Living with Stage 4 cancer in times of uncertainty / Corona Virus .

Well dear friends, here is my cancer story. . I found out a little over a year ago that I now have stage 4 metastatic Breast cancer. It is widespread in my liver. I thought now during the times of corona virus that it is time to write my story.

I actually found out before my trip to Scotland and Ireland. But, waited on some treatment till I got back. Was not going to give up that much planned trip. And Dr. said a few weeks would not make a huge difference.

Let me go back 23 years or even longer to talk about history. Many years ago my Aunt Pauline died of Breast cancer at 49 years old. A few years later my Aunt May died of Breast cancer at 55 years old . Then a few more years and my Mother got it. She lived another 25 or so years before it came back and took her life. So, as you can see I am not a stranger to cancer. 23 years ago I had my first round of Breast cancer. At 42 years old. My first thought was, I am going to die. Having watched my 2 aunts die from it. I had some treatment and went on for another 8 years. Then came the second round. More treatments and another 12 years before it reared its head. Now it is back and stage 4 which means in- curable. And treatments have been hard on the body. Many don’t realize that I have been living with cancer for 23 years !!

February of 2019 I had Pneumonia and that is when I found out that I had cancer in my liver. Biopsy showed breast cancer that had spread widely in my liver. No surgery as it is to widespread . No radiation for same reason. So now I have metastatic Breast cancer which is not curable because at this point it is in the lymph system and blood. I had not been feeling right for about 10 months . Getting worn out easy, having some intestinal issues, some pressure in my right side, pain in my rt side which is called referred pain because lucky for me this cancer is not so painful in itself but when the liver enlarges it can pinch nerves and cause right side pain, pressure, and pain in right arm and shoulder. As it gets worse I suppose there will be more pain and swelling from fluid . I had even mentioned to a friend right before I found out that I thought I had cancer again but did not know where and did not want to know. That was my mind set. But , I found out from X-rays for pneumonia in which a part of my liver showed up.

My prognosis now ? Unsure….. wait and see…. incurable… could be a year left of my life . Could be 10 years . No one knows as people are living longer with stage 4 cancer now. But, the death rate has not gone down much . In fact the amount of people getting cancer has gone up and the age has gone down. I am in a metastatic cancer group and am surprised at how many with stage 4 breast cancer are in their 30’s ! Also, living longer does not allways mean with quality of life. A stage 4 cancer patient is always struggling to hold it in check.

I am now already on my second line of treatment and will find out in early June if it is working or not. Scan anxiety is real and is coming up for me now as my next scan is June 5. My first treatments worked for about 8 months then the cancer grew. That is how it goes. There are a few treatment options and you go for one and it may work awhile but eventually stops as the cancer mutates. Then you go on to next treatment. How many? I am not sure. New ones coming out tho all the time . Then the last ditch effort if you still want to try the medical route is trial treatments which means going to a big clinic like Davis or UCLA or one of the others. But, what does it mean to be in constant treatment for cancer?? It means drugs with side affects. Side affects like loss of hair (which my current drug has not caused), stomach upsets, headaches, skin problems, fatigue (with most all cancer treatments this is the biggest side affect ! ), brain problems, mouth sores, heart palpitations, breathlessness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and the list goes on…. and on…. And yes, I will be on treatment for the rest of my life or till I say no more. I am not going to die doing chemo. When treatment for me becomes to much that I have NO quality of life or very little quality of life then I will stop them and live without treatment for however long I have. Some people will go on and stay on treatment till it in itself kills them. Not me. I am looking for quality of life more then a few extra months.

