Downs and ups

I’m going to begin with another blanket apology. Not only have I been a poor communicator when it comes to blogging, I’ve also not been very consistent about returning personal emails, texts and phone messages. Somehow I lost my date book (in a snow drift somewhere, I betcha) and chances are excellent that if I’ve not done so already, I will miss some appointments.

This galls me because I don’t like being a no-show. In a world rife with promises and proposals, showing up is the only real currency, and I’m afraid I’ve fallen behind in my accounts.

There. Now I’ve at least acknowledged my shortcomings and offered an apology (perhaps preemptively in the case of upcoming appointments).

On the home front, I’ve been back in my apartment for a week and a half now. Servpro did a wonderful job and once again my landlords are to be commended for their quick attention to the mold situation. My eyes are no longer red each morning and my rash has disappeared as well. The only thing that has lingered is my cough, and that, unfortunately, is due to the progression of my cancer.

Yes, when progress is anything but. I saw Alice last week to review my latest scans. Compared to the previous CT scan (six weeks earlier) my cancer is picking up its pace. The largest area of tumor in my upper left lobe increased in size  from 4.0 cm x 1.9 cm to 4.2 cm x 2.5 cm. Noted on the radiology report (and quite obvious when viewing the earlier scan side by the side with the most recent one) is increased prominence of the ground glass opacity. And of course there are numerous little nodules in my right upper lobe as well.

The plan is to start back on Xalkori (crizotinib) asap. First, however, my insurance company has to approve the prescription. To that end I’ve received an automated phone call making certain I was me (social security number? mother’s maiden name?) but no other word and certainly no drug showing up in my mailbox. In the meantime, I’m continuing to enjoy grapefruit, which will soon be verboten.

How am I feeling? Overwhelmed. Sad and occasionally very frustrated. Tired and weaker; both of which I attribute to the progression of my cancer. Sore—I’ve screwed up my back something wicked. I was carrying my easel across the parking lot and slipped on some black ice and fell down hard. Unfortunately I think it was the last straw for my back. So, now I’m sporting a brace, sucking down advil and just hoping that time (and, finally, some respect!) will heal.

Of course, in addition to the trials and tribulations there is the wonder and not some small sense of pride at this fresh chapter. I’ve made fantastic new friends and gone to parties, potlucks and art openings galore. In a further sign of my commitment to the future (rsvp-ing, if you will), I have rented some additional studio space at the mill next door. It is where I shall paint but also set up shop—soon I hope to be offering for sale not only my photos and paintings, but a slew of vintage clothing.

Yes, in those months when I was getting chemo I was busy. Shopping. Hanging out at thrift stores and buying up a rather impressive array of clothes, shoes, hats, scarves, bags, ties and jewelry. In April the doors will open to The House of Redemption: Second Chance Clothing.

So you see, as I said to Alice, I’ve got plans. Big plans. And although cancer may mess with them a little, it’ll just be a temporary setback. All this stuff I’m hoping to do is a form of positive visualization; my rich fantasy life put to therapeutic use. And I am certain it can be realized. To wit: after my appointment with Alice last week I placed a phone call to a woman who was selling some inexpensive teak storage units on Craig’s List. I liked the sound of her voice and as I drove to her house I fantasized that she would be really great, we’d become fast friends, and she would invite me for dinner.

Well, when she opened her front door I was enveloped by the smell of curry. We began to chat about this and that. I agreed to purchase the shelving and went out to my car to get it ready for loading. When I came back inside, this very nice woman said that she had just spoken to her husband on the phone and if I waited twenty minutes, he would be able to assist me. And then she asked me if I would like to stay for dinner.

I laughed and told her that I was almost embarrassed as I had in fact imagined this particular scenario. I suppose some people might have been alarmed at this point, but as it turned out, we were two peas in a pod. Her husband came home, we (well, mostly he) loaded my purchases, and then the three of us sat down for a delicious meal. It was a magical experience and, I am certain, quite out of the ordinary for a Craig’s List transaction.

Moral of the story—go ahead and hope. You never know where your imagination may lead you.

22 responses to “Downs and ups

  1. So good to hear from you again. I really enjoy your posts. Best of luck with your new round of Xalkori. Donna in boulder.

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Totally loved this post. And sending good visualizations for your next round of chemo.

  3. It is nice to here from you. I have been restarted the Xalkori since October and with the 6 round of chemo this Friday, the cancer is stable. Hope I can get a break from chemo soon. Are you coming to the ALK meeting in Santa Monica this month? Take care.

  4. Very best of luck Linnea with the next round. Wish I lived nearby and could come poke around your shop – will you have a website? Thinking of you always – Liz xxxx

    • Liz, I’m not sure if I will go the website route. Damned if you wouldn’t look fine in some of those clothes….it’s primarily an entertaining project on the side which gives me a chance to be a window dresser, shopkeeper and, of course, buyer. All fun stuff to my way of thinking and hopefully I will generate some revenue as well.


