt. I have many students left to teach and many more yoga poses left to master.

Some day I am going to become a yoga teacher. I want to share it with everyone because it has done so much for me. I also can't imagine retiring and not teaching anything anymore. I am very inspired by my friend Bob Canepa, who retired from teaching and found himself a new career and a new passion in his photography. He and Randy Robertson were my mentors, and I am still learning from them today. I will miss them both every day at school, for the rest of my career. We had a beautiful thing going on when we were a team, with Ed Goshorn and Debbie Martin, and we shared the same kids and the same prep period. They were our glory days of teaching and Debbie and I miss it, every day. It was a lot more fun to be a teacher at AJHS then, and more fun being a student, too. The kids also learned more, but No Child Left Behind put an end to quality teaching and learning. Today we are producing robots who can bubble in on a standardized test. I hope there is enough of my career left for the pendulum to swing back the other way.

I am certainly rambling today!! I'm just having such a great day, and I'm going to have a great evening, too. Susan is coming over and bringing me her yummy lasagna and her wonderful kids, Trevor and Cassidy. I love them like they were my own, and I am missing having kids in my life right now.

All of these things, combined with my Anti Cancer book, are making me feel very happy and very positive right now. Life can be awesome, even when you have cancer!

Namaste, Jill

Monday, January 17, 2011

Anti Cancer

Sometimes the treatment kicks my butt. I think the chemo has accumulated and reached toxic levels in my system. I have been relatively free of side effects, until this last round. One side effect of chemo can be mind numbing constipation. If not dealt with immediately and correctly it can land you in the ER. That happened to me last time and was the worst pert of the whole experience. The constipation triples the nausea and eventually leads to vomiting. This was affecting me all week, but Friday and Saturday it was especially bad. Today I am weak from eating very little for a few days, and still nauseous. I am more grateful than ever for my week off, and that I only have one more round like this.

*****Next Morning*****

I feel much better today. I'm starting my day with green tea and the whole grain gluten free hot cereal Chris bought when she was here. (Thanks, Chris, it's delicious) I realize that I need to change my diet if I want to keep the cancer at bay for the rest of my life. Two films and one book have opened my eyes and finally given me the answers I need concerning my diet.

The films are King Corn and Food Inc and the book is Anti Cancer A New Way of Life. My advice to everyone reading this blog is to watch at least one of these films and definitely read the book. They all deal with more or less the same subject: the changes that have occurred in our food industry in the past 50 years. Cancer, obesity and diabetes have reached epidemic proportions in the U.S., and it's largely because of these changes. The gist of it is that instead of feeding the cattle grass as they are intended to eat, they are being fed corn, which is cheaper. The corn creates serious health problems - they develop e coli bacteria in their stomachs and they literally end up with holes in their stomachs that can be seen externally. These sick cows are slaughtered and fed to us anyway. Another problem is that the meat we get from these cows has omega 6 fatty acids, instead of the omega 3 our bodies need. Studies have shown that the imbalance of omega 6 fatty acids and omega 3 fatty acids cause inflammation and obesity. You don't have to stop eating meat, you just need to eat grass fed, preferably organic meat. Both films show the slaughter houses and it's even more appalling than you can imagine. The cows live packed in together, up to their knees in their own filth. By the time they are slaughtered they are covered in excrement, and that is getting into your meat. I have not been able to eat any meat since I saw that part of the film.

The treatment of chickens is equally cruel and has adverse effects on our health. You want to buy free range, organic chickens with no growth hormones. The way our meat is fed and processed, the processed sugar and processed food we eat has given us bodies that are ripe for cancer. People are starting to become aware of this and making their stand at the market. Just a few years ago, organic food was difficult to find. Today every market has an organic section, at least in my town. Even Walmart is on board and has an organic section. The more people who purchase organic, grass fed and free range food the quicker things will change. Stay away from fast food restaurants - have you seen Supersize me? The demand for ground beef in the fast food restaurants created this problem. Make sweets at home with a safe alternative to sugar like stevia or agave syrup. Limit your dairy consumption and buy organic milk and eggs enriched with omega 3. Eat whole foods and stay away from processed foods filled with preservatives and high fructose corn syrup.