Alternative treatments?? Well, let me just say that these are tossed out to me all the time by well meaning people. However, I do want say right now to all of these people , yes, I have done tons of research and I know about a lot of the so called cures. Does anyone ever cure stage 4 cancer??? Rarely and even then you can not really say it is cured but more like in Radical Remission. But, do you personally know someone who cured it by juicing, eating broccoli all day, doing coffee enemas, vitamin c injections, heat therapy, etc… IF you personally know some one then I might like to talk to them but believe me the cures are all over the internet and invariably lead to links to buy this , buy that, buy this series and you can learn all about how to cure your self. So, to those of you who think I am not trying hard enough , just know that I do incorporate some of these ideas into my routine, that all natural cures and clinics are very very expensive and hold no guarantees and that I personally have never known anyone cured of stage 4 cancer. Also, keep in mind that there are over 100 types and sub types of cancer and that each person is individual so one persons experience is not another’s . I get so tired of trying to explain this to people when they tell me about the auntie who got over colon cancer by drinking lemon juice, or the uncle who cured his prostrate cancer with garlic, etc… Get what I mean??? It is what we call cancer shaming. When people imply that you are not trying hard enough if you do not try all these alternative routes. Also, keep in mind that it is MY body and My DECISION to make on what I will do and what I will not do and what I feel is best for me. I want to live just as much as any of you so if you think I am not trying then get out of my life . I don’t need you harping on about what I should do. This is very important to me and I hope I am getting it across. I will never tell you what to do if this happens to you. I will only be there for you to give my love and support. If you ask my advice as someone who has gone thru it , I will give you whatever info I have but I will never say. Why don’t you do this or do that. So and so did and they got better. It is all a crap shoot . No guarantees!!

Last thing I want to touch on is living with stage 4 cancer in times of corona virus. For those of us with cancer who are in active treatment, we are very vulnerable to the corona virus.  Every day, we make ordinary decisions that could have extraordinary, detrimental results. According to an article by Statnews, researchers say that we’re 3.5 times more likely to contract the corona virus and 79% more likely to need hospitalization or to die from it.  Those statistics are sobering Staying within that range of uninfected people leaves cancer patients like myself with some difficult choices. How long can we self-quarantine? And what about our family members or friends who are going out and about, not adhering to the same strict self-imposed safety standards we are such as social distancing and rampant handwashing? How do we distance from them? How do you treat someone you love like a stranger with a touch of xenophobia?  And what about doctor’s appointments and treatments?  Do I forgo blood work and scans that’s keeping an eye on my progression in lieu of social distancing? How do I social distance in a clinic that has all kinds of virus exposure. Lucky for me my small town of Truckee,Ca. has had very few cases of the virus.

The one advantage cancer patients have going into this is being well aware that life comes at you fast, changing in a moment’s notice. When we’re first diagnosed, we think we’ll be the one to beat incurable cancer. And for a while, we do. Then it comes back and we redefine our win as being able to live alongside it as long as it’s not doing any damage. Then it does damage, and our definition changes again. Winning is living with pain that can be managed.  Winning is living with decreased lung capacity or slower brain functioning. We listen to people during this pandemic telling us it’s just a matter of time before life returns to normal and do our best not to smirk because we know it doesn’t return to the way it was. It evolves into something we call a “new normal,” a term many of us loathe.

In that respect, cancer patients are better prepared than most. We know the horrors that are on the horizon, the losses, the grief, the regrouping and the resiliency.  We know that there are some things, no matter how hard you try, no matter how many good decisions you make, you still can’t protect yourself from. We know how to live in a world that doesn’t have answers.

As a wise woman once told me, when there are no answers, there are choices. And your choices will be changed, just as you will  be changed by them.

So, I will carry on and continue to try the best I can . I am sometimes feeling overwhelmed as some of my friends may be starting to notice but I have not given up yet !!! I hope to travel more, hike more, camp more , and do the things I love . When I can no longer enjoy any of this then I will throw in the towel as in stop the treatments. I am not afraid to die. I have faith that I will be re united with my loved ones and my several furry babies that have already moved on. I have faith that a better world awaits.

Thank you to my friends and family who love me , understand, and continue to care.

Ireland. The lost photos !

While in Ireland , my friends and I did an amazing hike. Beautiful location near Dingle . Where this hike was exactly , I can not say. Mainly because we could not seem to find the hike we were looking for but ended up here instead and it may have even been the hike we were looking for. It started out going thru a farm and then basically following a sheep trail up and up. The views when we got to the top made it all worth while !!! And the bonus of being in some old ruins.

