Happy Days Are Here Again

Hubby and I at the Blowout

Hubby and I at the Blowout

Living with a terminal illness ain’t easy.

My health really took a nosedive the last few months…

My energy was zapped. My mobility was compromised. The pain was never ending.  My arm was completely swollen and non-functioning.  I spent hours sitting in my living room staring out the window and feeling sorry for myself. Wishing I had the ability to take a long walk, or play with my daughter, or make a meal, or do anything except feel like crap.

I really wanted to be that person that could heal themselves without pharmaceuticals.  But I realize now that a rigid attachment to alternative and holistic healing and disdain for Western medicine is not the answer.  Keeping an open mind at all times is key.  It is yet another reminder of how unique each person’s journey is with cancer. It’s not fair to compare. And I am realizing what works best for me is a combination of Eastern AND Western approaches.  It is what put me into remission the first time. And I am praying that the combination will get things under control again this time.

I’ve been on the new chemo regime (Xeloda and Tykerb) for almost a month now. So far so good. I can feel some of the tumors actually shrinking… My tumor marker number is going back down… I’ve been able to slow down on the pain meds… And I swear my energy level is back on the rise again… Or maybe that’s just my spirit being restored…

Because it seems every time I’m feeling beat down. Ready to give up. Tired of fighting the fight. The universe intervenes and bring something or someone my way to turn it around.

This time my spirit was restored in so many ways by so many people. Including all of you…  All the comments, suggestions, pep talks, good energy, and prayers bring me such comfort and pull me out of the bad place that my mind often takes me to.

Plus, I truly have the most AMAZING group of family and friends.

Auntie ‘Cole spent much of the last month out here in Connecticut… Taking care of me and my family… Driving me to appointments… Loving me through tears, fears, and frustrations… Lifting my spirits… And helping me laugh again.

My Massachusetts family continues to rally around me and offer endless amounts of love, support, and help with Miss M.

Plus I have fabulous neighbors who invite us over for meals, bring us fresh veggies from their garden, and offer to take Miss M off my hands when I need a break.

And my in-laws who spent the entire summer here – cooking delicious meals, doing laundry, fixing up the house, passing out plenty of hugs, and watching Marisa when I had to go to appointments.  I can’t believe it’s almost time for them to go. In one more week they will be on a plane, on their way back to Brazil. I’m getting sad just thinking about it.

But I think what really gave me the extra boost I needed to start fighting again was being the recipient of the blowout fundraiser in Dartmouth Massachusetts a few weekends ago. And it wasn’t even about the money that was raised (even though it was VERY much needed and appreciated)…  The boost came from all the people that were there. The loving energy. The fun times that were had by all. The music. The laughter. The chance to engage with hundreds of fabulous people.  To catch up with old friends and make new ones.   Being a part of that was extraordinary.  And I left that weekend feeling energized. Feeling my inner warrior come alive again. Feeling blessed. And full of gratitude.

So a big THANK YOU to everyone that made the blowout a reality – the organizers, the volunteers, the musicians, the cooks and servers, the facepainting team, everyone who donated to the auction, who bought tickets, all those who came out to celebrate the day with me, and of course all the family and friends who nominated me and made this year’s blowout one of the best ever!  Next year I plan to return as a volunteer.

And this is how it goes… Every time I’m at my lowest, exhausted, and ready to give up the universe finds a way to lift me back up again. To show me the joy in living. And give me the strength I need to continue this journey.

Beyond anything else that I am doing, I know it is this love that carries me through and keeps me alive.

Thank you everyone!  Happy days are here again!

Three generations of love!

Three generations of love!

Girls just want to have fun!

Girls just want to have fun! With Auntie ‘Cole, Cousin J, Miss M, & everyone’s favorite puppy – Aura.