There are places in the world where there is very little heart disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes, and even acne. It is more expensive to eat this way, but believe me, you want to do everything in your power to keep yourself from getting cancer.

I don't know if my diet caused my cancer. Prior to my diagnosis I had been a vegetarian and I ate very little dairy. I was born into this type of food, however, and my childhood was filled with processed sugar. My favorite lunch was a sugar and butter sandwich on wonder bread washed down with a glass of chocolate milk. I think mine is probably environmental, judging by the amount of infertility and cancer in my childhood neighborhood. We grew up down the street from a water processing plant and across the bay from a pulp mill. I will never know for sure, but I am going to do everything I can to make sure it is gone forever this time.

I assume if you are reading this you care about me. Please do me the favor of watching one of these films or reading the book. It would make me happy if you watched a film and read the book. I don't want anyone I care about to ever have to go through what I have. I tend to spare you the gory details, but cancer and cancer treatment is hell. There have been times when I have wanted it to just end, at any cost. Cancer makes you face your own mortality, and it is not so scary when compared to the battle.

Namaste, Jill

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Battle Continues

Yesterday was as unpleasant as the day before was wonderful. I started feeling very nauseous as the day progressed. As my nurse was preparing the supplies to draw my blood, I had to go into the bathroom and throw up. My port, once again, refused to give blood. First she tried my right arm, but it also refused. After much effort, the left arm finally gave it up. She gave me an anti-nausea drug into my port, but I still spent much of the ride home throwing up. Thank goodness we had one of those hospital barf bags in Stella Blue. I think I have developed an immunity to my anti-nausea drug, so they prescribed a different one. My insurance company won't cover it, and it's $1200 for a month's supply. Who denies medications to cancer patients? Insurance companies, that's who. I guess I jinxed everything by writing about how well things have been going when I was counting my blessings.

So, I'm off to have another treatment this afternoon. I'll do some yoga with Cathy before I go, and that will make everything better.

Not one of my happier posts - I feel crappy today. Casey reminds me this is why they call it a battle. I'll have a happier post tomorrow, hopefully.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Insomnia Ramblings

Yesterday was the best day I've had so far. I was up all day. I think the latest I've made it up to now was about 5:00. I did laundry all day, which involves going up and down a few stairs. At this point, that counts as exercise because it raises my heart rate and makes me pant a bit. I often have to rest on the couch on the way back and forth from the bedroom to the laundry room. In spite of this, I felt relatively normal all day. Although I go in for another treatment tomorrow, my week off is close at hand, and that's a great feeling.

In 2008, at this point in my treatment, I weighed 15 lbs less than I do now, I looked like hell and I was bald. Not only bald, without eyelashes and eyebrows. Let me tell you, that looks freaky. My hair is thinner now, and every time I wash it the shower is covered in my hair, but I do have lots of hair. If you saw me right now you wouldn't know anything is going on with me. I don't look sick. Depending on what my oncologist decides will be my next course of treatment, I may not lose my hair. As long as I am able to continue practicing yoga I will continue to gain strength. I confess it makes me feel a bit strange to look normal when I am not working and there are fundraisers in the works. My low blood count isn't something you can see. Neither are the many days I am too sick to get out of bed.

This is a testament to how strong I was going into surgery and treatment. I know I say it all the time, but thank goodness for yoga and yoga flirt!! My friend Kelli and I are going to take YF level one together when I'm well, and I hear Janice is interested too. It would be great to get a group of women together to do it, so let me know if you're interested!! Part of the YF fundraiser is an intro to YF class, so check it out local girlfriends!! March 26 at the SLO studio.

Yoga this morning with Jean, tomorrow with Cathy. Maria is coming to clean our house today. She's a gem and we could not do without her. Sue and Chris are coming over to discuss the fundraiser they and the junior high are organizing. We will go into SLO for my per-chemo blood draw. I hope my port works this time. Lately they can't get blood from it so I get the port stick and then the arm stick. Not a huge deal but my veins are developing scar tissue and becoming problematic. This is a busy day for me!!