While looking thru photos I had deleted this day of photos but recently was able to retrieve them off my camera card. A lesson to anyone out there who thinks they have deleted photos on the card. Do not use the card anymore!! The photos are still there . You need to download a program to find them. I was so happy to find these photos because as you will see here. It was an amazing day.

And you can see why I LOVE Ireland so much. Well, besides the natural beauty of the island, the people are so friendly and the music is fabulous !!

And here a few parting shots of Dingle and the Dingle peninsula. Fabulous Dingle. Love that colorful little town !

The stunning Dingle peninsula.

Edinburgh Scotland

I dont usually like cities all that much. However , I loved Edinburgh and could have spent a lot longer there. The look of it is very gothic. Beautiful old buildings, little alleyways that lead to cool places, hills surrounding the city with hikes , friendly people. Great city. I only spent 3 days there but wish I could have spent a week. Here are some photos of Edinburgh.

view from king Arthurs seat .

More of Scotland

I just happened to be in Scotland for a Highland games event at Gordon Castle.

This was a real treat .

A couple of my friends I met up with in Ireland came to Portnockie for a couple days and we headed up to Gordon castle for the games. They had food, gin and whiskey tasting, crafts, raptor demos, bagpipe parades, music, and the games. We really enjoyed the bagpipe parade and the games the most. Watching all the strongmen throwing heavy items was a new experience for me. And I loved the parade of musicians with bagpipes and drums.

Below the photos of the game are more photos out and about around Portnockie, Scotland. The whole coastline up and down from Portnockie is just amazingly beautiful.

I did a day tour to Isle of Skye after leaving Portnockie and spending a couple of days in Inverness. I enjoyed Inverness , however it rained most of the time I was there. The day of the tour to Skye was rainy but not so bad. Still enjoyed it . Our tour bus driver was a wealth of information. Here are some photos of Isle of Skye.

Will be doing a post on Edinburgh next. Hopefully soon. I have not been doing much blogging lately but still have lots to blog about !!! Summer in Tahoe, music festivals, hiking in Tahoe. Enjoy these photos of beautiful Scotland.

House sitting in Scotland.

I was very lucky to land a 3 week house sit in Scotland this last May in a little coastal fishing village called Portnockie. Taking care of a beautiful border collie named Jesse ! So, as anyone reading my blog could see I was also in Ireland. My 3 posts previous to this are about Ireland. I had decided to make a 6 week trip of it. Spending 2 weeks in Ireland and 4 weeks in Scotland. Loved both countries. Here is the house I stayed in in Scotland with the adorable dog Jesse who was very sweet and smart and a great walking companion . Also, a couple photos of the village and the view from my bedroom window . Ocean was just across the road.

Portnockie is a very small , old fishing village in an extremely beautiful location. The coastline is beautiful and rugged in parts. Crumbling castles hanging off of cliffs. Green, green hills all around.

The owner of the house left me a car so I was able to see quite a bit altho many days I just enjoyed a long walk along the Moray trail which runs 72 miles along the beautiful Scottish coast.

People in Scotland are so friendly and helpful. Anytime I ever asked for directions or some information , whoever I asked would go out of their way to help me out.

The house sit was small but nice. Right across the street from the cliffs that go along the beautiful Moray coastline and a super sweet beach to walk on as well.

Having a car was great as I was able to explore some cute little villages along the coast and would sometimes run into surprises , such as ancient crumbling castles, ancient graveyards and such.

I loved Scotland and will be posting more photos and info about it in next post.

Irish islands

Ireland of course is an island and it is surrounded by smaller islands. Some inhabited and some not. While in Ireland I went to 4 islands The first one off of Doolin was one of a group of Aran islands and I wrote about it here. /

Another one we went to that you can actually walk onto was Abbey island at Derrynane bay. I wrote about that one here

We also went to Skellig Michael islands however we did not get to embark on the island as it was nesting season which made for seeing thousands or birds.

The magnificent Skellig Islands lie 8 miles (12 km) off the coast of Portmagee in South West Kerry. Rising majestically from the sea, Skellig Michael towers 714ft. (218 metres) above sea level. On the summit of this awe-inspiring rock you will find a remarkably well preserved sixth century monastic settlement. On the spectacular Small Skelligs 23,000 pairs of gannet nest on every available ledge making it the second largest gannet colony in the world. A visit to this major tourist attraction may well be the highlight of your holiday.

