14mths into metastatic cancer & The Thrill of a Ride

Diagnosed May 6, 2015 with breast cancer that metastasized to the spine.  Massive spine surgery to remove tumors on May 12, 2015. Retired from GS, tried the recently approved palbocylib and faslodex. Luck, a few good months, then no luck and a hideous flare up with new tumors in December. The saving grace of a trial starting Dec 23rd that week by week rebuilt my strength, weight, stamina. So here I am almost 14 months out. I try not to look at the stats which I believe put 80% of patients in the grave within 5 years. I’d like to think that they simply don’t have stats on me because the drugs I’m on didn’t exist when they ran that math. Right?!

Today my platelets were 138 (vs 60 in January), my blood work is steady, my weight is up but healthy (time to back off the susiecakes and Fentons milkshakes I know), and I am tired but have enough energy to enjoy my days. I feel very lucky. I don’t want to jinx myself by saying it feels like a respite, so I will content myself with saying the cancer is quiet. Perhaps it too wanted summer vacation. Let’s pray it wants one every year for many so that I can watch my kids get older. I haven’t cried since that first jet lagged day home. I still scold myself on days when I’m not enough in the moment. I pride myself on many days well lived where I seize the day and savor the moment and don’t sweat the small things. I chide myself for grumpy moments and wasting time thinking that a few extra lbs matter. Certainly life is so very much bigger than that! This sense of normalcy has been very good for the kids. I have breakfast with them everyday and will spend lots of time with them in the mountains this summer. I nap everyday, but they just laugh at my eye mask and my fly catcher mouth. It is both fabulous and weird. This is the roller coaster of metastatic cancer. No cure, and yet an incredible opportunity to live intentionally and slowly tick off the bucket list while also just living. I’ve been writing a decent amount, seeing friends, reading (currently on Modern Lovers which is a fast read), and working on a few closets and styling people which I adore. Every project is different, but I love helping women edit to their best selves and then making their closet a breath of fresh air.

I turned 43 last week. Never have I been more grateful to be a year older. What a gift. A little extra blush and good clothes to offset the wrinkles

After 15yrs of marriage I learned that The Black Stallion by Francis Ford Coppola is one of Creighton’s favorite movies. It is breathtakingly beautiful cinematography and a dear, dear movie. I loved every minute. I quietly cried during the credits when they show the majestic stallion galloping on the beach. No one heard me say, “I miss galloping” and I didn’t need to repeat myself. I just needed to mourn that happy part of my life that is unlikely to be repeated. I first rode at Jenny Lake Lodge in Wyoming at age 9. I fell in love with the smart, beautiful animals, and on returning to London I was spoiled enough to get to ride every week in Hyde Park. How amazing that there are mews and horses in central London. But sure enough you saddle up, wind your way through the city streets and end up on the big sandy track that circles Hyde Park. There you can trot and canter. The world melts away. Nothing but you and the horse and then a few beautiful landmarks and gardens. In the summers I would ride on our ranch trips. At Home Ranch you get a horse for the week. My dad would give his horse the week off, while I embraced daily rides into the mountains. I could canter for miles, and the rare gallop is exhilarating. Time truly disappears for the only way to hold your seat is to be utterly in the moment, holding the mane, legs right around the horse, eyes ahead, wind in your hair. Totally exhilarating and intoxicating. In my 30s I started riding with our dear friend George Parker who owns the most wonderful Icelandic ponies along with some classic horses. The icelandics are hardy, built to go long distance, and the smoothest ride around with their egg beater trot. You don’t bounce. Amazing. No bruises. They make you look like you know what you are doing. The doctor has cleared me doing a very simple trail ride in Jackson Hole where the horses are old and calm and move at a slow walk. But it breaks my heart that my days of real riding are over. The risk is that the repeated bouncing will dislodge the screws in my back. Oops. That sounds terrible! So I don’t plan on pushing it. Last summer I contented myself with just talking to the horses. Sometimes whatever you can do now is enough.

One thought on “14mths into metastatic cancer & The Thrill of a Ride

  1. Beautiful writing! Reading this made me feel like I was riding along beside you. Nice way to start my day! And so happy to hear you’re stable


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