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.

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 .

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. 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.

Small towns in Nevada and Graveyard musings.

This week when I was driving from Utah to California I took my time and made a few stops. A good part of my drive was thru the state of Nevada .Nevada is full of small , interesting towns,  “living ghost towns” and empty ghost towns, old mines, etc.

I made a couple stops in some old Nevada towns that are “living  ghost town’s now “. Not to many residents and some old crumbling buildings . One was Pioche ,which although I was told they get a lot of people stop by in summer, it literally closes down in the winter.   Here is a little bit of the intriguing  history of Pioche.


In 1864, William Hamblin, a Latter Day Saint missionary, was led to silver deposits in the vicinity of Pioche by a Native American Paiute. In 1868, San Francisco financier Francois L.A. Pioche purchased claims and constructed a smelter in the area, forming the Meadow Valley Mining Company. The mining camp was called “Pioche’s City” and later became known as Pioche.

The town rapidly became the largest mining town in southeastern Nevada in the early 1870’s. Population estimates showed 10,000 people by 1871. The town quickly gained fame for its “toughest town” reputation. Due mostly to confusion over the exact location of mining claims, mine owners finally resorted to hiring guards. Hired gunmen were imported at the rate of about twenty a day during boom times to fight mining claim encroachments. Mine owners often paid the gunmen a salary of $20 per day––a more certain investment for owners than settling disputes in court where bribery often determined the final outcome. The sheriff’s office was reputed to be worth $40,000 a year in bribes alone.

Guns were the only law, and Pioche made Bodie, Tombstone, and other better known towns pale in comparison. It has been reported that seventy-five men were buried in the cemetery before anyone in Pioche had time to die a natural death. According to one reputable source, nearly 60 percent of the homicides reported in Nevada during 1871-72 took place in and around Pioche.

I happened into the Pioche Museum  which a lady named  Leslie started 25 years ago. It is filled with artifacts, gems, minerals, and all kinds of fun stuff from pioche and other towns in Lincoln county. Leslie was born and raised in Pioche. I like to imagine that  her grandfather may have been one of those gun toting bad guys!P1050260

Old fire truck. Pulled by horse or firemen.

Pioche museum



After wandering around Pioche for awhile I headed to Austin, Nv. which is on Highway 50 . Highway 50 is the loneliest highway in America. Not much on it. A small town , here and there. Make sure you fill up on gas when you can.  And here is a little history on  Austin , which is another “living  ghost town” of Nevada .

I decided to stay overnight in Austin at the  Cozy mountain hotel . I would recommend it for a cheap and clean place to lay your head. Not a lot of choices in Austin but there were a few other places.  Room was small but very clean and the bed was super comfortable. I think they must have gotten some new beds since the 1800’s. I just recommend they put in a coffee maker. Microwave and fridge come with the room. I was happy with the great bed.


The International . The only place in town for dinner on a Sunday

Not quite as happy when Looking for some dinner . Only one place to choose from. I guess there was another place but it was closed on Sunday. So, I ended up here. Unfortunately , the menu was very limited .  One other couple came in and the next morning I ran into them at the other place for breakfast . We ended up sitting together and talking and laughing about our experience at the International. It wasn’t just the food, but the waitress was , well, it was like she was someplace else. As well as the place being quite messy. Just a strange experience. Breakfast was at another place in town and actually pretty good. The couple I sat with where from Minnesota and out west doing geo caching. Sounded fun. I may have to look into that.



On leaving Austin after breakfast I decided to stop off at the cemetery. Maybe its just me but I love walking thru cemetery’s in old town’s like Austin. You can learn some things by looking at the grave’s dating back into the 1800’s.


What did I learn. I have noticed this before in other old graveyards but today it really hit me that so many of the older graves where immigrants. I think the reason it hit me today was the fact of what is going on in this country with our current president who is trying to put a halt to immigration and saying things like ” they are  all druggies, murderers, rapists, etc. ” “They are not people we want in our country “. A lot of us Americans do not think that way, thank goodness.  And so in looking at these tombstones I noticed a commonality. Take a look at these tombstones. What do they have in common ??? They are all immigrants. These in fact are the people who came here and built these towns.  They are the ones who built America . Native’s  of Ireland, Germany, England, Scotland, Switzerland, Italy.  We are all descendants of immigrants so how can we turn our backs on them now.

So, I will close with that parting thought.

8th annual Guitarfish Music festival

Guitarfish is an intimate camping and music experience in a magical setting;
over a mile high, in the woods, on the South Fork of the Yuba River,
at the Cisco Grove Campground. This year was the 8th annual and I have gone every year except one.  

Set in the stunning Sierras at Cisco Grove campground, the festival also provides an enchanting setting to enjoy the South Yuba river, hiking, world class mountain and road biking, towering trees, and starry skies. Emphasizing the importance of water, Guitarfish works in partnership with non-profits to educate on the issues of overfishing and water pollution, promoting water conservation and preservation of clean oceans and watersheds, with a portion of proceeds going towards such. Guitarfish aims to provide a direction for positive change to sustain and maintain healthy watersheds, rivers, streams, lakes and oceans and to preserve all living beings that depend on it. Coming together to honor this big blue ball we all call home feeds the magic.


Ruby Mountains in Nevada

I had been wanting to go to the Ruby mountains for a long time . It is about a 6 hour drive from Truckee, Ca. so have never quite made it till just a couple weeks ago. Finally went to camp for 3 nights and hike the second week in July.