Photos of the boat ride out to Skellig Michael.

Lots of Gannets
This is a Gannet

Tons of birds on these islands and flying all around them and in the water.

covered in birds

My favorite island was Blasket Island .

The Blasket Islands
This rugged group of six islands (Na Blascaodai) off the tip of Dingle Peninsula seems particularly close to the soul of Ireland. The population of Great Blasket Island (An Blascaod Mór), home to as many as 160 people, dwindled until the government moved the last handful of residents to the mainland in 1953. Life here was hard. Each family had a cow, a few sheep, and a plot of potatoes. They cut their peat from the high ridge and harvested fish from the sea. There was no priest, pub, or doctor. Because they were not entirely dependent upon the potato, they survived the famine relatively unscathed. These people formed the most traditional Irish community of the 20th century—the symbol of ancient Gaelic culture.

A special closeness to an island—combined with a knack for vivid storytelling—is inspirational. From this primitive but proud fishing/farming community came three writers of international repute whose Gaelic work—basically tales of life on Great Blasket Island—is translated into many languages. You’ll find Peig (by Peig Sayers), Twenty Years a-Growing (Maurice O’Sullivan), and The Islander (Thomas O’Crohan) in shops everywhere.

The island’s café and hostel have closed down, and today Great Blasket is little more than a ghost town overrun with rabbits on a peaceful, grassy, three-mile-long poem.

This island made me feel like I was in the Caribbean as the color was so Caribbean blue and clear . Only difference is that it is a bit colder. Not an island you will see people sunbathing and swimming on . You can spend the night here in one of 2 rustic cabins. You need to bring what you need as they only have the little cafe for snacks and coffee. No electricity either. But, I imagine the star gazing would be amazing if you can catch it on a clear night !!

There is a couple who stays all summer and runs the little cafe and cleans the cottages. There is also this lady who stays all summer and collects and spins wool from the island sheep. Making scarves and hats. I bought a hat from her.

If you get to Ireland I would highly suggest going to some of these islands.

Yes, we had dolphins following us out to the Blasket Islands !!

Derrynane bay, Ireland.

Derrynane bay is on the Ring of Kerry in Ireland . We spent the morning trying to decide where to go for the day. So glad we picked Derrynane bay. It was a wonderful place to wander about all day . Complete with amazing beach , ancient abbey island, and a fairy forest . Beautiful day exploring this gorgeous area.

On the western edge of Darrynane Bay lies Abbey Island. To reach this island, one just has to walk across the beach, which is very recommendable as numerous ancient treasures can be found here. One of them being the ruins of a former monastry with a graveyard.
In the other direction Derrynane House, a former mansion, surrounded by diverse gardens can be explored. Daniel O’Connell (often also referred to as the Liberator), a politician who fought for equal rights for the opressed Catholics in the 19th century, grew up in this house.

Derrynane is one of the most alluring locations in Ireland. The terrain varies from rugged shoreline to gently rolling mountains. The sheltered harbour of Derrynane was once the haunt of pirates and buccaneers from Daniel O’ Connell’s time. The area still offers great adventures with the opportunity to enjoy some of the most beautiful scenery and activities imaginable. From walking and hiking treks to horse riding on Derrynane Beach, archaeology sites galore to fairy trails, there is an abundance of thrills for everyone.

Ireland , Kenmare area.

Driving around the ring of Kerry

After leaving Doolin which I wrote about in my last post , I met with some friends in Kenmare where we spent 5 nights. Still a small town but much bigger then Doolin. Kenmare is also a gateway to the ring of Kerry which is an impressively beautiful area. Having a car we were able to see quite a lot. I think the best way to see all that Ireland has to offer is with a car.

Sally and I enjoying the scenery on ring of Kerry drive

Hiking at Glenanchaquin park was a treat. It had it all. Rolling green hills, waterfalls, lakes and sweeping views.

And now a well deserved cup of coffee after a beautiful hike.