Namaste, Jill

Monday, January 10, 2011

Counting My Blessings

Last night I had trouble falling asleep and all I could think about was my students and my classroom. Thinking that I was going into this bout with cancer much stronger than last time, and that last time the whole journey lasted 6 months, I promised my kids I'd be back. I'm feeling guilty about that now because it doesn't look very likely. I was there just long enough to become attached to them and it is breaking my heart to be away from them for so long. Although I get a new batch every year, this group will never be mine again. I have had to leave two groups of kids and not return and I just hate it. There is nothing like being forced to leave your job to make you appreciate it. I was thinking about that last night when I was lying awake, and I was thinking about which parts of my job feel like work. The grading is definitely work and I could do without it much of the time. I love reading their writing, but reading 150 to 180 essays is cumbersome. The meetings are most definitely work. Staff development days and Friday meetings feel like detention for teachers. Being in my room with my kids does not feel like work. I love them, I love teaching them, and they fill me up. After a day of doing "If You Really Knew Me" in the Challenge Day tradition, my heart was so open I told Jean, my yoga teacher, that I loved him. I do love him, but it's probably not typical to say so!! I still dream that my treatment will end early and I will be able to return to this year's kids. We were so bonded after our two weeks of team building and we did not get to reap the benefits together.

I am so grateful to be feeling better and out of bed today. I started a blog entry after Sydney left yesterday and abandoned it because I realized I was whining a bit. It's hard not to start feeling sorry for myself after so much time in bed feeling lousy. When this happens, it's time to count my blessings. Although the surgery and recovery was much more intense this time, the chemo has not been, so far. I have not been to the emergency room at all, and that happened three times last time. I have only actually vomited a few times, and that happened a lot last time. There is nothing quite like vomiting after abdominal surgery. I did not have the week off where I started to feel normal last time. I still have the support of my wonderful AJHS family, and now I have the Yoga Flirt women as well. Today I am wearing jeans for the first time since the surgery. It feels incredible to be wearing something other than yoga pants. Up until recently even yoga pants hurt my stomach, so this is a huge breakthrough. All of the love and support coming our way is again a huge blessing. Having two yoga teachers coming to my home is huge and helps me more than I can even say. Having a friend like Sydney who comes every weekend she can is amazing and wonderful. She has always been a blessing in my life.

So, despite missing my students and my life so much, I have many things to be grateful for. Although counting your blessings may seem like a cliche, it works. It helps me to stay positive and strong. If you ever feel unhappy or negative about your life or the world around you, give it a try. I promise it will make you feel better.


Saturday, January 8, 2011

My wonderful BFF Sydney is coming today, despite our freezing house and her aversion to cold. She agrees with Casey that I should not be left alone. Casey is playing at the Gather Wine Bar in the village in AG tonight, so he will be gone for about five hours. I'm really OK to stay by myself, but I love that they are so protective of me they won't let me. I love you, Sydney!!

I got sick sooner after this chemo. This time, I slept through Thursday and much of Friday. I was hoping I would start to feel better sooner so I could go to Gather tonight, but I woke up feeling pretty nauseous.

I mentioned before that I may need blood but forgot to follow up on it. My number was 9,and if it goes to 8 or below I go in for blood. It went up to 10, so it's all good for now. Getting blood is no big deal - it's better than chemo because it won't make me sick!!

Recently I have made some new connections. Autumn Woolworth is doing the promotion for the yoga flirt fund raiser and she was in my class in 7th grade! I had to sift through all the data in my brain (so many kids in there!) but I do remember her after all these years. It makes me very happy to reconnect with her. I'm also happy to hear that she's a yoga flirt girl!! I highly recommend it to all local women. It's fun, it's empowering, it makes you strong, you connect with fabulous women, and it makes you feel confident and sexy. Part of the YF fundraiser will be an intro to YF class. Check it out!! You'll be amazed how much fun it is and inspired by the princess flirts who can do astonishing pole moves that are very athletic.