  5. This is exactly the kind of living attitude I need to read right now. Thank you. I think you may be the person Phil Currier told me about. I have NSCLC Stage 4 and am receiving chemotherapy at Beth Israel as no genetic markers were found. I choose to live forward and plan for a future. Thank you for this posting. It arrives in my mailbox, out of the ethers, and cheers me up. Nancy

    Sent from my iPad


    • Nancy, I like to think I can travel through the ethers! And that we should all make future plans (I mean, why not?). At this juncture it can seem like a blow when no genetic markers are identified and yet there is no reason to think you won’t respond well to chemo (and markers may be found at a later date). My advice is to think of yourself as exceptional. Stage is a statistic—you are an individual. Keep making those plans!


  6. So glad you are back! I have been looking for you…will be at your opening-it will be wonderful, I’m sure

  7. Linnea, Bless your heart, Girl. Some way, I’m going to buy a piece of your artwork. You inspire and humble me. Living your life, meeting new people, facing challenges and moving on…you are Woman! Hedy

  8. “Moral of the story—go ahead and hope. You never know where your imagination may lead you.” What an AWESOME moral to this & countless other stories! I’m cheering you on in all your continuing adventures Linnea! Here’s a promise: next time I’m in Mass, I’ll be swing by your shop to load up on awesome finds! YSP

  9. I’d love to take a road trip and see your shop. I can’t imagine I could pull off the gorgeous look in the vintage clothing that I know you can, but would be so fun to explore and see your art, too. I am always inspired by how you handle the downs and ups in your life, Linnea. I treasure your approach to it all.

  10. Linnea – you are an inspiration. I would love to connect with you about Xalkori. Any chance we could email?

  11. I so enjoyed your post tonight. I wasn’t expecting it to end on such a high note. That’s what I admire about you. You talk about the cancer progression and then your many plans for the future! And the Craigslist story? Unreal…..I think you bring out the best in people. You are in my prayers and positive thoughts…always.
    PS) I wish those of us not living close by, could still have a shot at buying the items you will have for sale. I know that would be a headache though.

  12. Xalkori sounds to me like the name of a brave and beautiful Amazon warrior. I hope she appears quite soon! Take care, Linnea. I think of you much more often than you know. xo MaryW

  13. I’m delighted that you are living and having fun. Oddly enough, I titled my most recent post before i saw this one. 😊

  14. Inspired by your story and love your positive attitude. We recently had a 32 year old friend in the LA area who was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer 2 weeks ago with no health insurance. We have set up a fund to help her with medical expenses. Can you recommend any good support groups or organizations we could refer her to? Best of luck with your new business venture. xoxo

  15. Hi – we’re at Santa Paula Airport in our hangar loft — for the weekend. We’re delighted that you’ve been successful in beating down the mold. Never give up – never give in!!

    I have a big pot (16 qt pot, 3/4 full) of chili con carne simmering on the stove — smells wonderful!! Wish you could join us for a bowl or two!! If I could just send you a whiff, I’d do it!!

    xx barb ‘n bruce

    >________________________________ > From: life and breath: outliving lung cancer >To: >Sent: Tuesday, February 11, 2014 6:07 PM >Subject: [New post] Downs and ups > > >linnea11 posted: “I’m going to begin with another blanket apology. Not only have I been a poor communicator when it comes to blogging, I’ve also not been very consistent about returning personal emails, texts and phone messages. Somehow I lost my date book (in a snow drift” >

  16. Hi Linnea,
    I’m Guillermo Berazadi’s daughter, Diana. I was just sharing stories of my father and his sailing adventures over a glass of wine late this evening and I couldn’t help but think of you, his dear friend, who he always spoke so highly of. It is no surprise that your name, Linnea, has ties to the Linden Tree, which It is a tree whose spirit can teach healing and the ability to see the beauty beyond outer surfaces. Linden is the spirit than can reveal the sweet honey of all life situations. In the spring, bees are drawn to the linden nectar, and the honey differs from the honey of other flowers. It is lighter. The linden tree spirit reminds us of the dreams we have tucked away to the back of our hearts and it awakens the inner desire and strength to follow them. Thank you for the strength you gave my dad.

  17. Hi Linnea! I feel disheartened to hear your news about the growth shown in your test. We may not have the chance to meet personally but I can feel through your words and story that you are a wonderful person. I hope you continue to become just like the Linden Tree Diana spoke of in her post. You are a honey that turns every experience into a sweet and memorable one. May God be with you and may you never lose hope. Keep your face to the sunshine so may never see a shadow.

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