Another wonderful day in Ireland 🍀

Ireland. Part 1 , in Doolin.

Awhile back I picked up a house sit in Scotland for a few weeks in May. Have always wanted to go to Ireland to so decided to go there first for about 2 weeks. I really ❤️ Love Ireland!! Amazingly beautiful, green country with very friendly people and the music is amazing. Being a music lover I was told to be sure to go to Doolin. Doolin is a small village in county Clare with only a few hundred people living there. It is also a gateway to the Aran islands. Doolin is the heart and soul of traditional Irish music. Although a very small village there are 4 pubs and all have music nightly most months of the year.

For a taste of a pub session click on this link.

I stayed in a cute hostel in Doolin called Aille river hostel. Center of town on a beautiful river.

Aille river hostel

The cliffs of moher are a major attraction in the area and are majestic to say the least. You can take a bus to cliffs of Moher from Doolin and then hike back. About a 7 mile awesomely beautiful hike. Lots of birds can be seen as well as the elusive Puffin which I am sorry to say I did not get to see. Here are some photos of the cliffs and of Doolin.

Nesting birds all along the cliffs.
Music in Doolin at MCDERMOTS pub.
Music at Gus OConners pub. This guy sang some great traditional Irish songs.

I mentioned the Aran islands. There are 3 islands and many of the 1200 occupants can be heard speaking the old Gaelic language. I went to the smallest island one day and spent the day walking around. You can take a buggy ride or rent a bike as well. Very few cars on the island. I saw one hotel and a hostel. Here are some photos of the isle Inisher.

More of Ireland in my next post. After Doolin I met up with some friends in Kenmare . We went on some great hikes in Kenmare and in Dingle as well as driving the ring of Kerry and the Dingle way.

Nevada roads off the beaten path.

This fall I had the opportunity to drive thru Nevada a few times on my way to and from Utah. Some of the roads in Nevada are very quiet . Highway 50 is one of those. Also Highway 93 and 375. There is not a lot to see on these highways. However if you love old ghost towns, small out of the way towns, and just exploring along empty roads then you may enjoy some of the drives across the state of Nevada. Some of Highway 50 I have already covered here in this posting:

The International . The only place in town for dinner on a Sunday in Austin , Nevada on highway 50.

In March I once again went to Utah to house sit and you can read a little about Southern Utah here

and here

It Is a long drive across Nevada to get to Utah so I always try to find someplace new to explore. This time I went along the extraterrestrial Highway. Or as it is also called Area 51

The Unusual Is Our Usual on Route 375


In the belly of Nevada, surrounded by miles of undeveloped desert, lies a mystery that involves the alleged home of recovered alien spacecraft, extraterrestrial technology, and maybe even a few little green men on the federal payroll.

On this Extraterrestrial Highway road trip, you’ll run adjacent to Area 51 and a secret military base within Nellis Test and Training Range — so secret the government did not acknowledge its existence until 2013. As part of an active military base, it is patrolled and guarded by some of the heaviest security on Earth or anywhere else. That means what it’s NOT is a tourist attraction. Be sure to obey all posted signs and don’t even think about trespassing. You will be caught and you will be prosecuted. And let’s be real, no selfie is worth that kind of headache.

However it is an interesting drive that starts at the junction of NV 93 and 375. First stop is small shop welcoming you to the alien highway with alien beef jerky, nuts , drinks and other treats to stock up on for the drive.

Stock up for the drive on jerky and drinks.

From here there is not much else till you get to the Little ALE Inn. I found this to be a worthy stop for a beer and a veggie burger. The bartender has lived here for quite a few years. He was passing thru and decided to stay so he has some great alien stories. Not much here but a hotel , bar and restaurant. I think about 50 people live here. And lots of cows. Don’t drive this highway at night for fear of cows on the road or even Aliens.

One of the things I realy love about driving thru Nevada is the quietness of many of the highways and the views ! Here are some scenes from Nevada Highway 50 and 93 and 6 .

If you like quite highways with not much except some beautiful views here and there and a small town or 2 then you may also enjoy some of the highways of Nevada. Lots to explore here !!