Paul Cloer, my 5th grade teacher, found me on Facebook recently. Most of my K-12 years are murky in my memory, but I have some clear memories of 5th because he was an amazing teacher and I loved him. He was the first teacher I really connected with. I just love all of these connections coming my way!

Bella and I are spending the day in bed. While she sleeps I will read, Facebook, and watch a movie or two. Dogs are so cool - they can sleep so much!! Have a great Saturday, and go to Gather in AG if you can!!

Namaste, Jil

Thursday, January 6, 2011


I saw my oncologist yesterday. He was amazed by how well I'm doing and how strong I am. He admitted that the first time he saw me after surgery he didn't know if I'd be able to handle the treatment. I went from being the weakest I've been since I was an infant to almost as strong as I was before the surgery in less then four months. I owe this to Cathy and to Jean. Everyone should have their own private yoga teachers!

He's looking into a clinical trial at City of Hope. He would like to find an alternative to using the same drug for the intraperitoneal chemo. His thinking is that it didn't work last time, so let's try something different. I love that he knows about current research, clinical trials, and he communicates with other oncologists in other areas. I trust him. I looked the trial up online and here's the purpose: "To determine the maximum tolerated dose of intraperitoneal paclitaxel albumin-stabilized nanoparticle formulation in patients with advanced malignancies primarily confined to the peritoneal cavity." My CA125 tells him that the treatment is working, but that there is still microscopic cancer in there. If I finish treatment with any spec of cancer left behind, I will have another recurrence. My doctor's goal is to find the treatment that works with my biology and will kill every last remnant of cancer. He's hoping he can get me into the trial and administer it here so I don't have to travel. I am so grateful to have a wonderful doctor who doesn't just go along with the status quo; he's out there searching for answers on my behalf.

The next big breakthroug in cancer treatment will be nanoparticles that target only the cancer cells, leaving the healthy cells intact. This would make the treatment much less toxic, people could keep their hair, and the death rate would decline. It may even cure cancer. I'm thinking this trial is a step in that direction. Oh...he also said if we go with this treatment I may not lose my hair. That would make me very happy!

In the meantime, there are lots of people working on fundraisers for me. My pay will be affected, starting in April. Queen Cathy and her yogaflirt princesses are planning the "Kick Cancer Carnival for Jill Pentoney" on March 26. They have a very fun day planned with yoga, an intro to yoga flirt class, and a carnival with lots of fun things to do, including demonstrations from the yoga flirt girls. They are really something to see! They are also setting up an online fundraiser. Chris and Sue Molina, along with the staff at AJHS, are also working on a fundraiser that will involve music, dinner, dancing...still in the planning stages. Wow. I know I have said before that I'm lucky that I get to know how many people care for me, but this is just humbling. I feel so very blessed that there are so many loving, giving, wonderful people in my life.

I already feel sick from yesterday's chemo. Chemo has a cumulative effect, so very time it's a little bit worse and I am ill a few more days. It's OK, because I know it's working, I have this enormous, loving community of people behind me, and I know I am going to be fine.

Namaste, Jill

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Journey Continues

I decided to change my picture to something more current. I am sitting in front of the anniversary roses Casey gave me last Friday. I don't look sick, do I? I have most of my curly hair, my weight is right where it should be, my color is good...if you ran into me somewhere you would not think anything was going on with me. It's deceptive. I do feel strong. I was amazed at how well I did at the yoga workshop last Saturday. I owe that to Jean and to Cathy. The two of them are so amazing, so giving, and they are helping me to regain my strength in a big way. My blood is not as strong as I am, however. My white cell count is low, which means I am susceptible to infections, viruses, etc. This is why I can't visit AJHS or have students visit me. As much as I would like to see you kids, it would be risky for me. You may be healthy, but you are exposed to tons of germs at school. My red cell count is now low also, which means I'm anemic. I am easily tired because of this. I see my oncologist today and he may have me go to French Hospital soon to receive new blood to raise my red cell count. I am starting round five of six treatments like I've been doing today.