Family fun at the Blowout

Family fun at the Blowout

The Tides Are Changing

familyIt’s been another rough couple of weeks…  But i feel myself finally starting to pull out of the blackness and into a better place.A big part of that has to do with the amazing outpouring of love, prayers, blessings, uplifting and encouraging words, and donations that have come my way since the last post.  Thank you everyone!!  Wish I had the energy to respond to each and every one of you!!  And shout-outs also go to the amazing hands on support of my best friend Auntie ‘Cole who continues to be there for me…  And my darling hubby…  My entire family…  And the special love of the O’Neil crew!!

Right after I posted my last blog entry I was hit with a crazy MRSR like infection in my chemo port.  It landed me in the hospital for an entire week.  Thankfully my family whisked Miss M off to Massachusetts and hubby was able to take time off from work to be with me and hold my hand as they brought  me to surgery to remove the infected port.  It’s been just over 2 weeks since I was discharged.  I took 3 weeks of hardcore IV antibiotics am now taking 2 more weeks of oral antibiotics.  I was feeling pretty low.  But I think the worst is over.

Last week I also made the decision to start a new chemo regime – Xeloda & Tykerb. Fortunately they both come in pill form since I no longer have a port for intravenous drugs.  It’s been exactly one week and so far the only side effects i’ve had are nausea and tummy upset.  But I also know the side effects of chemo are cumulative.  The longer these drugs build up and percolate in my body the higher the chances more intense side effects may appear.

We also learned last week that my liver enzymes are elevated so we need to keep an eye on that.  It could be from the onslaught of drugs I just started taking or from the cancer.  Time will tell.

But amidst all the craziness, some incredible news came my way…   It all started a few years back when friends and family in Massachusetts banded together to create The Gracefulwomanwarrior Committee to raise funds for my never ending medical expenses.   They were scheduled to meet again last week.  Now to tell the rest of the story is my fabulous Auntie Laurie…


Ideas had been percolating among us about what to do; holding a 5K, raffling an IPad, scheduling a golf tournament. My daughter Jamie suggested I contact the folks who run THE BLOWOUT in Dartmouth, a FABULOUS annual fundraiser that has been making an incredible difference in our community since 1977.  Figuring it was too late, I never reached out.

While Terri was in the hospital, Tom B. who works with my husband at Tomlinson & O’Neil Insurance just happened to mention that THE BLOWOUT didn’t have a recipient this year…  (Coincidence?? I THINK NOT!)  The brothers O’Neil immediately told him about Terri and he put her name forward. I promptly dialed my sister Dori who reminded me she has played THE BLOWOUT for years and she wasted no time contacting her connections!  Before I knew it, my fellow committee member, Peggy B., reached out to her brother Ricky, a BLOWOUT volunteer since its inception. The serendipitous threads of connection continued all week, as news of Terri’s remarkable journey and the thousands upon thousands of folks she has inspired reached the committee.

I received the call from my sister Dori on the eve of our committee meeting.  Terri was chosen to be this year’s recipient!!   I immediately called Terri. Tears flowed down my cheeks as I literally heard the “joy and happiness” my incredible niece is forever searching for, amidst the suffering that suffuses her life…Hearing that light, that life, emanating from her being was a gift I will treasure always.

So, mark you calendars!   Come on down…  Saturday August 9th in Dartmouth, Massachusetts!

For more information on The Blowout go to facebook:  www.facebook.com/dartmouthblowout  …  If you are local and want tickets please email me at l.oneil@comcast.net. For Terri’s NYC and CT friends and family, there are several hotels nearby! Terri and her entourage are beyond excited to share this remarkable day with all of you!  If you are unable to attend but would still like to help please consider donating on the blog to assist the da Silva’s with ongoing medical costs.  

As for our Warrior, she keeps on keeping on, embracing her new “modified” lifestyle like the true New York-ah she is…

Thanks Auntie Laurie!  And thank you to the entire Gracefulwomanwarrior Committee!  And the Blowout team!  I am so grateful!!!

Peace!  Hope to see ya’ll there!

With love, – T

First day home from the hospital

First day home from the hospital

Embracing the new 'modified lifestyle

Embracing the new ‘modified lifestyle