The Ruby mountains kind of sit off by themselves in Nevada . The drive is long and boring from Reno, Nv to Ruby’s . It is pretty much desert with not many towns of interest in between and then all of a sudden when leaving out of Elko you begin to see them. They just pop up out of the desert and go as high as 11,380 feet.

The ‘Rubies’ were named after the garnets found by early explorers. The central core of the range shows extensive evidence of glaciation during recent ice ages, including U-shaped canyons, moraines, hanging valleys, and steeply carved granite mountains, cliffs, and cirques. All of these features can be seen from 12-mile Lamoille Canyon Road, a National Forest Scenic Byway which traverses Lamoille Canyon,[4] entering the range near the town of Lamoille



My friend Melody and I camped for 3 nights at Thomas creek campground. One of the only campgrounds there. If you go on a weekend, reservations are highly recommended.

The first day was spent setting up camp and cooling off in this nice little swimming hole right in our campground. Beautiful sunsets each day !!

Second day we did about a 8 mile hike up to Liberty pass , passing Lammoille lake, and then looking down on Liberty lake from the pass. 2000 foot elevation gain so a pretty good work out.

The next day I went up a canyon right out of the campground  just for seeing the magnificent wildflowers. My knee was hurting and Melody had a huge blister so we didn’t do a big hike. I went 2- 4 miles round. trip . Wildflowers were amazing !!! And cooling off in the swimming hole for the afternoon was nice . It was pretty hot and muggy when we where there. A super nice wildflower display was going on and it is hard to see from the photos how great they really are. But, here are some glimpses of it all.

There a couple other hikes to do here but this is all we had time for.

Beautiful spot to see . There are also Bighorn sheep in this area if you are lucky to spot them.


Eastern sierras camping trip part 3. Rock creek canyon



Rock creek canyon is one of my favorite places to camp for a couple nights along the Highway 395 corridor. A few beautiful hikes from the Mosquito flats trailhead. You can go into Little lakes valley. Most popular of the hikes. Or you can go up to Ruby lake and on to Mono pass. You can also climb up to Dorothy lake . I think there are a couple other hikes as well that I have not yet done.  There are quite a few campgrounds on this 10 mile road.  I prefer the Lower pines campground. It is close to Rock creek lake and close to the trailhead.  There is also Rock creek lake resort that has some cabins for rent and a small shop and restaurant.  Many people go there for the home made pie !


Rock Creek is located on the west side of Highway 395 at Rock Creek Road. This 20-mile valley is easy to find between Mammoth Lakes and Bishop, California, at a turnoff from Highway 395 at the exit for Tom’s Place. Once you begin the ascent along the 10-mile paved road into gorgeous creekside terrain, the options for summer and winter outdoor recreation unfold before you. Rock Creek Canyon is famous for Little Lakes Basin, where a string of high-elevation lakes are linked by leisurely hiking trails surrounded by 13,000 foot peaks.

Park at the road’s end to see the best of Rock Creek on foot. Expect blazing colors in fall – some of the brightest anywhere in the Eastern Sierra – as well as wildflowers in spring and sparkling lakes in summer. Dogs are ok on a leash. Little Lakes Trail: Also known as Mosquito Flats trail, the Little Lakes Trail is a beautiful and popular hike at the top of upper Rock Creek Canyon, accessed by the main signed trail leading from the parking lot at the road’s end. With the potential to hike to Mono Pass, four miles and 2,000 feet up, many hikers simply stop to take in the views after reaching one of the lakes along the way: Mack Lake, Marsh Lake, Heart Lake, Box Lake, Long Lake, Gem Lake and Chickenfoot Lake. The trail offers dramatic views of surrounding Sierra peaks, excellent wildflowers in spring and early summer, and vibrant fall colors. Popular with fishermen and day hikers.


This time when I went to Rock creek canyon there was still quite a bit of snow about 3 miles in on the trail. I did not make the hike all the way to beautiful gem lake because I was not really into hiking thru this snow. There  is someone ahead of me on the trail with ski’s on. This was early June . Of course we did get some snow in May so it was taking awhile to melt out.

rock creek canyon
still some snow due to our late snowfall this spring.

Here are some photos of gem Lake another time when there was no snow. Gem lake is a beautiful turquoise and green color.


Here are a few of the other lakes on the trail.


Eastern Sierras part 2. Mono lake

walkway to tufa state park
walkway to tufa state park

fullsizeoutput_2309Mono lake doesn’t look like much when you drive by although  it is very pretty , especially at certain times of the day as the colors can change on the lake. It is in a high desert setting just behind the Sierra mountains. In fact Highway 120 connects from mono lake and goes up and over the sierras to Yosemite.

From Wikipedia: Mono Lake is a large, shallow saline soda lake in Mono County, California, formed at least 760,000 years ago as a terminal lake in an endorheic basin. The lack of an outlet causes high levels of salts to accumulate in the lake. The lake sits at an elevation of 6,378.

I think to get the full beauty of it you need to stop off and take a walk at either south Tufa state park or Mono lake park to see the tufas. Sunrise or sunset are incredible times to make that stop. The town of Lee Vining is there if you want to stay the night in a hotel. Or several campgrounds up highway 120 which connects at mono lake.

Tufa state park is like walking on the moon. Very amazing formations.fullsizeoutput_22fafullsizeoutput_22f9fullsizeoutput_22ecfullsizeoutput_22e5



IMG_4540 3.jpg

Another interesting spot on the lake is the Black fissures. A little hard to find but well worth checking out. Ask at the visitor center how to get there. _MG_4484.jpg


Photographers line up nightly to get that perfect sunset photo at the Tufas.



Mono lake is well  worth the visit !!!