Jean came yesterday and today for yoga. Yesterday Casey was able to join us and we did a lot of partner yoga - fun! Today it was just me and I got Thai Massage for an hour form Jean. It makes me feel like a queen, like I'm being spoiled and cherished. I felt nauseous this morning for some reason, but after an hour with Jean it was gone.I felt simply marvelous. Of all the things that have helped me in my cancer journey, Cathy and Jean have helped me the most. I'm so grateful that Cathy opened Yoga in the Vines right when I needed yoga, and that Jean came along after Cathy opened her Yoga Flirt studio. I just feel so blessed and lucky!!!!

We're having some house issues right now. The roof in our downstairs living room leaks when it rains hard - full on raining in the living room. Our concrete basement has sprung leaks and as the ground gets saturated, it flows into our basement from the holes and cracks in the concrete that have appeared. The basement floods, despite our sump pump and Casey's efforts. The really bad thing is our heater is down there and we can't use it when it's sitting in water. We have had a few very cold days!! If we don't get it to the point where we can use the heater by Saturday I'll have to tell Sydney not to come. She freezes when the heat's on 65...imagine how cold it is when it's 33 outside!!! I'll let you know, Sydney. I hope we can get it going because I miss you and I want to see you!!

Casey will be performing at Gather Wine Bar in the Arroyo Grande village Saturday night. He plays some covers and some originals. Lots of songs about me!! I'm biased, but he is very talented both as a guitar player and as a singer/songwriter. He's teaching me how to play the guitar! I'm excited to learn and to get my own guitar. I saw a purple guitar with a lotus flower on it in Ed's music store in Morro Bay. It was awhile ago and it may be gone, but I keep thinking about it and it is motivating me to learn to play. Anyway, if I can I will be there Saturday night but Casey will be there for sure. If you can, go out and support my amazing husband and caregiver.

I'm going to relax for awhile before I go to have my treatment. I attempted to attach photos of me doing yoga, but it didn't work...they came out as words, not image. Hmmmm....

Namaste, Jill

Monday, January 3, 2011

Food, Family and Yoga

In my last post I mentioned a four year old with ovarian cancer. Over the weekend there was a link to an article on the List Serve about a seven month old baby who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Thankfully, bot children survived. Today a woman was writing about her sister, who was diagnosed with stage IIIc ovarian cancer in 2007 and died this month. There was also a post by a woman who was also diagnosed with IIIc and is celebrating her 13th anniversary of her original diagnosis. My diagnosis was also IIIc. Some women survive, some do not. Sometimes this cancer responds to treatment and sometimes it doesn't. The woman who survived has endured three recurrences and also a breast cancer diagnosis. I am determined to vanquish this cancer and put this behind me.

Over the weekend I worked on this. The strongest weapon I have is yoga. It empowers my mind, my spirit and my body to fight. Saturday I went to a yoga workshop at Yoga in the Vines. I had not been to the studio since my send off yoga class September 9th. It was good to see some friends - Jean and Melanie - and to just be back in the beautiful studio. It was a detox and restorative workshop, and I was picturing gentle poses with lots of props. It was actually a challenging class. I had to avail myself of child's pose more than once, but I was able to hang in there and do almost everything everyone else did. I felt very strong and proud of myself. Sunday Jean came over and we did a private class. Between the two classes, I am very sore! It feels so good to move my body to the point of soreness. I firmly believe that yoga will save my life and keep the cancer at bay.

On new Year's Eve and our one year anniversary, we went to Colby Jack's Cafe for dinner. My sister-in-law Chris and her daughter Sarah were here for NYE and for all of the yoga. The food at Colby Jack's was amazing - five courses of gourmet, yummy food. It's rather surprising to find such a great restaurant in our little town! We had a great time.

Chris spent the rest of the weekend cooking. She left us with a fridge and a freezer full of yummy food. She is an excellent cook. So, we had a weekend full of amazing yoga, delicious meals and family. It was a great way to start off the new year.

Happy,healthy new year to everyone. Namaste, Jill